Best Smart Shower System: The Smart Home Begins its Bathroom Invasion
Smart showers can perform actions that you never thought possible—or needed—just a couple years ago.
I know there’s some naysayers out there that will say, “How hard is it turn a knob? You must be lazy to want a smart shower” or “Just install a recirculating pump if you don’t want to wait for warm water.”
If that’s you, then you can stop reading right now because smart showers are not for you.
Smart shower systems offer some very real benefits over a standard shower. But, a smart shower system is as much a statement of style and luxury as it is about being useful.
I analyzed each available smart shower system on the market and checked out consumer reviews to find the best smart shower system. This guide is the result of my research. Hopefully, it will help you gain some clarity about the current available smart shower systems.
Since it’s still a fairly new (and expensive) technology, I only managed to find a few choices.
After all my research, I only found one truly smart shower controller that’s available in the US, the U by Moen. Kohler makes and sells a good digital shower controller, but the Kohler Konnect feature (which adds smart connectivity) hasn’t been released yet. SmarTap looks like a good product and has a bunch of cool smart features, but it’s currently only available in Europe.
What is a smart shower?
Before I get carried away discussing the latest smart shower systems, I should probably explain exactly what I mean when I say “smart shower”.
The four levels of shower intelligence:
1. Standard shower
A standard shower is what most of us are used to. It has some kind of handle that you manually twist or pull to turn on the water and adjust the temperature.
2. Thermostatic valve
The next level up is a thermostatic valve. You still have to twist or pull a handle to turn on the water, but there’s an internal thermostatic valve that will automatically mix the water to keep the water temperature constant.
This will help avoid the situation where a family member flushes a toilet and causes a scalding hot blast of water to interrupt your shower.
3. Digital shower
The third level is a digital shower. A digital shower includes the thermostatic valve and adds electronic on/off controls. Temperature and on/off are controlled by pushing a button on a digital screen instead of a handle that you twist or pull.
A digital shower could have programmed shower “routines” for different family members. Each person could have preferred temperature settings or timers.
4. Smart shower
The final level is the full-blown smart shower. A smart shower takes everything in a digital shower and adds smart home connectivity.
Users can set their preferred water temperature, outlet, flow rate, shower duration, and much more through the smart shower’s control display, smartphone app, or through voice command.
Not all models have all these features, but it’s what I’m looking for as the “ideal” smart shower system.
What are the benefits of having a smart shower?
Manufacturers have been known to get carried away when adding smart connectivity to products (see exhibit A). So, why on earth might you want your shower connected to the internet?
Precise and consistent water temperature
This is the main benefit of a thermostatic valve. It will prevent drastic changes in temperature when someone flushes the toilet or cranks on the kitchen faucet. The valve will automatically mix the incoming water to maintain a steady temperature.
To be fair, it’s not necessary to get a WiFi connected smart shower in order to reap the benefits of a thermostatic valve. You could just buy a thermostatic valve and install it in your standard shower.
Safety – Scald prevention
Since you can precisely set the water temperature, you can create safe shower presets for the most vulnerable members of your family—your kids and the elderly.
In fact, currently available smart shower systems have built-in limits on how hot you can set the water temperature. Therefore, it’s not even possible to scald yourself by accidentally making the temperature too hot.
Create your ideal shower experience remotely
This can be done through the app that your chosen brand comes with. You don’t have to tinker with the knobs to reach a just-right temperature anymore. All you have to do is push the shower preset of your choice from your smartphone.
You can check the latest news while waiting for the smart shower to hit your desired temperature.
And to make your life easier and cooler, you can control your water temperature, which outlet to use, or activate your preferred shower preset using voice commands.
Speeds up your morning routine
Brands like Moen allow you to set your preferred shower duration. Not only will it speed up your morning routine; it’ll lower your water and electricity consumption, too.
Big households will benefit from this feature the most. It will reduce morning chaos by hastening shower queues.
Reduce water and energy usage
If I can save a little money and be eco-friendly with minimal inconvenience to myself, I’m all for it.
Despite all the aforementioned features, smart showers can reduce monthly water usage by approximately 3%. Some brands even claim that it can save up to 50% in water consumption annually.
On top of saving the water, you also save on the energy required to heat that water (assuming you are not crazy like me and you actually take hot showers).
Clean walk-in shower design
Without the knobs, you’re left with a sleek walk-in shower with fewer obstructions. Plus, any time you can switch an old hand-operated device with a digital touchscreen, it feels futuristic and luxurious.
4 Questions to Ask Before You Buy
1. What is the temperature control range?
This will depend on your choice of brand. The temperature control range of U by Moen is 600F – 1200F.
I’m sure this limit makes sense for most people, but I am one of those crazy people that loves to take cold showers (as cold as it goes). If I install U by Moen, I can only get it down to 600F and that’s not gonna cut it.
SmarTap, on the other hand, can go below that limit. It’s temperature ranges from 500F to 1130F.
2. Does it require electricity?
Most people don’t have electricity wired to their shower. A thermostatic valve (this valve controls the mixing of hot/cold water) is a mechanical device and does not require electricity, but valves that direct flow will require electricity.
So just like any other digital device, the smart shower system’s water control valve requires electricity, so that may complicate your installation (see question #4).
Now you may be thinking, “What happens if the power goes off while I’m in the middle of shampooing my hair?”
In the rare event that you lose power during a shower, don’t worry about the water getting stuck “on”. Any valve that completely loses power will revert to the off position.
But what if you want to keep the water on? That’s where a battery backup comes in handy. Not all have this necessary safety net, though. If you’re erring on the side of caution, it’s best to choose a brand that offers one such as U by Moen or SmarTap.
3. How many outlets do smart showers have, and how many do I need?
Each outlet provides a path for water to flow. You usually have two pipes (one hot water and one cold water) coming into your controller. Then, based on your settings, the controller directs the water flow out to any number of outlets.
It depends on the brand and the number of shower accessories you have. Each outlet will specifically be used for a shower attachment.
The 2-outlet version is enough if you only have a showerhead and a handheld shower hose.
But if you have a showerhead, a handheld shower, and a body spray system, the 4-outlet version is the one that you should go for.
U by Moen comes in 2 and 4 outlet versions. Kohler DTV+’s valve has 2 to 6 outlet options.
4. Can Anyone Install A Smart Shower?
Unlike many other smart home gadgets, installing a smart shower system may be more than a DIY job. A typical install may require electrical, plumbing, and sometimes some minor framing and finishing.
If you can’t do it yourself, it may be a very expensive install. You may have to hire an electrician, a plumber, and a carpenter separately. Plus, as new as these products are, very few contractors have installed them, so they may need to charge extra for the extra time it takes them to figure out what needs to be done.
Also, a system like U by Moen requires access to the smart shower’s control valves. That means your shower will have to be positioned so that the location of the valves is accessible. An ideal setup would be to have a bathroom closet on the opposite side of the shower wall where the panel is mounted.
Best Available Smart Shower Systems
Again, the only currently available system for US customers is the U by Moen. So by default, it receives the “best” designation.
U by Moen
The first thing that you should know about U by Moen is that it makes mixer showers look paleolithic.
U by Moen is the first cloud-based showering system that adds extra levels of convenience to your showering needs. On top of that, it has an elegantly designed, easy-to-understand controller with a 5-inch LCD screen.
You can precisely create your ideal water temperature, create shower presets, set a shower time, activate the shower attachment you want to use, and many more.
All of that can be done through the sound of your voice, by using your smartphone, or by pushing one of the smart shower controller’s buttons.
The maximum number of personalized presets that you can create in the app is 12.
And to ensure the security of your connection, each U by Moen smart shower has a unique encrypted key.
You can enable voice control by integrating your smart shower with Alexa. You can immediately command it to start your preferred shower experience once the integration is complete. It can seamlessly integrate with Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant as well.
Another noteworthy feature is the pause water flow mode. If you’re not inside the shower yet, it will automatically stop the flow of water once it hits your desired temperature. It’ll let you know that your shower is ready via app notification or an on-screen message.
U by Moen comes in two outlet system options (a 2-output port and a 4-output port versions), and both have limited lifetime warranties.
Unlike Kohler, U by Moen doesn’t come with sophisticated extras (see below). But what it has is more than enough for anyone to have a relaxing and convenient shower experience.
Kohler DTV+ with KOHLER Konnect
Kohler DTV+ (an acronym for digital thermostatic valve) with Kohler Konnect is the answer to this question: “How can a humble home shower experience turn into a spa-like one?”
At the moment, the Kohler Konnect, which allows for app and voice control, has not yet been released. Once available, existing customers with the DTV+ system can upgrade to KOHLER Konnect by purchasing the KOHLER Konnect module.
Brought to you by a powerhouse in the luxury bathroom and shower fixtures industry, this model has features that were clearly created to impress.
It can precisely set the right temperature, control each shower component, or create presets just like the rest. What sets it apart is its ability to control 4 elements (water, music, steam, and lighting) in order to mimic a relaxing spa retreat.
You can activate all those features through the interface, app, or voice assistant using Alexa or Google Assistant.
The DTV+ boasts of 11 pre-programmed spa settings that aim to invigorate the mind and body. The spa-like experience is made possible by the number of shower components and features that you can add.
However, be prepared for extra costs if you want to have the full spa-like experience. The steam (DTV+ Tandem Steam Adapter Kit), music (SoundTile® Speakers), lighting, and shower components are all sold separately.
You can design a truly luxurious walk-in shower because a single thermostatic valve can have up to 6 outlets.
Another cool feature of this model is the temperature therapy function.
Hydrotherapy—known to help improve various diseases—is possible through the aforementioned function. You can create hot-to-cold and cold-to-hot cycles through the digital interface with touchscreen or the Kohler Konnect app. That alone makes this a worthy splurge.
Unlike U by Moen, you can only create 6 shower presets for this one and it doesn’t have a backup battery. It will shut off in case of a power outage. The silver lining is that all your presets will be saved.
I live in South Dakota and this past winter we had a 2-day stretch where the high temperature was -15F (that’s air temperature, not wind chill).
On the second day, I woke up when the temperature was -26F and attempted to take a shower. I turned the handle but nothing came out. The water in the pipes was frozen.
I spent the next couple hours using a blow dryer to melt the blockage. Luckily, there was no cracked pipes or permanent damage. However, it could have been a lot worse.
SmarTap has a feature that works to detect leaks and prevent pipes from freezing. I really could have used that feature this past winter.
SmarTap’s most impressive feature is its ability to learn your habits and automatically adapt to your changing needs over time.
Out of all, SmarTap has the sleekest, most minimalist, and most user-friendly controller. This is not that all surprising given that Queo—the luxury sanitary ware company responsible for this beauty—is known for its line of intuitively-designed products.
Just like the U by Moen and Kohler DTV+ withe Kohler Konnect, SmarTap is responsive to Alexa and Google Assistant. And just like those two, you can define different showering scenarios. Apart from those, it can easily be integrated with IFTTT, too.
Unlike those two, however, SmarTap has two controllers. The one-dial controller can be used for a bathtub or sink while the two-dial controller is for the shower. You can use both simultaneously or as stand-alones.
Aside from that, SmarTap has a built-in self-test (BIST) to ensure that the system is in tip-top shape. It also has a built-in backup battery in case of a power outage.
SmarTap comes with a five-year guarantee and automatic software updates.
“Great, where can I get one?” you ask. Well, SmarTap is readily available from online retailers in Europe, but not here in the US. The only way to buy SmarTap here (that I know of) is to locate one of these dealers.
Homes are getting smarter, and if you’re future-proofing your home, a smart shower is a good addition.
If you want a smart shower TODAY, then the U by Moen will scratch your itch.
But, if you can wait for Kohler Konnect, it might be worth it. Kohler is planning an entire suite of smart bathroom products. You could install the Kohler digital shower system today, with the intention of upgrading once Konnect is released.
That said, I don’t blame you if you’re not quite ready to throw down the amount of cash required for a smart shower. For now, there’s limited options and it’s still an emerging tech so there might be a few technical hiccups.
But I believe smart showers are filled with potential. I don’t think it will be long before other digital shower models are retrofitted with WiFi so they can tap into your smart home, too.
As that happens, I think more advanced features and smart home integrations will happen. And…I will be right here writing about it.