Comparing Water Softeners

I’m sure that everyone looking to buy a water softener would like to find the best way of comparing water softeners. As a veteran of the industry I can help you to compare water softeners but it will be up to you to decide which softener is best for your needs.

Water Wave

One way to start a comparison of water softeners is to define the difference in a manufacturer and an assembler. The manufacturers actually “make” most of the parts in their softener. By that I mean, they have their own injection molding equipment to manufacture the main parts of their softener. They might buy a few parts from an outside source but the majority of parts are manufactured in their plants.

Manufacturers will typically have their own Research and Development departments whose job is to improve the reliability and efficiency of their systems. The manufacturers compete with each other in trying to build the best products.

An assembler doesn’t manufacture anything. They buy a softener valve and timer, or controller, from a company that manufactures controllers. Then they buy a resin tank from a resin tank manufacturer, and a brine tank from a brine tank company. Then they buy a bag of resin and fill the resin tank; screw the controller on top of the tank, and they have an assembled water softener.

These controllers, used by the assemblers, are built by a few companies that manufacture water softener controls only, not complete softeners. These companies will typically have their own Research and Development departments too.

The following lists will help you in understanding which companies are water softener manufacturers, controller manufacturers, and assemblers. The lists of softener and controller manufacturers are nearly complete; it’s possible I may have left out a name or two. The list of assemblers is only a fraction of the complete list. It would be nearly impossible to list every assembler.

Water Softener Manufacturers

  • Culligan
  • Ecowater
  • Kinetico
  • Rainsoft
  • Hague
  • Braswell
  • Bauer Soft Water

Controller Manufacturers

  • Fleck Controls
  • Clack Corporation
  • Autotrol
  • Erie

Assemblers (Partial List)

  • Watts Water Technologies (Alamo Water)
  • Marlo
  • Rayne
  • Addie Water Systems
  • B & R Industries
  • Enting Water Conditioning
  • Farris Enterprises
  • Hellenbrand Inc.
  • Water Resources International
  • Water Tec International
  • Good Water Warehouse
  • Mid America Water Treatment
  • Springsoft International
  • Nelson Corporation

There is one more group of water softeners that falls into a class of its own. One of the largest manufacturers, Ecowater, builds equipment for a few other well-known companies. You’ll find their water softeners in the "Big Box" stores with these brand names:

  • Kenmore
  • General Electric
  • Whirlpool
  • Northstar

These four softeners are similar to Ecowater’s own softener but built for a much-lower price. These are usually the lowest-priced water softeners available.

In most cases, starting from the Big Box brands and continuing up through the assembled units to the manufacturers, you'll find an increase in:

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Efficiency
  • Reliability
  • Warranty

I hope this clears up some of the confusion of comparing water softeners. Think about what you need and what you can afford, that will help you in finding the best water softener for your home.

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