Heated Outdoor Shower: Pros, Cons & Design Tips
Author: Omar Alonso | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
The summer heat and winter dirty work can be a pain and that's why many people install a heated outdoor shower nowadays. Cold water can be quite the shock during either of these times. These showers don't only come in handy for rinsing off after hopping out of the pool, but you can also clean up dirt and grime, and more.
An outdoor shower with hot water is a perfect thing to have in these cases. You'll actually have the luxury of having either hot or cold water. When rinsing off sweat and sand, cleaning up muddy boots and tools, why not do it in the comfort of warm water instead of water that's always just way too cold?
No one's going to disagree that a nice hot shower hits the spot when you need one. This guide will be everything you need to know about it. We'll also look at the pros, cons, and different ways of getting hot water to an outdoor shower. So, let's get started.
The Pros & Cons of a Heated Outdoor Shower
Okay, let's be honest. A shower can be super nice and takes away all the fatigue. And if you install a heated option, you're pretty much golden. Most people install showers outdoors for a couple of reasons. And this can vary from person to person.
But generally, it's either to wash off after coming out from the pool or spa or from doing yard work. You might want a quick rinse. Or it could also be just to get a quick shower after an intense workout session. Some might even use it just as a normal shower after a long day.
And there's something freeing and very relaxing about using outdoor types of showers. They're luxurious and can help you pamper yourself. These are mostly installed around the outer parameters of a house.
Typically, near a swimming pool or a garden. Just imagining it is making you wonder, isn't it? Having an outdoor shower with a heater would be awesome and relaxing; that’s true. But it's not all roses and sunshine.
There are both pros and cons to it. Let's look into why you would want to have a heated shower outdoors or not - the pros and cons.
Pros of a Heated Outdoor Shower
Installing an outdoor heater shower can be an enriching experience and it can be super relaxing as well. So, here are some of the reasons why you might want to.
Option for Both Hot & Cold Water
You have to agree this is a nice convenience to have. You don't need to get any hot water from somewhere else or inside your home. It's available right there where you installed your outdoor shower with your knobs at the perfect shower valve height.
If you want, you can choose to take a hot or cold shower. Both options are available. Choose whichever you feel like. Just because you're outside doesn't mean you won't need all the parts of a shower, which also means you'll get all of the same conveniences and enjoyment.
They're very spacious and it just gives you a different vibe to the whole thing. It's much more relaxing and feels spacious compared to a normal bathroom inside a house. You need to experience it to get a full understanding. And you'll fall in love with it once you use it.
Cons of a Heated Outdoor Shower
Well, apart from the pros, there are some minor cons as well. These are just basic housekeeping stuff. And nothing that'll be a complete deal breaker. Let's check out why you might want to avoid a shower outdoors.
When you have a shower outdoors, cleaning it can get a bit messy. Dirt, leaves, and insects can make it dirty. So, you might need to clean it from time to time. But you can also combat this issue with the design of an outdoor shower. Be proactive and design it to be easily cleaned.
A Bit of an Extravagance
We won't disagree that these showers are a bit of a luxury. Setting one up can be expensive. All the costs would mostly be for the fixtures, fittings, and maintenance. That might be a small nuisance for some.
Safety & Design Notes for an Outdoor Heated Shower
You can't get excitable or over-confident and just build your outdoor shower, heated or not, simply because you have a rudimentary knowledge and experience with the tools and tasks involved. Take note of the following concerns first.
First and foremost, you must isolate the shower from any electrical outlets, extensions cords (which can become frayed), and any other source of electricity. you can start by removing your standard electrical outlets and replacing them with GCFI outlets, which means ground-fault circuit interrupted outlets.
If those outlets begin passing electricity through stray water, which could make it's way to your feet in the shower, it will also ground out, which will cause the circuit to break itself, stay tripped, and stop passing voltage and current through. This goes for pool house showers, pool-side showers, cabin showers, and any outdoor shower.
Outdoor Plumbing During Winter
You will absolutely need to remember to winterize your water line by using an air compressor to carefully blow out any remaining water in the shower and plumbing before the first freeze arrives. It doesn't take long for water to freeze in small, spread out volumes. Because water expands when frozen, this can severely damage your lines, causing you to need to dig them out of the ground and replace them.
Another option is to add an air vent, which is a tee valve that allows the water to drain out of the line at the lowest point, basically letting gravity do the work. The main point is that you must remove the water from the line. Simply turning the water off at the main valve will not be sufficient.
Tile & Grout Damage
Without installing the proper Class V tile (which means it's designed for and okay to use outdoors), you'll have problems such as cracking during the freezing and thawing that will happen several times over the winter. This is because tile that's not meant for outdoor usage will expand and contract like water will.
You may consider using shower tile alternatives like wood paneling, not only on any walls if you create them, but even as the flooring instead of using tiling or a shower pan. Your options will depend on where this shower is being built, of course.
When it comes to the tile grout, avoid mortar grout because it too will expand and contract, cracking in the process. What you want to use is an outdoor silicon caulk. This sealant can expand and contract just fine since it is flexible, which won't allow moisture and water to get behind the tile.
Water Drainage Directions
This consideration needs to take into account both rainfall and water from your outdoor shower head. The base needs a drain that carries water away from any electrical sources and from any soil you don't want eroding, such as near the foundation of your cabin or pool.
Not only should the flooring of the outdoor heated shower be built in such a way that it directs water towards the drain, but the drain needs to remain unclogged and exit in a safe location. The landscape around the shower needs to direct other water away from the site as well. Since you're outdoors, you might consider making it a zero threshold shower to reduce any tripping hazards.
DIY Kits for a Heated Outdoor Shower
So, here's the thing. Outdoor showers aren't commonly heated. You need to use a kits to have the option of hot water or get ready for some serious plumbing work. The good news is that there are many different ways to achieve this.
And you can pick and choose which outdoor shower kit with hot water is right for you. Of course, some are more expensive than others. But that is just how it works. Here are your options:
Let's start with the most eco-friendly option—good old solar power. If you love DIY projects, you'll love this one. And the best part is, it isn't even that expensive. So, you can probably get this project done over the weekends if you're determined enough. Not a bad way to spend the weekend, if you ask us.
Okay, what's the process? You'll need to start with a black hose. Black absorbs the most sunlight. So, it'll make it efficient. Roll it into a coil and install it on the roof. You must install it somewhere where it'll get the most sunlight.
The idea is cold water will flow through the coils and heat up. Now, you can get 5 minutes of hot water. But if you need it to last long, you can make the coils larger as well.
Keep in mind that this is just a simple DIY project. If you're looking for a more robust solution, then the other options might be your best bet. If you want to know how to make an outdoor shower with hot water, don't assume this is the best option just because it's eco-friendly.
Tankless Gas Water Heater
The second option is to use a tankless gas water heater. These types of water heaters are pretty innovative and recent ones. This starts heating the water when you turn the faucet on and practically eliminates one of the major cons of a normal water heating system, which is standby energy losses and voluminous leaks.
Let us explain. With a normal tank-style water heater, the thermometer inside it will check for the water temperature. If the water isn't hot enough, it'll reheat the water. And this is done every time the water isn't at a certain hot temperature, even if no hot water was used at all.
As you might imagine, it's pretty wasteful. Tankless gas water heaters are much more efficient. They only heat the water when hot water is demanded. That means no energy loss whatsoever.
And it's especially great if your heated outdoor shower is far from your house. There might be a ton of reasons why you need it to be far from the outer walls of your bathroom or house.
Maybe there's just no space available. Or you want the outdoor shower to be near the entrance or swimming pool. A tankless gas water heater is the way to go in that case.
This system only uses a single, bundled type of PEX pipe that has both hot and cold in it, both insulated. That means you can use the outdoor shower just like the one inside your bathroom, which makes it super convenient. You'll have hot water and cold water on demand. Since they're an innovation, they aren't the cheapest option, though.
While this DIY outdoor shower with hot water is the easiest to build, the inclusion of the tankless gas water heater won't be cheap, and if you don't want to deal with gas tanks and refilling them you'll need to call the utility company to connect you to the gas line.
Connecting to Your Home Water System
This one's the least costly. Think of it as getting hot water for an outdoor shower rather than heating the water on location. You'll use your house's existing hot water supply for the outdoor shower. For this to work, you need to build the shower close to the hot water source.
It'll make it easier to run piping if the water supply is close and might even reduce the costs further. Typically, if it's possible, you would want to build the outdoor shower on the outer side of the bathrooms that are inside.
Doing this will allow you to run or extend tubing to the shower. The pipes can be installed up the side of the house and attached to the shower. Pretty easy and convenient. However, you do have the option to build it a bit away from your house. But that'll require a bit more work and piping.
If your heated outdoor shower is away from the house, then you might want to take the piping underground. You'll need to use PEX tubing as well. Here's the thing, though, this can be done in a DIY fashion.
But if the distance is long, you risk dropping too much pressure and you might need to look for a plumber. If you know what you're doing and have experience, then there's nothing to worry about. You're golden. Just remember to insulate your PEX pipe.
A Heated Outdoor Shower is an Amazing Luxury
A heated outdoor shower can turn your outdoor space into a super relaxing zone. And it's also very convenient. Having hot and cold water on demand outside in the garden or the swimming pool is pretty fantastic. And not to mention the freeing feeling of taking a nice and relaxing shower under the sun.