Plumbing the depths
No matter how cool a product is, a tricky installation process will dissuade a lot of would-be customers. Nebia has a three-minute installation video and says the whole process should take about 35, including 20 minutes waiting for the adhesive to dry. Our installation time was pretty close to that. The Nebia won’t fit every existing shower configuration. If it does, though, you’ll probably find the whole experience pretty painless. The kit comes with various spacers and adaptors to make the Nebia work with your shower.
The setup includes the bracket, head, dock, and wand. Both the wand and dock are magnetized, so it’s easy to detach and replace. The head is a light gray thermoplastic polyurethane with 10 nozzles spaced around the circle. One of the most adaptable shower heads we’ve seen, it tilts 45 degrees up and down and slides up and down the bracket 27 inches. This is great if you live in household with biggies and smalls. The wand looks a bit like a magnifying glass and can be turned on or off, depending on how much spray you want. There’s a toggle switch on the head’s arm that gives the shower extra power. This cuts down on the water saving but delivers a more powerful misty blast. The Nebia doesn’t replace your tub spout or handle, so bear that in mind of you don’t think it will match your current decor.
Nebia wants to evoke images of steam rooms or waterfalls, because its shower experience is definitely different from a traditional stream. We’ve never lived inside a fog-wrapped noir film, but we can now imagine what it feels like. If you love needles of hot water, the cloud of droplets may not be for you. We had the Nebia installed in the Digital Trends bathroom for a bit, and one staffer complained that he didn’t feel clean after standing in the mist, post bike ride, for 10 minutes. Though the scalding water was on full blast, he said the atomized spray was cold by the time it reached him. This is definitely a common experience, but we found adjusting the head’s height and adding in the wand can alleviate it. If you stray too far from the source, though, things can get chilly. We found we cranked the water up a few degrees warmer than usual to compensate.
The atomized spray might leave you cold, literally.
That said, when the proper adjustments are made, we don’t have trouble getting shampoo or conditioner out of our hair. We sometimes have to stick dirtier parts closer to the nozzles, like after a muddy day at the pumpkin patch. The one major drawback we found is liberated hair. When it’s no longer stuck to your head, it can cling to your hand and no amount of Nebia nozzle pressure seems able to pry it loose.
Yet the Nebia does use far less water than a typical shower. Even with the shower head running full strength, a 10-minute shower used between nine and 10 gallons of water. Standard shower heads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute, so the savings are pretty definitive. We didn’t feel the need to take twice as long in the shower to get clean, for example.
Nebia launched its Kickstarter in the midst of the recent California drought (and several other water-saving crowdfunding campaigns followed), and backers got the device for $280. The price is now $649. Nebia has a calculator on its site that can help you figure out how much the shower will save you per year, but it’s not clear how the electricity savings factor in (especially if you’re taking hotter showers to make up for the colder mist). While that’s one expensive shower head, it’s thousands less than Orbital Systems’ NASA-inspired Shower of the Future, which recycles water using less than two gallons in eight minutes.
We’re going to guess the Nebia experience isn’t for everyone, but spending a month with the device definitely made a believer out of some of us. Though we do miss the feeling of hot drills of water on achy muscles.
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