Camper Shower Head Guide: What You Need To Know About RV Shower Heads
(Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.)
"A Shower! A Shower!
My Kingdom For A Shower!"
Do you feel this way about showers?
In the RV world, there seems to be no better luxury than taking a long, hot, high pressured shower.
Water pressure seems to always be the key ingredient in a good shower experience.
Nowadays showers can come with multiple heads, shooting water out of the wall and from above at the same time.
What a fantastic experience, steaming and massaging your muscles into total relaxation.
Enter the camper shower head. We hope you don't think you're going to get this type of spa shower in an RV.
Especially not if you dry camp. Water doesn't go very far when you're not attached to an endless supply!
Most standard RV shower heads are a miserable piece of the cheapest plastic likely ever made. They offer no pressure whatsoever.
Most people can NOT stand what their rig came with so they choose to do the most simple RV modification out there- the RV shower head upgrade.
Need a new camper shower head? Want to know which is best for your rig? Click the button below to read the reviews.
Camper Shower Head Guide
If your rig came with a factory-installed shower, you ARE NOT A HAPPY CAMPER.
It's no secret that these factory heads are miserable pieces of plastic with limp pressure at best. Have fun getting all the soap out of your hair with one of those.
Here's how a crappy shower head shower goes:
Shower #1- The pressure is miserable, so you turn the faucets all the way open to compensate. It's still not good.
Because you have the water flowing wide open, you run out of hot water before you are even finished. You're thinking, "that wasn't cool". You assume that maybe some of the hot water was used earlier to do dishes.
Next time you will make sure there's a full tank of hot water.
Shower #2- You make sure the hot is full, and proceed to get into the weak no-pressure shower. You certainly aren't enjoying it. Then, you run out of hot water AGAIN!
This won't do. The good news? You have options. You have to replace your camper shower head.
It's almost a given unless you get a rig that has already had a new head installed to replace the factory piece of you know what.
Another negative of the factory-installed pieces of junk is that they allow mineral build-up fairly quickly.
You can quickly end up with even less water flow once this starts to happen.
Jaime and Scott Sichler
Full-Time RVers/Bloggers at "Away We Winnebago"
Our first travel trailer had terrible water pressure.
Coupled with the standard entry-level shower head, I couldn't get the shampoo out of my hair before running out of hot water.
Desperate for a better solution, we found the Oxygenics RV shower head.
It immediately made a dramatic difference since it creates better water pressure while using less water - a win/win for boondocking.
Even with a small 6-gallon water heater tank, we've never run out of hot water.
When we got our current RV, swapping out the showerhead with a new Oxygenics RV shower head was our first purchase.
We talk a lot about our Oxygenics and are always dumbfounded when people can't grasp the benefits and chose to shower under a trickle of water.
We like it so much, we bought one for my brother's camper.
He liked it so much, he installed it in his house bathroom!
Many RVers, especially those who dry camp or boondock, are going to need an RV shower head with good flow.
They can also use things such as a low-flow or shut-off switch and a low GPM (gallon per minute) rating.
RV fresh water holding tanks are only so large and the water heater tank is also going to be way WAY smaller than the one you have at home.
Typical sizes are only around 6 to 10 gallons.
Therefore, you must conserve.
There are showerheads made for just these needs.
It's the easiest RV modification available out there and it's very inexpensive and worth it.
There's no need to suffer.
Your shower can be more enjoyable.
If the above scenario sounds like you, it's time to upgrade.
We encourage you to only buy low-flow shower heads for the simple reason that water is valuable and we can all afford to use less.
If you are dry camping, you will want one with a low flow or low GPM (gallons per minute).
Key Factors To Consider In An RV Shower Head
Will It Really Save Water?
Yes, it will.
Let's imagine using one gallon of water to try to rinse the soap off of your body.
You have two showers to take.
The first shower trickles out water.
The second shower has good pressure.
Which shower do you think will get all of the soap off of you?
You will likely need another half-gallon to get the rest of the soap off of you with the ridiculous trickle shower.
This is similar to how a good pressure shower head works.
You will use less water and in less time.
A Better RV Shower Hose
Many (most?) RVs come from the factory with a cheap shower hose that may be too short, and is probably not super flexible.
Fortunately, there is an easy solution to this 'issue'.
Camp Addict Marshall has been using a Dura Faucet flexible stainless steel shower hose to replace the crappy plastic one that came with his rig.
He made the switch in December of 2017 and hasn't missed the old one at all.
The flexible RV shower hose that Marshall uses only comes in a 60-inch length but has multiple color options (his is white).
If you need a longer shower hose, we have included another brand (KES) that comes in 79-inch and-100-inch lengths, but only in the stainless color.
Both brands of RV shower hoses use 1/2" pipe thread fittings, which is the standard used in RVs (and houses).
Choose Color (60")
Choose Length (79" or 100")
Will A Water Saving Shower Head Save Me Money?
You bet it will.
The average shower lasts about 8 minutes.
A regular non-saving shower head will use about 3.8 gallons of water per minute.
At that rate, you would use about 30 gallons of water.
That could be your entire fresh water tank!
If you have a family of four, you are in trouble.
With a lower flow shower head AND the tip below, you will also save money on water if you are boondocking and have to pay for a fresh water fill.
Many places charge to fill up your RV fresh water tank.
The less you use, the less you spend.
Problems With Water Flow 'Stoppers' In RV Shower Heads
So, if you have an RV shower head and you have the kind with a trickle valve that is supposed to slow the flow, you may have noticed that it DOESN'T completely stop the flow.
It purposely takes it down to a dribble.
What's this silliness about?
I, Kelly, got an Oxygenics Body Spa shower head with the flow control (Oxygenics calls it a SmartPause® valve).
I'm happy with the pressure but have been very unhappy with how my Oxygenics doesn't totally stop the flow (I know, they don't claim to try to fully stop the flow).
The dribble must have to do with the fact that most RV's (and houses) don't have a flow restrictor valve.
In theory, this valve keeps the water from turning freezing cold or scalding hot when stopped via a valve like the one we are talking about.
Showerhead companies are just protecting their butts from getting sued.
(Though, even when I used the trickle valve on my Oxygenics, my water still turned cold. Go figure.)
However, there are big issues with the dribble, at least for me.
I know some other friends that have had these same complaints.
Oxygenics Shut-Off Valve 'Dribble' Comparison.
We made this comparison to show you that not all shower dribble experiences are the same. It depends on the water pressure in your rig.
A factory equipped RV shower head with on/off switch will still leak with the valve in the 'off' position. It's an industry standard, not a design flaw (but we see a lot of flaws about it).
The Oxygenics RV shower head shut-off valve is called a SmartPause® valve and is not designed to shut off water flow completely. This is what the FAQs from the Oxygenics website say about the SmartPause® valve:
Our SmartPause® valve does not function as a shut off valve. It allows you to minimize the shower pressure down to a pencil-size stream. This is a necessary safety feature as hot water can back up in the water line when water is stopped. This can result in the hot water spilling into the cold water channel – creating a high risk of scalding.
The first video is Camp Addict Co-Founder Marshall's shower head.
It puts out way more water than Camp Addict Co-Founder Kelly's shower head (second video).
The amount of water coming out will be related to how strong your RV water pump is, or the pressure from the city water source you're connected to.
You can solve the 'problem' of your shower head dribbling by adding your own non-leaking RV shower valve.
Add Shut-Off Valve At Your Own Risk!
Marshall's Oxygenics RV Shower Head
Kelly's Oxygenics RV Shower Head
What's so bad about it?
Well first, it's still wasteful.
The water that trickles out is wasted and your pump kicks on to up the pressure, so you are wasting battery power, too.
That's not the worst part.
The worst part is while it is dripping as I said, mine starts getting very cold.
I (Kelly) couldn't let my shower head stay up on the mount because the water dripping would splash on me, and on the floor making my shower VERY uncomfortable.
So I would let it hang on the floor of the shower while I lathered.
Then, because it was cold, I had to be very careful when I turned it back on to not get any on me.
(But usually, I did get splashed some. NOT comfortable.)
Then MORE water gets wasted once you turn it on because you have to wait for it to warm up before you use it.
It's been very frustrating and has made for a much less comfortable shower than necessary.
This is a super annoying 'feature' of any shower head 'low-flow' valve.
I scoured the internet looking for an answer.
I even wrote Oxygenics an email to ask them why these devices purposefully 'leak'.
They replied with a stock answer that didn't even come close to answering my specific question.
All I ever found out on the internet was that it's supposed to prevent scalding. Hmm.
Well, I sure wasn't getting scalded, instead, I was getting frozen!
I could have been getting scalded, had the hot water been under higher pressure than the cold water.
It's a flawed idea and design.
After sending that email, I kept looking, and I FINALLY found an answer!
It's a very thorough answer, too.
It came in the video below from FitRV.
All you need to correct it is a separate shut-off valve and a check valve.
Leaky Low-Flow Valve & Water Temperature Issue Fix
Finding a shut-off valve that TOTALLY stops the flow is not easy.
However, we have linked to one below.
It's fairly simple- if your water gets cold when you shut it 'off' (with the switch that comes on your shower head), you need to install a check valve on the hot water side of your shower lines.
If your water instead gets hot, you need to install a check valve on the cold side of your shower water lines.
(NOTE: There may be an issue with installing the check valve that James mentions in the above video. See below for more information.)
Then, you also may connect a flow stopper valve either to the head end of your shower head, or to the base end of the shower head where it attaches to the shower itself.
This will take care of both problems- the temperature change and the constant drip of water.
If you so choose to take this action, you can use any shower head that you like!
It turns any shower head into one with a stopper valve.
This is why we reviewed 'non-RV' shower heads as well as RV shower heads.
Flow Stopper Valve/Backflow Valve Installation Test
5/23/17: Both Kelly and Marshall got the back flow preventer and the shut-off valve.
We each only installed the shut-off valve.
Both of us have had NO issues with water leakage or with a temperature change. VICTORY! We still recommend installing a backflow preventer on the side that is effecting your water temperature. (See below regarding the backflow preventer.)
Still, we have each had showers with no issues with the temperature changing, and the showers no longer drip.
The 'cold shower blast' seems to be solved!
Your mileage may vary.
Back Flow Valve Installation Issue
We didn't have to install the back flow valve in either of our rigs.
The shut-off valve did the trick and there wasn't any noticeable change in water temperature when using the shut-off valve only.
We were recently contacted by a reader that tried to install the check valve and noted that the threads were incompatible with his RV's plumbing.
So we took out the check valves we ordered and verified that there is indeed an issue. We contacted James (the guy in the above video) for his thoughts.
He explained that he's never experienced this issue.
This shows us that each rig will be different.
This particular backflow valve may, or may not, work for you (it didn't work for us or at least one reader).
Therefore we are removing the check valve from the below 'purchase' section.
Below is a comparable water shut-off valve to the referenced in the above video (the referenced one is not currently available) and functionally identical to the ones that Marshall and Kelly installed in their rigs per this section.
We no longer recommend the water check valve that James mentioned in the video due to the possibility of incompatible threads.
Water Shut-Off Valve
You do not have to buy a shower head made specifically for RVs for your RV.
However, there are good ones out there that use very little gallons per minute (GPM) and come with the low-flow valve.
You have the freedom of using any of the different types of RV shower heads you wish.
This is because you can install your own flow stopper which will truly stop all of the water flow.
In other words, you aren't restricted to using a product marketed as an RV shower head.
An RV shower is not usually known to be a super luxurious thing.
But today it can be better than it used to be with technology's help.
Whichever you use, get out there and use it while you go camping.
If you need help choosing a shower head, we have reviewed RV shower heads below.
We let you know which ones we think are the best and why.
Read on for more details.
Kelly Beasley is co-founder of Camp Addict and loves sharing her enthusiasm for the RVing lifestyle. As a full-time RVer since May 2015, Kelly's playful writing style helps make learning about the sometimes dull subject of RV products a bit more interesting.
Camp Addict co-founder Marshall Wendler brings his technical expertise to help explain RV products in an easy to understand fashion. Full-time RVing since April 2014, Marshall loves sharing his knowledge of the RV lifestyle.