Fleck 5800SXT first install review

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by ditttohead, Mar 25, 2012.

  1. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,791
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Update:

    I got some more 5800SXT's in and the minor issues have been worked out. The motor cycling has been corrected and the valve exhibits almost no water hammer now. The plastic piece that holds the transformer connector in is much better so the system can now be unplugged without the plastic piece popping out. I have not done any real long term testing but the build quality of the seal and spacer stack is classic Fleck, and the kit from the first valve I installed looks brand new and I see no problems that should arise. The revised programming is much "tighter", the valve cycles to any posistion in under 1 second. Another feature I forgot to mention was the additional servicability offerd by this valve. The optical sensor is not board mounted so it is replaceable should it ever fail, this may also reduce the board cost should it ever need to be replaced. Valve cycling noise is also almost non existent since it cycles so quickly, the previous board I had took a few seconds to find its position.

    The 5800SXT is looking highly polished for a new valve. Even the new cover has a nicer textured finsh than the original "shiny" surface. Only time will tell if this valve will be the next best seller from Fleck. So far, it is looking like it will be.




    Well, I installed my first 5800SXT today. For those who have been waiting, I will give it a quick review. This particular valve is of course, a sample valve, not available to the public for a short amount of time.

    First impression, excellent build quality, based on the Pro-Flo/ 5000 controller, it is a modernized version of the control it is based on. It uses the 5000/ProFlo brine system and drain system. The main body appears very similar as well.

    The powerhead is completely modernized. Those who remember the original 5000 electromechanical with the motor with a one way bearing that would overheat, fail, and seize causing massive problems will be relieved that Fleck/Pentair has greatly simpified the design. It now uses a 12 volt DC drive with an electronic only design, similar to the WS1. The vale is as simple, if not easier to take apart than the WS1. It took me no more than 30 seconds to tear apart the entire powerhead. It is a snap together design. The power cord connector needs to have the mold tweaked a bit due to the plastic piece coming out when I pulled the power cord from the head. This a a minor issue that I am sure will be resolved easily and quickly. The SXT controler is nearly identical programming that we are all familiar with. The sample I installed had a .12 BLFC, not normal, but simple to program the refill. If you can use a calculator, and have 20 seconds to hit a few keys, this is not an issue. I installed the 5800 on a 2.5 Cubic foot unit today in a 16" diameter softener tank with a 7" diameter KDF85 stacked tank design. This required a 55 minute brine refill time. The optical sensor is similar to the 7000SXT, bulletproof. It is different in that it is not attached to the board so alignment is not an issue. A nice change was the homing. It appears to home every time it cycles unlike the 7000SXT. I intentianally moved the gears several times to try to get it "out of sync" with no luck. Like the Clack, it syncronizes regularly so their is no need to syncronize it manually. Unlike the Clack, it does not simply jam itself to find home. The encoder gear has a simlar open and closed section for the optical sensor to know where it is. A full 360 degree cycle takes approximately 2 seconds, so the valve is able to verify its position in 2 seconds every time the valve changes cycles. It also has a single backwash, double backwash, upflow, fill first, AIO, etc options already programmed in to the SXT controller. Since this is a "sample valve" I did not test every program to confirm their full fuctionality yet. I will do this on a full rlease version. This shows us what will likely be available when this product becomes a standard control in the Fleck product line. An AIO version would be a welcome product ever since the 7000AIO was only available for a very short amount of time. Well see if Pentair releases this option in the future.

    Programming took a minute to complete, and the installation is classic Fleck. The valve uses either the mini sandwich turbine common on the 2510, 5600, 9100 and 5000/Proflo series of valves, or the older style electronic impeller meter. We used the sandwich design today for our install. We also opted for the plastic bypass and the 3/4" MNPT plastic adapter with Falcon 3/4" x 12" stainless flex lines to simplify installation and to give the system a little extra safety due to the very tall stacked tank design. Tanks will grow and shrink as water pressure rises and drops. Over time, this can cause neck failures, and on occasion, a valve may fail regardless of manufacture if some flexibility is not left in the pipe system. The 5800SXT uses the same time proven 5600 bypass and plumbing connectors. The drain is the same as the 5000, proFlo, 2510 controller, and the standard set-up will accomodate up tp 7 GPM backwash buttons. Optional backwash flow control assemblies will accomodate much higher backwash rates.

    The good, the bad, and the ugly.

    The good: the basic design feels like it is trustworthy on its first generation. It relies on modernizing the motor and transformer. 12 volt DC drives allow for reverse bi-directional rotation of the piston, higher speed cycling, and will likely meet energy efficiency standards that many states have implemented. The seal kit is a stacked one piece design which should make rebuilding it a little easier. This is a "neat" feature, but as we know, rebuilding a Fleck valve is such a rarity that it is not that big of a time saver. The seal and spacer stack uses the same high quality material that we are familiar with. Highly resistant to premature wear, strong and durable. The flow rate and backwash rates are much higher than the 5600 series control valves. Anybody who is familiar with a Fleck will find themselves at home with this valve. The SXT controls are beautifully backlit with a blue LED, and the cover has a very modern look to it. The overall fit and finish of the "sample" valve is more refined than any "sample" valve I have ever seen. Time will tell if it as good as I hope it will be. The LED displays viewing angle is straight on, or from above. The unit we installed today was difficult to view the display without standing on a step ladder since we were looking up at the valve. The LEd itself is angled slightly up for better viewing for most installations. In our application, this was a drawback, but it is the same with every valve we have installed on our test units. We try to push the valves during our testing to find the potential problems. Nothing unusual came up during our testing of this contol. It will be available in the "LXT" ultra simple programming version, with non adjustable cycles similar to the standard WS1, the popular SXT with extremely flexible and detailed programming capabilities, and it appears it will also be available in the XTR version as well. This includes output relays for chemical pumps based on the meter or other applications as well as highly detailed diagnostics, totalizer, etc...

    The Bad: During my testing, the valve cycles very fast between cycles, maybe too fast. A full 360 degree rotation of the piston takes approximately 2-3 seconds, faster than any piston valve I have tested. Our test system was installed in a way to push the unit to the maximum ability. With a 3/4" feed line, and a high backwash rate of 7 GPM, the water hammer between cycles is definetly noticable. The old AC drive cycles very slowly, a loud whine was noticable between cycles. The new DC drive cycles so much faster that it sounds like an Autotrol, or an erie 541 when it goes between cycles. This is probably caused by the high speed drive combined with the high backwash rate of this particular installation. This is not a typical unit and was specifically designed to expose any potential shortcomings of a system. It is important to note that the Clack WS1, Autotrol, and other valves have a simlar issue due to their quick cycling or sudden cycle changes as well. The slow cycle systems, 5600SXT, 7000SXT, etc. due not have any hammer issue, just a loud whine as they cycle. This is not a major problem just a symptom that may come up on a rare occasion when the system, the softener, and the existing plumbing, are pushed to the max. When we lowered the flow control to 2.4 GPM during our testing, the water hammer dropped significanlty. The motor on this valve is extremely fast, do not have your finger near any of the gears or other moving parts otherwise you may be in for some pain!

    The Ugly: The valve is not NEMA rated like the 7000 series, and the flow rate is not as good. The transformer plug connector came out when we unplugged it from the valve (simple fix for Pentair, minor adjustment in the mold), loud when it cycles, similar to the WS1. .12 GPM, .37 lbs salt per minute? Not a big deal if you know how to use a calculator or are extremely good at doing math in your head. Since almost everyone has a smartphone on them which includes a calculator as a standard feature, I will let this one slide. If it were ten years ago, this would be an issue.

    I would give this valve a rating of 8.5/10. This could go much higher when we see the price. If it costs less than a 5600SXT, then we have a huge hit on our hands, a valve that will compete with the cheap knockoffs from China, and blow them out of the water. If it costs more than the 5600SXT, then it will be a success, just no where near as big as it could have been. This valve will certainly not dethrone the 7000SXT as the best medium-large residential valve available on the market, but it will make an excellent alternative and could dethrone the 5600SXT and 5000/ProFlo valves for the small to medium residential market.

    If Pentair can get set some rules for this valve so it is not butchered by online companies, then it will definetly give Clack a run for its money for the dealer market.

    I will post pictures of the installation in a day or two.
    Last edited: May 18, 2012
  2. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    Location:
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    Thanks for that detailed review. Looks like another winner once the bugs are thrashed out. I don't imagine we will be seeing it for a few months?

    In another thread you briefly mentioned some work you are doing with miniature softeners. I am interested in your findings there.
  3. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,791
    Location:
    Ontario California
    We are receiving them within a month if all goes as planned. Large quantities will not be available for at least 2-3 months.

    I design a lot of very small softeners. We manufacture a brine tank with a safety float asseble, lovking lid that is 11" diameter, and 17" tall. We currently us the 5600SXT on any of the small tanks Pentair offers. 6x13, 6x18, 8x18, or 10x18 are our most popular. We are looking at the Pentair "Peanut" valva, a minitrized Autotrol valve for future mini systems. These are very popular with espresso machine companies, and tea machines. The espresso machines are mini steam boilers so soft water is critical, the tea machines under certain water conditions produce cloudy tea. Softening the water will usually take care of this issue. A typical high use espresso machine will see no more than 50 GPD so these ultra mini softeners work very well.

    They cost just slightly less than a standard residential softener.
  4. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,791
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Looks like Fleck may market this to the OEM, and dealer market. This will make it unavailable to online resellers, big box stores, eb@y, etc. Personally, I am glad to see Pentair do this. it will give a great product to the people who actually service and install their own equipment, and it will make it so they dont have to price themselves against eb@y or guys working from their garage. The other valves will still be unregulated so the net affect on total valve sales can only go up since current Clack users have a Pentair option now.

    If it is true, and they enforce the rules that they set up, it will be an excellent move for the industry.
  5. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,072
    Location:
    Maine
    It may be an attempt to clean up the bad reputation the filtration industry has garnered over the years thanks to the plethora of unlicensed installers buggering into plumbing systems and causing some fairly unsafe conditions. I can't tell you how many times we come across unvented traps, holes drilled into waste pipes with softener drains siliconed into them etc. Its why New Hampshire requires water filtration and pump guys to take a test and get licensed and be supervised by the plumbers board.
  6. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,791
    Location:
    Ontario California
    California requires a C55 contractors license to install softeners and filtration equipment as well. I agree, too many people who have no clue what they are doing trying to save a few dollars creating unsafe conditions not just for themselves, but for others as well. The lack of an air-gap, or backflow prevention on equipment that requires it does not affect just yourself, but it can affect the municiple plumbing supply as well. Not to mention people who sell equipment estimate the water hardness from a test srtip kit, then program the softeners poorly, and dump excessive amounts of salts into the waste stream creating problems for the waste treatment facility. These same companies ignore that is now common practice formunicipalities to resue the treated waste water, which can be cost prohibitive if the waste stream is not carefully controlled. But.. I am sure this is all explained over the phone...
  7. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,791
    Location:
    Ontario California
    It has been confirmed, the 5800 will not be allowed to be sold through internet dealers. It is a valve that will only be available to professional dealers who install the units themselves, and have a physical business address.

    The response to this decision has been very positive from the larger dealers who are making plans on switching to this valve in the near future. This decision will make this valve one of Flecks best sellers now.

    This will also allow Fleck to be more competitive with Clack for those dealers that dont want to compete with companies who only distribute through the interent, and who do not inventory systems, parts, etc themselves but rely on a couple of distribution houses for their inventory.
  8. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I wonder how Fleck's distributors determine what local dealer is a professional or nonprofessional dealer? What is the criteria they use?

    I also wonder how you know that "This decision will make this valve one of Flecks best sellers now.".

    Concerning the brix'n stix type local dealers competing with internet dealers. Their biggest problem is in their misinformed thinking that they can compete with the internet, they can't. Mostly due to their BSing people and keeping them in the dark about what they sell, and their 'excellent' service', which is usually an attempt to sell new equipment rather than actually repairing existing equipment. Most that attempt to fix existing equipment throw new parts at it until they think it is fixed and off they go. A week or so later the customer finds the thing isn't working right, again.

    Another mistake is that they mistakenly think that everyone living in their service area is a potential customer. Many if not most men want to fix their stuff when it fails to work right. Local dealers are very much against selling to DIYers and refuse to sell parts or help a person fix their own equipment. It pisses the people off and they then refuse to buy anything from the dealer and tell other of their experience.

    Then they go on the internet and end up buying there and the local dealers blame internet dealers and get Clack and Fleck to prevent the sale of their valves online.

    I wish those manufacturers and their distributors and their dealers luck in increasing their sales but I don't think that will happen until the local brix'n stix dealers figure out what they are doing that prevents them from making more sales. I don't think they will do that any time soon.
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