12-inch head. Almost 200 nozzles create wide, spa-like water flow. Rubber nozzles descale. Cleans easily. Metal construction. Up to 1.8 gallons per minute. WaterSense labeled.
Expensive. Has only 1 mode. No arm or flange.
Universal shower head designed for tool-free installation on most arms. Outputs up to 1.8 gallons per minute. Rubber nozzles can be descaled by simply rubbing.
Plastic. 6 inch diameter not too wide. Not WaterSense certified.
"Immersion technology" self-pressurizes water for thorough flow. 2 modes including concentrated rinse. 8-inch diameter with 100 total nozzles. 2.5 gallons per minute.
Somewhat pricey. No arm. Not WaterSense certified.
Wide 10-inch head for coverage. Concentrated jet and water-saving full-diameter mode. Easy central knob control. 2.5 gallons per minute. WaterSense compatible.
Made of ABS plastic. Finish may peel.
Touch-sensitive control on head and on mountable wireless control unit. Drenching rain, jet, fine spray, and massage modes. 8 inch diameter. Metal construction. WaterSense certified.
Controls consume batteries. Head isn't very wide.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
There is nothing quite like a rain showerhead. They can be soothing, or they can be invigorating – a gentle rain to bring calm or a torrential downpour to massage tired muscles. You don’t have to dance around to get a decent shower either. You just stand there as though under a waterfall with a rain showerhead.
Given their tremendous popularity, it’s no surprise that there’s plenty of choice, and deciding which rain showerhead to buy can be difficult. Our guide focuses on the factors you’ll want to consider when shopping for a rain showerhead.
Rain showerheads, also known as rainfall or waterfall showerheads, can be divided into two types. Some rain showerheads are mounted on a vertical bar, attached to the water supply via a braided hose. Other rain showerheads are directly mounted to the wall or ceiling.
The main advantage of the first type is that these rain showerheads offer flexibility. They frequently come with an additional handheld showerhead or a wall panel with massaging jets. The disadvantages are that they have a comparatively small diameter (usually four inches or less), and the water is directed at you, so you don’t get the full “rainfall” effect.
In contrast, wall and ceiling models can be up to 12 inches across. Properly fitted, they allow you to stand directly beneath them. It’s that sensation – anything from a light drizzle to a heavy rainstorm – that people are usually looking for when buying a rain showerhead.
Cheap rain showerheads are made of a variety of plastics. ABS, a plastic polymer also used to make motorcycle helmets, is tough and resistant to both water and heat. Other plastics can be fragile. Cracking and distortion are common problems, and coatings flake or peel off easily.
Quality rain showerheads are made of stainless steel and brass. They are usually chrome-plated, but other finishes, such as aged bronze or black, are available to fit your decor. These materials are extremely resistant to corrosion and are more durable as a result. They also look luxurious.
It’s tempting to go for the biggest model, whether square, rectangular, oval, or round. But it’s important to consider your shower area. Big showerheads look great in wet rooms or large, open cubicles, but they can overpower smaller spaces. Rain showerheads that are five, eight, nine, or 10 inches usually suit smaller bathrooms well.
You’ll also need to think about your desired water pressure. Do you want gentle spring rain or a thunderous drenching? An eight-inch model might not give the wide coverage area, but it will feel more powerful than a 12-inch rain showerhead.
Household water pressure can have a big impact on the performance of your rain showerhead. Pressure is usually governed by a regulator on the inlet to your home, and the standard setting is 50 psi (pounds per square inch).
This should be plenty for all rain showerheads. However, if water pressure drops below 40 psi, you might experience a weaker flow than you’d like. Household water pressure is easy to adjust, but there may be a good reason why it’s set low. Unless you’re sure about what you’re doing, we recommend consulting a professional before changing the setting.
The National Energy Act, initially introduced in 1978, requires all showerhead manufacturers to include flow restrictors in their products. These reduce water consumption to a maximum of 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm). Some rain showerheads have even lower flow rates, as little as 1.8 gpm. If you feel you’re not getting enough flow through the showerhead, it’s usually a simple job to remove the flow restrictor. Bear in mind, however, that this can have a considerable impact on your water bill.
The highest-end rain showerheads offer variable spray widths and different flow rates or droplet sizes.
Aeration is used in some rain showerheads to introduce air into the flow of water. It gives a more realistic rain sensation.
A few rain showerheads come with an articulated arm, allowing them to be extended from the wall and moved higher or lower. This is ideal for people who are particularly tall and might struggle to feel comfortable under showerheads fixed at the usual height or for households where people of varying heights use the rain showerhead.
You can get small plastic showerheads that are marketed as rain showerheads for as little as $10. However, in our view, these four-inch models are really just wide versions of standard showerheads. This is underlined by the fact that they frequently mount at 45°, rather than horizontally overhead.
Our recommended price range for quality rain showerheads is between $20 and $30. You’ll find a huge choice of five-inch, eight-inch, and 12-inch models.
A few rain showerheads do break the $30 barrier. Models with articulated arms give additional angle and height flexibility and are mostly around $40. Those with multiple pattern settings and adjustable spray width can cost anywhere from $70 to over $200. Perhaps surprisingly, some of the most expensive rain showerheads are only eight inches in diameter. This underlines the fact that you don’t necessarily need the largest model to get the best rain showerhead.
Rain showerheads come with easy-to-clean surfaces, so all that’s usually required is a wipe with a damp cloth. Never use scouring pads or abrasive cleaners. They may appear to do a good job at first, but they create fine scratches that will soon dull the surface.
The only real cleaning problem comes from limescale (particularly in hard water areas). Deposits build up slowly, restricting the flow and eventually blocking nozzles completely if not dealt with. The easiest solution is to choose a rain showerhead with silicone rubber nozzles. Wipe your hand gently over them from time to time with the shower running, and any limescale usually rubs right off.
If limescale does become a problem, there are proprietary cleaners available. However, there’s one effective product you probably already have in the house, and it’s environmentally friendly: white vinegar. It’s an easy method, and it is actually recommended by several shower manufacturers.
To clean your rain showerhead with white vinegar, first put enough vinegar in a plastic bag so that you can immerse the showerhead in it. You may need to remove large showerheads, but with most, just secure the bag in place with rubber bands or tape. Leave the showerhead to soak for three or four hours. Remove the bag, and turn on the shower to rinse the head.
The NearMoon High Pressure 6-inch Rain Showerhead underlines the wide choice available for those with a modest budget. The main body is stainless steel, it has a relatively thin profile, and it can produce strong massaging flow even from a relatively low pressure supply. The AquaSpa Giant 9-inch Diagonal Square Rain Showerhead has a beautiful chrome-finished, stainless steel body for unbeatable durability. It also comes with the added bonus of an 11-inch chrome-plated brass extension arm, providing up to two feet of height variation, so you can adjust your rainfall exactly how you want it. The Grohe Euphoria 260 Shower Head is very special. It features Grohe’s sumptuous “Starlight” chrome finish and offers three different spray widths for a variety of showering sensations. It’s pricey but unbeatable for personal pampering.
Q. Do rain showerheads use more water than other types of showerheads?
A. It’s difficult to be precise because there are so many models available. However, many rain showerheads run at a lower pressure than other types of showerheads, so while flow might appear greater, they don’t necessarily increase consumption.
Additionally, while older showerheads might use over five gallons per minute, modern high-efficiency models are restricted to 2.5 gallons by federal regulation. Any that are certified as WaterSense by the US Environmental Protection Agency use even less – just two gallons per minute maximum. It’s estimated that one of these rain showerheads could save the average family almost 3,000 gallons of water per year.
Q. Will I need to replace my regular shower arm?
A. If your shower arm is the wall-mounted, 45°-type, common with standard showerheads, it’s a good idea. Large showerheads, in particular, are a problem because they may be too close to the wall to position properly. Your rain showerhead will still work, but even if the head is adjustable, much of the spread will be lost. Fortunately, replacing the shower arm should be fairly simple; just be sure to check thread size.
Ceiling mounts work well but usually require extra plumbing. A 90° wall arm is a common solution. If you want to gain a little height, look for an S-bend wall arm.
Q. Is there a difference between a rain showerhead and a waterfall showerhead?
A. Mostly the two names have become interchangeable, but there are a few models that offer them as separate functions. The rain function operates as you would expect: multiple nozzles spray water in a wide pattern. Meanwhile, the waterfall function produces a wide, flat sheet of water – just like you see at Niagara, if a little smaller!
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