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How Much Does a Water Softener System Cost?

Jennifer Hansen
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by Jennifer Hansen

So, you are looking to buy a water softener but to know how much you will be spending, and you may wonder, is a water softener even worth the cost?

We are here to help. By the end of this article, you will understand the benefits and cost of owning a water softener system.

So, How much do Water Softeners Cost?

A broad estimate in the cost of a water softener system is between $600-$2,500 on average. However, you can find some small ones on Amazon for less than $450, and the large capacity industrial ones can cost up to $10,000.

So, really the cost of a water softener depends on the following factors:

  • System and Unit Size
  • Installation
  • Maintenance

One last point before we get into the water softener cost breakdown: You may still be unsure if investing in a water softener is even worth the cost.

We give a resounding yes! A good-quality water softener (see our water softener reviews of the best) is well worth the cost because, in the long run, it will save you money. There’s also an option to rent a water softener but it is not a smart long term investment.

Hard water affects pipes, appliances, skin, hair, and clothes. A softener will increase the lifetime of both your plumbing system and appliances while giving you the peace of mind that your soap is actually working when your skin feels soft, and your clothes are bright.

A water treatment system

Water Softener System Cost Breakdown

Let’s first look at the system and size of various units to get a better idea of the cost.

System and Unit Size

The type and size of the unit will determine the initial cost. Larger homes with high water usage require larger amounts of water, which in turn requires a higher-efficiency softener. Smaller homes with lower water usage will need a smaller softener, thus naturally saving cost.

Water softeners are characterized by their capacity (how much water they can soften). Their capacity is measured in grains per gallon (GPG).  The level of GPG you need will depend on how much hardness is in your water and how many people are in your household. You can find out your water’s hardness level through a home testing kit.

The grain capacity of most water softeners on the market is 20,000-80,000. A smaller household with 2-3 people and two bathrooms needs a smaller to midsize softener of 20,000-grain capacity. A larger household of four or more people needs at least a 32,000-grain capacity. The larger the household and the larger the water hardness, the larger the grain capacity required.

It goes without saying that the larger the grain capacity, the larger the price of the softener.

Softener Types: Salt-Based Versus Salt-Free

Traditional salt-based ion-exchange water softeners soften water by removing all minerals that cause water hardness. On the other hand, salt-free water softeners, also called water conditioners, do not actually remove these minerals. Instead, they crystalize the hard minerals so that they lose their ability to stick to pipes and plumbing.

When it comes to cost, salt-free softeners are comparable to salt-based softeners in cost. However, since they don’t require electricity or produce water waste, you will save on power and water usage.

Installation

Installation costs of a water softener can also vary. The labor costs typically include the removal and disposal of a previous system (if applicable), preparing the pipes for the new system, and the materials required to secure the unit. The average cost to install a water softener ranges from $400-$3000. This is only a range , and the actual cost may be lower or higher.

In addition, some homeowners choose to install their systems themselves. Doing this obviously saves money if you know what you’re doing.

Related: How to Install a Water Softener

Maintenance

To maintain your water softener, you will need to refill the salt tank every few weeks (or longer, depending on how much water you use). Homeowners report that they pay approximately $10-$20 a month in salt.

Some water-softening systems include sediment filters, which should be replaced every 3-6 months. These vary in cost from $30-200 depending on the size and quality.

A professional inspection costs between $40-$100, and unless there are problems with your machine, you only need one every year or two.

Related: Water Softener Maintenance Checklist

How Long Do Water Softeners Last?

We usually don’t this because there are so many factors involved, but when it comes to water softeners, you often “get what you pay for,” so to speak. Some of the budget options ($600-$1,000) have higher maintenance costs and a shorter lifetime.

Medium to higher quality systems ($1500+) are made to last 10-15 years, some even longer. As long as they are taken care of, you can expect to pay your water softener off and get your money’s worth in no time.

SpringWell and Quality Water Treatment Price Comparison

Both SpringWell and Quality Water Treatment are leading brands in the water softening industry. Let’s look at their water softening systems and total costs in detail:

SpringWell Water’s Salt-Free and Salt Water Softening

Springwell whole house water softener

With over 20 years of water softening experience, SpringWell continues to develop and fine-tune their systems, ensuring maximum efficiency. They feature both a salt-free and salt-based water softening systems at reasonable prices.

The SpringWell Salt-Based Water Softener System is one of the most powerful and dependable ion-exchange softeners out there. With this system, you will use 40% less detergent and soap, extend the life of your appliances, and see less spotting and clearer glassware and silverware.

The SpringWell FutureSoft Salt-Free Water Softener is a whole-house softening system that removes existing scale from pipes and appliances while providing 99.6% scale prevention, all without chemicals or salt.

Cost

The retail price of SpringWell’s Salt-Based Water Softener for 1-3 bathrooms (32,000-grain capacity) is $2099.00, but SpringWell continuously offers sale prices. At the time of this writing, this system is on sale for 40% off, so it is $1268.06. If you need a larger grain capacity, you can look into the 1054 model for 4-6 bathrooms and 48,000-grain capacity.

SpringWell’s Salt-Free Softener retails at $2865.00; however, it is on sale right now for $1384.34. That’s 52% off and a great deal! In addition, SpringWell offers a 6-month money-back guarantee, a lifetime warranty on tanks and parts, and free shipping. Customers can also set up a payment plan with Affirm to pay off their softeners in either three, six, or 12 months.

Installation and Maintenance:

SpringWell states that if you are the “DIY” type, you may be able to install their water softeners yourself. They provide installation guides, so you can look at these ahead of time and see if this is a project you want to take on. If you would rather hire a professional, take into account the installation cost.

The salt-based system is low maintenance for a water softener, thanks to the Connected Series Bluetooth technology, where you can keep track of the status and settings, start a regeneration or backwash cycle, and view the current water usage. You will need to refill the salt as needed. The cost of salt for a month would be between $10-$20.

The salt-free system is virtually maintenance-free. You should change the pre-filter every 6 to 9 months, and SpringWell sells a two-pack for $39.95.

Quality Water Treatment’s Salt-Free and Salt Water Softening

Quality Water Treatment, a family-owned business from California, features over 30 years of experience in the water softening industry. QWT also features both salt-based and salt-free water softeners.

Their best-selling SoftPro Elite Water Softener for Well Water is an efficient softening system and also comes with customized add-on packages that you can add for all your water needs. They also feature the SoftPro Elite Softener for City Water.

QWT’s SoftPro Elite Salt-Free Water Softener is an eco-friendly saltless softener that removes and prevents limescale on plumbing and appliances while leaving in beneficial minerals.

Cost

Quality Water Treatment’s SoftPro Elite ranges from $899-2,159 and ranges from 24K to 110K grains. Currently, the 24,00-grain capacity system with no add-ons is on sale for $939, and the 32,000 grain is $1051.  However, QWT is known for its combination deals. For example, they offer this filter plus six different combos, which presents cost-effective and personalized solutions to each customer.

The SoftPro Elite Salt-Free Water Softener’s retail cost is $1,798.50; however, it is always on sale. At the time of this writing, it is 33% off, making the total cost $1,119.

With QWT, you can make four interest-free payments if you don’t pay off your purchase in full. QWT also throws in a 100% risk-free (60 days) guarantee, a lifetime warranty, live customer support, and free shipping.

Installation and Maintenance:

Quality Water Treatment advertises their softeners as “Easy Installation” and offers extensive  installation guides with videos, letting most customers install the system on their own. The SoftPro Basic does not come with a filter, so the only maintenance required is salt refilling. However, if you choose a softener combo, your unit may come with a sediment and carbon filter, which would need replaced accordingly.

Cost Breakdown

*Cost is estimated from the retail price of the salt-based softener at 32,000-grain capacity. You’re most likely to get them at a discount price far lesser than the retail price we used for calculations.

SpringWell:

  • Softener system cost: $2099.00
  • Salt: $10-$20/month
  • Shipping: free
  • Warranty: 6-month money-back and lifetime guarantee on tanks and valves
  • Estimated installation cost : $400-$3000 depending on factors.

Quality Water Treatment:

  • Softener system cost: $1,654.50
  • Salt: $10-$20/month
  • Shipping: free
  • Warranty: 3-month money-back guarantee and lifetime guarantee on system and parts
  • Estimated installation cost : $400-$3000 depending on factors.

Comparing the 32,000-grain capacity softener from both companies, Quality Water Treatment wins as far as the cost of the softener. The retail cost is $445 less than SpringWell’s. SpringWell’s money-back guarantee is six months longer, and then there’s the cost of installation, depending on if you need the system professionally installed.

The fact that both companies continuously offer sales is also something to keep in mind. More than likely, you won’t be buying either system at retail cost.

Both of these companies are top brands in the water softening industry, and they sell high-quality water softening solutions.

Other Pre-Buying Considerations

Many people just go out and buy a water softener without actually testing their water to see the level of water hardness, and they end up buying one with either a too large or too small grain capacity.

It is essential that you test your water prior to shopping for a water softening system, so you know exactly what you need. Also, this will show you if you have any other water issues that need to be addressed, such as unwanted contaminants. Keep in mind that a softener will not filter out common contaminants, so you may need an additional water filtration system if you don’t already have one. See our full list of things to consider.

Where Do I Buy a Water Softener System?

Though it’s a close call, ultimately, we believe the SpringWell Water Softening Systems to be the best in overall quality and cost-efficiency. While they may be a tad more expensive than their competitors, when it comes down to it, you save money because these systems work, and they last.

SpringWell stands behind its products with confidence, as seen in its 6-month money-back guarantee and lifetime warranty. No other water filtration company offers the guarantees that SpringWell does.

However, now that you are armed with the knowledge you need, you can find what you are looking for in a water softening system that is perfect for you and your home.

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About Jennifer Hansen
Jennifer Hansen
Jennifer is a clean water enthusiast and the lead editor of Water Filter Spot and created this website several years ago to share information that she's been researching in this industry for over 20 years. Jennifer studied environmental resource science in college and studied Western US water issues, including water policy, water rights, water pollution and environmental concerns.
Jennifer Hansen
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