Buying Guide: Showerhead Reviews (PHOTOS)

For many people, the showerhead is one piece of hardware they consider upgrading but never take the time to do--even though it makes all the difference for their showering experience.

Well, this winter is the perfect time to really switch that showerhead up. We've done the legwork here and broken down the basics of what you should look for in showerheads.

Consider type. Showerheads come in two forms: fixed/mounted and hand showers. Although the wall-mounted showerhead is commonplace, a hand shower is better in a few ways. It can be set in a cradle that allows it to act like a fixed showerhead, and it also offers added versatility and flexible movement, which makes cleaning the bathtub (and dirty feet) much easier.

Think height. If there are multiple family members who will be sharing one shower, the wall-mounted showerheads should be positioned above the the tallest person who will be using the shower. In this case, showerheads affixed to adjustable arms or slide bars are ideal.

Check spray patterns. This is important because it's what determines the comfort level of your shower. For the most part spray patterns vary from the most common full-body shower spray to the slightly more intense massage-style spray, which shoots pulsating jets of water, to a combination of the two. Some showerheads come with a range of spray options, so make sure to check to see if it has a spray-adjusting handle/function.

Water volume. The volume of water depends, of course, highly on the showerhead. For the average household, a normal single-head shower uses at most 2.5 gallons of water 'per minute'. However, just as important are the size of your pipes. Generally, most homes have half-inch pipes but wider three-quarter-inch pipes are also available, which are apt for larger shower systems that require more water to be moved.

Pay more, use more water. While showerheads are available at all price points, you can easily find an excellent showerhead for under $100 (likely even $60). Yes, there are full-on shower systems that cost $2,000 or more, but at that point it's simply paying for an in-home spa experience; and more water will be used, naturally. To give an idea, a person who might have a four-outlet shower system requires at least 10-15 gallons of water per minute, which is more than four times the amount used by a standard showerhead that's common in most households. Who needs all that water to themselves?

Feeling like you need to switch up the showerhead in your bathroom or just keeping an eye out for one down the road? Flip through our slideshow for some of the best (and our favorite) showerheads.

Front page Flickr photo by gcfairch.