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How much does a water softener cost?
In a nutshell, you can spend anywhere from $700 to $2,000 USD and more. We know, the price range is huge.
If you want to find out how much you need to invest in a good system without getting ripped off, check out the following guide!
These are the typical price ranges for the various types of water softeners:
Professional water softener installation can cost between $300 to $1,000.
Type, size, features and brand determine how much a water softener system costs.
Generally speaking, you should keep in mind that not all whole house water softeners and conditioners are created equal. A product with a lower price tag might wear out more quickly, thus having higher maintenance needs and requiring costly repairs (and vice versa).
Of course, prices for the same models can also vary quite significantly from one retailer to the next.
And lastly, remember that a solid system that functions properly will pay for itself down the road:
|Water Softener Type
|Average Price Range
|Standard ion exchange
|$700 – $2,000 USD
|Dual tank ion exchange
|Salt-free water conditioner
|$1,000 – $2,000 USD
|$50 – $200 USD
|$150 – $400 USD
|Resin or brine tank only
|Less than $100 USD
A standard ion exchange water softener costs anywhere between $700 and $2,000 USD.
We Recommend: SpringWell SS Whole House Water Softener
Less than $700 USD is only possible for 20,000 to 30,000-grain off-the-shelf units from one of the Big Box stores. The water softening capacity is sufficient for small, maybe medium-sized homes, but some components are probably low quality and prone to leaking and other issues.
For $2,000 USD you can get yourself an 80,000-grain system or even larger; a system that is top-notch and delivers enough soft water at any given time no matter how big your family or house.
FYI: At the very high end of the price spectrum you’ll find models for well over $2,500 which you really shouldn’t waste your hard-earned money on. Simply put, over-the-top expensive does not equal best in quality.
Speaking of quality, you can find detailed reviews of our favorite whole house water softeners + a list of top picks here.
A dual tank setup that can provide softened water 24/7 usually costs $1,500+ USD.
The average cost range for a salt-free water conditioner: $1,000 – $2,000 USD. Such systems which are mostly based on Template Assisted Crystallization are super effective and will solve your hard water problems for good.
We Recommend: FutureSoft Water Conditioner
Small magnetic or electronic water descalers are already available for around $100 USD. High end products can cost up to $200 USD.
However, descaling is a controversial topic. Most products have received mixed customer feedback, so make sure to do your due diligence before you buy.
We Recommend: Eddy Electronic Water Descaler
Portable water softeners cost between $150 to $400 USD.
We Recommend: On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT Water Softener
Commercial water softeners can manage dozens up to hundreds of gallons of water per minute and are therefore much larger compared to systems for residential use. Prices start at $1,500 USD with the sky being the limit.
Both brine and resin tanks can be purchased for less than $100 USD. Keep in mind though that the most expensive piece is the control valve which is the heart of every salt-based water softener.
Water distillers and reverse osmosis systems do remove hard water minerals (calcium and magnesium), however, they’re designed to provide drinking water and impractical to use at scale.
|Brand & Model
|Tier1 Essential Series
|Check our Culligan Water Softener Cost Guide
Any whole house water treatment device needs to be plumbed in. This also applies to water softeners (magnetic descalers are the exception that proves the rule).
Usually, water softener installation costs between $300 and up to $1,000 USD.
The fee covers basic labor, supplies, tools and equipment, worksite preparation, disposal of packaging, project materials, and workspace cleanup.
Add another $70 USD on average for the removal of old appliances and debris disposal if needed.
Other factors are remoteness of the job site, accessibility of the water softener in your home and regional labor costs.
The cost to install a water softener for commercial use can go as high as $10,000 USD.
Tip: Consider purchasing your water softener plus the installation service in a bundle to get a discount. You might also get free system delivery, setup and programming, and free removal of your old unit.
|Installation site preparation (also protection of existing structures and components), installing connectors and shut-off valves, establishing drain connection, connecting to main water line and power source, verification of operation, setup, cleanup
|Costs of materials and supplies including connectors, fittings and valves
|Costs of equipment used, including pipe cutter and slip joint pliers
|Optional: Removing old appliances
|Detaching (replace), disposing legally
|Optional: Debris disposal
|Disposing old materials, installation waste and debris
The price for water softener installation can increase by a lot for old houses that are not pre-plumbed. Need to install a water softener loop? That’s a time-consuming endeavor – cost estimates range from $750 to $3,500 USD total, depending on the complexity of the project.
You already have a water softener installed but want to have it moved? The cost are about as high as for installing a water softener that’s brand-new. If you think about it, there is not much additional work required.
Replacing an older unit is usually more affordable since all or most of the required plumbing connections should already be in place. Between $300 and $500 USD seems to be a good starting point.
If you are handy with tools you could also DIY-install your new softener. The most important skills you need are cutting and joining (non-)metal pipes to connect the inlet and outlet port of the system to your main water line.
Basic installation kits are available for $50 – $100 USD so you can save quite a lot of money as long as you own the necessary tools (or you can borrow them from someone).
That said, some companies like Aquasana require you to have a licensed plumber do the install. Otherwise, your product warranty voids.
Let’s say you have found a water softener that you like and that fits your budget. How much does it cost to operate the system on a monthly basis?
|Salt (ion exchange softeners only)
|$6 – $25 USD
|Citric acid (some salt-free conditioners)
|$8 – $17 USD
|Siliphos (some conditioners)
|$10 – $23 USD
|Water + sewer (ion exchange only)
|Approx. $16 USD
|Free or $10 – $13 USD
For an ion exchange water softener system there will be one main expense and that is salt, sodium chloride or potassium chloride to be more precise.
The salt is needed to recharge the resin beads in the resin tank once they are saturated with hard water ions (mainly calcium and magnesium). This process is also referred to as “regeneration“. The salt is stored in the brine tank which is often separate from the main softening tank.
How often and how much salt you have to refill depends first and foremost on your water hardness level and how much water you and your family consume.
Other factors include:
The industry standard is that a family of four uses one 40-pound salt bag per month. One bag costs anywhere between $6 and $25 USD, depending on what brand you choose and the purity grade. At Home Depot, a 40 lbs bag of salt pellets by Morton costs $6.56 USD – really not that much.
Magnetic descalers do not require additional supplies to function. Unfortunately, the same does not hold true for all salt-free conditioners.
A conditioner that relies on citric acid, a chelation agent to reduce the scaling effects of hard water, may require a new filter cartridge every 3 to 6 months. Price: $50 USD per cartridge.
A system based on Siliphos also requires a new cartridge every 3 to 6 months at $60 to $70 USD each.
Salt-based water softeners produce wastewater when regenerating. While some waste no more than 20 gallons per cycle, others waste 50. This means your water and sewer bill will rise.
By how much? It’s hard to give an estimate since there are so many factors that play a role. An average of $150 to $200 USD per year seems realistic – no liability assumed.
Having said that, you will find that you will use less soft water than you would use if unsoftened. Will the positive effect balance out the negative? Again, we can’t say that with certainty.
All modern ion exchangers run on electricity to power their digital control head unit and to drive motors. However, the draw is so small that it’s negligible.
A whole house water softener that is up to standards needs very little servicing, if any. Most companies recommend having your system inspected by an expert once every 1 to 2 years to make sure that it’s working properly.
However, we don’t consider this necessary if you know how to configure the control head yourself. This allows you to ensure that the valve functions as intended and adjust settings, such as how often you want your water softener to regenerate and how much water to use, if need be.
You can learn how to do all this by reading the product manual – for zero dollars.
You might also want to test your water on a regular basis.
What’s more, you should clean the brine tank and resin tank once a years to every five years under normal circumstances. Don’t worry, this is not overly complicated.
Out of convenience, some people actually prefer to hire a company that charges a monthly fee to deliver salt and maintain their system. Rates for these services vary from $120 to $150 USD per year.
Many water conditioners require pre-filtration which means that you need to replace the sediment pre-filter cartridge on a regular basis – at minimum cost: $40 USD per year seems realistic.
Example 1: Basic Ion Exchange Water Softener System for Mid-Sized Home, DIY-Install, No Paid Servicing Agreement
|Total Cost (First Year)
|Salt (for 12 months)
|Water + sewer (for 12 months)
Example 2: Water Conditioner for Larger House with 4 Bathrooms, Professional Install, No Paid Servicing Agreement
|Total Cost (First Year)
|Chelation agent (for 12 months)
|Water + sewer (for 12 months)
Depending on the overall quality of your water, additional pre and/or post-treatment may be recommended. Naturally, this will add to the cost.
An example for this would be an under sink water filter. Because softening can make your water unsuitable for drinking you may want to consider installing a reverse osmosis system that will remove any excess salt.
In our opinion, by far the best place to buy a water softener is online, preferably directly from brands and manufacturers running their own ecommerce stores. This way you can benefit from factory pricing and excellent customer support.
Large platforms, Amazon for instance, offer a large selection of products and make a solid alternative.
If you prefer to buy local, contact a couple of dealers for cost estimates and try to negotiate a lower price. Here, prices are usually a bit higher, but you can purchase the full package including installation and maintenance. Also, a local water expert should know about your water supply conditions.
If you have any questions about water softener cost please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
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