Drought doesn’t stop High Sierra Showerheads

Alex Yang, Staff Writer

The California drought has devastated farms and businesses, but has been a boon for this new type of showerhead.

The six-person company High Sierra Showerheads is based in the Madera County town of Coarsegold, and uses a patented technology to make a 1.5-gallon-per-minute showerhead seem like a standard 2.5-gallon-per-minute model.

Malcolm plans to make new models of the showerhead to make them more appealing.
Malcolm plans to make new models of the showerhead to make them more appealing.

Founder David Malcolm adapted this type of showerhead from nozzles he and his father invented for water-saving agricultural and golf-course sprinklers.

Malcolm said, “After Gov. Brown proclaimed that we were in a drought, we saw a huge increase in direct sales here in California. California now has more visitors to our website than any other state.”

Sales in Calif. have gone from 30 showerheads a week before the drought declaration to 100 showerheads a week. Malcolm sells his showerheads directly through Amazon.com for prices ranging from $30 to $70. He also sells products in bulk to hotels, colleges, prisons, military bases, and other institutions.

Sophomore Brandon Lee said, “I think that this company is just going to get bigger. They’re selling the showerheads for the same price as other brands, but this new design is much more efficient.”

The Energy Policy Act of 1992 set a maximum flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute for showerheads sold, made or installed in the United States. Standard showerheads shoot a stream of water through dozens of tiny nozzles. Most low-flow versions use even smaller holes, which are likely to get clogged. Malcolm’s showerheads create a wide spray from a single stream of water. Just below the opening, a pin in the single nozzle splits the stream into two. The streams are then forced into a tight eye-shaped opening that pushes the streams back together. The collision of the stream breaks the water into a spray that feels at least as powerful as a standard showerhead.

The only downside to the new showerhead is that the showerheads are small, and could be mistaken for a piece of plumbing. Malcolm says some hotels wouldn’t order them because they were afraid guests would call the front desk saying they had no showerhead.

Dan Rich, chief engineer with the Stowe Mountain Lodge in Stowe, Vt., said his lodge got a few of these calls. Malcolm plans to create a new model with a purely aesthetic plastic disk that comes in several colors to solve this problem.

Junior Sohun Awsare said, “The different showerheads are really ingenuous. It’s cool that it takes less water, but feels the same as a standard showerhead. This invention definitely is useful during a drought, like how California is in right now.”