If you are planning to install a new shower valve in your shower, or simply plan on installing a new shower altogether, you should take some time to learn about the different types of shower valves that are available to you. By selecting the best shower valve now, you will make your shower a much better fit to your needs in the long term. Because your shower valve will last you a long time, it is important not to rush the decision. The benefits, or consequences if you choose badly, will be with you for years. What follows should help you to understand the basic differences between the different types of shower valves that are available.
Thermostatic or Manual
Shower valves can be either thermostatic or manual. The difference between thermostatic shower valves and manual devices is relatively simple. Thermostatic shower valves contain a device that turns off the flow of water if it goes above a certain temperature. The benefits of having a thermostatic shower valve are quite significant. With a properly configured thermostatic shower valve, it is impossible to be accidentally scalded by your shower. Thermostatic shower valves solve the old problem of a shower losing access to cold water because it is being used somewhere else, such as a flushed toilet, causing the temperature to suddenly rise.
Not all homes are vulnerable to this problem. More modern plumbing will lower the chances of this happening, or eliminate them altogether. A thermostatic shower valve may not actually be worth seeking out unless your home is vulnerable to this problem. In these cases, a manual shower valve is fine.
Shower valves are classified by the number of controls that they have, anywhere from 1 to 3. Overall, larger numbers of controls mean a greater degree of fine control over pressure and temperature.
A shower valve with 1 control uses it to regulate the amount of cold water, the amount of hot water, and the pressure. As the single control is turned up, the water pressure of pure cold water goes up. As the control is turned up further, a greater amount of hot water is added to the flow. In contrast, a shower valve with 2 controls will use 1 to control temperature and another to control pressure. Shower valves with 3 controls will only be used on showers with multiple outlets, with 1 control for temperature, 1 for pressure, and 1 to change which outlet is being used.
The number of controls a shower valve as is not an advantage or disadvantage, but instead it is a matter of personal preference.
Shower valves can also have between 1 and 3 outlets. Shower valves with 1 outlet involve exactly the minimum you expect from a shower, which is a showerhead; however, more outlets involve more options. A second outlet might connect to a hand held shower head, or it might be connected to body jets.
The number of outlets a shower valve has is a matter of personal preference. Multiple outlets do allow an increased number of options.