What is an electric shower?
Choosing the right shower can make or break your morning routine. Opt for the wrong one and you could find yourself showering under a trickle of tepid water. Choose the right one and you'll be set up with a hot shower for your day, whatever challenge it is you're facing.
Electric showers are one of the most popular types of showers on the market. They can generally be installed in any bathroom and don't rely on a hot water connection like most other showers. If you're in the market for a new electric shower though, it's handy to understand what it is you're going to be installing. With that in mind, we've put together the ultimate buying guide for electric showers.
What is an electric shower?
An electric shower is a shower that uses electricity, rather than just water pressure, to run water through its shower head. It also heats the water itself, using a hot water cylinder and your cold water supply, rather than using your hot water tank.
Essentially, they're a box on the wall that you can install in pretty much any bathroom that power and heat their own water, regardless of your plumbing system. They don't rely on your boiler or hot water supply, won't run cold when someone sticks another tap on and allow for decent water pressure even if you've got a low-pressure system.
How does an electric shower work?
Electric showers connect right into your cold water supply. Then, electric showers work a little like a kettle; they heat water on demand. Each electric shower comes with its own heating element in its own tank.
Cold water flows past this heating element, warming up to a temperature that the user has set. Water temperature changes are made by varying the speed the water runs over the element. This is generally why electric showers have a number of power settings in addition to temperature settings. It's also why you may get a dip in water flow when you increase your temperature on the electric shower unit.
An electric shower can supply almost instantaneous hot water, without having to use a boiler. For safety reasons, they have a number of functions installed to stop them from overheating the water and causing injury. This means that once you've set your desired temperature it won't fluctuate.
How do you install an electric shower?
Installing an electric shower can be a little more difficult than a shower which only requires pressure and a tap to run. While you'll only need to plumb it into your cold water, you can't just hook it up to your hot and cold tap.
You'll need to wire an electric shower into your power supply, as well as your plumbing. Not sure how to go about this? We've got you covered. You'll find everything you need for a smooth installation on Plumbnation and we've put together a guide on how to install an electric shower.
What kilowatt power rating should my electric shower have?
So, let's start with the basics. The kW rating of your shower essentially tells you how quickly your shower can heat water using its heating element. Usually, a higher kW means your water will heat to a hot temperature much quicker than a shower with low kW.
Electric showers generally sit in a range from 7.5 kW to 10.8 kW. Generally, a higher wattage will give you a warmer shower with better water flow and pressure, but the right electric shower kW option for you may not be the highest wattage available.
This can come down purely to cost; a higher wattage usually costs more to buy and, because of the energy it uses, it can cost more to run, but it can also come down to your existing system. A higher kW electric shower will have thicker cables and a fuse capacity to match. If you're replacing a shower you may be limited depending on the cables already installed. You'll need 10mm cables to go up to 10.8 kW.
How much energy does an electric shower use?
The great thing about an electric shower is that they only heat water when you need it. This means you're not heating up water for the sake of it, and paying for that. You'll only need to heat water for the period of time you're using the shower. You'll get instant hot water, rather than having to use huge amounts of water running your hot water tank warm.
The amount of energy you use will depend on the type of electric shower, the kW power rating, the temperature you want, and how long you run it for.
A basic way to look at it is that the number of kilowatts is the number of units you'll use in an hour. So, if you were to shower for a full hour with your 10.8 kW shower, you'll have used about 10.8 units of electricity. If you keep your showers short though, this shouldn't be too much of an issue but if you run a high-power electric shower for too long you may find it hitting your energy bills hard.
What's the difference between an electric shower and a power shower?
The key difference between these two types of shower is where they get their water from, and how that water is powered.
- An electric shower takes its water from the cold water supply and heats it up itself. It uses the mains water pressure and an internal heating element.
- A power shower acts like a mixer shower, taking both hot and cold water from your boiler. It then adds a pump to increase the water flow. They're used in low pressure water systems.
Need more help on power showers? We've got more on how power showers work on the blog.
Check out our wide range of showers here.