Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Is an Electric Shower?
- 2 What Do You Need To Know About Installing/Replacing an Electric Shower?
- 3 How Do You Replace an Electric Shower?
- 4 What Are the Different Kinds of Electric Showers?
- 5 When Should You Hire A Professional To Install/Replace an Electric Shower?
- 6 How Much Do Plumbers Charge to Install/Replace an Electric Shower?
- 7 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/Replacing 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.
Why Do Electric Showers Need to Be Installed or Replaced?
If you have a standard shower in your bathroom that relies on your water heater keeping up with demand, you may experience uncomfortably cold showers if the heater is underpowered. You may want to opt for an electric shower if you have issues with your water heater delivering hot water or if you have a large family that has a lot of demand for hot water for bathing.
Many homeowners choose to upgrade to an electric shower or replace their old one when doing a remodel. If you’re renovating your bathroom, you may find the extra cost of installing a new electric shower worth it for the convenience or aesthetic reasons to match your faucets and other fixtures.
If you already have an electric shower installed in your bathroom, there are several reasons you may need to replace it. One of the most common reasons homeowners replace theirs is that their current electric shower can’t deliver enough water pressure at the desired temperature. Many people choose electric showers without understanding the drawbacks, only to replace them with a better or more sophisticated model down the road.
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.
If your electric shower is approaching the four-year mark, it might be a good time to replace it.
Lastly, the inside of the heating tank or the heating elements can corrode over time, especially if you have hard water. If this occurs, a total replacement is recommended.
When Do Electric Showers Need to Be Replaced?
As mentioned above, 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.
Can You Install/Replace an Electric Shower Yourself?
Installing an electric shower is a reasonably complicated process that is very challenging for DIYers and other non-professionals. It involves cutting into your main water line, removing a hot water line if you currently have a traditional mixer shower, and installing an electric shower set up behind the wall of your shower.
Not only is the work challenging to do, but it’s also potentially dangerous. As most homeowners know, water and electricity in close proximity can easily cause fires if not installed properly.
Any mistakes during your installation could allow water to drip near the electrical components, increasing the risk of electric shock and fire in your home. You’ll be risking personal injury, death, and property loss to save a relatively small installation fee, so attempting a DIY installation is not worth it in most cases.
Additionally, electric showers need to be tied directly into your electrical system. Doing so is extremely dangerous and may leave your home in violation of local building codes. It’s best to have a plumber and electrician install your electric shower to make sure it’s set up safely and correctly.
With that being said, replacing an electric shower is significantly more straightforward, and although there is still some risk and potential danger, a DIY electric shower replacement is possible.
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.
When Should You Hire A Professional To Install/Replace an Electric Shower?
If you have a traditional shower that relies on your boiler or water heater for hot water, we very strongly recommend hiring a plumber and electrician to install an electric shower.
Installing an electric unit where one wasn’t previously installed involves tying the equipment into your electrical system, closing off a hot water line, and cutting into your main water supply. The process is hazardous even for the most experienced DIYers, so you should defer to trained professionals for a new installation.
If you have experience working with electrical wiring and plumbing, you could replace your current electric shower with a new one. Although it’s possible to do the work yourself, we still suggest hiring a professional, as any mistakes could put you at risk of electric shock, death, damage to your home, and loss of property. The replacement cost will pale in comparison to the potential repair costs if you make an error.
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 shower head 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.