There are several types of soft-water systems available and choosing which one to use will rely on several aspects including family size, area of residence and available space. The first step to choosing the best water softener for your purposes lies in understanding the differences between the various types of water softener units available on the market. For each of these types there are models available that range from inexpensive units that are just adequate to premium ranges that cost quite a bit but deliver extra features and improved performance.
Salt-based ion exchange units are the most popular and as explained in previous articles are based on the replacement of hard minerals in the water with sodium ions. This type of water softener is ideally suited for home use where families are smaller in size and do not use large quantities of water at one time. Most salt-based ion exchange units are equipped with only a resin tank and brine tank, meaning that soft water will not be provided while the system is in a stage of regeneration.
Another type of unit is a salt-free water softener and although more expensive, this option is ideal for those who want to limit the amount of sodium in their water. A sodium-free water softener also differs in rather descaling water by preventing hard water minerals from scaling against surfaces, as opposed to removing the minerals from the water. The method of salt-free softening for water has reported to be less effective but useful for those wanting to limit their sodium intake or who dislike the slight saltiness that occurs from using a salt-based water softening system.
A third water softener type is a dual-tank one which is equipped with two resin tanks. This allows for continuous usage as one tank will remain in use while the other is regenerating (flushing the accumulated calcium and magnesium ions). This is especially useful for larger families who use large quantities of water or for those living in areas where water is especially hard. Keep in mind that dual-tank water softeners will take up a bigger space and require an additional drain for back washing. Some units require electrical power and will need to be placed near a circuit. Dual-tank water softener units are more expensive and require a bit of investment but the benefits of undisturbed soft water provision are countless.