Traditionally, all the water in a house is heated at a central water heater, but one increasingly popular solution to home water heating needs is the electric shower. An electric shower heats the water for a shower immediately before it is dispensed, offering the advantage, among others, of never running out of hot water in the middle of a shower. In an electric shower, the water is heated by an electrical device in the shower head, and many models come with a memory for storing one or more temperature settings.
Electric showers are uncommon in the United States, but are seen very often in less-developed countries because of the unique advantages they offer. An electric shower works well in homes that have low water pressure or no main supply of water, because many have a small built-in pump to increase the water pressure as the water is being heated. An electric shower also uses less electricity than an electric water heater, and this is advantageous in countries or areas where electrical service is sporadic or unreliable. In countries that are especially cold, electric showers add an additional heat source for water that may still be too cold, even after going through a water heater.
For someone accustomed to centrally heated water, mixing electricity and water a few inches away from one’s head may seem unnecessarily risky. However, an electric shower is safe if used and installed properly. Also, for someone planning a trip from the U.S. to a Third World country, it’s a good idea to know how to use one and to make sure it’s safe.
To use an electric shower, first turn on the electrical circuit before entering the shower or turning on the water supply. The wiring connected to the shower head should be inspected, to make sure that the two wires are covered well with electrical tape or conduit caps. There should also be a grounding wire (green) attached securely to the water pipe itself. If any wires are exposed or improperly connected, they should be covered with electrical tape before the shower is used.
Once it is clear that the wiring is properly connected, it is important to adjust the temperature setting for the water before turning the shower on. Most electric shower heads allow for the water temperature to be adjusted to one’s liking. It is important to not adjust the temperature setting once the water is running, since this can damage the heating element. Next, turn on the water until a slight buzzing sound is heard from the shower head, which indicates that the shower is heating the water. After this is heard, the water pressure can be adjusted to fine-tune the temperature.
Another point to remember is that electric showers have their own circuit breakers and fuses. In order to prevent damage to the electrical components, these need to be turned off whenever the shower is not in use. Also, to avoid the risk of electric shock, do not touch the circuit breaker while the water is running.