Water Softener Cost vs. Value

Old 07-03-07, 03:55 PM
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Water Softener Cost vs. Value

Hi all, i'm new to this site though wanted to post a question about cost vs. value with water softeners.

I have done quite a bit of searching on the net and have found this forum to be the have the most valuable information.

I'm definitely a diy-er in many fronts, and sometimes that is part of the problem. There seems to be the high end (all-in-one sytem), specially made water softners from Hague, Kinetico, Culligan, Ionics, RainDance, etc.; then the "assemblers" of components that put their label on it. Of course, you could buy parts and build your own too i guess.

It seems Kinetico is by far the leader on the high-end, though after having a salesperson come they quoted me $2,990 for the K-2060S with 1-1/4" service. The kicker was that this was just for the twin tank of resin, no carbon tank. The carbon tank was another $1,390. Pre-sediment filter was $200.

This seemed extremely high, even for the California area that I live in (Bay Area).

Obviously, the value is 24/7, reverse regeneration, no-electric, etc. But is it really worth the cost?

Anyone out there pay roughly this cost for their Kinetico?

On the carbon tank, does it really matter if it is Kinetico or would any generic carbon tank work? They have a 7 or 8" round tank that is about 44" tall. I figure having the water run through more carbon is better than less, but anyone have a comment on how much carbon the water should pass through?

For a DIY-er, with a good Fleck controller, is there really a lot of maintenance to a water softener outside of adding salt? I've always got a ton of work on my plate from my wife, would maintaining this be just another task i need to worry about ? What happens when the power goes out, will water not flow or just not meter (any issues on regeneration settings)?

Sorry for all the questions but for something as simple as "getting a water softener" -- there are so many questions.

Any advice will greatly be appreciated.

Old 07-05-07, 05:43 AM
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to diymark,
I know what you mean about the cost, i believe fleck makes a two tank application and culligan does also. Why do you need 2 resin tanks? Culligan also touts some kind of whole house unit for chlorine removal and hardness removal in the same unit. I haven't seen the cost but it may be better than the kinetico system cost ... good luck.
Old 07-06-07, 08:21 AM
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There are many aspects whereby cost versus value must be considered. Reliability, warranty, effeciency, salt costs, maintenance, durability, and so on.

The quality of the product, itself, along with the local company that services your equipment can mean a lot to most people. A person serious about their water treatment equipment is looking at equipment to last 20 or more years with excellent service. Many times when folks buy cheap, they often pay much more through service calls, excessive salt and water use and periods of time (maybe chronically) where water is passing through the home un- (or under-) treated.

The Kinetico equipment can serve you well and is actually not the most expensive equipment out there. The prices quoted you are a higher than in my area but it all depends on local marketing and cost of living that dictates how cost are justified. A business can't stay open if they never sell so their prices are adjusted to that end.

With most electric models, when the power goes out, let's say a blackout, the water will still go through the softener if its delivery doesn't depend on electrical power, such as city water supply. Clocks, and other settings, will need to be reset if no backup battery is functioning.

I am not sure which carbon filter to which you are referring, but a generic tank with an in/out would suffice. The most carbon you have the longer it will last. Retention time is important.

Good luck with your choices,
Andy Christensen, CWS
Old 07-07-07, 01:16 PM
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Whole house carbon filter - Bacterial concerns & leachables

Just a quick observation...

When purchasing whole-house carbon filters, be sure that they have some means of bacteriostatic protection.

Look for systems that include KDF-55 and/or active disinfection to reduce the growth of heterotrophic (HPC) bacteria. HPC's can colonize carbon filters very quickly due to the porous nature of the carbon.

Although HPC's are generally benign, they can become a growth medium for pathogenic organisms.

Also, make sure that the carbon media is virgin & NSF certified to ensure that your carbon media doesn't add unwanted contaminants like mercury, lead or other heavy metals to the water.

Generally, activated carbon media produced in the USA and Canada are of excellent quality. I have encountered some carbon batches from China, that we have evaluated for potential use in our products with unacceptable levels of leachate. Upon investigation we discovered that this was "re-activated" carbon, which means that it was used once before in an industrial process and then "cleaned". Obviously the cleaning was inadequate !

That's why I only specify US or Canadian virgin media with NSF certification.

North American media is significantly more expensive than some of the "offshore" media floating around out there, so you do get what you pay for.

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