Can I Replace My Electric Shower With a Thermostatic Shower?
Electric showers are pretty dang cool – but you know what else is? A thermostatic shower. While there are a few key defining factors, there’s really only one major difference. The former heats water internally, while the latter limits the maximum heat based on a preset thermostat. This prevents little kiddos from getting scalded and makes it easier to control the extremes of your water temperature. So with that out of the way – can you replace an electric shower with a thermostatic shower?
So can you replace an electric shower with a thermostatic shower? Of course! It’ll take a bit of work, but the only thing stopping you is your own motivation and budget.
There’s quite a bit to cover here, so let’s just dive right in, shall we?
Electric Vs. Thermostatic Showers: What’s the Difference?
As said above, there are a few key defining factors that differentiate these two types of showers. The former heats water very quickly through an electric heating element. They also only require cold water to work, as all water is heated internally in electric showers.
In contrast, thermostatic showers need to be on a mains water supply. They use a combination of water pressure and temperature to feed water through the piping. Also unlike an electric shower, thermostatic showers don’t have internal heating elements.
At the end of the day, electric showers are generally a better budget choice as they don’t have to deal with the rest of the house’s water supply.
What Do I Get Out of An Electric Shower?
There are a few key things to keep in mind when considering replacing your electric shower. They come with their own set of pros and cons, so it’s vital to know them when making this decision.
Some of the benefits of electric showers are:
- Instant hot water – This is a pretty obvious benefit. Electric showers heat water near-instantly, meaning you’ll never need to shiver your skin off while waiting for the water to heat.
- Economical – Electric showers only heat water that’s actively in use. In contrast, your boiler has to keep the water at a consistent temperature, 24/7. This means that you’ll never pay to heat water you don’t actively need.
- Combi boiler – If your home has a combi boiler, you’re more likely to enjoy the benefits of an electric shower. Gravity-fed systems are generally more suited to traditional or specialised shower systems.
- Tank size – While a traditional shower’s hot water supply is in theory larger than that of an electric shower, there is a caveat. The speed with which an electric shower heats water outpaces the larger capacity showers which heat slowly. This means you’ll never need to plan a shower around your clothes or dishwasher again.
The bad side, though, is also important:
- Electric showers have specific requirements – When installing an electric shower, you’ll first need to confirm that you have the following:
- Minimum water pressure of 1 bar at your main entry.
- Minimum flow rate of 8 litres per minute of water.
- Maximum static pressure of 10 bar.
What About Thermostatic Showers?
On the other hand, thermostatic showers have their own slew of things to keep in mind. They’re a bit more complicated, technically speaking, and they also have their own list of good vs. bad.
Thermostatic showers consist of three main parts: a heating element, piston and spring, and temperature control. Let’s talk about what these do, yeah?
- Heating element – The heating element, well, heats stuff. Specifically, it heats or cools your water as needed, based on its temperature readings. (Thanks, thermostat!)
- Piston and spring – These parts work together. The piston and spring regulate the water temperature while the heating element does its thing. They generally move across the entry points for hot and cold water to detect temperature and are vital to temperature control.
- Temperature control – The final part, this is (for all intents and purposes) a thermostat attached to the handle, and it’s the part you’ll directly interact with on a daily basis. If the temperature starts to vary, start here and work your way up the list.
There are a few types of valves that are generally used by thermostatic showers: bar valves, concealed/exposed valves, and traditional valves:
- Bar valves – These are designed for smaller bathrooms. They’re generally very affordable and simple to fit, though they are a bit more simple.
- Concealed valves – As the name implies, concealed valves are hidden. This is perfect for those who prefer minimalist or low profile shower designs. They’re also generally a bit harder to install, as only the showerhead and its riser and controls are visible, in contrast to the bar valve which has most of this exposed.
- Exposed valves – These are the opposite of concealed valves. They’re great for large or multipurpose bathrooms, as they allow a bit more flexibility in function.
- Traditional Valves – Think bar valve mixed with exposed valves. This will look quite familiar, as it’s reminiscent of a traditional shower.
Electric to Thermostatic: The Process
This is going to be a surprisingly short section, for one reason. I’m going to tell you that, unless you’re a certified plumber and electrician, you’re going to want professionals to do this. Electric showers and thermostatic showers are fundamentally different in how they operate, and this means that a lot will need to be done to get a thermostatic shower up and running.
You’ll need to have an electrician uninstall the electric shower, bring in a plumber to install the thermostatic shower and get it hooked to the proper water lines, and you may even need a general contractor! If your shower is built into the bathroom or tub, you’ll likely need to reinstall a tub/shower setup and retile the bathroom. And finally (most importantly, too), you’ll need a safety inspection.
As you can tell, this is a pretty big process – but it’s entirely possible to replace an electric shower with a thermostatic shower, assuming you have the time and budget. This video demonstrates the process – just keep in mind that it’s a pro doing this, so they have access to the tools and experience to do this properly.
At the end of the day, it’s entirely possible to replace an electric shower with a thermostatic shower. While it will likely be spendy and a bit of a process, it’s certainly a doable task. Just don’t skimp out on hiring professionals when needed – they’ll ensure you’re safe and the shower is perfectly installed, which honestly, you deserve.
Now go take a hot (but not too hot) shower in your new thermostatic setup!