Water softeners : reviews for the UK
Questions that often asked:
- Water softeners – Which are the best water softeners?
- What water softener should I fit?
- How much should I pay for the correct water softener?
- Confused which water softener to buy?
These are just a few of the most common questions that are often asked.
Pure Choice Quality Water Treatment Systems continually review water softeners that are supplied in the UK. It is so important to choose the correct system that suits both the technical needs of your property and of course your budget.
Pure Choice Quality Water Treatment Systems is independent of any one supplier so we will help you through the maze of choices.
For independent advice please call us on 01458 860557. The picture to the right shows where some people have made the wrong choice – DO NOT let this be YOU!
Water softener reviews so far (we will be pleased to review, with you any of the UK water softeners not listed below, please contact us)
So far, we have compiled the following reviews for water softeners from the UK marketplace.
- Kinetico 2020c (high flow) : non electric block salt water softeners
- TwinTec S3 : non electric block salt water softeners
- Tapworks : electronic traditional tablet salt water softeners
- Ecowater ESM 11+ : electronic traditional tablet salt water softeners
- Hague 400 maximizer : electronic block salt or traditional tablet salt water softeners
- Please complete the form below for a water softener review that you may be considering to purchase
Water softeners : reviews
In the compilation of the reviews for water softeners we consider the features and benefits stated in manufactures published material, together with out own customer observations. Many manufacturers “slur” their brochures and technical specifications to hide real issues. Pure Choice strives to review manufacturer’s brochures and published data to create a simple basis for water softener comparisons. We compare and review water softeners both from specifications and the real world of customer’s feedback.
Water softener reviews: Kinetico 2020c HF
The Kinetico brand has been around for many years; first built in the USA the Kinetico brand became popular in the UK during the 1980’s. Until the early 2000’s it commanded the top accolade of the most popular non electric water softener in the UK water softener market place.
Let us now look at the Kinetico 2020 c HF block salt water softeners in detail
The sales literature reads well.
- Compact design, fits into a standard kitchen cupboard.
- Simple to use, easy to maintain just add salt.
- Easy open lid for handy salt loading, convenient salt options block or tablet.
Now for the facts
The 2020c HF specification indicates either 0.22 or 0.3 kg of salt per regeneration and will use 18.9 litres (claimed, the actual is 26 litres) of water to clean itself (regenerate). It also says it is capable of high flow water requirements in your home.
But what the sales literature does not tell you is how much it will cost you to keep going.
For example, let’s say that 4 of you live in the house. You use an average of 140 litres of water per person per day. Your water hardness is 300 mg/l (or ppm – parts per million).
Some simple and quick calculations:-
- Annual water usage for 4 people at 140 litres of water per person per day = 204,400 litres per year.
- For 300 mg/l water hardness the Kinetico 2020c HF will provide 370 litres of water between self cleans, (regeneration cycles). NB it is considered safer for this hardness to use a setting of 296 litres.
- So it therefore has to clean at least 550 times a year, or with the conservative choice at 296 litres per cycle 690 times a year, (almost twice a day!)
- Each clean will require 18.9 (claimed on literature, actual test results is 26 litres) litres of water per cleaning cycle, hence 10,395 litres (test show actual waste water is 17,940 litres of water each year will be sent down the drain).
- Let’s say that you are on a water meter, a typical cost per 1000 litres of water is £3. So you will spend, in reality, over £53 a year on water, just for the water softener alone.
(This clean cycle water usage for the Kinetico 2020c HF water softener is over 8.7% of the actual annual water usage.)
Now for the salt cost
- For each clean cycle using 0.3 kg per clean, the annual usage is 207 kg a year.
- Salt blocks come in 8 kg packs, 2 x 4 kg per pack.
- 207 kg divided by 8 kg is very close to 26 packs a year. That means that you will have to load 1 packet of block salt every 2 weeks.
- Kinetico website salt prices are currently £106.08 for 20 packs.
The Kinetico 2020c HF water softeners will cost the family of 4, in an average water hardness area of 300 mg/l, a total just over £190 a year to run. Let’s assume that you own this type of water softener for 10 years. The total running cost will be £1900, without allowing for any inflation.
Returning to the sales literature
- Compact design, fits into a standard kitchen cupboard. Great! “Compact” means small, also small will give tiny salt storage volume.
- Simple to use, easy to maintain just add salt. “Simple to use” with a high salt usage this means frequent filling, easy yet a chore.
- Easy open lid for handy salt loading, convenient salt options block or tablet. “Easy open lid” it has to be for the number of times you have to attend to it. Tablet salt will be less storage volume without a special adaption. Even more frequent salt filling intervals.
Water softener reviews: Twintec S3
TwinTec water softener S3 made in the UK, unlike the Kinetico water softeners which built in the USA. The TwinTec water softener S3, which is a non electric block salt water softener, is said to be one of the most advanced water softeners available. The TwinTec water softener S3 is sold through an exclusive dealer network.
There are many local dealers that are located over the Country. It is fair to say that these dealers will want to provide you with a TwinTec water softener as their preference to any other choice of water softeners.
Let us look at features and benefits published in the sales literature for the TwinTec S3 water softeners
The TwinTec water softener says that it the worlds smallest twin cylinder non-electric water softener.
Small and compact can be attractive, but sometimes it may a compromise. Occasionally, with a smaller under sized water softener (any make of water softener) you may actually notice less water power (pressure) in your shower, especially if the equipment is cleaning itself or another member of your household is using water somewhere else. Pressure drop across these types of water softeners are just over 1 bar at 30 litres of water per minute. This is equivalent to say a modern shower running, hot and cold kitchen taps running water and perhaps the toilet cistern re-filling. This is suitable for the majority of homes but not all.
Small and compact is good as it will fit into awkward spaces that other softeners would not.
“For a continuous supply of softener water 24 hours a day”.
Do you actually need softened water 24 hours a day? Possibly.
In fairness the TwinTec water softener, twin cylinder, does do a pretty good job but it can let you down and occasionally give you hard water to your home.
No time clocks. No computers. No worries.
The mention of time clocks and computers for some people is frightening.
Dealers will, to the most part, make an issue about these on other water softeners. Therefore, implying that the TwinTec water softener is better than any other water softener.
Correct, in some applications this may be the case, but no all, cases.
With any non electric water softener (including the Kinetico water softeners) the unit is preset in the factory to cover a range of water hardness values. The dealer will want to ensure that they are not called back when you get hard water, so they will generally be extra cautious to install a non electric set to cope with water hardness higher than you actually have. So the non electric water softener fitted is your home is actually over compensated for your true water hardness. (Electronically controlled water softeners have considerably easier fine tuning to suit the local water harness.)
Do not be worried about computers and water; water softeners have successfully been using them for well over 20 years. (And, you do not need to keep pressing buttons to set them.). Old fashioned time control water softeners dating back to the 1960′s 1970′s 1980′s and 1990′s on the other hand are not good if you are subject to many power cuts.
Non electric technology was pioneered back in the 1970′s, and has come a long way to now be a leading water softener technology of today.
This is the best part of this type of water softener. The accurate measurement of water usage is very important to any water softener, both non-electric and electrically operated water softeners. (The Kinetico non electric water softener however does have water metering issues. They have to have two different water softeners either a high efficiency unit or a high flow unit.) The vast majority of other water softeners are well engineered to ensure that their systems work very well.
The type of meter used in this softener is also used in some others. The displacement meter is superior to turbine meters which do not measure water accurately at low water flow rates.
The unique brine valve fitted to the TwinTec water softeners is indeed unique. It is designed for these water softeners.
The TwinTec water softener leaves the factory preset with gearing for the in-built water meter and water hardness range. So fine tuning is desirable for different site conditions. You do need to know what you are doing when adjusting the brine valve. Most people will get frustrated if the installed water softener gives occasional hard water. (This could take days for you to get back to soft water.) Again, fine tuning, if actually carried out incorrectly, can lead to hard water. Therefore, the water softener is still set higher than it could be.
“The latest technology gives the finest granulometry of all”. Effectively this is jargon.
The TwinTec water softener is said to have, “the most efficient regeneration, which only uses 17 litres of water per regeneration only in 10 minutes”.
This initially sounds good.
Take an example, a TwinTec water softener selected for your home that has a water hardness of say 300 parts per million. Every 400 litres of water that is softened requires 17 litres of water to clean itself. You probably think that 17 litres of water is not a lot when it is mentioned that other water softeners can use 80 litres of water to clean.
Let’s look at some other comparisons
Kinetico 2020c HF: 370 litres of soft water specification suggest 18.9 litres of water to clean, this equates to over 5.1% (actual measured is 26 litres of water to clean, this equates to over 7%).
TwinTec water softener S3: 400 litres of soft water needs 17.3 litres of water to clean, this equates to over 4.3%
TwinTec State that: “The performance of the TwinTec out performs any other twin cylinder water softener and is second to none!”
A fair statement when compared to say a Kinetico twin non electric water softener.
The TwinTec water softener is designed for all modern day installations. Not always the case larger homes, and those with high flow systems, typically benefit from different a specification water softener.
Let us consider that if your home is fitted with high flow plumbing system. For example, a Megaflo un-vented hot water system is a very popular pressurized hot water heating system. Megaflo say that the Megaflo eco can deliver up to 72 litres of hot water a minute.
The TwinTec water softener S3 does not easily cope with this. At moderate flow rates fine, the higher the flow rate demand the greater the pressure drop across it.
The TwinTec water softener does claim that their water softeners is capable of providing flow rates over 55 litres per minute. At 55 litres per minute there will be a pressure loss of over 2.6 bar.
Most typical homes are fine. Larger homes do require larger water softeners.
How much do they cost?
Decent non electric water softeners are going to be typically £1300 to £1700 including VAT, ancillaries and installation. It is wise to get a quotation, a reputable water softener supplier will be happy to visit your home and leave you a quotation to consider. You will then be able to compare with other quotes that you may have already collected.
The TwinTec water softener S3 will cost the average family of 4 people between £100 and £120 a year to run.
Running cost – Some simple and quick calculations:-
- Annual water usage for 4 people at 140 litres of water per per person per day = 204,400 litres per year.
- For 300 mg/l water hardness the TwinTec S3 will provide 400 litres of water between self cleans, (regeneration cycles).
- So it therefore has to clean at least 511 times a year.
- Each clean will require 17 litres of water per cleaning cycle, hence 8,687 litres of water each year will be sent down the drain.
- Lets say that you are on a water meter, a typical cost per 1000 litres of water is £3. So you will spend over £26 a year on water, just for the water softener alone.
Now for the salt cost
- For each clean cycle using between 0.25 kg and 0.35 kg per clean, the annual usage is 127.75 kg a year (set at 0.25 kg) or over 178 kg per year (set at 0.35 kg).
- Salt blocks come in 8 kg packs, 2 x 4 kg per pack.
- 127 kg divided by 8 kg is just close to 16 packs a year. That means that you will have to load 1 packet of block salt every 3 and bit weeks.
- Harvey’s block salt vary in price, the official Harvey’s website currently sells 12 packets for £69.90. Close to 16 packs a year equates to £93.20 a year.
Water softener reviews: Tapworks
Tapworks water softeners models; Ultra 9, AD11, AD15 and NSC40 UD1 are generally for the plumbing trade
Tapworks water softeners are a trade water softener intended for the plumbing trade. Tapworks water softeners utilise components made in the USA by Ecowater Systems. When compared the actual Ecowater branded water softener systems the operational specification is some what similar, YET DIFFERENT.
So what is different?
- The method of measuring or metering the water usage is not as effective as it could be
The sensitivity is poor on the Tapworks water softener when compared to the main Ecowater branded water softeners that Ecowater UK sales. This can, and often does, lead to hard water leakage to your plumbing systems. With this in mind various “fudges” overrides have to be made. This means that the water softener will use more salt and cost you more money to run. In many cases, a daily override needs to be added that forces the Tapworks water softener to prevent the water softener giving hard water.
- Simplified electronic controllers
The electronic brain is not the same as on the more effective main Ecowater water softeners. This means that operation is not as effective as the Ecowater water softeners, potentially wasting more salt, costing you more money. Setting up the water hardness is very different. The Tapworks water softeners are set using unit settings. Do you understand a unit setting? The set up table (in the manual) is vague. Unit setting are not a true measure of water hardness. The memory loss back up is inferior the main Ecowater water softeners, this can mean that you will need to get the handbook out much more frequently to reset the Tapworks water softener.
- Maximum soft water capacity
This is lower than the comparable Ecowater branded equivalent sized water softener. Again, more salt needed and a higher running cost.
The Tapworks water softeners have a two year guarantee, (only if you return the registration card). The Ecowater water softeners have an extra year is bought through an authorised dealer like Pure Choice, (no need to return the registration card).
Not all plumbers were created equal. We have seen some awful work practices where plumbers have fitted water softeners, (not all plumbers). Most plumbers know how to join a pipe, you ask them how the water softener works in depth and their knowledge will begin to wane. This not to say that the plumber is not competent, but beware. Many, many, many times have we be called out to an installation done be a plumber to correct their work.
Water softener reviews: Ecowater ESM 11+
The Ecowater ESM 11+ water softeners running cost are around £72 per year, when using published data.
This is a worst case scenario. In reality the Ecowater ESM 11+ water softener is a proportion salting system. It has the ability to adjust itself to use the actual salt usage based on daily water demands. From user experience the more normal salt usage is only between £45 and £60 per year.
(This clean cycle water usage for the Ecowater water softener is only just over 2% of the actual annual water usage.)
Water softener reviews: Hague 400 maximizer
The annual running cost only £64 a year.
The Hague 400 maximizer fairs moderately better. Again a proportional salt system, (comparable to the Ecowater system above). Customer’s feedback suggests that the actual annual cost vary between £30 and £50 per year, due to the Hague 400 maximizer’s proportional salt system.
(This clean cycle water usage for the Hague water softener is only just over 2.5% of the actual annual water usage.)
So how do you choose?
Pure Choice will be happy to discuss your requirements without any obligation on your part.