5 Tips for Choosing the Best Water Softener System
Everyone wants a water softener system for the same reason: they are done with hard water, and ready to usher in a new era of soft skin, shiny hair, spotless dishes, bright clothes and easier cleaning. The reduced heating costs are just the icing on the cake.
Technically speaking, the best water softener is probably located inside some billionaire’s mansion. But that’s okay. It’s easy to get the best water softener for your needs without breaking the bank. Here are five helpful tips to keep in mind while you’re comparing water softener systems!
1. Grain Capacity Matters
A water softener can only remove a certain amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium before it requires regeneration. That is the water softener’s grain capacity (a “grain” being a unit of measurement equal to 1/437.5 ounces). In other words, once a water softener has removed a certain amount of solutes and reaches grain capacity, it needs to recharge.
Different water softener models have different grain capacities, typically ranging from 20,000 to 110,000. The best grain capacity for your home depends on two factors: its number of occupants, and the hardness of its water. If either of those increases, your water softener will have to work harder in turn.
The Detroit Lakes, MN area usually falls around 17 to 22 grains per gallon (gpg) on the water hardness scale. Let’s assume your own water falls somewhere near the middle at 20 gpg. In that case, you would just have to match your household occupancy to the correct grain capacity:
- 1-2 occupants: 32,000 gr
- 3-4 occupants: 40,000 gr
- 5-6 occupants: 48,000 gr
- 7-8 occupants: 64,000 gr
Please note that a difference of 1 gpg can change the ideal grain capacity for your next water softener. Professional water testing is necessary before you can make an informed purchase.
2. Price Isn’t Everything – But It Does Count
High-quality water softener systems are available for every budget. That said, higher-priced water softeners do typically perform most efficiently. They also offer better performance, primarily by (A) filtering sediment more effectively, and (B) removing larger amounts of iron from water.
3. Your Health May Require a Salt-Free Water Softener
Are you or a family member on a low-sodium diet? Then that bears heavily on which water softener system is best for your needs. Brief explanations of the two most popular types of systems will illuminate why:
- Cation exchange water softener – Also known simply as an ion exchange, this type of system replaces hard water minerals with sodium (one of the two elements in salt, the other being chloride).
- Salt-free water softener – This type of system does not actually remove calcium and magnesium ions from the water. Instead it changes them molecularly. Once crystalized, the ions can no longer form scaling inside pipes, thus reducing hard water’s effect on the entire plumbing system.
In short, an ion exchange system will introduce a significant amount of sodium into your tap water. If you’re on doctor’s orders to restrict your salt intake, and you intend to drink your own tap water, then a salt-free water softener represents the healthier option.
4. A Dual-Tank System Can Make Your Life Easier
Let’s be upfront about the chief drawbacks of dual-tank water softener systems: they are more expensive than single-tank alternatives, and they take up more space as well. A dual-tank system is an investment in convenience. Whereas a single-tank unit must occasionally disconnect from the water system while it regenerates, a dual-tank continuously supplies softened water with no need for downtime.
5. Features Vary By Model
Different water softeners require varying amounts of time for salt and water to regenerate. This can affect how frequently you have to refill the unit with salt. There are also two major methods for controlling regeneration cycles. Your next water softener will probably feature one of the following:
- Timer – A timer control uses an electric clock to count down to the beginning of the next regeneration cycle. It typically waits until early in the morning, when an interruption is least convenient.
- Demand-initiated regeneration (DIR) – This higher-tech control senses when the softener needs to recharge. It saves salt by only initiating a new cycle when one is needed, instead of at regular time intervals
Northern Minnesota is just as beautiful as it is filled with hard water. If you live or own commercial property in Perham, MN or the surrounding lakes community, then we welcome you to contact Ben Holzer Unlimited Water today. We’re standing by to measure your water hardness and advise the best water softener for your needs. We service existing systems, and we deliver bottled water and salt as well.