One of the most important considerations when planning your shower is what type of shower head you want. The sort of shower head you choose will largely dictate the 'perfomance' of the shower - how comfortable showering is, how effectively water is delivered, how much pressure it's delivered with and over what area. When it comes to making decisions about the actual business end of the shower, you should have a very clear idea of:
- How much pressure you need
- What heights the shower head needs to serve
- Whether you want 'special effects' (like massage, rain-effect, waterfall-effect or LED lighting)
- How much area you want to cover (i.e. how wide the stream should be)
- What kind of shower stall design you will use.
Consider what types of shower heads are available
On a basic level, shower heads can be broken down into two types – fixed and hand-held. Fixed shower heads are affixed to a point on a wall (or sometimes a ceiling) above head height. From here most fixed shower heads can be moved and directed within a limited area to compensate for people of different heights, but they're mostly restricted in how they're used.
Hand-held shower heads are attached via a hose, and can either be mounted on a holder or held in the hand for much greater control over where water is directed. Hand held shower mounts are often adjustable too, mounted on a vertical rail allowing for big adjustments in height. Their flexibility makes hand held showers particularly useful for those with small children or those with disabilities.
Beyond the basic differences between hand-held shower heads and fixed shower heads, there are many variations including massage showers, rain shower heads, waterfall showers, multi-head showers and high and low pressure jets in singles or multiples.
How do different shower heads affect performance?
The shower head you choose affects your shower's 'performance' in a few ways. First (and most obviously), the style of shower head you choose affects the general feel of your shower - how much pressure it's capable of generating, how water is projected, how wide it's projected. These factors affect how the shower feels, which is a very important consideration. You should consider how the shower head will be used by all members of the family, and whether or not a particular head offers versatile settings to keep everyone happy.
Another important factor affecting the performance of a shower is how efficient your shower head it is. The flow rate of a shower head dictates how much water it projects in litres per minute (L/m). An inefficient shower head projecting 25L/m might look or feel good, but compared to a 3-star rated water efficient shower head which uses 6L/m it's a waste and a liability. In most cases, water efficient shower heads provide a comfortable flow of water.
Shower head height
The height at which the shower head is installed will play a big role in how useful your shower is. Tall people and children in particular should be kept in mind - showers installed too high or low on the wall (especially fixed shower heads) are likely to be very annoying! Consider the range of movement your shower head is capable of.
Think carefully about what you want from your shower head before you buy it, and consider who will use it, how it will look in your bathroom and how much water it uses. There are a huge range of shower heads available, and provided that you have an idea of what you need, finding the right shower head for your shower shouldn't be that difficult.