A Guide to Shower Valves
The starting point of choosing a new shower. Shower valves are the main working component of any shower set-up. There are a selection of clear-cut choices when picking a shower valve that will narrow down your search. Apart from this, the rein over design and style is truly up to personal preference, with shower valves coming in a whole range of looks.
In this guide, we are going to break down the main differences in types of shower valves. This will help you in being able to select a new shower valve that perfectly meets your requirements.
The Purpose of a Shower Valve
Shower valves make that connection between the water inlet and outlet. Internally they mix the hot and cold water to the desired temperature selected by the controls. They then release this at the chosen flow rate via the outlet that is being used (e.g., showerhead).
Thermostatic Shower Valves
Thermostatic shower valves are specifically designed to maintain the selected temperature of the water. They ensure that even if water is being used elsewhere in the house, the temperature of the shower will not drastically change. Where a thermostatic valve is present, it must have been stringently tested against the TMV2 testing scheme to certify that it meets exacting standards for thermostatic shower valves. The anti-scald abilities of thermostatic valves make them perfect for creating a safe showering experience for the whole family.
The nature of thermostatic shower valves means that they require dual control; one for temperature and one for flow. This gives the user ultimate control over the functioning of the shower. Coming in a range of designs, thermostatic valves are widely available to suit a range of installations and bathroom décors.
Manual Shower Valves
Almost the opposite of thermostatic shower valves, manual shower valves mix the hot and cold water to the selected temperature. However, they are not designed to maintain the temperature of the water when another outlet is opened in the house, for example flushing the toilet or turning on the washing machine. These valves are perfect for use with a hand shower or bath overflow filler. We wouldn’t recommend using manual shower valves in the main showering area of the house due to the risk of scalding.
The design of manual valves means they are easily controlled by a singular control handle, that lifts and twists to control both the flow and temperature of the water. Available to run in both high and low-pressure systems, the option of a manual valve with a diverter lets you easily switch between outlets. However, we would recommend only using these on a higher-pressure system to ensure a good flow rate through both outlets.
Concealed Shower Valves
Concealed shower valves are a sleek minimalistic look ideal for those who want a clean and uncluttered finishing look to their shower. With these valves all the working elements of the valve sit within the cavity of the wall, meaning only the controls sit outside of the wall on a backplate that is almost flush with the wall. The designs for concealed showers are varied with both modern and traditional styles available.
To install a concealed shower valve, you will need to confirm that the cavity behind your wall is deep enough for the valve to sit within. A little more complicated to install than exposed valves, the front handles can usually be removed for servicing of the valve. Concealed valves can be positioned almost anywhere on the wall, letting you truly select the layout of your showering environment. They also enable you to place the valve away from the shower head to avoid being caught in a burst of cold water when the shower is turned on.
Exposed Shower Valves
Sitting on the outside of the wall, exposed shower valves have a more classic feeling to them. Available in both modern bar styles and more traditional designs, they are an easier-to-install option than a concealed valve. With an exposed valve you only need to chase the hot and cold-water pipes through the wall to the valves mounting point.
To keep up with the styles of concealed valves, exposed valves come in a range of different designs to ensure there is an option to meet any décor. Ornate crosshead handle versions and contemporary push button options open up the installation options for exposed shower valves.
Does the Number of Outlets Really Matter?
One final thing to consider when selecting a shower valve is the number of outlets you require. For those wanting a simple operation of just one showerhead, you will only require a one outlet system. If you want to add multiple devices to your showering system, such as a hand shower as well as an overhead shower you will require a two-outlet system. Valves are available in a variety of styles with push buttons or handles and will include a diverter in the valve that allows you to easily switch the water flow (between outlets) or in some instances to run simultaneously. Valves are available to operate up to four outlets to suit a variety of shower set-ups. Manual valves often have the option of a diverter that allows you to choose the water outlet and often automatically resets to the main outlet when the valve is turned off.
We hope we have helped you to better understand the world of shower valves. For a more broad look at showers in general be sure to check out our showers guide.