Even the simplest and least-expensive showerheads can provide a satisfying shower, but more money may provide more options. Here are the types of showerheads to consider.
These showerheads let you adjust the flow pattern to as many as 12 settings such as mist, massage, pulsing, wide and narrow stream, and a water-saving trickle while you soap up. Some offer a continuously variable setting. Multiple settings generally met with our panelists' favor, but the mist setting on some models didn't impress.
These simple showerheads provide only one setting, as their name implies. They tend to cost much less than multisetting models.
Three multihead models we tested promised a spa-like experience and comprised a fixed or handheld showerhead (or both), and several additional body jets, all mounted on a vertical strip. But more recent action by the Department of Energy has changed how these products work. Initially, shower towers got around the federal 2 ½-gpm standard by limiting each head or spray to 2 ½ gpm. Thus, if the unit had four outlets, it could legally use as much as 10 gpm. As of March 2013, the water output of all heads and sprays (that could provide water simultaneously) of these products could not together exceed 2 ½ gpm. So while you'll still see shower towers sold, you won't see one that lets you turn on all heads or sprays at once. Models we've seen most recently prevent you from using a combination of heads or sprays that exceeds the federal limit.