Why you should get a steam shower
The concept behind the steam shower operation is simple. The shower room is a combo unit consisting of a steam generator and a sauna or shower enclosure, and is used for both steam showers and regular showers. Both are installed close to each other (preferably not more than 25 feet apart). The steam generator heats water and converts it to steam, and then channels the steam into the shower, where you can then enjoy a luxurious steam bath.
The relaxing effect of the steam bath is the primary reason why you always want to linger in the steam room at your favorite gym or spa. But that’s not all you get from a steam shower. There are numerous health benefits associated with using a steam shower, including:
Improved blood circulation – The high amount of heat in the steam room causes blood vessels to expand, thereby increasing blood flow in the body.
Enhances tissue repair and healing – This is a resultant effect of increased circulation. As blood flow increases, more oxygen and nutrients are transported into cells, accelerating tissue repair, and in turn, healing.
Detoxification – The moist heat of a steam shower opens up the pores of the skin and stimulates the expulsion of toxins and dead skin, therefore cleansing the skin.
The intense heat removes toxins from the body, and is especially effective in removing toxins stored in fat deposits.
Respiratory disorders management – Steam improves symptoms of the common cold, bronchitis, sinusitis, and other allergic reactions affecting the respiratory system.
Steam shower installation tips
Choose a type of waterproofing that is appropriate for the finish material of your shower or steam room.
Use a licensed electrician and plumber for the installation. They’ll ensure that the plumb lines, drain, and electrical connections are right, including the installation of a dedicated circuit breaker for the shower.
The steam generator should be installed outside the shower enclosure where it’s not exposed to moisture and the temperature is more controlled.
Keep the distance between the steam generator and shower enclosure short to enhance efficiency.
Leave 10-12 inches of space on the top and sides of the shower to boost ventilation. This space also makes it easy to access the back areas for maintenance purposes.
If you have windows in the shower, ensure they are double-paned to prevent heat loss and keep cold air from coming into the enclosure.
The lowest-priced quality steam showers sell for $1,000-1,500. Most high-end units cost more than $10,000, but there are many quality units in the $1,500-$3,000 range. The more expensive units generally have more features and tend to be of higher quality compared to low-cost units. If you want a big steam shower with plenty of features, look in the mid to high-price range. But if you are after a basic model with solid sauna and shower functions, there is plenty to choose from in the low to mid-price range.
Features to consider while buying the best steam shower
Let’s now address the features that matter in a steam shower room and how to evaluate the steam shower based on each feature.
Steam showers are bulky, so make sure you have adequate space for one in your bathroom or sauna room before making the purchase. Some are quite big and more suitable for large bathrooms. A good example is Lusso Bath 2020 Madison which measures 59” x 59” x 90”. If your space is small, go for a compact shower, like the ARIEL 300A which measures 36” x 48” x 86” or the Ariel Platinum DZ956F8 which measures 47” x 35.4” x 89”. Or choose a corner steam shower which takes up less space than the rectangular ones. This type is designed to fit in corner spaces and is a great choice for homes with limited space.
Total steam shower size is calculated not just by the dimensions of the physical shower room, but also by the material of your sauna room, external walls if present, and ceiling height, all of which determine how much steam the generator should produce. Many manufacturers include a size chart to help you calculate the right generator size based on all these factors.
When choosing a steam shower, ensure that it is ETL Listed for safety. This shows it not only meets ETL safety standards, which is the most widely accepted certification mark in the US and Canada, but also OSHA standards, since ETL testing also covers all OSHA-mandated tests. Moreover, no contractor will do the installation if the shower is not OSHA compliant and ETL certified as this is against the regulations. Most steam showers sold in the US are ETL listed, so this won’t be a problem.
Safe and sound
A good steam shower has safety mechanisms to guarantee safe usage. The doors of your shower room should be easy to open and close and jam-free so you won’t be accidentally trapped inside the shower room. If possible, choose a steamshower with a magnetic seal on the door like the CONSTAR Steam Shower Room. This traps the steam inside, boosting efficiency in the shower.
To prevent steam buildup, steam showers come with a pressure relief valve that is connected to a pipe that leads to the drain, where any excess pressure is discharged. Some, like the Kokss 1001Now Y9007, have a pressure balanced valve for this same reason.
Also, look for additional features like overheat protection and water-loss protection. The CONSTAR Steam Shower Room and ARIEL 300A both come with no-water protection and overheat protection.
Settings and controls
Most steam shower units come with a control panel from where you can adjust all the settings. This includes the temperature, fan, radio, lighting, timer, and radio. The control panel can be located inside or outside the steam shower room. Some models have control panels on the inside and outside.
In most units, the control panel is digital with an LCD display, which makes operating the controls easy. In addition to the digital controls, some showers come with a remote control, allowing you to adjust the settings from afar. Examples of such include CONSTAR Steam Shower Room and Kokss 1001Now Y9007.
The best steam showers have jets located overhead and, on the walls, in addition to a handheld showerhead that allows you to focus the water on particular spots of your body. If the steam shower has a whirlpool tub, it will have additional whirlpool jets. The more jets a steam shower has, the more you’ll be able to customize each shower experience. The Lusso Bath 2020 Madison, for example, has 20 whirlpool jets and 18 massage jets, while the Kokss 1001Now Y9007 has 6 massage jets and 6 whirlpool jets.
Generator power and size
The higher the power rating of the steam generator, the more steam it produces. Confirm what the power rating is before buying your shower so that you don’t end up with a steam shower that doesn’t produce enough steam, which defeats the purpose of buying the shower.
The generator size should correspond to the size of the shower enclosure. A big enclosure needs an equally big generator. If the generator is small compared to the shower enclosure, it won’t produce enough steam to fill the enclosure.
A good steam generator should also heat up quickly so that you won’t need to wait for long minutes before the steam is ready.
It should also produce steam evenly so that you have equal access to the steam no matter where you stand or sit in the enclosure.
The best flooring for a steam shower is textured and non-slip. This is because the floor is moist during use and therefore slippery. A non-slip material minimizes the risk of slips and the resultant injuries. You can enhance flooring safety further by adding anti-skid strips on the floor. Other than texture, the flooring material should also be impervious to moisture and vapor, which can damage the floor.
Waterflow rate in steam showers is limited to 2.5 gpm in line with Department of Energy regulations. But many showers have a flow rate in the 2.2. vicinity, which is much lower than the allowable maximum. Even though steam showers have the same flow rate as regular showers, they have better water efficiency than regular showers. A 15-minute steam session consumes only 1 gallon of water compared to a showerhead, which consumes up to 30 gallons or more in the same duration.
You’ll be spending thousands of dollars on a steam shower, so choose a unit with a solid manufacturer’s guarantee. Fortunately, most steam shower rooms come with generous warranties. While limited warranties are the most common, some steam showers have limited lifetime warranties, with units like the Lusso Bath 2020 Madison covered by a full warranty (10 years). Other good offers are ARIEL 300A and Ariel Platinum DZ956F8’s 7-year warranty on the shower and CONSTAR Steam Shower Room’s 6-year limited warranty.
Choose a steam shower with built-in seating where you can sit and be comfortable as you enjoy your shower. Some units have large seats that can seat two people. If you enjoy taking a steam bath with your partner, such a chair is preferable.
Other units don’t have built-in seating, but you can place a chair inside. If buying this type of shower, ensure that it is big enough to accommodate a seat.
Your steam shower may also have a headrest for you to rest your head while steam bathing, allowing you to enjoy greater comfort. The Kokss 1001Now Y9007 is one such shower room.
Lights and aromatherapy
Steam shower lighting is similar to the low voltage lighting used for regular showers. The shower comes complete with the lighting system in place, so you won’t be buying the light separately. This typically includes LED backlighting and ceiling lights. Showers like Kokss 1001Now Y9007 also have underwater LED lighting.
Some steam showers have chromatherapy lighting, a mood lighting system that uses color therapy to stimulate the body and mind. In this case, the lighting comes in different colors. You can change the colors as needed or choose the single color setting in the control panel.
Steam showers that have an aromatherapy mechanism feature a tiny recess at the top (or other outlet depending on design) where you can put essential oils to infuse the steam with the essential oil aroma. Or they may have an injector pump and a recess for holding the aroma bottle.
Your steam shower should be easy to install to minimize installation errors that may cause damage or increase the risk of injury. Steam showers are connected to both the plumbing and the electrical wiring in the house and should therefore be installed by a professional contractor. Damage that occurs due to errors during installation will likely not be covered in the warranty, so make sure you use a licensed contractor for the job.
Choose a shower that comes with comprehensive instructions enclosed so that the contractor can follow the recommended installation steps even if they’ve never installed that particular steam shower model.
Maintenance advice – how to clean steam shower
Clean areas that come into contact with the skin after every use. For the seat, spreading a towel on the seat so that it acts as a barrier between your bottom and the seat makes cleaning easier. Do this and wipe the seat thereafter using a water and vinegar mixture.
Rinse your steam shower room after every use using filtered water to prevent mineral buildup.
Do intense cleaning once a week, and clean the shower thoroughly every 4 weeks. Remember to follow the recommended cleaning procedure for your shower room material.
To thorough clean the shower, use a non-bleach household cleaner and scrub the walls and floor, and then carefully rinse from top to bottom.
Run the extractor fan to dry the shower enclosure. Alternatively, leave the door open and turn on the fan to help in drying out the enclosure.
Allow the shower to dry completely and keep it dry when not in use to prevent growth of mold.