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I thought buying a shower would be easy. I thought I'd walk into that rather lovely bathroom shop, point at a shower and ask if they had a gentleman who could fit it for me. Oh, no, it's not that simple. "I'd like a shower please." "Certainly, would you like an electric shower, a mixer shower or a power shower?" I found myself gazing upwards at a steep learning curve but for the sake of brevity I'll condense the next half hour into as few words as possible. We'll start with the mixer shower. Have you seen those bath taps that have a switch to divert the water through a shower head? Well, that's a mixer shower. For this you need to have one of the following systems: ~ Gravity fed hot and cold water supplies. ~ A fully modulating combination boiler or ~ Mains pressure hot and cold water which is unvented. What you get with a mixer is a shower at mains pressure. Unfortunately our mains pressure is best described as unstressful and I wanted an invigorating shower. "Ah" said the bathroom gentleman, "you want a power shower". Visions of square shoulders in business suits sprang to mind, but no, this simply means that the force of your gravity-fed hot and cold water supplies is boosted to give a needle-sharp shower. As luck would have it our hot water supply was not gravity-fed - it was more of an uphill struggle, so there was to be no power shower. I hope you're still listening. I shall be asking questions at the end. What we were left with was an electric shower. All you need for this is a mains cold water supply. The bathroom gentleman looked relieved when I admitted that we had one. Cold water is fed into the unit (which is fixed to the wall over the bath or shower tray) and this is then heated and released through the shower head. The faster the water is fed through the unit the cooler the water will be, so if you want an
invigorating shower it's going to have to be a cooler one. If you want a hot shower then you should think in terms of it being soothing. So, my vision of a hot, invigorating shower trickled down the plug hole. "But" said the bathroom man, sensing his sale disappearing with it "if you have a more powerful shower it will be capable of heating more water per minute and you will get a more invigorating shower!" "Which", I asked "is your most powerful electric shower?" Proudly he invited me to examine his Mira Advance. There, I got there in the end. At 9.8kW the Mira Advance was the most powerful electric shower available and whilst I didn't quite take it home with me I did arrange for it to be installed as quickly as possible. It's possible to regulate the water temperature precisely and there are built in temperature safeguards. If, for instance, the water pressure drops suddenly, the shower will switch itself off. It's simplicity itself to operate. First chose which rate of water flow you would like ? high, medium or low - and then adjust the temperature control to give you the shower you prefer. Quite minute adjustments can be made to the temperature. In summer I generally find that 4.5 (out of 9) is perfect, but in winter that can go up to 5.5. The temperature you choose is then maintained to within plus or minus one degree centigrade. You can then adjust the shower head to provide a start, smooth or forceful spray. There are three concentric circles of jets on the shower head, you see. The 'start' position directs the water through all three circles giving a gentler shower spread over quite a wide range. 'Smooth' uses the two centre circles and 'forceful' (which is marvellous for getting shampoo out of my rather thick hair) uses just the centre jets. The height of the shower head is adjustable too. There's the obligatory soap dish and the ring to
retain the hose is useful for the hook on your shower gel. You can get the Mira Advance with memory controls: it will remember from one day to the next how you like the flow and temperature setting and it can do this for up to five people, but we didn't think it worth the extra expenditure, given that the shower is very simple to operate. The shower is currently available at £249.97 from www.plumbworld.co.uk, but do remember that you will need to add on the cost of any extra piping that you require and the cost of having the shower fitted if you don't feel able to do this yourself. So, do I like it? Yes, I do. We've had it for six years and it's never let us down. You do need to do regular maintenance. About once every six months I detach the shower head from the hose, take it apart and give it a good clean out, usually with a nail brush. If you live in a hard water area you might need to use a descaler. There are three seals within the shower head and these do go eventually and need to be replaced. Technically this isn't difficult, but taking the shower head apart does need a bit of brute force and strong hands. Perhaps the worst problem that we've had is that the clamp which holds the shower head is made of plastic and both sides of this have broken. At the moment our assembly has more to do with superglue than Mira and I know that the next time it goes I will have to bite the bullet and replace it. Spare parts are available from Mira. If you're interested, Mira have a website at www.mirashowers.com ? just don't include the word 'shower' in anything you put in the search engine as it seems to confuse! You can make a request for literature via the website or you can telephone them on 01242 221221. Now, did you understand all that?