The average person uses around 80 gallons of water per day. In a month, that’s about 2,400 gallons of water used in just one household. That’s a lot of hard water to deal with! Hard water minerals create scale build-up on your pipes, fixtures, and appliances, and can make your skin dry and itchy.
Water softeners can solve all of these problems by removing those hard water minerals, making for soft water. But how much does a water softener cost? In this article, we’ll discuss whole house water softener system cost factors and what a water softener installation cost can run.
What Is A Water Softener System?
Before we get into the cost of water softeners, let’s first explain what one is. A salt-based water softener uses ion exchange to completely remove hard water minerals from your water supply. These are point-of-entry systems (POE), also called whole house water softener systems, that are installed where your main water line enters your home.
In the ion exchange process, tiny resin beads get washed with a salt solution that charges them with a sodium ion. The sodium ions are then exchanged with calcium and magnesium ions as the hard water flows through the system .
When water exits the resin tank into your home’s plumbing, it is now soft and completely free of hard water minerals. However, the softened water will contain low amounts of sodium due to the ion exchange process.
The salt in an ion exchange water softener is used to create a brine solution that gets flushed away when the resin beads become saturated with minerals. The system then regenerates so it is ready to treat more hard water.
Water Softener System Cost
Now that you understand how they work, let’s get into the water softener system cost. On average, a whole-house water softener system will cost $950. If you want to have the softener professionally installed it will add $150 – $1,000 for parts and labor . Monthly maintenance cost for a salt-based softener are also approximately $30 per month. The total price of the system will depend on the type and size of the system that’s best for your home, as well as installation costs.
Cost By Type Of Water Softener Systems
There are several types of water softener systems available, and each type has a different cost associated with it. In this section, we’ll go over the types of systems and their associated costs.
|Water Softener System Type||Average Price|
|Salt Based Softener (Ion Exchange)||$550 – $2,200|
|Dual Tank Softener||$1,100 – $2,900|
|Salt-Free Water Softener||$600 – $2,100|
|Magnetic Descaler||$100 – $400|
|Commercial Water Softener||$1,200 – $6,000|
Ion Exchange Systems
Ion exchange water softener systems are one of the most popular options when it comes to water softeners. These systems use salt inside a brine tank and an ion exchange process. During the process, calcium and magnesium minerals are completely removed to create soft water. The cost for ion exchange systems ranges from $550 – $2,200, depending on size and complexity. As with any system, installation costs will also factor into the total cost.
Dual Tank Water Softeners
A dual-tank water softener system is a more costly option, but it provides superior performance and capacity over traditional single-tank systems. These water softeners typically runs around $1,100 – $2,900 for the equipment and water softener installation. It works via ion exchange by exchanging calcium ions for sodium (salt) ions in two separate tanks – one for regeneration and one for softening – to create soft water. Generally, cost to install a dual tank system can run a little high because they require more modifications.
Salt-Free Water Softeners
Salt-free water conditioners are a more eco-friendly option for softening your water, as they don’t use salt to remove minerals or a require brine tank. Instead, saltless systems use a template assisted crystallization process that eliminates scale and keeps hard water minerals from sticking to your plumbing. The cost of these systems can range from $600 – $2,100, depending on size and complexity.
Magnetic descalers are the most affordable option when it comes to water softeners. These water conditioners attach to your pipes and use magnets to create a magnetic field that helps reduce the amount of scale build-up in your pipes. The cost for descaler systems can range from $100 – $400 as they are the simplest and least expensive option.
These are just a few of the types of water softeners and their associated costs. Others, like reverse osmosis systems and water distillers, can also be used as water-softening systems, and they come with their own price tags. Take your time to research and explore what’s available so you can make an informed decision on which system is best for you.
Water Softener System Cost By Capacity
The size of the water softener you need will depend on the size of your home and the amount of water your household uses. The bigger the house and the more water that’s used, the bigger system is needed. A small 1 – 3 people household can use a smaller system with a capacity of 20,000 – 30,000 grains. For bigger households, you’ll want a water softener with a capacity of at least 40,000 – 80,000 grains.
The cost of the water softener system by capacity will typically range from $400 – $2,000. Installation is an additional cost, so you should factor that in when estimating the total cost of a system. Furthermore, some models come with features like automatic timers and digital displays that may add to the overall cost.
The caveat to these average numbers depends on the hardness of your water and the amount of water each person consumes.
|Grain Capacity||Number Of People||Average Cost|
|20,000 Grains||1 – 2 People||$500 – $700|
|30,000 Grains||2 – 4 People||$550 – $1,000|
|40,000 Grains||4 – 6 People||$750 – $1,300|
|60,000 Grains||6 – 7 People||$950 – $1,500|
|80,000 Grains||7 – 8 People||$1,100 – $1,800|
Cost By Water Hardness
This is an important factor in determining the cost of water softener systems. The harder your water is, the more expensive it will be to soften. In general, very hard water requires a larger system than soft water does. But shockingly, over 85% of the United States is dealing with hard water!
For example, if you have very hard water with a hardness level of 17 grains per gallon (GPG), you’ll likely need a system with a capacity of 64,000 – 96,000 grains. These larger systems can cost anywhere from $1,000 – $2,500. On the other hand, if your water is soft (less than 5 GPG), you may only need a 20,000-grain system which could cost as little as $500.
Water can be classified as soft, slightly hard, hard, very hard :
|Classification||Grains/Gallon||Grain Capacity||Average Cost|
|Soft||0 – 1||15,000||$400 – $600|
|Slightly Hard||1 – 3.5||20,000||$500 – $700|
|Moderately Hard||3.5 – 7.0||30,000||$550 – $1,000|
|Hard||7.0 – 10.5||40,000||$750 – $1,300|
|Very Hard||10.5 and over||50,000 +||$1,300 +|
Cost By Water Softener Brand
The cost of water softeners also varies by brand. There are several popular brands on the market, and some may offer a wider range of features than others. Generally speaking, more feature-rich systems tend to be more expensive.
For instance, SpringWell is one of the most well-known water softener brands, and their systems run around $1,300-$1,600. They offer top-of-the-line products with advanced features, such as Bluetooth-enabled control heads and digital timers for water efficiency. Kind makes a fantastic salt-free softener that you can learn more about in our Kind E-2000 review. And lastly, there are more budget-friendly options, such as Fleck, which typically range from $600-$900.
|Water Softener Brand||Average Price|
|Fleck Water Softeners||$600 – $900|
|Kind Water Systems Salt-Free Softeners||$1,000 – $1,300|
|SpringWell Water Softeners||$1,300 – $1,600|
|Genesis Water Softeners||$1,200 – $2,000|
|Culligan Water Softeners||$1,000 – $4,000|
Cost Factors For Water Softener Systems
Now that you have a basic understanding of how much water softeners cost, there are a few other factors to consider that can affect the total cost.
Size Of Home
The size of your home will determine the size and capacity of the water softener that you need. A larger home may require a larger grain capacity system, which can add to the cost. For example, a family of 4 may need a water softener with 40,000 grain capacity, while a family of 7 might need double that.
Regional costs can also affect how much you’ll pay for a water softener. Water softeners can range dramatically in pricing depending on the region due to different regulations in place or the availability of materials and labor. For example, if you live in an area with high labor costs or specialized materials are required due to local restrictions, then your water softener could cost more than it would in another region. On the other hand, if you live in an area with lower labor costs or minimal regulations, then your water softener could be much less expensive than elsewhere.
The hardness of your water will also play a role in the cost of a water softener. Heavier water that contains more minerals will require a larger system with increased grain capacity and power, which means you’ll pay more for installation and maintenance costs. It’s important to have your water tested to determine the hardness and mineral content of your water so you can choose the right type of softener.
Permits And Inspections
Permits and inspections may also be required depending on the type of water softener you choose. This is especially true for water softener installation with a brine tank, which can require local permits or inspections. Permit and inspection fees can add up quickly, so make sure to factor that in when budgeting for new water softeners.
The plumbing materials you choose for a water softener installation may also affect the cost. If you opt for higher-end materials or specialized parts, it could increase your costs significantly. It’s important to make sure that all of the components used in your water softener system are long-lasting and high quality, so they don’t need frequent repairs. And, if you choose to hire a professional installer, the fees for labor and material installation will also affect your total costs. Water heater installation and repair can add to the total cost as well.
Having your water tested is essential for determining the hardness and mineral content of your water so you can select the right type of softener for your needs. Plus, testing will help you decide the size of your softener so that it meets your specific requirements. Depending on the type of test you choose, water testing can cost anywhere from $30 to $100 or more.
These are all important factors to consider before investing in a water softener. Knowing the cost of each factor can help you plan ahead and create a budget for your water softener system. That way, you know exactly how much money you’ll need to spend and don’t have any unpleasant surprises down the line.
Water Softener Cost Per Month
The additional maintenance costs for salt-based softeners include salt refills and water use. For a softener that regenerates 3 times per week, it costs around $75 per year for water to backflush the system. A salt based softener requires one 40 pound bag of salt per month on average, which costs about $100 per year. In total, a water softener will cost approximately $15 per month to operate.
Why Trust Freshnss?
Ricky is the founder of Freshnss and product reviewer specializing in water filtration, home, and kitchen products. For this guide, he worked with our water review board of experts. And also with our network of industry professionals who offered provided insights on how much does a water softener cost. Next, he researched today’s water softeners, considering dozens of options from various merchants and retailers. He has read thousands of user reviews, and written hundreds of product reviews. He has also tested and re-tested some of our top picks, and looked for filtration companies for new home water treatment options worth trying.
Freshnss uses only the highest-quality sources to support the facts used in our articles including: government organizations, independent studies, peer-reviewed journals, and lab testing results. Read our editorial review guidelines here to learn more about how we verify and fact-check our writing to keep our content reliable, accurate, and trustworthy.
- Drinking Water Treatment: Water Softening (Ion Exchange), University Of Nebraska Lincoln
- How Much Does A Water Softener Cost To Install?, HomeAdvisor
- Drinking Water Treatment Salt-Free Water “Softener” Options, University Of Nebraska Lincoln