Do Electric Showers Heat the Water? Discover How It Works!

sam shead

Sam Shead

Last Updated: 12 Jun 2024

Have you ever stepped into a shower expecting a warm embrace of water only to be greeted by an unwelcome chill? 

The quest for that perfect shower temperature can be elusive, especially when unsure of how your shower system functions. 

This is where electric showers come into play. They promise to simplify your daily routine and empower you with on-demand hot water. 

But how do these devices manage to provide heated water instantaneously? 

This article will bridge your understanding of the essential workings of electric showers to appreciate their efficiency and convenience. 

By the end, you'll see precisely how electric showers could be the solution you've been searching for, offering a steady stream of hot water tailored to your preference.

Key Takeaways

  • Electric Shower Functionality: Electric showers heat water independently using an internal heating element, ensuring you get hot water instantly without needing a pre-heated water supply from your home's boiler system.

  • How Electric Showers Work: Cold water is drawn directly from the main supply and passes over a heating element inside the shower unit, heating the water to the desired temperature set by the user before it exits the shower head.

  • Installation Considerations: Installing an electric shower requires connection to both your water main and electrical system, with specific requirements for cable and circuit breaker sizes depending on the kilowatt rating of the shower.

  • Comparative Efficiency: Unlike power showers, which use water from hot and cold supplies and may require a pump, electric showers are more energy-efficient as they heat only the water used during a shower.

  • Optimal Power Settings: An electric shower's kilowatt rating affects its efficiency and performance; higher ratings can heat water more quickly, providing a better flow rate and hotter water.

  • Maintenance Tips: Regular maintenance, such as descaling the heating element and checking the electrical connections, can extend the lifespan of an electric shower and ensure it continues to operate efficiently.

  • Find out the top rated electric showers in 2024 from Best Electric Showers.

Free PDF: Ultimate Buyer's Guide to Electric Showers

What Exactly is an Electric Shower?

An electric shower represents a pivotal solution for modern households, offering both convenience and efficiency in water heating technology. 

Unlike traditional showers that require preheated water from a boiler, electric showers heat water on demand. 

This capability provides immediate hot water and ensures that it never runs out, no matter how many back-to-back showers are taken.

Unpacking the Basics

At its core, an electric shower is a standalone unit that draws cold water directly from the mains water supply. 

This water is then heated by passing through an internal heating element, similar to how a kettle works, but much more sophisticated. 

The temperature can be adjusted according to preference, allowing for a customised showering experience.

Key Features and Common Designs

Electric showers are known for their compact design, which makes them an ideal choice for smaller bathrooms or where space is at a premium.

Most units have a simple control panel for regulating water flow and temperature. 

Designs vary from basic, purely functional models to more contemporary ones, including digital displays and eco settings that help conserve water and energy.

This type of shower is particularly beneficial in homes where the hot water supply may be limited, or you want to reduce the wait time for hot water. 

Its independence from the home heating system also means that if your boiler fails, you will still have access to hot water for showers.

How Do Electric Showers Heat Your Water?

They understand how electric showers work, essential for appreciating their utility and efficiency in providing hot water on demand. 

The operation of electric showers revolves around a fundamental yet ingenious mechanism.

How Your Electric Shower Gets the Water Hot

Electric showers incorporate heating elements like those in an electric kettle but are optimised for safety and efficiency. 

When you turn on the shower, cold water is drawn directly from the main supply at ambient temperature. 

This cold water travels through the shower unit and encounters the heating element.

Discussion of the Heating Element and Water Flow Process

The heating element is powered by electricity and is designed to heat the water as it passes over it rapidly. 

The element's power is measured in kilowatts (kW); the higher the rating, the faster and hotter the water can become. 

This process allows the shower to deliver hot water instantaneously and continuously, ensuring that the water temperature remains stable throughout your shower, regardless of external factors like using other household appliances.

The flow of water and the temperature are controlled via adjustments on the shower unit. 

Users can select their desired temperature, and the electric shower modulates the electricity to the heating element to maintain this temperature by varying the water flow rate. 

If you increase the temperature setting, the flow rate might decrease slightly as the shower compensates by heating the water to a higher temperature.

This system ensures that electric showers are effective in heating water and exceptionally responsive, providing a tailored showering experience that can adapt to individual preferences in real time.

Installing Your Electric Shower

Installing an electric shower involves specific steps that ensure safety and optimal performance. 

Whether replacing an old model or installing a brand-new unit, understanding the installation process can help you prepare for what to expect and ensure everything is done correctly.

Step-by-Step: Getting Your Electric Shower Up and Running

Choose the Right Location

The first step is to determine where the shower will be installed. It should be close to an existing water primary and electrical circuit to minimise extensive plumbing and wiring needs.

Prepare the Electrical Supply

Electric showers require a dedicated electrical circuit. 

This means running a 10mm cable directly from your consumer unit (fuse box) to the shower, ensuring it's connected via a double-pole isolating switch for safety. 

It's crucial to use the correct cable size and protections, such as a circuit breaker, to handle the load, typically between 40 and 50 amps, depending on the shower's power rating.

Connect to the Water Supply

Connect the shower unit to the cold water supply using suitable plumbing fittings. Ensure that the connection is secure and watertight to prevent any leaks.

Mounting the Shower Unit

Attach the shower unit to the wall, ensuring it is securely fixed. The height and position should be such that it can be easily accessed and operated.

Testing the Installation

Once everything is connected, testing the installation before completing the setup is essential. This includes checking for leaks in the water connections and ensuring the electrical connections are safe and secure.

Final Setup

Install the shower head and hose, then turn on the shower to check the water temperature and flow. Adjust as necessary to ensure the shower functions correctly.

Required Tools and Safety Precautions

  • Tools: You'll need various tools such as a drill, screwdrivers, adjustable wrenches, wire strippers, and a pipe cutter.

  • Safety: Always turn off the main power supply when working with electrical installations. If you need more confidence in your electrical skills, hiring a qualified electrician to handle the wiring and connections is advisable.

It is also essential to follow local building regulations and standards, which might require the work to be inspected by a professional. 

The correct installation ensures the efficient operation of the electric shower and guarantees its safe use.

Electric vs. Power Showers: Which Wins?

The choice between electric and power showers can be significant when upgrading or installing a new shower system. 

Each type offers unique benefits and drawbacks, making understanding the differences crucial for making an informed decision.

Comparison of Electric Showers and Power Showers

Electric showers heat water on demand using an internal heating element, which only requires a cold water supply. 

This feature makes them highly efficient, as no energy is wasted in heating water that isn't immediately used. 

They are instrumental in homes where hot water from a central boiler isn't readily unavailable or in limited supply.

On the other hand, power showers mix water from hot and cold supplies, using an integrated pump to boost the water pressure. 

This is advantageous in homes with low water pressure, providing a more vigorous shower experience. 

However, because power showers rely on pre-heated hot water, they can consume more energy overall, as the boiler must work to heat the water in addition to the power used by the shower's pump.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Type

Advantages of Electric Showers

  • Instantaneous hot water is available on demand.

  • They are more energy-efficient as they heat only the water that is used.

  • Independent of the home's hot water system, they still function if the boiler fails.

Disadvantages of Electric Showers

  • Generally lower water pressure than power showers unless specifically designed to compensate.

  • Higher electricity consumption during use can be a consideration in terms of ongoing energy costs.

Advantages of Power Showers

  • Stronger water flow due to the built-in pump enhancing the shower experience.

  • It is ideal for homes with adequate hot and cold water and low pressure.

Disadvantages of Power Showers

  • Higher overall energy consumption is due to running a pump and a boiler.

  • It depends on the boiler's ability to supply hot water, which can be a limitation in some situations.

In summary, electric showers offer a convenient and energy-efficient solution for immediate hot water without the reliance on a central heating system, making them ideal for smaller households or where energy efficiency is a priority. 

Power showers provide a more luxurious shower experience with higher pressure and volume. They are suited for homes where the water pressure needs a boost, and there is reliable access to hot water.

Picking the Perfect KW Power Rating for Your Shower

Selecting the appropriate kilowatt (kW) rating for an electric shower ensures optimal performance and energy efficiency. 

The kilowatt rating directly influences how quickly the shower heats the water, affecting the flow rate and the temperature of the water delivered.

Explanation of Different Power Ratings and Their Significance

Electric showers are available in various power ratings, ranging from 7.5 kW to 10.5 kW. 

The choice of power rating should be based on several factors, including the electrical infrastructure of your home and your water usage needs:

  • 7.5 kW to 8.5 kW: Suitable for smaller households or where electrical supply limitations exist. These units consume less power, which can benefit energy savings but may result in a lower water flow rate.

  • 9.0 kW to 10.5 kW: These higher-rated showers provide a stronger flow and hotter water, making them ideal for families or individuals who prefer a more powerful shower. They do require stronger electrical circuits and may consume more energy.

How to Determine the Appropriate Kilowatt Rating for Your Home

Assess Your Home’s Electrical System 

Before choosing a high-powered electric shower, ensure your home’s electrical system can handle the additional load. 

This might involve consulting a qualified electrician to inspect your existing wiring and circuit breakers.

Consider Your Water Usage

Think about your household's water usage patterns. 

Larger families or households with higher water usage might benefit from a higher kW rating to avoid drops in temperature during continuous use.

Check Water Pressure

The effectiveness of an electric shower also depends on the mains water pressure in your home. 

If your water pressure is typically low, a higher kilowatt shower might not necessarily offer better performance and could require adjustments to your home’s plumbing system.

Energy Efficiency Considerations 

Higher kW units provide quick heating and strong water flow but at the cost of higher energy consumption. 

Weigh the benefits of rapid heating against your energy budget and environmental considerations.

By understanding these factors, you can choose a kilowatt rating that balances performance with energy efficiency, ensuring your electric shower meets your needs without unnecessary expense or strain on your home’s electrical infrastructure.

Saving Energy with Your Electric Shower

Energy efficiency is critical for any appliance, especially those that heat water, like electric showers. 

Understanding how much energy electric showers consume and how to use them efficiently can significantly save utility bills and reduce environmental impact.

How Much Energy Do Electric Showers Use?

Electric showers are designed to heat water only as needed, which inherently makes them more energy-efficient than systems that store and continuously heat water. 

The energy consumption of an electric shower depends primarily on its power rating and duration of use. 

For instance, a 10 kW shower running for 10 minutes will consume about 1.67 kWh of electricity. 

This consumption is straightforward to calculate: simply multiply the power rating by the duration of use in hours.

Tips for Energy Efficiency with Electric Showers

Opt for a Suitable Power Rating 

As discussed earlier, choosing the right power rating for your needs can prevent excessive energy use. 

A shower that's too powerful for your needs will consume more energy than necessary.

Shorter Showers

Reducing shower time is one of the most effective ways to decrease energy consumption. 

Even cutting just a few minutes off your shower time can significantly reduce energy usage.

Regular Maintenance

Limescale and other build-ups can reduce the efficiency of the heating element in electric showers. 

Regularly descaling the shower head and checking the heating element can help maintain its efficiency and longevity.

Use Eco Modes

Many modern electric showers have eco settings that regulate water flow and temperature to optimise energy use. 

Utilising these features can help maintain comfort while saving energy.

Upgrade to a Newer Model

If your electric shower is several years old, it might be less energy-efficient than the newer models. 

Upgrading to a newer model can be cost-effective, as they are generally more energy-efficient and have better heating technology.

By following these tips, you can optimise the operation of your electric shower to ensure it provides the comfort and convenience you expect without incurring unnecessary energy costs. 

This benefits your wallet and contributes to a lower carbon footprint.

Keeping Your Electric Shower in Tip-Top Shape

Regular maintenance and effective troubleshooting are crucial for extending the lifespan of an electric shower and ensuring its continued efficiency. 

Understanding how to maintain and troubleshoot common issues can help prevent costly repairs and replacements. 

Regular Maintenance Tips for Longevity and Optimal Performance

  1. Descaling the Shower Head: Limescale can build up on the shower head in areas with hard water and block the water jets. Regularly cleaning the shower head with a descaling solution or vinegar can prevent this buildup and ensure a consistent flow.

  1. Inspecting and Replacing the Heating Element: The heating element is a critical component that may wear out over time, especially in areas with hard water. Inspect the element annually and consider replacing it if you notice significant calcification or the shower struggles to reach the desired temperature.

  1. Checking Electrical Connections: Ensure that all electrical connections remain tight and corrosion-free. Loose or corroded connections can lead to electrical faults or reduced performance. If you need more clarification, consult a qualified electrician to perform this check.

  1. Seal and Hose Checks: Regularly check the condition of the shower's hose and seals. Cracks or wear in the hose can lead to leaks, and worn seals may cause water to escape from connections, potentially damaging your bathroom.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting Steps

Water Temperature Fluctuations

If the water temperature is inconsistent, first check for any blockages in the shower head or kinks in the hose that might be affecting water flow. 

The issue might be with the heating element or thermostat if these are clear.

Low Water Pressure

Check if the mains water pressure is lower than usual. If the pressure from other taps is expected, the problem might be with the shower unit itself. 

Inspecting the internal filters for blockages and ensuring the water inlet is clear can often resolve this issue.

Electrical Problems

If the shower fails to power on, ensure that power is supplied to the unit. Check the circuit breaker and isolator switch. 

If these are in order, the issue could be with the internal wiring or components, which might require professional repair.

Leaking Unit

Identify the source of the leak. If it's from around the shower unit, it might be due to faulty seals or connections. 

If it's leaking directly from the shower head, consider replacing the head or the associated washers.

By adhering to these maintenance tips and being proactive about troubleshooting, you can ensure that your electric shower remains a reliable and enjoyable home feature for years.

Wrapping It Up: What to Remember About Electric Showers

Throughout this article, we've explored the essential aspects of electric showers, from their basic operation to installation, maintenance, and comparison with power showers. 

Let's recap the main points and consider the final thoughts on choosing and using electric showers.

Electric showers offer a practical solution for households seeking instant and efficient hot water. 

They operate independently of the household's heating system, ensuring hot water availability even if the boiler fails. 

This makes them particularly useful in homes with limited access to hot water or where energy efficiency is a priority.

Installing an electric shower is straightforward but requires adherence to electrical and plumbing standards to ensure safety and optimal performance. 

Regular maintenance, such as descaling the shower head and checking electrical connections, extends the unit's life and maintains efficiency.

The choice often concerns specific household needs when comparing electric and power showers. 

Electric showers are more energy-efficient and better for environments with limited hot water supply. In contrast, power showers provide superior water flow and are ideal for homes with low water pressure but adequate hot and cold water supplies.

Choosing the right kilowatt rating for an electric shower is crucial—it affects the shower's efficiency and your overall satisfaction. 

Energy considerations are also important; understanding and optimising the energy consumption of your electric shower can lead to significant savings.

In conclusion, whether installing a new shower or replacing an old one, electric showers offer a combination of convenience, efficiency, and independence from traditional hot water systems. 

By understanding your needs and the capabilities of different models, you can select an electric shower that provides lasting comfort and performance, enhancing your daily routine while managing energy costs effectively. 

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Email Support: support@bestelectricshower.co.uk | Customer Support: 02081752283  

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© Copyright 2024 Best Electric Shower LTD All rights reserved | Company Number: 15606794 | Registered in England and Wales with registered office in Linden Fields, Tunbridge Wells, England, TN2 5QX

Email Support: support@bestelectricshower.co.uk | Customer Support: 02081752283  

Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | Terms of UseAffiliate Policy

© Copyright 2024 Best Electric Shower LTD All rights reserved | Company Number: 15606794 | Registered in England and Wales with registered office in Linden Fields, Tunbridge Wells, England, TN2 5QX

Email Support: support@bestelectricshower.co.uk | Customer Support: 02081752283  

Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | Terms of UseAffiliate Policy

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Free Guide: Ultimate Buyer's Guide to Electric Showers