Consumers who want a more luxurious shower experience but don't want to spend thousands of dollars on a custom-built shower, can consider a rain-can showerhead. Rain cans, which are broad showerheads that are typically six to eight inches wide, drop water from above (at a lower pressure) to simulate a rainfall. That said, most do offer a high-pressure spray option for rinsing or for quicker showers. In general, rain-can showers use the full 2.5 gpm of water that federal regulations allow.
Most rain-can showerheads are no harder to install than standard models, but for the best experience, you may want to use a shower pipe extension arm to move the showerhead directly overhead. Extension arms, which cost about $20 to $40, screw on like a showerhead.
We read some compelling recommendations for the Moen Velocity 6320 (*Est. $120) rain-can showerhead. This model is a very strong performer in professional tests, receives a recommendation from Fine Homebuilding magazine, and gets extremely high ratings from owners. Users posting reviews at FaucetDirect.com (an online retailer) and Buzzillions.com praise its stylish design and "relaxing yet invigorating" rain shower spray. One owner describes it as a "better [showerhead] than any we've ever had". This model includes a concentrated spray mode for rinsing. It's primarily sold with a standard chrome finish; brushed nickel, brushed bronze and antique bronze finishes are also available but add about $100 to the cost.
The Kohler WaterTile Showerhead (*Est. $180) gets a nod from PlanetGreen.com and from 3Luxe.com, but neither publication appears to have tested it. This showerhead has a unique design; it's square and mounts flush against the shower wall, with the rain spray falling at a 45-degree angle. It does use a little less water -- 2.2 gpm -- than most rain cans, but it doesn't have a concentrated spray setting. Used alone (rather than as part of a multi-head shower system), this model may be impractical for most because rain simulations have little pressure and can make rinsing difficult. It's also more complicated to install than most showerheads. The standard version is chrome; a variety of other finishes are available for about $100 more.
There are a lot of other rain-can showerheads on the market; we just didn't find reviews for many of them. Check around at home stores; some have actually installed sample showerheads and hooked them up to a water supply so you can see them in action.