Quick Update 2017-16: The best shower head for most people is the Speakman S-2252. It offers the overall best showering experience across the widest variety of models we tested. The shower head features the patented Anystream 360 technology, patented plunger system and offers 6 adjustable jets which produce 48 individual sprays. The Speakman S-2252 outranks most of the high-end luxurious models available. ( Read the In-depth Review Below and See how it actually works)
Quick Picks: 5 Best Showerheads
|Best Shower Heads||Ratings||Flow||Finish|
|1. Speakman S-2252||A+||2.5 GPM||Polished Chrome|
|2. ToTo TS200AL65-CP||A||2.0 GPM||Polished Chrome|
|3. Delta 58480-PK||A||2.0 GPM||Chrome|
|4. Speakman S-2005-HB||A+||2.5 GPM||Brass / Antique Brass|
|5. Delta 75152||A+||1.85 - 2.5 GPM||Chrome|
- Quick Picks: 5 Best Showerheads
- How to Install Your New Shower Head?
- Top 10 Shower Heads Available
- Understanding Shower Heads
- Becoming Familiar with Shower Head Brands
- Preparing for Shower Head Evaluation
- Our Selection and Testing Process
- Shower Head Laws & Environmental Considerations
- Cleaning Shower Heads
- Before You Purchase
- Removing a Shower Head Water Restrictor Which Increases Water Pressure
- Describing Spray Patterns
- Why Care about Shower Heads?
How to Install Your New Shower Head?
This section provides an overview of the process that is applicable to most types of shower heads. Watch the 2-minute video below to learn how to install your new shower head:
- Remove old shower head: You need not be too careful about maintaining the finish of the old head, but do not carelessly damage the pipes that you require for the new shower head.
- Remove the old Teflon tape and apply new if the new shower head does not include a gasket.
- Turn the new shower head clockwise on the pipe to install.
- For handheld models, attach the hose of the handheld to the gasket and mount the spray head to the mount.
- Turn on the water to test for leaks. Repair any leaks and test again.
Of course, your new shower head includes installation instructions.
Top 10 Shower Heads Available
Remember that there is no single best shower head for every household. Much depends on your unique conditions. However, our testing and investigation pointed us to the following excellent shower heads in their various categories. These were selected for superiority in the execution of the design they executed, durability, ease of use, product support, and reviews from both consumers and experts.
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This svelte, compact shower head costs about $80*. The big selling point of this design is the 360-degree technology. The shower head has a single control to move from one setting to another. The 360 references the ability of this control valve to move through all the settings in a full circle. This eliminated the uncomfortable and fussy process of so many similar products for which you have to toggle back and forth between settings looking for the correct one. With the Anystream, you just keep circling until you reach the setting you want.
The Anystream is constructed of solid brass to ensure longevity and durability and has six adjustable jets that combine to produce 48 individual sprays. This shower head provides an excellent high pressure shower no matter what your local conditions are like. You will feel completely massaged and cleansed by this product and the ease of adjustment is like no other shower head we’ve seen.
The Icon Anystream has a setting for every member of the family. On the intense setting, none of the 48 individual sprays overlap so you feel the full effect of every drop of water from the pipe. The rain setting, though not directly overhead as rain shower heads feature, provides a strong, soaking, drenching shower, gentle, but heavy. Use the flood setting for a barrage of think sprays of water all over your skin.
The Icon Anystream is offered in four finishes: polished chrome, brushed nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, and polished brass, all of which conform to the lovely lines of the basic Icon and are appropriate for almost any bathroom design.
Speakman includes a lifetime limited warranty.
Our reviewers rave about the pressure this shower head provides even in areas of low pressure and many say that this is the best shower head they ever purchased. Strangely, not many expressed either much interest or use of the 360 feature, the big selling point of this unit, but that may be because they are not interested in changing the settings.
Speakman states that this is the exact model they have placed in many of the very best hotels all over the world so you know it is durable and provides a quality shower.
This unit also includes a self-cleaning nozzle, which none of our reviewers even asked about, but was probably originally included as a sales point for the hotel business. It is much appreciated by all.
See how this shower head actually looks like:
Our Second pick is the ToTo TS200AL65#CP Transitional Collection Series A multi-spray. This economical, water-efficient, high-performance ToTo was very well-liked by our reviewers. Its clean lines and anti-scale provisions add value to an already impressive offering. Costing about $40*, you receive excellent value for your investment in this shower head.
Certified WaterSense, which means it has been confirmed to restrict water flow below the required 2.5 gallons per minute, this attractive head is something of a design compromise between a standard head and a rain head. Attractive and unobtrusive, the flat face of the Transitional is pretty and can be positioned as needed. There is a single control on the head for changing settings. It is a small tab that you push in around the circumference of the head.
It offers five spray modes: spray, spray and massage combination, massage, mist and pause and is sold with rubber nozzles which prevent scale build up. For relaxing hard-worked muscles after a workout, many or our reviewers loved the mist setting. It creates a cross between a warm bath and steam room in the shower which is relaxing and pleasant. The mist setting is not comparable to other models in this price range and provides a unique and happy surprise. Watch how long you employ this setting. It will fill the bathroom with steam which can peel off your wallpaper if you’re not careful.
The quick shut-off is also admired by our economical reviewers. As you know, many water economists recommend halting the water while you lather, shave or add shampoo to your hair to save water. Well, this shower head makes that practice easy to employ. By just moving the tab, the water turns off; move it back to instantly restore your stream and at the temperature you had already established.
This ToTo Transitional shower head is CalGreen compliant which means it meets or exceeds the water flow restrictions of the state of California. Additionally, the ToTo Transitional shower head has earned the privilege of displaying the WaterSense label, meaning it restricts water flow to less than the requirements of the federal government which is 5.2.
The ToTo Transitional Shower Head includes a limited lifetime warranty for residential use.
Our handheld selection is the Delta In2ition 58480-PK. A bit more expensive than our previous selections at about $125*, this nested handheld is a unique design with some pretty keen features.
Unusually among handhelds, it is a great water economist at about 2 gallons per minute and that does not detract from the pressure; you get a great shower with this model. The Delta so-called H2Okinetic delivery is supposed to provide sprays in a kind of wave pattern intended to produce heavier droplets. We could not verify droplet size, but the standard rain setting is very strong. One drawback, and it is a minor one, is that there is certainly a noticeable lack of water, like a water hole, in the center of the shower head that cools the overall feel of the shower.
Delta offers an unusual marketing approach for this item in that you can purchase the elements as a complete unit or separately. This is excellent if, for example, the hose breaks. You don’t have to shell out another $125* to replace the entire unit.
The hose is one of the excellent features of this unit. It is a flexible 5-foot stainless steel hose that stretches another two feet. Anyone could see that this is great for kids, pets, and other bathroom cleaning projects. The selection of stainless steel over plastic is also a real boon. Many lesser models come with inexpensive, stiff, plastic hoses that do not rest nicely against the shower wall. Sometimes they keep poking you as you shower and at other times they wrap themselves around you as you try to hold the handle.
In another interesting design element, the Delta has two distinct functional parts. The outer circle is a wide ring; the handheld section nests within this outer ring. You can run water through either or both sections. The handheld section features a shut-off feature which is very useful when rinsing kids. Switching between heads is an easy single toggle.
The Delta also includes self-cleaning nozzles. The “MagnaTiel” attachment system docks the handheld section to the stationary unit, which works well. Some of our reviewers found that the full force of the shower head is too strong for children.
The settings for this Delta handheld are: pause, H2Okinetic spray, full spray, massage spray and full spray with massage. There is a small toggle on the base of the handheld section that enables you to move from one setting to another.
Though often handheld mechanisms tend to be more difficult to install, this Delta installs as easily as a standard shower head.
The Delta includes a limited lifetime warranty.
The water flow restrictor is a little more difficult to remove from this unit but can be completed as follows:
- Unscrew the ball fitting from its attachment point at the back of the wide sprayer.
- Inside the adapter, you will find a rubber washer with a metal mesh filter. Pry this out being careful not to damage it.
- Once you remove the mesh/washer combination, you will see a lavender-colored flow restrictor. It’s plastic with a dark core of a black washer and works like a sieve. Push this out toward the wider end of the section. Know that you may need more force than you expect.
- Replace the washer/mesh element and reassemble the shower head.
See how this shower head looks like:
This Speakman S-2005-HB also features the Anystream 360 degree rotation setting selector and costs about $34*. This means you can continuously turn the selector knob to move from setting to setting; you do not need to double-back to find the setting you want. The HB has 5 adjustable jets that produce 50 individual streams of 8 pulsating massage sprays. Armed with self-cleaning nozzles ensures consistent water provided from all nozzles without the difficulty or extra steps needed to clean the unit.
Attractively bell-shaped, this model is offered in four finishes: brushed chrome, brushed nickel, polished brass and polished chrome. The primary unit is made of plastic which is a substantial differentiation from its hotel brother, however, the functionality is similar. Our reviews were positively impressed with the ease of installing this shower head. An unusual feature is that you may purchase this unit in either of two flow rates: 2.5 or 2.0; a very appealing feature for the aqua economists among us. The HB Hotel Anystream includes a limited lifetime warranty.
See how this shower head looks like:
The 8-inch diameter of the Moen S6320 Velocity is generous while still a comfortable fit for a standard-sized shower. It delivers the rain shower experience without requiring ceiling mounting. Priced at about $150*, this easy-adjust rain style head features two functions: rainshower and concentrated rinse. The rainshower setting uses all of the available nozzles; the concentrated rinse focuses all the water to use the center nozzles only which our uses found on being a very strong stream.
To improve the shower experience and the delivery pressure, the Moen S6320 Velocity has self-pressurizing channels for triple spray power. Though unable to match the exact multiples of spray, our reviews found the spray more than adequate and did not find it lacked water pressure.
Offered in four finishes, this circular rain shower head has a low profile yet it is attractive, like a sand dollar. The finishes are: antique bronze, brushed nickel, chrome, and oil rubbed bronze – this last is a very dark finish indeed and often featured on current design programs and magazines.
The flow restrictor is easy to remove. The Velocity 8 inch includes a limited lifetime warranty; it is also available in an Eco model that uses even less water.
See how this shower head looks like:
Delta 75152 Adjustable Water-Amplifying Showerhead
Offered in a chrome finish, the Delta 75152 Adjustable Water-Amplifying shower head is an excellent economy choice costing about $21*. Also employing the Delta H20kinetic system of water delivery, the pressure is very good. An unusual feature of this unit is that you may select the water usage level you want. Several manufacturers offer their shower heads in standard and water economy versions, but for this Delta, you can toggle between economy and standard in a single unit.
This Delta has four large holes from which the water exits. Delta includes unique engineering inside these holes to guarantee that they will not clog up; the housekeepers of the home will appreciate this as it removes one task from the “to do” list.
This shower head does not offer a dozen different setting, but it does offer excellent pressure at both the standard and economy settings and is supported by Delta’s lifetime faucet and finish warranty, this is a safe investment.
Ana Bath SS5450CBN
At about $55.00, the dual Ana Bath Handheld and Shower Head Combo is both an economical use of water and an attractive purchase. The Combo offers five functions: saturating, massaging, bubble spray and two combination sprays: saturating and massage, and saturating and bubbling.
Though slightly more complicated to install, the Combo supplies the ease of a standard fixed shower head with the convenience of a handheld. The nozzles are anti-clog and the five-foot hose stainless steel is easy to move about in the shower stall. Our reviewers insisted that the difference in pressure between using both heads and just one or the other was inconsiderable. Though primarily made of plastic, the unit is sturdy and attractive. Some or our reviewers thought that the placement of the toggle for the settings was inconvenient but not difficult to adjust to.
Delta Faucet 75700
At about $26*, this Delta handheld is a real bargain. The ergonomic handle is a nice fit for the hand and the dial moves smoothly from one setting to the next. The Universal handheld includes seven settings which Delta does not name for reasons best known to themselves. The six-foot hose is long enough for all normal uses and includes a vacuum breaker to protect your water supply. You can also use this as a fixed shower head by using it in its mounted position.
Though plastic, this Delta also has a limited lifetime warranty.
Check out the Video Review of this shower head:
Understanding Shower Heads
Technology has entered the shower. You may have thought that your daily ablutions would always be low tech events, but that does not need to be the case anymore. In addition to high-tech showers, there are a few categories of the shower head for you to familiarize yourself with before selecting a replacement for your current model. There is no shower head perfect for everyone; that’s why there are different kinds. You need only consider your style and preferences to make a good decision.
Designed to be removable from the head bracket, these shower heads provide you with the functionality of holding the head to specifically direct it. This mechanism allows you to target, for example, your scalp after you have applied shampoo for a thorough rinse. They come with attached hoses that allow you to direct the spray where you want. When you do not need to target any specific areas, remount the head to use it as a standard shower head.
Provides two streams of water for your shower. The design elements of this concept are extraordinary. The basic dual shower head is two identical shower heads mounted side-by-side; more shower for your buck.
This expands the breadth of the shower which can mean a shorter, more efficient showers. However, it usually adds so much fun and comfort that you don’t realize any time savings. Dual showers come in a combination of one stationary and one handheld head, heads mounted one above the other, a very large head and a smaller head. If you prefer two heads, you can find the perfect combination of heads for your needs.
These are specifically designed to provide more pressure with the same amount of water as your current head. There are many advantages to this. First, people prefer stronger pressure showers. Low pressure shower heads make rinsing soap from the skin and shampoo from the head a large, frustrating effort.
Additionally, people feel colder in lower pressure heads as the water is not equal to covering the evenly as they shower. With high pressure shower heads, you can rinse more quickly and efficiently, feel warmer and enjoy your shower more. Yes, if you elect to take a shorter shower as a result of higher pressure, you may save water as well.
Rain Shower heads are very popular on design shows these days. The concept is to provide a larger head face such as eight to fourteen inches, placed directly above the center of the shower.
These are most often mounted to the ceiling though you can achieve the rainfall effect by a wall mounting and a long arm to hold the head in the correct position. Not only trendy, these have their own challenges. They require a larger space inside the shower and if not mounted correctly tend to dribble water out the sides of the unit.
Our first example of new technology in the bathroom shower is the LED shower head. One of the cool aspects of these heads is that they require no batteries or electricity. The power for the LED is generated by the water.
You can find LED shower heads in nearly every design and color scheme.You can pick an LED light to match your bathroom color scheme or you can find LED shower heads that feature your favorite team’s colors or school colors. They bathe the shower in fun, usually varying, lights adding a techno feel to your ablutions.
Many people install water filters to remove unwanted impurities and chemicals from their drinking water. Most, if not all, communities treat their water with harsh chemicals such as chlorine to kill harmful bacteria that can cause diseases. Though not likely to make you sick, many people prefer to refrain from drinking these added chemicals.
By the same token, many people feel such additives are not good for their hair or skin either and install shower filters to remove them. There are shower filters on the market to filter nearly every style of the shower head and they are available in most places where you find shower products.
Turn your everyday shower into a party shower with Bluetooth shower heads. Unlike the LED shower heads, these do not run on the pressure generated from the water. Instead, they have USB ports for charging. Most of the Bluetooth shower heads run for hours on a full charge, so you don’t have to charge them very often.
Many people enjoy showering to their favorite music. Therefore, there is likely a radio in the bathroom for this very purpose, but it’s not as good as having the music playing in the actual shower with you. To add another accent of fun, many Bluetooth shower heads also have LED lights for the full funk effect. For those of you who love the idea but are not ready to replace the shower head, there are Bluetooth speakers that suction to the shower wall.
Specifically designed as a double economy, low flow shower heads restrict the flow of water to the person showering. This saves water as well as the price. Unfortunately, these economic measures often cause the opposite effect since many people feel that they must shower longer for the desired results. This causes a loss in both economies.
For many years, these weren’t popular arrangements. Americans were spoiled by long, powerful showers and adjusting to shorter, less powerful showers has been difficult. However, addressing the specific concerns of insufficient pressure, new designs of low flow shower heads seek to amplify pressure without increasing water use. Reviewers find several shower heads on the market that accomplish this goal.
Becoming Familiar with Shower Head Brands
To make an informed decision about replacing a shower head, you must learn a little about the major brands. ou may be able to purchase styles and designs to meet your needs from any manufacturer, but the companies do boast different strengths and claim different niches.
Founded in 1873 by Austrian immigrants, Kohler is another of the parade of long-established American plumbing companies. Established in Wisconsin, Kohler began as an iron company. An unexpected experiment that covered a horse trough with enamel catapulted them into the bath market where they have been firmly established for many years. Known for sturdy, trendy design elements, Kohler can be thought of as slightly less fashionable than Moen but upscale from Speakman and Waterpik.
Named after its founder, Al Moen, the company has long been a leader in the American upscale fixtures market. Founded in 1937, Al Moen claims over 75 patents related to the plumbing business. The company has continued to be the first name in quality and design in the US.
The Niagara Conservation Company has a unique history for a plumbing business. Founded in 1977, riding the crest of the conservation movement, Niagara was founded to provide efficient plumbing fixtures to meet the needs of conservation-minded individuals, companies, and government requirements. Their influence extends beyond the bathroom to conservation-based electrical and other products as well.
Founded in 1869, Speakman is an American company substantially older than Moen. For many, many years, Speakman has provided plumbing fixtures, fittings and the like to large businesses such as motels, hotels, and hospitals. This aspect of the business includes such features as emergency eye wash stations in businesses and schools. Long valued for durability, recent Speakman success is in part attributable to their decision to make their flow restrictors removable for cleaning.
Founded in 1917, ToTo, a Japanese company, is the world’s largest toilet manufacturer. At the time of its birth, Japanese toilet facilities were rudimentary in comparison with western Europe and ToTo is credited with introducing porcelain to Japanese bathrooms. Now, ToTo is an elite bath designer, known for innovation and comfort.
With its roots in oral hygiene, Waterpik was founded in 1962. Still an old company by our standards, Waterpik applied its knowledge of water oral cleaning to making shower heads. Their shower heads are much admired by many users.
Preparing for Shower Head Evaluation
We do not have a shower head expert on staff. To prepare for this evaluation, we had to undertake an extensive period of study. This included but was not limited to, interviewing product managers, who are boots-on-the-ground experts in the construction of shower heads and their different niches.
We attended plumbing works shows, interviewed additional experts, performed extensive online and direct research and took many, many showers. Though this may not qualify us as shower head experts, it certainly indicates that we have been able to do the research you would like to be able to do before making a shower head purchase. Our intention is that you profit from our experience when you shop for a shower head.
Our Selection and Testing Process
After familiarizing ourselves with the options, goals, and complaints about shower heads, we developed a list of characteristics that seemed to best reflect what most people want in a shower head.
- Engineering considerations seem primary: does the shower head do what it is advertised to do and do it well and consistently.
- Ergonomics is another consideration; this refers to the user’s interaction with the shower head including stream adjustments, maneuvering hand-held devices such as how well they conform to the hand shape, how easy they are to adjust and how well they attach and detach from the holster.
- Installation issues such as how easy they are to install and remove for any necessary maintenance. We don’t think you should need to hire a plumber to install a shower head.
- Manufacturer warranty is also important; why should you purchase a product the manufacturer does not support?
- We took User Reviews from many sources into account.
- Water Consumption which is not only regulated by law but is a personal concern for many people.
Shower Head Laws & Environmental Considerations
As of the Energy Policy of 1992, the domestic shower head flow rate is restricted to 2.5 gallons per minute. The Environmental Protection Agency offers a partnership program to reduce that rate to 2.0 or less. This program encouraged manufacturers to make products that restrict water usage below the law’s requirement. When a manufacturer creates such a product, they present it to the EPA for independent testing. If confirmed, that product is permitted to display the WaterSense label. These products and other water saving measures are much prized by consumers who desire to lower their water consumption, water heating bills and over all environmental impact.
Cleaning Shower Heads
To clean the shower head, remove it and soak it overnight in a half and half mixture of vinegar and water. Better yet, mix the vinegar and water in a plastic bag and attach the bag to the neck of the shower head. Ensure that the face of the shower head is in the vinegar mixture. Leave for as close to 12 hours as you can. Most of the built-up residue will be removed with this process. Repeat as needed. Otherwise, there are some excellent products on the market that remove calcium build up that may work more quickly.
Do try to keep up on this basic maintenance to prolong the life of your investment.
Before You Purchase
You have learned a great deal about the models of shower heads, spray patterns, manufacturers and maintenance in this article. Before you take out your credit card, consider the factors in this article. Consider the best spray patterns, handheld or stationery, mounted directly overhead or at an angle on the facing wall for your family’s needs.
For example, if you have someone with limited mobility or athletes in the household, you may want to consider a handheld model which are great for targeting stressed muscles and are also ideal for people with limited mobility. If you have very soft water and family members have been complaining of having trouble rinsing out their hair after a shampoo a rain style or wall-mounted model with a very strong setting may make the rinsing easier.
Removing a Shower Head Water Restrictor Which Increases Water Pressure
As the legal flow restrictions have become more established, manufacturers have created more sophisticated ways of restricting water flow. However, many shower heads do still have physical flow restrictors that are not difficult to remove. The basic removal process is the same for handheld and mounted shower heads.
- Remove the shower head from the hose or wall.
- Inside the unit, look for a rubber circle or plastic or metal insert similar to a sieve.
- You may need a screwdriver and other small, pointed tools. Remove the impediment.
- Often, handheld models have another restrictor in the hose. This is more tricky to remove and you may pierce the hose when you attempt it; any hardware store can supply you with a replacement for $10.00 to $20.00
Describing Spray Patterns
The spray pattern refers to the way the water exits the shower head. Rain shower heads, which are generally the largest shower heads, feature a drenching, even pattern that soaks the entire body at one time from directly overhead. Before making a shower head selection, understand the spray pattern you prefer to ensure a good fit between your desires and your selection. Massage patterns provide for stronger, invigorating sprays of alternating strengths almost mimicking a pounding style massage. An aeration pattern is lighter and misty, though not as misty as the mist spray pattern. The regular pattern is the standard middle-of-the-road pattern while jet sprays tend to use the central nozzles for a focused, strong spray.
Shower heads in all designs often include many spray options, so you are likely to be able to satisfy the entire family if you select carefully. However, it is wise to take a moment to understand your and your family’s spray pattern needs to ensure your selection doesn’t leave half of them out in the cold.
Why Care about Shower Heads?
At the end of a long day, there is nothing as refreshing as a shower. It is invigorating and relaxes exercised muscles. The very sound of gently running, warm water is calming and soothing. It’s the perfect transition from extreme activity to more sedentary pursuits such as watching the kids play ball, chatting with the family and reviewing the events of the day.
To greet each morning, there isn’t much as refreshing as a shower. It awakens you in a comforting manner, provides energy for the day and gently pushes away any remnants of grogginess while making you feel clean and fresh.
Are you a physical laborer? Does your daily routine involve pouring cement, erecting telephone poles, or building homes and businesses? As the day closes, the thought of washing off the grit, refreshing the skin and loosening tight muscles is the thought foremost in your mind.
Since showers are so important to our comfort and cleanliness, a great shower head is essential. No, even the very best shower head will not create world peace, but it can restore peace to your little corner of the world.
*All the prices on this page/site are at the time of publishing. See the exact price on Amazon.com