Our shower-head testing methodology
I researched more than 30 shower heads based on reviews and tested 16. I also leaned on my experience as a residential carpenter for four years and consulted two experts: Nick Yahoodain, CEO of Advanced Builders and Contractors in Los Angeles, California, and Monica Higgins, a remodeling expert based in Southern California.
I installed each shower head and used it at least three times during the day. I went through my usual cleansing routine with shampoo, conditioner, and body wash and made sure to stagger my showers to reduce the chances of other appliances or household plumbing factors affecting my testing. Showering while running dishwashers or washing machines, or even at the same time as someone else, will increase the demand for your water supply and can sometimes result in a lower flow rate than usual.
After picking my top five, I showered several more times — sometimes consecutively — to get a better idea of how specific features like massage or power-spray settings felt.
Here’s how we compare shower heads:
Installation and fit: I installed each shower head, timing how long the process took and noting any issues that came up. I have four years of experience as a general contractor, so my installation time will most likely be quicker than yours. Nonetheless, I made sure to note if the installation was easy or not.
Appearance: I took the overall style, design, finish, material, and size into account when comparing the appearance of each shower head. People have vastly different bathroom styles, and some options may match better with certain aesthetics.
Overall feel of water: I based this on how the water physically felt throughout the shower. I noted the size of the water coverage coming out of the shower head, how focused or dispersed the water droplets and streams were, and how strong and pressurized the water felt overall.
Operation and special features: Along with noting how easy or difficult the unit was to operate and switch between modes, I also made sure to pay attention to any special features, like the number and variety of settings or unique operational functions.
Flow rate: I calculated the actual flow rate of each shower head and compared it to the max it could handle. I would fill a 5-gallon bucket for 60 seconds, weigh it, subtract the weight of the bucket, and divide that number by 8.3 (the weight of a gallon of water). This gave me the gallons per minute (GPM) of each shower head.
These flow rates can’t be compared exactly across all the products because they all have different flow-rate restrictions. But by looking at the max flow rate of the product along with the tested rates I calculated from my shower (which has an average pressure of 64 parts per square inch or PSI), I got a general idea of how each shower head performs under the PSI of an average household.