The Ultimate Buyers Guide

All you need to know about buying a steam or shower cabin...

When these types of free-standing and self-contained showers are discovered for the very first time, many customers...and quite rightly so, have questions and concerns about the suitability for their own property and so forth.

With this in mind and from our many years of experience and knowledge of this type of product, let us introduce you here to our Ultimate Guide. This will provide you with a plethora of valuable information on this topic - in fact, everything you need to know so you're able to proceed and complete a purchase with confidence and peace of mind.

Any such Guide, does of course require a logical starting point and in this regard, we decided to commence with a concise introduction to the various types of showers that fall into this self-contained style.

Part A: Introduction To Self Contained Showers:- The Graphic below shows a detailed overview of the different types of self-contained shower models. Over the years, these units have been listed under various names, headings and descriptions, most of which mean basically the same thing but this should prevent any confusion.....

steam-shower-cabin-types

Steam Shower Cabin Buyers Guide - An Infographic from Smart Price Warehouse To share and embed this Infographic on your blog or website, copy & paste this code below.

Infographics: http://infographicalley.com/

Part B: -Water Supply Requirements:- All these types of shower cabins require both a hot and cold water supply, accessed from in and around where the shower is to be finally situated. Find your type of water supply from the Infographic below and see if this type of self-contained shower is suitable for your property.

water pressure and boiler requirements

Shower Cabin Water Supply Requirements - An Infographic from Smart Price Warehouse To share and embed this Infographic on your blog or website, copy & paste this code below.

Now you have seen the detailed image above and have determined what type of water supply you have, let us now cover any other water related questions you may have…

Water Connections:- For corner units.. also known as quadrant units and with elongated models too, you will require the hot and cold water supply pipes to run up the wall in the corner. It is behind the corner control tower, where the water connections to the shower are made. Likewise with rectangular units, the control tower is normally in the centre of the back panel, so it will be on the wall directly behind this position, where the water pipes will need to be.

Ideally, the hot and cold water pipes should run up the wall in the required position, approximately 120cm to160 cm from floor level. The pipe work will need to be fitted back tight to the wall and not protruding; this will ensure the cabin when in it's final operational position, will fit almost flush to the walls.

steam shower water connections

The connections from the water supply to the shower unit, are by way of 2 braided flexible hoses - one for the hot and one for the cold and these are approximately 100cm in length and have standard 15mm compression threaded ends, not dissimilar to that of a washing machine. These braided flexible hoses, are all included with any shower unit purchased from Smart Price Warehouse

braided hose steam shower

Braided Hose

Where the hot and cold supply pipes have been run up the wall, it is recommended that in-line isolation valves, are fitted to the ends of the pipes. This will enable the water going to the shower to be shut off, should you need to carry out future repairs or maintenance work to the unit. This is also handy if you are away from home for long periods of time, such as a holiday etc. Although we do not the supply isolation valves, your local DIY store will stock these or buy online at Toolstation for less than £1 each.

in-line isolation valve

Isolation Valve

Waste Connection:- All shower units are supplied with a waste outlet kit and in most instances, are pre-fitted to the tray or tub. The exact position in the tray of the waste outlet, varies from model to model. Its best to check the specific products schematics drawing first - to confirm, you will find a link to these on each individual product page. Also included is a 1.5” flexible waste pipe, which simply needs to be coupled with your existing soil pipe. If desired, you may fit your own waste trap at this point as well and should you choose to do this, we recommend a HEPVO inline trap. These are slim line in design compared to regular traps and are ideal if the shower is going into an area with a concrete or solid floor. Hepvo traps can be purchased from your local plumbers merchant or online at less than £20 from Supreme Plumb

Waste outlet shower cabin

Waste Outlet

Hepvo-In-Line Trap

Hepvo In-line Trap

This more or less covers the various water requirements and setup. Next, outline at the Electrical requirements.

Part 3: The Electrical Requirements:- Obviously, if you are fitting one of the Hdyro showers as noted on the infographic above, then this section will not apply to you, as no electrical supply is needed. However, if you are planning on fitting a shower cabin, steam shower or whirlpool shower, then this section will provide everything you need to know.

A standard 13 amp power supply will be required, by way of an Isolated Fused Spur socket. A single if for a shower or steam cabin, or a double if installing a whirlpool steam shower. Your electrician will be able to supply these or buy online at Astra247.com . The fused spur socket needs to be positioned in and around where the unit is being situated and ideally at floor level. Alternatively, you can position this on an adjacent wall in another room and feed the shower cable through the wall to connect. Please ensure you follow local regulations; the fitting of electricity into bathroom must be carried out by a Qualified Part P electrician – this is now a Legal requirement.

fused spur socket

Isolated Switched Fused Socket

The shower unit will come with a pre-fitted plug, but this it meant for factory testing purposes only and is NOT for final use. It will also be pre-fitted with an RCD (residual current device). If you are connecting the unit power supply back to a mains board that is already fitted with an RCD, you should remove this as it will likely cause issues with the power tripping out.

pre-fitted RCD

Pre-Fitted RCD

Electricity Usage Of Shower Units
Shower Cabins will use very little power – Ceiling Light (AC12v/32W), fan (DC12v) Ozone (AC12v/8w), Tower LED Lights (12V/10w, Speaker (10w).
Steam Showers - Same as a shower cabin, with the added Steam Generator (3Kw). If you were to take a 20 minute steam you would use somewhere in the region of 1kw of energy, currently you are likely to be paying 10p-15p for this.
Whirlpool Showers – As above with the power consumed using the whirlpool feature, generally fitted with 1HP motors. 1HP = 746 watts, based on the above rates, this would add up to approximately 0.10p for 1 hour of usage.
This finalises the electrical section. Next up – Space and Accessibility.

Part 4: Space and Accessibility:- Unlike a conventional shower enclosure where as long as the tray fits the space you have available its fine, with a self-contained cabin you will need some additional space. Units are completely free standing, are not fixed to any walls or floor and the long flexible connectors for both the water supply pipes and waste, provide the ability to move the unit away from the wall, to gain access to the connections at the back. There is no access to any services from under the tray.

It is therefore recommended that for assembly and installation purposes, that you have a clear 350mm-400mm available space around the unit. Perhaps less than this on one side, if it’s a corner quadrant unit being fitted. Do not fix toilets or sinks etc., directly next to the shower unit. Easiest way to think of this aspect is:-

(1) In the space that is available, will I be able to fully assemble the unit and then be able to get behind it to connect the hot and cold water supply and waste, the electrics and so on.
(2) Once the shower unit is fully assembled, connected and slid back into my planned final position, could I still slide the unit away from the wall and gain access to the back, to maintain and repair should an issue arise in the future.

shower cabin space requirements

Another common error we come across, is customers thinking they can place a rectangular shower or whirlpool bath unit into a alcove or recessed area of their bathroom. Please remember if the alcove is deeper than the unit and the width of the space is the same or only slightly wider than the size of the unit, you are not going to be able assemble this, connect up the services and have future rear access - in case of a leak for example, if there is no additional space available. If the unit is to be situated in a alcove or recessed area you will need around 400mm space to either side.

The only exception to this, is to have access to the back wall area - perhaps through a hatchway from an adjoining room. This will overcome the problem of needing space either side of the unit for rear access.

Also be mindful that access through the property to the bathroom is sufficient, particularly in respect of narrow hallways and stair wells etc. Although these units arrive flat packed (we will cover more on this later) the tubs on the larger whirlpool bath models can be bulky, in particular the large corner, quadrant type. You will want to avoid having to take out banisters, door frames or even windows out, just to get the unit component parts, into the bathroom.

Finally, ensure that when you take delivery of your shower unit that you have somewhere large enough and more importantly, safe enough to store it. This is especially so when taking delivery a long time prior to fitting it. Shower units are very robust when assembled and connected, however flat packs of glass doors and panels are not so and replacing them can be costly and sometimes timely, if not in stock.

Part 5: All About Walls and Floors:
Walls.....
Something that is often overlooked by customers, is because the rear glass panels are coated and you cannot see through them to the wall behind, they forget that although yes, the shower panels will hide those ugly old tiles from the 70’s, the walls must be upright from floor to ceiling.

For example, if the tiles behind cover only half way up the wall, when the cabin is installed it will leave a gap where the unit cannot sit back flush, all the way from top to bottom. This can make the installation appear unsightly and unfinished. So do ensure you check not only the tile situation mentioned, but if the walls are indeed true and upright anyway.

We also covered this earlier, but you really must also check the supply pipework behind is not protruding as again, this will force the unit away from the wall and once again, cause an unsightly gap.

Floors....
An uneven and out of level floor can escalate into a multitude of issues once you begin to construct the unit, and although the tray has adjustable feet, these are for minor levelling adjustments only. The preparation to the floor is paramount. To give you a real life example, although thankfully not a common one, but hopefully you will appreciate the potential consequences of an uneven and out of level floor:-

The floor is uneven the tray sits poorly, the feet are adjusted to compensate, but it’s a fair bit out of level, but overlooked hoping it will be OK once it’s all built. The back boards and glass frames are fitted, but sit poorly and slightly out of line, the roof doesn’t quite sit level as it should. The silicone gun then comes out to fill and cover up the slight gaps. The unit is tested, it rocks slightly, the seals on the frames are being stretched, the silicone starts to pull away from the gaps

You ring our technical number and after going back and forth emailing images realise that the problem lies solely with the installation . The unit has to be un-assembled , silicone has to be removed and the floor levelled out as it should have been in the first place. At least a day or more has been wasted on cutting corners.

Certainly not something to overlook and to get right in the first instance, for sure.

leveling a steam shower

Now that you have all this wealth of information you can start to consider what type of unit is suitable for you, but first let's show you a few other pieces of information you may find helpful.....

Part 6: Acylic or Glass Interiors ?

Acrylic - These type of shower units generally come with either glass or acrylic interior back panels. With acrylic interior units, you are limited to White only, everything tends to be moulded such as shelves and seats and they are usually a 1 piece moulded interior section. Certainly, this simplifies the installation process somewhat and qualities do vary in thickness of acrylic used. One advantage though, is visually the acylic does hide soapy residues that are more noticeable on a glass backed unit. Stability wise, glass is always going to feel more rigid and stable, however acrylic is by no means inferior and more down to personal taste as you are getting a more contemporary look and feel with acrylic and will certainly look great in any bathroom.

shower interiors glass or acrylic

Glass - Interior panels in glass, provide more scope in terms of colours and will have a totally different overall appearance to that of acrylic. The best selling finish over the years has been mirrored, which you won't obviously get with the acrylic option. Glass is naturally sturdy and rigid once in position . Darker colours will be harder to keep clean, or at least visually as residues will show up more, particularly on black glass. Certainly, you should consider adding the easy clean product that we offer Showerguard, as this will help out whoever is responsible in keeping the glass clean and smear free.

You now have everything you need to know to decide your choice of self-contained shower unit and we hope you found the information helpful. Should you still have questions unanswered, be sure to check out our online Knowledge Base and FAQ section. We also have our How To Guides area with many other aspects of Shower and Steam cabins covered, such as Health Benefits of a Steam Shower, Aromatherapy Essential Oils for Steam usage, How To Order, Delivery Process and many more.

As always, if you wish to ask us anything please feel free to call Mon-Fri 9am-5pm and we will be happy to help 0208-166-5994. We also have live Online Chat and a Support Ticket system too - see here.

Smart Price Warehouse

Article & Infographics Copyright Smart Price Warehouse 2014