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High Efficiency Showerheads

Free Low Flow Showerheads: Are They Really Such a Good Deal?

David Malcolm - Thursday, February 10, 2011

You've likely seen the headlines by now:  "Water Company to Offer Free Low Flow Showerheads to All Customers;" "Utility Company Gives Away Free Low Flow Conservation Kits;" College to Give Away Free Low Flow Showerheads to All Students."

Great deal right?  Well, maybe not so great. At the risk of boring everybody with the old cliché, you get what you pay for.   More...

Is Water Saving Showerhead Technology Stuck in the Past?

David Malcolm - Monday, January 17, 2011

Some technologies never change until they are forced to change. Take the internal combustion engine (please!). The workings of gasoline powered engines remained essentially the same for almost a hundred years—spark plugs firing, pistons moving, gas sucked into carburetors, exhaust coming out the rear. Recently, by necessity, this has begun to change.

Shower head technology has had a similar lull in innovation. If you take the watering can out of your garden shed, fill it up with water, and tip it toward your flowerbed, you are using the same basic technology that most showerheads have used since people quit climbing into the old metal tank every Saturday night. To this very day, most showerheads use the watering can technology.

Yes, there have been some innovations in showerheads over the years, especially after the feds mandated that all showerheads manufactured in the U.S. have a flow rate of 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute). Nowadays, what with our antiquated water distribution systems and the high cost of energy, we have been forced to consider changing out our 2.5 gpm showerheads for 1.5 gpm showerheads.

Taking this small step in water conservation can save 40 percent in water and energy for each 1.5 gpm showerhead installed. Unfortunately, most showerhead makers achieve this goal by forcing the water through smaller holes and smaller regulators.

As everybody knows, this method can create a wimpy spray that leaves the hair full of shampoo—or a pinpoint blast that makes your body feel like you've been swimming with jellyfish. The famous low flow shower episode of Seinfeld illustrates the former problem well.

And all those little holes plug up really easily with dirt and mineral deposits.

Aerating showerheads seemed to be a slick solution to the low flow quandary, but the relatively soft spray produced by aeration showerheads has its cost. They cool down the water, forcing you to turn up the hot valve and use more energy. They draw air from the bathroom into the showerhead and mix it with water. Unfortunately, the air contains bacteria, which can sit in the wet showerhead and grow, once it is turned off.

There are special, bacteria-killing aerating shower heads for health care applications, but they are expensive and require maintenance and frequent replacement to remain effective.

Along comes the High Sierra Showerhead®, with its patented FCI nozzle (were you wondering when we'd get to that?). This 2-year-old patented invention is truly a change in showerhead technology.

It saves as much as 40 percent in water and energy.

It has a drenching spray of large droplets that feels good on the body. 

It can quickly rinse off a head of hair—even one as substantial as Kramer's.

It will not plug.

It does not harbor bacteria.

And it is reasonably priced.

Thanks for reading my post. Your comments are welcome!   More...

Showerhead Pressure Regulators in Low Flow Showerheads Are a Problem!

David Malcolm - Monday, January 10, 2011

Hello water savers,

Here's a litt
le tidbit that most people don't know about: Virtually all low flow shower heads create their spray by porting the stream of water flowing into the showerhead through multiple orifices (also known as tiny holes :).

What is wrong with this system, you ask? First of all, these tiny holes plug very easily. Second, the spray from a low flow showerhead that uses this system is less than satisfying, because it has empty areas and is not is not as full as a High Sierra model.

The special design of our HighSierra Showerhead® models mechanically breaks up the stream into a spray of large droplets through a single orifice (patented just three years ago). The advantage of this design is that it is much less likely to plug. And it is fuller and void of empty areas, so it gives all the satisfaction of a high flow shower.

Here's another "wow moment" for students of advanced water saving technology: In terms of flow regulation, nearly all showerheads sold in the U.S. are equipped with a pressure regulator manufactured by a company called Neoperl. Its design regulates pressure well, but it is highly susceptible to plugging.

The picture on the left shows a 1.5 gpm Neoperl pressure regulator that we removed from a Niagara showerhead which we suspected was plugged up (the flow felt weak). It compares the Neoperl 1.5 gpm pressure regulator side by side with that of the High Sierra. As you can see, the water must flow through much smaller passageways with the Neoperl than with ours.

In a nutshell, here is how our patented system works: First, it reduces the pressure of the water stream to between 10 and 15 psi. Second, the stream is divided into two streams. Third, the concave orifice plate causes the 2 streams to collide, resulting in a uniform spray of large droplets. Larger droplets retain heat better than fine droplets do, and they do not sting.

The spray is not round. That is why we recommend that the showerhead be oriented with the orifice plate opening in the horizontal position when installed in a shower stall and vertical if over a tub.

The picture of the smaller 2.5 gpm Neoperl flow control on the left demonstrates what happens when you use orifice size to control the flow of water. It will plug up.

It actually is very easy to create a spray of fine droplets when pushing the water through small orifices at high pressure. It is not so easy to break up a low pressure stream into a spray of uniform large droplets. That is why I was able to patent my design.

I don't know of any water saving device that can pay for itself faster in savings than a 1.5 gpm shower head. My customers are willing to pay a little more for better performance, higher quality, and longer life. Even so, the High Sierra priced at $30 pays for itself in only 2-3 months! More...

High Sierra Showerheads Adds New Feature to its Water Saving Shower Heads

David Malcolm - Monday, December 13, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, we added a colored ABS Splash Guard to our home/hospitality low flow showerheads. The all-metal, solid brass body and the FCS nozzle were not changed from our classic model.

water saving shower headIf you've browsed around our website a bit, you'll see that the High Sierra's main feature is the patented FCS nozzle, which inventor David Malcolm originally designed for agricultural and landscape irrigation. The droplet pattern and spray were so effective that Malcolm applied the technology to his new line of shower heads.

So why change a great product? The answer is simple: We listened to our customers. And we didn't really change it so much as augment it.

Though the classic design worked great for most shower enclosures, we learned that the blast of spray was powerful enough to hit the shower door or shower curtain if the enclosure was small or the shower was mounted high over a tub. Here, in his own words, is David Malcolm's explanation for the addition of the ABS Slash Guard:

"The splash guard was conceived in response to the requests of customers to narrow the spray diameter.  The HSS spray is a blast of water droplets that expand as they leave the showerhead.  If the shower stall in which the classic HSS was installed was narrow or was located high over a small tub, some droplets at the base of the spray could hit the shower door or curtain.  I always listen to the customers and designed the splash guard to push the outside droplets back into the spray, similiar to the way a shotgun choke narrows the pattern of shotgun pellets.  The resulting spray stays in the shower area regardless of how high the showerhead is located on the wall or how narrow the shower stall is."  

And, we might add, the new models look mighty cool and install as easily as ever. All you have to do is pick your favorite color!

Correctional Institutions Need Maintenance-Free, Low Flow Shower Heads

David Malcolm - Monday, September 06, 2010

With the economy tanking and government revenues at record lows, correctional institutes, jails, and prisons everywhere need to cut the money they spend on maintenance, energy, and other operating expenses. One of the simplest cost-cutting measures is to install low flow, 1.5 gpm shower heads. The payback is extremely fast—in fact one prison (Herlong, CA FCI) paid for its investment in low flow shower heads in just three months. Herlong FCI will save 3,500,000 gallons of water and $52,500 in water heating costs by the end of the year. More...

Why You Should Be Wary of Aeration Shower Heads

David Malcolm - Monday, July 19, 2010

A number of large shower head companies have come out with "aerator low flow shower heads" that conserve water while creating the illusion of a higher flow of water. High Sierra Showerheads™ achieve a low flow and feel good without resorting to aeration. There are three reasons why that's desirable.  First, bacteria, which is present in aerated shower heads that do not fully drain after use, is mixed with water and air the next time you take a shower and is sprayed from the shower head.  The bacteria in the air filled spray then becomes airborne and is easily inhaled.  For this reason, aerated shower heads are not used in hospitalsMore...