How Much Does a Water Softener System Cost? The Definitive Guide (2023)

If you are suffering from hard water problems; white build-up, decreased water pressure, and rashes on your skin, probably you should invest in a whole house water softener.

Or if you already have one installed, it obviously is not working fine. In either case, you need to buy a new water softener, along with many other considerations, the biggest them all is ‘Cost’.

Many think that finding the cost of the water softener is easy to search on Google, and there you are with an answer.

It is not like that, things are really mixed up, you can’t find one particular answer.

There are many things and aspects which are taken into account before telling the right price; brand, type, and many others.

So, we are here to help you with the cost of your preferred water softener.

Read through this guide, and I am sure in the end you will learn how much the system you are interested in buying will cost.


Water Softener System Cost Factors

Before getting into the in-depth details of water softener system cost factors, we must learn what factors take part in making your system’s cost high or low.

It is no issue even if you have your heart set for a particular type, but these factors are going to play a huge role to help you better learn the price and your cost.


Size is the most influential aspect going to decide the cost of your whole house water softener system. It depends on two things, water hardness and your water consumption.

If you are a big family of 5-6, surely it is a big consumption of water, and removal of contamination, a bigger system is required.

On average on person consumes around 75-80 gallons of water in one day, for everything.

And hardness level also impacts because if it is a high hardness level, the system has to go through a lot’s work in one regeneration process.

Service flow rate also plays a role here, as you don’t like you run out of water when you turn your washing machine, open your kitchen faucet or take shower. Your household sometimes likes them all at one time.


Do you want a salt-based ion exchange water softener? These are traditional water softener types we use mostly, but expensive.

Or you like to go with a salt-free water softener or conditioner. They actually don’t clean your water but change the chemical composition of them.

These are less expensive, and last longer, plus you don’t have salt cost for regeneration.

Additional Features

The additional features also increase or decrease the overall cost of your water softener. They come with a myriad of features installed, some are less important about you don’t have to worry.

And some are important, they aid in smoother functionality. Such as water softener digital display, it configures and monitors your system for water used daily.

Plus, some come with metered regeneration system that senses the water level before regeneration initiation, they are better and help you never run short of water.

These additional features along with many others also should keep into account before buying a water softener, and calculating the final cost.


Sometimes you have to pay through your nose in buying a water softener that is popular in your area, but in actuality, that product is no better than anyone else around.

You are not necessarily required to go with a particular brand famous in your area, go with the one that comes with the features you require.

Go with a reliable brand though, which has been there in the market for years. Even though you have to pay a little extra, compare to a local or novice brand.

Water Softener System Price by Type

Different types of water softeners have different price ranges. These are the top five most popular types of water softeners and their rough cost estimation.

Salt-Based Water Softener

Salt-based ion exchange water softeners as the name suggest use resin beads to soften water, the resin beds capture the minerals such as magnesium and calcium and replace them with Salt to regenerate them.

It is called an ion exchange method where magnesium and calcium particles dissolved in the water are swapped with sodium ions.

It is one of the most common and effective methods, where contamination or intoxications are removed entirely from the water and make the water useable for you and your family, not only for regular household purposes but for cleaning purposes.

As I mentioned it is one of the most effective methods, it is expensive as well. There is an additional cost that makes them expensive, consumers have to pay for regular maintenance and regeneration.

Here you need to top up the brine tank with the salt for ion exchange, once in a month or after three weeks, which is not that expensive, still it is a costly addition.

In some states, salt-based ion-exchange water softeners are banned due to their high consumption of salt for health-related issues. Here, you can use potassium as an alternative, it is almost as effective as salt-based ion exchange.

Salt-Free Water Softener

If you are worried about the installation as well as regular maintenance cost, you better go with a salt-free water softener or conditioners.

Due to their low maintenance, they are getting popularity, they are not as expensive as salt-based water softeners.

Salt-free conditioners use the crystallization or TAC method, they feature a resin that clings onto the hard water minerals and transforms them into crystallized form, preventing them from clinging to the surface and causing scale.

If you ask me, I would say, they are not as effective as salt-based softeners are. They don’t remove the contaminations or impurities from the water but change the chemical composition.

But they are not as expensive, and you can usually buy a good quality salt-free conditioner for around $500-$1000.

Plus, here you are not required with the salt, almost no maintenance is required. You just set them up, and forget everything about them.

On average, a salt-based ion exchange water softener can cost around 1000-1500 dollars, but there is the additional cost that should be put into to make them long-run.


If you are on a budget and can’t spend either of the options we elaborated above; salt-based and salt-free, electronic descalers are the right option to get hands-on. They come in hand for around $75-$200 and require almost no maintenance.

These devices have no maintenance, media, or resin beads to soften water. They use electric impulses generated, which wrap around the waterline, to change the chemical composition of water.

The field these pulses produce changes the calcium and magnesium composition, preventing them from being able to stick to surfaces.

You would not see the build-up in the pipelines, kitchen and other faucets, limescale in the glass wears.

There is no trustworthy proof or evidence that these descalers really remove the impurities or contamination from the water, so try not to drink water soften through descalers.

Water softener System Cost by Size

Water softener size also plays a role in the overall cost. The higher the water softener capacity, the more money it is going to cost.

With the greater capacity of a water softener, the more media it requires and more salt. A higher-sized capacity system provides serving for larger homes with softened water for a longer time.

So how would you decide your home’s water capacity, generally water softener comes with the identification of gallons per grain?

You first measure your water hardness level, multiply it with the number of water gallons you consume in 24-hours, and multiply it by 7 to check the total grains the water softener has to soften before regeneration.

A small home of 2 to 3 people with three bathrooms needs 20,000-grain capacity water. On the other hand, a five-person home usually requires 80,000 grains capacity water softener.

A water softener with 20,000 to 24,000-grain capacity costs around 600-1000 dollars.

One with 30,000 to 32000-grain capacity costs around 600-1500 dollars, it goes up to 70,000 to 80,000-grain capacity which costs around 1800-3200 dollars.

The bigger the water softener, the more money it is going to cost.

Water softener Installation Cost

In my experience, the installation cost is easy to forget a thing. We forget that the system we are buying needs to be installed by a professional, and it is a complicated system the installation may cost more than the real price of the system.

Wait, do you have experience in the installation of water softeners or DIY skills for plumbing. If so, you can install it by yourself.

Again, I am saying for those who have experience in the real installation of the system, not those who watch just videos and find that installation is easy, and claim to be an expert plumber. Don’t do that mistake, or you will end up with a broken system.

Even if you are an experienced DIYer, if you have an ambiguity regarding installation or learning different aspects, take advice from an expert, or don’t risk installing it.

A professional Plumber can easily cost up to $200 to $300 depending on the prices of the plumber, the space you have for installation, the complexity of the system, and many others.

But the mentioned one is the general or rough estimate, your plumber should cost you around the figure.

Some professionals demand hour chargers, and some go with fixed prices. In my experience, a fixed price is always better, the plumber would not be able to expand the hours by lame excuses.

If you have a plumber in your area, and you know him better, you can go with any of the deals.

Keep in mind, the cost I mentioned for installation is only for the new installation. If you have an already installed system, you will have to set a deal not only for installation but the removal of the older system.

For removal too, it may cost around $200-$300, depending on the system you have been using before.

Keep in mind, don’t just visit the plumber and hire him/her, take an estimate from at least three and go with the one that offers better installation cost.

You can take help from your friends and family; they can tell you better about the services better than anyone.

Inquire from the plumber whether he/she has installed the system before if it is a complex water softener.

Because in the case of complex systems such as the Osmosis system, novice plumbers would not be able to pull them rightly.

Water Softener Maintenance Cost

It’s not just the installation cost that one should figure out when buying a water softener. It is a system cost, installation cost, and maintenance cost.

It’s not like you buy a water softener, and there it is, leave the system as it is for life. You will have to spend more in terms of maintenance, and these would be monthly as well as annual chargers.

If the system you have installed is a salt-free system, it is much cheaper to maintain than a salt-Based water softener.

Salt-based water softener comes with a brine tank as well as a mineral tank so that the minerals can continue to remove hard minerals.

Just revisit how the ion exchange system works; here salt you top up in the brine tank, cling with the water particles by removing calcium or magnesium particles. For ion exchange water softener, it costs around $30 for one 50-pounds of salt.

If in your area, salt-based water softeners are banned, you obviously would be using Potassium based, the cost can go above, and the cost can be around $200-$300 per year.

If the salt-based ion-exchange softener is not banned in your state, better to use it because it is less expensive in terms of cost maintenance.

If it is a salt-free water softener you are using, there would be no salt purchasing cost. In that case, there is not much to think about except the purchasing and installation cost.

How Long Does Water Softener Last?

In determining the lifespan of any mechanical or electronic product, there is more than one factor that takes part and contributes.

In a water softener’s lifespan, there is more than one thing to think about such construction of a water softener, your water hardness level, consumption, and many more.

On average, as per estimates, a water softener can easily last for 10-15 years, it is taken good care of.

What is the average cost per year of a water softener?

If you have a dual tank salt-based ion exchange water softener, without purchasing and installing, you can expect 25-40 cents per day. It is a maintenance cost, not the salt cost.

For salt, to initiate the regeneration process, in other words, to make your water softener running, it can cost around $25-$40 monthly. For one year, that would be around $300-$500.

How Do I Determine the right size of Water Softener?

The right size of a water softener can easily be determined by looking at the water consumption, and water’s hardness level, which is usually measured in Grains per Gallon.

In this way, you can determine the total number of grains required to be removed in 24-hours. Now, look at the maximum level of grains of water hardness a water softener is designed to be removed from. Buy the most suitable one.

For instance, if you are a four-member of the family, using 80 gallons in 24-hours with 8 GPG water hardness, your water softener needs around 18000 grains per gallon before the next regeneration cycle.


Even if you take all the mentioned considerations into account, there still be many hidden costs of buying a water softener.

If you are interested in buying the cheapest ones all, go with a magnetic water softener. But the problem with them is, there is no evidence that they are really softening the water or not.

Many say that they only change the chemical composition so that the water does not provide limescale.

For consumers really concerned about the health of their family members, salt-based ion-exchange water softeners are the right option to get hands-on.

They are expensive, and can easily cost around $2000 to $2500, depending on the size, construction, capacity, brand, and many other features.

The installation cost is not included in the above-mentioned price range. If you want to settle in between the two, go with a crystallization system, this too costs more than a magnetic softener, but its maintenance and even the purchase cost would be lesser.

Emily Davis

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