Programmable Showers: Low-Cost Luxury Suitable for the Jetsons

Programmable showers feature digital controls and high-tech valves that let you set your ideal water temperature and water pressure.

The Moen ioDigital Vertical Spa includes an optional remote control to adjust water temperature and spray power and position. Image: Moen

The Jetsons take their “ultra-sonic” showers fully clothed, but the latest shower technology just might convert them back to good old-fashioned hot water. These cutting-edge programmable showers are so delightful that George and Jane couldn’t go wrong with one as a Christmas present for daughter Judy. Here’s why programmable showers might be right for you, too.

Programmable showers feature easy-to-use digital controls that let each member of the family pre-set their ideal water temperature, pressure, and even the type of spray—from a steady stream to pulsating jets. The waterproof control panel mounts right on the shower wall where you can alter any setting at the touch of a button.

Luxurious, programmable showers suit nearly every budget, too, ranging from about $290 for a basic unit to $3,500 and up for one with lots of features and special finishes. Installation costs for a programmable shower will vary widely, depending on your region and whether you’re remodeling or building new.

Programmable shower goodies

  • Digital interface with multiple-user presets. This is the brains of a custom shower, allowing you to select and program a shower experience scenario into the memory. After the initial setup, push a button to recall user presets.
  • Thermostatic shower valves. Controlled by the digital interface, these devices regulate the mix of hot and cold water so you enjoy a constant temperature, even if the hot water runs low in the tank. If cold water pressure drops suddenly, valves are designed to shut off the water to prevent scalding.
  • Adjustable body sprays/massage jets. Installed in the shower wall at varying heights, these jets are directionally adjustable and can also provide a variety of water pressures and pulsations.

For the optimum custom shower experience, plan to install a water heater that’s dedicated to your shower. A 50-gallon tank supplies 8 minutes of hot water to a shower with four shower heads. For more showering time and additional outlets, purchase a 100-gallon water tank.

Two innovative custom showers

  • The Vigo Shower Massage Panel is a flat panel with six fully adjustable body spray massage jets, an integrated thermostatic valve, a fog-free mirror, and an adjustable multi-functional shower head with a 60-inch, chrome-plated brass hose. A tub filler located at the bottom of the shower panel makes this a good choice for a shower/tub combination. The panel sells for about $360.
  • The Moen ioDigital Vertical Spa, comes in an oil-rubbed bronze finish, and offers four programmable presets, a 7-inch rainshower shower head, four body sprays, and an LCD screen interface that displays the water temperature. An optional remote control is also available. The unit retails for about $3,400.