Did you know that traveling in an RV can make your vacations much more economical? It’s a great way to bring the whole family on an incredible vacation. It’s also a popular way to be more self-sufficient. You may even be one of the 1 million Americans who live in their RV full time.
Whatever your reasons are for owning an RV, the amenities you have can make a huge difference in your experience. Chances are, the shower head that came with your RV off the lot is nothing special. If you’re worried about what it will be like to take a shower on the road, let us help you decide what the best RV shower head is for you.
Choosing the Best RV Shower Head
As with all aspects of RV living and traveling, selecting an RV shower head is a small but significant consideration. What will work best for you may be different for someone else based on your specific situation.
Part of owning an RV is doing a lot of fixing and replacing yourself, and you often don’t have much guidance. So how do you decide what types of RV shower head you should look at?
Do I Need an RV-Specific Shower Head?
The short answer is no, you don’t have to buy a shower head made just for RVs. However, if you do decide to go with a conventional shower head there will be several additional considerations and likely a little bit more work involved.
Regular shower heads can be bigger and heavier and can have higher flow rates because they’re hooked up to the plumbing in your home. They also don’t typically include a shut off valve to temporarily stop the flow of water during your shower.
You can install an aftermarket shut off valve to so you can still take advantage of this helpful feature, but still get the shower head you really want. Just be aware of the weight and how it installs, as RV shower walls can’t typically hold as much weight and you want to avoid damage that could end up costing you down the road.
Ultimately, it’s probably best to stick with shower heads made specifically for use in RVs so you don’t have to worry about any extra accessories or installation issues. This way you have the peace of mind of knowing that many potential concerns for RV travelers will already be taken into consideration by the manufacturer.
Because RVs have gained popularity in recent years, there are more options than ever before and you’re sure to find the perfect RV shower head.
Things to Consider
The best place to start is by taking stock of the way in which you and your family travel, where you’ll stay and what’s offered in terms of water and gray water disposal, your own comfort level and what kind of amenities you want, and your budget. Since RVing is not a one-size-fits-all activity, there are a lot of things to think about before you purchase a shower head you’ll really enjoy.
Are you going out on your own, so you only have your water usage to think about? Or are you going on a long trip with your family where the shower will be used by multiple people?
If you’re dry camping, water conservation will be extra important; but if you’re in an RV park that includes a water hookup, you have a bit more flexibility.
These are all important factors in determining how much water you use when you shower so you can adequately plan ahead and purchase the most appropriate RV shower head for you.
The most important pieces of information to pay attention to are water pressure and flow rate, price, material, size, hand held vs. fixed overhead, and installation. You can generally find all of this information on the packaging.
Water Pressure and Flow Rate
Water conservation is a major part of RV life. Even if you have a water hookup and you can easily access a place to dispose of grey water, it’s still important to be selective and thoughtful about any plumbing-related fixtures you install in your RV and how much water they use.
In a regular shower in a house, water pressure tends to be the main focus. And it should be for RV shower heads, too–but for different reasons.
While most people prefer a shower with higher water pressure, it could be one of the sacrifices you’ll need to make so you can ensure you don’t use up all the water in your tank too fast. Some RV shower heads use air pressure to achieve better water pressure without wasting water.
Be sure to always check the flow rate and GPM, or gallons per minute, that your shower head puts out.
You can make a quick calculation based on how much water your tank holds, the amount of time you usually spend in the shower, and the GPM of any shower head models you’re considering. This will tell you how much water you typically go through during a shower and allow you to compare that against the flow rate of the shower head you’re interested in.
In general, if your RV has a smaller tank, it makes more sense to choose a shower head with a lower flow rate even if it means you don’t quite get the pressure you want. A bigger water tank will give you more flexibility, so you can get by with being a little less conservative about your water usage.
That being said, however, keep in mind that higher water pressure will be more effective in rinsing soap and shampoo off and could shorten your overall shower time. You don’t want to end up in a situation where your shower head has a very low flow rate and water pressure, so you have to stay in the shower for longer to get clean.
Flow Stoppers, Shut Off Valves, and Trickle Valves
Another important feature to keep an eye out for is a flow stopper or shut off valve. Most RV specific shower heads have an option to stop or reduce the flow of water when you don’t need it, such as when you’re soaping up. When you’re ready you can turn the water back on right from the shower head so you’re only using as much as you need to rinse off. This allows you to leave the temperature setting where it is and simply switch the water on or off (or all the way down to a trickle).
There are also plenty of options that offer an adjustable flow rate so you can treat yourself to a high pressure shower every once in a while when you really need it while maintaining lower pressure for every day use.
Using less water can save you money as well, depending on what the requirements are for you to fill and empty your water tanks. It’s best to assume you’ll have to pay for water one way or another, so start conservatively and go from there to be on the safe side if finances are a concern.
For a lot of people living in or traveling with an RV, budget is a major motivator because RV life can offer some pretty attractive savings over traditional vacations and homes. At the same time, there’s a lot of maintenance involved and you might be looking to upgrade your RV either all at once or piece by piece.
As with anything else, RV shower heads are all over the pricing spectrum depending on the features they offer and what they’re made of. You can easily find something in your price range that will work for you and your budget, since shower heads for your RV are available anywhere from $15 to $50 and more.
You should also think about whether or not you prefer to purchase a shower head with a warranty in case anything goes wrong.
Just like the shower head in your home, RV shower heads can come in several different materials. The most common materials you’ll see are plastic, stainless steel, and nickel.
Plastic will save you money upfront and is a lightweight option, but will likely not last as long as a shower head made out of stainless steel or nickel.
Metal will be more durable and look a bit nicer, so you can find something to match your other plumbing fixtures. Your shower head probably won’t receive a ton of wear and tear, but in the event that you accidentally drop the shower head or it comes loose plastic might not survive the fall as well as metal.
No matter what your shower head is made of, there are other beneficial RV shower accessories available such as a water softening system. This will not only help the shower head itself last longer by avoiding mineral buildup, it will help protect the rest of your plumbing as well. Softer water will be a better experience for you too, as you’ll avoid all those minerals making their way out and onto your body.
The material you choose may also be influenced by how it’s cleaned or how you prefer to clean.
Size and Weight
As previously mentioned, the size and weight of your shower head will entirely depend on your existing shower.
This will be a balance between practicality and personal preferences. Simpler shower heads will have fewer features but the size and weight will be ideal for an RV shower, while larger shower heads will have a more varied spray pattern. Some of them can even have customized or several different spray pattern options.
A larger, wider shower head may be tempting, but remember that the wall of your shower will need to be strong enough to hold it up for a long time. This means you’ll want to be aware of not just the weight, but also how it attaches to the wall. Too much hardware can weaken the shower wall overtime.
Hand Held vs. Fixed Overhead
Just like any shower, you can choose between a hand held shower head and a fixed overhead one, depending on your preferences. RV showers tend to be pretty small, and a good way to make up for the lack of space is by choosing a hand held model.
This way, you can more easily move the shower head around and get the water where it needs to be (which also helps with water conservation). You may find that it’s more comfortable for you to be able to move the shower head instead of twisting your body around to adequately rinse off.
If you do decide to go with a hand held shower head, pay attention to the length and material of the hose. A longer hose will be more maneuverable, and a stainless steel hose will last much longer than a plastic one.
Since you’re probably doing a lot of the work on your RV yourself, make your life a bit easier by opting for a shower head that’s simple to install. Most of them will have the same type of fittings or hookups, but be sure to measure just to be safe.
Confirm that you have everything you need according to the installation instructions on the shower head you choose. This may include specific tools, plumbing tape, and more. It’s important to install it correctly to prevent leaks, which could cause water damage to your RV.
This is another reason why an RV-specific shower head might be a better choice; it was made with RV living in mind, and will likely be an easy installation.
Get On the Road
Now that you’ve learned more about selecting an RV shower head, it’s time to get out there and enjoy your RV! Finding the best RV shower head will help you improve a big part of your daily life on the road. There are a ton of great options in your price range that will take water usage into consideration.
Don’t miss our other travel tips to make every RV adventure unforgettable!