A hot shower heals a lot of what hurts me. I can relax or wake up after exercise andwhen I feel light headed in the morning. A bad shower does the opposite. When the water flow and pressure feel weak or the spray pattern doesn’t cover my body that much, I tend to get out of the shower more moody than at the beginning.
A good shower head can make the difference in your shower experience, but choosing a new one can be a big task. You can findfrom in hardware stores and online retailers. Most look similar and many offer the same general combination of functions ̵
The price, finish, and materials can vary widely, and you can also look for a shower head with a lower gpm rating (gallons per minute) if you want to save water. Some showers include a handheld sprayer, others have a wider range of spray pattern settings.
To help you choose the best shower head, I’ve tested a variety of them over the past few weeks. All of them are easy to install and non-invasive – which was important for my rental apartment. All are priced between $ 50 and $ 200. All are relatively efficient with water – with nominal values between 1.5 and 2.5 gpm. Otherwise, all the shower heads I tested are highly valued in terms of both customer and industry ratings.
If you’re looking for an affordable shower head to install yourself, here is my selection of the best options you can find. Once you’ve made your purchase, you’ll find instructions on how to install a shower head and how to do it here.
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The affordable High Sierra Classic Plus shower head for $ 50 has it all. It sprays in a wide pattern with great opacity and a lot of strength. I like a relaxing beam on my body and a firm spray on my face and hair. The Classic Plus does not offer alternative settings for the spray pattern, but the most important setting balances both requirements well. If you tend to find a good standard and stick to it, look no further.
The Classic Plus has a simple and elegant design. It is one of the cheapest shower heads on this list and also saves water with a rating of 1.5 g / min. The default setting for the cover provides as much coverage and speed as shower heads that consume a full gallon more. This speed is not overwhelming. I was able to relax while showering, but it was firm enough to quickly process soap and dirt on days when I needed to get clean quickly.
If you’re looking for something special with a variety of settings, I have plenty of alternative options below, but this is the Amazon Echo Dot of shower heads. It’s simple, affordable, and elegant. If you’re not interested in extras and just want something to do your job well, opt for the water-saving High Sierra Classic Plus for $ 40. Available in brushed nickel, bronze, polished brass or chrome.
Andrew Gebhart / CNET
The $ 58 Aquadance 7 “premium shower head is a good choice if you are looking for a dual function shower head. It includes a handheld shower head that sits behind the main shower head. Both offer full coverage, an intense massage setting, one that both of them do mixes, and a fog.
Setting the full coverage of both the main shower and hand shower head felt great. It balances firmness with wide coverage and still feels relaxing. The intense massage was a great way to mix it up when I really wanted to feel the pressure and water flow. In the end, I left the main shower with full coverage and left the hand shower head on the massage setting when I wanted the extra intensity of a high pressure shower.
You can stop the flow of both if you want to save water while you foam. You can operate both shower heads simultaneously with the same or different settings. With the double shower setting, you lose some water pressure, so you can switch from the main shower head to the hand shower just as easily. You can change the settings by turning a dial or use the splitter to easily switch between the main shower head and the hand shower head.
However your shower should feel – normal shower head, hand shower or double shower – this Aquadance has an option for you. If you are the type who likes options and wants to change settings based on your mood, this is the best shower head for you.
Andrew Gebhart / CNET
The $ 164 Moen S6320 looks like a high-end shower with a diameter of 8 inches and a polished chrome surface. The full main cover setting again strikes the right balance between relaxing cover and firmness. In addition, the S6320 changes to an intense massage setting that also feels great. Many of the massage settings I tested were too narrow to be useful outside of spot cleaning. Moen’s is still wide enough to ensure actual coverage while providing a nice boost in intensity.
You can also simply switch back and forth with a handle on the side of the shower head. It is easy enough to control that I could find it and change the setting while my eyes were closed after I foamed my face.
If you are looking for a shower head that looks high-quality and still maintains a simple elegance, the Moen S6320 is the right choice for you. It doesn’t have many functions, but the two settings are both fantastic and switching between them is so easy that you can do it with your eyes closed – literally.
Andrew Gebhart / CNET
Showering with the American Standard Spectra eTouch rain shower head actually feels like standing under a gentle stream or being outside during a warm summer rain. It is super relaxing. The Spectra eTouch is fairly expensive at over $ 100 for the brushed nickel or chrome finish, but it’s economical with 1.8g / min water.
The Spectra includes a remote control that you can attach to your shower wall to switch between multiple spray settings, or you can simply touch the edge of the shower head to do the same. It feels high tech without adding complexity.
The different settings include a fine mist and two types of an intense massage spray – though I found both to be too narrow to provide coverage. The rain shower setting was also a little too gentle for my face, so the Spectra doesn’t have a single setting that strikes the perfect balance between a firm feeling and full coverage.
Nevertheless, it has a pulsating massage setting for spot cleaning. So if you mainly want your shower to feel like a relaxing stream, this is a good choice and works fine at a certain angle. Most rain shower systems must be installed directly over the head and many must be installed specifically. This works with your existing equipment and still feels great.
Kohler Forte 22169 – Kohler’s $ 75 shower head provides good coverage. The main setting creates the necessary balance between firm and relaxing feeling. You can easily switch to a concentrated massage mode or a fine mist. Overall, it’s a solid, balanced option for a fixed shower head that you should consider if you like the look or the brand. It even saves water with a rating of 1.75 gpm. It just didn’t stand out like the ones above and the concentrated massage flow is too narrow to be useful.
Delta In2ition two-in-one – This $ 133 Delta shower head features a clever, adjustable shower head design with a hand shower embedded in the main shower head. The main shower provides full coverage and the hand shower provides more intense flow. You can also operate the main and hand showers at the same time, although the water pressure is expected to drop a bit and I’m not a fan of low water pressure. The hand shower head can be easily detached or you can leave the shower arm in place for a stationary massage flow. All settings are functional, but the main cover option is a little too weak for my taste. The main shower head is also a little difficult to swivel. This is definitely a little fool. This is a competent shower that is worth considering, but the minor drawbacks have just eliminated enough to prevent it from ranking higher for me.
Speaker S-2252-E175 – None of the showers I’ve tested were absolutely bad, but this Speakman $ 85 model doesn’t have enough power for my taste. The main mode is fine, if not convincing. The alternative nozzle setting lets the water flow out directly without additional water pressure or water flow. Overall it was a low water pressure shower.
Culligan WSH-C125 – This affordable $ 36 Culligan model includes a filter and a number of different settings. Switching between nozzle settings is painful. The main shower works well enough, but none of the alternative modes are inspiring. This is also a competent shower, but you have many better options.
Testing and cleaning
I have showered a lot in the past few weeks. When testing a shower head system, I consider many factors: the diameter of the face, the gallons per minute, the number of settings, the materials, the design and much more. We also do an anecdotal test of water flow, pressure and force of the spray pattern with dried egg yolk. Most of all, I took a shower and noticed how everyone felt.
I leave each model installed for a few days so I can take different showers. During the first shower with a new shower system, I pay close attention to each spray pattern and how it feels, but I also want to shower if I don’t think about it so much. For each model, I shower when I’m light-headed in the morning and shower after the workout at the cooldown.
After every shower, I take notes on the shower experience. Was it firm, relaxing, or both? Was the shower experience intense enough to quickly remove soap and shampoo, or did I have to change the settings? Is it easy to change settings?
For the egg test I brushed egg yolk on a chopping board and let it dry for 24 hours. Then I held the board 20 inches from the shower head while it was running for ten seconds and noticed how much egg yolk was removed. I did this test for every setting on every shower head. Most removed only a little, if any, egg yolk, but some settings turned out to be weaker or stronger than the others.
Different showers activate different boxes, but at the end of the day the most important thing was the actual shower experience. None of the models I tested were terrible, but some stood out from the others and cleaned up the competition.
Previously published and updated when we review new products.