Kinetico alternatives?

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by Mastiff, Sep 6, 2010.

  1. Mastiff

    Mastiff New Member

    Messages:
    28
    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    We're looking to install a softener and we are pre-plumbed in a "remote" location (outside the house on the side). Running electrical to this spot would be either extremely difficult or cosmetically ugly, maybe both. So a non-electric unit like Kinetico is very appealing. I have good brand association with Kinetico, but the sticker shock ($4000 installed) is crazy. Is there another brand that makes a metered non-electric softener a DIY guy could install? Given that I have all the space I need and the plumbing is already set up for softener, it couldn't get much easier. I just haven't been able to find another non-electric brand. Thank for any help.
  2. nhmaster3015

    nhmaster3015 Master Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    The granite state
    I don't think so, but then I have not taken a lot of Google time on the subject either. Are you sure you can't get a wire back there? You really only need a 15A circuit. Look into pvc conduit. If you can get power back there there are a lot of units that you can install yourself. Try to stay away from cabinet units and big box store stuff. Most of it is crap. Fleck would be my first choice.
  3. Mastiff

    Mastiff New Member

    Messages:
    28
    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    We have a brick house with a flat roof, so wiring involves either fishing wires through all the roof boards (and the brick side) or running something around the whole house on the outside. Or drilling a hole in the brick and trying to connect to an existing indoor outlet... or going up onto the roof (not sure how to be safe/code compliant on that one). Oh, I suppose I could dig a trench around the house through the desert rock (ugh).

    Does Kinetico really have an active patent on their water powered system still?
  4. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,495
    Location:
    Alaska
    You might find some one selling a used one.

    You might ask an Eletrician to see if they could take a leg off the well pump to run a softener like a Fleck 9100 if you need a twin or one of Fleck's single units.

    Then there is a manual softener.. one that you step through the reg cycle.
  5. Skip Wolverton

    Skip Wolverton In the Trades

    Messages:
    167
    Location:
    Ocala, Fl
    I know of no other company that makes a non-electric unit. With a 24 volt system running the electric is very easy and hassle free.
  6. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Autotrol, Fleck and Erie are much larger and older companies that manufacture more control valves than Kinetico and none of them have a water powered (nonelectric) control valve, like Kinetico. And Clack has many models of control valves and none are water powered. Fleck has many twin tank type control valves and none are water powered. You need to ask yourself why not. Fleck does make a nonelectric valve that you must manually operate from one cycle position of a regeneration to another after correctly timing each position but I doubt you want to do that every week.

    So you run electric around the house or live with your water quality problems; or spend $4K!!!

    Usually when a softener loop is installed to allow for a softener to be installed later, they usually run ellectric to the location too, so look around the area to make sure you haven't simply not seen a hidden receptacle. And if you have other outside receptacles or outside lights, tap off one of them to this location and run the Romex in conduit to an outside type receptacle and be done with it.
  7. nhmaster3015

    nhmaster3015 Master Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    The granite state
    The why not would be becaues Kinetico holds the patent. That said, though Kinetico is a quality piece of equipment and they function very well indeed, they are pricey and they do lock you into having to get your service from them. (like Culligan) I would suspect that you could hire the best electrician in town to run a circuit for you at a whole lot less expense than going with Kinetico ( sorrry Andy )
  8. Mastiff

    Mastiff New Member

    Messages:
    28
    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    Is low voltage the norm, or will I have to shop for that specifically? Running skinny low voltage wire from my roof would be pretty simple.
  9. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,495
    Location:
    Alaska
    Most of the units today Fleck wise are either 120 or 24 volt. the 24volt units have an all in one so to speak trans former... but that does not mean that you could not splice in some extra cord or find a transformer to use in its place.

    All that you have to look for is 24 volt set up and ask for one with trans former that is not part of the wiring.
  10. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Water power wouldn't be what the patent (1971) was based on, it would be on how they got water power to work. The patent expired a couple decades ago. The guy (Harvey) in England had no problem changing the design to get his new patents which make his 2001 version of Kinetico much better than Kinetico's design.

    http://www.harveywatersofteners.co.uk/

    The water power nonelectric is a gimmick that isn't needed since most if not all homes etc. have electric where the softener will be installed or an electric line can be run to there. Think about it, no motor or computer, switches, wires and the Kinetico with all its blow molded plastic parts costs SOOOO much more than softeners with all those things. Why is that if not to make the Kinetico dealer and Kinetico more money at the expense of their customers? Kinetico uses the same resins and resin and salt tanks every independent dealer does along with many national brand softeners. Their tanks are just black but made by the same companies.

    BTW, Culligan used Fleck 2500 control valves with the name Culligan right in the brass for the first roughly 60 years Culligan was in business. And any dealer that wanted to could rebuild the control valve with stock parts from Fleck. Today the Culligan valves are made in China and/or Mexico but still use a somewhat different version of the Fleck seals and spacers piston design.
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,319
    Location:
    New England
    It really isn't a big deal to drill a hole in a brick wall. With the right drill and bit, probably five minutes tops (and a lot less normally). You can get a cleaner hole if you use a diamond core bit. Worst case, you rent a core drill. On the other side of the wall, is there any outlet or other existing electrical? I'd expect so, with the requirements on outlet spacing. If it was 24vac, you could install the transformer inside and just make a 1/4" hole or maybe a little larger. Much better than fishing wires through the ceiling and attic (especially in Tucson - wait a few months first!).

    Patent protection only lasts so long...Kinetico has been in business for awhile...their patent may no longer be a deterant (I just don't know). Often, if something is just so much better, others will invent a way around it. That doesn't appear to be the case, so, to me anyway, that argument is suspect.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2010
  12. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Due to potential DC voltage drop problems with that, run a 120vac outdoor extension cord and plug the transformer into it at the softener. I'd cut off the extension cord plug and install it to an outside receptacle and pug the transformer into the receptacle and prevent water from getting into it.

    Anyone selling Fleck can order the valve with 24vdc.
  13. Mastiff

    Mastiff New Member

    Messages:
    28
    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    Yes, I'm liking the idea of getting a low voltage unit with separate transformer. I can plug it in on the roof or inside the house and run it through an existing hole for cable TV.

    Now, any thoughts on how to deal with the Tucson sun? I'm mostly concerned about the brine tank cracking every year. Are there options I should consider?

    Thanks for the help.
  14. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    See my post above.

    All salt tanks have a UV inhibitor and last many years out in the sun across the southern US but it would be nice to shade it and keep water off the control valve, or buy an outdoor cover for the valve, and still shad it and the resin tank. You could bury the tank in a piece of corrugated culvert pipe up to like a few inches from the top of the tank.That's so you could get the tank up out if needed in the future without digging.
  15. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,319
    Location:
    New England
    Unless the tank is going to be on the north side of the house, the water held in the tank will be VERY hot by mid-afternoon, if not sooner for probably at least half of the year in Tucson. Your cold water could get hot enough to scald you. I'd guess that super hot water would mess with the salt dose, too. You sure you really want it outside?

    I've said this before, but it demonstates my thought: I lived in Kuwait for awhile. Our water was stored in a large white fiberglass tank on the roof. That water got so hot, we used it for hot for about 8-months out of the year, shut the WH off, so we had a supply of cooler water, and god help you if you ran out of 'cold' in the WH, as then you had hot and hot. Luckily for us, the WH was quite large (cheap energy), and the place air conditioned so the water, even with the tank's insulation, cooled off eventually. You had to warn visitors to get cold, use the hot valve, and hot from the cold side. It got more confusing in the winter when it went back, or the knee seasons, when you didn't know which way to go.
  16. Mastiff

    Mastiff New Member

    Messages:
    28
    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    Only the brine tank would get hot though, right? I guess there's some water in with the beads, but that can be flushed out relatively quickly I'd expect. In any case, it's just the way they do it here, not my choice. It's pre-plumbed, and there's no place to put it inside anyway.
  17. nhmaster3015

    nhmaster3015 Master Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    The granite state
    You can get reflective foil covers for it.
  18. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    A slat type sun screen shade works very well and looks nice. It can be free standing along the house as opposed to being attached to the house.

    The temp of the brine water isn't a concern because regeneration of a regular softener happens at like 2 AM when air temp has cooled. With a twin tank they regenerate at all times of the day when you are using water so the brine water temp would be much warmer. The water in the resin tank, varying from a few to maybe 7-9+ gals will be warm until you run it all out and if you are on 'city' water, IMO that's too much to run to drain to get cooler water.
  19. Mastiff

    Mastiff New Member

    Messages:
    28
    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    You guys make it sound like it's not realistically possible to have an outdoor softener, even though people do it all the time around here. The plumbing is on the north side of the house, maybe that's enough.
  20. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I have a hundred+/- customers with softeners outside from Puerto Rico to Miami to San Diego to Sacramento. Outdoors is not the norm, to do it right you should follow the advice you've been given although it isn't what you were looking for initially. And since now we know the softener goes on the north side which shades the unit, keep rain off it and it and you will be fine.
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