7 Different Shower Types Explained

What you may not have thought about when embarking on your bathroom remodelling quest is that there are a number of different types of shower that you can install.

Each of them has their pros and cons, work better in some situations than others, and sometimes it’s just down to personal choice.

Different Types of Shower You Can Install in Your Home – Buying Guide

If you want to learn more about the showers that are available to you so that you can make an informed decision, this is the perfect guide for you, as we take you through each type in excellent detail. You could say it’s the ultimate buying guide for different shower types. 

What are the Different Shower Systems? 

There’s a lot to think about before you can start getting into the details of each type of shower, and while this section will start with the various systems, it’s going to delve a lot deeper into it than that. To start, however, here are the different types of shower system:

  • Electric shower. These are a common choice because they are quick and easy to install, and also have their own heating system. They require just a cold water supply.
  • Power shower. These are commonly mistaken for an electric shower. They have a similar appearance, but use both hot and cold water supplies as well as a built in pump for pressure boosting. Ideal for gravity fed homes.
  • Manual mixer shower. Easy to fit and install, these mix hot and cold water supplies together manually and don't require high water pressure.
  • Thermostatic mixer shower. These have a thermostatic valve to prevent scalding and keep your shower regulating at the same temperature. It is ideal for homes with children. Requires reasonable water pressure.
  • Digital shower. Similar to the above, but more advanced. You can set an exact temperature for the water, and some will even allow for smartphone controls. Requires reasonable water pressure.
  • Smart shower. These are part of the smart home revolution. They can be combined with things like Alexa and your phone for full control and access at all times. 

Before you pick the type of shower you want, you should take a look and see what your water pressure is like. You can do it yourself, using methods we have highlighted in our water pressure guides, or you can get a plumber to come out and measure it for you – whatever you are more comfortable with.

Your water pressure will dictate the type of shower you are able to have, as well as the one that suits your home best. This is something we look at further in the next sections.

Also Read: How to Increase Shower Pressure 

Now, look at the water system you have. There are three main types in the UK, and your home is likely to have one of them installed. Here is some more information on each:

  • Gravity fed. You will find that this one is still fairly common, and it tends to have a cold-water tank in the loft space as well as a water cylinder tucked away in the airing cupboard. While the water pressure does tend to be lower, you can use a shower pump to boost it. 
  • Combi boiler. First thing about these, you cannot use a shower pump with them, and no good plumber will install one if you have this system. It features a boiler with no water cylinders. They tend to have high water pressure, as well as providing hot water on demand.
  • Unvented. This is where a water cylinder is heated by a high-pressure boiler or an immersion heater. As a result, large volumes of water can be supplied to the shower. 

What Do I Need to Know About Electric Showers? 

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Electric showers tend to be a choice for most homes, especially since it doesn’t rely on the boiler for hot water. Instead, it takes water from the cold supply and uses its own heating elements within the unit to heat the water up.

Due to it being separate from your normal hot water system, you can have a hot shower whenever you want, and you never need to worry about the hot water running out, or needing to switch it on prior to washing.

They can also be used with any plumbing system because of the fact that they use the supply of cold water as opposed to hot. However, as a sneaky top tip, you will achieve the best pressure levels if you use an electric shower with a gravity system. 

Also Read: The best electric shower

Key Points:

  • Minimum pressure: 0.1 bar (which all homes will have)
  • Temperature not affected by hot water use elsewhere in the home 
  • Compatible with all plumbing systems, work best with gravity
Manual Mixer Showers

What Do I Need to Know About Manual Mixer Showers?

Manual shower mixers are a common and familiar system, and the name is actually quite self-explanatory. It takes water from the hot and cold supplies that already exist in your home, and then combines them within the shower unit.

It usually comes as a deck mounted unit and has a shower handset integrated, and this can be attached to the wall if needed, which is what makes them so popular with shower baths. They also work with shower enclosures, making them quite a versatile option.

Additionally, shower mixers are compatible with all plumbing systems for extra flexibility. It is important to note that because they take water from your existing supply, the flow rate of water to the shower will not be increased. So, if there is low pressure within the rest of your home, there will be with your shower. 

Also Read: Best Shower Mixer

Key Points

  • Minimum pressure: 0.1 bar 
  • Can be used with a shower pump to increase pressure
  • Works with all plumbing systems as long as you have both hot & cold water supplies 
Thermostatic Showers

What Do I Need to Know About Thermostatic Shower mixers? 

Thermostatic shower mixers work in a very similar manner to the manual mixer showers we talked about in the above section, in that they take water from the existing supply. However, there is one main difference with these.

The thermostatic shower uses a pre-set thermostat to keep the water temperature consistent at all times, even if you are using water elsewhere in the home at the same time.

This is implemented to help prevent things like scalding, and it also means that you don’t need to live in fear if you hear someone washing the dishes while you are in the shower.

They do require 1.5 bar of pressure, meaning they will work on all plumbing systems that have both a hot and cold feed, but if running a gravity fed system you will require a twin impeller pump  something like a Bristan Shower pump is a good choice.

These units can be deck mounted for shower baths, but they can also work as part of a concealed or exposed unit, making them very versatile.

Key Points

  • Minimum Pressure: 1.5 bar 
  • Thermostat prevents scalding and temperature changes 
  • Ideal for children and the elderly 
  • Can be used with a shower pump on a gravity fed system 
  • Works with all plumbing systems(Pump needed on gravity fed systems) 
Water-Saving Airdrop Showers

What Do I Need to Know About Water-Saving Airdrop Showers?

In good news for the planet, people are starting to become more conscious of their impact on the environment, and so eco showers have become more popular in recent years. Airdrop showers are fantastic because they save masses of water without impacting the way it feels.

So, even though you are using less, the pressure and general feel of the shower doesn’t seem to be any different. They have been designed to suck air into the water, providing you with a refreshing shower that feels a lot like you are standing outside in the rain.

The air that has been added to the system reduces the amount of water that is needed, saving you money as well as helping the environment out. You won’t feel the reduction in water, but you will feel massively refreshed. 

Key Points

  • Minimum pressure: 0.1 bar 
  • Saves water and money 
  • Environmentally friendly 
  • Works with all plumbing systems 
Digital Showers

What Do I Need to Know About Digital Showers? 

Digital showers work in a very similar way to mixer and power showers, but they give you a lot more control over the temperature. While a standard mixer or power shower will need the flow adjusted to either hot or cold to achieve the right temperature, a digital shower will allow you to do the same but through the special panel on the shower itself. 

If you go one step further and buy a smart shower, the process is very similar, except that you can set the temperature from your phone as well. You can use several different modes on the shower as well, such as the warm-up mode which will gently heat the water to your desired temperature before you get in.

This eliminates the dreaded hand under the stream to check that it isn’t cold anymore. The panel also means that you have complete control over both the temperature and flow at all times, so you always have it just the way you like it.

Smart showers do tend to take things one step further, because there isn’t just phone connection available. You can also hook it up to your Alexa or home assistant, adding it to your smart home network and creating an even more advanced system. These systems are also compatible with all plumbing networks. 

There are different types of Digital shower to suit your plumbing setup, so if you have a gravity fed system, be sure to buy the one specifically for this setup. 

Key Points

  • Minimum pressure: 0.1 bar 
  • Can be used as part of a smart home 
  • Temperature can be set so that it does not change 
  • Compatible with all plumbing systems ( Be sure to choose a digital shower that works specifically with your plumbing system. 
Power Showers

What Do I Need to Know About Power Showers? 

A power shower often times get mistaken for an a electric shower, especially with there appearance being very similar, however they are very different in that a power shower requires both a  hot and cold water supply.

They also have a built in booster pump built because they are specifically installed in homes with a gravity fed and low pressure system. 

These cannot be installed in homes with combi-boilers or unvented systems.

They can also be quite noisy though, and tend to need more maintenance overall. The brass models are more expensive, but they also tend to last a lot longer and are considered more heavy-duty than the plastic ones.

Also Read: Power Shower Installation Guide

Also Read: Best Power Shower

Key Points

  • Minimum Pressure: 0.1 bar 
  • Boosts pressure with built in pump 
  • Best suited to the gravity fed system

To Conclude

Hopefully, this guide has been able to help you on your quest to find the perfect shower for your home. There are several different shower types, from the classic electric shower to something a little kinder to the environment (and your water bills), all with their own advantages and disadvantages.

What did you think of our  guide? Did it answer all of your questions, or are there areas that you felt needed improvement? We love hearing from you, so leave us a message in the comment section below. 

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