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back to article H2O water-powered shower radio

Produced by Vivian Blick, a man who helped launch the wind-up radio, this shower-powered version is due to become the new must-have amongst ‘eco-trendies’ everywhere. The fact that shower-radios probably make you spend more time in the shower – thereby using more clean water and power – is an eco-flaw we’ll just have to ignore …

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Consumer whore

Fill your house with more junk to save the world.

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Happy

So the water pressure...

is supplied by a pump somewhere, which therefore uses more energy.

It might be convenient, but it ain't green.

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Paris Hilton

water pressure.

While some people have their water supply coupled directly to the mains, a lot of people have water tanks at the top of their houses.

Since the water has to be pumped into that tank anyway, taking a bit of your water pressure away to run the radio seems irrelevant.

I am sure someone here could workout the potential energy in a tank of water at the top of your house and workout what % would be used to power the radio.

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Anonymous Coward

Ehh?

Gravity-fed systems aren't pumped, they rely on a header tank (usually in the loft), the water main is more than capable of combating gravity to get water into said tank.

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FAIL

@Ehh?

Water doesn't run into the loft tank (something specifically British, I gather) on its own, it has to be pumped *somewhere*. Either directly at the location itself or by the water company.

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It is harvesting waste

If you just open the tap and let the water gush out then the energy is just turned into heat and sound. The pump still works the same because it still pressurizes x amount of water to the same delivery pressure.

Exactly the same happens with one of those pressure reduction valves.

The only (slight) difference is that the heat generated by the high velocity water has been reduced and thus you will set the water temp slightly higher and your water heater will have to work harder.

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Coat

Limescale resistant?

Where I live the water is very hard and I usually have to strip the shower unit down a couple of times a year. I wonder if this radio is going to suffer the same fate?

Is it also protected by the RF electrical interference caused by the water passing through it? I need to know as someone who also gets his information about WIFI and mobile phone safety from the internet.

Maybe someone can help clarify issues on electrical interference caused by water. Maybe this is what happened in the test review...

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Electrical interference caused by water?

There isn't any. Not sure where you got that notion from. Of course if you submerge the thing there's not going to be any reception, but then you won't hear it very well, either. But flowing water doesn't have any special properties in that area. The poor reception as it is is indeed due to the lack of the right sort of aerial (such as the telescopic type) and the inability to move it around to make the most of what is there.

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WTF?

Eh?

Green? WTF? So the power shower isn't using energy to run it at all, then? That's probably why it didn't work on the tap-shower-thing because there's only base water pressure through it and, thus, no power.

And how is it green? It has a rechargeable battery and sits there stealing power from the water pressure that someone, somewhere has had to pay and use energy to be pressurised. And it has a rechargeable battery in it too! Energy-saving (on the order of pence per decade) if you have high enough water pressure already, maybe, but green? Er, no.

This is yet-another "green" invention that actually makes things worse but helps lazy people think they are doing something for the environment while they stand in a pressurised, heated spray of water sourced from reservoirs miles away. Let's get this straight - the Trevor Bayliss clockwork radio is orders of magnitude more green than this tacky piece of ill-thought-out junk. And then look at the price! I could buy several dozens battery powered radios for that, or a handul of wind-up ones, or even just one and a shed-load of normal batteries (and still, strangely, be more green!).

This isn't green. It isn't even an application WORTH saving energy on (it's 80mW of output, ffs, and radio circuits take virtually nothing which is why crystal sets used to be "unpowered"). And certainly not one worth pushing your plumbing through a cheap bit of plastic for. I bet it even invalidates any warranty on your shower, too. It's a stupid idea. Stupid people will buy it. But, Reg, ffs, can we please moderate this kind of junk off the front page at least?

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Actually...

Your shower is probably throttling back the power anyway.

If its one fed from hot and cold supplies, you probably don't have the pressure turned all the way up. All this is doing is turning the pressure down a notch on your tap. Energy that would be lost as friction in the throttling effect in your tap anyway. Knock the pressure up a bit and you get the same temperature water at the same pressure through the whole system.

If its an electric shower that heats cold water, you aren't wasting anything either. These control the temperature by adjusting the rate the water flows past the heating element. Throttle back the water, it takes longer to go through the heater and therefore gets warmer. Again all you are doing with this unit is throttling back the pressure. Turn the electric shower a smidgen cooler and you get the same heat water at the same pressure.

So you aren't really loosing any power. Well, nothing noticeable.

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me!

So what is my immediate response. Is it a solution to a problem or a solution in search of a problem?

The geek in me likes the microturbine electricity generator, but a"friend" owns a shower head that uses a microturbine to power multicoloured LEDs so you can have a disco inferno every morning. So this just takes that concept an adds a radio to it. Nothing new there then.

As a useful product i just don`t get it. The noise of the shower downs out the music anyway and how is this any different to getting a portable radio with solar panels to keep it charged and leaving it in the shower?

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shower hoses

We would end up with it in pic1 in our shower room and pic2 in the bathroom.

IMHO neither is right...

If there was a way to fit it to the wall (securely) I would run one shower hose to the device then run another back from it to the shower bar/head.

This way you could install the radio in a more sensible position.

Pity such a genius could not have come up with this.

I suspect JML will be selling a little plastic cradle and cheap shower hose for 14.99 very soon :-)

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Eco?

Isn't most water pumped at some point, so all you're doing is making the pump work harder? Then you lose some more in the inefficiency of the turbine and still more loss from charging the battery.

So, if any of the above is true, it is a lot less "eco" friendly than running it off the mains. Of course the ultimate "eco" approach is singing to yourself unaccompanied :-)

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Flame

slightly off-topic

I'm wondering how much the electric bills would go down if I figured out how to hook up several of these little turbines to the cold water inlet and a wall socket and then just kept the taps running...

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An awful lot less than your water bill would go up

(If you haven't got a water meter, you're being fleeced by the way.)

I presume you are also powering LED lights from your phone line.

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No DAB

(Possibly) Obsolete after 2015.

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Anonymous Coward

That's because

You'd need to install a turbine between the Elan Valley and Birmingham to generate enough power to run a DAB set.

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WTF?

Barring a few leaks – fixed with the bundled washers

My question is who would discard the bundled washers and decide that they know best and that pipes don't need washers... why make a comment that it leaks? when installed by someone who knows pipes or can read instructions it quite clearly does not leak!

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Just another eco-gimic

Any saving in energy compared to using rechargeable batteries is going to be tiny in comparison with the extra used in producing the turbine and generator capacity. There's less than 0.003 kWh stored in a typical NiMh AA battery.

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Eco my a**

This isn't ECO at all, more like stealing electricity from the water utility.

The pressure of the water comes from pumps, either directly or via a gravity feed from a hill storage tank which uses pumps to top up.

Basically the radio is powered by regular grid electricity which has been converted into hydraulic energy in the water pipes, which gets turned into mechanical energy in the patented micro turbine which gets turned back into electrical energy by the generator attached to the turbine.

Then factor in all the losses associated with the process such as friction and heat, and you would probably have greener credentials by plugging a regular radio into the grid electricity supply!

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Clarification

If the water pressure is generated by gravity, how are you now consuming *more* electricity with the radio "plugged in"? Does the pump have to feed more water into the reservoir? Does the water have to be pumped higher up or faster?

Answer: none of these. You're only getting a shower with slightly less pressure, i.e. you are consuming less electricity than a radio plugged into a grid electricity supply.

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FAIL

The energy comes from somewhere, what he is saying is that the losses will be higher, the primary source of the power will still be the grid.

If you have a gravity fed system, something has to move the water up in order to have the potential energy in place. A very small amount of this will come from rain, but the majority will be due to pumping.

In general electric pumps are used to move water around, with that electricity coming from the grid.

There is pressure drop across the pipes from the pumping equipment through the pipes to your home and to the shower unit.

Then there are additional losses due to converting the energy back into electricity for the device.

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Happy

Recently I

knocked my radio off the shelf into the shower while showering. Had it been mains powered, possibly I wouldn't be typing this to you. The radio is now unecological junk.

At least if the radio is bolted into the pipework that won't happen again.

I think it's a cool idea

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Clarification

Robert Heffernan said, quote:

1) "more like stealing electricity from the water utility"

2) "have greener credentials by plugging a regular radio into the grid electricity supply!"

The fact is, in the reservoir scenario:

1) Installing this radio does not incur additional cost on the water utility.

2) Installing this radio does not incur additional cost on the user, while plugging a regular radio into the grid does.

It may not be perfectly efficient, but *the net electricity consumption is less* than using an ordinary radio. Ergo, it's more "eco" than an ordinary mains powered radio.

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Boffin

Where does the energy come from?

As said above: You're only getting a shower with slightly less pressure.

Where pressure head is a store of potential energy.

So what happens when you extract energy from the flow? you get less output pressure AND you get a reduced rate of flow. Now some might say that using less water (reduced flow) is environmentally friendly, in fact some companies are sending out free shower restrictor units to save water.

Building water wheels in the olden days did not mean you needed more rain! today the water company do not need to provide more water either.

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hydro power

if your water is supplied using a reservoir at higher ground, you already have all the power stored there. To not use it is just like getting water down from a dam without generating electicity using turbines: you are just spoiling it! The only downside is less pressure on your tap.

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Reception

Need to use the pipework as an antenna?

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Pipework not a very good antenna

Random bits of metal do not make very good aerials. (These are also earthed, just to make the situation more interesting.)

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Figured

something like that.

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Perfection would be...

DLNA/Mediatomb/Samba compatibility. Just aim it at my music collection and let rip.

Though DAB would be good too. The only radio station I would really care about is Planet Rock anyway.

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What they said ^^^

This is basically stealing energy from the water company; I suspect it's already illegal or else soon will be. Otherwise, as someone said above, why not install a micro-turbine in the main cold water feed to all houses and generate 'free' power from them? Would the water companies allow that? I THINK NOT.

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Re: What they said ^^^

You're right: it is already illegal, or at least contrary to the terms and conditions of the water company, if your shower is fed directly from the mains water.

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Anonymous Coward

Showers and standby

Get continually annoyed by the "turn it off, don't leave it on standby" campaigns (which, fortunately seem to have subsided recently) .... given way modern appliances seem to draw ~1W in standby compared with a shower (if its like our fairly standard electric shower) using 10kW then its amusing to point out to these people that leaving a TV on standby all day can be balanced by getting out of the shower 8 seconds quicker!

So as mentioned, if this encourages people to stay in the shower longer its not an eco-solution at all (unless they have cold showers!) .... may be for eco-credentials it should include a timer so it switches off after 3 or 4 mins!

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Re: Showers and standby

That just means that not leaving your TV on stand-by at all would save more than enough electricity for the average geek's weekly shower.

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Paris Hilton

Reception

Getting better reception in the Mk. 2 version shouldn't be that hard. All i think you would need to do is to attach the antenna to the coupling for the water and use the pipes in your home.

That should be a somewhat better solution than the wire coat hanger.

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As I said above

Random bits of metal do not make good aerials. Connecting to your plumbing is unlikely to improve matters, and quite likely to make matters worse.

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Anonymous Coward

Ignore this, I don't listen to radio anyway.

Looks to me like one of those things that would've been much more interesting twenty or even ten years ago. But there's probably plenty places around where they don't expect it to have support for wifi and smb and dlna and whatnot else. On that note I'm vaguely annoyed it takes an AAA instead of an AA battery. It looks big enough to accomodate the bigger battery. Then again it doesn't exactly require much power.

On another note, what about using the hose as a makeshift antenna? Would that help? In that respect it's an interesting little engineering problem.

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Big Brother

Don't forget the water regulations

The picture on the first page shows that the shower head will now hang a couple of inches lower. If the shower had been fitted correctly it would not be possible for the head to end up in water and now it can.

You should also add the cost of getting it fitted by a plumber as well, probably greater than the cost of batteries over the lifetime of a normal radio (environmentally and fiscal).

One more thing, you should add some sort of strain relief on the hose side if you want it to last.

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Stop

Power Shower

Giles Hill proposes this as a "green" product, but it is not sold as such. The marketing blurb simply calls it "water powered".

The electricity goes like this: power station->grid->your house->power shower pump->radio. The radio is therefore coal/gas powered, and wastes much of that energy in the complicated delivery route.

Not green, not pretending to be green. Just a novelty.

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Alert

8 kw Radio

wow I'd wish id thought of this, it's so simple

my daughter would put the shower on just to listen to the radio.... 8kw radio anyone!

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Anonymous Coward

It's got a battery

You don't need to turn the shower on to listen.

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So many comments, so little understanding of physics...

As I understand it, the power comes from the energy released when the water flows from an area of higher pressure (the pipe) to an area of lower pressure (your shower). The net result of this will be a slightly reduced pressure at the shower head, meaning a slight reduction in the flow of water through your shower. You probably won't notice this.

The pressure in the pipe will originate from one of two sources; either 'head pressure' in a tank, or from a pump in a power shower, in which case, either you are utilising potential energy which you would otherwise be throwing away when the water falls out of your shower head and drains away, or you are slightly increasing the load on the pump which drives the shower, at your own cost. At no point are you stealing power from the water company, as far as I am aware, these utilities pump the water through a water tower already to maintain a constant pressure, if anything, by slowing the flow of water through the shower, you are reducing the amount of water pumped into such storage in the first place.

All that said, the radio is nasty and gimmicky.

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Finally!

Someone talking some sense!

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You missed one

Shower is driven from mains pressure, no header, supplied pumped from the water company at which point you are taking energy from the water company.

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FAIL

Nope, you are wrong

Here's how it works. The water main is maintained at a set pressure. When your tap is turned off, no water flows. When it is turned on FULL, the water flows at a maximum rate determined by the "resistance" of your plumbing which is by its nature constructed using smaller pipework and therefore able to carry a lesser volume of water.

If you turn your tape to "half", resistance is increased and water flow is reduced accordingly.

All this stupid radio will do is cause a tiny increase in water "resistance" with a commensurate decrease in water flow through the shower head. There can be no extra power burden placed on the water provider *regardless* of how the water pressure is created.

Water companies *already* insist that we use water flow reducers in our shower heads to save water.

Those things have a far greater effect on your water flow and nobody has ever argued that the use of flow restrictors in shower heads constitutes "stealing energy from the water company"

Sheesh, the morons are out in force today.

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Boffin

Horizontal/vertical

It's not the pressure (there'd be no difference that way) but probably how the turbine is built that makes it work OK with the unit vertical, but not when horizontal. I have a generator like that, and it specifically mentions this on the instruction sheet.

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Go

So let's improve this

Make the radio a separate unit with three or four suckers on the back so it can be attached to the wall, and have an aerial. Then just attach the turbine to the tap, and have a wire (ok, a cable with two wires in it) from the turbine to the radio. That way, you can put the radio in a location with reception, and also closer to your ear (so the required volume is lower), and also there's now somewhere to put an aerial.

Now, can it draw enough power to do WiFi and DLNA / AirPlay and/or DAB, or is there just not enough water pressure to make it work?

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FAIL

just lol

Cost 35 quid, generates at best 280mW while showering.

How long will it take to generate 35 quids worth of mains electricity? About 140 years of continuous operation.

During a 10 minute shower it would save you in the order of 0.0005 pence worth of mains electricity.

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More lolz.

I can has one of your FREE mains radios?

No? Mains radios cost £35 quid also? wotz going on lolz.

if I buyz a mains radioz for £34 after hao many years of electricity bills will i recoup the money? is it mores or lessess than 140 years?

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Paris Hilton

"It is British too"

"So the H2O is conceptually excellent. It is British too,"

David Cameron is also British, but that doesn't change the fact that he's an ugly, useless, cheap and nasty, lump of tat.

Don't buy British for the sake of it!

Paris, 'cus although she aint British, she is at least conceptually excellent!

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