People often ask me about the most unexpected things I encountered in Britain. Do the trains drive on the left, too? (They do.) Is it really as rainy as all that? (Actually, no.) And what’s one of the most confusing things you’ve encountered?
‘Electric showers’ is the answer to that one, by the way. And it’s not like they don’t exist back home – I just never saw one until I moved to the UK.
And I figured out the benefits pretty quickly, too. All it took was one very cold winter very far north and I was convinced.
But what are the benefits? Well, I’m glad you asked – let’s find out more, shall we?
What are electric showers good for?
Most importantly, these appliances are more energy efficient than traditional showers. They use up to six litres of water a minute. For comparison, a water-efficient showerhead uses nine litres, and an old-style showerhead up to 19.
That’s a big difference, especially right now, with the energy crisis hanging over everyone’s heads. And yes, I promise, this is the only time I’ll bring up these two words.
But beyond that, electric showers also very, very good at not suddenly changing the temperature. We’ve probably all experienced it. You’re taking a nice shower, when someone turns on another tap and your water suddenly turns freezing. Now, cold showers are said to be good, but I’d still like some warning.
“Electric showers are good at maintaining the temperature of the water – the heat won’t fluctuate when you turn on the hot tap elsewhere in the house.” That’s what Suzannah Adey, senior product manager at Mira Showers, told my colleague Sally Smith. “Plus, electric showers can also offer more consistent heat throughout the winter. Especially if your boiler has difficulty coping with the cold.”
How do they work?
Electric showers work similarly to a kettle. They only need access to a cold water supply, because they contain a heating element which brings the temperature up quickly. Once it’s warm enough, the water is filtered through the showerhead.
Because of this, electric showers are great for extensions or if you want to create new shower rooms, as you won’t have to connect them to hot water mains.
Aren’t they hard to install?
They’re not – but fitting an electric shower is definitely a job for a professional. Unless you’re an electrician yourself, you shouldn’t tamper with the electrics in your home.
In fact, if the inlet pipe and and electric connection are in a suitable place, a professional can carry out this job in around half an hour. Speedy, right?
When replacing an old electric shower, make sure the new design is at least the same size. You could choose a bigger one, too, if you like its look better – the point is that it should cover up any marks on the tiles, unless you’re getting those redone too.
It’s also crucial that you check your new shower’s kW rating. If it’s the same, you’re good to go – but if it’s higher, your cables might need to be changed to withstand higher currents.
What special features do electric showers have?
Most commonly, they will come with an eco mode, which uses only one heating element to help you save energy.
It’s especially good for summer, when the temperature is naturally higher and the water won’t need as much extra heating as it does during the colder months.
“A range of electric showers also have reinforced fibre tanks to increase the longevity,” says Alex Beckwith, bathroom design expert at Victorian Plumbing. “These have a higher burst resistance and less limescale build up, which makes them ideal if you live in a hard water area.”
There are also dual-outlet designs, which create the same experience as a dual-outlet mixer tap with all the benefits of electric showers.
And finally, you can fit your electric shower with a flow regulator, which can limit water use and help you save even more.
Okay, but are there any drawbacks?
As mentioned, limescale buildup can prove a problem, so it’s important to stay on top of it – especially if you live in a hard water area. Luckily, a lot of brands have developed technology to help with this.
Of course, we also need to talk about water pressure. This isn’t as high with electric showers as it is with more traditional designs, but if you choose a higher-kW model it will be stronger.
Featured image: Amore electric shower in gloss black, £195.99, Triton.
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