Softeners > Features
Flow Rate / Capacity
|Different water softener models offer different feature sets which can have a profound impact on how well the particular water softener will fit within the plumbing system of your home and how easy or difficult it will be to operate and maintain. Our goal here is not to list every possible feature, as that would be a counterproductive use of your time, but rather to poinpoint key considerations with respect to the most important features of a water softener. These are important to understand before you make a purchase decision.|
water softeners had analog controls, with knobs and dials. They
actually looked a bit like those old radios sets from the 1950s.
The flow rate or capacity refers to the amount of water which the water softener would need to handle on a regular basis. Water softeners are often sized in terms of "grain removal capacity" and come in a range of standard sizes, including 15,000; 24,000; 32,000; 40,000; 48,000; 60,000; 64,000; 80,000; 96,000 and 110,000. In order to estimate the appropriate size for your home, you can use the following short-hand:
SIZE = [number of people in the home] * [water hardness in GPG] * [100 gal.] * [7 days]
Thus, for a 4-person household with 10 GPG water, the size requirement would be 28,000, meaning that a 32,000 Grain water softener would be appropriate. If you select a water softener with lower capacity than you need, you might experience problems such as hardness breakthrough, pressure drops and even unstable water temperatures in the sinks and showers.
The regeneration of a water softener is another important feature to understand. Most water softeners are classified based on the way in which they regenerate (see our Types section for more details). The most efficient and easiest to use regeneration type is metered, which is automatically tied to the amount of water being used. If you choose to purchase a system with timed or manual regeneration, make sure you understand the differences and the additional requirements that will be placed on you as the user in order to operate such a water softener effectively. In addition, it is important to understand how the water softener handles water usage at the exact time of regeneration. Is there a second tank or a bypass system which allows uninterrupted usage during regeneration?
The bypass valve is an important feature, not only in times of regeneration, but in general for when there is any type of issue with the water softener. In any situation where the water softener is out of service, the bypass valve will provide for uninterrupted flow of water into the home and allow unimpaired access to water for all the on-going appliance, kitchen and bathroom needs.
Another feature is the brine tank, where the salt goes, which is then utilized to facilitate the ion exchange in the hard water. There are three primary types of salt which are available for usage in a water softener: rock salt (naturally occurring salt mined from the ground), solar salt (harvested from the evaporation of sea water) and evaporated salt (underground deposits with the moisture removed). Rock salt is the cheapest, but it will also require a more frequent clean-out of the brine tank. Some water softeners will not work as well with different types of salt, so it is important to determine whether a particular model will support the types of salt that you intend to use.
Finally, it is vital to find out what warranties are offered with the water softener product. Because this is a substantial investment, it is important to know that the model you purchase is backed both by the manufacturer and the seller with at least a 3-year warranty. A number of manufacturers offer 5-year, 10-year and even lifetime warranties. In addition to the amount of time that a warranty will be in effect, it is important to determine which specific elements are covered under that warranty.