When we set out to create this site we all made a pact to be as non biased as possible. As you read through our articles you’ll very rarely find brand names front and center. You may be able to figure out our opinion or stance on a product or technology but we strive to give you, the reader an experience without blasting you with product names.
A Shower Valve Brand Worth Mentioning
However when a company has a product that is an integral part of the history of the plumbing industry or has a unique product it would be irresponsible not to acknowledge that product. You can’t mention a flush valve without having Sloan in the sentence. So when Hansgrohe and their product representative came in to show us their iBox Universal Plus valve we were amazed at the design, ingenuity and impact the valve could have on our industry. This valve has been available in Germany for around 10 years but it’s only been available here in the US for a couple of months.
Lets start out with the first thing you’ll notice, other than the valves Hulk green valve case (we’ll get to that in a second) the four full 3/4″ ports. Two (2) inlet ports one (1) on the left and one (1) on the right, one (1) outlet port for the shower and one (1) for the tub spout. This is significant because most valve companies offer their valves in both 1/2″ and 3/4″ version depending on the piping size of the home or the volume of water needed for the shower.
What if the water piping is 1/2″? Do I have to buy extra fittings to accommodate the valve? Nope, the 3/4″ x 1/2″ bushings are included in the box.
You’ll notice that at every port there is a black rubber seal. This valve itself is protected against leaking at all its connection points in fact the entire valve is sealed by the green enclosure. If there is a leak within the valve or the connection points the valve will leak into the box and exit through a weep hole on the front of the trim kit.
The next point of interest are the valve’s integral stops. Having integral stops on atub/shower valve allows you to change the valve cartridge or change trim without shutting the water down in the entire house, or close an isolation valve in your home or condominium if you’re lucky enough to have them. Having integral stops sounds like a logical feature to have on every tub/shower valve right? Valves are cheaper to build without integral stops. Hansgrohe doesn’t give you a choice anymore and for good reason, they’ve made the rough-in valve affordable enough to remove the option. You get them standard whether you like it or not.
There are other benefits that we will list but by far the greatest feature is the valves flexibility. It is a pressure balanced shower only valve (the plug for the tub is included in the box), it is a pressure balanced tub/shower valve, it is a thermostatic valve with volume control for a shower, a thermostatic valve for a tub/shower and thermostatic valve with volume control with a diverter to control two shower functions.
How and the heck can one valve to handle all these features? With the trim and cartridge. It is literally a “plug and play” valve. You can get a trim that is simple and affordable or opt for a fairly complex trim set with a full line of styles and finishes. If you wanted to install an affordable trim set but wanted to upgrade at a later date the install is quick and easy.
The significance this valve has on the home/condominium market is profound. Picture a spec housing subdivision or a high rise condominium complex. There has to be a building rough standard. Now the builder or GC can install this rough-in valve with a certain measure of confidence, that they can offer a trim set with a style, features and finishes that can accommodate the majority of their prospective customers. In the past the GC and plumbing contractor would have a standard set of plumbing rough and trim. On many occasions the buyer of the home or condominium would choose something completely different and the plumbing contractor would have to tear out what was installed. This happens more on high end residential but this valve takes those headaches out of the equation.
Here are several other features that make this valve a truly unique product.
- The iBox valve can handle water from 6 GPM to 16 GPM. So the need to upsize the valve to accommodate a couple body sprays is not necessary.
- Because of the valve configuration and its pre-installed test and flushing plug the water piping can be tested and flushed without the trim being installed. (We’ll explain this further and insert a picture of the valve without a trim cartridge to make this more clear)
- The valve housing has multiple mounting options.
- The valve enclosure has leveling points to make sure the rough is level in both directions
- Depending on the plumbing wall thickness the valve enclosure can easily cut to accommodate.
The next time you are in the market for a shower valve give this one a look.