Different Types of Shower Heads
Updated: May 13
Did you know that there are many different kinds of showerheads?
Which one you choose is purely a matter of preference. It is, however, a good idea to be aware of shower head types, so that you know what’s available in case you decide to move house or redecorate your bathroom.
Of course, you’ll find that there are handheld and permanently fixed shower heads. Some come with massage units and pulsing sprays. When you look at a catalogue, all the different types of shower heads can be pretty intimidating!
Basically, you’ll find there are many, many kinds of shower heads available on the market. So, it’s worth starting your search with a few bullet points listing what type you want and what features you would prefer for your own bathroom. So, start with a vague idea of what type of shower head you want and soon you'll be able to figure out the similarities and differences between the different types.
The Two Main Types of Shower Heads
1. Fixed Shower Head
Fixed shower heads are also known as rain shower heads. They’re called fixed because they’re plumbed in permanently; you can’t move them around! The shower head fits onto the ceiling, usually has a large diameter, and discharges water like a rain shower. Hence the name.
Some fixed shower heads fit onto the wall and not the ceiling. giving you an angled shower. These are often called wall-mounted shower heads. But unfortunately, in this scenario, there's no way to adjust the shower's height properly, so bathing kids or pets can be difficult.
Fixed showerheads are very popular in the USA, especially in new houses where the plumbing can be hidden behind walls during building. Many fixed showers have a small room next to the shower with exposed pipework for ease of maintenance. Usually, fixed shower heads use hot water supplied from a central furnace and stored in a hot water tank. Centrally heated water has been common in the USA for many decades, so it makes sense for the fixed shower head to be used.
In the UK, fixed shower heads are more common in public and communal wash areas such as swimming pools, gymnasiums, sports clubs etc.
2. Handheld Shower Head
Although fixed shower heads are great, handheld ones have many more advantages. The shower head attaches to a hose and is removable from its wall bracket. This means that you can concentrate on washing the lower parts of your body. For example, you can wash your feet without getting your hair wet. It also means you can shower the kids in the bathtub or shampoo the dog if you want to.
Showering, as opposed to using a bathtub, has only become popular in the UK over the last 40 or 50 years. A completely different shower to the American type had to be used to retrofit an existing bathroom plumbing system to include a shower. Hence, the surface shower unit and handheld shower head are common in the UK. It’s only recently that the combi water heater has made hot water available for washing at the turn of a tap. Up until now, the most common type of shower was an electric shower unit with a flexible hose and handheld shower head.
Similarly in Europe, the handheld shower head was popular for rinsing suds after a bath and would be connected to the bath taps. It’s only a small step from this to having a shower unit with a flexible hose, which is now common all across Europe.
Just like a fixed shower head, there are many different types of handheld shower heads. If you’re browsing for a new one, it’s worthwhile having a few bullet points written down.
Other Types of Showerheads
Now we’ve mentioned the two main shower head categories, we can start to talk about the different subcategories available. Remember that most of these are available as fixed or hand-held.
High Pressure Shower Heads
Some shower heads are designed for areas that have naturally high water pressure. Unfortunately, not everyone lives in a high pressure area, but you can install a power shower that turns low pressure water into high pressure.
One of the biggest advantages of having a high pressure shower head is that they come with a range of different features. You can have a powerful massage spray pattern that relaxes tired muscles after a hard day at work or a stimulating needle spray to wake you up in the morning. Another advantage of high pressure shower heads is that you need less time to clean yourself. This results in less water being used and lower utility bills.
Low Pressure Showerheads
We talked earlier about installing a power shower to increase the water pressure in a low pressure situation. This isn’t always necessary. Some manufacturers such as StoneStream® produce shower heads that operate efficiently with not only low pressure water but with water of any pressure!
By the way, many shower manufacturers advertise their shower heads as being able to increase the pressure of the delivered water. Unfortunately, you can’t increase the pressure of water to a shower head without an additional or more powerful pump. What they probably mean is that the shower head constricts the spray and so increases the velocity of the water jet hitting your skin. This gives the impression of having higher water pressure. But, you are actually using less water at a higher velocity. You might have experienced this phenomenon by placing your thumb over the open end of a garden hose. The jet of water shoots out faster and travels farther, but you haven’t increased the water pressure.
Filter Shower Heads
Some shower heads, such as the ones that are in the fantastic StoneStream® range, come with an inbuilt, replaceable filter cartridge. Or, you can use the Universal Shower Water Filter. These are designed to remove foreign particles from the water stream and are especially useful if your plumbing is old and has rust and limescale particles floating around the system. Rather than allowing the particles to block the shower nozzles or contaminate your skin and hair, the filter removes the particles. Some filters have an extremely small mesh and can remove foreign particles around the size of bacteria.
Water Softening Shower Heads
Instead of filters, these shower heads include components to remove dissolved minerals from the water.
Some areas have underlying geology of chalk or limestone. These minerals dissolve in the domestic water that comes to your household. This then results in hard water that will clog up shower nozzles, deposit crystalline precipitates around taps and bathroom fixtures, and leave limescale on shower room tiles.
To fix this problem, you can either install a water softener as part of your domestic water system or you can use specialised water softening units at outlets such as your shower head. Fortunately, StoneStream® also sells products to soften your water. The EcoPower Shower Head makes use of water softening cartridges as well as filters.
Low-Flow Shower Heads
These are relatively new on the market and result from a common and important need to be environmentally friendly. This type of shower head allows you to use less water but still have a satisfying showering experience. The shower head mixes air with the water flow to reduce the amount of water at the spray nozzles. With a low-flow shower head, you get lower utility costs and conserve a lot of water.
LED Shower Heads
This relatively new type of shower head is for those people who want almost everything in terms of aesthetics! This latest technology allows LEDs to throw out colours depending on the temperature of the water. It’s a fun thing to have but only improves the shower experience by providing a fun dimension.
Hot water generates mainly red lights, warm water produces yellow and green sparkles, and cold water produces mainly blue light. You can buy many different types of these; they will all have a gimmick to set themselves apart from the rest. However, if you do buy one, make sure it's durable and of high quality. We say this because many LED shower heads on the market are made from poor quality materials.
Handheld Shower Heads with an On/Off Switch
You will find this type of shower head very handy when using it as a hand-held device (rather than in its wall bracket). If you’re washing individual parts of the body, bathing the kids, washing your dog, or even rinsing the ceramic tiles, it’s useful to be able to turn the spray on and off without reaching up to the main shower unit and adjusting the water flow. This makes even more sense if you’ve found the perfect temperature.
These shower heads often incorporate a switch to allow you to change the spray pattern as well. You can thus alternate between a rainfall, pulse, and massage spray whenever you want. StoneStream® has a choice of handles on its EcoPower Shower Head. One with a STOP button for use with hot and cold mixer showers, and one without a STOP button for use with any type of shower. We advise you not to use the STOP button with domestic electric showers, RVs, caravans, trailers, and campers of all kinds as it can be dangerous.
Dual Shower Heads
As you might expect, these units (they’re also known as combo shower heads) have two independent shower heads providing the same or different experiences from each spray. There are various configurations of two shower heads available, depending on the manufacturer and the purpose. Because these provide double the amount of water, they are ideal for one person having a quick shower. They’re also useful if two people enjoy using the shower together but like different spray patterns.
Where Do We Go From Here?
As you can see, you can choose from many different categories of shower heads and of course, there are many different designs, shapes, and colours available within each category.
As we’ve said before, before you go out shopping for a new shower head, make a few bullet points. Choose what type you want and then look at the various models within each category. It will probably take some time, but if you choose wisely, you will end up with a shower head that fulfils all your requirements and ticks all the boxes.
Choose wisely and enjoy the different kinds of shower heads out there!