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Some people refer to the showers commonly found in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia which have an electric heating element built into the head as "suicide showers" due to the apparent risk of electric shock. How high is this risk really? Even if one was to get shocked how likely would it be at a dangerous or even fatal level?

electric shower head at Tanzanian guest house

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    You might be interested in this physics.se question on "suicide showers". It doesn't directly answer "how likely is it to get shocked", but contains some interesting information (such as that the current-carrying wire is in direct contact with the water!).
    – Pont
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 12:17
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    This might be a better fit for Electrical Engineering StackExchange. Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 12:23
  • Are you looking for a handful of personal anecdotes (at least 2 out of ~7000000000 people claim to have survived) or some more substantial evidence? Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 16:01
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    @redgrittybrick their existance would suggest the risk is relatively low, I was look for something more specific.
    – Carl
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 18:24
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    Almost all the answers are just personal anecdotes. And, of course, the population of people who can leave answers is very biased, as anyone who died from one of these cannot possibly leave an answer. Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 8:11

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I live in Brazil and used this kind of shower for a good amount of my life. On the summer we actually remove the gas shower and install this eletric shower, cause it is cheaper.

So, with that said, I'm pretty confident that it depends more on the capability of who made the instalation than the shower itself.

I've been showering this way for twenty years and never had a problem.

I can undestand why foreigners would be scared to the point of naming it a 'suicide shower', but in my opinion, there's no need for such fear.

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These are common in rural areas of Ecuador and Peru. I have used them for years and only got some mild shocks a few times. More than 95% of the time, it runs fine and without risk. Guess it depends on the installation and maintenance of these as the ones that shocked me were in very remote areas. Those in hotels that use them, were pretty much always safe.

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    A shower that only shocks me 1 time in 20? Sign me up! Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 1:09
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    @jpatokal: Don't forget to sign up for a Macbook then. Mine shocks me more often than 1 time in 20 if I use it while charging: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/32417/… Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 6:23
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    @lambshaanxy I mean, some mornings I could do with a good zap to help me fully wake up... Maybe it's a feature, not a bug.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 7:13
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I was shocked by one of these one time, in Costa Rica. It was just a quick jolt, nothing too painful and nothing lasting. Different brands and models are certainly different though, so always worth it to be careful.

I wouldn't stress out about it and I certainly wouldn't avoid staying in a place or visiting a country that is known to use them.

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You will find something very similar, not in the shower head, but on the wall of your shower, in many bathrooms in Germany. Usually 10-20 kilo watt, an electronic fuse that shuts down the power within a microsecond if any electrical current is misdirected, and it produces water at the exact temperature that you want immediately.

https://www.siemens-home.bsh-group.com/de/produktliste/warmwassergeraete/durchlauferhitzer

I'd love one of those in my home, but a UK electrician would probably get a heart attack if you ask them to install it. They are supposed to be very energy efficient, and if you use solar energy to create warm water, they can easily just add that little bit extra temperature that you want.

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    In the UK you will find many electric showers (water heaters in the shower cubicle) and I doubt an UK electrician will blink an eye on the German ones. I have never seen one like that (German nor UK) in the Netherlands.
    – Willeke
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 11:00
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    The link's gone dead, but I suspect that's got what's called a "tankless water heater". It uses a different and much safer construction: the heating element heats the pipe the water runs through, requiring a whole cascade of failures for the water to be electrified.
    – Mark
    Commented Dec 8, 2020 at 3:57
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I've used good ones and not-so-good ones. The electric element is in the water, but of course you can avoid getting shocked if you avoid putting yourself in a place where you close the circuit. i.e, don't touch metal plumbing. The best is if the shower floor + wall is plastic and you only touch plastic while the heater is on. The one you pictured would be a lot safer if they moved the on/off switch a few inches over so you could more easily avoid touching the metal pipe until it's off.

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They are perfectly safe, as long as they are well installed. In my 36 years of life, using them practically all my life, I never had any problems. There are brands in Brazil that develop showers of the highest quality.

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I grew up with one of these in Peru. Issues:

(a) if your head hits the shower head, you will get shocked. It is unlikely to be life-threatening, but it is extremely unpleasant.

(b) if water pressure goes down drastically (as in: someone else in the house flushes a toilet) then you will get scalded. The shower head may even be damaged.

That said, I lived for a couple of years in a rented place in the UK with a tankless electric heater (on the shower wall, not above me), and I never had a problem. I'd be curious to understand the difference in how the two kinds of electric shower operate.

I also do not know how well a tankless electric heater of that kind would cope with variations in water pressure. (You can gather that the range of water pressure we are talking about is "between low and nonexistent".)

I am currently staying in Uganda, and I have to deal with this kind of shower again. I am simply taking cold showers. Fortunately there is a switch that cuts off electricity supply to the bathroom altogether.

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    As for why some Brasilians praise "suicide showers"? Brasil produces them, and exports them to the rest of South America. Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 8:23
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    ... and to Africa. The shower head in my university guest-house room in Uganda looked familiar - I just looked it up, and, sure enough, it is Brazilian, even if the name sounds Italian. Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 8:57
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Used these showers every day for two years and never had a problem. Noticed that 220 volts produced better hot water than the 110. Don't be scared.

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