steam shower - steam generator recommendations
I'm doing a complete gut and remodel of my master bathroom. The shower will include a steam shower. I've googled and googled and haven't found much in the way of discussion. Some of brands offer quick steam, others offer 2 heating elements and they all have optional "fancy" control units. There's just not a lot of chatter from folks that have steam showers to help me decide if maybe I'm over looking some feature that might make it worth the extra $$$'s. Are they all the same or is there something I should be looking for?
The other concern I have it putting an electronic control right in the shower. I just know over time (years) it is going to go bad. I'll be putting the control wire in a conduit so it will be easier to replace when it fails. The engineer in me would have put the fancy electronics outside the shower and just a bulb thermostat inside with the water, soap, calcium deposits and steam. (But everyone seems to do it the same way, so maybe it's ok)
Opinions / suggestions for brand and features would be highly welcomed.
Steam Shower Recommendations - John Whipple (North Vancouver)
Here in Vancouver I have worked with "Relax - A - Mist", "Mr. Steam" , "ThermaSol", "Kohler", "Steamist" and "Roma" steamer units.
Of these six I like how quite and fast the "ThermaSol" unit is the most. I would say the "Relax - A - Mist" is the cheapest unit of the lot but does offer up a good steam shower experience. There are many parts and features to a steam system and understanding how to size the steam unit is key to an enjoyable experience or not.
Lets take a quick look at an average steam shower (well maybea little larger than average)
Lets say you have a 4' wide by 5' long shower with a 8' ceiling height.
What is the right steam unit for your shower? Is there more info that's needed? Does your choice in tile affect the choice in generators???
Lets look at the top five choices right now in North America. Those being steam generators by Amerec, Kohler, ThermaSol, Steamist and Mr. Steam
Currently you could install one of these units....
#1) ThermaSol Pro 240
#2) Mr. Steam MS400E
#3) Steamist TSG-10
#4) Kohler K1733
#5) Amerec 3K10
There are very little codes in regards to Steam Showers so when your planning your project understand that these units can most times just be dropped next to the steamer and hooked up. I would advise you to follow the commercial guidelines and opt for extra safety and piece of mind. Consider placement and service of the unit in your bathrooms lay out.
For my sizing I used the shower measurements listed and took in to consideration that Marble tile would be used. That there was a fixed bench roughly 6 cubic feet in size. That two walls (7'x8') where glass and that the one 4' wall was an exterior wall. Working through the different selection tools is confusing but when you step back and then look at one key number - The Kilo Watts you see a common theme emerging.
The KW's for the units above are;
#1) ThermaSol Pro 240 - 10KW
#2) Mr. Steam MS400E - 9KW
#3) Steamist TSG-10 - 10KW
#4) Kohler K1733 - 9KW
#5) Amerec 3K10 - 10KW
Good Luck. If you need help sizing your next steam generator like this lady from California please send me an email and I'll explain the process to you. Come back and let us know what you decided and why..
Roma Steamer in Yale Town Vancouver in action
Here is a wonderful project we did in Yaletown, Vancouver.
Hooking up the ROMA Steam unit was fairly straight forward but getting it working was a huge pain in the ass. We had to have both the electrician and plumber onsite at the same time to do fine adjustments and in the end it did not work right.
Turns out you need a separate filter or cartridge depending on the water in your city. Not so great when your client wants to use the steamer and your waiting. Not to mention the extra charges from the plumber to re and re the old one!
Steam Shower Code and Guidelines in Vancouver
Here in Vancouver there is just about "Zero" code when it comes to steam shower construction. I was in my local city hall last week and had a brief meeting with my plumbing inspector to review the basics.
Pretty much as long as the water lines and electrical are done right you can pop a steamer in place and destroy your home if you wish... Crazt that there is no codes in place.
Out in West Vancouver I have some new clients where this is just the case. The tile setting crew banged on some 1/4" hardi Board over 1/2" Agua Board and installed some Travertine with Mastic!
This is a very fast way to build a steamer. The Steam Shower is large - big enough for the family of five who lives there. It was supposed to be a place for the family to unwind after a day on the slopes. Now it is a non-functioning shower. It's molding. They can't use it as a steamer or the tiles will start popping off...
There are a hundred different variables in constructing a Steam Shower. Research. Study. Ask Questions and go from there.
Post a link or send an email. There are lots of men right here that can help with your build...
Perm Ratings for steam showers
Currently in Vancouver the best product for steam shower construction is NobelSeal TS. It out preforms Kerdi and all the liquid membranes in performance. Schluter now has a thicker version which is a great choice for a steam shower called Kerdi DS.
Remember that steam showers generate steam and heat. Heat causes expansion. Non-modified thinset does not handle this very well. You are much better off with the Nobel TS membrane and modified thin-set than a Kerdi steam shower and non-modified thin set. If you prefer the Kerdi system use Kerdi DS and thin-sets from Ardex which are allowed with Kerdi DS and allowed to be modified.
Here is a little info on this point;
By Any Design Ltd.
Steam Lights by ThermaSol
So we have finished our second ThermaSol Steam shower installation and my love affair with these units is only grown stronger. The unit is so quick to fire up and so quite. The sound and light kit that came with the Ultimate package rocks and my client is thrilled.
She found that 109F was the perfect temperature for her. I think she took three steams alone yesterday!
Here is a peak at my latest steamer. The apartment is in Vancouver and is a steel stud and concrete building.