Softener Sizing and Selection

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by NYRich, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. NYRich

    NYRich New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    NY
    I know these sizing questions come up often, but I thought I would see if anyone would comment on my situation. Original owner installed GE softener has a cracked body, so I'm planning a replacement I'll do myself. At this time I'm looking at basic Fleck (5600 timer) or maybe an Autotrol. Water tests show about 7 gpg, no iron. Water authority says 19 gpg, but with two tests at about 7 and having lived in the south with much harder water, I think 7 is reality, not 19.

    I've been taking daily meter readings to track water usage. We've been running about 160 to 175 gal/day for 2 adults and 2 elementary school age kids. That's puts us in the 40-45 gal/person/day range - lighter than the averages I've seen on the web. Looking at a year worth of water bills, that 40+ gallons/person/day is accurate. We've got a 2500 sq ft house, standard 2.5 baths.

    At the highest 175 gallons/day and 7 gpg, that's 1225 gpd of needed capacity, not much. A 24,000 grain unit would go almost 20 days between regeneration. Even if I assume up to 60 gal/person/day for when the kids hit the teenage years, a 24,000 grain unit could still go 14 days or so between regenerations. I've read not to go beyond about 7 days between regenerations, so based on that and the fact that usage per day if pretty consistent, I think a timer unit would be OK and a meter/demand unit is unnecessary since I would using what I think is called calendar override almost every time. There is not a great deal of price difference between say Fleck 24,000 grain units, timer or meter, so I'm not against spending a few dollars more for a metered model if there's a benefit, but I'm having trouble seeing any. So from a total capacity standpoint, does a 24,000 grain timer unit like the Fleck 5600 seem the right choice?

    The other issue is flow capacity as I've read. The 24,000 grain units come with 3/4 cu. ft of resin. My meter has a flow measurement capability and I've monitored flow for the higher demand fixtures in the house. Tub comes in #1 at 4.8 gpm with the washer close behind at 4.6. Showers are 2-3 gpm, dishwasher 1.2 gpm. I see a flow rate for 3/4 cuft of resin at 7 gpm, 1 cuft at 8. At first look, the 3/4 cuft resin seems light. However, we don't use the high demand fixtures at the same time and if it occurs every so often, so what? Even if we are not softening at 100%, since we are only at 7 gpg, even if let a few gpg's by, I don't think it is a big deal. I could upsize to a 32,000 grain, 1 cu ft unit, but from a total capacity standpoint, I'm way oversized and am I really buying much more in flow capacity? Again, the price difference between 24,000 grain and 32,000 grain units are not great.

    So after looking at everything, I'm still at a 24,000 grain timer unit. Anyone think I should buy a metered unit or 32,000 grain capacity? Again, it's not so much about cost, but I think bigger isn't necessarily better when it comes to water softeners as I'm finding out.

    Also, any comments on upgrading to the better resins? I'm looking at buying from Affordablewater.us and I think the upgraded resin is a Dow resin vs the standard resin.
    Thanks in advance for any comments.
  2. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    If you've been to my web site or read any of my replies about the correct sizing of a softener, you know I don't agree with your assumptions.

    You need to find out how exceeding the hardness (and daily gals used) you size and program for effects a softener and what you have to do about it to get the softener to work right afterwards. Same for exceeding the constant SFR of a softener.

    You will get terrible salt efficiency if you go with a "24K" or a "32K". And add water efficiency if your hardness increases and your undersized softener has to regenerate like every 2-3 days.

    Day timer controls do not have calendar override; and use about 50% more salt and water than a metered control valve would.
  3. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,075
    Location:
    Maine
    I think I would be inclined to go 48K with a metered valve.
  4. NYRich

    NYRich New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    NY
    Thanks both of you for replying. I have reviewed your website Gary and others as well. I'm still not following you though - the only thing I can figure is you don't like the 40+ gal/person/day and 7 gpg hardness. Those are real numbers though. If I use those and follow your website -
    4 people x 45 gal/person/day (I'll use the high end) = 180 gallons/day, 180 gallons/day * 7 gpg = 1260 grains/day; 1260 grains/day * 8 days = 10,080 total grains. From the chart on your web page, using a low 6 lb salt dose, 1 cu ft of resin provides 20,000 grains of capacity, 2x what I calculated as needed. You don't provide data for 3/4 cu ft. or resin, but some basic math shows 20,000 grains of capacity per cuft at a 6 lb dose. So, 3/4 cuft should be good for 15,000 grains, which is almost a 50% margin over calculated 10,800 needed grains of capacity. So, using your suggested sizing, it certainly looks like a 24,000 grain 3/4 cu ft unit would work. Also, it looks like 3/4 cu ft would be good for about 7 gpm peak flow and I don't see us exceeding that peak flow at all or often. There may not be considerable added capacity for significantly greater water usage in the future or substantially greater hardness, but again, I'm not seeing how a 24,000 grain unit would be undersized based on my current situation. And how does a meter benefit me - we are using right at 40-45 gal/person/day. Using a low 6 lb salt dose, regeneration on a 3/4 cuft, 24,000 grain unit would be about 12 days. If you want to limit that to 8 days @ 67% capacity, what does a meter buy you? If I set a calendar override at 7 or 8 days, then I'm just using a metered unit as a fancy timer. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but using a 3/4 cu ft , 24,000 grain unit would meet my peak flow needs and could be done at a low 6lb salt dose for good salt efficiency.

    Now I could consider greater water usage in the future. So bump that up to 60 gal/person/day which would require 13,400 total grains capacity for 8 days - that's still within range of 3/4 cu ft of resin at a 6 lb salt dose: 13,440 needed vs 15,000 available. I could jump to a 32,000 grain/1 cu ft unit for a little more margin. Ok, even assume a greater hardness, double it to 14 gpg. That would 26,880 grains needed over 8 days - you can do that with 1 cu ft at a dose of about 9 lbs or cut the regen time down to 6 days and 20,000 grains needed which gets me into the 1 cu ft unit at a 6 lb dose. So using 60 gal/person/day and doubling the hardness to 14, I'm still good with a 32,000 grain unit/1 cuft with a 6 day regen and a low 6 lb salt dose. The 1 cu ft gets me 9 gpm peak flow. Why buy any bigger? And the larger the unit, the more a meter doesn't make sense. Right now I'm at a fairly consistent 40-45 gal/person/day @ 7 gpg hardness. If I set up to do once a week/7 day regen, I only need 8330 grains capacity. A 32,000 grain/1 cuft unit is good for 20,000 grains at a 6 lb salt dose. So I'm regenerating once a week after 8330 grains used or at only 42% capacity. I really don't see any value in a meter unless I'm overlooking something. I'm going to set a once per week override and I'll always hit that before the meter would initiate regen. The only possible value in the meter would be if you would let the unit go 14-16 days between regens, which I read is maybe not a good idea. This gets even worse beyond a 32,000 grain unit. The 48,000 grain unit at a 6 lb salt dose could go 25 days given my current demand. Would you let it go that long? I just don't see a 48K unit with a meter. Even using a low 6 lb salt dose, I don't see anybody recommending going out 25 days on regen, so I'd be regenerating based on the calendar. Again, what's the value of the meter?

    So I guess I could see a 32,000 grain unit, maybe even with a meter if I could out to 14 days between regenerations. If I should stay 7-9 days, then probably 32,000 grain timer unit. I guess I could upsize for some additional capacity, but both of you seem to comment that say a 32,000 grain unit would be a poor choice and I just don't see that. Am I still missing something?
  5. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Yes, you are missing a couple decades of field experience and all the time listening to people that started with a timer control and a 3/4 cuft unit and then added a couple kids and found their water usage varied day to day and seasonally and their city water got harder and their softener was not giving them soft water all the time; and eventually regenerating every few days. You say so what if you get some hard water once in awhile, would you buy a car that wouldn't start some times and say so what? I don't think so. Also, when you get hard water through a softener you must do 2 manual regenerations at the max salt dose for the volume of resin you have (15 lbs/cuft) one after the other with no water use during or between them. If you don't you lose capacity and more hardness gets through easier and easier until you do them.

    I say 60 gas/person/day and 14 gpg because I've had people insist like you that they were only using 45-50 gallons a day and their water tested lower than the city says is their highest hardness. They ended up having to raise the K of capacity and the salt dose and then complained about all the salt and water they were using. And all I could say was "I told ya so, you get to suffer with it or have to buy a larger softener".

    It's like a couple getting married buying a 2 door car and in like two years having had two kids, and a 2 door car they still owe a few thousands on while they need a mini van... I have the experience you don't and know you can set the salt dose down to as little as 2-3 lbs which gets you into the 8 day regeneration schedule. And a 1.5 cuft with 12 gpm SFR is the minimum I would sell you for a 2.5 bathroom house with no large tubs or multiple person or body spray shower. Especially when you say more than two people in the future.

    A meter is going to regenerate when a regeneration is needed based on actual water use. A timer only knows time and regenerates only based on how many days have gone by since the last one. It doesn't know about those days you used more gallons than normal. Metered with calendar override gives you the combination of both and is the right choice. As is a 1.5 cuft softener.
  6. Brokersdad

    Brokersdad New Member

    Messages:
    21
    Location:
    canada
    Does metered softners backwash as soon as they hit their max? as in the middle of the day when water is still being used?
  7. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    They can be programmed to regenerate that way, but are typically programmed to regenerate at a fixed time of day, usually early morning, like 2AM, after they hit their programmed "max" minus some optional reserve.
  8. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    The reserve is included in the programmed K of capacity. That's so if any of the reserve was used it will be regenerated.

    The rest of the initial capacity is not regenerated. I.E. a 32K has a max operation capacity of 30K, you program for 20K including the reserve and the remaining 10K is there but if any is used, it will not be regenerated and eventually you get hardness through the softener because of the less than 15lbs/cuft salt dose you are using.
  9. teve

    teve New Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I was speaking from the knowledge of my Clack valve with estimated reserve calculation. I think most metered systems are electronic and have a reserve feature. But metered or not, electronic or not, reserve feature or not, they can all be set to regenerate in the early morning when water is supposedly not being used.
  10. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I know Clack valves very well and the reserve is included in the K of capacity you program the softener for but with a Clack you do not add any reserve capacity over the actual K of capacity you need for the number of gallons/days you need between regenerations.

    Clack's variable reserve is calculated on a daily basis based on the average water use over the past 7 days. If there is not enough K of capacity for tomorrow's estimated use, a regeneration is done that night with the salt dose that was programmed. A control with variable brining would decrease the salt dose to some value below that figure; they don't increase it.
  11. Brokersdad

    Brokersdad New Member

    Messages:
    21
    Location:
    canada
    Gary, I wish you lived near me and was still doing this for a living! I would gladly pay someone like you to come in , install a machine and give me good water that stays good. I still after reading all this stuff find it confusing trying to figure out how I need to treat my water , and seems sales places tend to come in and do a quick 10 second water anaylisis, this is what you need, $2000 please. Eight months to a year later your'e calling them because your water is staining everything and there's no lather to it
  12. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Thanks for the kind words but I did the same tests and looked everything over and took about an hour explaining everything and answering questions.

    When I wasn't out 'selling' by doing what was needed to get people to want to buy from me, I was studying so I knew what I was doing. I always offered to fix or replace equipment and I gave guaranteed prices for both over the phone. Sad to say that most sales people won't do all that and IMO are in sales simply to make a lot of money; especially in today's society. To be fair, the dealer has separate sales people and service people, then requires their service guys to sell service. I would have my sales guys learn to do service and "sell" as I did. Most salespeople don't know a thing about fixing equipment, especially something they don't sell, and most service guys are not much good at selling because they don't know how to size or apply equipment.
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