Things to know about compact water softeners

Written By: Natalie Frank PhD

The quality of the water used for drinking, showering and cooking as well as other personal functions is vital for health. An effective method for ensuring that water is free of chemical contaminants is a water softener. Installing a water softener can also lengthen the lifespan of household equipment such as dish washers and laundry machines as well as pipes. This is accomplished by increasing the efficiency water based equipment in the home such as dishwashers and laundry machines which can decrease energy bills as much as 25 percent.

Using a water softener is an important method for dealing with hard water, or water with more magnesium and calcium than is normally present resulting in clogged pipes and decreased efficiency of water based systems. Hard water can also lead to lime deposits in water heaters, which can decrease the amount of hot water available (Lenntech, 2015). Until recently, water residential water softeners were often large, unsightly units that could be difficult to install in out of the way areas. However, compact water softeners solve this problem.

What is a water softener and how does it work?

Ground water picks up the minerals of whatever it passes through including magnesium and calcium, the primary minerals that lead to hard water. Magnesium and calcium also react with the heat produced in water based systems, metallic components and chemical elements such as soaps and detergents. This causes deposits to form in pipes and appliances and lime scale buildup in plumbing can further decrease pipes’ flow capacity and the efficiency of water based equipment. Water softeners work through an ion exchange to remove these minerals before the water is circulated through water based systems in the structure.

Ion replacement involves removing calcium and magnesium ions from the water and replacing them with sodium and potassium. All four of these ions are positively charged, meaning they can be exchanged and serve the same function. A resin bed in the water softener is coated in sodium and potassium ions-when calcium and magnesium ions come into contact with the resin bed, they are held there while an equal number of sodium and potassium ions are released to take their place. When there are few sodium and potassium ions left in the resin bed, the bed needs to be regenerated (SAHRA, 2005).

When the resin reaches the point it cannot hold any more negative minerals, it needs to be regenerated or restored to the state where it can hold magnesium and calcium particles again. This is accomplished through 3 phases. First, water is reversed so dirt and other unwanted particles are washed from the tank. Next, a high sodium solution moves from the brine tank replacing the magnesium and calcium ions. These unwanted ions are flushed down the drain. Finally, water washes the salt solution from the mineral tank and the salt tank is filled up. At this point, the resin has been regenerated and is ready to continue removing unwanted ions from the water (Klenck, 1998).

There are several ways to accomplish this, but the most recent softeners have an automatic regeneration cycle built into the unit. It usually requires a certain amount of knowledge as to when and how to set it however, it is not difficult. This means that changing the resin is never required unless there is a problem with the system that has somehow damaged the resin bed. The unit’s manual provides information regarding how often resin should be regenerated based on tank size and water usage (Consumer Reports, 2012.)

Compact water softeners

Until recently, compact water softeners had a lower capacity than larger units such that households using large amounts of water required larger units. Today, however, several compact systems can provide high capacity softening ability despite their small size. Some of them use an ingenious design to fit all the components into a smaller package while others use a special high efficiency resin that can contain a larger amount of negative minerals. There are also tankless systems that work somewhat differently than tank based systems, using either a filter or electricity. While some of the tankless systems are larger than others, all are generally small enough that they can be placed in out of the way locations (SaltlessWater.com, 2015).

When considering a compact water softener, it is important to examine the reputation of the manufacturer of the units and compare reviews of different models under consideration. Before buying, determining the warranties and guarantees that come with the unit will ensure the purchased water softener is protected should damage or problems occur. Only trusted dealers who fully understands the different models available and can answer all questions should be used.

The smallest compact water softeners

Written By: Wendy Oldenbrook

It used to be that consumers living in small homes had to suffer with hard water, but new technology has changed this. From electronic water conditioning to portable traditional systems, softening water is now available to consumers who have space restrictions. This article offers an overview of the smallest water softeners available today.

Compact traditional water softener

The WaterBoss model 220 uses traditional water softening methods and can meet the water needs of a family of four. Measuring 14 ¾ inches wide, 18 ¾ inches deep and only 25 ¾ inches tall, it will fit into a standard kitchen cupboard. It uses 2.5lbs of salt and can recharge up to every 18 minutes, making it efficient as well.

Compact water softeners using non-traditional water softening technology

NuvoH2O water softeners offers a salt-free option that uses citric acid and chelation. Designed for homes 2,100 square feet and above, it measures 31.3 inches tall and 10.1 inches wide. NuvoH2O softeners use a cartridge that typically needs to be replaced every six months. These water softeners have received excellent customer reviews, and have both a 90 day money back guarantee and lifetime warranty.

The AQUIOS Water Treatment System uses a natural additive known as Siliphos which prevents scale buildup on pipes and appliances. Measuring 27 inches long and 10 inches wide, this compact system also includes a carbon filtration system that is rated at 5 microns. While this is a salt-free system, it requires a cartridge that will need to be replaced every 40,000 gallons, which is typically every six months.

Water softeners using electricity

The Eddy Electronic Water Descaler uses electromagnetic waves to reduce the effects of hard water without altering its chemical hardness. This compact appliance measures 6.7 inches by 3.5 inches and coils around water pipes. The Eddy Electronic Water Descaler uses electricity, but does not require salt, replaceable cartridges or any maintenance. It also offers a 12 month money back guarantee and a lifetime repair or replacement warranty.

Clearwave CW-125 Salt Free Electronic Water Conditioner is another compact water softener that uses electromagnetic waves to reduce scaling in hard water. Weighing only 2.6 pounds, it wraps around a 14 inch section of a water pipe and requires only electricity.

Compact water softeners using magnets

The Magnetic Water Softener & Conditioner by Magnetic Water Technology uses a set of heavy, extra-large magnet bars to change the way hard water behaves to reduce scale formation. This product does not require salt, cartridges, electricity or maintenance. It is easy to install and measures only 11 x 2 x 2.5 inches. While some experts disagree over the effectiveness of this technology, the manufacturer offers a ten year, no-hassle, full warranty and it sells for around $200.

Portable water softeners

The Watts RV PRO-1000 Portable Water Softener is an excellent choice for RV owners who struggle with hard water at campgrounds. Using traditional technology, it measures 21 x 9.5 x 9 inches and weighs nine pounds. The Watts RV PRO-1000 requires salt and must be recharged manually.

Portable 16,000 Grain Mobile-Soft-Water Unit manufactured by HydroTec Systems, also offers traditional water softening to RV owners. Measuring 9 x 9 x 21 inches, it is both compact and inexpensive. While the unit needs to be recharged manually, it can be done using table salt and a garden hose.

Warranties on compact water softeners

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Retailers of compact water softeners

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Top five water softener retailers

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