Whether you’re looking to comply with local regulations or trying to be more mindful of the environment, a low-flow shower head is a simple way to reduce your water use and impact.
According to the EPA, American households use an average of 300 gallons of water per day. About 1/5 of that goes to showering. As water use awareness grows, the government has sponsored efficiency programs to promote the use of low-flow shower heads. All that are sold in the U.S. today are supposed to comply with a 2.5GPM flow rate. That’s less than half of the usage some older models.
Some areas, such as California and some parts of New York, have already adopted a 2.0 GPM rate. And many are preparing to go further in the next few years. Rates could drop to 1.8 or 1.5 GPM by 2017-17.
We’ve compared dozens of models, and we have a few recommendations that we think you’ll love. We assessed them based on price, function, durability, and overall water savings.
We looked for a few simple factors that impact you every day: strong spray, good coverage, and user satisfaction.
First, here’s a look at our top three choices:
- Rating: 4.7
- Reviews: 210
- Free Shipping
- Rating: 5.0
- Reviews: 3
- Free Shipping
Best on a Budget
- Rating: 4.5
- Reviews: 54
- Free Shipping
Best Low Flow Shower Head Reviews
This Whedon is a longtime customer favorite. It’s compact, solidly built, and provides a strong, steady spray. Reviewers complimented the strength of the water output–even in homes with low pressure. We love that it’s made right here in the USA, at less than import prices! It’ll save you water, and it’ll save you a lot of money too. Got about ten bucks? You’ve got a new shower head.
At 2.0 GPM, this meets WaterSense and LEED certification standards. There are two different flow restrictors included in the package, so that you can use this as either a 2.0 or 2.5 GPM shower head.
It’s very effective at pressurizing water. Whedon says that it works by creating pressure inside the head, and then breaking up the spray into smaller droplets. This makes the spray feel fuller, without using as much water. Reviewers said that the added pressure more than compensated for the low-flow rate. They found it powerful and bracing without feeling aggressive.
It’s solid brass. Both the head and the fittings use only metal in their construction. Reviewers say the Water Saver is very well-made, especially for the price. Even better, it’s built in the USA.
It’s incredibly inexpensive. At less than a third of the price of most models, you’ll be saving money with your purchase, as well as cutting your water bill.
This model is incredibly easy to install. It comes with the 2.0 GPM restrictor installed, so all you’ll have to do is screw it into place!
Some reviewers found that the spray was too intense for them. They said that the droplets were very small, which could sting skin at high pressure.
There are no controls or additional spray settings.
In addition, it’s not very aesthetically pleasing.
2. High Sierra 1.5 GPM
This eco-friendly option from High Sierra is a current favorite among online buyers. It’s made in the USA, and has a great reputation for build quality. With a specially designed spray cone, it’ll seem like it’s using much more water than it actually is. As with the Whedon, this one’s powerful without ever feeling painful.
The head and fittings are made entirely from metal in the USA. The spray restrictor on the face of the head is made from a high-grade plastic, which lasts much longer than other plastic or composite components.
Reviewers were very impressed by the build quality. They said it looked and felt sturdy, complimenting both the finish and the smooth joint action on the fixture.
It’s WaterSense certified, and qualifies for the LEED standard in green building. The 1.5 GPM flow rate will save 40% of the water used by traditional 2.5 GPM models.
Instead of many narrow spray nozzles, there’s one central jet. High Sierra has integrated a special Splash Protector, which focuses the spray into a tight cone. This reduces overspray and provides greater coverage within the cone. As a result, your bathroom floor won’t be as wet. Plus, the single channel prevents clogging and blockages. Reviewers loved the overall effect, and wrote that they were skeptical that the flow was actually as low as the rating said, since the shower felt so powerful!
Many reviewers also complimented the spray restrictor. They liked that they weren’t getting their floors or surrounding walls as wet. Plus, they enjoyed having more water aimed at them!
High Sierra also has a good reputation for customer support. They’ve even taken the time to respond to comments from previous buyers online.
This model doesn’t have a turn-off valve. The High Sierra 1.8 GPM we’ve recommended below does have that feature, and there’s a 1.5 GPM model for around $50, available here.:
There’s only one spray function: full. It’s nothing fancy to look at. Some reviewers even said it’s a bit noisy.
3. Danze Boost
This model is one of Good Housekeeping’s top recommendations. It uses special flow channels and an aeration system to compensate for the decrease in water usage. It’s also a multi-function head, which reviewers love. We recommend it for buyers who want the water saving power of the High Sierra, with a bit more variety.
At 2.0 GPM, it meets the EPA’s WaterSense certification standards, as well as LEED standards.
Danze has compensated for the low water supply with both aeration and special dual valve technology. The latter is meant to make up for any lack of force by pressurizing water before it leaves the shower head. While the aeration is restricted to one spray setting, the dual valves will work with all three spray settings.
Reviewers said that the Danze didn’t feel like a sacrifice in power or flow. They said that multiple houseguests had been surprised to learn that the fixture was actually low-flow!
The three spray options are wide coverage, intense massage, and an aerated spray. The aerated spray uses air injection to boost the power of the flow. The resulting effect falls in between the wide spray and the massage.
To change between settings, just push the selector tab on the side of the head.
The 4-inch spray face provides ample coverage. You’ll be able to stand completely immersed in water.
It’s easy to install, and reviewers said it stays completely watertight. You won’t have to worry about leaks with this one. The Boost comes with a lifetime warranty.
Some reviewers weren’t impressed by the pressure. They found that even with the aeration and pressurizing channels, they didn’t get enough force. The Boost may not be the best choice if you have low pressure in your home.
It’s made almost entirely from plastic. While reviewers didn’t report any durability problems, plastic housing is less likely to hold up in the long term, so you may not be able to depend on this one for many years.
4. Speakman Anystream
This versatile option from Speakman is a favorite among major hotel chains. The Anystream has also become very popular among buyers who have experienced it at a hotel. It’s lightweight, durable, and has a variety of spray settings. Plus, it’ll save you 1/5 of your water consumption. Previous buyers said it looks and performs far above its price class. Bring the hotel to you!
The EcoSense 2.0 GPM flow rate is EPA-recommended and LEED certified. However, reviewers said they didn’t feel like they were missing anything. In fact, some buyers said it improved their water pressure.
There are 3 spray settings: wide coverage, massage, and a combination of the two. The spray head includes 5 adjustable jets, which produce 50 individual streams and 12 pulsing massage sprays. Reviewers especially liked the wide coverage zone. You’ll be completely immersed in water with this one.
It’s easy to adjust the settings via a side lever.
It’s very light. The shower head and fittings weigh in at under a pound. That means you won’t have to worry about installing any special hardware or fittings.
Installation is easy. It comes with an instruction booklet and plenty of plumbers’ tape. Reviewers were impressed by the thoughtful design of the fittings. They said installation took only a few minutes. The Anystream will work with most existing 1/2” fittings. Lastly, there’s a lifetime warranty.
It’s mostly plastic. You won’t be getting as sturdy of a product as you would if it had more metal parts.
One reviewer mentioned having trouble with sediment deposits in the spray head. The Anystream may not be the best choice if your home has hard water. With that said, some other reviewers specifically wrote that they had no problems, even with well water.
5. High Sierra 1.8 GPM
This 1.8 GPM model from High Sierra is a good midway point between normal 2.5 GPM models and more restrictive 1.5 GPM eco-models. It’s built in the USA, and you’ll love the powerful but practical flow. With WaterSense and LEED certifications, it’s guaranteed to save you money on heat and water.
Have a taller-than-average shower? This one may be for you. The 1.8 GPM flow rate is designed to improve spray function in taller shower setups. High Sierra says that many low-flow heads lose strength and heat, the higher they’re placed on the shower wall. This model is meant to compensate for that effect. Its increased water flow and velocity keep water droplets warm all the way to the floor.
The special splashguard controls overspray and creates a defined spray zone. It’s made of ABS plastic and comes in coordinating colors, so it will fit in nicely with your bathroom decor. And you won’t have to worry about your bathroom floor getting wet. You’ll love the strength of the water pressure and the fullness of the coverage. Previous buyers said they were pleased to find that they didn’t feel like they were compromising their shower whatsoever.
There’s a trickle valve, for additional water conservation. You can simply flip the valve off while soaping up, and then flick it on again for full pressure with full heat–just as you left it.
The convenience of the trickle valve will improve your shower experience. It’s a quick and easy way to save more water without sacrificing the shower experience.
It’s built in the USA from high-quality brass. The shower head and fittings are made entirely from metal. All the metal parts have a nickel finish, which is stain- and spot-resistant. Anything that means less cleaning sounds good to us.
There’s a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, and a 2-year warranty covering any defects or malfunctions.
It’s very industrial-looking.
There’s only one spray setting, and there aren’t any pressure adjustments. You’ll need to be OK with having the same kind of shower, all the time.
6. KOHLER Bancroft
The KOHLER Bancroft is a water saver that doesn’t look (or feel) the part. It’s an elegant, traditional design which will blend into most bathroom decor. And with aerated flow, it doesn’t feel like a low-flow shower head. However, it’ll still save you 1/5 of your water usage. Previous buyers said it felt even more powerful than their old, inefficient fixtures!
With a 2.0 GPM flow limit, it’s recommended by the EPA’s WaterSense program. It also meets LEED-certification standards.
A specially optimized spray face minimizes overspray, and directs the water more effectively. The result is a fuller, more defined coverage. Katalyst aeration technology adds strength and volume to the flow output. The air induction creates larger droplets, which don’t lose heat as quickly while they’re falling.
Reviewers praised the strength of the flow, and said that the Bancroft was a good compromise between older, more intense shower heads and newer water saving models. They wrote that it combined an efficient design with a more elegant exterior, which you wouldn’t normally find on a low-flow fixture.
The brushed nickel construction is elegant and durable. It’s resistant to scuffing spots, and corrosion.
The MasterClean spray face wipes clean of debris and mineral buildup. It uses flexible rubber spray nozzles, which loosen mineral deposits as they’re wiped.
The design is much more elegant and refined than most water-saving models. The Bancroft is great if you want your shower head to be practical but look sleek.
It comes with a lifetime warranty from KOHLER.
There’s only one spray mode.
The aeration creates a fair amount of noise. Not great if you’re planning to shower while people in the house are sleeping.
Low-flow shower heads generally cost about the same as normal models. Some are even cheaper, as they’re more conservative in design and construction. Because they’re smaller, they cost less to manufacture.
You’ll want to keep the same things in mind as you would shopping for a regular shower head. More expensive models should provide proprietary technology to compensate for their more restricted water use. They should also be built from more metal parts, and have better warranty periods. And on a design note, more expensive eco-models tend to look a bit cooler.
As with any shower head, you can expect a longer life from stronger, sturdier materials. Look for shower heads with metal construction, and plastic parts made from ABS material. You should get at least a couple of years of warranty coverage. More expensive models have lifetime warranties and better construction. However, some of our budget choices are also all-metal and built to last.
There’s as much variety in the market for low-flow varieties as for regular shower heads. You’ll find 5-function heads, single-spray heads, and a whole range of in-betweens. Consider your own shower preferences, as well as those of the other people in your household.
Many low-flow shower heads have a poor reputation for power and function. They’ll save you water, but they’ll sacrifice a great deal of pressure and spray. Luckily, that doesn’t have to be the case anymore!
Many newer models compensate for the decreased water usage by integrating aeration or special pressurizing flow channels. They’ll use proprietary technology to use water more effectively. Keep an eye out for these features while you’re shopping.
When you’re looking for a low-flow shower head, you’ll see a lot of general claims about saving water and protecting the environment. However, many shower heads aren’t actually any “greener” than the others. We found that a fair number of them advertised water-saving functions, but tests revealed that they actually used as much or more water than normal shower heads.
We’d recommend buying only products with WaterSense or LEED certification. These government programs are run by the EPA. They certify that a shower head meets strict conservation guidelines. Beware of “greenwashing” and vague “eco-friendly” claims without actual certifications.
We hope you’ve seen a few low-flow shower heads that suit your needs. As you’ve seen, you won’t need to sacrifice performance to save water!
If you’re not totally sold on any of the shower heads you’ve seen on this page, check out our other recommendations for the top shower head products!