Nothing beats a good shower. It's one of the best feelings in the world: the hot stream of water hits you just right, your muscles relax, and you eventually dry off with a nice fluffy bath towel. So, it makes sense that for a good shower, you need a good shower head. Whether it's a handheld, ceiling, or wall-mounted style, it needs to provide good water pressure, give you a variety of settings to control where the water goes, and of course, get you clean. Sadly, there are many out there that are just spitting water—and you deserve more.
For more than a month, we’ve been researching and testing the best shower heads on the market, and after taking many, many showers, we found that the Hydroluxe 24 Function Ultra-Luxury 3-way 2 in 1(available at Amazon) is our favorite. It ticks off all the right boxes, including strong water pressure, easy installation, and a variety of settings that made us feel cleaner after using it. As we learned, prices can range from $20 to nearly $200. You don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money to get a great shower experience.
Here are the best shower heads we tested ranked, in order:
Hydroluxe 1433 Chrome 24 Function Ultra-Luxury 3-way 2 in 1
Moen S6320 Velocity
Moen Attract Magnetix 26008
Speakman Icon S-2251-PB
Speakman Hotel Anystream S-2005-HB
Aquastorm by HotelSpa Showerhead Combo 1440
Delta HydroRain 5-Setting
Kohler Awaken G110
Delta H2Okinetic 5-Setting
Moen Tital One-Function 6" Diameter Spray Head Rainshower
Delta Handshower 75700
Oxygenics PowerMassage Combo
Hydroluxe Full-Chrome 24 Function Ultra-Luxury 3-Way 2-in-1
The Hydroluxe 24 Function Ultra-Luxury easily earned our top spot for the best shower head because it offers a high-end shower experience at a low-end price. At 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM), it delivers when it comes to maintaining a high water pressure. Even better, it’s easy to install using the included plumber’s tape and a few turns of a pipe wrench.
Changing the settings on the Hydroluxe is a breeze. Just move the dial around the shower head, and it gives a satisfying clicking noise to let you know that it’s successfully changed settings.
Each of the two shower heads (the stationary and the hand sprayer) have different water-flow settings, including Power Rain, Massage, Stay-Warm Mist, Water-saving Economy Rain, and Pause. Both can be used separately or at the same time. Altogether, there are 24 different ways to take your shower. Mist is the absolute best sensation I have ever had in a shower: It felt like a bunch of angels were gently pelting me with wet cotton clouds. The pause feature, which stops the flow of water for as long as you need it, is also great for when you are shaving.
The Hydroluxe is thoughtfully designed, effective, and affordably priced. What more could you want?
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, look no further than the Wassa WS1201. It doesn’t have a sprayer or any different water settings, but this model has one job, and it does it right.
It comes with a small roll of plumber’s tape and an extra washer. You might need a small wrench to completely tighten the connection, but beyond that, installation is pretty easy.
During testing, we found that this 2.5 GPM shower head had the strongest water pressure spraying from its 45 self-cleaning silicone nozzles; the pounding water may not feel good on a sunburn, but it will definitely help you to work the kinks out of your back after a long day. With its swivel ball joint design, you can easily adjust the angle of the sprayer, and expect it to stay in that position.
For those who just want a forgettably good shower experience every day, the Wassa WS1201 won’t disappoint.
If you're curious about what it would be like to shower under a gentle rainfall, the Moen S6320 Velocity is for you. It’s like getting caught in a warm summer rain.
While the S6320 is more expensive than many other similar products, those who appreciate aesthetics and performance won’t mind the price tag. This solidly-built, 2.5-GPM shower head is very distinctive looking, and wouldn’t be out of place in an upscale hotel bathroom.
One minor downside is that its odd shape might make it a bit more difficult to install (since it’s more awkward to hold with one hand than it is to hold a normal shower head), but once it’s up and running, you’ll appreciate how easy it is to use.
A simple handle on the side lets you adjust from a full spray that emulates a gentle rain to a more focused stream that uses just the center nozzles. The rain setting may have a water pressure that is slightly lower than some would prefer, but that’s why you have a normal full-spray pattern shower setting.
Overall, the Moen S6320 is great for both your daily showering needs and for a more luxurious rain shower experience.
Want to upgrade your shower experience, but don’t want a sprayer? The Speakman S-2251 is great and comes in a wide variety of materials (including nickel, bronze, brass, or chrome finish) that will definitely class up your bathroom.
Between its three settings—Intense, Rain, and Flood—this shower head’s flow rate varies from 2.0 to 2.5 GPM. While we generally stuck with one particular setting (Intense), it’s nice that there are a few other spray patterns, especially for visitors who are used to a different water pressure. Switching between the three settings is straightforward—the lever on the right-hand side is easy to use, and doesn’t get stuck in between different settings.
With its easy, leak-free installation, spray patterns, and luxe looks, the Speakman S-2251 will definitely be a crowd-pleaser.
Hi, my name is Brian MacDougall, and I recently retired after 40 years working as a technical engineer. I'm often working on various DIY projects around the house, from electrical and plumbing work to replacing shingles. My house outside of Boston has been in a constant state of renovation for decades. Testing these shower heads was really fun; every few days was a completely new shower experience.
For the previous iteration of this article, the products were tested by freelance tech writer Conner Flynn.
After researching the most popular products on the market, we narrowed our pool of products to cover a range of types, brands, and price points. I used each shower head daily over the course of 2 to 3 days.
I evaluated each model on its features, performance, and value. How many of the extra settings are useful? How well-built is the shower head? Is the hand sprayer actually useful, or is it just a cheap add-on?
When it came to the actual shower experience, I paid close attention to water pressure. While shower heads have a range of different water pressure ratings, the GPM number is a maximum value, rather than a stable value. Basically, I wanted to have enough experience with a given shower head so that I could provide my readers with a solid opinion as to whether this shower head is a good fit for their preferences or not.
What You Should Know About Buying Shower Heads
What Does GPM Mean?
GPM is an acronym that refers to water pressure, which is measured in gallons per minute. As you might expect, a higher GPM value translates into more gallons of water per minute, which corresponds to a stronger water stream. Most sprayers are designed to operate at one of three possible GPM values: 1.5-1.75 GPM, 2.0 GPM, and 2.5 GPM.
Sprayers with water pressures of 2.5 GPM create the strongest water jets. Typically, a 2.5 GPM is strong enough to feel like you’re actually getting clean over the course of your shower. Those with more sensitive or delicate skin might want to look at lower-flow shower heads such as those with water pressures of 1.75 GPM and 2.0 GPM. While these water jets are gentler, it generally takes a bit longer for the water to push shampoo out of your hair or soap off of your skin.
Should I Install a Shower Head Myself?
In most cases, it is probably fine for you to buy and install it yourself. However, if you live in an older home, and you’re thinking of switching to a more efficient low-flow (i.e. a water pressure of 1.5-2.0 GPM) model, there may be a slight mismatch between the plumbing hardware installed in your shower and the product itself.
The automatic compensating valve, or the valve that mitigates extreme water temperature changes (that may result in you freezing or getting burned), is a valve that is built into the plumbing behind your shower’s wall. In most homes, the plumbing is designed to work with 2.5 GPM shower heads; for shower heads with lower water pressures, the difference between the plumbing’s water pressure expectations and the actual water pressure required to operate a low-flow shower head may result in issues with this valve that make it more likely for you to experience extreme temperature changes when someone draws on the same water line as the shower uses (e.g. when someone flushes the toilet).
If you are considering swapping to a low-flow sprayer, or if your plumbing is relatively old, it might be worth it to consult with a plumber to ensure that you have the right hardware in place to protect your skin from getting burned or frozen.
How Do You Install a Shower Head?
If you do decide to go the DIY route, it’s pretty straightforward—The Home Depot has a really nice tutorial on this subject. The basic steps are:
Shut off the water in the shower.
Unscrew the existing shower head.
Gently scrape the threads of the shower arm (the piece between the wall and the shower head) clean, either with your fingers or with a small brush.
Wrap a couple layers of plumber’s tape (also known as teflon tape) around the threads of the shower head.
Screw the new shower head onto the shower arm.
Tighten the shower head with a pipe wrench, or a smaller wrench, if needed.
Slowly begin to operate the shower so that any leaks, if present, don’t spray water all over the place.
If you observe leaks, turn off the water, unscrew the shower head, add a bit more plumber’s tape, and tighten the shower head fitting as needed.
Is a Hand Sprayer Necessary?
There are plenty of reasons why someone would want a hand sprayer. If you have small children, dogs, or otherwise work in a care-taking capacity, using a hand sprayer allows you total control over the water stream, and makes it much easier to wash someone (or something) other than yourself.
Even if you don’t need the added flexibility of a hand sprayer to wash kids or pets, hard-to-reach areas on your body are much more accessible with a hand sprayer than they are otherwise; having a hand sprayer cuts down on the amount of acrobatics needed to get those areas into the stream of a normal shower head.
However, if you just want a straightforward, high-pressure shower experience, it might be better for you to get a model that does not include a sprayer. Often, if a shower head includes a fixed head and a sprayer, and there can be a water pressure trade off when both are in use.
Also, sprayers can present problems after they’ve been in use for a while. If the sprayer bracket warps or weakens over time, this can result in sprayers that send water in unexpected directions or end up on the floor of your shower.
More Details To Consider
Do I want a filter? Some users prefer filters as they help filter out any contaminants in the water, such as sulfur, chlorine, and other chemicals. Homeowners and apartment dwellers who have hard water or rely on well water may especially want a filter to remove impurities or take away harsh smells.
How big is my shower? If you have a small shower, you should probably use a smaller model hat doesn’t stick out much from the wall. Otherwise, you run the risk of it taking up too much space in your shower, which can be problematic for the taller folks in your life. Furthermore, some shower heads are meant to spray out laterally into larger shower areas, rather than down at a relatively steep angle, as you would need for a smaller shower.
Other Shower Heads We Tested
Briout Handheld Shower Head
For those who prefer the flexibility of a sprayer, the Briout Handheld consists of a removable shower sprayer.
While its low price might make you raise a dubious eyebrow, we found that this sprayer, which has a water pressure of 2.5 GPM, can keep up with the other standard products we tested. It has five settings that range from Rain Mist to Pulsating Massage, and with the little knob on the bottom of the shower head, you can easily adjust from one setting to another. Its secure mounting bracket means that you won’t have to worry about the sprayer falling out and sending water in unexpected directions.
If you find the water pressure to be too much, the Briout comes with a flow restrictor that you can add inline during installation.
The Briout hits just the right note for those who want more exact control over their shower spray.
The Culligan WSH-C125 gives you a lot for your money. It provides decent water pressure, a filter to help reduce things like chlorine, sulfur odor and more.
It has a five-function massage head with anti-clog rubber spray nozzles. It can be set to a gentle rain, all the way up to a powerful massage spray. Installation is easy on this model. For the price, this one is clearly a good value. You'll get great performance.
Our only complaint is that turning its dial is a bit tough, and you often need two hands. Otherwise, this provides a solid shower experience.
The AquaDance 3312 is another great hand sprayer that tops our list because of its performance. This 2.5 GPM sprayer is easy to install and comes with an optional flow regulator.
We found that all of its six settings, which include a Water Saving Pause Mode, in addition to the expected rain, massage, and mist settings, had satisfyingly strong water pressures. With the knob on the bottom of the shower head, it’s easy to change from one setting to the next.
However, neither the shower head nor the bracket had the same solid construction as some of the other shower heads we’d tested, but for its low price, that might be expected to some extent.
One other note—because of the way this shower head is designed, the AquaDance is best used in showers where you’re able to stand far away from the sprayer itself; the AquaDance tends to shoot the water out, rather than down, so if you’re in a smaller shower, you might have trouble getting under the water stream.
The Moen Magnetix Attract 26008 is great for those who want to stick with a well-known name brand. This shower head/sprayer combo functions as two separate shower heads when the sprayer isn’t attached to its dock, and it comes in three attractive metal tones: Mediterranean bronze, brushed nickel, and chrome finish.
The “Magnetix” in the product name refers to the magnets built into the sprayer mount, which allow for the stable and secure storage of the hand sprayer when it’s not in use.
At 1.75 GPM, some users might find that the water pressure is too low, especially when both the main shower head and the sprayer are on at the same time. However, the convenience of having one fixed head and a more mobile sprayer, especially when that sprayer has a “pause” button, cannot be overlooked.
The Waterpik YAT-933E is an affordable, no-frills option for those who want a more basic showering experience. This is one of the few models we tested that might not require plumber’s tape (although it’s still a good idea in general) during installation because the connection itself is plastic, rather than metal.
This particular model comes with a water pressure of either 1.8 GPM or 2.0 GPM; we tested the 1.8 GPM version and found that it was a bit light on the water pressure, as expected. However, if you’re picky about your shower preferences, there are nine different settings that range from Eco-spray and Mist to Full Body Spray and Powerpulse Massage.
For an affordable product that still gives you lots of spray patterns, be sure to check out the Waterpik YAT-933E.
The Wassa WS1202 is a sprayer-only model that, with a water pressure of 2.5 GPM, attempts to match the showering experience of a normal shower head, and mostly succeeds.
The normal shower setting, Saturating Spray, provides great water pressure and coverage. The other settings, however, are a bit difficult to control. During testing, the Mist setting sent water everywhere, which isn’t ideal for those who have an open shower configuration.
Furthermore, the knob that allows you to change between settings was a bit stiff and difficult to operate. However, as long as your shower is completely enclosed, you’ll appreciate the nine different settings (including Pause) available on the Wassa WS1202.
Mist setting sent water everywhere
Setting knob is difficult to operate
Speakman Hotel Anystream S-2005-HB
The Speakman Hotel Anystream S-2005-HB is beloved by many online reviewers who have praised its ability to reproduce the luxurious shower experiences they've had during hotel stays (namely the strong water pressure).
However, during testing, we found this shower head to be very basic, without any frills. The pressure is decent, but not anything to write home about. The Speakman operates very simply, with a single knob on the side that you turn to adjust the stream. If you are looking for an average shower head for a low price (perhaps for a guest bathroom), this might be a good fit.
The Aquastorm by Hotel Spa is a shower head/sprayer combo that is easy to install and easy to use. While it maintains its water pressure of 2.5 GPM when the main shower head is in use, we found that the water pressure fell off a bit when both heads were activated at the same time.
If you don’t mind that minor water pressure trade-off, though, the Aquastorm is just fine. It has six settings, including Water Saving Economy Mode, Power Rain, and Rain Massage. While there are better performing or more affordable options out there, this shower head is perfectly adequate.
The Delta HydroRain is the perfect product for those who want to bring more bling to their bathrooms. It has two separate spray nozzles, but does not include a removable hand sprayer. If you need to match existing shower tile or fixtures, tthe Delta HydroRain comes in four different finishes including Venetian bronze, polished nickel, chrome, and stainless.
This large, heavy shower head was somewhat awkward to install; however, its weight indicates that it is clearly well-made, and that it should last for a long time. We also noticed that there was a slight trade-off in the 2.5 GPM water pressure when both heads were activated at the same time.
One minor issue is that the HydroRain is large enough that it may take up a disproportionate amount of real estate in a smaller shower. However, at this price point, most buyers will probably have a big enough shower that it probably won’t be too much of an issue.
Comes in four different finishes
Water pressure tradeoff when both showerheads are active at the same time
The Kohler Awaken G110 is a basic shower head with a water pressure of 2.0 GPM. It comes in four finishes, including polished chrome, vibrant brushed nickel, matte black, and oil-rubbed bronze. While a roll of plumber’s tape that you have to buy separately, installation was a relatively straightforward process.
By pushing the knob at the bottom of the shower head, you can easily transition between the three water spray settings: Wide Coverage, Intense Drenching, and Targeted. Strangely, during testing, we found it was noisier than the other products we’d tested, something that we attribute to its relatively low water pressure.
Note: In the directions, Kohler recommends using this product in conjunction with an automatic compensation valve, or a valve that mitigates the risk of extreme water temperature fluctuations (i.e. getting scalded or frozen).
The Kohler Forté, a fixed model, comes in six different finishes and has three different water settings: Full Coverage, Pulsating Spray, and Silk Spray. Because this low-flow shower head is rated at 1.75 GPM, we found it to be underwhelming in the water pressure department. For those used to stronger sprays, the experience was more akin to a shower you’d find at a pool complex.
For those who prefer lower water pressures, though, you’ll feel right at home with the Kohler Forté.
The Delta H2Okinetic is affordable and from a well-known brand. This single model with a water pressure of 2.0 GPM has five settings, including water saving, massage, and pause settings. Some of these settings had lower water pressures than other settings, with Full Body Spray as the setting with the highest water pressure.
Like most of the shower heads we tested, the Delta H2Okinetic is perfectly fine, but there are definitely more budget-friendly and/or effective options out there.
Moen Tital One-Function 6" Diameter Spray Head Rainshower
One of the more basic models in the Moen lineup, the Moen Tital Chrome is a 1.75 GPM rain shower head. With its relatively low water pressure and wide spray area, it is not a good fit for those who prefer a strong water spray during their daily showers.
That said, we still enjoyed using this shower head, and anyone looking for a streamlined design will like the looks of the Moen Tital.
Good for smaller showers
Most settings have lower water pressures
Delta Handshower 75700
The Delta Handshower 75700 is a simple hand shower by itself with seven spray settings and flexible hose, but it feels cheap. I felt like I had to be careful while installing it so that it wouldn’t break.
It also comes in small packaging with its hose wrapped tightly around the model, which became a problem after I installed it. The hose never straightened out, so it hung in the shower at almost a right angle.
My other frustration with the Delta Handshower 75700 is that the hand sprayer itself doesn't sit well in the holder.
The water pressure it provided was good, but not great. Lastly, because there's no audible sound to let you know that you've successfully adjusted the spray setting, I was constantly fiddling with the knob, which is not something you want to be dealing with during your daily shower time.
While the Oxygenics PowerMassage Dual Shower Head looks great, we were unable to install it successfully on two separate occasions. Both times, despite using plenty of plumber’s tape, more water came out of the its connections than it did out of the shower head itself. Save yourself a return trip to your big box retailer and skip this product.
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