* Prices may differ from that shown
Very expensive but well designed and works well - except for the handset holder. This contains a ratchet collar which is under engineered and breaks at the thinnest point, although easily dismantled this part is not made available separately - a replacement holder is £50 !
I've always found a good shower to be, if not a necessity, quite high on my comfort list; if I am staying in a hotel anywhere it's one of the first things I check, and, bless her, I dread stays at my mum's house due to her shower, which is like standing under a dripping tap!
Having inherited 2 awful showers now in the properties I have bought, you would have thought I would have learned my lesson. Sadly, however, in the house we have lived in for nearly three years, when we moved in we found we had another dud, one of those electric showers, which spluttered and then died one day. This is what lead to us researching, and finally having this particular shower installed, once we had saved up for a new ensuite . We sourced all the items for our bathroom ourselves and had it professionally installed once we had ripped out the 1970's sanitary ware and tiles ourselves.
What is it?
This shower is "digital" quite simply as the temperature is automatically adjusted to stay at a constant whilst you have your shower. I will explain more about this feature later. This particular model has an external valve which comes down from the ceiling, we opted for this version simply as we have found, being on our third bathroom installation now, that an internal valve though being perhaps more attractive is more expensive to install. Internal valves require evacuation of the wall, and are also hard to access in case of any problems such as a leak, a problem we did have in a previous bathroom and which we were keen to avoid, hence opting for this shower with an exposed valve for more easy maintenance and installation.
This shower fits neatly through the ceiling, the pipe is contained in the centre of the shower's slider rail. To me, it actually is all quite neat looking, though if you have a small shower cubicle you may find that the un-exposed version is a better choice for you as it is slightly less big.
The shower head is adjustable, both height wise, and also you can change the jet diameter slightly. This unit doesn't contain a pump, you can buy a pumped version if you don't already have a pump fitted on your shower, which we actually already did. The shower has a separate processor (a small box) which controls the temperature and can be sited anywhere within reachable distance to the main unit, provided a low voltage cable can be attached to it. Ours is in the loft, it's not an item I look at very often to be honest, but it seems to do the job.
As already explained, I didn't do the installation myself, so I can not comment whether it is "easy installation" as billed by the manufacturer. The plumber who installed ours wasn't, it is fair to say, the most speedy worker in the world, though he did do a thorough job in all aspects of the bathroom installation which is what was important to us. He didn't seem to spend more than about half a morning plumbing in this unit. It is suitable for nearly any kind of water system, so fine if you have a combination boiler for example.
The exact dimensions of the shower are to be found here:
http://www.aqualisa.co.uk/upload/LITERATURE%20DOWNLOADS/MainBrochure.pdf on page 50.
As you can see from the photo, this shower is chrome finished, I quite like the look of it as it is simple and modern, if you prefer a different kind of shower head or look Aqualisa do make a range of different styles. Price wise I've seen this item vary from £400 up to about £700, the list price is £615, you can save a considerable amount by shopping around. We paid just under £500, and it's good to know we have a 5 year manufacturer's guarantee on this item.
This shower can be fitted with extra body jets (we have these) and there is also the facility to have a remote on/off button (we don't have one of these as yet though it is tempting).
The shower in use:
I have to say, being a bit of a shower fiend, I love this shower and have done from the first time I used it. It's very simple to use, you simply press the top half of the button which is the circular bit you can see at the bottom of the slider rail. The LED display, which is a little blue inset around the button, will flash until it reaches the temperature the shower has been left to (it comes with a default factory setting which is adjustable),and then stay illuminated, and you are good to go. There is a dial to change the temperature to higher and lower which I find responds quite quickly. The shower does maintain its temperature as billed even when I know that the hot water tank is running low if I am enjoying a longer shower than my "jump in and wash as quickly as possible before the kids kill each other" average.
Obviously how powerful the shower is will depend on how good your pump is, as mentioned earlier if you have a gravity system you will need to purchase an extra pump or other model of the shower.
My favourite feature is the "boost" button which ups the force of the shower - to a scary 18l per minute, I try not to use this too excessively as the water consumption is about a whole 5 litres a minute more than normal.
We live in a hard water area, and I found the feature on the shower head of rubber nozzles was a real boon for cleaning, a bit of a rub and the limescale was easily jiggled out - we have now got a water softener so don't find we have a limescale issue any longer, but it does seem that the shower has been designed with use in a hard water area in mind.
I'm quite short but do find that I can adjust the shower height as I wish - I'm less keen on the body jets, which are another review, but I love the shower. My one small criticism is that I am not sure of the need of the clear retaining ring at the base of the slider - I find it a hindrance if I am pulling off the shower, eg to clean around the shower cubicle. The shower itself shouldn't be washed with any abrasive cleaning products, ours still looks as good as the day we first had it, so far.
Apart from that, using this shower is bliss, you can adjust the height and angle easily and the jet diameter too. Once you have finished washing you press that button again and the shower slows and switches off, with no dripping.
I am fully sold on the digital shower idea, having bought this item. It is quite an investment, but as I said at the start I find a shower to be a must-have, and seeing as I expect this will get daily use for many years in our house I do think it was worth buying. The 5 years free guarantee (exceptions as per the details on the manufacturer's website, link below) is great reassurance too. The build quality of this item appears, from several months' use to be very good and customer aftercare also seems excellent, thus far - we had exceeded the 28days you have to register due to our aforementioned non-so-speedy plumber, we explained this and they were glad to help.
If you love showers like I do then I thoroughly recommend this item, it's quite simply the best shower I have used anywhere.
(also on ciao in my name)