Review: Nebia Shower System

Lead

Instead of a normal shower, imagine standing up every morning inside of a storm cloud: The shower curtain bucking and bellowing in the wind; the air, hot and humid as a heavy mist envelopes you, washing away soapy suds. That's what it's like to use a Nebia, the shower system that's won over the biggest names in tech without a single "smart" feature. No sensors, no Bluetooth, no Wi-Fi, but it feels goddamn glorious.

Nebia Shower System

What is it?

A shower system crowdfunded by billionaires.

Price

$US650

Like

It saves water and surrounds you in a pleasant mist.

No Like

You'll need a mop for the pools of water in your bathroom.

Nobody else at Gizmodo seems to believe me, but Nebia's bizarre, water-saving design has won me over - like it wooed investors Tim Cook, Eric Schmidt, the founder of Airbnb, the founder of Fitbit, as well as the company's many thousands of Kickstarter backers. It's a masterwork of fancy shower design; near perfection in the form of eco-friendly mist and fog. I only delayed installing the damn thing because I was, admittedly, a little afraid. After scanning the how-to installation videos, I thought I might wind up leaving my bathroom in shambles - pipes broken or tiles smashed.

Installing the dang thing

The big fat box Nebia shipped in sat open on the floor of my apartment for days before I willed myself to install it. It came neatly packed and pre-assembled - the halo shower head and sliding bracket in one piece, a wand, a magnetic mount, and many, many attachments made to accommodate most shower types.

The system looks like something Jony Ive might design a few years into retirement, with sleek aluminium and white plastic. It's priced like an Apple product, too, at $US650. If you can afford to drop that kind of cash on a shower, you can hire somebody to install it for you, but you don't need to.

I was able to remove my original shower head and arm without any tools - but only after two trips to Home Depot, a few instructional videos on "How to Use A Wrench," and an emergency FaceTime call to Nebia cofounder Philip Winter, in which he told me to adjust my grip on the pipe and turn.

From there, it was pretty easy. I measured the distance of the pipe in my wall, cautiously applied plumbers tape, screwed in an attachment, and basically just plopped the unit on top of the tile. A handier human with light plumbing experience could have installed it in 30 minutes. Glossing over a few details, that's about all the energy it took. And after four weeks, the shower has yet to collapse on top of me in some comically tragic event. The shower and I are both fine, thank you, and if you're worried about installing this thing, well, just look at me.

All images: Gizmodo

Inside the fog

Standing underneath the Nebia means replacing a typical stream of water with a thick halo of mist. A gust of "atomized" droplets. In my ridiculous, overactive imagination, especially while my brain's still fuzzy in the early morning, the experience feels like standing in the spray of a waterfall. This (at least in my mind) is a good thing. But some things about Nebia aren't great out of the box.

This shower is, in one word, "wet." In two: "Very wet." Unless you suction your curtain to the wall (or buy a heavier one), your bathroom is going to feel wetter than normal. Much like a waterfall, this shower's head and wand create misty air currents, sometimes causing water to puddle up outside of the shower. Bathrooms are supposed to get wet, so this doesn't seem like a big problem. I just plopped a towel on the floor and moved on.

All that moisture - on the walls, the floor, maybe even the ceiling - may seem like a big waste, but at peak efficiency, Nebia claims its most efficient setting can save up to 70 per cent of the water a typical shower wastes. At its most-wasteful setting (my favourite setting), a Nebia can still cut your water use by 40 per cent, as a forceful mist spews out from both the wand and the halo shower head.

But does the shower feel low-flow? Nebia says its mini nozzles turn a pipe full of water into millions of tiny little droplets. The result is a feeling like you're surrounded by water floating around in the air, and it's almost, but not quite as effective at rinsing away soap as a normal shower. In casual chats about the shower at the office, my colleagues have fixated on it. "Harrison, this sounds terrible!" But Nebia gets the job done; it just takes a little more time. Even my girlfriend, whose hair is very thick, says the shower can rinse out large amounts of shampoo and conditioner pretty easily.

The spray is consistent, my hand held video skills are not.

But there's one sticking point my girlfriend and I can agree on: Sometimes the shower doesn't feel hot enough. No matter how warm the water gets, the sensation is both hot and cool. Under the halo, the mist shoots out and warms the air, but then the air cools the water droplets. If you live somewhere that gets frigid-cold in the winter like New York, I have a solution: Run the shower for a few minutes before getting in, keep the door shut, and turn off vents. Problem somewhat solved. But this makes my small bathroom all the wetter. It also sort of works against the point of an eco-friendly shower.

But it's pretty much worth it

Even though I flat out love the Nebia, I feel a little insane recommending a $US650 shower head and wand. I've never sought to upgrade my shower experience before, and now, suddenly, this mist machine has whisked me away to the far off land of half-a-grand bathroom appliances. Just like all those tech millionaires who invested in it, I've spoiled myself to the point of no return. I am stuck here now.

If you're looking for a minor upgrade to your shower, or if you want to use up a little less water at home, you can find an adequate shower head for less. That's if you want a normal shower. Otherwise, you just might want a Nebia.

Some people may find the price tag easier to swallow than others. If you own an apartment or home, maybe it's an easier sell - an investment!? If you pay a water bill, depending on where you live a Nebia could save you money over time. Or maybe you just want to feel like a tech billionaire every morning.

My doubters will never believe me without trying it out themselves, but I'm convinced. This shower is the stuff of overpriced dreams. A luxurious experience you can plop into any old bathroom to spice the place up. I can't really afford it - nope, I cannot - but if I had to veer either way, I'd say I'm sold.

README

  • It feels great - unlike any shower you've probably ever used
  • $US650 sure seems like a lot for a shower head upgrade
  • Eco-friendly vibes are a solid plus

  • Water gets everywhere, but all that extra moisture is worth it

Comments

    Looks pretty but my showerhead which is several times cheaper has this same function and allows me to switch modes if I don't feel like standing in misty spray of water (I think most modern shower systems do).

    'and it's almost, but not quite as effective at rinsing away soap as a normal shower. '
    Fail. You can save water, or you can have an effective shower. You can't have both.

    'Sometimes the shower doesn't feel hot enough.'
    Again, fail.

    This product is garbage on those two points alone. The review reads like a damning slam piece, but yet you somehow come out the other end praising it.

    That's not how reviews work.

      if i was being cynical it would be because the article compared the product to apple in an apple centric world.
      the mention of tim cook and face time made me feel this was going to be an endorsement of a product regardless of the flaws. the conclusion didn't disappoint.
      i cant believe i stereotyped so badly :(

    Sounds like a mould nightmare to me.

      Look at the grout lines in the second and third photo, I'm sure this shower head will keep it well fed

    Sounds overpriced, and like it should be used in outdoor shower areas only.

    We have an old Oxygenics unit, 7.5 L/min max, they draw in air to increase the strength of the feel of the shower, and because the water comes out as tiny bubbles, the water sticks to you rather than bouncing off. All-in-all, they work well, and checking their website they have a much wider range of designs now.

    Here in Oz there's a mob called showerdome that makes, as you might expect, domes for the top of shower cubicles to reduce the amount of steam and droplets escaping into the room. Not sure if there's an equivalent in the US, but the design isn't rocket surgery: www.showerdome.com.au

    The Nebia is just another version of Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion fog gun shower from 80 years ago. But the Nebia suffers because it uses the fog gun principle but neglects the cubicle part of the Dymaxion.

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