Electric v Digital Showers - An Installer's Guide

Published: 11th Feb 2020 Read time: 5 minutes
Mira Galena

When installing a shower into a newly renovated bathroom, or simply replacing a more tired model, homeowners will always want the most convenient and easy to use system. Usually that stems to whether you install either an electric or digital shower. What does this mean for you, as the installer? Is there much difference installing an electric shower to the digital variety and what should you keep in mind when advising your customer?

Differences in installation

There is only one dominating difference between electric and digital showers when it comes to installing - the water source.

Electric showers simply need a cold water source to be installed, this allows greater flexibility in positioning. Electric showers work by running cold water over a separate and sealed heating element. This does allow electric showers to be placed in pretty much any room that has a cold water connection.

In comparison, digital showers draw water from separate hot and cold water connections, leading to a digital mixing processor before being pumped to the shower head, enabling the perfect showering experience. In this instance installing a digital shower requires an easy connection to both hot and cold water, as well as direct access to the digital mixing processor for future maintenance.

What you need to keep in mind when installing Digital Showers

You have a number of different options when installing a digital shower - this all depends on where you want to place the shower, as well as the type of water system the customer has installed in their home.

You can choose between either a wired or wireless control in either a single or dual outlet configuration. Realistically this boils down to the customers’ preference and shouldn’t cause too many issues during installation.

When installing a digital shower the valve you install with it fully depends on which boiler is installed:

  • A standard/high pressure valve should be installed with unvented or combi boilers to ensure the pressure in the system doesn’t reach dangerous levels.
  • Pumped valves are perfect for gravity fed systems which need extra pressure for an improved shower experience.
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What you need to keep in mind when installing Electric Showers

Electric showers run directly from mains water, therefore in an area with poor mains water pressure an electric shower may be inadvisable. This is in comparison to a pumped digital shower which will boost the water pressure coming out of the shower head, leading to a better shower experience in low pressure area. For a mains water operated electric shower, typically a maintained water pressure of 0.7 to 1 bar is required.

Most electric showers don’t have a thermostat - as such you can’t set the temperature of electric showers to a defined temperature. If the temperature of the water entering the shower varies by even a couple of degrees then the water being released will also vary. Electric showers alter the temperature by changing the rate at which the water passes over the element in the housing.

When installing an electric shower, ensure the cover of the shower can be easily removed for servicing. Other than this they can be pretty readily installed, with some minor limitations. Keep in mind some electric showers may only be connected from the top, bottom, side or rear, so the location of your water pipe needs to be known before purchase.

When installing an electric shower, keep in mind that in no circumstance should an electric shower controller be sealed to the wall. There are 4 spacers found for each corner to allow the controller to ventilate. Without the ventilation, the system could be prone to condensation and overheating.

Which should you install?

It all depends on the situation your customer is in and what they would prefer. Please keep in mind, both electric and digital showers require a trained electrician to complete the installation.

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