Water Softener: Kinetico vs. Ecowater vs Culligan and other ???
I have read through many of the previous responses to questions about water softeners. There is some very knowledgeable people here and I hope they can provide me with some assistance.
After reading this forum, I understand that I've overlooked the first step in my search for a water softener: a water analysis. I'll get one done, if I can convince my husband. Moving on from there, I already have estimates from three companies selling Kinetico, Ecowater and Culligan water softeners. Each local retailer has a long history of service in the area, at least 20+ years. Each of the systems have been installed in various homes in the neighborhood and all the homeowners are pleased with their systems. However, most simply picked a company out of the phone book and went with one. Also, most did not compare systems, or if they did, they simply went with the cheapest. Bottom line, they are all happy with their systems, so they don't worry about them.
What are your thoughts about the following systems (all prices include installation):
Kinetico - $3950 ($2796 w/o R/O unit)
DECHLOR1060 Upflow Dechlorinator, CAH10MB Filter Housing, K2040 Water Softener, KRO+DX Deluxe R/O Drinking Water System w/tank, and 5MS 5 micron sediment filter
Ecowater - $3398 ($2449 w/o R/O unit)
ERR 3500 water refining system, ERO 375 R/O (also quoted the ESD 2500 at $1749, or $700 less than the ERR 3500)
Culligan - $2352 ($2053 w/o R/O unit)
Culligan Gold Series (10"), Good Water Machine
If I were to look at price only, I would go with either the cheaper Ecowater system w/R/O at $2698 or the Culligan system. At almost $4k, the Kinetico system seems greatly over priced. But is it? I don't know if I'm comparing apples vs. oranges. And the vendors don't give you much to go on to compare specs. And then there are the stories that Culligan will more than make up their $$ because they require expensive house calls to change filters (you can't purchase your own and DIY).
Would anyone care to share your thoughts or recommendations?
Some additional background: There are 5 people living here (1 teenager! who showers at least 2x's per day). Our water provider switched to a different well and the hardness has increased to about 18 grains.
I have numerous houseplants which will be a concern if I don't put in the R/O, correct?
I seldom do exterior watering except for occasional deep root watering of a few trees. However, I plan to put some additional beds for privacy at the rear of my lot. There will be large trees/shrubs that will require much watering to be established. None of the vendors mentioned bypassing the exterior hose bibs until I asked. Also, one suggested using potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride to eliminate the need to bypass the exterior hose bibs and for the house plants. Another insisted that potassium choloride would cause a sludge build-up. Who am I to believe?
Thank you in advance for all your help.