We get asked this question all the time here at Steam Shower Store and it is a really tough one to answer, however, if you do take the time to read this article, please read it in full as when you do finish, I'm 100% sure - you'll be in a much better position when you come to make the final decision on your luxury purchase.
There are currently four main brands on our site, reason being, they are the best brands out there in the pre-built steam and hydro shower cabins business........ FACT!!
We do not have a special allegiance to anyone, other than our customers, we are completely independent and will only ever open ourselves up to brands that give us the feedback we wish to have as a company.
We have been in this business for over 20 years so we know what we are talking about and we would never, NEVER sell anything sub-par!!
We would only ever sell quality items that after 15 years in the business, we would choose to have in our own home. If a brand is not on our site, there is a reason for that!
Let's move on to the brands we do sell and a quick guide to them and what they offer
What All The Brands Have In Common
Before we can talk about the difference in the brands we need to first run through what is the same and what you can expect from them all.
There are many features that are commonplace in popular manufacturers products. In the steam shower cabins, for example, you'll always find a fast start steam outlet with the ability to add oils, A touch screen control panel with Bluetooth, Radio, Extractor fan, chromotherapy lighting, possible LED lighting, body jets, a seating option, thermostatic shower valve, easy clean door wheels and Ozone cleaner.
These are thought to be the most desirable and indeed, essential features required by users and thus, all the manufacturers ensure their inclusion within their products. These items and features are so similar within each of the brands, you should pretty much consider them as the same.
Take a computer manufacturer as an example, whereas it says 'Asus' on the front of the box, in fact, the processor is manufactured by Intel, the Drive is made by Samsung, the RAM by Kingston and so on... ...
Asus has sourced the best quality components and pieced them together and placed their name on the front and there is nothing wrong with this, making the use of expert companies in their own relevant fields to offer the best of each item component and lending your brand name next to the item to guarantee its quality
This is the same for these showers, a good amount of the individual fittings are actually interchangeable between the brands. Notice the control panels, shower valves, body jets and monsoons all look similar? The same can also be said for some of the steam generators and electric boxes and other major components.
Although the above is true in the majority of cases there are some components that are unique to the brands but are still manufacturer by the corresponding component manufacturer albeit with small cosmetic tweaks
The brands we sell are the best brands available in the UK and we know them to source only the better quality components on the market - We get asked all the time to advertise 'up and coming' brands and even ones that have been around for a little while longer, but we simply refuse on the basis that we know the components used are of a lesser quality and the products are built to a sub-par quality. It would make sense for us to do more business, but we simply refuse if the product is not reliable!
Insignia has been around for many years and can be found on some pretty major outlets in the industry. You can find Insignia on sale mainly in the UK but also in France and Spain as well as a few other outlets dotted around Europe. Insignia are front-runners in innovation and 'top end' steam and shower cabins, they are a well-known name and this is reflected not only in their top-level products and customer service but also in the price.
If you’re familiar with Insignia, you may know their longstanding and very popular INS range. This range name is, however, currently being phased out (more on this later) and at this point in time Insignia’s core offering is divided between two main ranges, which are Premium and Platinum. Both offer much the same set of key features with the Platinum range benefitting from some enhanced options.
The differences between the Premium and Platinum ranges
In short, the Premium range, while perfectly high quality, is the more affordable of the two ranges and as such has a reduced feature set when compared to the Platinum range.
- The first visible difference between the two ranges is that the Premium range tends to include a flip-down seat whereas the Platinum range tends to include a freestanding stool. In our opinion, although a flip down seat is adequate, and indeed some peoples preferred choice, a freestanding stool is our preferred recommendation, the advantages might be that it offers the freedom to sit in any position and angle you wish, it can also be fully removed from the shower if you are not using the massage jets or steam function to offer more room.
- The platinum range comes with a slatted wood floor insert in the base of the tray. This insert can be removed at any time for cleaning and does add a more sophisticated and unique look to the shower which you might think is well worth having
- The body jets on the platinum range of showers are brass bodied, multi-directional jets finished in chrome, whereas the premium range has 6 single spray jets - both are very good at delivering an effective back massage or full body hose down
- Another difference is in the roof of the shower - The premium range monsoon is a large plastic monsoon with outlets aplenty with a 'ring lighting' surround whereas the Platinum range has a stainless steel monsoon and 'spot LED's'
- The AMI (Aromatherapy Module Injection) feature comes on all Platinum steam showers but is not featured on the Premium range. The AMI system is a convenient system that stores and delivers aromatherapy oils directly into the steam generator at the source with the idea being that it infuses with the steam better, which might possibly be true. The Premium range allows you to add oils directly into the steam outlet in the cabin which also works sufficiently well. This feature is more for ease and convenience than anything else
- An important point worth noting is that the Premium range tends to have a 2-year parts guarantee whereas the Platinum range has a 5-year parts guarantee. Not that you should expect anything to go wrong in these short time spans but it is worth noting
2nd Generation Features - The four key features common to both ranges are:
- A quick build (Insignia advises that its showers can be built in an hour)
Now is this realistic...... No! Given that it will take you a good 30 minutes to get the item out of the box and lay it out carefully, it is not going to happen. The truth is, even us, knowing exactly 100% what we are doing, needing no instructions........ if......... IF there was two of us doing the install, everything was laid out ready to go and the installation area had no restrictions (I.E a blank canvas), we might be able to build one, maybe inside an hour but that would be 2 experts, stating in an ideal area, with everything unpacked and all the screws laid out and seals and rubber gum already cut to length. I would imagine a regular fitter on his own still needing 2-3 hours to complete a job to 100% satisfaction where he can walk away happy (versus 4 hours with other brands). It is, however, fair to say that assembling an Insignia shower is about as straightforward as can reasonably be expected of any item this size and possibly the easier of all the brands
- The QuickClick frame system
Part of the reason why Insignia’s showers are slightly easier to put together is due to this QuickClick build system. Whereas other manufacturers may use 6 or 8 screws to hold the frame together. Insignia's framework simply goes together is just a few clicks
- Customizable design - Choose a frame and glass colour
- Leak free trays
It has to be said that all the leading shower manufacturers produce robust showers which you can expect to be free from leaks, it is the minimum requirement from a shower that it does not leak. Indeed, Insignia itself produced a great number of such showers before updating their tray and still, till this day sell showers without this new design (Remember the INS range previously), are they saying these leaked? No, of course not. Having said that, however, this design is more robust and less likely to leak and anything which makes a shower tray even more robust, has to be a good move, even if it’s not actually groundbreaking.
- Easy Clean Door Wheels
These can actually be found from all manufacturers we offer and are a common placed feature. They are a great item as they make cleaning behind the door of the shower super simple
Which is better, the Platinum or Premium range? Is it worth the extra cost?
This is the tough question, with the difference above it really a matter of personal preference on what is a desirable/import feature or fixing. For example, one person might be an aromatherapy supremo and uses it on every shower and steam and demands to have the AMI system whereas the next person is not too concerned, likewise one person may like the idea of the flip-down seat and the permanent seat in the shower, immediately on offer when it's needed.
All being equal (price and budget), yes the Platinum range is better and if I was getting an Insignia shower as a gift, I would choose the Platinum, however, budget and money do come into play for most people. The best thing to do is to compare the shower you want in the Platinum range against the equivalent in the Premium range and see if the upgrades/differences make sense to your bank account and needs.
Vidalux was founded in the early noughties and started out as an installation company specialising in steam and hydro showers. This obviously meant that Vidalux employees were not only interacting directly with homeowners, they also became the recommended fitting service for almost all the top brands.
After some time they become involved in the manufacturer's design process, then, made the evolution to branch out on their own.
In short, Vidalux and Insignia are our 2 front-runners in terms of sales and desirability when it comes to the cabins. While Vidalux and Insignia can really be seen as being comparable with each other in terms of the build quality of their products, it is fair to say that Vidalux, leans more towards the middle of the market in their niche, preferring to offer the main, commonplace and most desirable features, in a well-packaged and modern presented product, without adding the "lesser required" functions that can quickly add to the buyers budget.
One good example of this is the Vidalux “Pure E” range of electric showers, This range is hugely popular and whilst offering a high level of quality and a solution to those only with a cold water feed, the affordability of the range versus similar items from other manufacturers is quite remarkable.
As we mentioned in the first paragraph all the major desirables are there, the thermostatic valve, the Bluetooth Touch Screen and quick start steam. But there are also a few things that make Vidalux unique
- Large Multispray Body Jets
These are larger than the normal single spray and offer 10 spray outlets per jet, meaning the standard 3 body jets offers a whopping 30 individual sprays
- Flooring Insert & Stool
All the showers in the range come with a sophisticated, rot free, wood effect floor insert and matching freestanding stool which we feel is a great added extra and really set these showers apart from the norm
- Remote Control
Many of the showers in Vidalux's range come with a remote control which can control the steam, radio, light and other electrical functions on the shower meaning you do not even have to step foot in the shower to get it warmed up or just to control your favourite tunes
- Up to 5 Years Warranty
As it suggests, Vidalux stands by the quality of there products for a period of 5 years minimum.
Lisna Waters are probably best known for their range of baths, especially their extensive range of whirlpool baths, shower trays and enclosures, however, they do also produce a range of showers, including steam showers and cabins. Their shower range is high quality, (hence why it is included in our store) there’s just a smaller selection compared to Insignia and Vidalux, which specialize in the spa market alone.
Lisna has been around for over 10 years and again like Insignia and Vidalux offer a UK based support system and like Insignia aim for the higher end of the market.
Lisna Waters Features:
Again you'll find all the regular thermostatic valve, body jets, Bluetooth and chromotherapy lights present throughout the range. these solid showers are built to last and together with the main desirable features Lisna Waters also offer you:
- Up to 6 Years Warranty
Although not present on all products. Lisna offers a 6-year warranty on the majority of its products and this is the longest warranty of all the manufacturers such is the confidence in their offerings
- EasyFit Fast Build
This system can be found on some showers in the range and again is designed to speed up installation times. Advertised to "Assemble in half the time of similar products" this system is another 'click into place' offering. With a Vidalux shower taking 4 hours to Install that would mean, to do as advertised, these showers would take 2 hours, which, in our experience is not the case. We found a Lisna water shower with this feature took just over 3 hours to install. A saving yes, but not as much as one might hope
Our Very Own SS range
Trumpets please........ anyone?? The SS Range is our own in house range of showers designed by us and developed and manufactured in partnership with Vidalux. We approached Vidalux selectively as a partner as we believe they offer a leading quality on all their item together with a keen pricing point agreeable with most people. We believe Vidalux are able a product that represents a bargain for the product on offer.
Our SS range leans even more towards the affordable and obtainable end of the spectrum and due to the fact we manufacturer these direct and in bulk, we are able to offer you a low direct price. The SS showers pack the most desirable features, without the higher end 'bells and whistles', the range offers a 'no frills' and 'just the best stuff' product.
What Is The Best Brand?
Are you sure you read the whole article and didn't just skip to this bit???
Well, if you have read the article you will know that there is no set answer here as not everyone is looking for the same thing, has the same tastes or the same budget!
If money was no object and you wanted all the best features then you might very well go for an Insignia shower
If you wanted the best bang for your buck and good build quality and just the essentials you might go for a Vidalux shower or even a shower from our SS range.
First, let me tell you this awesome tip
- Go on to our website and the relevant category you wish to shop in.
- Featured on the left-hand side (desktop) or on at the bottom of the screen (mobile) is our 'Product Filters'.
- First selecting the sizes you're able to accommodate (the bigger size the better, freedom of movement only adds to the luxury).
- Then selecting relevant boxes such as price range and colour, this should quickly bring the range down to a much more digestible size.
- From here you should find the 2 or 3 showers you like the look of aesthetically and grab a coffee, read over the product features and see if one of the showers makes more sense to you than the others