The best water softener?
The best water softener must be able to cope economically with the needs of your home. “Economically” does not mean the cheapest water softener to buy, it means the water softener that has the lowest life cost. Many manufacturers “slur” their brochures and technical specifications to hide real issues. Pure Choice strive 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 customers feedback.
Take for example the Kinetico 2020 c HF block salt water softener
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, lets 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 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).
- Lets 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 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. Lets assume that you own water softener for 10 years. The total running cost will be £1900, without allowing for any inflation.
The best water softener? Is it? Let us return 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.
Other water softener comparisons
I will not bother you with the same long winded calculations compare this to:
Harvey’s water softener
The Harvey water softener, manufactured in the UK by Harvey’s water softeners will have a typical annual cost of £109 per year. This is the most cost effective non electric water softener in the market today.
(This clean cycle water usage for the Harvey’s is effectively 3.7% of the actual annual water usage.)
Ecowater ESM 11+
The Ecowater ESM 11+ cost is just about half of this at £72 per year.
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 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. The Ecowater, just as reliable, better water flow rates, moderately cheaper to buy initially and SAVING YOU a whooping £640 over 10 years.
(This clean cycle water usage for the Ecowater water softener is only just over 2% of the actual annual water usage.)
Hague 400 maximizer
The annual running cost only £64 a year.
The Hague 400 maximizer fairs moderately better. Again a proportional salt system. Same criteria as above. Customer feedback suggest 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.)