Low flow showerheads?

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by Celtic Blue, May 18, 2009.

  1. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    2,224
    133
    0
    Location:
    Midwest
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    I'm considering replacing one of the showerheads in a kids shower and figured that it might be a good opportunity to try one of the lower flow models. Right now all the ones I have are the standard 2.5 gpm flow showerheads and they work fine...except for the old one that I'm looking to replace. What have you folks tried in lower flow shower heads and what did you think of them?

    I've seen some good reviews of the HighSierra FCS at 1.5 GPM HighSierra Showerheads work using the patented, FCS technology and it is at the top of my list.

    The number two choice I've come across is the Oxygenics Elite 700 http://fivepercent.us/2007/12/16/oygenics-elite-700-water-saving-low-flow-shower-head-review/. I'm not real sure what the actual rated flow of this one even is... The reviewer panned the Delta ultra low flow.

    The HighSierra got good reviews for water dispersion, especially for kids. It uses a non-aerated design so that the water doesn't cool as much (and less mist) so it should be more energy efficient than aerated designs.

    The Road Runner 1.6 GPM would be on the list, except that the trickle feature would be a problem for youngsters. This is a non-aerated head. Road Runner Shower Head Has Unique “Pause†Feature »» MetaEfficient Reviews Small kids would not be able to reach the valve to switch it to shower mode when temp is reached...but I wouldn't mind having this feature for my shower. There is an interesting PDF where the makers discuss the energy consuming effect of aerated shower heads. http://www.screamtobegreen.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/choose-shower-head.pdf Basically, a Texas A&M study concluded the incoming water temp for an aerated head had to be 10 F hotter to give the same spray pattern temp as for a non-aerated design.

    For those who want to max out (or min out in this case) there is the Bricor B100 Ultra-max @ 0.55 GPM. :eek: (Hey, at that flow rate I could just use my sunheated camping/backpacking shower bag and nozzle.) This Bricor runs $75 though...
     
  2. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    10,667
    557
    0
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    Best shower rose I ever had was the cheapest low flow shower rose on the market here. Called a water-miser, it was made by Dorf and was only an inch and a half in diameter, it gave the best hot shower where you felt wet all over but hardly any water went down the drain. Of course you can't buy them any more. Only problem was the spray would degrade after about 10 years, when new it almost atomised the water, when older the water came out in hard needles that hurt.
     
  3. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2005
    13,856
    4,477
    54
    Location:
    South OC So Cal & Nashville, TN
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    IV
    Low flow showewr heads is wear I draw the line. CFL's? LeD's? solar? tankless water heater? Front load washer? Good to go. But don't mess w/ my shower. :p

    There's even a seinfield episode about this abomination ... bootleg high flows. woah.
     
  4. icarus

    icarus Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2007
    4,884
    969
    0
    Location:
    earth
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    N/A

    Try a good one once,,, there are lots of lousy low flows out there. On the other hand there are a number of really good ones out there as well. We use a 1.5 gpm and it works great. 1.5 GPM Ultra low flow efficiency showerhead

    Icarus
     
  5. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    2,224
    133
    0
    Location:
    Midwest
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    A good one is of course the key. I'm not looking to sacrifice a decent shower for a low flow device, but if I can have both...

    The Oxygenics showerhead listed above has one drawback: it's an aerated design. Rough calcs suggest that results in about 25% more water heating cost than the same flow in a non-aerated design.

    I came across the following calculator (which saved me the trouble of creating my own) Shower Water and Energy Use Calculator | Pays to Live Green The value of the energy savings in going from 2.5 to 1.5 exceeds the water savings. For a single 7 min shower once/day the 1 gpm reduction is about 14.4 therms/yr and 2550 gal/yr. With a 10 F higher temp. for an aerated design the energy savings would be lower at about 9 therms/year.

    I can't blame Hill for being skeptical though, I've had various standard shower heads in the 2.5 gpm range that were horrid in the past. A few years ago I bored out some orifices at the bench to get decent flow/spray patterns in one home. When I moved here I tossed two crappy showerheads (actually, I sold one for 50 cents and cut the plastic cover off the other to recover the brass core for scrap) and put in two 2.5's that have worked well. So that got me to thinking about whether or not there were other good solutions in the 1.5 gpm range.

    Recent years have been improving the way spray nozzles are designed and used. Our current Energy Star dishwasher does a much better job of cleaning than the previous several dishwashers I've used, and almost all of that is attributable to better spray/pressure distribution. I've designed and modified distributor systems and sieve trays for distillation towers and reactors so I can attest to how poor/crude many older designs were.

    I'm thinking I'll try the HighSierra downstairs. With its relatively low price it should payback in about a year.

    p.s. As far as efficiency improvements the same is true of toilets...the early 1990's 1.6 gpf toilets were pretty bad. There are several in this home. They didn't originally redesign the bowl system, just restricted water use by the tank. As a result I've had to modify a troublesome one into a 2.7 gpf toilet so it works much better. Eventually I will replace it, might even try a 1.25 gpf toilet, but that's a later topic.
     
  6. icarus

    icarus Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2007
    4,884
    969
    0
    Location:
    earth
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    N/A

    The reduction from 2.5 gpm to 1.5 gpm is a 40% reduction,,, if you spend 25% more on the energy PER GALLON you are still a better use of both water and energy if my feeble mind does the calcs right.

    Icarus

    PS Your right about toilets. We just bought a simple off the shelf American Standard 1.6. It works great,, and even though it isn't sold as such, it has a simple two stage flush. Flick the handle and it floods the trap enough for number 1. Hold it down and it empties the full q.6 for more if needed.
     
  7. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    2,224
    133
    0
    Location:
    Midwest
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    Yes, it is still better than standard flow, but you are giving up a portion of one of the bigger savings by using an aerated head. If it is necessary to get an adequate comfort shower then it is an understandable compromise. What I'm hoping is that it is not necessary to compromise, at least at this flow level. Of course, in your case with a high (?) percentage of that being solar water heating, the energy benefit may be inconsequential.

    I've taken a look at the 1.5 vs. 2.5 GPM cases for all our showers, 4 people/day. It would be a large reduction in our water heating gas consumption, subtracting nearly 58 ccF/year. My current estimate is that showers are between 67 and 75% of our water heating energy use, and that is based on a pretty good balance/estimate with some cross checks. I've cut losses by about 23 ccF/yr by insulating the tank and the accessible piping runs, and another 14 ccF with the front loading washer. Add it all together and it would be 95 ccF reduction, about 40% of my original water heating baseline last year...that's not too far from what I might have hoped to save originally with a solar water heater in this climate.
     
  8. tripp

    tripp Which it's a 'ybrid, ain't it?

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2005
    4,717
    79
    0
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    We have a $12 Delta 1.6 gpm low flow and really like it. It's not aerated. It was a bit different to the standard 2.5 gpm that we had previously, but we got used to the different feel of it quickly and are very happy with it. Between it and the R11 blanket on the water heater we are saving roughly 1-2 therms/mo on our gas bill.
     
  9. FL_Prius_Driver

    FL_Prius_Driver Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2007
    4,319
    1,522
    0
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    I
    Maybe the CIA has some used waterboarding dispensers available on the cheap. Might really motivate you to save lots water. (I couldn't help posting this. Sorry.)
     
  10. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    2,224
    133
    0
    Location:
    Midwest
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    The reviewers mentioned the Delta but the comments I read complained of it being too stinging with its spray. Of course, that's a subjective thing so what one might find objectionable others might prefer. If it works for you and you are saving water and energy, then it is a great deal.

    How many users do you have of this particular shower? I would expect even more savings from the showerhead than you list above, assuming that you have more than one user.
     
  11. tripp

    tripp Which it's a 'ybrid, ain't it?

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2005
    4,717
    79
    0
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    just me and the missus so 2 people. It does blast the water out. It was different at first, but I really like it now.
     
  12. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    2,224
    133
    0
    Location:
    Midwest
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    I've ordered the HighSierra, so we'll see how it works in one of the kids showers. If it does well then I might order the Road Runner for the master bath.

    My wife likes the Peerless 2.5 gpm we have in the master bath now so the Road Runner will be a bit riskier of a test than the HighSierra will be. However, in theory the full cone spray of the Road Runner has some overall feel advantages over the hollow cone of the Peerless. Of course the Road Runner lacks the four other settings...massage, aerated spray, aerated massage, and full spray with aeration.
     
  13. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2005
    13,856
    4,477
    54
    Location:
    South OC So Cal & Nashville, TN
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    IV

    Baahhh ! !

    :D :D

    Ok, I'm not done defending our guzzler (it's not really that bad) head. There are several tankless water heaters that require over 7/10 gallon hot water flow per minute, in order to activate ... so what's a body to do? hea hea. So, for the 1.5 gpm above ... if you're mixing half cold half hot water ... well ... you're on the threashold of not getting hot water. Good excuse if EVER i heard one!

    btw: Here's what I'M talking ! The commando 450 ! :p

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMITcQUe-9M]YouTube - Seinfeld-The Shower Head[/ame]
     
  14. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    2,224
    133
    0
    Location:
    Midwest
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    I received the HighSierra FCS-200 showerhead for $29.94 delivered. This is a 1.5 GPM non-aerated showerhead. It is tiny so it looks a little strange installed...as if someone had broken the previous shower head off and all that remained was part of the interior flow nozzle. The FCS-200 has a trickle flow button that can be pressed when lathering, etc., it appears that the FCS-100 lacks this feature.

    I've now showered with it as has my young daughter. My impression was quite favorable. The former 2.5 GPM Masco (Delta? Peerless?) spray head was not doing all that well in my opinion, and when queried my daughter said she preferred to use a different shower with a newer 2.5 GPM head because it gave a stronger fuller spray.

    This new HighSierra showerhead definitely gives a powerful full spray. I had the impression that the spray was somewhat more concentrated in the center than in the surrounding cone, but that is not a bad thing. It's funny, but to both of us the 1.5 gpm felt like a lot more flow than the old 2.5 gpm.

    I keep the water heater at roughly 120 F and had no trouble finding a comfortable temperature with plenty of adjustment to spare. When my daughter used it in the evening on the same valve setting I had left it at, she said it was too hot and turned it down.

    My daughter had one complaint, she thought the spray was a bit too hard at times, though she was very satisfied with the flow quantity and pattern. She has pretty sensitive skin so I was not surprised by this and will see how she adjusts. My observation was that there were some droplets in the spray that were more stinging, but not to the point of being objectionable to me. The reviews I've read suggest the Oxygenics stings more, and the Delta stings ALOT more. The closest comparision to the FCS in impingenent feel appears to be the Roadrunner.

    I did test the trickle button while I washed my hair and it seemed to work just fine. The design is supposed to be pressure compensating as well, but I didn't flush the toilet to test this.

    The design of the HighSierra appears to be bullet proof simple since it a single orifice arrangement develops the spray pattern. The dense brass and stainless body should not deteriorate. I would not expect it to have trouble with clogging or build up from hard water.

    I measured her shower from turning on the water to when I heard it turn off as exactly 6 minutes. This is somewhat shorter than what has been typical for her so the overall water consumption was half of normal. Payback is somewhat over a year for a single use/day...except that I was going to replace the showerhead anyway and the last one I purchased cost about half as much as this. The HighSierra will save more than 14 therms and 2,500 gallons of water per year--about 7% of our annual water heating, and about 5% of our total household water consumption (excluding lawn watering.)

    So now I'm wondering if I should try the Roadrunner for the masterbath...
     
  15. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2004
    13,439
    612
    0
    Location:
    Winnipeg Manitoba
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    I like a powerful blast of water. I even fiddle with the pressure regulator for the city water service, which is at the water meter in the house, to have a consistent 70 psi

    I like the Seinfeld episode of illegal back alley high flow showerheads. Like when communities in the US first required low flush toilets, and Americans ventured up to Canada to buy "normal" flush toilets.

    The way they snuck around loading the shi**er into the vehicle at the Rona in Winnipeg, you'd think they were loading up 10 bricks of cocaine for a quick trip south of the border
     
  16. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    2,224
    133
    0
    Location:
    Midwest
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    I'm more interested in a shower that feels like it has good flow pattern (coverage), good wetting with relatively uniform feel to the temperature, and good rinsing characteristics.

    I'm not seeking showers that feel like accupuncture or deep tissue massage, but don't blame those who prefer a really "vigorous" shower.

    When I was in college I would adjust several nozzles so that I had full surround showering. Now that was nice!

    The early 1.6 gpf toilets, like the 1994 Gerbers in this house are pretty bad, so I understand their reasoning. The manufacturers simply cut the flush volume without doing a redesign, flow streamlining, better handiwork, etc. It worked every bit as well as one would expect...:eek: The Gerber I have sitting upside down at the moment has a sharp, rough edge in the outlet base with considerable deadspace for eddies inside the ledge. I might try sanding the opening down to give it more of a velocity stack.

    I figured out why the wax seal failed in it: the previous owner had tile installed a little over a year ago, but the contractor didn't extend the toilet flange up for the new surface, so the wax ring can't compress sufficiently. That's why I tend to do things myself, I might not know what I'm doing, but somehow I still manage to screw less up than when I pay an "expert" to do it...or follow up on the expert's work when someone else paid them.

    I'm having trouble finding a matching spacer for the 3x4 Nibco ABS flange--the screw holes of the ones I've found don't align at all. I really don't want to cut the old one off and install a new one as the closet bend has been carved about 1/4" into the joist. I've made a template and I'm going to try to hit the plumbing supply shops tomorrow as the big box stores have been a disappointment. Ask a couple of plumbers for a solution and everyone gives a mutually exclusive answer. :rolleyes:

    I've gotten accustomed to the old style 1.6 gpf toilets and rarely have to plunge them anymore, but I have never liked them. I've had to modify the one in the basement to 2.75 gpf (measured) to get it to work right. I did the same with a toilet in the previous house. Both of them ended up using far more water than the old 2.2 gpf designs.

    My father-in-law recently replaced an ancient (perhaps 1920's?) high volume toilet with a Toto. Mon Dieu! That thing flushes better than anything I've ever seen. I think the previously mentioned modified high volume toilet here will get upgraded (with flange extension) when I do the floor upgrade in my daughter's bath. I might try one of Toto's dual flush types to minimize the water volume.

    Yep, too big for them to rap in a condom and swallow. :eek:
     
  17. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2004
    13,439
    612
    0
    Location:
    Winnipeg Manitoba
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    Ah, memories of my Army days. Quite a few guys would try to get "surround" shower, which worked just fine until somebody else wanted a shower, and suddenly you felt the spray yank away.

    We were a reasonably friendly bunch, but not *that* friendly!

    I think that's the right timeframe. I was on leave, visiting the folks, and my mom told me the weird thing she had witnessed at the Rona

    Oh gawd, that's a no-no. Absolutely incorrect, it guarantees a leak

    Hate to say it, but you're probably going to end up cutting off the old flange and putting on a new one. Every bath I've tiled, that's the only way I've been able to do it

    Those shi**ers are the best on the market
     
  18. chogan2

    chogan2 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    1,020
    724
    0
    Location:
    Virginia
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    I had the delta in my last house and liked it. But I swear you can't get them any more. Not in the retail stores around here, anyway, and I can't find it on the internet. Only Delta's more recent design is available. Looks like that HighSierra is pretty much the same design as the old Delta. I just ordered one of those.
     
  19. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    2,224
    133
    0
    Location:
    Midwest
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    I had the opportunity to use an Oxygenics this week during a hotel stay. I don't know which model/flowrate it was, but I did not find it unpleasant to use (it didn't sting, but appeared to have been in place awhile based on water deposits.) I wish I had looked at it more closely for a model number. My wife didn't like the spray pattern but for the same reason she doesn't like the HighSierra's. For that reason I'm still waiting for the Roadrunner I want to be stocked.
     
  20. lamontcranston

    lamontcranston Umbra Tenet

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    212
    17
    0
    Location:
    Southern California
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    II
    I had an Oxygenics myself for a while. While it was nice for the head and shoulders, the flow degraded into mist by the time it reached the ankles.
     
Loading...