Water Softeners: Rental vs. Buying – Pros, Cons & Monthly Cost

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Water softeners are great for softening water (we should make that our quote of the day).

However, high-quality systems don’t come cheap, and the reality is that many people can’t put aside enough money to cover the costs. This is why some dealers also offer their softeners for rent.

Is it advisable to pay a recurring monthly fee instead of making a one-time payment, and what are the benefits and drawbacks of renting vs. buying?

Key Takeaways

Most important pros and cons of renting a water softener:

  • Pro: No huge one-off purchase cost (low commitment)
  • Pro: Try before you buy
  • Pro: Maintenance and repairs may be fully covered
  • Con: More expensive in the long run
  • Con: Limited choice

Most important pros and cons of buying a water softener:

  • Pro: You own it
  • Pro: Extensive selection
  • Pro: May increase the value of your property
  • Con: High initial cost
  • Con: You are responsible for maintenance and repairs (warranty aside)

Renting or Buying – Things To Consider

There is more than one factor that goes into evaluating whether to rent or buy a water softener, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Consider the following:

  • Do you have the money? – The biggest factor when choosing between renting or buying a water softener for your home is, of course, money. The question is, can you bear the costs for the acquisition plus installation of a decent system? Above that, if your water softener starts leaking or breaks down completely, do you have the cash to cover unforeseen repair bills?
  • Are you a renter? – If you are not the owner of the place you call home, maybe you are not even allowed to install a water softener. After all, to get a whole house softening system up and running you have to cut into the main water line among other things. So, before you spend any more time researching online, make sure to give your landlord a call and discuss your concern (don’t forget to turn on a smile and be friendly). Maybe you can work something out.
  • How long will you stay? As a renter, you should also think about how long you are planning to stay in the apartment, condo, house, or whatever it is that you are currently living in. If you are going to move to Europe next year there is no point in investing hundreds or thousands of dollars in a new high-tech system. In case you haven’t decided yet if and when you are going to move elsewhere, renting might be the better option for now.
    As a proprietor, adding a water softener to your property is likely to increase its value which is always a good thing, even if you are planning to sell eventually.

Water Softener Monthly Rental Cost

A salt-free water conditioner can be purchased for as low as $300 USD. Salt-based softeners are more expensive. A decent system starts at around $700 USD when bought online.

It’s hard to determine an average, but the most common whole house systems are priced around $1,000 USD, depending on their softening capacity.

To this you have to add expenses for installation if you can’t do the setup yourself. Between $200 and $500 USD seems realistic.

salt-based water softener

How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Water Softener?

Just like the price varies for buying, water softener rental cost vary between companies and from system to system.

We found offers with monthly rates of $23.49 USD for a salt-based system that retails at $1,415.99 USD. Another rental plan offered a WaterBoss PROPLUS 380 that can be bought for $1199.99 USD for a rental fee of $26.00 USD per month.

Whether or not these monthly fees included everything from installation to maintenance we cannot tell.

Rent To Own

Rent-to-own plans are usually a tad more expensive, but oftentimes include a special arrangement for you to get all renting fees refunded if you decide to purchase the softener in question within the first 3 to 6 months of use.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Renting


  • No huge one-off purchase cost – Apart from possible cost for installation, in a rental agreement there are no huge initial purchase expenses.
  • Low commitment – The good thing about leasing is that there is only very low commitment required if that’s what you want. This is most advantageous for two reasons:
    • First of all, if you run out of money or the softener or water it provides just don’t convince you, you can simply return it.
    • Second of all, if state or municipal law changes and all of a sudden you are not allowed to use a water softener in your area anymore, you can again simply give back the system and be glad that you didn’t waste a lot of money on a now worthless device that only takes up space in your garage or basement.
  • Try before you buy – Rent-to-own plans offer you the chance to try before you buy.
  • Maintenance and repairs coveredA water softener requires maintenance which costs time and/or money. The same goes for repairs. Both are usually carried out by the rental supplier who does everything for you. What’s more, costs are covered to up to 100% if you haven’t caused or contributed to any damage by acting willfully or with gross negligence – or have otherwise violated a contractual obligation. In other words, if your hypothetical water softener isn’t working as intended, all you would have to do is call the rental company.
  • Fast repairs by trained technicians – Whether it’s a leaking control valve or a clogged resin bed, you benefit from the expertise and experience of trained technicians that can diagnose and repair your rented water softener in no time, possibly even on the same day – 100 percent worry-free!


  • Higher total cost – Renting for an extended period of time means that you will actually pay more than you would have if you had purchased in the first place. Let’s say you rent a system for $25 USD per month. The purchase price is $1,000 USD. If you rent for at least three and a half years you end up paying more. Plus, you still don’t own the system!
  • Limited choice – Going online searching for a water softener to buy you will find an unlimited number of offerings. Renting means that you have to take what is on the table.
  • Used equipment – It is likely that you get a unit that is not brand new. This is not a problem as long as everything works as it should, but if it doesn’t…

Benefits and Drawbacks of Buying


  • It’s yours – If you buy a product it’s yours. You can do whatever you want with it and nobody can take it away from you.
  • Extensive selection – There are literally hundreds of water softeners to choose from. It is impossible that you won’t find exactly what you are looking for and what fits your needs.
  • Added value – A softener provides value by supplying you with softened water all year round. In addition to that, it also increases the value of your property as a reasonable investment that a potential buyer will appreciate. Bottom line: A water softener in a house in an area suffering from hard water makes a great selling point.


  • Initial costs – The biggest drawback of buying a water softener are the initial costs that can be quite overwhelming at first. Financing can be a viable solution. The monthly payments remind you of renting, only that it makes a lot more sense.
  • Your responsibility – It’s your responsibility that your water softener provides soft water without causing a threat to the health of your family. You have to maintain the system and if anything goes wrong, you either have to repair it yourself or pay someone else to do it for you. Thereby, it should not be forgotten that many softeners come with a 5 or even 10-year manufacturer warranty that has you covered.

Have you made up your mind? Do you prefer buying over renting? Great! Check out our water softener reviews to find the best system and get the most value for your money.

Making Sense

Like we said, because it always depends on the individual circumstances, it’s difficult to say that buying is always better than renting or vice versa.

However, taking into account that a good water softener needs very little service and will last for 10+ years unlikely to require costly repairs, in the vast majority of cases it makes more sense to buy a water softener instead of renting one.

Assuming that rental costs range between $20 to $30 USD per month and a comparable model can be purchased from an online retailer for $600 USD including shipping, the investment will pay off in a little more than 2 years. Above that, the longer you use your own unit, the more cost-effective it becomes.

Only if you won’t be able to afford a new softener anytime soon and it’s important to you to protect your plumbing system and household appliances from scaling right now, or if you need a system for a short period of time only, renting can be a viable alternative.

Also, if you choose to lease, look out for rent-to-own deals. Otherwise you’ll be paying for something that will never be yours.

Last but not least, why don’t you get yourself a hardness test kit and find out how hard your water really is? Maybe this will help you make a decision.

If you have any questions or thoughts about renting or buying a water softener please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

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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Leave a Comment:

Nancy Bilunas says July 19, 2018

The water softener you buy, no matter how well maintained, will last about 10 years. That’s the cost of the softener plus the cost of maintenance, & if it malfunctions at a bad time, you’re on the hook for the money. Been there, done that.

    Gene says July 21, 2018

    Thank you for your thoughts!

Karen Giner says February 17, 2020

I recently had to buy a new softener as my old one split and leaked all through my basement. It cost me approximately 2690 to replace. Now I feel ripped off but was told by other companies that was a comparable cost. I didn’t have the money and luckily my son paid for it for me. If I had to do it over again I would have researched pricing which I didn’t do I just wanted to fix the problem. It took weeks to get it ordered and installed and went through many cases of water

    Gene says February 26, 2020

    Thanks for sharing your experience Karen!

Francine Herrington says June 25, 2023

I’m interested in renting a water softener

    Gene says June 26, 2023

    Hi Francine,
    We don’t offer water softeners for rent, sorry.

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