Programmable Showers: Low-Cost Luxury Suitable for the Jetsons

The Jetsons take their “ultra-sonic” showers fully clothed, but the latest shower technology just might convert them back to good old-fashioned hot water. These cutting-edge programmable showers are so delightful that George and Jane couldn’t go wrong with one as a Christmas present for daughter Judy. Here’s why programmable showers might be right for you, too.

Programmable showers feature easy-to-use digital controls that let each member of the family pre-set their ideal water temperature, pressure, and even the type of spray—from a steady stream to pulsating jets. The waterproof control panel mounts right on the shower wall where you can alter any setting at the touch of a button.

Luxurious, programmable showers suit nearly every budget, too, ranging from about $290 for a basic unit to $3,500 and up for one with lots of features and special finishes. Installation costs for a programmable shower will vary widely, depending on your region and whether you’re remodeling or building new.

Programmable shower goodies

  • Digital interface with multiple-user presets. This is the brains of a custom shower, allowing you to select and program a shower experience scenario into the memory. After the initial setup, push a button to recall user presets.
  • Thermostatic shower valves. Controlled by the digital interface, these devices regulate the mix of hot and cold water so you enjoy a constant temperature, even if the hot water runs low in the tank. If cold water pressure drops suddenly, valves are designed to shut off the water to prevent scalding.
  • Adjustable body sprays/massage jets. Installed in the shower wall at varying heights, these jets are directionally adjustable and can also provide a variety of water pressures and pulsations.

For the optimum custom shower experience, plan to install a water heater that’s dedicated to your shower. A 50-gallon tank supplies 8 minutes of hot water to a shower with four shower heads. For more showering time and additional outlets, purchase a 100-gallon water tank.

Two innovative custom showers

  • The Vigo Shower Massage Panel is a flat panel with six fully adjustable body spray massage jets, an integrated thermostatic valve, a fog-free mirror, and an adjustable multi-functional shower head with a 60-inch, chrome-plated brass hose. A tub filler located at the bottom of the shower panel makes this a good choice for a shower/tub combination. The panel sells for about $360.
  • The Moen ioDigital Vertical Spa, comes in an oil-rubbed bronze finish, and offers four programmable presets, a 7-inch rainshower shower head, four body sprays, and an LCD screen interface that displays the water temperature. An optional remote control is also available. The unit retails for about $3,400.

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