Buy the Big Brands (Rainsoft, Kinetico, Culligan) or cheaper solution just fine?

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by bcaraway, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. bcaraway

    bcaraway New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Kerrville, TX
    We need a water softener. I recently had the Rainsoft guy out here for the dog-and-pony show (water test and very weak sales pitch). He never called back. I'm guessing he gets paid by the lead or per each test. Whatever.

    I have the money to lay out for one of these big brand whole house systems from Rainsoft, Culligan, or Kinetico. My question is this: Why should I spend ~$5K for these systems when there are tons of other seemingly comparable options out there for $1500 - $2500? What does $5K get me that $2000 doesn't? Pros/Cons?

    I can't seem to get any help/education searching online...just worthless copy on affiliate pages. I like reading some of the things on Alamo Water Softeners' site, but I'm just not sure what to believe.

    I'm hoping to get some help here on this forum on how to go about buying a whole house system (including RO at kitchen sink, and maybe fridge too).

    My stats:
    5 people in family
    Hardness - 11.5 GPG
    Chlorine - 1.5 PPM

    Can I get some help? Let me know if you need other questions answered. Thanks in advance...

    Blake C
    Kerrville, TX
  2. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,051
    Location:
    Maine
    You can buy almost anything online and if you have the skills, tools and patience you can probably install it yourself. All 3 of the companies you mention make good equipment and they will install and service it too but as you have already noticed, you pay a premium for their products and their services. So in the end it all comes down to how much you want to spend and how much commitment you have to the project. Do yourself a favor though and avoid big box store brands like GE and Kenmore units. If you are going to spend the money, buy equipment that will last more than a few years. Fleck is a good place to start since you can't get Clack online anymore.
  3. wangtao

    wangtao New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    China
    Hi, Blake,
    Base on my knowledge about softener,list is the difference:
    1.Kinetico No Need Electric Power, double resin tank,expensive;
    2.Culligan need power, single Resin tank,expensive;
    3.Rainsoft need power, single tank, expensive;
    It's better to call every vender and ask for a dog-and-pony,then you can make your final decision.

    hope will help you.
  4. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    720
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    Blake,
    Haven't been to Kerrville in years but maybe we know some of the same people. Anyway, don't waste your money on the high priced equipment when the lower priced ones (except the big box store models) will do they same. You can buy on line and have a plumber install it and save thousands. I send you a private message.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,251
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; What does $5K get me that $2000 doesn't? Pros/Cons?

    A "big name", period. Most, if not all, of the "big names" are overpriced and depend on the "dog and pony show" to get you to "buy now, before the price goes up". The only advantage to one of them, and you will still overpay for it, is that they will do the repiping necessary, if you do not have provision for the softener, but even then you may not know if they did it the "best" way, or the "cheapest" way. All water softeners use the same process and materials. The price difference SHOULD be in the controls they use, which are actually all bought from the same sources, therfore, I suggest to my customers, and also for my own uses, that they put a lot of consideration into what they are getting for their money, and maybe one of the less expensive units is just as good.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011
  6. bcaraway

    bcaraway New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Kerrville, TX
    Thanks for all the info. I think I'm going to put together my own system and have a plumber install locally. I've already started sizing and specifying a system thanks to the helpful links on this forum. I'm looking at the Fleck 5600 SXT (5600SXT-40M).

    Any recommendations on carbon filter and RO system here (links and/or discussion)? Those are the other two components I was looking at with Rainsoft/Culligan/Kinetico.

    Gotta say....the water conditioning industry sucks. There's too much disparity in price between DIY and big name retailers...and help from great forums like this one really should be more available to typical consumers that aren't necessarily DIY'ers but aren't total suckers with $ to burn either.

    Thanks for all the help here...very much appreciated!

    Blake C.
  7. bcaraway

    bcaraway New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Kerrville, TX
    Culligan gave me a price for their Gold series softener, Big Blue filter, and RO system - $4565

    When I asked, the sales guy said it's a Culligan made controller. Same with the Resin.

    45,000 grain capacity softener with 16 or 18" brine tank.

    Much better price than expected. What other questions should I ask or things to be aware of here?

    Thx
  8. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Buying a national brand meas you must use their parts and service. And the price is way high.

    The heart and brain of a softener is the control valve. You would do much better buying a softener with a Fleck control valve online and assembling and installing it yourself or hiring a plumber to install it. You can buy the rest of the equipment from the same online dealer. You would probably save as much as $3000 and repair it yourself if needed.
  9. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,051
    Location:
    Maine
    Yea, you have to check other forums and start looking at all the hassle folks have trying to get Culligan service parts or for that matter try and find a service or installation manual for their stuff. It all ends up being a huge pain in the ass. Not that Culligan stuff is crap because it is high quality stuff but when things go bad ( and they always do ) you are pretty much stuck with having to call the Culligan service guy out because only they have the parts and they generally will not sell them direct to you. Fleck has been around for many years and is probably the industry standard if any such thing exists. Personally, I prefer Clack, especially for DIY install and service because it's a very easy valve to program and maintain but Clack no longer sells on the web and getting one means buying it from a local water filtration company and paying a few more dollars but I think you will find it worth the extra money spent.
  10. bcaraway

    bcaraway New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Kerrville, TX
    Thanks again for the help here. I called a local business (Greg Howard's Kerr Country Pump Company) that sells and installs softener systems in the area for many years. His offer:

    Clack WS-1 valve
    45K capacity 1.5 cu ft
    9.5 (or 10, not sure) resin tank
    Big Blue carbon filter
    Under sink RO system
    Installation (which includes cutting new hole for RO faucet in granite counter top at sink)

    Total: $2100

    That's more like it.

    Thanks again for the help and information here. I'll probably be back asking dumb questions in the near future as I maintain the system.
  11. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,789
    Location:
    Ontario California
    The price is good but a BB carbon filter for a whole house is not ideal. They are expensive to change, have very limited rated vs. peak flow rate (they will flow a lot of water, they just wont do what they are supposed to do at the higher rates), and have a very limited capacity. I prefer a stacked unit similar to the one shown in this article. These cost slightly more, but with a full half cubic foot of GAC, you will get a couple years between media change-outs, and a much higher flow rate. Any control valve can be used, including the clack, Autotrol or Fleck line. Otherwise, a seprate backwashing GAC system would be preferred. The stacked units of past were not very good. this newer design has been out for 4 years and has had no feild issues and by using the tank connector shown, the service issues are elimnated. no more pulling the top tank off and over the manifold. Ecotwin.jpg
  12. bcaraway

    bcaraway New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Kerrville, TX
    Have any links where I can see these stacked tank solutions? Thanks...
  13. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,789
    Location:
    Ontario California
    http://www.grandwater101.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/evirotwinecotwin307212431.33795000.jpg

    This is one of our dealers, I sent you his link mainly because I know he has great knowledge, and will sell you the euipment at a reasonable price. This unit is sold by some of the big companies but at crazy prices. Typically it is sold for 3-5K! Completely ridiculous. This guy does primarily industrial systems, so the residential equipment he sells for similar price mark ups.

    This system has no proprietary equipment so future service will be easy. The only unique item is the tank interconnector and that item is fairly inexpensive. We have never had to replace one yet but if it did, the part is under $40. He uses the either the Fleck 7000 or the Clack. My personal preference is the 7000 but both valves are the best ever made. Being a master distributor for both, and selling and servicing thousands of them, I can honestly say that both valves are nearly equal in quality and performance.

    Jason at Grand said the system would be approximately $1500 plus shipping. The unit ships fully assembled and programmed. Only the hardness needs to be set.
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