Thermostatic vs. Pressure Balancing Shower Valves

Thermostatic vs. Pressure Balancing Shower Valves

In a previous post about the different types of shower valves, we gave a brief overview of what each type is and what it does. In this article, we will dive into the pros and cons between two specific types of valves. Each perform a similar task completely differently. The differences can help you avoid getting scalded in the shower.

Pressure Balancing Valves Automatically Adjust Flow

This type of shower valve moderates the ratio of hot water volume to cold water volume. By controlling water volume, it gives you the water temperature you want. Pressure balancing valves only have one handle. You turn it to the left or right for hot or cold water.

How does it regulate against sudden fluctuations in water temperature?

The valve will have a mechanism inside it that reacts to the flow of hot or cold water. It automatically adjusts to keep the pressure of both temperatures balanced. Out of nowhere there could be a sudden drop in hot water because a family member started washing dishes. This type of valve restricts the cold water to compensate. The result is a low pressure at the same ratio of hot to cold water as when it was spraying at full blast. Even if the pressure slows to trickle of water coming out of the shower head, the temperature doesn't change.

Thermostatic Shower Valves Monitor the Temperature

Thermostatic shower valves try to solve the issue with a more sophisticated solution. There is usually a thermosensitive element in the value. It adjusts the flow of hot or cold water in reaction to the fluctuations in temperature. The user gets two handles for operation; one adjusts the temperature of the water and the other adjusts the volume of water.

How does it response to drops in hot water temperature?

Unlike the pressure balancing valve, this type of valve knows what the temperature of the water is on either side. It regulates accordingly. It doesn't matter if the hot water heater sends scalding or freezing water in high or low volumes. The thermostatic valve adjusts to maintain a relatively stable volume of water at a relatively stable temperature. As an added bonus, the valve can be adjusted to limited the maximum temperature coming out the shower head so you know that it will never put out hotter water than you can handle.

Which Should I Install in My Home?

For most of his customers, Mike Wilson recommends the pressure balancing shower valve. It accomplishes the task of regulating water temperature in a very basic sense. For most folks, this is all you need. The extra cost of a thermostatic valve might not be justified unless you have an elderly family member in the home who would be adversely affected by sudden fluctuations in temperature.

While some DIY pros can install shower valves, if you ever need a professional plumber to assist your shower valve or hot water heater installation call Mike Wilson Plumbing.