Choosing a Shower Valve Part 1 - Manual or Thermostatic


Shower valves control the flow of water to the ‘outlets’, such as a slide rail kit, a fixed shower head or bodyjets.

The premise is simple, but as with anything in the bathroom industry, there is plenty of over complicated jargon that can confuse the uninitiated. This guide will look at the distinction between valves that are thermostatically controlled, and those that are controlled manually.


Manual Shower Valves

Manual shower valves are cheap and simple to use. Think of them much like a basin mono tap, where you tilt and turn a lever to set flow and temperature.  They are usually suitable for low and high pressure, although be careful to check the pressure rating as some of them have a diverter which can cause them to require high pressure to obtain a decent flow.

Typically a single lever will often operate both the temperature and flow rate of the water. The main drawback with a manually controlled shower valve is that there is no ‘thermostatic’ control. In other words, if you’re merrily having a shower and someone turns a tap on or flushes the toilet elsewhere in the house, you might just find yourself dancing around trying to get out the way of scalding hot or freezing cold water. Certainly not fun, and not ideal if you have young children.

Manual shower valves are fine if you live on your own, or if you like the thrill of never knowing just when a blast of freezing water is on its way, but not great for most showering applications. However, they come in handy when combined with a bath overflow filler and/or a pull-out handset, two applications where thermostatic control of the water isn’t particularly essential.


Thermostatic Shower Valve

The purpose of a thermostatic shower valve is to give you precise control over the water temperature of your shower.

A thermostatic shower valve is designed to maintain water temperature within a +/- 2°C range so there isn’t a noticeable variance in temperature change when you’re showering. If there is a sudden reduction in incoming flow of hot or cold, the thermostatic valve will respond to compensate and keep a constant temperature. If either hot or cold water fails, thermostatic valves will shut off to prevent scalding.

Usually, a thermostatic shower valve has 2 or 3 handles depending on how many outlets you want to control. One of the handles will be the independent temperature control. Once you’ve found the perfect temperature position, this can then be left, meaning you can have your perfect temperature shower every day of the week. Because there’s no longer a need to mess around with water temperatures or spend time fiddling with the levers you can save time, water and energy.

Thermostatic shower valves can also be digitally controlled for a more precise temperature. A remote control panel can be placed within or outside your shower enclosure so you need not have to step into a running shower to get that perfect temperature before you hop in.

wp1000rc_23419_750xauto_1_ In summary:

Manual Shower Valve

Thermostatic Shower Valve

Lack of thermostatic control means sudden changes in water temperature

Precise thermostatic control will automatically adjust to keep a constant temperature

Manually controlled only

Digitally or manually controlled

Not suitable for young children

Suitable for young children

Good for use with overflow bath filler & pullout handset

Use with any outlet you want precise control of temperature


Slightly pricier than a manual valve


Ready to start shopping? Visit our Shower Valves category.

Next Article: Choosing a Shower Valve Part 2: Concealed or Exposed  

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