Shower timers are an important part of any bathroom. Besides helping you save time, they can help you save money by ensuring you don’t run up the water and electricity bills. The best shower timers have different features that help you customize your experience. But the most important feature is the ability to open the water supply with a simple push of the button and close it once the time is up.
If you’ve been to most hotels or campsites, you’ve probably seen or even used a shower timer. We have discussed the working principle of a shower timer and how they use electric valves to effectively manage water flow.
Understanding Electric Valves
Electric or solenoid valves are powered by electricity and controlled by a switch mounted on the wall near where they will be installed. They are rapidly replacing manual valves, proving to be a more efficient way to control water and electricity usage in modern bathrooms.
When you turn on the switch, power flows through the inductive coil inside the solenoid valve. The coil becomes an electromagnet, exerting force on a plunger that opens the valve, allowing unrestricted water flow to the shower head.
One of the benefits of using electric valves is that they can be used with shower timers that also act as automatic switches. Instead of using a switch to close the valve and restrict water flow after every bathing session, you use shower timers that automatically count up to the predetermined number of minutes before switching off the valve.
The switching action of the timer works similarly to the ordinary power switch as it restricts power flow to the solenoid valve. When no electric current passes through the valve, the inductive coil becomes demagnetized. The spring action pulls back the plunger, closing the valve and restricting water flow to the shower head.
How Solenoid Valves and Shower Timers Work
We will look at the application example below to understand how electrical valves and shower timers work.
Ideally, the system has one switch installed inside or outside the bathroom or shower space. All you need to do is to press the switch (A) when you want to shower, and the valve and shower head will remain open until the timer goes off.
When the switch is closed, the solenoid/electric valve (C) and timer (B) are powered. The valve will remain open for the set time, say 8 minutes. Once the 8 minutes are over, the timer will go off, cutting off power to the valve and restricting the water supply to the shower head.
Most shower timer and solenoid valve installations come with an easy-to-use interface that allows you to customize the number of minutes you want to bathe before the timer goes off. If you take less time to bathe than the minutes programmed into the timer and valve, you should be able to close the valve using the switch.
For this case, it would be ideal to have the switch inside the bathroom but installed in a way that it doesn’t come in contact with water or should be rated for wet areas such that it doesn’t pose a safety risk when switching it off/on with wet hands.
Choosing a Solenoid Valve for Your Shower Installation
Whether you want to install your shower valve and shower time in a campsite, hotel or home, you want to choose the right solenoid valve for the job. The valve should be made of the right housing and seal material and, most importantly, compatible with your shower timer. In most applications, a normally closed (NC) brass solenoid valve with an EPDM seal and a piping connection of at least a half-inch would work best.
Such a valve would be compatible with most programmable digital timers. When installed correctly, you should be able to configure the settings to ensure the timer remains ON for a given period once the shower switch is on. This installation can be used with hot water and cold water alike. For hot showers, the light switch will simultaneously power the heater attached to the shower head, the solenoid valve and the timer. Once the timer goes off, it cuts off the power supply to the solenoid valve and the water heater. For convenience, the timer should reset automatically once the user presses the ON/OFF light switch.
And while most solenoid valves can work with digital timers, it’s essential to choose those designed to work with shower timers from known manufacturers. For instance, not all 2-way solenoid valves from one manufacturer will be compatible with digital timers from a different manufacturer. And even if they may work well during testing, they may not be fully compatible and may result in efficiency or performance issues down the line.
If you are buying a solenoid valve or shower time for the first time, you want to seek help from an experienced and trusted professional. It’s easy to make mistakes during the selection process, so you want to pick the right products the first time.