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Is 1.8 GPM good for a shower head?

Is 1.8 GPM good for a shower head?

Shower heads play an important role in our daily bathing. The feeling of a steady stream of warm water is refreshing and energizing, leaving you feeling clean and energized. As society places an increasing emphasis on water conservation and efficiency, many people are raising questions about the optimal flow rate for shower heads. Common inquiries include:  "what is gpm shower head?" "Why should we care about GPM?" "What is WaterSense?" "Is 1.8 GPM good for a shower head?" "1.8 gpm vs 2.0 gpm vs 2.5 gpm shower head, which one is best?" "Maximum shower head GPM allowed per U.S. state" “Difference between water flow and water pressure”“what is the best gpm for a shower head?”and other questions. In this article, we will delve into these questions and explore various GPM-related issues associated with shower heads.

shower head

What is GPM Shower Head?

GPM stands for "gallons per minute," and when referring to a shower head, it represents the flow rate or volume of water delivered by the shower head per minute. It is a measure of water efficiency that indicates how much water a shower head uses during operation.

Shower heads come in a range of GPM ratings, which affect water consumption and the water pressure of your shower. Lower GPM values are associated with water-saving or low-flow showerheads designed to reduce water usage without compromising the showering experience. Conversely, higher GPM values indicate higher flow rates and, potentially, stronger water flow.

For example, a 1.5 GPM shower head uses 1.5 gallons of water per minute, while a 2.5 GPM shower head uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute. The choice of GPM often comes down to personal preference, local water regulations and the balance between saving water and maintaining a satisfying showering experience. Many modern shower heads are designed to provide a comfortable experience even with low GPM ratings through innovative technologies that optimize water distribution.

shower head

Why Should We Care About GPM?

It turns out that the GPM of your shower head is very important. As a water conservation measure, U.S. government regulations limit the maximum flow rate of shower heads to 2.5 GPM. Some places experiencing drought and water shortages have even tighter restrictions. If you're trying to pursue a greener lifestyle, GPM is an important metric to consider. Showering is one of the most water-intensive activities we do at home, so paying attention to the flow rate of your shower head can have a big impact on your water bill and carbon footprint. Low-flow shower heads with a GPM of 2.0 or less can save the average household 2,700 gallons of water per year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) . This saves a lot of water.

More shower facts from the EPA:

  • Every year, showers in the U.S. use almost 1.2 trillion gallons of water.
  • The average family uses 40 gallons of water per day just for showering.
  • Showering accounts for almost 17% of residential indoor water usage.

What is WaterSense? How Does it Relate to Shower Head Flow?

In 1992, the EPA created the voluntary WaterSense program to encourage people and businesses to conserve water. The scheme's label is now synonymous with efficiency, and you'll find it on everything from toilets to faucets to shower heads.

Products bearing the WaterSense label must undergo rigorous testing to ensure they meet certain standards. One of these criteria is flow rate. Shower heads must have a maximum flow rate of 2.0 GPM or less. WaterSense also sets the performance standard. The label only applies to products that have been independently verified to use 20% less water than similar products without compromising on quality.

shower head

Maximum Shower Head GPM Allowed per U.S. State

In 1992, the federal government mandated a maximum flow rate of 2.5 GPM for new shower heads. This changed the shower world forever. Since then, the law states that no more than 2.5 gallons of water can flow out per minute.

Over time, the shower head's flow rate gradually decreases. If your shower head was made in the 1980s or 1990s, you can get 3.5 GPM.

Although 2.5 GPM is the federally mandated rate, in some states the rate is even lower.

According to the EPA, if every home in America switched to a 2.0 GPM WaterSense labeled shower, we could save more than 260 billion gallons of water per year. Showers account for about 17 percent of indoor residential water use, they said. 73% of models on the market already meet Water Sense standards.

While federal law allows 2.5 GPM shower heads, some states restrict residential indoor water use even further. Below we’ll list the maximum GPM for shower heads by state in the United States. Most states have retained the federal 2.5 GMP requirement. We list only states with a maximum value below 2.5.

  • California: Since July 1, 2018, the standard for showerheads sold in California is 1.8 GPM.
  • Washington: The state requires a maximum of 1.8 GPM.
  • Hawaii: The state requires a maximum of 1.8 GPM.
  • Oregon: Shower heads have a maximum flow rate of 1.8 GPM.
  • Colorado: Showerheads cannot exceed 2.0 GPM.
  • Maine: The rules of the state require that showerheads’ maximal flow rate does not exceed 2.0 GMP at 60 PSI.
  • Massachusetts: The showerhead flow rate cannot be greater than 2.0 GPM at 80 PSI by law in MA.
  • New York: Showerheads cannot exceed 2.0 GPM at 80 PSI.
  • Vermont: The showerhead flow rate cannot exceed 2.0 GPM.

Local governments are also taking action. Sometimes their regulations are even stricter than state and national regulations. For example, in West Hollywood, California, all shower heads must have a maximum flow rate of 1.5 GPM and carry the WaterSense label.

Some communities also offer incentives and rebates to residents who voluntarily install low-flow shower heads. These are usually provided through local utility companies, so check with your water provider to find out what their incentive programs are.

shower head

Difference Between Water Flow and Water Pressure

Water flow and water pressure are two different concepts, but they are closely related and both play an important role in determining the performance of water fixtures such as faucets and shower heads. Here's a breakdown of the difference between flow and water pressure:

Water flow (flow rate):

  • Definition: Flow, usually measured in gallons per minute (GPM), is the amount of water that passes through a pipe or fixture during a specific period of time (usually one minute).
  • Units: Gallons per minute (GPM) is a common unit for measuring flow.
  • Example: If a faucet has a flow rate of 2 GPM, that means 2 gallons of water will flow through the pipe in one minute.

Water pressure:

  • Definition: Water pressure is the force that water exerts on the surfaces it contacts. In plumbing, measurements are usually made in pounds per square inch (psi).
  • Units: Pounds per square inch (psi) is a common unit for measuring water pressure.
  • Example: Water pressure of 60 psi means there is 60 pounds of force per square inch pushing water through the pipe.

Main differences:

  • Conceptual difference: Flow is the movement of water, indicating how much water is transported, while hydraulic pressure is the force of water, indicating how hard the water is pushed.
  • Units of Measurement: Flow is measured in gallons per minute (GPM), liters per minute, etc., while water pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (psi) or other pressure units.
  • Impact on fixtures: Flow rate affects how quickly water is delivered from your fixtures, thus affecting your water usage. Water pressure affects the force with which water flows from the fixture, thus affecting the strength of the flow.
  • Impact on performance: Low water pressure may result in weak or slow water flow even at higher flow rates, while low flow rates (low GPM) may result in reduced water usage but does not necessarily mean low water pressure.

In summary, flow (flow) measures the amount of water flowing through a system, while water pressure measures the force with which the water moves. These two factors are critical in determining the efficiency and performance of plumbing fixtures in residential and commercial environments.

shower head

Is 1.8 GPM Good for Shower Head?

Whether 1.8 GPM is considered "good" for a shower head depends on a variety of factors, including personal preference, water conservation goals, and local regulations. Here are some considerations to help you decide if 1.8 GPM is right for your needs:

1.8 GPM Shower Head Benefits:

  • Water Conservation: The 1.8 GPM shower head is designed to be very water efficient, helping to reduce overall water usage. This helps the environment and may lower water bills.
  • Comply with Regulations: In some areas, there are regulations that specify the maximum flow rate allowed for shower heads. 1.8 GPM shower heads may meet or exceed these standards, ensuring compliance with local regulations.
  • Cost Savings: Reducing water usage with a 1.8 GPM shower head can save you money on your water bill over time.


  • Water Pressure: Reducing the flow rate may affect the water pressure you feel while showering. Some people prefer higher flows for a refreshing experience, so consider your preference for water pressure.
  • Personal Comfort: Shower experience is subjective. While some may feel that a flow rate of 1.8 GPM is sufficient, others may prefer a higher flow rate for a more traditional, satisfying shower experience.
  • Technical Features: Some modern shower heads are designed with advanced technologies, such as aeration or laminar flow, to maintain a satisfying showering experience even at lower flows.

Decision Tips:

  • Check local regulations: Check to see if your area has specific regulations regarding the maximum flow allowed by a shower head.
  • Consider water pressure: If you value powerful water flow, you may want to explore shower heads that can balance lower flows with optimized water pressure technology.
  • Read Reviews: Look for reviews of specific 1.8 GPM shower heads to see what other people’s experiences were like. This can provide insights into performance and user satisfaction.

Ultimately, choosing a shower head with a flow rate of 1.8 GPM is a balance between water conservation, personal comfort, and compliance with regulations. If you're environmentally conscious and willing to settle for a slightly lower flow rate, a 1.8 GPM shower head might be a good choice. However, personal preference and local regulations should play a large role in your decision-making process.

What is the Best GPM for a Shower Head?

The best GPM (gallons per minute) for a shower head depends on personal preference, water conservation goals, and local regulations. There is no one standard answer because people have different preferences for water pressure and overall shower experience. However, here are some general guidelines:

  • Conserve Water: If you prioritize water conservation and want to reduce your environmental impact, consider a low-flow shower head with a GPM of 1.5 or 1.8. These can significantly reduce water usage without sacrificing too much on the shower experience.
  • Balance Protection and Comfort: For those who want to balance water conservation with a more traditional showering experience, a shower head in the 2.0 to 2.5 GPM range may be suitable. They offer a good compromise between water conservation and a satisfying shower.
  • Personal Preference for Stress: If you like stronger water flow and higher water pressure, you may gravitate toward a higher GPM. Shower heads with a range of 2.5 GPM or above can provide a more powerful shower experience.
  • Consider Technical Features: Some modern shower heads incorporate innovative technologies, such as ventilation or laminar flow, to enhance the showering experience even at lower flows. Look for features that optimize water distribution and pressure.
  • Check Local Regulations: Be aware of any local regulations or building codes in your area that specify the maximum allowable GPM for shower heads. Make sure the shower head you choose complies with these regulations.

Should I Buy a 1.75, 2.0 or 2.5 GPM Shower Head?

Choosing a 1.75, 2.0, or 2.5 GPM shower head depends on your specific preferences, water conservation goals, and local regulations. Here are some considerations for each option:

1.75 GPM Shower Head:

  • Pros:
    • Great for water conservation as it provides a lower flow rate.
    • Reducing overall water consumption contributes to environmental sustainability.
  • Cons: The water flow may be gentler and some may find it less energizing.

2.0 GPM Shower Head:

  • Pros: 
    • Strike a balance between water conservation and increased water flow.
    • Meets or exceeds many regulatory efficiency standards.
  • Cons: Traffic may be slightly lower than some users prefer based on personal preference.

2.5 GPM Shower Head:

  • Pros: 
    • Provides higher water flow for a more traditional, powerful shower experience.
    • Especially suitable for those who like strong currents.
  • Cons: More water may be consumed, which may impact water bills and the environment.

Consider the following factors when making your decision:

  • Personal Preference: If you prefer a stronger, more energetic shower experience, a 2.5 GPM shower head may be the right choice. If you're happy with moderate flow, the 1.75 or 2.0 GPM options may be suitable.
  • Water Conservation Goals: If you prioritize water conservation and want to minimize your impact on the environment, a lower GPM (1.75 or 2.0) is more consistent with these goals.
  • Local Regulations: Check the regulations in your area regarding the maximum allowable GPM for your shower head. Some areas have restrictions in order to promote water conservation. It is essential to purchase a shower head that is within the allowed range.
  • Budget: Consider your budget as high GPM shower heads may be more expensive. However, the potential savings on water bills with the low gross margin option can offset the initial cost.

Ultimately, the best GPM for your shower head is a personal choice that requires balancing your desired shower experience with environmental factors and compliance with local regulations.

shower head

In summary, the question of whether a 1.8 GPM is suitable for a shower head comes down to personal preference, local regulations, and a commitment to water conservation. With advances in shower head technology, people can enjoy a satisfying shower experience while contributing to environmental sustainability. Consider your priorities, explore different GPM options, and make a choice that fits your needs and broader goals of responsible water use.

FAQ about Shower Head GPM

Q: Is a 1.5 GPM shower head enough?
A: The 1.5 GPM shower head provides a satisfying showering experience while helping to conserve water. It's suitable for those who value efficiency and want to reduce water usage.

Q: Why wont nyc allow 2.5 gpm shower heads?
A: New York City limits shower heads to 2.0 GPM or less to promote water conservation and comply with local regulations designed to reduce overall water use.

Q: Can I buy a 2.5 GPM shower head in California?
A: California regulations limit shower head flow to 1.8 GPM, so purchasing a 2.5 GPM shower head may violate those regulations.

Q: Are there any shower heads that exceed 2.5 gpm?
A: In areas with looser regulations, you may find shower heads over 2.5 GPM, but be sure to check and follow local regulations.

Q: What GPM shower head should I buy?
A: The ideal GPM for a shower head depends on personal preference, water conservation goals and local regulations. Also consider factors like efficiency and your desired shower experience.

Q: How many gpm is a low flow shower head?
A: Low-flow shower heads typically have a GPM rating of 2.0 or lower, focusing on conserving water without compromising the showering experience.

Q: How many gpm is a high pressure shower head?
A: High-pressure shower heads can vary, but they typically fall in the 2.0 to 2.5 GPM range and provide a powerful flow of water for a more vibrant shower.

Q: How many gpm is a standard shower head?
A: Standard shower heads typically have a GPM of 2.0 to 2.5, providing a balance between water efficiency and a satisfying shower experience.

Q: How to increase gpm on shower head?
A: Increasing GPM may not be recommended due to water conservation efforts. However, you can increase water pressure by cleaning your shower head or upgrading to a high-pressure model.

Q: How much gpm for a large rain shower head?
A: The GPM of large rain shower heads can vary, but is typically in the 2.0 to 2.5 range, providing a luxurious rainfall experience.

Q: How much preasure you get with 2.5 gpm shower head?
A: The 2.5 GPM shower head provides powerful water pressure for a satisfying showering experience. However, your home's individual water pressure also plays a role.

Q: How to calculate gpm on a multiple head shower?
A: Calculate GPM for multiple shower heads by adding the individual flow rates for each shower head. Make sure the total GPM complies with local regulations and your preferences.

Q: What is maximum gpm for a hand held shower head?
A: The maximum GPM for a handheld shower head varies by location, but is typically in the range of 2.0 to 2.5 GPM based on water efficiency guidelines.

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