Are Water Softeners Expensive?

Are Water Softeners Expensive?

If your home is beset by hard water, it may be tempting to take a look at having a water softener system installed in your house. This is a complicated process, and many homeowners wonder how much it will cost. Are water softener systems expensive?

The total cost for the water softener system and installation could easily cost a homeowner $1,000 – $5,000 or more, depending on the system being installed. There are, however, ways to help customers save money on their system, and there are water softener systems for a variety of budgets.

Keep reading to learn more about the costs and nuances of having a water softener system installed, and how to find a water softener system that works for your budget.

Related articles:
Ultimate Guide to Water Softeners: Everything You Need to Know
How Much Do Water Softeners Cost?
Is Home Depot Water Softener Installation Worth the Cost
Lowe’s Water Softener Installation Cost: A Comprehensive Guide

How Much Do Water Softeners Cost?

Water softeners can run from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, plus the cost of installation. They are specialized machines that attach to your home water system and help filter out the minerals such as maximum and magnesium that make water “hard”.

Larger water softener machines with dual-tank systems tend to filter out greater quantities of water and are better for larger homes. Smaller systems can work for homes that use less water and will be a bit more cost-effective. You can also generally expect to pay more in an urban environment, where the cost of living tends to be higher, and labor prices increase.

In addition, if the team installing it has to work with difficult-to-access pipes or a complicated system, you’ll likely pay more for the cost of installation.

On average, this system could cost anywhere from $200 for a small under-sink unit to $5,000 for a whole-house, dual-tank system. If adjustments have to be made to your water system, piping, or drainage, this will need to be factored into your budget.

Water Softeners Come in Several Forms

A number of different water softener systems exist. The main varieties of water softeners include:

  • All-home systems that use physical filtration
  • Salt-based systems that use sodium to remove minerals from water
  • Magnetic systems that draw minerals away from the water via magnetic polarization
  • Under-sink reverse osmosis units that filter drinking water alone

Salt free systems use a series of filters, and don’t need to be filled with salt. This system is easier to maintain and work with and is often preferred by consumers. These units may cost about $2,000 for the total price of the unit apart from installation fees.

Salt-based or ion-exchange water softeners draw calcium and magnesium out of the water and into a salt-based resin stored within a brine tank. Dual-tank systems also exist for larger homes, or homes which use a greater quantity of water.

The resin in salt-based water softeners needs to be “recharged” periodically, to ensure that it can attract and filter out minerals. These systems can either recharge based on how much water has passed through them or can recharge on a set timer, depending on the model you’ve purchased. These systems can cost $2,000 for a single tank system, and upwards of $4,000 or more for a dual tank system.

Magnetic water softeners are much smaller devices, which help neutralize minerals found in your water by a series of magnets attached to existing pipes. These water softeners are unobtrusive, inexpensive compared to larger models, and can save you $200 in total.

Finally, a reverse osmosis water softener system is a small unit that can fit under the sink and is useful for filtering kitchen water. These are small and compact units; they filter out contaminants rather than simply neutralize them. The unit should cost you about $400 on average, making it a lot more budget friendly.

Related article: Home Water Filtration System Cost: Uncover the Real Truth

Water Softeners May Require Some Extra Costs

While many of these water softeners are relatively hands-off, the salt-based systems require considerable attention and need to be cleaned. As the salt within the system works to absorb minerals, it tends to solidify into a crust within the tank itself. This crust will need to be cleaned and scraped away.

These machines also require the addition of salt to work. It is generally accepted to check and refill your tank once a month, depending on how much water your home uses. This salt will be another expense, and the higher quality, purer salt you use, the better your system will run.

These tanks also need to be drained and cleaned during refill, so make sure that you schedule in time to fully care for your water softener system.

Watch this video about Water Softener Professional services.

Budget-Friendly Water Softeners Exist

If you’re looking for a water softener system that is a bit easier on your budget, an under-the-sink unit may be helpful to you. This system will only soften water that flows out of your sink faucet but is an economical way to help soften at least some of the water in your home. These smaller units are generally only a few hundred dollars on average and stay out of the way underneath a sink. They’re easier and cheaper to install, and simpler to clean, too.

Other options include a water softener that easily installs onto your shower head. These units range from $50 to $200 on average and can help you eliminate hard water when you bathe. This isn’t a whole-home option, but can make the water healthier and more effective to wash in as hard water can damage hair, and can often be installed by a single person.

Another great idea if you’re on a budget is to use a water filtration pitcher. While these pitchers will not be as effective as a professional water softener system, they can help to remove some of the calcium and magnesium from drinking water. They are generally less than $100 and can be helpful in softening water slightly for consumption, or cooking.


Water softener systems will cost anywhere from $1,000 – $5,000 on average for whole-home systems, with smaller magnetic units or under-sink units costing anywhere from $200 – $400 on average, minus the cost on installation.

The most expensive systems are typically the whole-home salt-free units and the whole-home salt-based systems. Dual tank units can process more water, and are ideal for large homes, but can cost $5,000 or more for the entire system.

Cheaper alternatives include hard water filters for shower heads, and even water filtration pitchers. Many of these options are under $100 in price and can be used and installed easily.

Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.

Recent Posts