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What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

Posted by lisaahern (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 31, 13 at 14:05

I am new to these forums and have been reading information for about a week on water treatment systems for wells. I've learned more than I ever expected to know about well water treatment systems!

I recently moved into a home with a well an have been having water challenges. Coming from lake Michigan water, this has been a struggle for me. Long story short we bought an Aquasana whole house filtration system without knowing what are needs are and it is not able to handle our issues. We are returning this system. (yes, what a PAIN)

There are two adults in our house and will possibly be 3 - no kids and no . We have two bathrooms and will be adding a third. No hot tub or anything like that.

Our main issues are hardness, 64 grains per gallon and I can't drink it.

We have talked to a local dealer and a Kinetico dealer. We really liked what we heard from Kinetico. They quoted us their S250 or S350 softener for the hard water. And the K5 RO for our sinks and fridge.

From what I understand the benefits are that their system is s twin tank system that regenerates soft water on demand and it is very efficient (uses less water and salt) because it is on demand. In addition, the system only uses conditioned water for regeneration which also adds to the efficiency. We like the fact that we will use much less water and salt.

The K5 seems to be one of the better RO on the market from what I read and they brought me a bottle of water to taste and it was really good.

As I have read here, this is a pricey system ($4500 total) and I wondering if there is anything out there that compares from an efficiency stand point???

Warranty is 10 years parts, 1 year labor and it appears that others in this area have the system so it seems service will be good.

And, am I missing anything that I should be concerned with when trying to evaluate these systems?? (I feel like I am comparing apples to oranges half the time).

Also, we live in a wooded area and I am wondering if I should be concerned with the salty run-off water damaging the trees/plants/soil???

Hope I didn't forget anything and thanks for the help!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

Living on a well is more complicated and more costly than living on a water system. Well water has to be made SAFE and nice and that requires expense and maintenance and a learning curve. Posting only what you think is pertinent regarding your water conditions is less than helpful.

"What are the alternatives to Kinetico?"

Every other ion exchange water softener there is in varying degrees of quality with varying degrees of service to absolutely no service after the sale. Every ion exchange water softener is subject to the same laws of physics and chemistry as Kinetico is.

"From what I understand the benefits are that their system is s twin tank system that regenerates soft water on demand and it is very efficient (uses less water and salt) because it is on demand. In addition, the system only uses conditioned water for regeneration which also adds to the efficiency"

Exactly like any industry standard softener built on a Fleck 9100 control valve for less than 1/3 the cost of the Kinetico. Just as reliable and just as efficient.

Actually, while using softened water for regeneration is a plus in certain circumstances that feature reduces the gallons of softened water available for you to use so the extra efficiency touted is usually a wash.

No doubt about it, Kinetico products are pricey because Kinetico products are proprietary. That means that you are married to your local dealer for warranty, service and repairs and parts. some Kinetico dealers refuse to sell end users parts and tech info is not readily available. If you have a good local Kinetico dealer then that's less of a problem, but if you have a dealer who thinks that customers exist for their convenience then... well, you know. Kinetico corporate doesn't seem to want to get involved and support their customers when the local dealer treats them badly and since sales areas are protected the consumer is SOL.

While Kinetico's warranty initially sounds good 1 year labor and 10 years parts can really bend you over down the road when you need a $5 pawl under warranty at no charge but they charge you three hours labor at $90 to $100 a hour. If their stuff is that good then they ought to stand behind it.

Here's what you ought to do...

Get a water test from a certified independent lab. A certified 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 or just the water heater? Warranty... parts & labor or just parts, how long and on exactly what? Labor rate charges and trip charges? 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.

If you're a DIYer then you have other options but remember, when you do it yourself there's no one else to blame.

Regarding the K5 RO... I just answered the same question in another thread.


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

We were quoted a Johnson water conditioner model number 268 with an Autotrol 268 valve with microprocessor demand generation for $1295 installed and a Johnson RO 75qpd TFC - 4 stage for $595 and a $295 delivery pump.

It sounded like this system was going to use twice as much salt and water.

How can I tell if this is indeed the case and how does this compare to the Kinetico?

Can you recommend any specific brands of softeners that compare?

Both companies did their own water tests and we have an independent test as well.

Thanks again.


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

Softener efficiency boils down to grains of hardness treated per pound of salt used to regenerate the resin. It's simple chemistry and arithmetic... nothing more and nothing less.

That number can be manipulated by under sizing a softener for the water conditions, water usage, and SFR of the plumbing and then regenerating the softener more often which makes one side of the efficiency equation look good but regenerating more often uses more water and salt per 30 days which is not efficient. How manufacturer's and sales people present their numbers is designed to get you to buy and not to educate you about what you are buying.

In order to correctly size a softener we need to know...

1. # of people = your said would be 3

2. # of bathrooms = you said would be 3

3. SFR of the plumbing?

Any high water use appliances like an uber-shower or Jacuzzi?

4. Results of a comprehensive well water test by an independent lab... "our main issue is hardness, 64 gpg" is not sufficient information. We need to know hardness, manganese, iron (ferrous and ferric), copper, arsenic, sodium, pH, TDS, nitrates, and bacteria for starters.


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

What does SFR of the plumbing mean?

Here are the complete results of our test fro the National Test Labs: All results are mg/L unless otherwise indicated

Calcium 256.9 mg/L
Copper .011
Iron .085
Magnesium .015
Potassium 11.9
Silica 12.4
Sodium 39
Zinc .078
Alkalinity 370
Hardeness 1100 or 64g/Gal
pH 6.8 pH units
Total Dissolved solids 1500
Turbidity .6 NTU
Chloride 5.2
Sulfate 820
Coliform and E.Coli were absent

No uber-water using appliances.


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

Service Flow Rate

Calculating Your Flow Rate... You will need a watch with a second hand and a 1 gallon container to measure your flow rate with the instructions below.

1. Using the bathtub as the measuring point, open BOTH the hot and cold water faucets completely open.
2. If you have a well water supply, wait until the pump kicks on before continuing.
3. Place the 1 gallon container under the faucet and measure the amount of time it takes to fill the container in seconds.

I've run the #s for your water conditions and 3 people and I'm curious... how often did Kinetico tell you that their softener would regenerate and at what salt dose per regeneration?


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

So for the smaller unit, the S250, Kinetico said that it would regenerate 5 times a week and twice a week for the S350 which is the larger unit. About 20lbs per week is the amount of salt for both units.

I don't know the SFR and if I try to measure it, I think it may not be correct because we think the pipes may have build up from the hardness. We cannot run the tub and the shower at the same time, one becomes a trickle. We will most likely be replacing the pipes. The water flows pretty slow through the faucets but where it comes in from the well (before it hits the filter) it has really great pressure.

Hope this helps. Thanks again for your help.


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

Well, let's look at the numbers...

3 people x 120 gpd (average water use = 180 gpd x 64 gpg hardness = 11,520 grains hardness to be removed per day

From Kinetico's spec sheet the S250 will remove 14,196 per regeneration at 4 lbs of salt so that's a regeneration every 1.2 days @ 4 lbs salt and 25 regenerations every 30 days using 100 lbs of salt and they don't say how much water is used each regeneration.

The Kinetico S350 will remove 38,308 grains @ 10 lbs of salt per regeneration so that's a regeneration every 3.3 days and 9 regenerations every 30 days using 90 lbs of salt.

Hardly as efficient as they're telling you.

Here is their spec sheet... http://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.kinetico.com/assets/pdf/PDS_KineticoPremierSeries_Softeners.pdf&sa=U&ei=naz5UdL0L-jgyQGKwYHYAQ&ved=0CCAQFjAA&usg=AFQjCNE7RcujZRjvRi6sRrjudH64G2lYMw

I love sales people... check the math yourself

If Kinetico is your choice then the only logical unit is the S350. The S250 is undersized and will experience more wear and tear regenerating so often.

For comparison a Fleck 9100SXT based "on demand" (just like the Kinetico) twin resin tank softener with the same hardness removal capacity (and regenerates with soft water just like the Kinetico) as the Kinetico S350 sells for about $1150 on the internet but you have to assemble and install it and there's no after sale service to speak of after the sale..

This post was edited by justalurker on Thu, Aug 1, 13 at 21:41


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

Well, this is interesting....to say the least. We are not married to the Kinetico system but I must admit they did a good job selling it. The S350 was quoted to us at $3295 installed.

I had a gut feeling we needed to dig deeper before we committed.

The Fleck 9100 is much cheaper and can do the same thing. I need I think we need to speak to an independent water treatment person.

Any other suggestions? Thanks a bunch justalurker, I think you just saved us whole bunch of money :)


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

I just found this water softening sizing chart which I thought was interesting and may be useful to others

Here is a link that might be useful: Water Softener Sizing Chart


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

Not useful... USELESS cause it is wrong. Great for selling softeners bad for getting the customer a correctly sized softener.


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

Follow my advice in my earlier post regarding shopping for a softener.

When you find an independent water treatment company price out a Fleck 9100SXT based twin resin tank softener with 1.5 cu ft of resin in each tank. You want top basket in both tanks and a gravel under bed regardless of what they say.

That's the same size softener as the Kinetico S350.

You could increase the size of the Fleck 9100SXT to 2 cu ft of resin in each tank for a minimal expense.

This post was edited by justalurker on Thu, Aug 1, 13 at 21:43


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

What's the benefit of the twin tank? Some say we need it others say no.

What are the baskets used for and why do we need them? What's the benefit Of adding extra resin?

Is the gravel bed under the resin and what are the benefits of having that?

I talked to a guy about a Fleck 9100 and he quoted $1725 with lifetime parts and labor.

Kinetico said 120lbs of salt every six weeks and the Fleck guy said 200lbs every six weeks. That's a big difference. Could this be true?

Thanks for the education!


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

I am not an educator... I do HOW questions. I don't do WHY questions cause it takes a lot of typing and most of the WHY information is misunderstood and it always leads to more questions and my fingers get tired of typing... but I'll accommodate your questions.

"What's the benefit of the twin tank?"

For all the same reasons that the Kinetico salesperson said... soft water 24/7, slightly more efficient operation, regenerating with soft water = longer resin life, and you don't waste the calculated reserve hardness removal capacity that has to be set aside, and often waste, when you have a single resin tank softener.

"Some say we need it others say no".

Some don't know what they're doing and some don't know what they don't know. There are lots of people in water treatment that learned what they learned and haven't kept up with any advances in technology. It is said that you can't teach an old dog new tricks but the reality is that often you can't teach an old dog any tricks at all.

"What are the baskets used for and why do we need them?"

They are cheap and they keep the resin from getting up into the control valve and plugging it up. Not using top baskets is just plain stupid. You just want REAL:Fleck top baskets and not the Asian junk.

"What's the benefit Of adding extra resin?"

A twin resin tank softener with 2 cu ft of resin versus 1.5 cu ft in each tank would allow longer intervals between regenerations (fewer regenerations per year) and provide a higher flow rate at a minimal increase in price over a 1.5 cu ft twin.

"Is the gravel bed under the resin and what are the benefits of having that?"

Gravel under bed reduces pressure loss through the resin. Does that mean anything to you?

"Kinetico said 120lbs of salt every six weeks and the Fleck guy said 200lbs every six weeks. That's a big difference. Could this be true?"

I did the math for you a post or so ago and linked to Kinetico's spec sheet for you to check the math. Did you check the math? No matter how much a sales person wants things to change chemistry, physics, and arithmetic are the same for everyone on this planet regardless of the brand of softener. NUMBERS DON'T lie but sales people are not always as forthcoming as we hope they will be.

$1725 for a Fleck 9100SXT Twin softener with 1.5 cu ft of resin in each tank, two top baskets, gravel under bed, and INSTALLATION is not a bad price. Just make sure you're getting quality resin and not that pacific rim junk.

And now my fingers are really hurting and you have more detailed information than you need to make an informed decision.

I have no dog in this fight and gain nothing, other than helping you get what you need, whatever you decide

Let us know what you decide and how it works out for you.

This post was edited by justalurker on Thu, Aug 1, 13 at 20:23


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

Sorry about your fingers. We will let you know what we end up doing and if you ever need any advice on cooking just look me up. My fingers will be waiting.


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

The apples to apples comparison is the Kinetico S350 versus the Fleck 9100SXT (1.5 cu ft each tank) twin.

They both have the same volume of resin so when regenerated with the same salt dose they will both will have EXACTLY the same hardness removal capacity.

Parts for Fleck control valves are readily available and there's always someone almost everywhere that services and repairs Fleck control valves. There are more Fleck control valves in the field than ALL the other water softeners sold COMBINED. You can download the complete service manuals for Fleck control valves for free.

If you have a good Kinetico dealer than you simply have to justify the price. Lots of people buy Kinetico and are very happy.

If you have a good local independent water treatment pro who actually knows how to set up a softener for efficient operation and has a good reputation then the Fleck is a good choice and will be every bit as efficient and reliable as the Kinetico. If your dealer doesn't know what he/she doesn't know and lives in the past then you'll be in the same boat as a lot of other homeowners and not get the efficiency and performance you expected..

The real difference at the faucet is the quality of the dealer and how well they service you after the sale.

Either choice will get you 10+ years of reliable service then you can have the softeners re-bedded and rebuilt and go another 10+ years.

This post was edited by justalurker on Thu, Aug 1, 13 at 22:51


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

"3 people x 120 gpd (average water use = 180 gpd x 64 gpg hardness = 11,520 grains hardness to be removed per day"
Are you estimating 120 gpd per person?


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

"3 people x 120 gpd (average water use = 180 gpd x 64 gpg hardness = 11,520 grains hardness to be removed per day"
Are you estimating 120 gpd per person?


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RE: What are the alternatives to Kinetico??

No Andy, just a mad cow typing moment. The 120 should be 60 but the correct # of 180 gpd (for 3 people) x 64 grains per gallon was correctly calculated at 11,520

Should be... 3 people x 60 gpd (average water use = 180 gpd for 3 people) x 64 gpg hardness = 11,520 grains hardness to be removed per day.


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