How do I choose the best showerhead for my bathroom?
There are five main factors to consider when shopping for a showerhead:
- Type: Consider whether you want a fixed, handheld, or dual (a combination of fixed and handheld) showerhead.
- Mount: Determine whether you’ll mount your showerhead on the wall or ceiling.
- Spray pattern: Decide if you want one or many spray options. Some showerheads come with multiple spray patterns, such as rain, full, jet, and massage.
- Flow rate: Consider the amount of water that comes out of your showerhead. A low-flow showerhead can help save water, but many people find showerheads with a high flow rate more pleasant.
What are the different types of showerheads?
There are several showerhead types to choose from, each with its own pros and cons. It’s important to take all these factors into account when shopping for a new showerhead.
Fixed: These models are attached directly to the shower arm — the existing water pipe coming out of your shower wall — and usually have a ball joint that allows you to pivot and adjust the angle of their spray. These can be basic models that have just one spray option as well as multi-functional options that have a range of functions and spray settings.
Handheld: These showerheads sit in a cradle and can be used as a fixed showerhead if you like, but they also have a long, flexible hose that allows you to use them as a handheld unit. These are great for rinsing off body wash or shaving cream, bathing your pets, and cleaning the shower itself.
Dual showerheads: These are a combination of fixed and handheld models and usually use some type of cradle built into a fixed showerhead face. This allows the fixed showerhead to be used at the same time as the handheld wand, though this diverts water and can result in decreased pressure.
Yahoodain recommends these types of showerheads and designed his own bathroom to have both fixed and handheld options. “Since they’re useful for different things, I can choose which one I want,” he said. “If I want a regular pressure head for cleaning, or handheld for rinsing, or relaxing rain shower, I have the option to choose.”
Where should I mount my showerhead?
Wall-mounted showerheads: The majority of homes and apartments have wall-mounted shower arms, which is why I limited my testing options to products compatible with those fittings. These are your traditional showerheads that are attached to a wall.
Ceiling-mounted showerheads: Ceiling-mounted showerheads allow for larger, rain-style showerheads. Since they’re so high up, they usually aren’t accessible enough to have different stream settings.
What’s the best flow rate for a showerhead?
The flow rate indicates how much water can flow out of your showerhead and is measured in gallons per minute (GPM). Since 1992, federal regulations have mandated that no showerhead can have a flow rate higher than 2.5 GPM. In some states, like California, that limit is even lower at 1.8 GPM. These regulations are meant to help conserve water; a 10-minute shower at 2.5 GPM uses 25 gallons of water.
However, when you see a 2.5 GPM showerhead model, it doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically get that flow rate. Your home’s water pressure is the ultimate factor that dictates your flow rate and is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). A high PSI of 80 will probably get you 2.5 GPM, but most US homes hover around 60 PSI, so your flow rate will be lower.
“If the low water pressure is an issue, consult with a plumber to boost the water flow by adjusting or replacing the pressure regulator,” said Higgins.
While a showerhead itself can’t increase the flow rate of your home, effective “low-flow” models can limit the amount of pressure lost during operation. Flow-rate preferences can differ from person to person. Some prioritize high GPM over all else, and others prefer a lower flow. Make sure to check with your household so you can effectively take flow rate into account when choosing a showerhead.
If you’re interested in conserving water, look for showerheads with a “WaterSense” label. This indicates that it meets EPA criteria and maxes out at 2.0 GPM.
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