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How Shower Head Flow Rates, GPMs And WaterSense Impact Your Shower

Posted on February 03 2017

Shower Head Flow Rate


Are you scratching your head wondering why your Shower Head pressure is so low? Discover what determine the shower head flow rate and what you can do about it. 


One of the main reasons for this is the restricted Flow Rate built into your Shower Head, which is imposed by your government municipality.

While it may seem like this is happening all the time, the Water Flow Rate has been a Maximum of 2.5 Gallons Per Minute (GPM) since 1992! That means for every minute of Shower time, 2.5 Gallons passes through your Shower Head. It may not feel like a lot when it's coming out, but it's like going through 2.5 jugs of milk from the store in just a minute. And most showers are MUCH longer than a minute!

According to Home Water Works, in "an average home, showers are typically the third largest water use after toilets and clothes washers. The average American shower uses 17.2 gallons (65.1 liters) and lasts for 8.2 minutes at average flow rate of 2.1 gallons per minute (gpm) (7.9 lpm)."

Based on data like this, states like California, Colorado and New York have recently changed the Maximum Flow Rate from 2.5 GPM to 2.0 GPM! That's a 20% cut in Flow Rate, which leads to less pressure from your Shower Head.

Yup, it's the law. Let's move on though to find out about the different Flow Rates, how they impact you, and what you can look for to get the best Shower Head.


Differentiating Between Low Flow And High Flow Shower Heads


If you're in the market for a new Shower Head, and you do or do not want to have a Low Flow Shower Head, make sure you double check the Product Specifications to see what Flow Rate it has.

When it comes to Shower Heads, you'll find 2.5 GPM, 2.0 GPM and 1.5 GPM.

If you're looking for the most pressure, go for the 2.5 GPM Flow Rate, unless you are restricted because you reside in California, Colorado or New York. Again, this has been the Maximum Flow Rate since 1992.

The step down from there in Flow Rate is 2.0 GPM.  You'll find many Shower Heads with something called a WaterSense Certification which is given by the EPA. According to the EPA, "products bearing the WaterSense label have been independently certified to perform well; help save water, energy, and money; and encourage innovation in manufacturing." As it stands today, Shower Heads bearing the WaterSense label have a Flow Rate of 2.0 GPM or less.


shower head flow rate


You may think that 2.0 GPM of Water Flow is at low as it goes, but that's not so. There are Shower Heads called "Eco Performance" Shower Heads, typically marked with an "EP" in their model number. These Shower Heads have a Maximum Flow Rate of 1.5 GPM. That's 40% less water output than the 2.5 GPM Flow Rate.  

That said, you don't have to be mandated by a state to use a Shower Head with a 2.0 or 1.5 GPM Flow Rate. Other reasons, besides state regulations, could be:

  • Lowering your water bill
  • Conserving a low water supply, such as on a boat, RV, or if you're on well water.
  • Sincere concern for the environment


    Now that you're armed with more information on the different Flow Rates, Certifications and Labels, you'll be able to find the Shower Head Flow Rate that best meets your needs, without any surprises.


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