Best Shower Head 2018: Top Rated Low-Flow, Efficient, and Water-Saving Fixtures

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Best Shower Head 2018: Top Rated Low-Flow, Efficient, and Water-Saving Fixtures

There’s never been a better time to go low–Low-flow, that is! Low-flow fixtures today are a far cry from the models of the past. The best water-saving fixtures on the market today perform just as well as full-flow models, if not better!

However, not all the low-flow fixtures on the market are actually up to scratch. Plenty still suffer from flow problems at either extreme: either weak output or harsh, stinging spray.

For this guide, we’ve rounded up all our favorite low-flow options on the market. We’ve picked fixtures in all sorts of categories, so there should be something here for everyone! Our picks are water-efficient, enjoyable to use!

top pick for low flow showerhead

Best Fixed Overhead

  • Our Rating: 4.7
  • Popularity: High

favorite handheld models

Best Handheld

  • Our Rating: 4.8
  • Popularity: Low

top rated shower head

Most Versatile

  • Our Rating: 4.7
  • Popularity: Very High

There are plenty of reasons to be using a low-flow fixture these days:

The global water crisis

Showering uses lots of water, and water is in short supply across the world. It’s important for all of us to do our part and minimize our impact. As water restrictions tighten in the USA, and as we all become more acutely aware of the consequences of water shortage, low-flow fixtures are becoming a necessity in many locations. If you haven’t paid attention to your own water usage before, now is an ideal time to start! It’s easier than ever to track your consumption and make simple changes to conserve.

Improved performance

Low-flow fixtures today are also miles ahead of the models that were sold 10 or even 5 years ago. Manufacturers are putting a lot more effort into designing water-saving models that feel as good as the difference they make to the environment. If you’ve had a bad experience with a low-flow model in the past, you’ll be amazed at the difference! The models we’ve recommended will help you cut consumption without making you feel like you’re making any noticeable sacrifice.

Improved efficiency

Today’s water-savers also save more water than their predecessors. Older “standard” shower heads used as much as 5 gallons per minute (GPM), if not more! Now, federal regulations stipulate that any shower head produced today use less than 2.5 GPM. That’s a lot less than older fixtures put out, but it’s still quite a bit of volume.

Low-flow fixtures today are considered to be models that use 2.0 GPM or less. That’s a 20% savings over a standard shower head made today. Other models use as little as 1.5 GPM, which adds up to a massive 40% decrease in water consumption. There are lots of options at both 1.5 GPM and 2.0 GPM, as well as 1.8 GPM models in the middle. So, you can choose how much you want to conserve, and figure out what makes sense for your own situation!

We’ll talk you through all the different options in this guide, and help you figure out the best approach for your home.

Financial benefits

No matter which level of conservation you choose, a low-flow fixture will save you money on heat and water bills. In fact, these shower heads will usually pay for themselves within the first year! For every gallon of water you’ll save, you’ll trim your gas/electric bill along with your water bill.

For example, here’s how much you could save by using one of the High Sierra models we’ve recommended in this guide:

Practical benefits

Unless you live alone, you’ve almost certainly been in a situation where you went to use some hot water, only to find that there wasn’t enough available. Whether it’s the dishwasher or someone else showering, running multiple hot water fixtures or appliances strains your system. By showering with an efficient fixture, you’ll reduce that system strain, and leave more hot water available for every application!

Recent laws

Last but certainly not least, the law is a key reason to start using low-flow models. 2.5 GPM is the national efficiency standard right now, but many states and districts have implemented stricter laws or ordinances. So, depending on where you live, a low-flow fixture might be the only thing you legally can buy.

Now that we’ve covered all the reasons why these fixtures are smart buys, let’s have a look at our favorite options!

Best Low Flow Shower Head Reviews

Whedon Products SS1C Brass/Chrome Standard Shower Head

Delta 75152 3-7/8″ Single-Function Shower Head with H2Okinetic Technology

High Sierra’s All Metal 1.5/1.8 GPM High Efficiency Low Flow Shower Head

High Sierra’s Solid Metal Low Flow Handheld Shower Head Kit (1.5/1.8 GPM)

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

top pick for low flow showerhead

1. Whedon Products SS1C Brass/Chrome Standard Shower Head

favorite low-flow fixture

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The Whedon is far from the most stylish or sophisticated fixture on the market. When it comes to getting water savings on a budget, though, it’s hard to beat. For the price of a movie ticket, you get a solid brass shower head with two different flow restrictors. You can choose how severely you want to restrict your water usage!

We recommend this one to folks who are looking for the absolute cheapest way to reduce wasteful water use.

Pros:

It’s incredibly inexpensive. You can grab one of these for about as cheap as shower heads come. This one will pay for itself in no time!

It’s made from solid metal. At this price, that’s absurdly good! You won’t find another solid metal option for less than 4x the price. The next cheapest option for a solid metal fixture is the High Sierra below.

The Whedon is vastly more durable than other inexpensive options, even if it’s not as indestructible as a High Sierra.

You can choose which flow restrictor you want to use. One is more conservative, running at about 2.0 GPM, and one is for low pressure applications. It can use up to 2.5 GPM. Of course, to have this one count as a low-flow fixture, you’ll have to install the 2.0 GPM restrictor.

It does wonders for water pressure. The Whedon is designed to boost pressure, with narrow spray channels which self-pressurize the whole head. They’re simple, and not as sophisticated as more expensive fixture features, but they’re still quite effective.

The Whedon puts out a strong, pressurized spray of smaller droplets, split to achieve maximum coverage. If you like a more intense shower experience, this one offers a lot of bang for the buck. Since it’s relatively forceful it’s actually easy to rinse hair. That’s not the case with any other ultra-inexpensive fixtures we’ve found!

This one’s super easy to install. It just pops on the end of your pipe. You’ll want to install the 2.0 GPM restrictor first, but that’s easy enough to do with a pair of needle nose pliers.

It swivels so you can adjust the angle of the spray.

Cons:

There’s no warranty. That’s not super surprising for something so cheap, though.

Another let-down is that these used to be made in the USA, but now they’re outsourced to China. While it’s made from solid metal, it’s a lot more cheaply-built than an American-made High Sierra.

The flow can be a bit prickly. It’s definitely on the aggressive side, and more misty than our other recommendations. It’s not as enjoyable as a High Sierra, even though some people like the “camp shower”-style feeling.

Simply put, the Whedon just isn’t as well-designed either. High Sierra’s fixtures boost pressure more noticeably, and keep the water contained to a defined cone. This one produces a lot of mist.

There are distinct spray channels on this one too, so the flow is split up. High Sierra’s single orifice design makes for a more consistent cone without gaps. The Whedon’s tiny spray channels can also be an issue if you have hard water.

Utilitarian is a nice way to describe how this one looks. Some people might just come out and call it ugly.

There aren’t any adjustments, and there’s no trickle valve.

It’s only a low-flow fixture if you use the more conservative flow restrictor. You don’t have to modify the High Sierra, so the more expensive model is slightly easier to install.

It’s not as conservative as High Sierra, either. Both the 1.5 GPM and 1.8 GPM High Sierra’s will save you more water than the Whedon.

2. Delta 75152 3-7/8″ Single-Function Shower Head with H2Okinetic Technology, Chrome

top budget pick

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This Delta is a lot more of a typical shower head than the Whedon. It puts out a slightly gentler flow, with larger water droplets and less mist. This one also has two flow settings, so you can choose how much water you want to use. The Delta’s a good budget alternative to the Whedon for people who don’t want to totally sacrifice finesse for practicality.

Pros:

It makes more of an impact on pressure than the Whedon. The Delta’s unique set of 4 large spray channels boost pressure significantly. If you’ve had issues with droopy spray which didn’t even approach the back wall of your shower, this one will more than make up the difference. It really is effective!

It’s more relaxing than the Whedon at the same time. The Delta’s larger droplets retain heat better, and feel gentler on the skin. Even if you’re on the sensitive side, there’s much less chance of stinginess with this one.

Plus, the unique wave flow pattern which is produced by the spray channels pulses gradually, which gives a relaxing, massage-like sensation. That’s why we think it’s the better budget buy where comfort and relaxation is concerned.

Overall, this one’s a lot more enjoyable to use than the super-utilitarian Whedon. It offers more coverage, intensity, and heat retention. The big droplets and intense output make the Delta even better for rinsing than the Whedon, too!

Much like the Whedon, the Delta is equipped to put out two flow rates: 1.8 GPM and 2.5 GPM.

The key difference is that the Delta makes it a lot easier to switch between them than with the Whedon. You don’t have to swap out flow restrictors or anything like that. Instead, there’s a simple adjustment knob on the side of the fixture.

Being able to switch so conveniently means you can use both flow rates in a single shower. You can save water as you wash, then use a bit more to rinse if needed.

This one’s a lot better with hard water than the Whedon. It has quite large spray channels, so it tends to blast out any mineral content on its own.

It’s officially WaterSense-certified!

While it’s a plastic fixture, there’s a metal ball joint inside for durability. You’ll use it to adjust the angle of spray. So, the most important component is made for the long haul.

It comes with all the necessary mounting hardware, and it’s super simple to install.

It’s covered by a lifetime warranty. You probably won’t be using a plastic fixture like this for life, but it’s always better to be covered for as long as you need yours to last!

It’s still very cheap!

Cons:

As with the Whedon, the Delta is only really a low-flow fixture if you use the lower setting. We’re recommending it with the assumption that most people will use the low-flow setting nearly all the time, except when more output is needed. Still, it would be nice to have that high-performance mode stay under 2.0 GPM.

Likewise, it’s not as conservative overall as the High Sierra’s. Even the 1.8 GPM High Sierra, which is actually better for rinsing and intensity than the Delta, uses significantly less water. The 1.5 GPM High Sierra blows this completely out of the water.

It’s plastic. The Delta is relatively sturdy and covered by a lifetime warranty, but it still looks and feels pretty cheap. It won’t last forever, so if you can afford to spend more on one of our all-metal picks, we suggest that you do.

It’s a bit less “campground” than the Whedon, but still pretty utilitarian. You’ll get much more attractive designs and more finish options with our more expensive picks.

The Delta does a lot for coverage and pressure, but it’s not as good as a High Sierra. There’s still a fair amount of waste mist, and it isn’t as consistent through the spray area.

It’s pretty good with hard water but, again, not as low-maintenance as the High Sierra’s single spray channel.

3. High Sierra

top pick for low flow showerhead

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High Sierra’s shower heads are some of our absolute favorites on the market, low-flow or not. They’ve even made our top overall rankings on our homepage! These fixtures are built incredibly well, even compared to models many times their price. They perform as well as any full-flow model, while using drasticly less water.

If you don’t need lots of settings and adjustments, these are the best water savers on the market!

*High Sierra’s shower heads come in two versions for each model: 1.5 GPM and 1.8 GPM. The flow rate is set at the factory, so make sure you know what you want before you order.

Pros:

So far, we’ve looked at fixtures with low-flow modes, rather than purely low-flow models. The High Sierra lineup is a completely different ballgame! These fixtures are ultra low-flow models, and both are under the 2.0 GPM mark for water conservation. They’re WaterSense/LEED-certified, and you don’t have to use any special settings or restrictors to conserve.

You can get one of these in either 1.5 or 1.8 GPM configurations. They’re also sold with or without trickle valves, so you can quickly turn flow on and off without using your valve (and losing your temperature). Both models boost pressure significantly, even in homes with severe pressure issues.

The 1.5 GPM is probably the best choice for most people. We think it provides more than enough volume for the average person in the average shower. You’ll save 40% of your hot water usage over a typical 2.5 GPM model, without noticing any deficit in performance.

If you have long hair which takes a while to rinse, you might find that the 1.8 GPM makes things easier. Even though it uses a bit more than the 1.5 GPM model, it’s still a big savings over the high-volume modes on our cheaper picks. High Sierra also recommend the 1.8 GPM model for people with high-set showers where the water has quite a way to travel.

In either configuration, they work extraordinarily well. The unique spray design uses a single orifice, rather than a number of distinct spray channels. It produces a cone of water which is tightly confined at the edges.

The cone minimizes overspray mist almost entirely, and focuses all the water right on your body. Since there aren’t lots of different streams of water coming down, coverage feels consistent all the way through the cone.

The drops are also larger and fuller than those from either the Whedon or Delta, without using aeration. So, the High Sierra’s preserve heat much better than the cheaper models. They’re also more relaxing on your skin!

While the High Sierra’s boost pressure significantly, they’re not at all aggressive. They feel much better than the Whedon or even the Delta. As long as you’re not expecting a rain shower experience, we think you’ll love the sensation.

They’re built as ruggedly as anything on the market. The High Sierra’s are made from solid metal, including the head and the fitting. That’s true of all the finish options. They’re as close as we’ve seen to indestructible shower heads!

There are lots of finish options. You can get these in chrome, nickel, and bronze versions. They all look great, even if they’re quite simple. Older High Sierra’s were a bit utilitarian, since they had plastic spray cones. The new all-metal models that we’re recommending are much more attractive!

They couldn’t be easier to maintain! The single orifice has no nooks or crannies, so mold doesn’t grow and hard water accumulation isn’t an issue at all! The High Sierra’s pretty much clean themselves. It’s not likely to clog, either.

Plus, they’re made in America! For the price, and considering how many models are built cheaply abroad these days, that’s fantastic! You’re supporting American manufacturing, and you can expect much better quality control on these than other brands’ models.

They’re covered by a 2-year warranty, plus a 30-day satisfaction period.

The company has also gained a reputation for doing great business. While we haven’t run into an issues with the fixtures we’ve used from High Sierra, we’ve seen from online reviewers that the company is willing and eager to help folks troubleshoot issues, and even custom-modify fixtures to optimize for pressure and other issues.

While they’re significantly better than the Whedon or Delta, these are still affordable.

Cons:

The only real downside with these models is the lack of adjustments or spray modes. They’re single-spray fixtures, so you’ll either love or hate them. If you want more variety, you should spend a bit more for one of the Speakman models below.

4. High Sierra Solid Metal Low Flow Handheld Shower Head Kit (1.5/1.8 GPM)

High Sierra’s handheld shower heads take the excellent spray architecture from the company’s fixed models and add lots of maneuverability. These handheld kits are available in the same flow rate options as the fixed models. They’re built incredibly ruggedly, with solid metal construction that puts comparably-priced handheld sets to shame.

Quite simply, they’re the best low-flow handheld models we’ve ever reviewed!

For the 1.5 GPM model (recommended for most people):favorite handheld models

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For the 1.8 GPM model (recommended for higher shower installations and folks with longer hair to rinse): 

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Pros:

They use the same single orifice design as the fixed High Sierra’s. It produces the same ample pressure and strong flow, with large droplets that feel smoother and more relaxing than other low-flow fixtures.

Unlike many handheld models, these give you tightly-controlled coverage. That’s thanks to the unique spray cone design, which is identical to the one on the fixed models. Whether you’re using the fixture in your hand or in the overhead bracket, you get a clearly-defined cone of water without wasteful misting.

As you’d expect from a design that performs so well in fixed format, these handheld High Sierra’s give you much better pressure than other handhelds. It’s ideal for targeted rising and for massaging. The extra power is also perfect for cleaning your shower or washing pets. It’s intense and refreshing without ever getting to the point of stinging.

The biggest difference between these and standard handheld models is the consistency of the spray cone. We’ve already mentioned it in our review of the fixed High Sierra’s, but you really notice it in contrast to other handheld models.

Nearly all handheld styles have numerous small spray channels, which means they produce lots of little streams of water, with gaps in between. The High Sierra’s cone gives you consistent flow all across the conical spray area. That’s one reason it feels so much more immersive than other handhelds.

That’s all despite the fact that the High Sierra’s have some of the lowest flow rates on the market! Most handheld models are either 2.5 GPM or at best 2.0 GPM. Both the 1.5 GPM and 1.8 GPM models of the High Sierra are WaterSense-certified to save you up to 40% of your water consumption.

You’re also going to save extra water simply because these are so much better at power and coverage than other handhelds. You’ll find that you get your rinsing done much faster, with less water used in the process.

As with the fixed versions, you can get these with trickle valves if you want maximum savings. That’s a rarity in the handheld category!

Since they use the same spray system, these handheld High Sierra’s have all the same benefits:

  • they’re easy to clean
  • they’re impervious to hard water accumulation
  • they prevent mold and mildew growth.

These are some of the most user-friendly handheld fixtures we’ve reviewed.

The textured grip gives you great purchase on the handle, without becoming a breeding ground for mold or mildew. It’s rubberized, with a fairly firm but still tactile texture. We’re also pleased to see that it’s bonded to the metal handle, so it’s not going to come loose.

With your average handheld shower head you have to adjust the angle of the bracket in order to get the whole hand unit pointing the way you want. If you tilt too far, many fixtures drop out of the bracket.

The High Sierra’s solve the whole problem by having a ball joint right at the nozzle. So, you can adjust the angle of spray without actually moving the handle of the unit!

They’re built just as well as the fixed models. The whole kit is made from solid metal, including the fittings. Even the chrome versions are rock-solid.

The build quality is most impressive when you compare it to other handheld sets, though. Comparably-priced models from brands like Speakman and Kohler use mostly plastic parts, and simply feel chintzy compared to one of these fixtures.

In addition to the shower head, you get a solid metal bracket and hose set. Both components are miles better than what other companies offer, even at twice the price. The hose is also longer than what competing brands offer, by a solid foot! It’s 6 feet long instead of 5.

We think these look even better than the fixed models. The handheld High Sierra’s are available in chrome, nickel, and bronze finishes. In nickel and bronze, they look great in rustic or traditional decor. In chrome, they’re very modern.

As with the fixed models, these handheld versions are covered by 2-year warranties and 30-day satisfaction guarantee periods. And as we mentioned in our review of the fixed models, High Sierra are very helpful in coming up with tweaks or troubleshooting solutions to perfect a head for your own situation.

Cons:

Just like the fixed High Sierra’s, these handheld models don’t have any adjustments or extra spray settings. If you’re not a fan of the spray, you’re not going to be able to tweak it beyond adjusting your valve. We haven’t found any more versatile handheld sets which perform well at low flow rates, though, so we suggest giving this a try.

These handheld sets are the most expensive recommendations we’ve included for low-flow fixtures. They’ll still pay for themselves over time, but you could get three fixed High Sierra’s for the price of one of these. Be sure you want/need a handheld fixture before buying.

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

top rated shower head

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The Speakman Anystream has been one of our all-around favorite shower heads for a couple of years now. It’s a mainstay in hotels all over the world, and a very fashionable choice for home showers. The Anystream series has recently gotten even better with the addition of solid-brass, low-flow models like this one!

If you want to save water, but don’t want to have to make do with single-function fixtures, get the Anystream!

Pros:

It’s solid brass! One of the few complaints we had about the original Anystream was the build quality. For a premium fixture, the plastic construction was very disappointing. Well, this one’s absolutely rock-solid. It feels hefty to hold, and it has a much better track record for durability than the old model.

It’s infinitely adjustable. That’s the biggest difference between the Speakman and our other low-flow picks (and low-flow models in general)–it’s versatile!

The Anystream’s 8 plunger heads produce a total of 64 different streams. To adjust the pattern, pressure, and coverage, you can tweak every single one of them. That’s done by turning the adjustment knob, which goes 360 degrees.

There aren’t any fixed settings, so you can choose exactly what feels right on a given day without having to be limited by factory presets.

Having so much flexibility allows you to get anything from a rainfall pattern to an intense massage jet, all on the same fixture–and using less water than you would on anything else with this many options! This one’s perfect for bathrooms used by people with differing preferences.

It’s user-friendly. Having just one knob makes it about as simple as things get in the adjustment department!

It’s a water-saver, which is rare in the deluxe fixture category! This one’s LEED and WaterSense-certified, just like the High Sierra’s (although it uses slightly more). At 2.0 GPM, it’ll wipe out 1/5 of your water consumption. Just be sure to choose the 2.0 GPM model, because they’re usually listed under the same product page!

Best of all, you save the same amount of water no matter which setting you use! With models like the Delta above, which have both water-saving and standard settings, you aren’t always sure how much savings you’re actually making. No matter which flow you choose with the Anystream, you can be sure you’re still saving 20% of your consumption!

It looks super sleek and modern. There’s a good reason these are popular in upscale hotels and resorts! The Anystream is super trendy, and fits with pretty much any contemporary decor. You can get it in lots of finish options, too!

All the finishes are solid brass, so you don’t have to avoid the chrome!

It’s covered by a lifetime warranty.

Cons:

It’s about twice the price of a High Sierra. If you don’t need all the different settings and flow patterns, you can get the same build quality and functionality from a High Sierra fixture. This one’s only worth the extra investment to folks who want variety.

Given the cost, it’s a bit disappointing that these are imported from China.

It’s not quite as conservative as the High Sierra’s. This will save you about 20% of your water use over a standard fixture, where those models will save up to 40%.

The ultra-modern look won’t fit with all homes. If you want one of these with a tweaked appearance, check out our “See Also” picks below!

Conclusion

Which of these models should you choose for your eco-conscious bathroom?

The Whedon is the best, cheapest option for anyone who’s concerned with saving water without making much of an investment. It’s super simple, but it gets the job done. You’ll cut your water usage up to 20%, and boost pressure.

However, it isn’t nearly as pleasant to use as our more expensive picks. It also looks super utilitarian. So, if you can afford to spend more on a High Sierra, they’re much better for the long term. Plus, they’ll save you more water.

The Delta is smoother and gentler than the Whedon, while still boosting pressure and reducing water. Without costing as much as our High Sierra or Speakman picks, you get something with two different spray modes and a design which generates very relaxing flow. The Delta is the better budget choice for folks with hard water, and those who like a gentler shower.

As with the Whedon, though, it doesn’t save you nearly as much water as a High Sierra. You also have to use the low setting to get any savings. The biggest downside of the Delta is its plastic construction. It won’t last you nearly as long as our all-metal picks.

The High Sierra fixed models are the best choice for buyers who want maximum savings and maximum comfort, without needing extra features. They do a fantastic job using water efficiently by creating a defined, consistent spray cone. These models will save you the most water of our recommendations, and they have build quality which is as good as the much more expensive Speakman.

They’re single-function models, though, so there’s no way to adjust the flow or spray pattern. If you want variety, go for the Speakman.

The High Sierra handheld models are our top pick for anyone looking to save water while using a handheld fixture. These models are as well-made and efficient as the fixed High Sierra’s, but they give you much more flexibility in the shower.

There’s no real downside apart from the cost. Even the cost is quite moderate compared to other quality handheld options, though. It’s only pricey compared to other low-flow fixtures.

The Speakman Anystream Icon 2.0 GPM is our ultimate low-flow recommendation to folks who like options. It’s much, much more versatile than any of our other picks. Since the low flow rate is set, you don’t have to worry about using more water with any of the adjustments. You can cater this thing to pretty much any taste, and it looks fantastic. The Speakman is also one of the few models on the market to rival the High Sierra’s for build quality!

Just be prepared to spend more money than you would for our single-setting recommendations. If you don’t need all the different spray settings, you could easily get away with spending half as much for a High Sierra.

See Also:

We’ve recommended the Speakman Anystream Icon as our top overall pick for a low-flow shower head. We think it suits any taste in terms of shower experience. However, it may not suit every taste in the looks department.

If you’re drawn to the Anystream’s versatility and quality, but don’t think the look will work in your bathroom, have a peek at one of these variants! They’re just as well-made as the Icon, but the brass housings are shaped differently.

For traditional and period aesthetics

top pick for fixed shower head

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For modernist and rustic decor

top pick for fixed shower head brushed nickel

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Buying Guide

Here are our tips for finding your perfect low-flow shower head:

Decide how much you want to conserve

First, you need to figure out how drastically you want to cut your water usage. Remember that 2.5 GPM fixtures aren’t low-flow by today’s standards. So, look for models rated at 2.0 GPM or less.

If you’re coming from an older model, even a 2.0 GPM fixture could be a dramatic change. Thankfully, the low-flow models we’ve recommended will perform as well or even better than any older fixture!

Even if you get a 2.0 GPM model, which is the most ample flow rate considered “low-flow”, you’ll trim your shower bill and water usage by 20%.

You can go lower, though, so consider how much of a change you want to make!

1.5 GPM is about as low as you want to go. That’s enough to save you 40% of your hot water use, which will make a huge difference on your utility bills!

We suggest that most people go for a 1.5 or 1.8 GPM model. There are a lot of very good single-setting options in that range. If you don’t need lots of different options for spray patterns and adjustments, you can save a bit more water this way. These ultra-low-flow models tend to do the best at boosting pressure, too.

Deciding between 1.5 and 1.8 GPM fixtures?

They can seem pretty similar on paper, but there can be a noticeable difference in practice. If you have a particularly tall shower setup, say, over 6 feet, you’ll want to go for a 1.8 GPM fixture. They’re also preferable for anyone with lots of hair to rinse. Most of us can do very well with a 1.5 GPM. If you want some more luxury, though, feel free to get a 1.8 GPM model. That’s still super efficient compared to a 2.5 GPM fixture!

You’ll find that premium, versatile models don’t come lower than 2.0 GPM right now. If you’re someone who likes extra settings and adjustments, don’t feel bad going for one of these models. You’re still making a substantial difference to your consumption.

*Note: Low-flow models are very popular these days, which inevitably means that companies try to get in on the demand. Not all models marketed as “eco” or “water-saving” are actually all they’re cracked up to be! To be sure you’re buying an actual low-flow model, look for actual flow rate listings, not just green-washing language. WaterSense and LEED certifications are the mark of a true low-flow fixture!

Make sure your water-efficient fixture really is efficient

A good low-flow shower head doesn’t just reduce your water usage! It makes the absolute most of every drop that you do use, so you don’t feel like you’re compromising every time you take a shower.

The best low-flow shower heads feel as powerful or more powerful than standard-flow fixtures. They have consistent coverage across the spray area, and they produce a spray which feels voluminous and powerful.

Look for pressure-boosting features which make the flow feel more intense. You’ll also want to look for specific design elements which focus water on your body, instead of allowing tiny drops to spray off into wasteful mist.

We suggest that you avoid aerated fixtures if you’re interested in conserving resources. While aeration can boost droplet size and make a flow rate feel “fuller”, it produces a lot of wasteful misting.

You’re better off with something that uses clever channel designs to direct more water onto you. Plus, aeration causes a lot of heat loss between the shower head and your body. You’d be saving money on water only to waste money on heat! So, choose a laminar (non-aerated) fixture!

Know your preferences

As you’re considering features like spray channels and such, it’s a good idea to keep in mind what actually makes for your “perfect” shower. Do you like big drops, or lots of small drops? Do you prefer a strong, intense flow, or something gentler? How about something in between, or a pulsing flow?

Once you’ve got your own preferences established, think about whether you’ll be happy with a single-function fixture, or whether you want more variety from your shower head. You’ll definitely spend more for something with more adjustments and spray modes. So, if you know you’ll be fine with one setting every shower, you can save a lot of money by going with something simple.

If you live with someone else who uses the same shower, be sure to consider their preferences as well! If you know that the other user wants something vastly different than you, you should go for something versatile that will keep you both happy.

Remember all the other things you look for in a good shower head

  • solid metal build quality
  • a reputable manufacturer with tested & certified fixtures
  • designs that are easy to clean
  • warranty coverage

For more general tips on finding the best shower head for you, head to our home page!

What’s Next

You can find out more about any of the efficient shower heads we’ve recommended here by clicking on the links in our reviews.

If you’re still searching for your ideal shower head, have a look at our homepage! Several of our overall picks are water-savers. We also have plenty of other guides in specific categories, so if you’re looking for a water-saving rainfall shower head, click to our homepage for a link to our guide to the best rain shower heads!

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