Electric showers are sometimes referred to as instantaneous showers. The fact that they heat water instantly is a great advantage over other types of shower, as they operate independently of the central heating system and offer maximum convenience..
The fact that they are independent of the heating system means that they can be fitted in any home, regardless of which type of heating system is in place, and can be used if the heating is switched off or is out of action. In a second bathroom or shower room they are ideal as a backup shower and will work even if your central heating is out of action.
Although electric showers require a lot of electrical power during operation, they are only operated for a short period so can prove quite economical. If however, you have stored hot water available most of the time, an electric shower will not save you any money because your boiler will be heating one lot of water and the electric shower will be heating an additional amount of water as the electric shower will take its water from mains pressure cold water not the heating system.
Some houses may not have mains water or might suffer from very low pressure. Electric showers have a minimum pressure that they require in order to operate successfully so if your supply is not sufficient there are one or two pumped electric showers that will work with low pressure water. These have a small pump built into the unit that boosts the water pressure before it reaches the heating chamber. Manufacturers of these pumped showers include Triton and Mira.
Electric showers require a large cable to be run from the shower, back to the fuse box via a pull switch. Some redecoration might need to take place when you install an electric shower depending on where the cable has had to be run. A qualified electrician should be used to install the shower as there are many new regulations that need to be met.
When you looking to buy and electric shower you will see that they are supplied with different kilowatt ratings - the higher the rating, the greater the volume of water the shower is able to heat and so provide a better rate of flow. Over the years the ratings have gradually increased: 6kw, 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5,10 and now up to 10.5kw giving significantly better showering performance than was previously available. However, even a top rated electric shower cannot provide anywhere near the flow rates offered by power showers, or even many mixer showers.
There are several different features that are often seen on electric showers and these include:
Phased shutdown is a safety device built in to many showers to prevent scalding. When the shower is shut off the heating elements inside the chamber can still be very hot. The water in the chamber is static so it can heat up very quickly. If the unit is then switched back on this very hot water will be the first thing to exit the shower head unless the shower has phased shutdown which prevents this from happening.
Temperature stabilisation is used to regulate the water temperature in the event of someone using water elsewhere in the house whilst the electric shower is in use. Although not fully thermostatic these showers do offer a degree of protection from temperature fluctuations. If you want a guaranteed constant temperature you will need to opt for a fully thermostatic electric shower.
Limescale can be a problem with electric showers. It can build up in the heating chamber and the spray head. A rub clean handset can aid with one of these two areas. It has small flexible cones where the water sprays out of the shower head. By rubbing these with the finger or thumb they flex, breaking off any limescale build-up.