Water Softener System Cost Breakdown (how much to install and buy?) (2023)

Water Softener System Cost Breakdown (how much to install and buy?) (1)

We all want to get rid of hard water, but water softeners come at a cost.

Depending on the water softening system chosen and the cost of installation, prices can range from $350 to $4,000. Yes, there is a significant difference between the prices of different water softeners.

The price range also depends on the type of fabric softener you want. If you are looking for a standard ion exchanger unit, it will cost you around $1000. If you just want a portable device, it might be as low as $300.

In this guide, we look at the various factors that contribute to these costs, including installation costs and whether a high-end model is worth buying. This allows you to make the optimal decision and invest in the ideal system for your family and home needs.

table of contents

  • 1 Cost of a home water softener system
  • 2 Standard costs for salt-based systems
  • 3 cost of conditioner without salt
  • Cost of 4 magnetic water softeners
  • 5 Average installation costs
  • 6 Monthly Water Softener Running Expenses
  • 7 Examples of Water Softener Cost Calculations
  • 8 Is it worth it?
  • 9 Conclusion

Residential water softener system cost

Below are the factors that determine the cost of a home water softener:

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  • Brand:If you research water softener prices, you will find that some brands charge higher prices than others. Some have services you don't need, while others have features you might not like or want. Look for brands that have a proven track record of differentiating themselves from the competition.
  • Type:There are a variety of water softeners, including standard ion exchangers and magnetic softeners. Keep in mind that choosing salt-based water softeners over salt-free conditioners will cost you more.
  • Size:Depending on the hardness of the water in your home, you should size it accordingly. For example, if your water has a high degree of hardness, you will use more and need a larger water softener. Here you can also see the flow rate of the device. A proper flow rate means you won't lose pressure when using multiple water sources at the same time.
  • Characteristics:Ideally, water softener highlights will help you save water and save money. For example, look for digitally controlled water softeners that are easy to manage. Instead of looking for programmed water softeners, opt for metering systems that work based on past water usage.
type of fabric softenerprice range
trading system$1,000 or more
Dual tank ion exchange unitUS$ 950 a US$ 2.000
portable unitUS$ 150 a US$ 400
magnetic water softenerabout $200
Salzfreier Conditioner150 bis 1,700 US dollars
standard ion exchanger350 to 1,800 US dollars

While the higher priced models are more expensive at first, keep in mind that they are more profitable in the long run. The main reason is that it has less repair costs. So opting for a cheaper water softener can solve your hard water problems. But it also might not last that long.

A high quality water softener pays off in the long run. Let's see why:

  • Water softeners keep your plumbing systems free of limescale.
  • Your appliances and water heaters will last longer and run more efficiently.
  • Save time and money when buying detergents and other household items because foaming is improved.

Standard costs for salt-based systems

Water Softener System Cost Breakdown (how much to install and buy?) (2)

Prices for a standard salt-based system, also known as a reverse osmosis or ion exchange unit, start at around $350 and can go as high as $1,800. He$350 Ion Exchange Modelis for 20,000 or more grains per gallon. Choose a higher priceWhole house ion exchange systemmeans you can have a highly efficient capacity of 30,000 grains per gallon. This capacity is great for filtering hard water items. These filter elements include calcium and magnesium.

If you own a small to medium sized home, that's plenty of water softening capability. Remember that a lower priced system often has inferior materials and lacks durability. Prices vary depending on softener water capacity, brand, high-tech features, and whether the system includes additional features.

When purchasing systems, remember that expensive systems do not always equal the best water softener. Some brands have high prices that do not reflect the quality of the device. Be sure to read customer reviews to see which models are worth your time.

salt free conditioner price

Water Softener System Cost Breakdown (how much to install and buy?) (3)

Prices for unsalted water purifiers start at $150 and go up to $1,700. Choose a higher priceWhole house descaling systemmeans you'll find a higher flow rate between three and six baths. These salt-free water softeners are an ideal system for treating hard water below 25 grains per gallon.


This type of water softener treats hard water from your unsalted water supply. Even if it involves costsstandardsneeds replacing, this water softener system uses less water. This means it doesn't cost as much to operate compared to other hard water treatment systems.

These types of systems do not soften the water, but keep it conditioned. Since it doesn't retain minerals, you don't need to dispose of wastewater. The hard water in your house does not leave the house, but the treatment it receives prevents it from sticking to surfaces.

Magnetic water softener cost

Water Softener System Cost Breakdown (how much to install and buy?) (4)

You can find a magnetic descaling system for as little as $200, but the average cost falls somewhere in the middle.$ 160 e $ 600.Whole home system prices vary by brand, size, and associated installation costs. These salt-free water softeners are easy to install and require no drainage.

This water softener system comes with magnets that wrap around your existing pipes. So, when in use, they prevent limescale build-up in pipes by restructuring hard mineral ions. These systems are sodium-free and do not require a brine tank or regeneration balls.

Although this water softening system is inexpensive and maintenance-free, its effectiveness is debatable. For example, a water softener can successfully prevent limescale deposits. However, these systems do not remove minerals from your hard water supply.

Average installation costs

Remember that if you choose a whole house water softener, the water supply must be connected to the existing plumbing system. You can't just install these systems anywhere or they won't work properly.

While this is required for most water softeners, the exception is installing a magnetic water softener as it is sodium free and does not require water to flow through it to function. As a result, many do not consider a magnetic water softener to be a "true" water softener.


We encourage homeowners to read the fine print of the warranty for water softener installation. For example, some warranties will be void if the water softening system is not installed by a licensed installer.

Assuming you need a plumber to install your system, estimate between $200 and $500 in addition to the initial water softener cost. This fee covers basic labor, equipment, installation materials, and post-installation work area cleanup. If you have an old system that the plumber is replacing, you can have them remove it for an additional fee.

Type of costs:Preis:Description:
Dispose of old appliances$ 70Replacement and legal disposal of an old system
professional work
$ 200 - $ 500
If the warranty requires a professional plumber
sanitary instalation
$ 750 - $ 3.500
If there is no water connection in old houses
basic kit
$ 50 - $ 100
DIY installation kits when professional installations are not required

Water softener monthly operating costs

Once you've found a water softener that fits your needs, your next question might be how much you'll spend when it's up and running. These fees depend on whether you choose a salt-free or salt-water softener. Let's discuss the necessary monthly costs you may face:

type of costsmonthly quota
monthly salt bag$10 per month
Potassium monthly bag$25 per month
resin substitute$100-$110 (you only have to do this once every 10 years)
carbon substituteUp to $150 per year (approx. $12.50 per month)
water and sewageAbout$ 6a month
electricityUp to $10 per year
maintenance and other servicesfree or even$ 37(budget per month)

monthly bags of salt

The biggest price consideration to have when choosing a sodium water softener is purchasing bags of salt. The only way to refill the pearls in your brine tank is with salt. How often you need to change the water depends on how hard the water is.

water and sewage

Seawater softeners produce wastewater during the regeneration process. Some systems consume50 gallonswhen regenerating. However, it is difficult to gauge exactly how much water the system will use, as it depends on the hardness level of the water.


One of the biggestmitoabout water softeners is that they use a significant amount of electricity. Choosing a system that regenerates based on water consumption helps save energy. You will find that an efficient system uses about as much energy as a clock radio per year.

maintenance and repair

Some systems, like a magnetic water softener, are maintenance free once installed. However, other water softening systems may require repairs that cost on average$ 422in a given year. If you choose a higher quality system, you will pay less for service, repair and maintenance.

Example calculations for water softener costs

Example 1:

Basic salt-based softener for medium-sized, do-it-yourself, maintenance-free homes.

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Spent:Prices: (first year)
Buy a water softener$ 500
Cost to install a water softener$ 23
Sal$30 (per month for 12 months)
agua$70 annually
maintenance or servicefree
No total:$ 953

Example 2:

Large home salt-free softener, professional installation, no maintenance.

Spent:Prices:(in the first year)
Buy a water softener1.000 $
Cost of Professional Installation of a Salt-Free Water Softener1.300 $
water softener cartridges$125 (each for 12 months)
aguaNo additional water consumption
maintenance or servicefree
No total:Approximately $3,800

Depending on the selected water softening system, it may be necessary topre or post treatment. These treatments will increase the total cost of operating your unit.

Is it worth the cost?

Soft water makes a significant difference when it comes to extending your device's lifespan and performance. Installing these systems will help reduce wear and tear on these household items. The main reason is that the system prevents the accumulation of incrustations in taps and pipes. This makes them last longer and work better.

It also means yournowyou don't have to work as hard. This saves you from buying a new water heater before the end of its useful life. It also means that it will work more efficiently. When water heaters work inefficiently, they use more water and electricity.

It is worth the cost of a water softener when choosing the best one to solve your hard water problems. While startup costs can be high at first, they will cost less over time. Reverse osmosis, ion exchange softeners or saltless systems are great ways to solve your hard water problems.


Hopefully we've cleared up some confusion about water softener costs.

Whether you are looking for a whole house system, an ion exchange model or salt free systems to solve your hard water problems, cost is a factor. A break-in system may also require a professional plumber to install it.

When deciding on a softener that fits your budget, feel free to ask the manufacturer about the softening process, model water usage, installation effort, and more to determine your total cost.

(Video) Best Whole House Water Softener | Top 5 Review [2023 Buying Guide]

You can find more product information on our water softenerreview page here.


How do I know what water softener to buy? ›

Multiply the water hardness by the water usage in the home to determine what size water softener is needed.. For example, a home that uses 225 gallons of water per day with a water hardness of 10 grains per gallon requires a water softener with a capacity of 2,250 grains per day.

Are water softeners worth installing? ›

Advantages of home water softening

Prevents build-up of minerals (scale) on the inside of pipes, fixtures, and hot water heaters. Lengthens the life of some appliances. Reduces or prevents mineral spots on glassware. Prevents or reduces soap films and detergent curds in sinks, bathtubs, and washing machines.

How much room do you need to install a water softener? ›

How Much Space Is Needed for a Water Softener System? Softeners don't take up too much space! You can expect to use about a 2ft x 3ft footprint for a standard softener with a brine tank. We've installed softeners in closets, garages, crawl spaces, attics – they can fit just about anywhere the space is available.

What size of water softener do I need? ›

Households with three people or fewer typically need a softener with a grain capacity of around 20,000 units. Households with four or more people typically need a softener with a grain capacity of 30,000 units or more.

Why not to buy a water softener? ›

Cons of Soft Water

The process used to make the water soft also makes it more volatile, which means it picks up more unwanted elements from your pipes. These elements can include lead, making it potentially more dangerous. A water softener wastes up to 120 gallons of water for every 1,000 gallons.

Is it OK to drink softened water? ›

Can I Drink Softened Water? While most softened water is perfectly safe to drink, the amount of sodium in the treated water will depend on the hardness of the original water. If the water hardness is below 400 ppm calcium before you soften it, then you can drink it with little concern.

How long does it take to install a home water softener? ›

Make plenty of time: Installing a water softener doesn't take a full day, but the process can range between two and four hours. This depends on the water softening system you chose, the age of your plumbing and other factors.

Do water softeners waste a lot of water? ›

Waste: The average salt water softener wastes approximately 150 gallons of water every week, amounting to nearly 8,000 gallons per year. Cost: In addition to higher water bills, salt-based softeners also require bags of salt, which result in continuing expenses for homeowners.

Does a water softener run through the whole house? ›

A water softener is a whole-house filtration system that removes hardness-causing calcium and magnesium minerals from your water through a process called ion exchange. A water softener addresses one of the most prevalent and devastating water problems: hard water.

Where is the best place to put a water softener? ›

Where Should Your Water Softener Go? The ideal location for a water softener is on level ground, near the water's point of entry into the house. If your home uses well water, the entry point is generally next to the pressure tank. If your home uses city water, it's usually next to the water meter.

Is there an alternative to a water softener? ›

The most common alternative to water softeners is called a water conditioner and offers a viable way to reduce the damage hard water can cause throughout your home through a process distinct from the process used by water softeners.

Is it bad to buy too big of a water softener? ›

Is an Oversized Water Softener Bad? An oversized water softener will certainly have the capacity to make sure that every gallon of water you use is appropriately treated for hardness. On the other hand, going too big can result in “channeling,” which occurs when there isn't enough water to fill the entire softener.

How big of a water softener do I need for a family of 4? ›

What size water softener is right for a family of 4? In general, a 32,000 or 33,000 grain water softener will suit most families of four.

Is it better to oversize a water softener? ›

An oversized water softener isn't necessarily as bad as an undersized one, save for the fact that you will pay more money for it upfront. Regeneration will occur less frequently and the unit will use salt more efficiently.

How long do residential water softeners last? ›

A water softener should last 10 to 15 years. If your unit is facing more wear and tear, it could be due to improper maintenance or particularly hard water. If you'd like to extend the lifespan of your water softener, one option is to add a pre-filter.

Is a salt free water softener better? ›

as we mentioned though, saltless water softeners don't remove the hardness minerals from water. If your home's water is slightly hard, a saltless system may work for you; however, a traditional water softener that uses salt is the best option, in most cases.

Are store bought water softeners good? ›

Finding a low price system may give you low quality results. Meant to be low-priced in a mass market, big box store water softeners are basic, inefficient at times, non-customizable and you may not get the quality, longevity, functionality, or service and maintenance that you had hoped for.

Why is soft water a problem for plumbers? ›

Since soft water contains very few dissolved minerals, it tends to leach minerals off other surfaces, including your metal plumbing pipes. This can result in pitting and pinhole leaks in metal plumbing pipes.

Why are states banning water softeners? ›

The most common reason why water softeners are banned in some states is that they don't meet environmental discharge standards set by the state or local authorities within the state. What is this? The discharge from a softener system has a high concentration of sodium ions and hard water minerals.

What is the downside of salt water softener? ›

Here are some cons of salt-based water softeners:

Softeners require regular maintenance of adding salt and at time a conditioner to keep the resin working properly. Failing to do so can result in premature fouling rendering the system useless. The cleaning cycle is long and a lot of water is being wasted in this method ...

Can dogs drink softened water? ›

The softening process slightly raises the sodium content of the water, but it's still suitable for drinking. Softened water is safe for most pets – and people – to drink.

Is soft water good for your hair? ›

Benefits of Hair Washing with Soft Water

Most notably, soft water lacks the heavy minerals that can damage hair and make it less resilient to other changes (like stress or diet). Because soft water can penetrate the hair follicle more fully, it generally helps hair look shinier, softer, and less damaged.

Who should not drink softened water? ›

A high intake of sodium leads to elevated blood pressure that can damage your eyes, kidneys, and heart. Pregnant and nursing women have a strict sodium intake limit of 1500 milligrams a day. By drinking softened water, you risk exceeding this limit with ease, which could lead to miscarriage.

Does installing a water softener clean pipes? ›

It is critical to understand that a water softener itself will not remove limescale buildup within our plumbing fixtures and pipework. It is the soft water that a water softener will produce that will run through the pipes that will gradually dissolve the existing scale buildup.

Can we drink water after installing water softener? ›

Softened water is considered safe to drink in the majority of cases.

Are home water softeners worth it? ›

A water softener is a great addition to any home for many reasons. They are particularly useful in areas where water hardness is particularly high.

What drains from a water softener? ›

Most water softeners require two drain tubes. One of the drain tubes connects to the control valve and is used to void the backwash water during the regeneration cycle. The other drain tube connects to the brine tank and serves as an overflow drain.

Do water softeners use a lot of electricity? ›

Just because you add another electricity-using appliance to the home doesn't mean it's going to be an energy drain. In fact, a water softener doesn't use as much energy as you might expect.

Can you cook with softened water? ›

Is it okay to cook with soft water? Absolutely! Here are some of the benefits soft water can provide whenever you're in the kitchen.

Can you flush toilet while water softener is regenerating? ›

Is it OK to flush a toilet while a water softener is regenerating? Yes, it's okay to flush a toilet while a water softener regenerates. The water used to flush the toilet will bypass the water softener – you won't be left with no water at all during the regeneration process.

Why are water softeners so loud? ›

The water softener has several moving parts, such as a mechanical motor, that can make noises. Many people mistake the noise during the regeneration cycle for some sort of mechanical problem when, in fact, the softener is simply doing its job.

Do I need a carbon filter with my water softener? ›

In addition to protecting the water softener, the carbon filter removes many of the impurities that are compromising your home's water quality. Some of the many benefits you will enjoy thanks to the addition of a carbon filter include: Water that is free of particulates and other contaminants.

How long does it take to get soft water after installing a water softener? ›

You won't have entirely soft water throughout your home right away. Instead, it will take 48 hours after installation for all your water to be soft. The reason for this has to do with your water heater. Your water heater collects water inside its tank and warms it before sending it to your home.

Should I put a filter before my water softener? ›

In general, if your water supply contains high levels of chlorine or sediment, then you need to install the water filter first. On the other hand, if your water supply has high levels of magnesium and calcium, then the water softener should be installed first.

Can I install water softener myself? ›

Installing a water softener yourself allows you to work on the project at your own pace and without spending extra money on a plumber. If you're simply replacing an old water softener, this can be done in under an hour.

What is the cheapest way to soften water? ›

Boiling water is certainly one of the most effective ways to soften it. The boiling will have the effect of draining the hard water minerals to the bottom, like calcium and magnesium.

What can I use in my water softener instead of salt? ›

Potassium Chloride works in water softeners the same way that traditional water softener salt (sodium chloride) does, by replacing hard water minerals. The primary difference is that hard water minerals are replaced with potassium instead of sodium.

How do I know which water softener to buy? ›

Multiply the water hardness by the water usage in the home to determine what size water softener is needed.. For example, a home that uses 225 gallons of water per day with a water hardness of 10 grains per gallon requires a water softener with a capacity of 2,250 grains per day.

Does a water softener reduce bills? ›

The brilliant news is that a water softener will help to reduce your monthly household bills. No question about it. Of course, you will have the initial expense of having the water softener installed. But once it's in place, you'll start to make savings on your household bills straightaway.

How much upkeep is needed on a water softener? ›

Most water softener experts recommend cleaning your brine tank once per year. Otherwise, salt can form clumps or sludge and reduce the effectiveness of your softener's regeneration process. If your water has high levels of iron or sediment, you may need to clean your brine tank more often.

What size water softener for 2 people? ›

Determine the proper water softener based on your hardness and number of people in your house.
Hardness in Grains Per Gallon1 to 2 people*3 to 4 people*
11-20 GPG32,000 Grain40,000 Grain
21-30 GPG32,000 Grain48,000 Grain
31-40 GPG48,000 Grain64,000 Grain
41-50 GPG64,000 Grain80,000 Grain
4 more rows

How many bags of salt does water softener use? ›

The average family of four with hard water (7-10 grains per gallon hardness level) will use about one 40-lb bag of salt each month. Hardness levels above 10 grains per gallon or more, might require more salt.

What does 42000 grain water softener mean? ›

What You've Probably Seen Online. The internet is littered with websites selling 24,000 / 32,000 / 48,000 / 64,000 grain water softeners. What does this mean? As mentioned above, the capacity of a water softener describes how much hardness it can remove before it needs to regenerate.

Is there a difference in water softeners? ›

Different water softeners will use different amounts and types of salt for regeneration. Tablet and granular salt are available from various outlets, whilst block salt has fewer suppliers and is generally twice as expensive.

What is the difference between 48000 and 64000 grain water softeners? ›

48,000 peak grain capacity is equal to 1.5 cubic feet of resin. 64,000 peak grain capacity is equal to 2.0 cubic feet of resin.

Does type of water softener matter? ›

The type of salt you use in your water softener does make a difference. While all salts will soften hard water, pellet salts will do so more efficiently because they are purer. Salts that include rock and earth leave residue inside a water softener, requiring the user to clean it more often.

How do I know what hardness to set my water softener? ›

As a good rule of thumb, you should start by setting your water hardness level on your water softener to match the GPG of your water supply. For example, if your report shows you that your water hardness level is 10 GPG, then you need to set your water softener to 10 GPG as well.


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