A shower is arguably the most relaxing part of your day – and the most important part of your bathroom. But when shopping for a new showerhead, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the huge selection available. Should you buy a rain shower or a massage shower? Are all shower heads low flow? How much gpm (gallons per minute) should you look for? Here we’ll explain what you need to look for in a shower head to help you make the perfect choice.
How many gpm should you look for?
First, what does gpm even mean? Gpm stands for gallons per minute and refers to the number of gallons the showerhead releases every minute while it’s turned on. This is also referred to as the flow rate of a showerhead. The fewer gpm, the better the showerhead is for water conservation.
In the United States, the gpm of new showerheads has been restricted to 2.5 gpm or less to help conserve water; it also helps you save money on your monthly water bill. (Some states, like California and Colorado, have lowered the requirement even more to 1.5 gpm. Check your state’s requirements to be on the safe side.) So, whenever you buy a new shower head, the most water output you can get is 2.5 gallons per minute. You’ll find this is also the average flow rate when you start looking around for a showerhead.
Consider your water pressure
If you buy a shower head with a 2.0 gpm flow rate, you’re conserving more water than one with 2.5 gpm. Keep in mind, if the flow rate is less, the showerhead spits out less water. That said, there are some showerheads designed to improve water pressure despite the low flow rate. High-pressure shower heads with low flow rates are the best choice but these can be on the expensive side of things. The showerhead you choose should have 2.5 gpm or lower and be able to handle your home’s water pressure.
Other conservation considerations
Some showerheads are labeled with a WaterSense Certification from the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA. This is an important part of what to look for in a shower head if you’re concerned about the environment. These showerheads conserve water, they’re eco-friendly, and they also work very well despite being 2.0 gpm or less.
Fixed Shower Heads vs. Handheld Shower Heads
There are two main types of showerheads, fixed showerheads and handheld showerheads. But those aren’t your only choices. Let’s take a closer look.
- Fixed Shower Head: A fixed shower head attaches to the wall in your shower. This is the standard shower head for most homes. They’re easy to set up and easy to use and attach to the elbow of your shower fixture.
- Handheld Shower Head: Handheld shower heads attach to your fixture with a hose. There’s a base that the showerhead sits on when not in use. The hose allows you to pull it from the base so you can move it around your body as needed. They can stretch quite a bit.
- Rain Shower Heads: These are also referred to as top-mount showerheads or ceiling showerheads. This type sits above your head to give you the experience of rain pouring on you. It attaches to a fixture that sits high above or even to the ceiling. Rain shower heads provide a luxurious experience.
Spray patterns are another feature to consider while shopping for a showerhead. There are several different spray patterns out there and some showerheads offer multiple options.
- Wide/Full Body Spray: Wide spray is the most common spray pattern for a showerhead. It’s meant to cover most of your body when you stand under it and comes out in a consistent pattern.
- Target Spray: A shower head with target spray pushes out water at a hard consistency. It feels like a very deep massage all across your body.
- Massage Spray: Massage spray is a favorite. There are a few massage spray sub-patterns, including pulsating. Water comes out in a different consistency. This is to create the feeling of a light massage on your body while you’re showering.
- Rain Shower Spray: Rainshower sprays are becoming popular. This is the typical spray pattern for rain showerheads. Since it sits over you, it can push out water to make it feel as if you’re walking in the rain.
- Misting Spray: Misting spray is the lightest spray pattern you can find. A shower head with misting spray produces a light mist. It’s like running through a sprinkler that’s turned on low.
Ready to buy a new showerhead?
Now that you’re up to speed on what to look for in a shower head, it’s time to go shopping! Check out our pick for the best rain shower head on the market right now, as well as our picks for the best low-flow handheld shower head and the best massage shower head.
While we only went over the most important features of a showerhead, we hope this guide helps you choose the right one for you. And if you’re preparing for a full bathroom renovation, read our breakdown of the pros and cons of different shower wall materials.