Water Softener Confusion - Evolve Series?

lhartnettDecember 31, 2011

I've searched this forum, met with our local water guy but still don't feel super informed to make a good decision. I'm hoping the collective wisdom here can help.

The basics:

2000 sf ranch, 2 bathroom with 2 people living here now.

Well water

All plumbing is in place so replacement would be straightforward.

Hardness: 110

Iron: .155

*Manganese: .232

*Arsenic: .014

*these are over the acceptable limits - arsenic should be under .010; manganese should be .05 or less

Everything else really is within limits

We met with the local water company and they sell Evolve Series made by Water Right in WI. I can't find much about this softener or company here or else where. He has recommended EV2-1054 with a crystal media. 20 year expected life span, single tank, 90 day history of water use with adjustment every 3 weeks for backwash timing on demand, uses a Clack valve. Price: $3251.

They also sell a model EVR 1054 for $2619. Main difference is it's a resin media and they expect a life of 12-15 years.

The pricing seems high to me. Has anyone heard of or had experience with these products? Other products you might recommend? I think we will get a Kinectico quote as well.

We like that it's made in the US and it's through our local company but don't want to be over buying either. Appreciate any help you can offer.

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OK, let's start with the water...

Is hardness = 110 ppm or gpg? Makes a BIG difference in the size of the softener. If ppm then the softener is WAY too large and if gpg then the softener is WAY too small.

Assuming the manganese and iron are ppm.

Now the company...

The softener is not made in the US it is assembled in the US just like any other industry standard softener whether it has a Clack, Fleck, or Autotrol control valve..

Sounds like you found a local water treatment company that sells industry standard softeners and that is a good thing. Clack control valves are first rate. Bad news is that they are multiplying their cost by about a factor of FOUR to SIX, but they are including installation and I hope a healthy dose of grease if you know what I mean. I'm glad you posted before you took the bait.

For comparison, a 10x54 1.5 cu ft industry standard softener can be bought online for under $600. Allow a local company some profit and compensate them for assembly, installation, and service you should be able to buy that locally for under $1500 installed and set up.

You want a softener to regenerate on demand but it must be sized correctly and regeneration every 6 or 7 days is optimum for long resin life. even more frequently with iron.

Here's what you do...

Get a water test from an independent lab. An independent lab has no agenda and won't be trying to sell you water treatment equipment. This is a MUST DO because without it everything is a guess. A quickie water test from Sears or a water softener company won't be as accurate (and possibly not as competent) as from a certified independent lab.

Hit the Yellow Pages and call at least three local water treatment pros. Make sure you call at least one of the big dogs like Kinetico or Culligan for comparison and at least a couple independent pros. DON'T TELL THEM YOU HAD YOUR WATER TESTED.

Give each an opportunity to offer suggestions and provide you with a quote to meet your water treatment needs. IGNORE ANY THAT DON'T TEST YOUR WATER THEMSELVES as they can't speak intelligently to water treatment without knowing what needs to be treated.

Ask lots of questions. Softening the entire house? Warranty, parts & labor or just parts, how long and on exactly what? Install, permits required, licensed plumber? Routine maintenance and costs? Do they stock parts? Response time for emergency (water leak) calls? If they don't explain things to your satisfaction that is a good indicator of how you'll be treated after the sale.

After they've gone use your water test to compare with theirs. Are all your treatment needs being addressed?

Ask your neighbors if they have any water treatment experience. They might tell you who's good or who to avoid.

Come back here and post the specific recommendations and hardware components with the costs and we'll give you our opinions.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2011 at 10:57AM
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I don't know the company, but after reviewing the information on their site, I have three main concerns:

1) Proprietary equipment. This means if something goes wrong, you are married to this company for parts and assistance. I prefer more choices.

2) More importantly, the regeneration on the units is set up incorrectly. The brine tank is not filled with water until a couple of hours before regeneration. This will result in inadequate regeneration. In order to obtain a strong brine solution necessary for good regeneration, you need 24 - 48 hours, which is why most softeners fill the brine tank immediately after regeneration to assure adequate time to dissolve salt. The web site specifies that they do it this way to avoid salt bridging (this can happen when dissolved salt recrystallizes in one large lump). However, bridging is really not a common problem, particularly if you clean out your brine tank every couple of years (which is just good practice anyway). This is just bad design.

3) The regeneration process is missing an important step - there is no slow rinse. After the softening media is brined, it should go through a slow rinse to remove the majority of the brine without mixing (this provides a better rinse AND uses less water) followed by a fast rinse to remove the small amount of brine that remains. This company specifies only a fast rinse, which will result in mixing during the rinse phase. This will cause either inadequate rinsing, leaving salt in your water for a time, or the system will have to use a lot of extra water to get a good rinse. It is possible that the system does actually do a slow rinse at the end of the brine phase, but it is not specified that way so I would not assume it is there.

Point one is purely a personal preference issue. Points 2 and 3 are fundamental and should be deal-breakers.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2011 at 11:06AM
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Hi Alice,

I think the slow rinse stage is there and they need a better tech writer.

Looks like they use a Clack valve. Parts such as seal packs, power supplies, and such are not proprietary and available.

If we could get a look at their service manual the options for PRE or POST brine fill and regen stages and times for those stages might-should be available. Those options are standard in the Clack WS1.

Regardless these products are felony overpriced and the recommendation to the OP was either grossly undersized or grossly over sized.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2011 at 11:42AM
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Thanks for the quick responses. We did use an independent lab that we've used before for the water test. They express hardness in mg/l but when I convert it comes out to 6.43 gpg for hardness. Manganese and Arsenic are mg/l also. Is the model too large or too small? Recommended size?

We will take your advice and call a couple other companies. I'm not afraid to pay for quality but really don't want to be sucker!

Are there any good, solid, consistent performer brands you'd recommend investigating? And do you think the crystal media makes any major difference/is worth extra money?

BTW, we're in New England - does that have any impact on your opinion on price?

    Bookmark   December 31, 2011 at 1:42PM
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Has your well water been tested lately for nitrates and bacteria?

All you need in your softener is quality high-capacity resin... nothing more and nothing special.

Is a dollar worth more or less in new England? Do you work any less harder for a dollar there? Greed knows no geographical boundaries. You're just looking for a dollar's worth for a dollar... sometimes it takes looking a little harder.

As I said "call at least three local water treatment pros. Make sure you call at least one of the big dogs like Kinetico or Culligan for comparison and at least a couple independent pros"

Let's see what sizing and equipment recommendations you get and that will tell us who knows what they're doing and who doesn't.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2011 at 2:15PM
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Crystal media should cost less because it is much easier to produce than high quality resin of consistent size and shape. Additionally, the large variation in particle size will increase pressure drop across the media bed, which is not a good thing.

lurker - Could be they need a better writer, or could be they need a better fundamental understanding of the softening process. I'm betting on the latter.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2011 at 3:01PM
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Apparently there is some confusion as to what this product is and how it works, let me clear up some of the confusion.

First off let me address the made in China part of this unit. If you look at the back plate on the Evolve series unit and the valve body they are clearly molded with a "made in the USA logo." The seal pack in this unit is also clearly marked "made in the USA" The only part that I can find on the softener that does not state that it is made in the USA is the transformer. I am more than happy to send pictures of these various parts on my personal Evolve series unit if you would like.

This unit is made off of the Clack WS1 platform, however, the seal pack inside is made out of a different composition of rubber than the other WS1 units that you find out there this is done because the units make chlorine in the process of regeneration and the internal seals are designed to withstand the chlorine.

One of the other main points that I would like to hit on with this unit is some of the features like the fact that it is the only water softener on the planet that makes chlorine during the regeneration process. This helps with some of the "nuisance" odors and bacteria that occur in well water such as iron bacteria and sulfur bacteria.

The slow rinse stage is part of the brine draw/rinse cycle.

This unit is a cycle sequencing valve which means that if you do not want the pre fill brine feature that you can adjust it so it has standard post fill brining like the rest of the units out there. I find that the pre fill brining feature works awesome and prevents any chance of bridging in the salt tank.

There are some other water parameters that need to be explored when buying this type of unit though and PH is a major factor since part of what this media does is PH correction on acidic water.

I don�t think that you were properly informed of exactly what you were getting for the price you were quoted. These softeners are top of the line quality with a top of the line family owned company backing the product. I know I sound like a sales person for the product, but, I was very well educated on the product and its features and benefits when I purchased one a few years ago and I LOVE IT!!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 8:52PM
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And PROPRIETARY so once you've bought one you are married to your dealer for parts and service at whatever price they set and only for as long as the manufacturer is in business or continues to make parts available for that series of product.

The hundreds and hundreds of millions of people on the planet who have industry standard softeners that don't make chlorine(?) are getting along pretty well without their softeners making chlorine.

There is nothing the Evolve proprietary softener does that can not be equaled by correctly sized and properly set up industry standard water treatment hardware at a far lower cost and with parts, tech info, and service available almost everywhere at modest prices.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 9:51PM
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There are a bunch of options that the Evolve unit has that a standard unit does not.

Nothing on this unit is PROPRIETARY all parts are interchangeable with a clack ws1 except for the circuit board and the generator, which, are available direct through Water Right if you don't want to go through the dealer. I have NEVER had one fail though so not sure that that is going to be the issue.

The chlorine generator kills nuicence bacteria in your water that can cause foul odors and taste, also it is used as a diaginostic tool to provide information such as low salt alarm and brining concentration information. Juding from the water test above, there is about 1.5ppm of iron, a resin unit is only speced out by the resin manufature as being able to handle 1 ppm. CR200 is rated for 10. Your standard water softener will not handle the Manganese either a EV2 will. Yes I do agree that there are some other options out there for some water but in this case, I think that the EV2 would be a perfect solution with a great warranty and company to back the product.

Look at the FLECK 5600 for instance or even the 9000 the pistons and products that they are using on those these days are junk, ive seen pistons fail in less than a year. We used that vave foe over 20 years and I will never sell another one again due to durability concerns with the pistons and meter issues.

some of the features that the EV2 has are for starters, countercurrent proportional brining. There are few units that offer that as a standard feature. Advanced user history screens, FULL battery back up, salt alarm, pre fill brining, and the list goes on and on.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 3:55PM
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"I know I sound like a sales person for the product..."

Statements like "I have NEVER had one fail..." and "We used that valve for over 20 years..." sure make you sound like a salesman whose is vigorously protecting the HUGE profit margin of this product.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 4:58PM
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I do not "SELL" the Evolve product line. The evolve product is a exclusive product by Water Right that is sold to exclusive dealers around the world. I do sell Water Right equipment but we do not sell the evolve line. We are locked out of selling this product because of some of the parameters that need to be met to sell this unit. I do have one in my own house, it is several years old, and it IS by far the best water softener on the planet for treating crappy water with a single piece of equipment. You can not show me another unit that can work effectivly as a single unit to do PH modification, handle 10ppm iron, iron bacteria, hard water, manganese, and odor issues. That is what I am saying. In order to handle all of those issues with a standard softener you would need 3 seperate units instead of one.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 9:36AM
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"I have NEVER had one fail though so not sure that that is going to be the issue."

"I do not "SELL" the Evolve product line."

"I do have one in my own house..."

So your entire experience is ONE unit.

So much for 'reliability testimonials'.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 2:30PM
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