If you are considering changing your shower, you may have looked around at some bathroom shops and be surprised at the number of choices you have. Choosing a shower valve can also be confusing, so here’s a guide to tell you what it is when it comes to showers.
Manual shower valves
This is the simplest type of shower. Most hand showers have a single lever control that is used to control the water flow and temperature. They are very simple to use and are usually not expensive.
Thermostatic valves for shower
The great advantage of a thermostatic shower valve is that it can provide a constant and uniform temperature and cope with fluctuations in the flow and temperature of hot and cold water. Most thermostatic valves have extra anti-scald safety features and will shut off the water flow if the cold water supply fails.
Hidden and exposed valves
Concealed / exposed refers to the way the shower valve is mounted on the wall. A concealed shower valve is built into the shower wall so that most of the valve is hidden and only the control levers are visible. A sight valve is mounted on the shower wall so that the entire mechanism is visible. Many shower taps can be mounted both on sight and concealed.
Twin shower valves
Unlike a single lever valve, a double valve has two controls, one control for the water flow rate and a second control for the water temperature.
Triple shower valves
A triple valve has three controls; one for the water flow, one for the temperature and a third which is normally a diverter. The diverter is useful if you have two shower heads. It is becoming more and more common to have a fixed overhead shower head and a hand held shower head as well. The diverter on a triple shower valve allows you to select which shower head the water is fed to.
Sequential shower valves
This is one we get a lot of questions about. A sequential valve has a single lever that works a bit like the knob on your stove. When the lever is fully counterclockwise the shower is closed. Turning the lever turns on the shower. With a sequential valve “on” means fully inserted so as to have undergone maximum pressure. Turning the lever further increases the water temperature.
A recent addition is the shower panel or the shower column. This is a single unit that contains everything you need for a sensational shower. Specifications vary but usually include a shower valve (often thermostatic), diverter, fixed shower head, hand shower, and several body jets. Shower panels are easy to install but can require quite high water pressure to work well, so you may want to install a shower pump as well.
Nowadays, shower components are standardized enough that you can practically pick and choose the parts you want to create the shower of your dreams. You can choose from hundreds of shower taps, diverters and stop valves, have multiple overhead showers, ceiling shower heads, riser rails, rigid risers or body jets to build exactly the shower you want, individual and customized to your needs. After all, how else will you take a shower with 16 jets and 12-inch shower heads?
Electric showers heat the water as it goes through the shower, so they only need a cold water supply so you have the easiest plumbing and no hot water is needed to run them. Electric showers are especially popular in private bathrooms.
A power shower is basically a shower with a built-in pump. A power shower needs hot and cold water. A power shower does not heat the water; pumps the water through and increases the water pressure, giving you a stronger shower. Power showers are ideal where the water pressure is low, perhaps in a bungalow.
So that’s it. Not all there is to know about showers, but a good start!