The Best Shower for Combi Boilers: A Buyer’s Guide
So you’ve just had a new combi boiler and want to have the best shower to accompany it, what are your options? In this post we’ll run through the best shower options for Combi Boilers from shower flow rates to power showers and energy efficiency. Choosing the best shower for your boiler is essential, so let’s simplify the process and lay out your options and help you understand the best option shower for combi boiler.
What is a combi boiler?
A combi boiler is a compact version of a traditional fire and gas central heating system. They are a high efficiency water heater and a central heating boiler in a single compact unit. Where traditional boiler’s have a lot of radiators that you must ‘mix and match’ to achieve your desired temperature, a combi boiler has a single temperature gauge that you can use to switch between heat sources (natural gas or electricity), also often known as a mixer tap and mixer valve shower unit. What makes combi boilers so efficient is when you use or turn on a tap they heat water directly from the mains, meaning you don’t need a hot water storage cylinder or a cold water storage tank.
Benefits of a combi boiler include:
- They are a compact size making them a perfect system for smaller properties
- No need for hot water cylinders means increased living space
- No risks of loft pipework freezing your water supply during the winter months
- the Combi boiler system is cheaper for installation with less pipework
Combi boilers are also cost-effective and energy-efficient as water is heated instantly rather than being gradually heated in a cylinder. The hot water is then delivered at mains pressure, meaning you get a powerful shower without the need for a separate pump, or hot water tank. However, if you generally have weak water pressure, you may still need to invest in a separate pump as the combi will only match the pressure you already have, for this you may want to consult a local plumber regarding your mains water pressure.
What is the best shower for a combi boiler?
So, what kind of shower is best for your new combination boiler? There is no one size fits all approach here, it all comes down to personal preference and what your bathroom allows. However, it is important to ask a few important questions to narrow down your options:
- How hot do you want the shower to be?
- How much water do you want the shower to use?
- How much water do you want the combi to use?
- How long do you want the shower to run for?
- How much do you want to spend on a new shower?
There are four ways of getting the correct shower to go with your combi boiler. Depending on the design of your shower or material you use. Like tile or shower wall panels you may be able to use your existing shower fittings with a modern combi, although you likely won’t be able to use a fixed shower head. However, if you want a shower that’s going to be your best friend for years to come it’s best to opt for something bespoke, which means you get a shower that’s suited for the combi boiler and your preferred water pressure and flow rates.
Shower flow rate
The most important factor in selecting the best shower for your combi boiler is your shower flow rate.
What does shower flow rate mean?
The overall shower flow rate represents how many litres of water you can pump through the shower each minute.
A flow rate between 10 and 15 litres per minute is generally considered acceptable but a higher flow rate is usually more desirable. A flow rate above 15 litres per minute is considered good. Your shower flow rate should be high enough to keep the water at body temperature with a slight variation in hot and cold temperature for the duration of a shower.
Let’s put all of this information into perspective:
The average shower time is between 8-12 minutes. In this instance, a 12 minute shower with a flow rate of 15 litres per minute would use 180 litres of water. While we all love a high pressure shower with a high flow rate, it’s important to consider how much water you would be using per shower. Particularly if you have a family home where there might be 5+ showers taken a day.
This is where the combi boiler comes into action. The average domestic hot water cylinder seen in most 3 bedroom houses will have a capacity of approximately 117 litres, meaning your 12 minute shower will have exceeded your water capacity. Whereas the combi boiler doesn’t store water in a cylinder, it heats water straight from your main supply and delivers it to your shower tank. This eliminates the need for a heating cylinder with a limited water supply and is a much more efficient way of heating and sourcing water, as it is often referred to as a smart shower for this purpose.
Power showers are a great addition to any bathroom improvement project and have proved increasingly popular over the last few years. They contain an integrated pump that boosts the water flow from hot water systems. If you’re looking to efficiently increase your water pressure without replacing your boiler system the power shower is a great and easy solution. However, the power shower is designed to be installed at low-pressure water supplies meaning it is unsuitable for the Combi Boiler.
The best showers for Combination Boiler tend to be:
- Thermostatic Mixer Showers
- Digital Showers
- Electric Showers
Thermostatic Mixer Showers
The thermostatic mixer shower is generally considered the best shower type to pair with a Combi boiler. Particularly in busy or family homes, if someone else in your household tries to use hot water while you’re showering the mixer shower will regulate and control any changes in water temperature. This makes the Thermostatic mixer shower the ideal partner for the combi boiler. Combi boilers can only produce so much hot water at a time, the thermostatic mixer takes control of this issue and maintains a consistent water temperature at your chosen temperature and prevents a surprising scalding hot or freezing cold water surprise.
Digital showers have been designed with combi boilers in mind. They are specifically designed to compliment high pressure water systems, and just like the mixer shower they respond to fluctuations in temperature and pressure to create a consistent and comfortable water temperature and flow. The difference between the thermostatic mixer and the digital shower is that the digital shower allows you to create presets for your perfect showering temperature. This means no adjusting and changing the temperature dial, just jump into the shower and select your desired preset.
Electric showers are also a great companion to the combi boiler, one of their primary benefits is that even if your boiler fails they will continue to heat water by itself, separate from the boiler. If you’re looking for a shower solution that connects your electric shower to a shower pump, then a electric shower and combi boiler partnership is your best bet. The electric shower relies only on the pressure of your mains water supply, so to connect to a shower pump you will need a combi boiler. However, for day to day showering needs the electric shower isn’t considered to be as compatible with a combi boiler as the mixer or digital shower.
If you’re still struggling to choose a shower that’s right for you, your home & your family, why not take a look at our recent ‘How to Choose a Shower” blog post, here we explain the different types of showers, regardless of the types of boilers and analyse which shower is best for what specific needs.