QB FAQs: Pressure Balance vs. Thermostatic Showers

Who remembers the good old days before showers got sophisticated? When we’d have to holler down to the kitchen to make sure nobody was using the dishwasher before we got into the shower? When it was supremely easy to get back at your brother by flushing the toilet while he was showering (and whatever he did to you afterwards was totally worth it)?

For the most part, those days are gone. Pressure balance and thermostatic showers have taken the nostalgia out of showering, but, more importantly, have also lowered the chances of being scalded. (And now that you’re a mature adult, you know that that’s a good thing.)

So what exactly is the difference between pressure balance and thermostatic? Why should you choose one over the other? That’s a question that our customers have asked our sales team countless times, and today we’re going to answer it for the masses.

Pressure balance showers

As the name suggests, pressure balance valves operate by sensing the pressure ratio of the hot and cold water coming from the pipes rather than the actual water temperature.

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Lefroy Brooks Kafka Cross Handle Pressure Balance

A pressure balance shower control consists of one handle that controls both the volume and the temperature of the water. (A two-handled pressure balance shower has one handle for hot and one for cold.)

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Rohl Michael Berman-Bath Pressure Balance Shower Package

A major advantage of pressure balance over thermostatic is the price; pressure balance showers are more cost-efficient.

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Hansgrohe Axor Starck X Trio/Quattro Trim

The downside to pressure balance: though the price is better, you’ll get what you pay for. With pressure balance, you have fewer options for your shower (a pressure balance valve will not allow you to use more than one function, like an overhead shower head and a handheld shower or body spray, simultaneously), and because it cannot sense temperature, the scald-proof factor is lower than it is in thermostatic systems.

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Rohl Arcana Pressure Balance Shower Kit

Thermostatic showers

A thermostatic shower also does just what its name implies: keeps the temperature stable. Thermostatic valves sense water temperature and mixes the hot and cold to deliver the perfect temperature.

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Lefroy Brooks Classic Exposed Black Lever Thermostatic Bath & Shower Valve

Because you can control two shower components – the volume (or water pressure) and the temperature – thermostatic showers have two handles.

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Hansgrohe Ecostat Exposed Tub-Shower Thermostat

One handle determines the water temperature and can be set to your ideal temperature at all times while you use the second handle to turn the shower on and off. Once you find that temperature, you won’t have to find it again every time you shower!

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Altmans Dulce Thermostatic Tub and Shower Set

Thermostatic showers have the advantage of being safer for children and the elderly, who are especially at risk of shower scalds, thanks to their “set it and forget it” property. They’re also better for the lazy (or extremely busy) among us who don’t want to spend time fiddling with the controls to get the perfect water temperature.

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Rohl Perrin and Rowe-Bath Exposed Wall Mounted Thermostatic Tub/Shower Mixer

Some highly advanced showers provide digital thermostatic controls for even more precise temperature selection.

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Grohe Allure F-Digital Digital Controller

The downside? The price tag on a thermostatic shower is definitely bigger than the one on a pressure balance shower.

Oh, and you’ll have to come up with better pranks than the old toilet-flush-while-someone’s-in-the-shower.

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