I must confess, I love Wikipedia. 😀
Now I know what some people are going to say; and yes, those articles could have been written by a six-year-old in Yugoslavia. But who’s to say a six-year-old can’t contribute to an article on stochastic processes? Alright, granted, not all of the information you find on the internet is accurate, Wikipedia included. But for the most part, it’s still pretty good reading. Next to the “Random Article” button, what I like most about Wikipedia is that everything is linked. One minute you’ll be reading an article on syncrotrons, then ten minutes and three clicks later you can find yourself on a page about slinkies.
I’m telling you all of this because, while reading Wikipedia’s page on energy conversion efficiency, I noticed a reference to the “electric shower.” I’d never heard of such a thing before, and my first thoughts ran to this one very important principle:
Water and electricity don’t mix.
So how could an electric shower be anything positive? Perhaps this was slang for some kind of strange torture device. “Yes, send Mr. Bond to the electric shower!” Or maybe it wasn’t so malevolent. Possibly a futuristic Jetsons-type shower? Well strangely, WikiPedia didn’t have a full article on electric showers, so instead I tried the Google.
As it turns out, the electric shower is essentially just a normal shower, but with its own built-in heating elements. Now I’ve heard of tankless and on-demand water heaters before, but never ones built right into a shower head. Apparently they’re more common in the UK (where they’re no doubt safe and effective) as well as in parts of South America, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico (where they’re often considered a health hazard).
If you overlook the inherent safety issues involved here, this isn’t such a bad idea. Putting the heater right where it’s needed certainly cuts down on wasted water and energy. But wow, these things do suck a lot of power. Models here are rated from 7,500W to 10,800W. Operating the latter would be equivalent to leaving seven clothes irons running simultaneously. But hey, unlike a tank water heater, the heating element only operates briefly, so long-term your energy usage should be lower. Plus, Wikipedia claims that the energy conversion efficiency of an electric shower is between 90 and 95%, which is impressive. Some models even work with low water pressures because they contain their own pumps. I must say, it’s pretty cool what you can discover online.