Best Shower Head 2017: Top Rated Brands & Comparison Reviews of Amazing Fixtures


Whether you start or end your day with a shower, it’s one of the most important parts of any person’s routine. Your shower is where you get ready for the day, wash away a long day’s stress, and hose down after a great workout.

Every person wants something a little different from their shower, though! That makes it tricky to find the “perfect” one for you, since what’s amazing for one person might be a let-down in your own bathroom.

That’s why we’re here! Our crack team of reviewers finds the best fixtures in every category, so we can recommend the absolute best to you. We know you have better things to do than to spend hours researching flow rates, debating spray nozzles, and so forth. So, we do the hard work for you!

Whether you’re a gentle rain shower person, or someone who wants to get down to business with a fire hose, we’ve got recommendations for you!

shower room black tiled walls
top budget pick

Best on a Budget

  • Our Rating: 4.6
  • Popularity: Very High
  • Lifetime Warranty
top pick for fixed shower head

Best Seller

  • Our Rating: 4.7
  • Popularity: Very High
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
top pick for low flow showerhead

Best Quality

  • Our Rating: 4.7
  • Popularity: High
  • 2 Year Warranty

Here on our homepage, we’ve collected all our all-around favorite shower heads. Of course, shower heads can come in all different shapes and sizes. There are rain shower heads, handheld fixtures, and all sorts of other formats.

For this main page, we’ve focused on the traditional overhead fixtures that most people think of when they hear the phrase “shower head.” You won’t find any rain shower heads or handhelds on this page. There’s a lot of variety even in the fixed/overhead category, though!

If you already know you want something a little different, or are interested in seeing some other formats, head down to the bottom of this page! We’ve included featured reviews in all shower head categories, as well as links to our full guides by format:

  • rain shower
  • handheld
  • dual
  • low-flow
  • high-pressure

You’ll find an overview of each of our specific guides further down the page, along with a snapshot of one of our favorite models in each category!

Our in-depth buying guide, which is located at the bottom of this page, is another helpful place to explore after you browse our recommendations. We’ll explain everything you need to know to find the best fixtures on the market, and we’ll get you sorted out as to exactly what you want!

Now–let’s get right into some reviews! The models you’re about to meet are our absolute favorite fixed, overhead models on the market.


Best Shower Head Reviews


  • Delta 75152 3-7/8" Single-Function Shower Head with H2Okinetic Technology
  • KOHLER K-10282-AK-CP Forte Single-Function Katalyst Showerhead
  • High Sierra's All Metal High Efficiency Low Flow Showerhead
  • Speakman S-2252-E2 Signature Icon Anystream Adjustable 2.0 GPM Solid Brass Shower Head
  • Speakman S-2255-E2 Vintage Anystream Adjustable 2.0 GPM Solid Brass Shower Head
  • Speakman S-2254-BN-E2 Retro Anystream Adjustable 2.0 GPM Solid Brass Shower Head
  • top rated shower head

    1. Delta 75152 3-7/8" Single-Function Shower Head with H2Okinetic Technology

    single function shower head

    Our top budget pick is the Delta H2O Kinetic. It’s a simple, straightforward shower head which gets the job done well for a very low price. While we recommend metal fixtures to any who can afford them, this is the best of the plastic options. It’s a good choice for anyone on a very tight budget who doesn’t need anything fancy.

    Pros:

    It’s very, very inexpensive. This one costs less than $20, which is half the price of our next-cheapest recommendation. We don’t think there’s anything cheaper that’s worth your money, so this is as good as it gets in terms of price!

    The Delta’s low cost makes it ideal for people in rented living spaces who want to upgrade without making a big investment in someone else’s property.

    You can adjust how much water you use! Most traditional shower heads have some sort of adjustments for things like spray patterns and pressure, but they tend to use the same amount of water regardless. The Delta has two flow rates built in, and a simple knob to switch between them.

    On the standard setting, the Delta uses 2.5 GPM, in accordance with EPA guidelines. If you select the lower setting, the flow narrows down to 1.8 GPM.

    So, if you just want a soft and relaxing spray, you can use the efficient setting. Likewise, for rinsing hair, you can turn it on full blast. Other inexpensive options don’t have this kind of versatility.

    It does a good job compensating for low pressure. The Delta is WaterSense certified, since it has the low-flow mode, so it’s already designed to do more with less. The flow pattern is uniquely designed to create spiraling waves of current, so that you feel like there’s more water coming down than there actually is.

    It’s surprisingly effective, even if it isn’t as powerful as the High Sierra or Speakman options below.

    Thanks to the larger spray channels that form the wave pattern, it won’t clog, either. This one does very well in hard water environments that clog up smaller spray channels.

    It can be swiveled around, thanks to a metal ball joint. It’s not premium by any stretch, but it’s a key component that’s built better than other models at this price.

    It comes with everything you need to get up and running.

    While this is a plastic fixture, it’s surprisingly well-made. As long as you’re careful not to over tighten the plastic fittings, we don’t think you’ll have any serious reliability problems with this one.

    It’s covered by a lifetime warranty, too. That’s something you don’t get on many $20 fixtures.

    Cons:

    Unless you’re on a super tight budget, we recommend spending more for one of our metal options (anything below). The plastic parts are better than the competition for the price, but they aren’t going to last terribly long. This is a good choice for renters and folks on tight budgets, not homeowners outfitting a bathroom for the long haul.

    The adjustment knob in particular is cheap plastic which could break off, and fixtures like these can be leakier than metal models.

    It doesn’t do as much for pressure as a High Sierra. This one provides a definite boost, but only at the high-flow setting. So, if you’re looking for high-powered efficiency, this isn’t an ideal solution.

    It’s not as water-efficient as the High Sierra model below, even when it’s in the water-saving mode.

    It looks pretty utilitarian, and it’s not going to be mistaken for a high-end fixture. The spray face is visibly plastic on this one, and it isn’t all that stylish. Again, this is strictly for people on budgets.

    ​2. KOHLER K-10282-AK-CP Forte Single-Function Katalyst Shower Head​

    wide coverage showerhead

    ​Click for Price

    Kohler’s Forte series fixtures are a bit of an oddity. They’re wide like rain shower heads, but they have a lot more power behind them. We think they’re pretty great for people who like an immersive experience without cutting out the power factor.

    Pros:

    It combines the wide coverage of a rain shower head with the power of a more traditional fixture. We love rain shower heads for their immersive sensation, but the relaxing flow can be an acquired taste. The Forte is great because it has a wide spray face without slacking down on pressure too much!

    The key reason for the Forte’s power: it has an effective air-induction system built in. The Forte adds 2 liters of air to every 2.5 gallons of water. That makes the drops much larger, which results in a more luxurious, relaxing feel. There’s no harsh stinginess that you’d have with cheaper induction features.

    The spray face is super easy to clean. It wipes clear of deposits from hard water, and fingerprints aren’t an issue either.

    It looks a lot better than the Delta. The Forte is a classic, bell-shaped fixture with an elegant curve to the design. It’s a lot less utilitarian than the Delta, without costing more than $50.

    You have finish options, too! There are 5 to choose from, including chrome, nickel, bronze, and gold. This one’s also a rare case of chrome not being coated plastic. It’s finished brass, just like the other finish options.

    While these aren’t premium units, the PVD finishes are quite resilient. They don’t scratch or scuff easily.

    It’s fairly resistant to hard-water buildup, if not as low-maintenance as a High Sierra.

    It pivots and swivels like the Delta. The Kohler’s joint is much more reliable, too.

    Overall, the Forte is made much better than the Delta. This one’s coated brass for the most part, with a plastic spray face. Even the spray face matches the finish of the metal components quite well, so it’s not a huge downside.

    It’s covered by a lifetime warranty.

    Cons:

    You can’t make any adjustments. This is a single-function fixture, so there’s not much you can do if it doesn’t float your boat.

    It’s not a cure for low pressure. The air induction feature is great for boosting droplet size, but it doesn’t make a huge difference to the actual pressure of the water. So, if you have particularly low pressure, we’d recommend a High Sierra fixture over the Forte.

    The induction feature also makes this quite a loud fixture. Most people enjoy the whooshing noise, since it adds to the immersive shower experience. If you’re bothered by loud shower heads, though, look elsewhere.

    ​3. High Sierra's All Metal High Efficiency Low Flow Showerhead​

    3.High Sierra's All Metal High Efficiency Low Flow Showerhead
    top pick for low flow showerhead

    High Sierra’s fixtures have only been on the market for a few years, but they’ve blown us away with their quality and functionality. The first models from the company were a bit utilitarian, with plastic spray cones that weren’t particularly “in.” These new all-metal versions take the practicality and quality of the first generation, and add a massive visual improvement.

    We’re actually recommending two models of High Sierra shower heads at once, since this signature all-metal fixture comes at two flow rates. Both save lots of water, and are super effective at using the water that does come through the shower head.

    These are our top picks for anyone who’s in an area with tight water restrictions. They’re also fantastic, affordable pieces for folks who simply like saving water, and don’t need any fancy features. They’re low-flow fixtures that don’t feel like it!

    The link on the left is for the 1.5 GPM High Sierra, which we recommend to most people. It’s also available in a 1.8 GPM model, which is better for folks with high showers. 

    Pros:

    Most importantly, they’re water-savers! The 1.5 GPM model will save you 40% of your water use compared to the average 2.5 GPM unit. If you’re coming from an older model, you could save even more! Even the 1.8 GPM model will save you a solid ⅓ of your bills.

    You can also get these equipped with trickle valves, if you want to be maximally efficient. The valve allows you to easily switch the flow off and on as you soap up so you don’t have to lose your temperature.

    Saving so much on your heat and water bill, you’ll easily pay for one of these within a few months. That’s one of the big benefits of using such an efficient fixture.

    Plus, since they meet or exceed WaterSense standards, these can be used anywhere in the country, even in spots with super tight water restrictions. They’re also ideal for anyone who lives off well or spring water.

    Even though you’re saving lots of water, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. High Sierra’s spray cone design is innovative and supremely effective. Instead of many different spray channels and nozzles, there’s one central cone.

    It works by containing the spray into a tight cone shape, focusing coverage on your body. There’s a big difference between these fixtures and traditional models, which create lots of mist spray. That’s all wasted water, which the High Sierra’s direct onto your body.

    We love the spray cone pattern because it’s so focused and consistent throughout. There’s no wasted water, and you don’t feel like there are individual streams of water on your body. It’s all one big rush of water. It feels immersive, and like anything but a water-saving head!

    The unique design also alleviates anemic pressure. That’s why these ones actually feel better than most 2.5 GPM heads!

    Since the orifice works without aeration, you don’t lose any heat to get the boost in pressure and volume. It creates the effect of immersive flow without wasting heat on adding air bubbles to water droplets.

    The single channel cleans itself, and has no nooks or crannies for mold or deposits to accumulate.

    These shower heads are built like tanks. They’re solid metal from the fitting to the opening. They swivel easily on a solid metal ball joint, and there aren’t any other moving parts to fail over time.

    That’s why we’ve actually listed these as our top quality picks, despite the Speakman being more expensive. You can’t beat them for sheer quality!

    That brings us to another huge plus with these: they’re cheap! None of the High Sierra’s cost more than $50.

    They’re also made entirely in the USA!

    These new solid-metal fixtures look really great. Sure, there aren’t any decorative elements or frills, but they’re simple and elegant. Plus, the finishes are as good as any high-end manufacturer’s.

    You can get these in chrome, nickel, bronze, and brass models. They’re all solid metal, even the chrome version.

    The company runs a great business. While most plumbing manufacturers these days are a pain in the ass to deal with even when their products break under warranty, High Sierra are helpful even if there’s nothing wrong with their fixtures.

    If you need custom tweaks to fix you pressure issues, for instance, they’ll custom-build units for you, and go the extra mile to get you something that works perfectly.

    They’re covered by a 2-year warranty, as well as a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.

    Cons:

    If you like gentle rain showers, these are not for you. The High Sierra’s put out a lot of power, though they’re not aggressive by any means.

    There aren’t any adjustments.

    The simple look might not be for everyone, much as we love it. If you’re after something fancy or ornate, you probably don’t want to go for one of these.

    High Sierra’s warranty policy isn’t as long as most other plumbing brands. Lifetime warranties are pretty common on the market these days. Having said that, we think the likelihood you’d ever need to use a warranty for one of these is next to nothing.

    ​4. Speakman S-2252-E2 Signature Icon Anystream Adjustable 2.0 GPM Solid Brass Shower Head​

    top rated shower head
    4.Speakman S-2252-E2 Signature Icon Anystream Adjustable 2.0 GPM Solid Brass Shower Head

    Our top pick for an fixed shower head is Speakman’s latest flagship model. Their Anystream fixtures have been a mainstay in hotels for years, which has made them equally popular in trendy homes. We’ve always loved the Anystream’s versatility, but the plastic construction on the old model made it feel pretty cheap for the price.

    This new version is solid brass, fixing the one complaint we had with the fixture! So, we can now unreservedly recommend it as our ultimate choice for overhead showers. The Anystream is infinitely versatile, built to last, and WaterSense certified (if you get the 2.0 GPM model, which is our recommendation).

    Pros:

    Versatility is its middle name. You’d probably guess from the “Anystream” moniker that this Speakman is designed to be adjustable. While a lot of models claim to be infinitely adjustable, this is the only one we’ve found that actually is!

    The adjustment knob spins 360 degrees, changing the flow patterns and pressures all the way around. So, you can get pretty much anything you want out of this fixture, without having any set adjustments to limit you! There are options from immersive rain showers to intense massage jets, all in one fixture!

    Since it’s so versatile, this one’s perfect for homes where multiple people use the same shower. You can cater to everyone’s taste without anyone having to compromise!

    That’s all thanks to the innovative spray head array. There are 6 jet centers on the spray face. Together, they produce 48 distinct sprays. The special plunger nozzles help to compensate for the low water usage by projecting each stream similarly to the way the High Sierra works.

    It’s nearly as good at cleaning itself as the High Sierra! The Anystream’s nozzles will blast out most hard water accumulation, so all you really have to do is wipe down the outside.

    The version we’re recommending is WaterSense-certified, and rated at 2.0 GPM. There’s also a 2.5 GPM model, but we don’t think anyone really needs it. The 2.0 GPM version works just as well, and will meet regulations nearly everywhere in the country.

    It’s made from solid brass. The old Anystream’s were made from plastic, so they always felt chintzy–especially the adjustment levers. This one’s rock-solid. We don’t have any build quality complaints at all.

    It looks very modern. The Anystream has a bell-shaped profile with a simple lever, which complements most contemporary decor very well. There are a range of finish options, too, so you can easily match your existing fixtures. Best of all, unlike many fixtures at this price, the chrome version of the Anystream is made just as well as the others!

    It’s covered by a lifetime warranty.

    Cons:

    It’s twice the price of the High Sierra, even though it has comparable build quality. With this one, you’re mainly paying for versatility rather than any noticeable improvement in construction or materials.

    It’s made in China. That’s not out of the ordinary for the price, but it is disappointing given that the High Sierra’s are made in America for half the price.

    It’s not as efficient as the High Sierra’s, or as good at compensating for lower water pressure. This one’s more efficient than other high-end models, though. Just don’t expect it to perform miracles in the pressure department.


    Conclusion


    Which of our recommendations should you buy?

    The Delta is the clear choice if you’re on a very tight budget. It gets the job done better than other ultra-cheap fixtures, and the build quality isn’t bad considering that it’s made mostly of plastic. However, we don’t recommend it to anyone who can pay more for either the Kohler or one of the High Sierra’s. This one won’t last forever, and it doesn’t look terribly sleek. Plus, it just doesn’t work as well as the more expensive options.

    The Kohler is our pick for people who like rain shower head-style coverage, but with a bit more oomph. It’s a good choice for the average person who doesn’t need extra settings, but likes something with big droplets and spread. The Kohler is built much better than the Delta, and looks better to boot. It’s not nearly as efficient as one of the High Sierra’s, though, and it’s not made as ruggedly, either.

    The High Sierra’s are our recommendations to anyone concerned about water use. They’re also a good ethical buy for the average person who would like to make a difference, but has hated older low-flow fixtures which put out disappointing showers. They have impeccable build quality, incredibly good flow, and simple, elegant looks.

    The only downside to these models is the lack of options for the spray pattern. The Speakman is a lot more versatile, so if you know you want more settings and options, it’s worth the extra money. However, you won’t find anything more efficient or better-made than the High Sierra’s, no matter how much you spend.

    If you want the ultimate in versatility and build quality alike, the Speakman Anystream is our recommendation to you! It’s our most expensive recommendation, but it can cater to anybody’s taste and still save you some water over the Kohler or other 2.5 GPM fixtures. This is a great-looking fixture, and it offers infinite room for adjustment.

    It’s not as efficient as the High Sierra’s, though. And if you don’t need all the adjustments and features, you’ll get comparable quality and flow from the High Sierra’s at half the price.

    See Also: 

    Assuming that you want something more versatile than the High Sierra’s, we think the Speakman is the best anyone can do for a straight-ahead fixed shower head. It’s versatile enough to suit any taste, and it’s finally as well-made as we’d always hoped.

    The one thing that makes it incompatible for some homes is the look. The Speakman Icon model above is very contemporary, and it may not match your aesthetic.

    If that’s the case, you may want to go for one of these Anystream variants:

    top pick for fixed shower head

    Anystream Vintage

    This Anystream is perfect for people who like traditional, ornate plumbing fixtures. It has lots of decorative curves and elegant lines. The Vintage goes extremely well with period fixtures, or any sort of traditional bathroom decor.

    top pick for fixed shower head brushed nickel

    Anystream Retro

    This last Anystream is ideal for modernist, funky aesthetics. It’s also suitable for rustic aesthetics, since in has a simple bell shape that’s less assertively contemporary than the Anystream Icon.

    Both these alternate Anystream models are solid brass like the Icon series, and they have the same functionality. The only difference is visual.

    Model

    Cost

    GPM

    Finish Options

    $

    2.5

    Chrome

    $

    2.5

    Brushed Chrome, Polished Chrome, Oil-Rubbed Bronze, Vibrant Brushed Bronze, Vibrant French Gold

    $

    1.5

    Chrome, Nickel,Oil-Rubbed Bronze, Polished Brass

    $$

    2.0

    Polished Chrome, Brushed Nickel, Oil-Rubbed Bronze, Polished Brass, Polished Nickel, Matte Black


    Buying Guide


    Now that you’ve had a look through our overall favorite fixtures, it’s time to learn how to buy your perfect shower head! Here’s our comprehensive guide to choosing an ideal fixture.

    These are general tips, but we think they cover all the important bases. If you have more questions about a specific type of fixture, such as rain shower heads, head to our dedicated guide for that category to learn more!

    Always buy from reputable brands

    Before we start with any particulars about the specific fixtures you should buy, it’s good to establish this key ground rule. You should always buy fixtures from reputable plumbing fixture manufacturers, rather than off-brand and knock-off models.

    Knock-offs abound in the shower head market these days, and we know they can seem tempting to the unsuspecting buyer. It’s especially a problem with handheld and combination fixtures, where there are lots of generic models with the same features and profile, just re-branded. These suspect models tend to be chrome, and sold by brands with acronyms for names or names with misspelled and made up words

    There are many reasons to avoid these:

    First, they’re not made by actual plumbing companies. They’re made by discount, wholesale importers who want to cash in on trends like rain shower heads and shower head combos. These companies don’t have any real experience making fixtures, so the ones they crank out tend to work very poorly, and be built incredibly badly.

    Sure, you’ll pay a bit more for something from a brand, but you’ll know that there’s an actual engineering and designs staff behind each model, and a reputation for quality at stake in terms of construction.

    Secondly, these ultra-cheap models often don’t meet flow restrictions. The EPA sets national water conservation standards, which take the form of flow rates on shower heads. Currently, the national standard is 2.5 GPM (gallons per minute). Models that exceed 2.5 GPM aren’t technically legal to install, and they’re simply wasteful and unethical to use.

    Given the performance of the models we’ve recommended, you’ll see that 2.5 GPM is more than enough these days. There’s no reason to waste your money on heat and water every time you shower, just to save a few dollars on your fixture.

    Ultra-cheap fixtures aren’t always built according to American safety and quality standards, either. We’ve found that many contain lead paint, harmful plastic chemicals, and other toxic substances that can leach into water and steam. Obviously, you don’t want to get involved with anything like that.

    They’re cheap, and break almost immediately in many cases. These are made of incredibly crappy plastic, and they’re just plain worthless. Hard water will clog them right off the bat, the finishes crack and flake of, and if anything happens, you’re not going to be able to use a real warranty. They look and feel incredibly chintzy, too. There’s a reason you don’t see these models in stores or recommended by plumbers!

    Fixtures made by real brands give you spray channels and other design features which are well-engineered and produce satisfying showers. They have much better finishes with scratch and tarnish resistance. Parts will be made from inspected, safe materials. Most importantly, you’ll have warranties you can count on and service staff who can actually answer your questions.

    So, be sure to avoid the garbage models, and go for something from a reputable manufacturer!

    Pay close attention to build quality

    When you’re trying to determine build quality on a shower head, the key thing to look for is metal. The more metal components a shower head has, the longer it will generally last. ABS plastics are common these days, and while they’re certainly better than older plastic fittings, they’re simply no match for metal.

    So, we recommend that most buyers spend a bit more money to get something with all or mostly metal parts. Unless you’re on an incredibly tight budget, or need something cheap just to last you through a student apartment, most people shouldn't consider buying an all-plastic fixture. You’ll have to buy another one in a few years at most, and you’ll stand a greater chance of having leaks or flaky finishes.

    We’ve included one plastic budget option in most of our guides, for those shoppers who simply can’t shell out for a durable metal fixture. We’ve taken care to find cheap models that still perform well and last a decent amount of time. Still, while our plastic picks are better than other inexpensive options, you shouldn’t buy one unless you’re really squeezed for cash.

    Choose all-metal or mostly metal fixtures whenever you can. Look for metal fittings, metal housing, everything! The only non-metal parts you should accept on a good shower head are spray tips and possibly a spray face.

    Spray nozzles or spray tips are the little nubs on the face of the shower head that form streams of water. Most shower heads these days have a number of them. Unless you’re choosing something with larger, open spray channels (which should simply be metal), you should look for these tips to be rubberized, or made from silicone. Flexible spray tips help to dislodge accumulation from hard water as you clean across the spray face.

    Obviously, it’s better to have all-metal spray faces as well, but many handheld models and rain shower heads use some ABS on the face.

    Price isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality. For instance, a High Sierra fixture is as high-quality as anything costing up to 10x the price. It all comes down to the materials used. So it’s super important to double check the materials that make up your new shower head. The best shower heads are made from solid brass, coated with whatever finish you want.

    Be extra careful if you’re considering a chrome model, since even the most expensive fixtures can cheap out on chrome finishes. Often, they’ll use coated ABS plastic instead of brass, even on fixtures that cost hundreds of dollars. We’ve noted in all our reviews whether it’s appropriate to buy the chrome version or not.

    Check the warranty

    Expect long warranty periods on any shower head made today. Lifetime warranties are common, as long as you’re using the fixture domestically. However, some companies don’t offer lifetime coverage. Check the length of the warranty on the shower head you’re considering. It’s also a good idea to make sure you know what’s covered, and whether you’ll be responsible for things like shipping costs.

    If you’re buying a solid metal fixture with a great track record for durability, you don’t need to worry about the warranty too much. After all, most of us don’t keep one shower head for life. But it’s always better to have one just in case!

    Know your preferences

    So much of what makes a shower head “good” is subjective. After all, we each want something a little different from our shower experience. That’s why you should take some time to think about what exactly makes a “perfect” shower for you!

    • What kind of flow do you like? Soft? Strong? Something in between? Big drops, small drops?
    • What kinds of patterns and settings do you want? Would you prefer a multi-setting fixture that can do lots of things, or would you be happy with a single-function model?
    • Are you a utilitarian shower person, or someone who likes to unwind slowly in the shower?
    • Do you need something that can cater to different tastes or moods?

    Consider what you want from your new fixture. If you share a bathroom with someone else, don’t forget to think about what the other user(s) want. By shopping with all this in mind, you can get something that ticks all your boxes!

    Choose a format

    We’ve featured fixed overhead models here on our homepage, but they’re just one type of shower head. Think about which format suits you best, so you can narrow down your options. If you’ve never thought beyond a typical fixed shower head, you’ll be surprised at the range of models on the market!

    • Fixed

    Fixed overhead shower heads like we’ve included on our home page are often the cheapest way to go. Since they don’t have many moving parts, you don’t have to pay so much for something rugged. Plus, you shouldn’t need any extra accessories to install them. They’re good for keeping water within a tub shower, and they’re very easy to clean.

    The downside is that you can’t move one of these around. You can change the angle, and possibly the flow pattern, but not much else.

    We recommend you spend between ~$20-$150 for a fixed overhead model. The only fixed options that cost more than $150 are rain shower heads, which we’ve sorted into a separate category.

    • Handheld

    Handhelds are very versatile, and they’re a good option for someone who wants a bit more flexibility in the shower. You can get a handheld fixture that works in both overhead and handheld modes, or something that’s just an accessory fixture to go alongside your overhead fixture.

    Handheld fixtures are great for elderly folks and kids, since they work at lots of heights. They’re often compatible with sliding bars, and you can use them for seated showers as well as when you’re standing. Having such a wide range of motion makes it easy to wash shower walls and pets with these fixtures.

    Some of them aren’t the easiest to get situated overhead, though. Because of the design of many holder brackets, you may have issues positioning these at angles. We’ve tried to choose models where that’s not a big issue.

    The other disadvantage of handheld shower heads is that you’ll spend more money for a high-quality handheld model than for a fixed unit. That’s mostly down to the fact that there are more components to buy. It’s also thanks to the fact that many manufacturers include plastic parts even in fixtures over $100. Again, we’ve tried to find models that don’t have that problem.

    Handheld fixtures can start around $20, but we haven’t found anything under $75 that’s worth your time or money. The $75 mark is where you start to see metal hoses, which are an absolute must. So, we suggest that you spend from $75-$300.

    There are some very impressive options above $300, and we’ve included one as an “Ultimate” pick in our guide. For the average person, though, $300 is more than enough to get a premium handheld shower head.

    • Dual

    Dual shower heads offer the best of both worlds: a fixed overhead shower head, plus an additional handheld fixture. So, you can have both maneuverability and overhead coverage at any angle. These are the most “deluxe” shower experience you can get these days. They give you multiple spray options for one person, and enough coverage for two people!

    As with handheld models, though, you’re going to pay more for dual shower heads. It’s obvious why: you’re buying two separate fixtures at once, plus a hose and the fittings. In order to get something high-quality, you’ll pay considerably more than you would for a fixed model.

    If you’re shopping for a dual shower head, you should plan to spend $100+. Remember that decent handheld models start at round $75, and you're buying two fixtures at once. Dual shower head setups with sliding bars and overhead arms included can cost $300-$500+.

    • Rain

    Rain shower heads are all the rage these days. They’re fixed overhead models with super-sized spray faces and lots of spray channels. Some rain shower heads have as many as 250! Between the wide spray face and many channels, these fixtures give you lots and lots of coverage. They’re also known for their relaxing flow sensation.

    Rain shower heads work by enlarging water droplets through aeration. The result is bigger drops which feel softer and more relaxing when they hit your body.

    So, instead of an intense spray from a traditional shower head, they’re designed to make you feel like you’re in a natural downpour outside. If you like gentle flow patterns and having your whole body under the water, these are for you!

    These fixtures are not going to be satisfying if you like a powerful shower, though. They’re designed to be gentle and soothing by nature. Some people find that it takes an annoyingly long time to rinse off under a rain shower head, especially with long hair. If you don’t have decent water pressure at home, it’s best to avoid these altogether.

    Since they’re so large, rainfall models can also be awkward to fit if you don’t have a big walk-in shower. Only the smaller 6”-8” diameter models are practically for tub/shower combos.

    Most rain shower heads are also designed to be fixed directly overhead, too. That means you’ll need to modify your supply pipe to get them flowing properly. In most cases, they should be installed with extension arms or ceiling mounts.

    Be mindful of water consumption

    Whichever type of shower head you end up buying, make sure to be cognizant of how much water you’ll be using. Water is scarce in many parts of the country right now, as well as the rest of the world. Doing your part to conserve is only ethical.

    Plus, the more water you use in each shower, the more you’ll have to pay on your utilities.

    So, stick with 2.5 GPM fixtures and below. That’s the federal standard anyway, so all reputable companies on the market won’t sell you something that uses more water. However, some people have taken to removing flow restrictors to try to get around the law.

    Please don’t. It’s extremely wasteful, and in most case it’ll damage your shower head. Modern shower heads are specifically designed to work well on 2.5 GPM or less, so there’s absolutely no reason to try and use more.

    We also suggest that you consider a water-saving fixture. Water-saving fixtures used to include 2.5 GPM models, but since that’s now the national standard for all fixtures, water-saving models are considered those which use 2.0 GPM or less. That’ll save you 20% or more on your water and water-heating bills, as well as decreasing your environmental impact!

    You can quickly tell whether a given model is a water-saver by looking at the flow rate specification. If you want to be sure, check for LEED or WaterSense certifications. LEED is an environmental building standards organization which rates the impact of materials and fixtures such as shower heads. WaterSense is an EPA program which promotes fixtures rated at 1.8 GPM or less. Both programs test fixtures to make sure they meet their advertised specs.

     

    We’ve included water-saving options in all our specific guides, as well as here on our main page.

    Depending on where you live, you might not have the option to buy a full 2.5 GPM fixture anyway. While the EPA sets the national standard for plumbing fixtures, state and local governments are allowed to mandate stricter standards if necessary.

    In California, for instance, water restrictions are much more severe than in the Eastern states. So, 2.0 GPM and lower is where many people should be looking, especially if you live in a drought-prone area or have a well. Be sure to check your local regulations before buying.

    Have you had bad experiences with water-saving shower heads? So have we. The old models used to be horrible. Thankfully, water-saving fixtures aren’t like they used to be! More recent models work extremely well, and maximize the water they use with creative spray patterns, channels, and nozzles.

    Now that most manufacturers are competing for a share of the low-flow market, they’re devoting more resources to coming up with designs that are both effective and enjoyable to use. These fixtures often boost pressure and distribute droplets more effectively than an average fixture, so they consistently perform as well or better than 2.5 GPM fixtures!

    Again, choosing something that saves water makes smart financial sense, as these fixtures will usually pay for themselves in savings within a few months to a year.

    Think about your water type

    There’s nothing worse than putting time into finding your perfect shower head only to get it home and have it clog with hard water detritus. If you have hard water, make sure you check that your new fixture will deal with it adequately.

    Look for wipe-clean spray faces with flexible spray nozzles. They dislodge accumulated minerals easily, so you can clear clogs simply by wiping across. There are also models with self-cleaning spray channels. These do an excellent job powering through hard water.

    Likewise, if you don’t have adequate water pressure for the fixture you have in mind, you’re not going to have a good experience with it. So, think about your pressure, and whether or not you can boost it before you install your new shower head.

    If you’re stuck with sub-par water pressure, there are a few ways you can use your shower head to compensate. Using a low-flow head is the simplest way to go, since they’re already designed to work well with less water. They’re usually self-pressurizing, which can make a big difference as well.

    You can also consider using something with aeration. It’s a way to add air into the mix of water. This boosts the size of the droplets, giving the impression of greater volume. Aeration won’t make as significant a difference as a low-flow or self-pressurizing model, though. It can also cool water by as much as 15 degrees, so you lose heat efficiency as well.

    High-efficiency, low-flow models do the best job focusing water effectively and boosting pressure.

    Consider looks

    Of course, you want your new shower head to look as good as it feels. So, think about your aesthetic. Are you more traditional in your taste, or are you going for something more contemporary? Think about the size of your space, and what kind of shower head will look good in it. Check out the finish options on models as you shop, so you can match your other fixtures.

    Think about the logistics

    Before you buy, make sure you have a plan for assembling and installing your new shower head. Can you install it yourself? Can it fit on a standard overhead pipe? Do you need additional fittings, or to make modifications to your wall/ceiling? Answering all these questions up front will make your life much easier once you’ve got your new fixture in front of you.


    What's Next


    Here on our home page, you’ve seen a range of fixed overhead shower heads. If you’re looking for something in a different category, you’ll want to check out one of our other guides! We’ve compiled high-quality recommendations in a number of popular categories. Links are below!

    Handheld

    If you want the versatility and range of motion that comes with a handheld shower head, but hate those chintzy models that constantly break, we’ve got just the guide for you!

    Our guide to the best handheld shower heads will introduce you to a few high-quality, durable options for any handheld configuration. We’ve got combination models, massage handles, and more to recommend to you!

    One of our favorite handheld models right now is made by High Sierra:

    favorite handheld models

    It’s a high-efficiency, low-flow fixture much like the High Sierra’s in our main picks above. You wouldn’t know it from the way this thing performs, though! It takes power to a whole new level.

    Like the company’s fixed models, this handheld one has a special single spray orifice which projects a consistent, defined cone of water. It doesn’t produce wasteful mist, so all the water ends up on your body where it belongs! This thing packs more power than any 2.5 GPM handheld model we’ve reviewed, so don’t be put off by the low flow rate!

    This is a great handheld option for anyone who likes a powerful, massaging shower. Plus, it’s built so sturdily that it competes with $300 models in the quality department!

    To read our full review of High Sierra’s Handheld Shower Kit, as well as reviews of our other handheld picks, click here!

    Dual

    Dual showers are the most immersive, versatile setups you can get (short of having a custom system installed with lots of wall and ceiling sprays, for thousands of dollars). They give you the coverage of an overhead, fixed model, plus the maneuverability of a handheld unit. Many allow you to use one or both fixtures at once.

    So, you can have a double-spray shower to yourself, or shower with a partner! There are lots of gimmicky models out there, though, so be sure to read our guide for reliable and well-made picks!

    Our current favorite dual setup is from Grohe:

    favorite dual setup

    The Euphoria kit comes with two great shower heads, plus everything you need to get them set up!

    The overhead fixture is a wide rainfall head. It has a modern, square profile, and lots of spray heads for immersive coverage. For a hand shower, you get a rectangular bar sprayer, which fits neatly on a sliding shower bar. You can use it at whichever height you want, either with or without the overhead fixture running.

    We love this model because it has a sophisticated diverter valve that gives you lots of options. You can run one or both showers at any given time, and there are also eco settings for each fixture. So, you can not only choose the best fixture for each shower, but also the amount of water you want to use!

    Check out our complete review of the Grohe Euphoria Cube bundle in our guide to the best dual shower heads!

    Low Flow

    Whether you’re conscientious of your impact on the environment, or a thrifty soul who wants to trim those utility bills, low-flow fixtures are better than they’ve ever been. While low-flow options used to either drip pathetically or blast you with stinging mist, current models perform as well or better than normal 2.5 GPM fixtures! Our dedicated guide will introduce you to a whole range of low-flow options for any application.

    You’ve already seen our favorite low-flow fixtures: the High Sierra and Anystream models above top our list of the best eco options. However, if you want to save water without spending much money at all, we suggest the Whedon!

    favorite low-flow fixture

    This one’s been on the market for ages. While it’s just about the most utilitarian fixture known to mankind, it does its job very well considering how little it costs. The Whedon is a solid metal fixture like the High Sierra’s, but it costs 1/4 of the price. It’s not made in the USA anymore, but it’s still rock-solid and makes a sizable dent in your consumption.

    You can read more about the Whedon, and see how it compares to the rest of our low-flow recommendations by clicking through to our special guide!

    High Pressure

    Low water pressure is one of the most frustrating things to deal with when you’re shopping for a shower head. You finally narrow your list down and come up with a great-looking fixture that fits your spray preferences, only to get it home and find that you don’t have enough pressure to make it work. Ugh!

    Whether you’re dealing with chronic low pressure, or simply looking for something that will provide a more intense shower experience, we’ve written an entire guide just for people who want high-pressure shower heads! We have recommendations in a number of styles and formats. The one thing all our picks have in common is an ability to make a significant difference in your water pressure.

    In our guide, you’ll learn about the specific features you should look for when you have low pressure. We’ll also help you figure out which of our fixtures is the best solution for your pressure problem!

    best for low pressure water

    The Hansgrohe Raindance E 120 AIR is one of the trendiest ways you can go for a pressure boost! It has smartly-designed spray channels which help the whole head to self-pressurize. Plus, the aeration feature works to boost volume without creating annoying mist.

    This model is the best rain shower-style fixture people with low pressure can get. Likewise, it’s ideal for folks who like the immersive quality of rainfall fixtures but want some more oomph. It has a 5” spray face, which gives you a decent amount of coverage without demanding more water than your system can supply.

    It’s built well, it’s incredibly easy to clean, and very modern-looking. Make sure you get the arm and flange set, though!

    Find more of our recommendations for high pressure shower heads here!

    Rain Shower

    Rain shower heads are quite simply the trendiest type of fixture on the market right now! Rain can-style fixtures look fantastic, and they offer an immersive, gentle flow pattern which many people find more relaxing and luxurious than traditional overhead sprays. These are expensive pieces of plumbing equipment, though, and not all of them work very well. That’s why you’ll want to read our guide to find out which ones are worth your money!

    We’ve rounded up the best rain shower heads on the market today! In our guide, we’ll show you all our favorites, and explain why they’re better than the competition.

    Our ultimate recommendation for a rain shower head is the Hansgrohe 12-inch Raindance S 300 AIR:

    ultimate recommendation for a rain shower head

    This is an absolute whopper of a rain shower head! Its massive 12” diameter spray face gives you ample coverage for your whole body. That’s about as immersive as you can get!

    The Hansgrohe has aeration built in to enlarge water droplets, and solid brass construction to stand up to years of daily use. This one’s our recommendation to folks with large walk-in showers who want something to bring the space together and provide a deluxe experience.

    You can read our entire in-depth review of the 12” Hansgrohe by clicking through to our rain shower guide! That’s also where you’ll find our other picks, including smaller options and a water-saving rain shower fixture.