We enlisted CHOICE staff member Ros Page and her family to test at home several water-efficient showerheads, ranging in price from $36 to $263.
We asked the Page family to rate the showerheads on:
- Effectiveness at wetting the body and hair.
- Effectiveness at removing soap and shampoo.
- The amount of coverage of water over the body.
- The feel of the spray.
- Ease of adjustment of temperature and spray settings.
- Overall satisfaction.
See their verdict below.
Why test low-flow showerheads?
According to many retailers, the showerheads that sell well pump out nine litres of water per minute. Yet there are plenty of showerheads that offer smaller flow rates than this; some as low as five litres per minute. So why aren’t more of us installing lower-flowing showerheads to help conserve what is arguably Australia’s most precious resource? The answer, according to some of the retailers CHOICE spoke with, is that they’re wary of such low-flow rates and prefer showers with a higher flow.
The Page family tried out a selection of low-flow showerheads over the course of a couple of days, to see how effective they were compared to their regular showerhead.
We gave them a range of different styles and brands, with all but one flowing at 7.5L/min. All had a flexible head that suited our volunteer’s shower set-up. We also threw in one 9L/min showerhead (the Grohe) as a control.
Abey ROHSS, $238
Brewers SWET Three Function Wall Bar Kit, $36
Flexispray FLX36, $109 
Grohe BauContemporary Set 402384B (9L/min), $167
Hansgrohe Puroset Raindance S 100 set, $263 
Methven FLX90, $89
Methven Kiri Satinjet FLX150H, $103 
Phoenix Lexi HandShower on Bracket LE683CHR, $93
Ros and her family discovered some real standout low-flow performers that provide an experience comparable to - or even better than - their existing 9L/min showerhead. They found the differences were more to do with design than performance, and tended to prefer those that had wider heads to smaller ones. The Pages also commented that the number of spray adjustments didn’t really matter, as they tend to use just one type of spray. Of those on test, the family favoured the Flexispray FLX36 , Methven Kiri Satinjet FLX150H  and Hansgrohe Puroset Raindance .
There are some caveats to keep in mind, though. The Page family has an instantaneous gas hot water system that coped well with all the showerheads, but some instantaneous systems require a larger flow rate to actually switch on. If your home has several floors, a low-flow model may be better for upstairs where the water pressure can be lower. And in general, if your shower is located within the bath, you’ll want a longer showerhead so it can extend over the lip of the bath.
Our home testers found that when it comes to showerheads, design can be just as important - if not more so - as flow rate when it comes to a satisfactory shower. Add to this the fact that the difference between a 9L and a 7.5L flow rate can mean savings of more than 5000L of water per year, and there’s a compelling argument for changing your showerhead to a lower-flow model.