Product Review: Insignia INS9012 Steam Shower Cabin Enclosure

At a svelte 800mm x 800mm x 2200mm (W x L x H), the Insignia INS9012 is the most compact hydrotherapy steam shower in the Insignia range and is designed for people who want a whole lot of functionality in a very small footprint. While this makes the Insignia INS9012 an obvious choice for a luxury en suite, it is robust enough to stand up to use in the main bathroom and hence could be a good choice to replace a standard shower in flats, where a standard bath is simply out of the question, or to free up floor space in a house-size bathroom. The fact that the Insignia INS9012 comes in a total of 12 colours, including the 9 new “carbon” colours means that it can always fit easily into existing bathroom decor.

Even though its dimensions are small, the build quality is high and is backed a 5-year warranty (upon registration). All customer service and technical support is delivered from the UK (Milton Keynes) and Insignia stocks spare parts in the UK to ensure they can be delivered promptly when required.

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Key Features and Benefits of the Insignia INS9012 Steam Shower

Although the Insignia INS9012 is technically a quadrant shower, it has a curved appearance to give it a softer and more elegant look. As you look at the Insignia INS9012 from the outside, those familiar with its predecessor, the very popular Insignia GT9012 may be wondering where the steam pod has gone. The answer is that it has been replaced by the Tri Jet system, the only visible sign of which is three small outlets at the base of the central column. This is a clear improvement in aesthetics, since it removes the somewhat unsightly bulge of the old white pod, but it is far more than just a cosmetic upgrade. By eliminating the external pod, Insignia has removed an object which could be kicked by adults or seen as a toy by children. Added to all this, the new Tri Jet system improves the diffusion of steam. This has the follow-on benefit of improving the effectiveness of the aromatherapy modular injection (AMI) system. The AMI system allows users to enhance their steam experience by adding fragrance. At a basic level, users can opt for ready-made blends with mood-influencing properties. These are widely available from shops which sell health and beauty products and, of course, online. Alternatively, users who want to make use of the AMI as a serious health and wellness tool can use it with essential oils which address their specific needs. Steam is a great carrier for essential oil since it both gets into the body itself, including the tiny crevices in the lungs and also opens up the pores in the skin, making it easier to deliver the goodness of essential oils.

Moving further up the central column, there are 6 hydrotherapy jets, which can be used either seated on the provided free-standing stool or from a standing position. Although it is possible to use the hydrotherapy jets on their own, it is more common to use them in combination with the monsoon shower head in the roof. This delivers a “bath like” deluge of warm water so the user has the comfort of being totally immersed. To ensure comfort and safety, the Insignia INS9012 uses a thermostatic cartridge with Vernet wax element - because users really don’t want to have to fiddle about with manual controls with a monsoon shower in full flow and a head full of shampoo suds. On a more serious note, these days many household water systems are based on combi boilers, which are somewhat notorious for temperature fluctuations. In a worst-case scenario, showers with manual temperature control can douse the user in freezing cold or scalding hot water.

The hand shower on the right-hand panel (facing the shower) provides an alternative means of showering to suit people for whom a monsoon shower is a bit too “full on”, whether in general or just because they’re in a hurry at that particular point in time and value speed over an immersive showering experience. Although Insignia refers to the secondary shower as a hand shower, it is actually very favourably comparable to standard wall-mounted showers. For example, it is on a riser so it can be adjusted to suit users of different heights and it has three different power settings to deliver a powerful jet, a standard spray and a caressing mist so it has options for those who need a bit of help to get moving as well as by those who feel in need of a more gentle touch. For comfort and safety, the hand shower is also thermostatically controlled. The hand shower is also convenient for small cleaning jobs, from rinsing off winter jackets to cleaning muddy paws.

On the subject of cleaning, the Insignia INS9012 comes complete with the O3 ozone cleaning system, which is activated automatically as soon as you power down your shower, to keep it hygienically clean - effortlessly.

Another subtle change from the old Insignia GT9012 is that the ring light has been replaced by a set of energy-efficient and gentle white LEDs. These ensure that the user always has enough light to be able to see what they’re doing with the various controls. They also reflect off the mirrored back panels to give the impression of more space in the shower cabin. Similarly the two glass shelves on the left of the central column (when facing the shower) provide a handy surface on which to store shower products off the floor, without taking up visual space or breaking the flow of the light.

Insignia INS9012 Steam Shower Cabin Enclosure

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To the right of the top shelf, you will find the M touch control panel, which has been deliberately situated so as to be out of reach of shorter arms. It also auto-locks after 10 seconds, which acts as a further deterrent to children. Adults can unlock it easily, literally at the touch of a button. The control panel provides access to the integrated FM radio, which plays through high-quality twin speakers in the roof enclosure. The ability to pre-set stations means you’ll always be able to find your favourite channels quickly and easily. FM has been used in preference to DAB because DAB can have issues with reception in some geographic areas. This is one of the reasons why it is expected that FM radio will continue to be broadcast throughout the UK for the foreseeable future. The Insignia INS9012 also has Bluetooth connectivity, so you can pair your smartphone or tablet to access your own content. Unlike baths or even conventional showers, the Insignia INS9012 is designed to ensure that all the water (and steam) from the shower stays safely inside the free-standing shower cabin, so you can leave your mobile device in the bathroom without worrying about water damage.

Talking of safety, in spite of its delicate appearance and streamlined good looks, the Insignia INS9012 has been carefully designed to be used safely by people of all ages and sizes. The low step into the shower cabin is good news for older people and anyone who is less steady on their feet. The base of the cabin is made of robust acrylic, with a steel frame and so will support even larger adults. This is topped by a synthetic wooden floor, which provides grip without roughness and is easy to keep hygienically clean as well as being visually attractive. The same material is used on the seat of the provided free-standing stool and the legs are made of metal, which is robust and hygienic as well as elegant. The panels and doors are made of 5mm tempered glass, which can withstand knocks and bumps and the doors are easy-glide with magnetic closure so even little hands can use them easily.

Technical Details

Water-pressure requirements

A minimum water pressure of 2.5 Bar is required for the Insignia INS9012 to operate effectively. Gravity-fed systems will often need help from a pump to achieve this. Mains-pressure systems, by contrast, will typically manage the minimum pressure easily and may actually benefit from having a pressure-reducing valve fitted to ensure that the water pressure never exceeds 3.4 Bar. If it does, this may cause damage which is excluded from the scope of the warranty. People who live in hard water areas are recommended to install a water softener to avoid damage due to lime scale, which is also outside the scope of the warranty.

Electrical requirements

Any modern electrical system should be capable of supporting the Insignia INS9012. The exact electrical requirements are as follows:

TOTAL ELECTRICAL REQUIREMENTS

Voltage Rating 220 -240AC

Frequency Rating 50HZ

Power Rating 2.8KW

In order for the warranty on the electrical components such as the control panel to be valid, the electrical connection to the mains should only ever be undertaken by a qualified electrician. It is also strongly recommended to use surge protection.

Installation

Installing the Insignia INS9012 is really a job for two people, of whom one needs to have very competent DIY skills plus a standard set of tools. The home owner will also need to have (or buy) 3 flexible, braided hoses of at least one metre (each) plus plumbers mait and bacteria-resistant sanitary silicone. It is very important that sanitary silicone is used as opposed to the normal sort as the latter can harbour bacteria. Insignia will supply all hardware required to assemble the shower itself. When the Insignia INS9012 arrives, the home owner should locate the installation and user guide as this contains a list of what should be in the boxes. In the unlikely event that anything is missing or damaged, the home owner should contact Insignia within 48 hours of delivery and before starting to assemble the shower. Provided that this is done within the requested time frame and before the installation begins, Insignia will be happy to provide replacements for missing or damaged items. If the home owner is going to undertake the installation themselves, then it may be advisable to undertake a “practice run” by assembling the shower without using sealant. If all goes well then it should be a simple matter to put it back together again the second time. If not, then it should be very straightforward to find a professional trades person to assemble the shower for you.

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This compact 800 x 800 is the smallest steam shower in Insignias range – Let’s take a closer look at the Insignia INS9012

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