Why You Should and Shouldn’t Invest in a Culligan Water Softener

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Culligan provides water treatment systems – mainly softeners & filters – and water solutions for homes and offices as well as commercial and industrial applications. This includes the company’s delivery service where you can order filtered bottled water on a monthly basis.

Culligan was established in Northbrook, IL in 1936 and offered nothing but water softening solutions for residential use back then. Today, the headquarter is based in Rosemont, IL and the product range is much wider.

Since the beginning, Culligan has focused on building a network of franchises with local experts that act as company representatives. These experts help potential new customers to have their water tested and come up with the supposedly best treatment solution. Their service also always includes system installation & setup, and maintenance and repairs as needed.

Key Takeaways

Reasons to buy a Culligan water softener:

  • They regenerate only when needed which helps save water and salt.
  • Proportional regeneration refreshes only the resin bed part that has been exhausted.
  • Some systems offer a combination of softening and filtration.
  • Some units monitor the salt level to inform you how long it will last.
  • Models are (NSF-)tested and certified.
  • Done-for-You solution wherein hooking up the system, initial programming, maintenance, and potential repairs are done by a Culligan expert.
  • Different payment plans where you have the option to purchase, rent, or finance.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the product.

Reasons NOT to buy a Culligan water softener:

  • History of bad customer feedback with the company having a 2.2/5 rating on ConsumerAffairs back in 2020. However, as of June 2022, the company’s rating has increased to 3.8 stars.
  • A Culligan expert will assess your water situation before giving you an individualized quote. Other water softener companies provide fixed prices on a per-model basis.
  • Comparatively higher cost than what you pay for other water softeners.
  • Systems may not be user-friendly in the sense that Culligan prefers to install their softeners themselves, making servicing not as easy.

Reasons to Buy Culligan

In this guide, we are going to cover the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let’s start with the good. What are the reason to opt for a Culligan water softener?

  • Regenerate Only When Needed – Culligan softeners measure your water usage and only regenerate when necessary. This saves you money, water and salt.
  • Proportional Brining – Some systems allow for proportional resin regeneration, so that only the part of the resin bed that has been exhausted regenerates which further reduces salt consumption.
  • Soften + Filter – Some Culligan softeners will also filter your water in case you want to drink it. The HE Softener-Cleer even reduces sulfur, iron and water odor. The HE Municipal Water Conditioner shines in chlorine removal and helps to eliminate other tap water contaminants such as pesticides.
  • Convenience – If you purchase a smart brine tank, it will automatically monitor the salt level and lets you know how many days of salt are remaining. Convenient, isn’t it?
  • Tested & Certified – As far as we know, all Culligan softeners are tested and certified by the WQA against NSF Standards 44 + 372 and CSA Standard B483.1 that guarantee effective reduction of hardness (calcium and magnesium), barium, and radium 226/228. Some models also come with additional certifications.
  • Done-for-You Solution – Like we said, purchasing a Culligan softener also includes hooking up the system, initial programming, the maintenance part and potential repairs. Some systems will even send automatic service notifications directly to your Culligan expert.
  • Different Payment Plans – You can purchase, you can rent, you can finance. Culligan offers payment options for everyone.
  • Satisfaction Guarantee – It’s not much, but at least you get a 30-day money-back guarantee. Culligan will remove your softener and refund the purchase price if you are not satisfied with the product.

Reviews of Culligan Water Softeners

Culligan offers way too many different water softener models for us to check them all out. There is:

  1. The High Efficiency (HE) Series
  2. The HE 1.25 Series
  3. The HE Municipal Water Conditioner
  4. The HE Softener-Cleer
  5. The HE Twin and Progressive Flow
  6. The Medallist Series
  7. The Gold Series

This is why we decided to give you an overview of the High Efficiency Series, the Medallist, and the Gold Series which are the most sought after Culligan softeners as far as we can tell.

But first, the following video presentation by Culligan quickly covers each of the models (except for the Gold Series).

1. Culligan HE High Efficiency Water Softener Series

As the name suggests, the High Efficiency Series offers you the highest efficiency of all Culligan softeners in terms of salt and water usage. The goal: Reduce running costs to a bare minimum. Therefore, you have the option to choose between different tank sizes as well as regular downflow or upflow regeneration.

Stats (Downflow Regeneration Systems Only)

  • 4 different sizes
  • For small to larger families and homes
  • Maximum hardness level: 75 – 99 gpg
  • Total ferrous iron capacity: 5 ppm
  • Rated service flow rate: 9 to 10.6 gpm
  • Total softening capacity: Approx. 30,000 to 90,000 grains
  • Softening resin: 1.0 to 3.0 cu. ft.
  • Salt storage capacity: 250 lb to 600 lb
  • Operating pressure: 20 – 120 psi


  • Culligan’s most advanced softener series
  • Applies salt and water-saving technology
  • Different operating modes to choose from
  • Brine tank monitors salt level and detects bridges, eductor line plugging and tank overfilling
  • Wireless remote allows remote control and displays softener’s current status
  • Allows scheduled salt delivery
  • NSF certified
  • Can handle small amounts of clear-water iron
  • Warranty covered

Best for

The Culligan HE water softener series is best for people living in small to large homes who want an efficient salt-based water softener and don’t mind paying a premium price for it.

2. Culligan Medallist Series

Compared to the HE Series, the Culligan Medallist is more affordable since it does not feature all the bells and whistles that the former comes with. For example, the remote display + modem are optional. Also, warranties are available separately.


  • 4 different sizes (Medallist and Medallist Plus)
  • For small to larger families and homes
  • Maximum hardness level: 75 – 99 gpg
  • Total ferrous iron capacity: 5 ppm
  • Rated service flow rate: 5.9 to 10.2 gpm
  • Total softening capacity: Approx. 25,000 to 60,000 grains
  • Softening resin: 0.7 to 2.0 cu. ft.
  • Salt storage capacity: 250 lb to 375 lb
  • Operating pressure: 20 – 125 psi


  • Most affordable
  • Different operating modes to choose from
  • NSF certified
  • Can handle small amounts of clear-water iron
  • Warranty covered (only optional?)

Best for

Culligan Medallist water softeners are best for people who want a system more affordable than a Culligan HE but one that’s still NSF-certified for effectiveness.

3. Culligan Gold Series

And lastly, Culligan’s Gold Series. There is not much new to be said here, to be honest. The manufacturer advertises the system as “customizable” which we think refers to the option of choosing different tank sizes. Just like the HE Series, the Gold Series makes use of demand-initiated regeneration which only triggers when necessary to minimize salt use and wastewater production which in turn saves you money.


  • 4 different sizes
  • For small to larger families and homes
  • Maximum hardness level: 75 – 99 gpg
  • Total ferrous iron capacity: 5 ppm
  • Rated service flow rate: 9 to 10.6 gpm
  • Total softening capacity: Approx. 30,000 to 90,000 grains
  • Softening resin: 1.0 to 3.0 cu. ft.
  • Salt storage capacity: 250 lb to 600 lb
  • Operating pressure: 20 – 125 psi


  • Applies salt and water-saving technology
  • Different operating modes to choose from
  • NSF certified
  • Can handle small amounts of clear-water iron
  • Warranty covered (only optional?)

Best for

The Culligan Gold Series is best for people looking for an NSF-certified water softener that’s customizable and suited for small to large homes.

(Former) Reasons NOT to Buy Culligan

Bad Customer Feedback

In the past, we would not have invested our money in a Culligan water softener, the main reason being the sheer amount of negative customer feedback that the company had received over the years and the low overall satisfaction rating on consumeraffairs.com.

Culligan’s overall rating was a startling 2.2 stars back in 2020. This was based on 273 individual ratings. The vast majority of them were 1-star ratings. Then there were a handful of 2, 3, and 4-star ratings. And only about 35 reviewers rated the company with 5 stars.

Most customers were very disappointed with the products & services Culligan had provided and said they wouldn’t purchase from the company in future nor recommend anyone to do so either.

Sure, online ratings should always be taken with a grain of salt. Naturally, only those customers most passionate about their opinion tend to share their thoughts. And in this case, these were mostly very unhappy customers. At the same time, such a high percentage of negative feedback is hard to come by – even in the world wide web. Only about 20 to 25 percent of the ratings were positive.

Culligan Consumer Affairs

That said, things seem to have changed recently. As of June 2022, Culligan’s ConsumerAffairs rating is 3.8 stars (average of 314 ratings). We are very much hoping that this has to do with improved customer service (feel free to let us know in the comments below in case you have hands-on experience).

Culligan on Consumer Affairs June 2022

Pricing Structure

Culligan refuses to provide any prices for their softening systems upfront. What we mean by that is a local Culligan water expert has to visit your place first to assess your individual water situation and then you will be given a cost estimate.

This is why on the Culligan website it says: “Because your specific water goals will depend largely on your home’s water, actual pricing can vary. And it’s really hard to say what solution will suit your water best without starting with an in-home evaluation from your local Culligan Man.

Interestingly enough, most other softener companies and brands that we have dealt with up to this point have a different price policy. They simply provide you with a fixed price on a per model basis.

Comparatively High Cost

With that in mind, back in 2020 we digested some pricing information from Culligan’s ConsumerAffairs page:

  • A customer from Ohio paid $115 per month for a rental softener system and bimonthly salt delivery.
  • Another family signed a 3-year contract with Culligan to rent their basic softener and RO filtration system including service, which did not cover filters, salt, and salt delivery. Total costs: $5,770.
  • One lady got a quote for a water softener, reverse osmosis system, and a sulfur clear system for approximately $8,500. Without knowing more about the circumstances, this seemed rather expensive.
  • Another person paid $3,000 for a Culligan softener (probably including installation) with a smart sensor.

As you can see, comparatively high purchase prices and installation cost are another reason why Culligan may not be the ideal water softener company for many homeowners.

For more pricing information, check our Culligan water softener pricing guide.

Costly Maintenance & Repairs

We also read many reports about costly maintenance works and repairs as well as expensive fees charged for “free” inspections among other things.

water softener installation

Poor Customer Service?

Again, poor customer service is hopefully something that has changed in recent years. Because according to raters on ConsumerAffairs, Culligan’s support left a lot to be desired up till 2020. For example, some company representatives reportedly refused to resolve issues with malfunctioning systems that they had caused themselves. Others wanted to charge for work they’ve never performed.

We also read comments from customers that tried to get in touch with the company or one of its divisions, but never heard back. Or they were put on hold on the phone for so long that they gave up.

Systems Not User Friendly?

Okay, so we are not 100 percent sure about this one. What we do know is that Culligan prefers to install their softeners themselves – fair enough. This does not mean, however, that you couldn’t service or repair a Culligan softener yourself. At least replacement parts are available online.

We recommend: Culligan Water Softener Alternatives

If we don’t 100 percent recommend Culligan, which other water softener brands or models would we recommend instead?

Our favorite water softener is the SS by SpringWell. It will eliminate any scaling in your plumbing system and home appliances for increased efficiency and lifespan, lower maintenance, and fewer repairs.

Our #1 Water Softener: SpringWell SS

SpringWell SS Water Softener

Get 5% Off! Use Code: BOS5OFF

  • Our Favorite Water Softener for Tap Water + Well Water
  • 3 System Sizes to Fit Your Home
  • Highest Water and Salt Efficiency
  • Simple Programming and Monitoring Thanks to Bluetooth Compatibility – Maximum Convenience!
  • 6-Month Trial Period (Return for Full Refund if You’re Unhappy) + Lifetime Warranty
  • → Full SpringWell SS Review

You’re thinking about going salt-free? In this case make sure to check out the FutureSoft! It’s by far the best system you can get.

Side note: FutureSoft water conditioners apply TAC (Template Assisted Crystallization), a process based on catalytic bead media that crystallizes hard water minerals. Once crystallized, the hardness minerals remain suspended in the water and will leave your plumbing without causing any damage.

Nothing will be added or removed from your water; all healthy minerals will be retained. No salt use is also the most environmentally-friendly “softening” solution. Plus not having to buy salt bags saves you time and money. On top of that, no wastewater will go down the drain.

Our #1 Salt-Free Alternative: FutureSoft

SpringWell FutureSoft Salt-Free Water Conditioner

Get 5% Off! Use Code: BOS5OFF

  • Our Go-to Alternative to Salt-Based Water Softeners
  • 99.6% Scale Prevention According to Study Conducted by Arizona State (+ Cleans Existing Scale Deposits)
  • Can Handle Extremely Hard Water
  • 3 Sizes to Choose From
  • Media Lasts Indefinitely. No Need to Regenerate.
  • 6-Month Satisfaction Guarantee & Lifetime Warranty
  • → Read Full Review

If you have any questions about Culligan softeners, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

And remember to revisit from time to time, as we are going to add new information to this page occasionally.

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald is one of the founders of BOS and currently head of content creation. She has 8+ years of experience as a water treatment specialist under her belt making her our senior scientist. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
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Information provided on BOS is for educational purposes only. The products and services we review may not be right for your individual circumstances.
We adhere to strict editorial guidelines. Rest assured, the opinions expressed have not been provided, reviewed, or otherwise endorsed by our partners – they are unbiased, independent, and the author’s alone. Our licensed experts fact-check all content for accuracy. It is accurate as of the date posted and to the best of our knowledge.

Leave a Comment:

Mike Young says January 2, 2021

Found your water softener article very interesting. It mirrored exactly what I was seeing from hours of online research from many sites. But, your analysis was far more concise.

Steve Back says March 29, 2021

High cost, must also pay for annual maintenance, the back wash runs for hours and hours using more water than I use in a month. That problem has not been taken care of. The maintenance doesn’t solve any thing. I can install a water softener myself for under $500

Tony Ciero says May 13, 2021

It looks like these Consumer Affairs snapshots are old — both links show a 4-star rating from Culligan pretty soon after this article was posted. I’m not sure when the screenshots were taken.

    Gene says June 15, 2022

    Hi Tony,
    You are right. This article was updated.

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