Low Flow High Efficiency Showerheads
Scroll down to see eleven manufacturer's showerheads and links to their sites!
The biggest surprise when comparing water-efficient fixtures to typical showerheads is that there is no surprise at all.
Most people don't know the difference.
Perhaps the pattern of water is a little different or less water goes down the drain, but most homeowners think they're just getting a regular showerhead. It's a showerhead. It works. These days, manufacturers are providing a satisfying experience with a lower flow than the standard 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm), and some even offer styling options that match a variety of bath hardware.
The EPA's WaterSense program, which already labels high-efficiency toilets and bathroom sink faucets and which some manufacturers believe will become the industry standard, is developing a specification for high efficiency showerheads that should be released this year. Manufacturers believe the standard could be anywhere from 1.3 to 2.0 gpm.
The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED for Homes program allocates certification points for showerheads that operate at 2.0 gpm or less, and additional points for "very high efficiency" showerheads that operate at 1.5 gpm or less. The NAHB's Model Green Home Building Guidelines also provide points for low flow shower fixtures.
Enhancing the Experience
There are quite a lot of options to reduce the flow rate of the showerhead and still have the showerhead have a good flow and feel good. At their most basic, the technologies fall into two categories: those that change the shape or pattern of the spray nozzles and water droplets, and those that aerate the spray.
Hansgrohe's 1.6-gpm EcoAir system, for example, uses air-injection technology to suck air into the showerhead, which helps boost the volume of the droplets coming out of the shower, so it feels like you're getting more volume then you actually are. It's the size of the water droplets that make it feel like you get more water.
Introducing air into the stream can sometimes reduce the temperature of the spray, however, causing the user to turn up the temperature to compensate. So other manufacturers are manipulating the shape or pattern of the flow. Delta's H2Okinetic technology, for example, channels water so that each stream oscillates left and right. Now the whole area is filled with water, so you feel like you're getting blanketed with water.
Switching to an ultra-low-flow showerhead seems like an easy way for a homeowner to go green and save money on water bills, but we need to be aware of the plumbing behind the scenes, specifically the mixing valve. The valves, which usually include a regulator that minimizes any changes in temperature, are designed to work at a minimum flow rate. If the showerhead is operating at a very low flow, the valve may not be able to handle changes in hot or cold water pressure, causing those bursts of scalding or freezing water that bathers detest.
The valve probably is not an issue for many 2.5-gpm showerheads, but at some point well below 2.0 gpm, temperature swings can be a problem. We don't know what exactly that point is, and research is underway to find out. In the meantime, we should play it safe. We need to talk with the [manufacturer] and follow their recommended guidelines.
FloWise showerheads use a small turbine-like mechanism that spins the water stream through the head to create a powerful, energizing spray, according to the maker.
American Standard. FloWise showerheads use a small turbine-like mechanism that spins the water stream through the head to create a powerful, energizing spray, according to the maker. Three models include a basic unit that delivers 1.5 gpm, a more decorative 1.5-gpm showerhead, and a three-function unit that lets users select between a 1.5-gpm spray or two different 2.5-gpm sprays. When the three-function shower is turned off, it automatically returns to the water conservation mode. 800-899-2614. www.americanstandard-us.com
TriSpa series showerheads offer three pressurized spray patterns. the Oxygenics core, which infuses air into each drop; a multi-jet hydro massage; and focused streams, which use small pressurized jets of air-enriched water.
ETL. TriSpa series showerheads offer three pressurized spray patterns: the Oxygenics core, which infuses air into each drop; a multi-jet hydro massage; and focused streams, which use small pressurized jets of air-enriched water. All of the manufacturer's showerheads adjust their flow based on the incoming water pressure, lowering the flow for lower PSI rates. At a national average of about 50 PSI, the 2.5-gpm-max (at 80 PSI) TriSpa will emit approximately 1.7 to 1.9 gpm, the maker says. 800-344-3242. www.oxygenics.com
The technology controls the movement of water without moving parts within the body sprays, eliminating the risk of malfunction. Larger droplets provide more water coverage, creating a more saturating, drenching sensation, the maker adds.
Delta. Operating at 1.6 gpm, the Water-Efficient Showerhead with H2Okinetic Technology manages water droplet size and velocity, spray coverage, and thermal dynamics, the manufacturer says. The technology controls the movement of water without moving parts within the body sprays, eliminating the risk of malfunction. Larger droplets provide more water coverage, creating a more saturating, drenching sensation, the maker adds. 800-345-3358. www.deltafaucet.com
Hansgrohe. Using the company's air-injection technology, Raindance AIR bodysprays provide the feel of a conventional 2.0-gpm spray while using only 1.0 gpm, according to the maker. Unlike bodysprays that operate on a rotating ball-joint that protrudes from the wall, the Raindance AIR product mounts flush to the wall and features a rotating spray face with slanted spray channels. Users need only rotate the spray face to change the direction of the water. 800-334-0455. www.hansgrohe-usa.com
Bricor. Delivering 1.125 gpm at 50 psi, the B100 Supermax showerhead uses a vacuum flow booster valve that aerates and compacts water under pressure. The aerated water "explodes" as it exits the showerhead, creating a powerful stream, the maker says. An adjustable handle allows spray stream modulation from compact to wider sprays. Flow rates are fixed at the manufactured pressure; the fixture contains no removable restrictors that allow increased flow if removed. 830-624-7228. www.bricor.com
Jaclo. The manufacturer's 25 showerhead models can be equipped with a low-flow regulator that will reduce water usage to 1.75 gpm. The regulators keep the pressure and flow of the water strong, according to the maker. A portion of the company's showerheads can be operated at 1.5 gpm and still perform well, and all of the company's handshowers also can be equipped with the low-flow regulator. 800-852-3906. www.jaclo.com
Alsons. Fluidics spray technology features a series of chambers that control the shape, velocity, and thermal dynamics of water, producing larger water droplets that stay hotter longer for a more saturating, soaking experience, the maker says. Fluidics showerheads are available with a 1.85-gpm spray, a 1.75-gpm spray, and a 1.6-gpm spray. A two-spray unit is also available. 800-421-0001. www.alsons.com
Niagara Conservation. The 1.5-gpm Earth Massage chrome showerhead uses flow control technology to provide greater force at low pressure, the maker says. The nine-jet turbo massage is adjustable from a gentle needle spray to a forceful jet. The showerhead's non-aerating spray means less heat is lost, the firm says. The fixture has a non-removable flow compensator and a chrome-plated finish. 800-831-8383. www.niagaraconservation.com
Kohler. The MasterShower Ecofficient showerhead and handshower are engineered for optimized performance at 2.0 gpm, according to the manufacturer. They include three sprays options: soft coverage, rhythmic pulse, and aerated sprays. Flexible spray nozzles prevent hard water buildup and are easy to clean, the maker adds. The showerheads are available in polished chrome. 800-456-4537. www.kohler.com
Watermark Designs. The SH-1.5ADP water reducer is designed to decrease showerhead water consumption. The unit is adaptable to any of the manufacturer's showerheads. Through the injection of air into the adapter, the showerhead's flow is reduced to 1.5 gpm while giving the user the same feeling as using a 2.5-gpm showerhead, the manufacturer says. 800-842-7277. www.watermark-designs.com
Moen. The Water Saving showerhead uses innovative spray formers that concentrate the flow of water, reducing the amount of water to 1.75 gpm while still providing a satisfying shower experience, according to the manufacturer. The showerhead is available in chrome, LifeShine brushed nickel, and oil-rubbed bronze. 800-289-6636. www.moen.com
Copyright 2012 Ronald Sauve All Rights Reserved
This page was last modified on April 06, 2012
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