shower power
March 19, 2009 9:09 PM   Subscribe

Currently have two handle shower. Will I like a single handle shower?

Will I lose fine control? With a single handle there's either more hot or more cold. With double handles that I currently have, I can have a little more hot, or I can have a little less cold, or a little of both for more water, etc. If I switch to a single handle am I going to notice? As an aside, do I make my hot water last longer by using a little bit of hot water and very little on the cold side, versus turning both up, or using a single handle, just turning it to hot?
posted by striker to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
You're definitely going to lose control. Life will be simpler, for sure, but that comes at a price, and the price will be that you cannot independently regulate the rate of flow of both the hot and the cold water. It's like choosing a standard or an automatic to drive.

Choose wisely, because this defines you as a human being.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:12 PM on March 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

I'm perfectly happy with my single handle. I find that I can consistently get it to the same level of heat day in and day out. With only one handle to worry about, life is a lot more consistent. I never shower long enough to run out of hot water, so I can't help you there.
posted by Precision at 9:22 PM on March 19, 2009

I'm really sensitive to temperature (I have Raynaud's) and I'm perfectly happy with my single-handle shower. I can easily nudge the temperature marker just a little bit.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:25 PM on March 19, 2009

If you want to control volume and temperature independently you need two handles, whether they are hot/cold or temp/volume doesn't matter. If you're like me and you want to be hosed down then the single handle's fine, you're always getting the highest flow.
posted by jet_silver at 9:33 PM on March 19, 2009

Best answer: I don't find temp control to be an issue at all in my one-handled shower, or in any of them I've ever used.

However, I did learn too late that not all single-handled showers are created equal. Some allow you to contol water flow also and others do not. Sadly, the one we put into our remodeled shower does not control flow rate, and our water pressure is REALLY HIGH. Not so bad when the grownups shower, but not cool when trying to wash a two-year-old's hair.

I fixed this by getting an adaptor valve, basically just a stopcock, that goes on the outflow pipe of the shower, i.e., near the showerhead. It's easy to adjust the flow now, but you definitely have to know it's there.

If I had to do it again I'd try to get both functionalities in one handle, though.
posted by Sublimity at 9:33 PM on March 19, 2009

I used to have 2 handles, but recently moved to a place with one handle. It's much easier to control temperature. With 2 handles for some reason very tiny adjustment would change the temp too far one way or the other. With 1 handle - so much easier to get it right. But it is a bit inconvenient that I can't have a small stream of hot or warm water coming out, sometimes that would be useful to soak a sponge when cleaning, but on the whole I like 1 handle better.
posted by rainy at 10:24 PM on March 19, 2009

You're definitely going to lose control. Life will be simpler, for sure, but that comes at a price, and the price will be that you cannot independently regulate the rate of flow of both the hot and the cold water. It's like choosing a standard or an automatic to drive.

I thought they made single-handle shower thingies that altered flow as you pulled away from the wall and altered temperature as you rotated clock/counter-clockwise. Am I delusional?
posted by secret about box at 10:30 PM on March 19, 2009

No Mikey-San, but not all are made that way. Mine doesn't regulate flow either.

One other thing - if you have the shower handle installed halfway up the wall like we did when we remodeled, if you are taking a bath you're basically going to have to stand up to adjust the water. We don't really take baths so we don't care.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:49 PM on March 19, 2009

I've had both, and I like single better.

When you get in the shower, put it all the way to HOT and run the tap til the water starts to heat up (stand back so you don't burn your toes). Then dial back the lever to the COLD side until the temperature is right, and then you turn on the overhead.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:07 PM on March 19, 2009

No Mikey-San, but not all are made that way. Mine doesn't regulate flow either.

Oh, neither does mine. I can always get the temperature perfect, but I miss being able to change flow strength.
posted by secret about box at 11:35 PM on March 19, 2009

I prefer the single handle, although I've never had one that didn't give me control over both temperature and flow. I'm pretty proficient at the tap to adjust one or the other.

Are you moving someplace and this is a consideration? Or just redoing the bathroom? If the latter, you may as well throw in a true 21st century we-living-in-da-future gadget, the shower thermostat.

As for those stuck with flow control limitations, there are some pretty nifty showerheads for under $20 (you need a wrench and some pipe tape for the job). Also, everyone should be upgrading to a low-flow showerhead (under 2.5gpm) anyway.
posted by dhartung at 1:20 AM on March 20, 2009

Some friends I often cat-sit for have a one-handled shower with a little knob on it (like this). The little knob sets the temperature, the handle controls the amount of water.

It's great because once you have set the knob to the temperature of your liking, you never have to touch it again. Just turn the handle and get your perfect temperature, time after time. Plus, you can save water by turning off the water (while you shampoo your hair or whatever) then turn it back on without having to fiddle with separate hot/cold controls to get the right temperature back again.
posted by blueberry at 3:52 AM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have a single handle, and I'm fine with it. It's a simple, old school Moen style. Pull it out to control flow, left and right to control temperature. The sweet spot is tiny, but it's reliable. One of the biggest problems with standard two faucet designs is that the valves in those faucets aren't great at being linear regarding flow control. One nudge one way or another can mean a big difference in flow. Compounded with the fact that an increase in pressure on one side will reduce the pressure on the other.

With the caveat that I live in a multi-unit building, and if someone else in the building uses their shower, the temperature will shift. It's my understanding that the newer models have pressure balancers and temperature balancers that correct for this.

If you're just redoing the pipes and not the wall, the biggest issue will probably be the ugly plate that you'll have to install to cover up the holes from the two faucets. Ask This Old House did a show on this recently. I *think* they did show a model that was plug and play, however, that had two faucets. But one faucet was for flow control and the other was for temperature control. That's what I'd get if I were in your situation.
posted by gjc at 7:05 AM on March 20, 2009

One more thing to consider -- I recently had a plumbing problem (hot water coming out of cold taps all over the place) which turned out to be failed check valve in our single handle shower. According to our plumber, this is a common problem with shower mixers.
posted by media_itoku at 10:04 AM on March 20, 2009

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