If you’re not some kind of bathroom specialist or a professional plumber, chances are you won’t know a great deal about the inner workings of your shower. And no one would blame you; bathrooms can baffle the best of us. A topic that seems to cause great confusion is the difference between an electric shower and a power shower. While they sound synonymous and look very similar, these types of showers happen to be very different. So, to help you get the most out of your shower and water bills, we look at the difference between these two types of showers, how they work and if there is a difference in water and energy usage.
Types of Showers
Power Shower Units
A power shower usually combines water from both your hot and cold water supplies to create the desired temperature and they are usually thermostatically controlled for safety. A power shower is normally installed on gravity fed, low-pressure water systems, with plenty of hot water available in the hot water storage cylinder. They usually incorporate a pump inside a box on the wall, which boosts the water flow, and pressure and allows a stronger more pleasurable thermostatically controlled shower.
Electric Shower Units
An electric shower is often the go-to shower for households where the boiler or the storage cylinder's hot water is in short supply. This is because electric showers have an internal heating element and can therefore take their water from the cold-water supply and warm it up as you shower.
Because the electric shower unit is separate from your usual hot water system, they can be used in any home, regardless of plumbing system. This also means that if you go electric, you could still have a hot shower if the worst happens and you run out of hot water or your boiler breaks. An electric shower can also be installed relatively inexpensively in areas of the house that might be difficult to reach with the existing hot water plumbing system.
How Do They Work?
A standard pump-assisted power shower uses hot and cold water from a domestic hot water tank which is heated by your household boiler and stored in the hot water cylinder. An electric shower only uses a cold-water supply and just heats the water as it is used, somewhat like a kettle. Whether or not an electric shower is more efficient depends on: the electricity tarrif that you are on; how powerful the electric shower is (and of course the power shower you are comparing it to); whether or not you use an immersion heater or gas boiler to heat your regular hot water system; and how old your boiler or imersion heater is. So is there a large difference in water and energy bills between these two types of showers?
Water and Energy Bills
A home energy expert, writing for This Is Money, states that the question of water and energy bills when it comes to power and electric showers is actually quite complex. This is due to the fact that there are many factors involved, such as boiler type, fuel type and efficiency. He says:
‘If we assume that both shower types are used for the same duration of time, then the electric shower will use less energy to heat the water than a power shower.
In terms of costs, there would be a difference between fuel types. Electricity is generally charged at about 12p per KWh, so for a 10-minute shower using a 7.5kw shower would cost 15p.
A power shower could use around 15litres/min, so a 10-minute shower would use 150litres of mains water, heated from around 8°C to 30°C. Gas would cost 23p to heat this water, so if using an oil boiler, this would be around 28p, and if using electricity (an Immersion heater), the cost would be 46p.’
From a water saving perspective, an electric shower will deliver less than 15litres per minute - usually between 6 - 10lts/min depending on the size of the heating element in the shower so the electric shower uses less water too.
Overall an electric shower seems to slightly reduce bills when compared to a power shower, because they use less energy and less water and even heat up more quickly. This means you could have more showers for less money if you go electric.
Image shows our Vivid - 9.5kW Electric Shower
Which Shower Is Best For Me?
In general, both power showers and electric showers have their advantages and therefore there is no clear winner. Power showers have a more powerful water flow than electric showers giving a much nicer experience. However, electric showers are arguably more efficient and cheaper to run than a power shower, so it depends on where your priorities lie. To browse the various features of both types of showers, see our range of Power Showers and Electric Showers.
Are you a fan of the power shower or electrical shower? Let us know in the comments!