One last point on water softener efficiency and size is worth mentioning. Efficiency refers to the amount of salt required to run your water softener at its maximum capacity.
Efficiency is important to keep in mind because oftentimes a lot of salt is needed to run a softener at its full capacity, and so you can potentially benefit by purchasing a softener that has the ability to filter out more total grains than you require, but you’re then buying less salt.
In other words, it might be beneficial to invest in a larger softener, even though it’s more expensive up front, knowing that you will be able to save on salt costs down the line. Over the entire lifespan of a water softener, buying a higher salt efficiency softener will save you time and money.
Let’s explore an example. If you have weekly softening requirements of about 20,000 grains, you may think that a 24,000 grain unit would be perfect for you. However, it will take a large amount of salt, usually in the neighborhood of 25 pounds per week, to keep the machine running at its full capacity.
However, using less salt in a larger machine, say about 5-6 pounds of salt in a 32,000 grain machine, will still get you about 20,000 grains of softening. This is because larger capacity machines have more resin, and thus even when they operate with less salt, they can still provide plenty of water softening.
Using the least amount of salt possible, a softener with 1 cubic foot of resin will have about a 20,000 grain capacity, a softener with 1.5 cubic feet will have about a 30,000 grain capacity, and 2 cubic feet of resin will yield approximately 40,000 grains.
So be sure to keep an estimate of your long term costs in mind – how much salt you’ll be buying, how frequently and for how long – before you purchase a softener with the lowest capacity to meet your needs.