It was supposed to be a simple weekend project. It was supposed to take an hour; two, tops. But then you got to the store and realized: there are ten billion showerheads, and they all look weird and fancy.
Showerheads are the type of appliance you never think about until you do. Then, when you need one, you realize you’ve fallen into a hidden world of water pressure and sizing and functionality. Consider us your tour guide in that frightening new world. When you’re picking out a new showerhead, here’s what you should look at first.
The National Pipe Thread size is standardized in the US. That means the fitting connecting a shower head to the “elbow” will almost always be the same size–½ inch NPT. You shouldn’t have to worry about a shower head fitting onto your shower elbow.
There are numerous types of showerhead. Start your search by finding out which kind you want and/or which would work best in your particular shower. Here are the most common kinds of showerhead:
- Wall-mounted Single-head: The simple bowl-shaped head that usually attaches directly to the shower elbow. The main advantage of the single-head showerhead is its simplicity and flexibility.
- Hand-held: These showerheads connect to a hose installed on the shower elbow. The showerhead itself detaches from a holder on the wall. Some showerheads may include both hand-held and conventional heads.
- Ceiling (or “Rain”): These heads come affixed to a long, “L” or “P” shaped arm that attaches to the shower elbow. The arm positions the showerhead directly over the showering person.
If you aren’t sure what you want, you could always bring your current showerhead with you. Tell the sales clerk you either want something similar or something very different. You could also take pictures of your shower for convenient reference.
Different showerheads require different psi for effective flow. If your home doesn’t have enough water pressure for the head you choose, water won’t be able to flow with enough strength or consistency to be effective.
Most shower heads need between 40 and 60 psi. Check your home’s water pressure and purchase a showerhead that will work for it. And remember, if your water pressure isn’t high enough, you can follow steps like these to improve it.
Showerhead nozzles spray water in different patterns and intensity. Most showerheads include several different settings you can easily adjust on the head itself. Try to figure out what kind of shower you prefer, and then look for a head that offers that spray setting. Here are a few basic settings you could find on a showerhead:
- Wide: Usually the default. Water sprays out of each nozzle constantly at the same speed and consistency.
- Targeted: Shoots water harder than usual, out of only a few nozzles.
- Rinse: Pours water out of the central nozzles for soaking.
- Pulsating: Shoots water out of nozzles in alternating patterns.
The more water pressure a showerhead requires, the more energy it will use. Showers are the third-highest water using appliance in the average US home. The average showerhead uses 2.1 gallons per minute (gpm).
An easy way to save money on water usage is to look for a showerhead with the WaterSense label. WaterSense is an EPA-sponsored program set up to help consumers find water-efficient products. When a shower head has a WaterSense label, it’s EPA-certified to use no more than 2.0 gpm.
It’s easy to forget, but you gotta like the way the showerhead actually looks! Be sure to pick a finish that matches your bathroom’s decor. It may not sound particularly important now, but showerheads last awhile; you may as well actually like the one you end up with!
If you can use these considerations to narrow down what you’re looking for, you just might find it’s not so hard to end up with a showerhead you’ll love.