Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Is an Electric Shower?
- 2 What Do You Need To Know About Installing An Electric Shower?
- 3 How Do You Replace an Electric Shower?
- 4 What Are the Different Kinds of Electric Showers?
- 5 How Much Do Plumbers Charge to Install/Replace an Electric Shower?
- 6 What Should You Look For In an Electric Shower Installer?
What Is an Electric Shower?
An electric shower is serviced by a shower head that is connected to your main water supply by a small heating tank. The heating tank regulates the water temperature depending on the setting you choose on a temperature dial, and electric heating elements within the tank heat the water rapidly for comfortable bathing.
Unlike a traditional mixer shower, an electric shower uses only cold water, as it is hooked up to your main water supply and doesn’t receive any water from your boiler or hot water tank. Instead, it relies solely on the heating elements in the attached tank to heat your water.
What Do You Need To Know About Installing An Electric Shower?
Installing (or replacing) an electric shower is a complicated process that involves both plumbing and electrical knowledge. Understanding how electric showers work and why and when they are useful and need to be replaced can help you determine if you should update yours.
It will also help you decide if you can tackle the replacement as a DIY home improvement project or if you should leave the work to a professional plumber.
How Does an Electric Shower Work?
An electric shower is hooked up directly to your main water line, which provides cold water for all of the plumbing fixtures throughout your home. The water typically flows into the bottom of a small cylindrical water tank with electrical heating elements lining the inside. As the water passes through the tank, the components heat the water rapidly.
When the heated water reaches the top of the tank, it drops through a pipe running down through the center of the water tank and toward your shower head for use in your shower.
Rather than relying on a water heater or boiler to heat water for bathing, an electric shower has a self-contained tank significantly smaller than a hot water heater for heating less significant volumes at a time. The result is infinite hot water for showering and very energy-efficient heating of the water.
In standard electric showers, the only mechanism for changing the temperature of the water is to change the flow rate. A slower flow will allow the water passing through the cylinder more time to interact with the heating elements, while water traveling more quickly will have less time to be heated.
The major downside of this mechanism is that you may need to reduce the flow in the winter to get the water hot enough and increase it in the summer so that it’s not too hot for your skin. Additionally, changes in the water pressure caused by other fixtures being used throughout your home can affect the water flow and cause unexpected and unpleasant temperature spikes or dips.
When Should You Contact a Plumber For An Electric Shower replacement?
You may also need to replace your electric shower if the heating elements burn out and stop providing hot water. Although the elements are built to last, they may need replacement after about four years, which is the average lifespan of an electric shower.
Electric showers typically last for around four years before they need replacement. If your shower was installed more than four years ago, it’s probably time to consider replacing it.
If your heating elements burn out, rust, or become damaged, you’ll likely notice that showers aren’t as hot as they used to be or that you need to set a higher temperature than when you first had the shower installed. If this is the case, replacement is a good idea.
However, remember that a standard electric shower doesn’t regulate temperature, so it’s normal to have to make changes to the temperature setting based on season and other fixtures being used throughout your home.
If the piping or the elements in your electric shower heating tank become corroded, you’ll likely experience rust-colored or cloudy water coming out of your shower head. This is a reasonable indication that your electric shower should be replaced as well.
How Do You Replace an Electric Shower?
Before you begin removing your current electric shower, you’ll need to turn off the electricity and the water to the bathroom in which the shower is located. If you’re unsure of which breaker is linked to your bathroom, it’s best to shut power to the whole house to ensure that the wiring in your bathroom isn’t live.
Next, turn off the water supply to your shower by shutting your water main and letting the shower drain entirely.
Once you’re confident the power and water to your shower are shut off, you can open the control box for your electric shower. You may need a screwdriver to access the interior of the panel.
Once you remove the cover, disconnect the electrical wiring and then unscrew the water supply line from the inside. Finish removing the old electric shower by taking out the mounting screws that hold the shower unit to the wall.
Once your old shower is removed from the wall, you can begin to mount the new electric shower by connecting and tightening the water supply line.
If the mounting holes for your old unit on your tiling don’t match the positioning for the new one, you may need to use a power drill with a tile bit to drill new holes. Once your mounting holes are aligned, you can screw the new shower to the wall.
Finally, you’ll need to connect the electrical wiring to your new equipment. We recommend having an electrician complete this for you, but if you have experience with electrical work and are comfortable doing it yourself, you can follow the directions for the wiring that came with your electric shower.
Once the wires are connected, you can screw on the unit cover, turn the water back on, and check carefully for leaks. If no leaks are detected, you can restore electricity to the bathroom.
For a detailed guide on how to replace an existing electric shower, check out the video below:
What Are the Different Kinds of Electric Showers?
There are three primary types of electric showers you can choose from, each with a slightly different mechanism for monitoring and controlling water temperature.
Standard Electric Shower
Standard electric showers don’t have shower valves, so you can only regulate water temperature by changing the rate at which the water flows through the heating canister. A lower water pressure will result in the water getting heated for longer by the elements, so hot water will always have a lower flow rate than cold water.
This type of shower can produce spikes or dips in temperature if the pressure changes, which can occur if other fixtures are turned on. Additionally, heating colder water in the winter will take longer, so the flow rate will be reduced in cold temperatures.
Pumped Electric Shower
A pumped electric shower works just like a power shower, but it uses internal heating elements instead of relying on a hot water supply. It’s ideal for homes that have low water pressure, which is typical if you rely on a private or public well for water.
These showers have small tanks that hold and heat water, similar to how a standard electric water heater does. They then use a shower pump to create water pressure through the showerhead.
These showers are less likely to present temperature spikes and dips than traditional electric showers, and they maintain a more constant flow rate.
Thermostatic Electric Shower
Thermostatic electric showers use an internal thermostat to regulate the water temperature in a small supply tank. This style is very unlikely to cause temperature spikes or dips, as the water temperature is held within a few degrees. Some also use a pump to regulate water flow and help maintain the desired temperature.
How Much Do Plumbers Charge to Install/Replace an Electric Shower?
If you need an electric shower installed and don’t currently have one in your home, you can expect to pay around the national average cost of $1,000 for the parts and labor. Your total project cost will depend primarily on the unit you choose.
Standard electric showers average between $100 and $500, while high-end, thermostatic electric showers can total between $1,000 and $3,000. If you need a showerhead and tub faucet combo, you can expect to pay between $500 and $1,000 in most cases.
In addition to the equipment, your labor costs will total around $750 on average, with half of that going to a plumber and the other half going to an electrician.
If you just need your current electric shower replaced, the average price range for labor is between $300 and $500, plus the additional cost of the shower itself.
What Should You Look For In an Electric Shower Installer?
We very strongly recommend you opt for a licensed plumber and electrician to install your electric shower. General contractors and handymen may be able to install the unit for less money, but having a professional do the work will provide peace of mind and a reliable installation. Choosing a professional plumber is well worth the investment.
The cost for installing an electric shower should be easy for a plumber to estimate, so we suggest choosing one that offers flat-rate pricing rather than hourly rates. Paying a flat rate will guarantee the total cost upfront, and you won’t end up paying more for a slower installation.
Finally, we suggest choosing a plumber who offers a satisfaction guarantee or warranty for their work. A professional that promises you’ll be pleased with their installation is more likely to do the job correctly the first time, helping you avoid issues going forward.