The History of the Hot Water Shower

There’s nothing quite like a hot shower to wake you up in the morning and to rid you of the days’ sweat and grime in the evening; refreshing, relaxing and reinvigorating. Showers punctuate our day and work both practically and holistically to benefit our lives. In the family home, the shower system gets just as much use as the TV set, motor car or computer and yet most of us won’t know anything about the history of its invention.


Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since William Feetham first invented his ‘Patented Shower Bath’ in the late 18th century. It was rather an ugly device which the user had to physically pump by hand only to be rewarded with a short drizzle of cold and recycled water. One hundred years later and we had only just overcome the use of the hand pump with the reinvention of home and commercial plumbing systems. In fact it wasn’t until much later that we had the ability to affordably heat the water we use for our showers.

During the 1960’s the western world began to increasingly adopt the use of an electric shower. Gaining popularity because of the way they could heat water without the use of a hot water tank, electric showers started their lives in the homes of the rich as luxurious health aids. In the 1970’s showers became popular replacements for communal baths in institutions such as military barracks, boarding schools and public baths. It was not until the 1980’s however, that manufacturing company’s really began to respond to public demand. Soon after, the affordable shower solution had taken the bath’s place as the most common way to clean ones self.
Today, more than 90% of Australia’s homes have a heated shower system. Modern showers can heat water in less than 1 minute and, if installed properly, deliver high water pressure straight from the mains supply. They are as varied as they are ubiquitous; some showers include multiple spray nozzles at different heights in the shower directing the water at different parts of the users body simultaneously whilst others boast ‘tropical’ multi coloured lighting systems.

Compared to bath tubs, showers are more efficient on space, installation cost, water heating and water wastage, they are also considerably safer. All of this could not be possible if not for the invention of the ‘tankless’ or ‘instantaneous’ hot water heater. Today’s electric showers use these systems to heat water very quickly without a large water tank. The water is heated with a copper element capable of producing up to 18Kwh of power. Instantaneous hot water units are fairly uncomplicated devices and can be installed anywhere in a house.

A truly valuable invention is marked by its indispensible place in society. The electric shower is something that most of us simply cannot do without and yet they are most certainly not infallible and the appropriate level of care and expertise are needed when installing, maintaining and repairing the unit. Dr.Drip Plumbing Professionals can give you just that!