How to choose the best shower
How to buy the best electric shower
By Jess O'Leary
Article 1 of 4
From basic white boxes to sleek chrome units with wireless controls, we reveal how to buy the best electric shower for your bathroom.
Electric showers only heat the water you use. They just need a cold water supply and are ready to go without you having to heat the water first – meaning you don’t have to wait ages for a water tank to heat up before you can shower.
And because they heat a minimal amount of water they'll help you save on your energy bills.
Electric showers heat water inside the shower unit; water doesn't come into contact with your boiler. This means that if your boiler's on the blink you'll still be able to have a hot shower.
Best electric showers – see the models we recommend.
How powerful are electric showers?
Electric showers have a weaker flow than mixer showers or power showers. If you’re after a shower that delivers cascades of hot water to your morning shower, an electric model is unlikely to measure up.
Electric shower power levels range from 8.5kW to around 10.5kW. In general, the higher the wattage the more water can be heated and passed through the shower head in one go and the faster you’ll be able to wash the shampoo from your hair.
We’ve tested a range of the latest electric showers from big brands such as Aqualisa, Mira and Triton, including a range from 8.5kW to 10.5kW. To see which topped our tests, check out our electric shower reviews.
Who are electric showers suitable for?
Anyone can have an electric shower installed, as they run off cold mains water and aren’t affected by the type of water system you have in your home. This can make them suitable for unheated rooms or buildings with storage heaters, such as an outhouse or converted garage.
How much do electric showers cost?
Electric showers can cost as little as £50 for a basic model, all the way up to more than £400 for a thermostatic one with a high wattage.
Thermostatic showers, which help to regulate the temperature of the shower, are generally more expensive.
When we surveyed* electric shower owners, the average spend was £186. Price doesn't equate to quality though - we've found poor models with high price tags.
Can I install an electric shower without removing tiles in my bathroom?
If you’re replacing an electric shower you should be able to swap old for new without disturbing the tiles, providing your new model is compatible with your old shower’s power cabling. The latest electric showers have multiple power and water inlet options which can make them easier to fit, particularly if your new model is from a different brand.
If you’re installing a shower for the first time you’ll need to get a qualified electrician to fit it, as the high-power electrical element needs to be connected to a separate fused electrical supply circuit. This will involve channelling the pipes into the walls which will mean cutting into any tiles that are in the way.
To find out more, read our guide to fitting an electric shower.
Which electric shower features should I look out for?
- Thermostatic - a thermostatic shower is designed to keep the temperature steady to within a couple of degrees, so they should prevent your shower turning painfully hot and then numbingly cold if the mains water is used elsewhere in your home.
- Phased shutdown - this involves cold water running through the system for a few minutes after you've switched the shower off, to help minimise limescale build-up.
- Adjustable riser rail brackets - if you’re replacing an old electric shower, look for adjustable riser rail brackets so you can use the existing drill holes, rather than having to make new ones. Plus, choose a model that has multiple power and water cable entry points as this will make the unit easier to install.
Other features that might appeal include multiple shower head spray patterns to help you create your perfect shower, a stylish chrome finish and an anti-kink hose.
Why do electric showers turn hot and cold?
Electric showers are pretty basic appliances. Cold water from the mains flows into the unit and is heated by an element – just like the element in a kettle. Once the water gets to the right temperature (depending on the heat setting you’ve selected) it’s pushed through the shower head.
This means that when the amount of water flowing into the shower suddenly drops – if someone runs a tap or flushes a loo elsewhere in your house, for example – there’s proportionally more hot than cold water in the system, causing the temperature to rise. And when the water gets too hot a safety feature cuts power to the heating elements, causing the water to turn cold.
19% of electric shower owners we surveyed found the temperature was affected by water being run elsewhere in the house, and 16% found the water pressure changed.
To see which electric models will keep your shower at a steady temperature when a tap is turned on nearby, check out our Best Buy electric showers.
(*In May 2016 we surveyed 1,732 Which? members about their experiences with the shower they bought in the last five years.)