Check the faucet quality | Quality Guide
Thermostatic shower faucet supplies consistent water at its predetermined temperature while a concealed valve keeps the pipework and the valve fitted within the walls.
Are you planning for your next shower remodel? Or do you want to get a new shower valve? Navigating the different shower mixers and valves is a crucial and time-consuming process. Not knowing what to look for makes it even more difficult.
In this article, we simplified the process by discussing the different shower mixers and shower valve types to help you decide which one to get. Find out more below.
What is a Thermostatic Shower Faucet?
A thermostatic shower faucet is a type of tap water mixer. It uses thermostatic valves to maintain the degree of hotness or coldness of the water. Equipped with a thermostatic valve, it automatically monitors and keeps the actual water temperature at its predetermined degree.
How does a Thermostatic Shower Work?
A thermostatic shower valve, in general, mixes cold water with hot water to achieve its pre-set degree of hotness or coldness. It allows you to enjoy a stable and continuous supply of warm shower water even if other house members are simultaneously using appliances that run on water. This mechanism is made possible by a “thermostatic valve”.
What is a Thermostatic Valve?
Thermostatic showers are equipped with thermostatic valves. It initially stores hot water and then fuses it with the cold-water supply until it reaches the predetermined shower’s perfect temperature. This mechanism ensures that the water temperature is balanced and safe to use to prevent accidental burns or cold shock.
Thermostatic valves are designed with two handles for direct control; one for water volume control and the other one is to easily adjust temperature. The left handle sets the amount and water volume we need, while the right handle is for same temperature control.
Unlike other types of tap water mixers, the thermostatic valve senses the change in temperature, not to pressure. Its built-in thermostat regulates the temperature to its predetermined level ensuring that the water that flows on your shower head will continuously remain at a constant temperature.
What happens when you change the water flow volume?
When you turn up or down the water volume, the water will have the same. Thermostatic valves react to sudden change in temperature through a wax element installed inside the valve. It automatically expands as an initial reaction to heat, which slows down the surge of hot water and allows more cold water into the mix. This is how it maintains a balanced water temperature in your tap water mixer.
With their reliable temperature-sustaining mechanism, thermostatic shower valves are best for multiple shower heads and body spray options because it suits their ¾” water inlets letting sufficient water volume flow through and into the different devices.
Benefits of Thermostatic Shower Valves
Now that we understand how thermostatic showers work, we need to know whether we need one or not. Let’s delve into its benefits next.
· Water Saving
Thermostatic shower temperature faucets are energy efficient and a great way to save water. It immediately releases water at its pre-determined temperature- not too cold and not too hot.
You don’t have to keep the shower running until it achieves the right temperature. It gives you full control of the water volume that flows through the jets, which allows you to save around 40%-50% of water.
Lastly, you can turn the shower off or turn it back on and still get warm water at its predetermined temperature level. Unlike other shower mixers that lose temperature memory, you don’t have to keep the water running even while you’re shampooing, scrubbing, or shaving just to keep the temperature at a constant level.
· Avoid Accidental Burns and Cold Shock
One of its best advantages is that it promotes safety. Thermostatic shower releases water at its accurate pre-set temperature level every time you turn on the tap, thus preventing accidental scalding or getting a cold shock. Its wax element prevents the unbalanced distribution of cold and hot water.
It is highly recommended for households with children, adults, and the elderly who are prone to simultaneously using appliances that run on water. You all can go on with your water-related business without disrupting the water supply that passes through your shower head.
· Prevents Bacterial Contamination Growth
Legionella bacterial, the causative agent for Legionnaire’s pneumonia, thrives in water heaters and survives heat of up to 120° F, which is the recommended thermostat setting for energy-conscious individuals.
With a thermostatic valve, you can turn the heat up to 140° F to suppress the growth of Legionella, other bacteria, and microorganisms without having to worry about energy efficiency. Despite setting the water heater at a max temperature set, you will still get the right water temperature when you open the tap.
Thermostatic shower valves are durable and have longer shelf life due to their watertight property which prevents limescale from penetrating the valve and other parts of the shower faucet system. Limescale is the main cause of why faucets easily deteriorate, especially in places with hard water.
· Comfort and Elegance
Thermostatic showers promote comfort and ease of use. You can turn the shower off and turn it back on whenever needed without having to re-adjust the temperature level or wait until hot and cold water reaches its predetermined temperature.
It also exudes elegance with its modern look and innovative design that complements perfectly with almost all types of interior designs.
What is a Pressure Balance Shower?
Have you experienced taking a supposedly relaxing shower but ended up getting soaked in scalding hot water instead? This scenario is typical during the old days when pressure balancing valves were non-existent.
What happened is that someone in your household used water to flush the toilet or machines that run on water. The cold water in the shower was pulled away to the toilet, laundry, or washer. This results in a sudden drop of cold water in your shower while keeping the same volume of hot water leaving you with a significantly hot water supply flowing through your showerhead. This also happens in cold supply fail.
This is one of the reasons why pressure balance valve became a basic plumbing code- to prevent accidental burns and other unforeseeable effects secondary to thermal shock.
A pressure balancing valve is a type of tap water mixing valve that reacts to even the slightest change in water pressure by closing off either the hot or cold section to keep the water temperature balanced.
How does a Pressure Balance Shower Work?
Pressure balance shower valves are equipped with either a sliding disc on a piston or a spool that responds to pressure changes in the valve, which triggers the device to automatically balance the water distribution resulting in a balanced hot and cold flows water ratio.
So when someone uses water to flush the toilet while you’re enjoying your refreshing shower, some of the cold water is sent to the toilet tank, which results in a decrease in water pressure that passes through the pressure-balance shower valve.
The pressure balance valve senses the sudden change in cold water pressure arriving and partially cut off the hot or cold water supply on one side to maintain the balanced pressure ratio of cold and hot water that flows. It is expected that the water temperature will slightly fluctuate but only at a few degrees and is often unnoticeable.
What is a Pressure Balance Valve?
A pressure balance shower valve features a single handle used to control both the volume and temperature. It also comes with a dial or set screw that serves as the handle’s stopping point that determines the maximum temperature and hot-to-cold water ratio.
The major drawback of choosing a pressure balance shower valve is that its mechanism does not respond to water temperature but to water pressure. If you set the valve at its maximum output temperature and then turn the handle to its hottest, the water that will flow through your shower head is going to be as hot as the water in the water heater or even more.
Furthermore, this type of shower valve may need more frequent maintenance and the replacement because the spool in the internal cartridge tends to get cinched due to limescale buildup and accumulation of heavy minerals. Unless this is rectified through cartridge replacement, your pressure balance valve won’t be able to produce water at a consistent temperature.
Pressure balance valves are suitable for one to two shower heads only because it’s built with a standard ½” water inlet. In terms of affordability, it’s a great value with its price starting around $80.
- Relatively cheaper than a thermostatic shower valve
- Anti scald valves offers a certain level of protection against burn
- Offers moderate comfort
- No way to control water volume
- Not all pressure balance valves come with temperature memory
- Suitable for 1-2 shower heads only due to its ½” water inlet
- Requires frequent maintenance due to spool cinching due to mineral and limescale buildup
Which Thermostatic Shower Valve is Better- Exposed or Concealed?
Exposed and concealed shower systems offer different pros and cons, various functions, and beneficial features. In choosing between the two, you need to consider their suitability for their purpose, preference, and convenience.
Let’s discuss the difference between the two and help you decide which suits your needs.
What is an Exposed Valve Shower System?
An exposed shower valve is commonly externally mounted on the shower wall with its parts on full display, including the pipework, controls, and outlets. With an exposed shower valve, you can easily switch from an overhead shower to a handheld due to accessibility.
This type of shower valve offers a stylish and elegant look that complements your bathroom theme and design. This is highly recommended in large shower areas to fill in the empty wall space. Traditional valves and bar showers are examples of exposed valve shower systems.
- Exposed Shower Valves_ Pros:
- Easier to install and a more affordable option because it does not require excavation
- Easier to maintain and repair due to its exposed parts and components
- Exposed Shower Valves_ Cons:
- Consumes more space making it unsuitable for smaller bathrooms
- Requires more frequent cleaning and maintenance because its external components are exposed to daily stains
- Prone to limescale buildup
What is a Concealed Valve Shower System?
A concealed valve, popularly known as a recessed shower valve, is a type of thermostatic shower valve wherein the pipes and the valve are kept hidden and fitted within the shower walls. Only the thermostatic shower mixer, showerhead, riser, sleek valve plate, and shower handles are visible and on display.
The valve controls under the concealed valve shower system come in handle or push buttons. Handle type of valve controls utilizes the simple lever system, while push buttons need a slight push to turn the shower on or to shut it off. Comparing the two, the push button mechanism is more ergonomic, while the handle system is more durable.
- Concealed Shower Valve _ Pros:
- Offers a clean, and clutter-free shower finish
- Flaunts a simple, minimalistic, and contemporary look on the overall design of your shower space
- Effectively saves space and helps maximize small shower areas
- Its luxurious and sophisticated look complements all interior design themes
- Easy to maintain and clean
- Concealed Shower Valve _ Cons:
- Installation is time-consuming and labor-intensive because it requires excavation and precise fitting on the shower walls before tiling and applying grout.
- Part replacement and repair are difficult and time-consuming because the pipeworks are hidden within the wall.
Thermostatic Shower Faucet Vs. Concealed Shower System
A thermostatic shower faucet is one of the main types of shower valves that offers a heated water supply at a maintained temperature even if the rest of the house is using machines that run on water.
Its mechanism reacts directly to changes in temperature, which gives optimum scald and thermal shock protection and maximum comfort. On top of that, thermostatic shower faucets offer energy and water efficiency, convenience, protection against microbial growth, durability, and elegance.
On the other hand, the concealed valve shower system is a type of shower valve system wherein the pipe and the valve are hidden internally within the shower wall. Only the shower mixer, shower head riser and sleek valve plate, and handles are visible. This promotes a minimalistic, contemporary vibe with its clutter-free look. Aside from aesthetics, concealed shower valves are space savers and easy to clean and maintain.
Thermostatic shower faucet and concealed valve are two different mechanisms and serve different purposes. However, they may come together if you decide to install a thermostatic shower mixer using a concealed shower system. These two, when combined, will give you the convenience, comfort, protection, and aesthetics that you and your shower deserve.