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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Doorless Showers and Draftiness

edward22November 13, 2012
I've been told that some open showers feel a bit drafty. I was planning on having a doorless shower installed. The shower is about 42" x 105" long. The back wall is 105" long with a 4' x 4' window at the left end of the back wall. The shower heads will be at the right end wall and was planning on an electric towel warmer on the left end wall as it'll be almost 8' from the shower head. The front wall will have a 36" door on the left side and then about 5 feet of glass wall on the right half of the front wall. Glass will run from curb to ceiling or very close to ceiling.

I'm hoping the glass going almost all the way to the ceiling (7' approx) will keep much of the hot water heat in. My concern mostly surrounds the window in the winter time (here in Canada with temps in the 0 F range on average and sometimes down to - 25F) that will cool the air just inside of it.

I have been looking into options to try to both reduce the potential draftiness and cooling of the air near the window. Option 1, add infloor heating into the shower base. Option 2, upsize the towel warmer so that I can just turn it on when I want to have a shower. That would both get the towels warm in time for their use and may also add a bit of heat to the shower area being that it is at the end of the shower room.

I'd love any help with this, thoughts on either option or alternate options. And no the window is not coming out. It faces south and brings in lots of heat and light in the winter when it is sunny out and great cross flow ventilation in the summer when it is hot. It has just been replaced in the past year with a vinyl awning style window.

thanks for your help in advance,
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Hi Edward,

You're absolutely correct, open showers can be drafty. I've incorporated them on many projects, but when a client of mine is considering them I tell them to try using their current shower with the door open first to get a sense of what it will be like. (As most have enclosed showers) Some decide NOT to do the open shower after trying this, as its quite a different experience.

I've had a few projects where they've instead asked for supplemental heat to offset the issue. I've used this fan / heater combo on 3 projects and have had good feedback from those clients. Its definitely NOT the nicest looking fan, but it does heat up the shower space well. It requires a 20A dedicated circuit because the heater is 1500w, which is comparable to a decent room heater. (I would hope that there are more attractive options out there, but this has worked well)


1 Like    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 9:09PM
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Definitely install a bathroom heater/fan; I would not be without mine, and my new house will have them in all 3 bathrooms. Our current master bathroom has one in the wall and the guest bath has one as part of a ceiling light/vent fan/heater fan combination. Good luck and stay warm.
    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 9:24PM
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Thanks for the feedback Steve and alwaysdesigning. I'll look into this option as well. 1500 watts is a big heater for that room (approx 100 sq ft) so might look into replacing current fan later if needed. So you don't think the in-floor heating will help as I'll be doing that anyways regardless?
1 Like    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 9:32PM
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The fan will warm the air; the in floor radiant heat is warmth as you stand on it but not the air around you. Good luck
    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 9:35PM
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I have an 86cm frame of glass (not up to the ceiling), around which to walk into the shower in my ensuite bathroom, which also has a skylight vault. The room itself is less than 5' x 7' with a bi-fold door and haven't noticed draughts. As a 'cold frog' I wouldn't like to either! Floor heating seems like a divine choice!

Perhaps the room size is a big factor, as I usually have a lot of steam. I also installed a 3-in-1fan/light/heater, which I don't use, just a small mirror light, unless it is too steamy, however I understand that the heater section can use as much electricity as all the other appliances in the house combined.... Check out your options.
    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 9:43PM
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Hi Edward,

Fwiw, the heater/exhaust I listed is recommended for a 100 sqft room. With regard to the in-floor heating - it will help, but its not going to have the same effect that the forced-air heater will. I'm a big fan of radiant heat whether its electric mat or hydronic, but one of the down sides is that it takes hours to heat up and cool down. If you shower around the same time every day that may not be an issue of course.

Unless you heat the room up substantially before you shower, you're still going to feel cold and drafty when you're in the shower. I don't think the towel warmer will have too much affect either. Considering you're planning to install the heated floor anyway, you could wait to see how effective it is, and then add the heater/exhaust later if you need to. Not the most ideal way, but it could save you the expense if the radiant is adequate.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 3:23PM
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Thx Steve. I think that is the way I will go (infloor heating to keep floor warm to the feet, smaller towel warmer for towels and then upgrade the fan later if needed) but I will make sure that the fan is wired for the potential expansion to a heater as it appears most need a dedicated 20 amp circuit which I'm pretty sure the current simple fan is not wired for. I'll discuss with my electrician.
    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 3:35PM
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You're welcome, and I wish you the best with your project!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 3:38PM
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Wow, just found something that I think will do it all for me. My concern is draftiness mostly due to window in the winter. Bathroom is generally ok temperature wise for us as it is. Warm floor would be nice so that is still a go. I found this device that can act as either a towel warmer or smaller space heater and will work at the end of the shower near the window. Looks like controls are right on the front of the unit with timer as well. Turn on for say 1 hour and that allows you to take a shower and to have the towels heated and then dry after the shower.

1 Like    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 6:14PM
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