How Much Does a Water Softener Cost? System & Installation Prices 2021

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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!

Contents

Home Water Softener System Cost Factors

Type, size, features and brand determine how much a water softener system costs.

  • Type – There are salt-based and salt-free water softeners (the latter is also known as “water conditioners“). Usually, salt-based water softeners are more expensive.
  • Size – The harder your water and the more of it you use on a daily basis, the larger your water softener – salt-based or not – should be. Service flow rate also plays an important role here. After all, you want to be able to turn on your washing machine, shower and open the kitchen faucet all at the same time without losing pressure.
  • Features – Sure, some features that more expensive products may come with are unnecessary bells and whistles. What you should look out for, however, is a water softener with a digital control head that allows for easy configuration and monitoring. You also want a metered system that regenerates based on previous water usage rather than timer-based. A unit with timed regeneration always uses the same amount of water and salt to recharge its resin bed no matter how saturated it actually is. The initial price tag might be a few hundred bucks lower, but it costs more to operate over the long run. Keeping water and salt use at a bare minimum is also better for the environment. By the way, this only applies to traditional salt water softeners.
  • Brand – There are a couple of really expensive brands out there that charge outrageous prices for products and services that you either don’t want or need, or that are simply no better than what the competition has to offer. Other than that, we recommend you go with one of the popular brands that have proven themselves over the years – think Fleck by Pentair.

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:

  • It prevents the accumulation of scale. This adds to the longevity of your home appliances such as your water heater as well as your plumbing system for reduced maintenance costs.
  • Heat exchangers will work more efficiently.
  • You can make savings in toiletries, detergents and other cleaning products thanks to improved lathering.

Water Softener Prices by Type

Water Softener TypeAverage Price Range
Standard ion exchange$700 – $2,000 USD
Dual tank ion exchange$1,500+ USD
Salt-free water conditioner$1,000 – $2,000 USD
Magnetic descaler$50 – $200 USD
Portable unit$150 – $400 USD
Commercial system$2,000+ USD
Resin or brine tank onlyLess than $100 USD

Ion Exchange Water Softener Prices

A standard ion exchange water softener costs anywhere between $700 and $2,000 USD.

We Recommend: SpringWell SS Whole House Water Softener

  • Our Go-To Water Softener for Tap and Well Water
  • Different System Sizes to Fit Your Home
  • Highest Salt and Water Regeneration Efficiency
  • Easy to Program & Maintain Thanks to Bluetooth Compatibility for Maximum Convenience
  • 6-Month Satisfaction Guarantee and Lifetime Warranty
  • → Read Detailed SpringWell SS Review

Highly Popular Budget Option: Fleck 5600SXT

  • Filled with Long-Lasting Resin
  • Digital Metered Regeneration Saves Salt + Water
  • Free Bonus: Quick Connect Hoses
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
  • 5 and 10-Year Warranties

SoftPro Elite City Water Softener

  • Highly Water and Salt Efficient
  • Never Runs Out of Soft Water
  • Easy to Install and Operate
  • Backed by Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Lifetime Warranty on Valve & Tanks

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.

Dual Tank Water Softeners

A dual tank setup that can provide softened water 24/7 usually costs $1,500+ USD.

Salt-Free Water Softener/Conditioner Cost

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

  • Best Alternative to Salt-Based Water Softeners
  • 99.6% Scale Prevention According to Arizona State University + Even Cleans Existing Scale Deposits
  • Can Handle Very Hard Water: ≤ 81 Grains per Gallon (gpg)
  • 3 System Sizes Available
  • Media Lasts Indefinitely without the Need to Regenerate (Saves Salt + Water)
  • 6-Month Satisfaction Guarantee and Lifetime Warranty

Lowest Price: Magnetic and Electronic Water Descalers

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

  • Our #1 Electronic Water Descaler
  • Approx. 50% Scale Prevention According to Study + Reduces Existing Limescale
  • For Hard Water of Up to 20 Grains Per Gallon (gpg)
  • Remaining Scale Formation is Soft and Easy to Clean
  • Extremely Easy to Install + 100% Maintenance-Free
  • 12-Month Money-Back Guarantee and Lifetime Warranty
  • → Read Full Review

Portable Units

Portable water softeners cost between $150 to $400 USD.

We Recommend: On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT Water Softener

  • Our Favorite Portable Water Softener
  • Highly Compact (Measures 9.5 x 22″) – Ideal for RVs
  • Easy to Hook Up and Use
  • Quick and Simple to Regenerate with Common Table Salt
  • Resin Lasts 5 to 7 Years Before It Needs Replacement

Commercial Water Softeners

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.

Tank Prices

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.

Reverse Osmosis Systems & Water Distillers

Reverse osmosis systems and water distillers do remove hard water minerals (calcium and magnesium), however, they’re designed to provide drinking water and impractical to use at scale.

Water Softener Price Comparison by Brand

Brand & ModelAverage Price
SpringWell SS$1,200 USD
SpringWell FutureSoft$1,400 USD
Crystal Quest$1,200 USD
Tier1 Essential Series$500 USD
Fleck 5600SXT$900 USD
SoftPro Elite$1,200 USD
Aquasana SimplySoft$700 USD
Pelican NaturSoft$1,400 USD
GE GXSF30V$500 USD
GE GXSH40V$700 USD
WaterBoss 950$700 USD
Genesis Premier$1,100 USD
CulliganCheck our Culligan Water Softener Cost Guide

How Much Does Water Softener Installation Cost?

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.

Water Softener Installation Cost Factors: Labor (Job Complexity) and Water Softener Type & Size

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.

Cost FactorDescription
Basic laborInstallation 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
SuppliesCosts of materials and supplies including connectors, fittings and valves
Equipment allowanceCosts of equipment used, including pipe cutter and slip joint pliers
Optional: Removing old appliancesDetaching (replace), disposing legally
Optional: Debris disposalDisposing old materials, installation waste and debris

Water Softener Loop Installation Cost

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.

Cost for Moving or Replacing a Water Softener

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.

plumbing wrenches

DIY Water Softener Installation vs. Hiring a Pro

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.

Service & Maintenance – How Much Does a Water Softener Cost Per Month?

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?

Cost FactorMonthly Cost
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
ElectricityNegligible
ServicingFree or $10 – $13 USD

1. Salt (Ion Exchange Systems Only)

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:

  • Resin tank size – The bigger the tank, the more salt is required for a full regeneration. However, partial regeneration turns out to be more salt efficient. This requires a large enough tank, though. (Pst, you can find our water softener sizing guide here.)
  • Individual settings – Running frequent regeneration cycles with a lower salt dosage will result in higher salt savings. At the same time water usage will increase.
  • Outdated system – An outdated system may require more salt if regeneration is not based on water usage but on a timed schedule.
  • Other water supply conditions – High TDS and iron content result in increased salt consumption.

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.

Other Water Softening Agents

Magnetic descalers do not require additional supplies to function. Unfortunately, the same does not hold true for all salt-free conditioners.

For example:

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.

2. Water + Sewer (Ion Exchange Only)

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.

3. Electricity?

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.

4. Servicing

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.

Pre-Filter Replacement

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.

Water Filter Cartridge

Calculation Examples

Example 1: Basic Ion Exchange Water Softener System for Mid-Sized Home, DIY-Install, No Paid Servicing Agreement

Cost FactorTotal Cost (First Year)
System purchase$1,400 USD
Installation kit$70 USD
Salt (for 12 months)$96 USD
Water + sewer (for 12 months)$150 USD
MaintenanceFree
Total$1,716 USD

Example 2: Water Conditioner for Larger House with 4 Bathrooms, Professional Install, No Paid Servicing Agreement

Cost FactorTotal Cost (First Year)
System purchase$1,700 USD
Installation$300 USD
Chelation agent (for 12 months)$180 USD
Water + sewer (for 12 months)$0 USD
MaintenanceFree
Total$2,180 USD

What Else to Consider

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.

You can get an overview of home and whole house water filtration system cost here.

Where to Buy Water Softeners

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.

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If you have any questions about water softener cost please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

About the Author Tim Stanley

Tim Stanley is our content creator veteran. His daily tasks involve everything from research to editing. His expertise: Water Softeners. When he is not working, Tim spends most his free time cycling and shaping his body doing calisthenics. To calm down he also likes to watch Netflix (who doesn’t?).
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Leave a Comment:

Samantha Nichols says May 13, 2021

Iron Pro 2 is one of the good water softener suggestions. Works great. This provides enough capacity. I am not sure how much salt this unit needs to generate that many grains. However, its price of $788 so you can think twice before getting it.

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