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Types of Showers

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 26 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
Showers Power Showers Electric Showers

Some people prefer showers over baths. There are several advantages to showers, they use less water and they are more economical. There are several different kinds of shower so you may need to decide which is the right one for you.

Electric Showers

Electric showers can be used with any domestic water system. They are usually connected to the mains cold water and an element within the shower heats the water as it passes through. If you can arrange a clearance of 10 metres from your shower spray to the underside of the cold water tank, you can fit an electric shower to it. The shower must have an independent cold supply from the tank. The water at your mains entry must have a running pressure of at least 1 bar, must flow at a rate of 8 litres per minute and have a maximum static pressure of 10 bar.

Your shower must be connected to the mains via a 15mm water pipe. An isolation valve can be added, which can be turned off when maintenance is required, avoiding having to turn the water off at the mains.

An electric shower must be installed on its own circuit and not spurred from any other connections or appliance. You must ensure that your fuse board is capable of providing the current above 60 amps. An RCD (residual current device) must be installed as, either part of your existing fuse board, or separately, interrupting the circuit to the shower. Connection to the fuse board should be by means of a MCB (miniature circuit breaker).

Mixer Showers

Mixer showers actually mix the existing hot and cold water, in a special valve before it reaches the shower head. They are suitable for either low or high pressure and they are available in two types of fixture: surface mounted fixtures, where the pipe work is easily installed on the top of your existing surface, or flush mounted fixtures, where the valve is seen, but the pipe work is hidden behind the surface.

They are ideal to install in a new shower cubicle construction where the pipes can be built into a wall. To operate correctly both the hot and the cold water need to come from a source operating at the same pressure. Both can come from a mains fed system, (combi boiler or multi point water heater and cold mains) or both can come from tank fed water (immersion and cold storage tank). If one supply must come from high pressure and one from low pressure, a pressure balanced mixer valve can be installed.

One drawback to installing a mixer shower is that it will usually be connected to pipes which supply water to other points. When the other points are used (taps, toilet cistern etc) the flow rate to the shower will be affected. This in turn will affect the temperature of the water coming out of the shower and, in the case of the cold being drawn off elsewhere, could lead to scalding.

Power Showers

Power showers are mixer showers with integral pumps which increase the rate of flow from the shower head. They can only be installed on low pressure, tank fed systems. The cold water tank should be no less than 50 gallons if supplies many outlets, a 25 gallon cold tank is acceptable for the shower alone. A dedicated hot and cold supply is necessary. The water supply must always be above the unit to ensure that the pump is always primed and does not have to suck any air.

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