Kinetico K2 vs K5 Drinking Water Station?


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Old 02-14-10, 07:57 AM
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Kinetico K2 vs K5 Drinking Water Station?

We have decided to purchase a Kinetico Drinking Water Station and are looking at both the K2 and K5. We are leaning towards the K2 as we struggle to understand how the additional $600 cost of the K5 specifically benefits us. That said, we'd rather make a fully informed decision, which brings me to this fantastic website.

We are aware of the following benefits of the K5 over the K2 (which are not important to us):

- faster water flow
- adaptable (add other types of filters...our water does not require any other filters)
- auto-shut off (is this a feature others find valuable?)
- matched hardware to our brushed nickel faucer

The Kinetico rep also said something about dirty water around the membrane, but I didn't quite follow that.

Any thoughts on the value of the K5 over the K2?

Thanks.
Lee
 
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Old 02-14-10, 10:25 AM
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Lee, your concerns about quality and value are important, especially when it comes to drinking water production.

The Kinetico K2 and K5 are very different units in design, production, function and longevity. Warranties, water quality and convenience are also quite different. These may give cause to price differences.

The K2 is what I call Kinetico's apples-to-apples DWS; it has many of the features that generic or other national brands have. These include: standard faucet (upgradable though), air-charged so-called 3-gallon tank, standard membrane design, production-to-waste ratio, refill speed, and water flow rates.

Filters are typically changed on a yearly basis but that is a guessing game as some will obviously use more water than others. Membranes come with a two-year warranty. These are not as economical when it comes to production. Even at NSF lab conditions (77f, 60psi, etc.) is only about 11 gallons per day.

It has a typical air-charged tank found in all other ROs in the industry. These normally contain an air charge of about 7-9 psi. That means that a 3-gallon tank may have only about 1.2 gallons of water for down flow. As the tank empties, the pressure at the faucet drops increasingly until only a dribble remains. Water travels through ¼” lines and faucet.

Another negative point about air-charged tanks is that they don't start to refill until a significant pressure lose occurs across the membrane. So the tank is nearly empty before it starts water production. At 11 gallons per day it will take about three hours or more to refill.

This makes it frustrating on two levels: 1. if you need water when the tank is exhausted, it takes a long time to get ample supply and 2. Pressure needed, especially for a fridge, just isn’t adequate in most cases. Many fridge manufacturers actually discourage ROs on the ice-makers and dispensers. I would recommend a ten-gallon tank to help solve some of these problems but that drives the price up to correct only a few of the shortcomings.

The Kinetico K5 addresses all of those issues and has other features and benefits found on no other systems or only those at add-on prices and equipment.

The feature that impresses most immediately is the high pressure and large of volume of water at the ready. The WOW (water on water) 3-gallon tank actually contains 2.7 gallons down flow. The air charge is eliminated so the tank is nearly completely full. The WOW tank uses household water pressure (30-50psi) to drive water to faucets and fridges. All lines are 3/8”, which provide great flow and with higher pressure, fills glasses quickly and fridges have adequate pressure/flow to fill ice trays before fridge solenoids shut off water supply.

This pressure remains steady and strong until the tank empties; there is no decrease in pressure or flow rate. This is a great technological design.

Another aspect is that when you fill glass of water, the tank refills immediately not waiting until the tank is 60% empty. This keeps your water supply at maximum and ready for use with high pressure and flow.

During tank refill there are two advantages of the WOW system. There is no backpressure caused by air pressure so the tank refills very quickly (about 40 gallons per day under same conditions). Furthermore, there is a non-electric membrane pump that actually increases line pressure forcing water through the membrane at a higher rate. This higher rate of permeate (one gallon drinking water) production greatly reduced concentrate (2.1 gallons waste water) production making it one of the most efficient production ROs found anywhere. Other ROs have a range of 1:4 or even 1:7 ratio.

The Kintico K5 membrane is unique for residential applications. Many higher quality industrial ROs, whose membranes are huge in comparison, have periodical membrane rinses to wash away scale build up. This can be done with citric acids occasionally or RO treated water often. Water containing higher levels of TDS are the main cause of membrane failure. When the membrane rests, those dissolved solids eventually ‘eat away’ the membrane causing water quality to drop and requiring membrane replacement.

The K5 has a membrane rinse feature built in to it. Every time the tank tops off a small quantity of RO water flushes the membrane displacing untreated water and preserving the most essential and most expensive maintenance part of a reverse osmosis system: the membrane. I am not aware of any other RO available that has this feature, including the K2.

So fill the drinking glass and the tank immediately refills, and again flushes the membrane leaving you with a clean membrane even if you leave if for long periods of time. Although Kinetico’s membrane supplier gives it a limited, short warranty, the K5 design gives Kinetico the confidence to provide up to a ten-year warranty on the membrane; nothing like that in the industry, anywhere, come even close. Most ROs have, at most, a one-year warranty. The K2 is only for two years.

Lee, I strongly recommend the K5 for decades of great drinking water over the K2. There are still other features and benefits that I could describe including filter choice, replacement and service life monitoring to mention a few.

Well, I hope I was able to explain a few aspects that may have been missed earlier. What is your water condition now? Are you on well water or city? Do you have a softener or other water treatment equipment ahead of the RO placement?

Andy Christensen, CWS-II
 
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Old 02-14-10, 11:04 AM
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Andy....what can I say? That was a great, thorough response...thanks! Great information.

Further to your final comments (re: softener), that brings me to another question of ours. We live just outside a major Canadian city...but we are not on our own well, the municipality provides running water. Our water has been tested...I do not recall all stats, but it has 17 grains and low (no) iron content. Other than the 17 grains, it was not suggested we have problems with the water.

That said, we do see some mineral buildup in the dishwasher jets and on the water dispenser on the fridge door, our skin does feel dry...and we wonder about the impact of the mineral buildup inside of our appliances. (We have PEX plumbing piping throughout the house (not copper piping), so it was suggested we wouldn't have to worry about mineral buildup in the lines...just the appliances). House is 8 years old...we plan to be here for a long, long time.

Wondering about the benefits of a water softener...we've been living without one for 2.5 years since we moved in, but wonder if it is a necessary investment. Kinetco had the high-end water softener at $3700 (4040 model?) and others at $2000. The combined $5,000 price tag spooks me a bit, knowing Culligan can do the same for $3200. (although I suspect we aren't getting an apples to apples comparison between the two models).

Wondering whether or not to get a softener and if so, whether or not to buy the top of the line or not.

So many questions....thanks again for your first response and anything else you can contribute.

Lee
 
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Old 02-14-10, 03:08 PM
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Andy....what can I say? That was a great, thorough response...thanks! Great information.
You're welcome. Understanding is most of the battle.

Further to your final comments (re: softener), that brings me to another question of ours. We live just outside a major Canadian city...but we are not on our own well, the municipality provides running water. Our water has been tested...I do not recall all stats, but it has 17 grains and low (no) iron content. Other than the 17 grains, it was not suggested we have problems with the water.
Lee, anything over 10 gpg is considered extremely hard by the WQA (and CWQA). nOt having a problem with the watyer depends on who is saying it and who is suing it. Of course the municiplaities are going to say there is not problem with the water because their parameters are primarily based on safety and health.

Many city have 'acceptable water' which has been sanitized and free of pathogens or toxins to a degree required by authorities involved. Hardness and other issues, which cause no health problems, but may be damaging to appliances negatively affect other important aspects of your lives. 17 grains is water that should be softened if used for typical residential uses.


That said, we do see some mineral buildup in the dishwasher jets and on the water dispenser on the fridge door, our skin does feel dry...and we wonder about the impact of the mineral buildup inside of our appliances.
All pertinent points. These problems will only get worse and worse until replacement and repairs costs become a frustrating expense. With a proper softener, these can be avoided or at least reduced to a bare minimum.

(We have PEX plumbing piping throughout the house (not copper piping), so it was suggested we wouldn't have to worry about mineral buildup in the lines...just the appliances).
This is the second it-was-suggested statement. PEX line has many nice features but I am not sure scale build up is exempt. I'll have to do more reseach on this.

House is 8 years old...we plan to be here for a long, long time.
Long time means years or decades? Some systems will decades instead of years. Plan to do it once and do it right.

City water will have chlorine, or the like, which can diminish a softener's abilty, and shorten its service life...significantly at times. How that is handled can determine in long-term costs, capabilities, and convenience


Wondering about the benefits of a water softener...we've been living without one for 2.5 years since we moved in, but wonder if it is a necessary investment.
I would definitely recommend a sofener. It will make a world of difference. For some, it takes getting used to, but once that happens most really appreciate the water quality when it is avaialble and miss it when its not.

Kinetco had the high-end water softener at $3700 (4040 model?) and others at $2000. The combined $5,000 price tag spooks me a bit, knowing Culligan can do the same for $3200. (although I suspect we aren't getting an apples to apples comparison between the two models).
You may be right about the fruit there. The Kineictoc dealer is offering you an apples to apples choice with their reducred priced units: metered, electric units with a more standard RO.

The 4040 would be a great choice but there are a few more options that would worthy as well.

Kinetico is not known for being then lowest price around, for sure, but they stay in business in large part to knowing there are those that do appreciate the quality and efficiency of these units.


Wondering whether or not to get a softener and if so, whether or not to buy the top of the line or not.
[B]There are few 'appliances' that work as hard and affect more aspectsd of daily life than your water treatment equipment. Great windows, proper insullation and an efficient water softener are three of the best investments you can make in your home. [B]

So many questions....thanks again for your first response and anything else you can contribute.
No problem. I prefer working with those who are serious about their water.

Andy


Lee
 
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Old 02-15-10, 07:07 AM
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Hi Andy...once again, thanks for your reply! You indicate that you have an appreciation for people who are serious about their water...I have an appreciation for people like you who take the time to help educate others, so thanks again.

When I refer to staying in this house for the long run, yes...I am referring to decades. We have 3 young children (under 5) and our water usage will only continue to increase over the years. (I should note that part of the hesitation for investigating a softener is that a many of the people in our neighbourhood do not have softeners...we didn't notice many symptons since moving in 2.5 years ago, but now that we are aware, they are slowly becoming apparent.)

Given that your advice is to add a water softener and that we have already made the decision to put in a reverse osmosis system, we must now decide which system to purchase. We had both the Culligan and Kinetico rep over to hear what they had to say. The Kinetico rep was showing us the 4040 Water Softener and quoted $3700 for the softener (and either $1200 (K2) or $1700 (K5) for the RO system). The Culligan rep said that she wouldn't even show us their top of the line because it was overkill for our water (not sure if that was a rep trying to buy credibility, or the reality) and from memory, I believe the system she showed us had the word Medallion in it, but could be wrong...that quote was just above $2000 for the softener. (approx $3300 for the softener/RO system).

We are definitely people who don't mind paying for value...but it's much easier to write the cheque when you know what the value is going into the deal. When combining the softener/RO systems, there is about a $2000 difference between the Culligan option that was presented and the Kinetico. I understand that a higher up front cost (kinetico) may save money down the road in the form of lower water usage, less maintenance, better warranty, etc., but we're pretty fuzzy on all of the benefits and any impact they have to long-term cost. Any thoughts?

Thanks again for your time Andy.

Lee
 
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Old 02-16-10, 07:58 AM
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Hi Andy...once again, thanks for your reply! You indicate that you have an appreciation for people who are serious about their water...I have an appreciation for people like you who take the time to help educate others, so thanks again.
Sorry to have kept you waiting...been very busy this month

Culligan offers three ranges: Medalist, Gold and Platinum series. Not sure of their philosophy of offering their lowest model unless comparing prices of thie own units causes one to jump at the economical ones. Here is a review of their line.

CULLIGAN - medallist series water softener system

I often find myself explaining their equipment more than their sales' staff. That's OK because I feel Kinetico has great equipment and many features and benefits of Kinetico units are excellent in comparison.

Don't get me wrong, Culligan is bigger, older and more famous company. They have a long line of happy customers and can be termed a successful comapny. I have come to understand it them from a different point of view and that is mostly what we remove from homes. Below ar some examples. The middle picture is of six units we replaced in one week.



If you decide to go with them, then they SHOULD serve you well. Understand fully, though, their warranty and their service programs, salt efficiency (Medalist vs other units), etc. Educate yourself and you should expect decades of great water from whomever you choose.

When I refer to staying in this house for the long run, yes...I am referring to decades. We have 3 young children (under 5) and our water usage will only continue to increase over the years. (I should note that part of the hesitation for investigating a softener is that a many of the people in our neighbourhood do not have softeners...we didn't notice many symptons since moving in 2.5 years ago, but now that we are aware, they are slowly becoming apparent.)
One of Kinetico's great features with the twin tank design, is that when your children grow and use more water, when guests come to stay, the nest empties or water totals change on a day-to-tday basis, Kinetco self adjusts and just keeps producing softened, treated water.

No one uses the same amount of water everyday, These just keep up regardless.

The clean themselves with treated water, the brine tank has treated water and never any problems with electronic parts, back-up batteries, power outages, etc.


Given that your advice is to add a water softener and that we have already made the decision to put in a reverse osmosis system, we must now decide which system to purchase.
I ddn't mention before, but all ROs would benefit or actually require a softener to go ahead of it. In your case, YES! Hardness mineral will deteriorate the membrane in a short time (your RO actually become a softener Removing calcium amoung other elements founs in your water.

Softened water and hard water have similar dissolved sold numbers (TDS- what was your TDS count?). Softened has sodium ions whereas hard water contains calcium carbonates. The membrane loves sodium (water soluable) but hates calcium (water insoluable). These calcium particles collect on the membrane surface and solidify as you see on your faucets, etc.


We had both the Culligan and Kinetico rep over to hear what they had to say. The Kinetico rep was showing us the 4040 Water Softener and quoted $3700 for the softener (and either $1200 (K2) or $1700 (K5) for the RO system). The Culligan rep said that she wouldn't even show us their top of the line because it was overkill for our water (not sure if that was a rep trying to buy credibility, or the reality) and from memory, I believe the system she showed us had the word Medallion in it, but could be wrong...that quote was just above $2000 for the softener. (approx $3300 for the softener/RO system).
So their RO was about $1300. Those prices, all round, are about what they are in my area. Not sure what their motivation is to offer the bottom rung except to gain confidence in their wanting to help you and close a sale--basics for all sales, I guess. I prefer to decribe good, better best and have the customer choose... Make sense?

Kinetico equipment works very differently than single tank electric systems in many ways. These can be a great value to buyers but need to be understood to be appreciated. That's normal consumerism, or should be.

I'm curious at the two 'presentations' and how they differed? What was Culligan's opinion on removing chlorine? Chlorine can damage resin and greatly shorten their service life.



We are definitely people who don't mind paying for value...but it's much easier to write the cheque when you know what the value is going into the deal. When combining the softener/RO systems, there is about a $2000 difference between the Culligan option that was presented and the Kinetico. I understand that a higher up front cost (kinetico) may save money down the road in the form of lower water usage, less maintenance, better warranty, etc., but we're pretty fuzzy on all of the benefits and any impact they have to long-term cost. Any thoughts?
Have to be off to work, but I could elaborate more if you'd like. Again, Culligan is a fine unit and will work as designed--like a single tank electric softener, which your Kinetico dealer can actually match through their so-called PowerLine units. Ask them about those units and prices to match more of an apples-to-apples comparison and not apples to apple pie a-la-mode.

Take care....
Andy Christensen, CWS-II


Thanks again for your time Andy.

Lee[/QUOTE]
 
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Old 02-16-10, 08:27 PM
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Hi Andy...no need to apologize, I'm just thrilled that you're spending time with us helping us make our decision.

To back it up a bit, we initially had Culligan over here first and they conducted our water analysis on the spot. I don't recall the TDS rating. Although we did not ask for copied the information, the rep did not leave us with any of the findings or even any information on the systems that were discussed. When we contacted Kinetico to come by, my wife told them we didn't need the water test done again. (given that the Kinetico rep had been in this area recently, he followed my wife's instructions and didn't bring the equipment to the meeting). I'm going on memory from the Culligan data, but I recall a number in the mid 200 range, but I couldn't even tell you if it was the TDS number.

As far as the two presentations...and how Culligan described Chlorine? Again...I don't recall. (with 3 young 'active' children to contain during the 2 hour 'presentation', some of the details are fuzzy.) Other than the 17 grains in our water and a couple of benefit statements I didn't embrace (like how much $ I'll save in soap), I don't recall much. I also remember that our iron level was very low.

When you say the Kinetico machine self-adjusts to the water usage, I interpret that other than their 4040 model, other water softeners (including Culligan) must be adjusted overtime to ensure they provide soft water?

From what I've gathered from you, the Kinetico pairing of the K5 and 4040 will be more expensive up front, but should be more efficient and hassle free over the next 10+ years than the Culligan? (I use the same analogy to describe Honda over GM...sorry to the GM fans out there).

Other than asking if you're aware of any differences in the annual costs of running water softener/RO systems between Kinetico and Culligan, I can't ask much more of you...you've been great!

Thanks again.
Lee
 
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Old 02-22-10, 04:03 AM
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When you say the Kinetico machine self-adjusts to the water usage, I interpret that other than their 4040 model, other water softeners (including Culligan) must be adjusted overtime to ensure they provide soft water?
What I mean is that if it is set for two people and seven guest come to stay for the weekend, there is nothing you have to do to compensate for more total volume used provided plumbing can handle the flow rate. Single tank systems set for two people need to be adjusted to handle the additional daily volume. If not, the reserve capacity won't be enough to handle it and hard, untreated water will appear.

Then when they go home, the softener needs to be rest to accommodate only two people. If not, then it will regenerate too early, wasting salt and water. That's the adjusting I was referring to.

With twin tanks, that is not necessary.

Andy Christensen, CWS-II
 
 

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