Searching for a high efficiency water softener - need advice/help

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by masch56, Jan 14, 2020.

  1. masch56

    masch56 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2020
    Location:
    Ohio
    Newbie here looking for some sound advice from the forum experts. Here is my situation, I am looking for a softener that can achieve a 4000-5000 grains per pound salt efficiency. I am on city water with a stated hardness of 7-10 gpg with negligible to no iron (I know I’ll need to complete a real hardness test before I can finalize my choice). Our average usage over the past year with a 25% safety factor added in is 210 gal per day which works out to ~15000 grains per week of hardness removal. The water supply line is 3/4 inch copper. To get the service flow rate I need for a multi head shower in the master bathroom, I’m thinking a 1.5 cu ft resin bed is needed. FWIW, I would use 10% cross linked resin. I have been looking at Fleck controllers, specifically the 5600SXT or 5800SXT. Is it possible to achieve my desired salt efficiency either of these controllers? A listing of the setup parameters would be nice. Also, I’ve read on this forum that a smaller diameter tank is better for softening than a larger diameter - I guess a taller column of resin works better. Any truth to that statement? Finally, would upflow regen provide any gains over downflow?

    Thanks, in advance, for any help.

    Mark
     
  2. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    What makes you think 4000-5000 grains per lb salt efficiency is desirable?

    That efficiency is achievable with the control valve models you list since the capacity and salt dose settings are fully programmable in each to provide that level of efficiency. For 4200 gr/lb efficiency, that will utilize 4 lbs per ft3 of resin whereas 5000 gr/lb will be 2 lbs/ft3.

    Water treatment usually involves some amount of compromise. An increase in salt efficiency means lower quality soft water and lower system capacity which will then require more frequent regeneration, thereby using a greater total amount of water for regeneration over the course of each year. Additional water for regeneration will mean additional waste to be treated. With this in mind and as a great balance of all of those considerations, 8 lbs per ft3 (3000 grains per lb) is the most common recommendation whereas to tweak-out some additional salt efficiency, then 6 lbs salt per ft3 (3500 grains/lb) is often chosen.

    The chart below provides a comparison of salt efficiencies and capacities for various salt settings. Salt efficiency is specified at the bottom of each column along with the amount of hardness leakage expected for each setting. The salt dosage is specified as lbs per ft3 of resin so for example, if considering a 1.5 ft3 system, a 4 lb/ft3 setting will utilize 6 lbs salt whereas for a 2 ft3 system, 8 lbs etc.

    https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?attachments/resin-chart-jpg.53316/
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
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  4. masch56

    masch56 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2020
    Location:
    Ohio
    Thanks for the input. Just to make sure I understand the chart, a salt efficiency of 5000 would meet the water consumption requirement with weekly regen but the “soft” water would actually still have ~2.5 grains of hardness. Dropping the salt efficiency to 4200 pushes the regen out to 11 days at the expense of doubling the amount of salt used but yields “soft” water with ~1 grain of hardness. Similarly, dropping to 3500 pushes the regen to 2 weeks while tripling the salt use but yields “soft” water with ~0.6 grain hardness.

    Any insight on my questions about tank diameter and/or upflow vs downflow?

    Thanks.
     
  5. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Your understanding of the chart seems to be substantially correct, but the number of days between regeneration appears to be slightly off.

    For a 1X/week regen frequency to deliver 15,000 grains capacity over 7 days (2143 grains/day), the softener would need to regenerate at least 17,143 grains capacity. If the softener was programmed to regenerate only 15,000 grains, then the regeneration frequency will be approx 6-days as 'Reserve Capacity' will be subtracted from the total amount regenerated.

    An appropriate reserve allocation will normally be 1-day usage capacity. This anticipates the worst-case scenario where remaining regular capacity (ie: last of 15000 grains) is consumed early on the last day, to provide the additional capacity consumed during the remainder of that day until the following regeneration cycle. The depletion of regular capacity at any time throughout the day, will trigger a regen cycle, but a single tank softener will delay regeneration until the programmed regeneration time which is usually 2-am the following morning. The capacity consumed during the delay will be 'Reserve', will not always be fully consumed prior to regeneration.

    Regarding hardness leakage, as the resin is prepared for maximum softening capacity initially (32K grains/ft3), the amount of hardness leakage specified will not occur immediately, but will slowly increase to that amount only after repeated regeneration using the low salt quantity specified.

    There has been plenty of threads on this forum that discuss upflow vs downflow in which to search and review. The usual advice continues to utilize downflow for residential applications.

    The appropriate tank diameter is generally standardized for the quantity of media the tank is to contain. A softener with 1 ft3 resin will commonly utilize a 9" X 48" tank, 10" X 54" for 1.5 ft3, 12" X 52" for 2 ft3 etc. Those are standard tank sizes used in the industry. Some clients have special needs such as a height limitation, so their system may be configured with a shorter 10" tank for 1 ft3 of media, or a short 12"tank for 1.5 ft3, but those are exceptions.

    If you wanted to utilize a 9" diameter tank with 1.5 ft3 of media, the taller tank would likely need to be custom made, and I anticipate there would be a significant flow reduction through the media due to the increased column height of media to the bottom distributor basket.

    Your comments in post #3 mention doubling and tripling the amount of salt which results in declining efficiency, but that view is based on the extreme low salt dose being the starting point whereas in water treatment, the opposite is usually true.

    For example, to regenerate 1 ft3 of resin to restore all 32,000 grains total capacity, will require 20 lbs salt resulting in maximum efficiency of 1,600 gr/lb. Reducing the usable capacity setting by only 25% of the total, will result in a significant 60% reduction of salt needed, further improving salt efficiency as well as other benefits. Many people with no softener experience that buy a softener advertised with 32K grains capacity, often think all 32K will need to be used before regeneration will occur.

    Water softeners for residential use have in the past been time clock operated, so not equipped with any water measurement capability. Softeners were also usually smaller so all of the resin capacity was often regenerated multiple times each week, using the maximum salt amount, regardless of the amount of capacity that was actually needed or consumed.

    Water treatment methods have been developed, improved and refined over several decades. Significant improvements now include the use of metering so regeneration will occur when the programmed capacity has been consumed. Also, a better understanding of capacity vs salt setting allows for improved efficiencies, especially when paired with a programmable controller and a larger quantity of media to provide a longer duration between regeneration cycles. Further improvements continue to evolve, particularly with digital controllers.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2020
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  6. masch56

    masch56 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2020
    Location:
    Ohio
    Thanks for the more in-depth explanation. I had, indeed, neglected the allocation of some reserve. I understand and agree with your comment about efficiency. I was using the lowest salt dose as the starting point when it makes more sense to start from the historical full regen salt dose.

    Since starting this thread, I have continued to do my research and have found the same as you recommend regarding upflow vs downflow. Same goes for tank size.

    I appreciate you taking the time to educate me. I’m getting smarter all the time. Any thoughts on the 5600 vs 5800 controller on my application or are they essentially the same?
     
  7. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Not the same. They are both intended for 3/4 inch pipes.

    I am not sure which I would use. I went with the 5810 SXT (1 inch valve) with adapters due to some features. Mine had gone into a funny mode (continuous backwash) 3 times. My software version is 3.0. They have at least 3.2 by now , based on a Sep 3, 2018 post. I now have it on a small UPS. No funny business. My 5600SXT for iron+H2S is not on the UPS. No funny modes since installed late 2012.

    When power is restored to a 5600SXT, it sits quietly. The 5800SXT always runs some water upon power up, and will startle you if you don't expect it.
     
  8. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    The 5600 is a multi-decade old design that has its limitations. The most major limitation is its 7 gpm backwash limit which mostly limits its use to 10" diameter filters. The 5800 is a newer design which will support much higher backwash rates and therefore, larger tank sizes for a broader range of media.

    Since Fleck states the 5600 is suitable for softeners up to 12" (2 ft3) and as your home is equipped with a 3/4" main line, the 5600 should be suitable for your application, but if the 5800 price is comparable, then choose the newer model.

    The Fleck 58xx series should not be available online but only through local approved dealers. Fleck made that decision as many online vendors will pair a great Fleck valve with low quality components to be $1 cheaper than other online vendors, but customers believe they bought a Fleck system and so may become dissatisfied with Fleck when there is a failure with a component, even as that component was likely not made by Fleck.

    Because local dealers usually provide sales, service and installation, they will generally configure systems with quality components as a failure of a cheap component during warranty, will likely cost that dealer money.
     
  9. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Another advantage to the 5800 is that it fills the brine tank with softened water. That could mean cleaning your brine tank every 8 years instead of every 6. (I just made up those numbers).
     
  10. masch56

    masch56 New Member

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    Jan 14, 2020
    Location:
    Ohio
    One final question, the wife is mildly hypertensive so we’re concerned about sodium intake. Does use of potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride change controller choice or setup?

    Thanks.
     
  11. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Yes. You will have to set up to use more salt, and that salt will cost about 5x, . You will want to change to brine fill first rather than at the end of the cycle.

    A better option might be to use sodium salt, and to get a reverse osmosis unit to generate salt-free drinking water.
     
  12. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
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