How Much Does A Water Softener Cost? Check the Cost for 12 Different Systems

how much does a water softener cost

Last Updated: November 30, 2023

Is the “How much does a water softener cost” question a challenge for you? Your confusion of scrolling through pages on the internet comes to an end. By conducting an in-depth analysis and contacting different brands, I have found the accurate prices and I invite you to explore my findings to clear out your doubts as well. Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

Quick Answer

Before you invest in anything, let me help you narrow down those options by getting to know the crucial knowledge that I found the hard way through experience and research. Always consider the factors mentioned below:

  1. Brand of the water softener system (For Pelican around $1700, and for Water Right around $2500);
  2. Type of the water softener systems (Example: Salt-free or Ion exchange unit);
  3. Cost of maintenance water softener systems;
  4. Size of your family or home.

Now that I have helped you funnel down the criteria for choosing a suitable water softener system. Continue reading and learn more about the types, pricing, brand, and more. Let me help you make a sound decision by providing factual and rich information. Let’s dive in!

Water Softener System Cost

A residential water softener typically costs from $150 to $2000, not including installation. But, if you want to add the labor cost to this equation too, then you should pay an extra $200 – $500. You will also need to spend $10-20 dollars a month on operating costs and salt refills.

How Much Does A Water Softener Cost? Water Softener System Cost

There are a number of factors that can affect the cost of a water softener, including:

  • The type and size of the unit
  • The features included
  • Where you live
  • The brand you purchase

You can expect the following costs when purchasing a water softener:

  • Whole-house systems cost more than $2,000.
  • Point-of-use systems are typically less expensive, starting at around $150.

Before making a purchase, it’s important to compare different brands and models to find the best water filtration system for your needs and budget.

Ion Exchange Water Softener Costs

The cost of an ion exchange water softener is related to its treatment capacity. That is, the greater the softening capacity of the resin bed in cubic feet, the more expensive the system. Resin beds are usually rated in grains per gallon (gpg).

  • A typical water softener might have a resin bed that can soften up to 60,000 gpg.
  • The cost for such a system might be around $500 but could be sold for as much as $2,000.
Ion Exchange Water Softener Costs

Salt-free Water Softeners Cost To Install

Salt-free water conditioners do not use salt but work in one of two ways – a physical process called chelation and water conditioning through Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC).

Salt-free Water Softeners Cost To Install

Read my detailed article on salt-free water conditioners.

Dual Tank System Costs

A nice feature to have in your water softener is dual tanks. This configuration has two resin vessels instead of one:

  1. One tank is in service, treating your water;
  2. The other tank is being regenerated.

This setup ensures your system can meet peak demand and deliver soft water. The cost for this type of system will be higher than for a single-tank water softener, but it’s worth the investment.

  • You can expect to pay an additional $800 on average for a dual-tank system.
Dual Tank System Costs

Installation costs will also be higher since the tanks and control valves must be placed in a specific sequence for the system to work properly.

Note: If you’re looking for a water softener that can handle peak demand, a dual-tank system is your best option.

Point-of-Use Reverse Osmosis

A point-of-use osmosis system is ideal for the kitchen or places requiring water for consumption. I got my water softener installed in the kitchen which is perfect for providing water for cooking, drinking, and cleaning the dishes.

The installation process did not cause much hassle as I had a separate faucet which was the perfect fixture for this system.

  • The Point-of-Use RO costs around $150 to $1300;
  • The setup typically costs around $100 to $500.
Point-of-Use Reverse Osmosis

Whole-House Reverse Osmosis

Something interesting that came across my research was “whole-house reverse osmosis” systems. No magnets and no salt are involved in this type of setup instead there are semi-permeable membranes to filter out the contaminants.

The water passes through a layer of membrane filters that catches any unwanted particles softening the water. This type of water softener system sounds attractive but I would only recommend this if you have the budget for it as the filters need to be replaced and they are very pricey.

  • I found that this type of water-softening system has a price tag of $1,000 to $4,200 or even more.
Whole-House Reverse Osmosis System

Magnetic Water Softener Systems

After thorough research, I found out that hard water is the cause of alteration of the taste and quality of water. To battle this problem, magnetic water softeners are the best solution. These high-end systems make use of electromagnetic coils to attract certain particles (hard minerals) such as calcium and magnesium.

  • There is no need for refill (salt) in these water softeners which I found as a plus point.
  • The only downside was that they could only remove minerals that reach near the coils of the system.

To verify my findings, I ventured to the closest Walmart and explored that:

  • The different options range from $200 to $600.
Magnetic Water Softener Systems

Water Distiller

Have you ever performed a distillation experiment in your school? I did! Upon close inspection, I found out that a water distiller works on the same concept. To filter out the contaminants, the system turns water into vapor by heating it and then condenses it to form water again.

This method of filtering water is effective as it can get rid of the drinking water:

  1. Bacteria;
  2. Heavy metals;
  3. Impurities.
Note: But since impurities are solids and cannot evaporate they are left behind.

I have experienced using this system and found out that it always offers highly purified water. Compared to the “whole house system”, this is a better investment in my opinion as:

  • The water distiller is $100 to $800.
Water Distiller

Digital versus Mechanical Controls

Water softeners must be regenerated periodically. You can opt for a basic mechanical timer that will regenerate the system at preset intervals, or you can choose a digital timer.

You can also get a unit that initiates the regeneration cycle based on the volume of water treated. This ensures your system is always working at its best. If you want the convenience of digital controls, be prepared to pay a little extra.

  • The cost for a digital timer will be around $90 more than for a mechanical timer.
  • The flow-based control system might cost an additional $400.

Water Softener Capacity and Cost

The treatment capacity of water softeners is measured in grains per gallon (gpg). The higher the capacity, the more expensive the system.

  • A water softener that can soften up to 30,000 gpg will cost around $600.
  • If you need a unit with a greater capacity, say 60,000 gpg, expect to pay closer to $1,000.

Water Softener Size


Cost Range

24,000 grains

0 – 3,500 gpg

$300 - $600

32,000 grains

3,501 – 4,500 gpg

$400 - $1,000

48,000 grains

4,501 – 6,850 gpg

$500 - $1,200

64,000 grains

6,851 – 9,150 gpg

$1,000 - $1,500

80,000 grains

9,151 – 11,500 gpg

$1,200 - $1,800

Home New Water Softener Cost By Brand

Not all water softener brands are created equal. Generally speaking, brands that are known for high quality tend to be more expensive than those that are not. If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line system, expect to pay a premium.

  • A Culligan system with a capacity of 30,000 gpg will cost around $850.
  • A comparable unit from Morton costs around $950.
Home New Water Softener Cost By Brand

However, it’s important to do your research to make sure you’re getting a quality product. The following table lists the water softener purchase cost for 12 of the most popular brands. It includes the cost for a low-end and high-end unit as well as the average cost.




High Range

































Water Right
















Read my article on the cost of a Culligan water softener for a detailed discussion of this brand.

What is the Water Softener Installation Costs?

When it comes to installation, there are a few things to consider:

  • The cost of labor: Labor costs can vary significantly depending on where you live. For example, in some areas, plumbers may charge a flat rate, while in others they may charge by the hour.
  • The cost of permits, if required: The cost of permits also varies depending on your location. Some municipalities don’t require them at all, while others charge a significant fee.
  • The cost of materials: The cost of materials can also vary greatly depending on the brand and type of water softener you choose and the plumbing configuration in your home.
What is the Water Softener Installation Costs?

Finding a Skilled Professional for an Affordable Water Softener System Installation

Hiring a professional to install a water softener was an extremely wise decision that I made. Doing so ensured proper installation and helped in avoiding potential mishaps. By performing extensive market research, I came across different costs of labor (charges varied as per the installer’s demand and the complexity of the installation).

The prices ranged from $200 – $500 for labor. I also found that additional costs included plumbing modifications that can cost $500 to $2,000. Here are some critical tips for hiring a local plumber to install the water softener systems at your home:

  • Research: I would recommend searching on the internet for nearby plumbers who deal with water softener installation or you can also seek a water softener contractor.
  • Talk with friends and family: There is a high probability someone in your social setting can recommend a reliable and cheap plumber that can assist with your undertaking. My brother recommended the most amazing plumber for the job!
  • Read reviews: Visit Yelp, Google, Trustpilot, and BBB to see what other customers have said about them before hiring a local pro.
  • Test your water hardness: I have testing kits over the Internet and found them to be a lifesaver! You can also request these kits from your municipality. Alternatively, your plumbing contractor can perform a test for hardness before giving an estimate.
  • Ask for quotes: This will give you written estimates for a select few of the leading choices. Before giving a quote, the contractor may have to go to your home.
  • Pick the top provider: According to the above information, make a choice of the most suitable provider based on your budget.
Finding a Skilled Professional for an Affordable Water Softener System Installation

Read my step-by-step guide on how to install a water softener.

Home Depot Water Softener Installation Costs

Do you want to know how much it costs to have the Home Depot install your water softener? So did I.

I went down to my local Home Depot and asked. Unfortunately, they don’t provide quotes in the store. You have to make an appointment for one of their contractors to inspect your home. Since I was considering a purchase, I made the appointment and a professional estimator came to my house a week later.

The quote for Home Depot to install my water softener was $2,800. This included:

  1. Delivering the water softener to my house;
  2. Installing a bypass loop;
  3. Running a 12-foot length of pipe to and from the unit.

I checked with other people who have had Home Depot install water softeners. The range of prices for Home Depot to install a water softener is between $1,100 and $3,600.

Home Depot Water Softener Installation Costs
Note: Home Depot uses contractors to install water softeners. Their contractors have been vetted and carry insurance (workman’s compensation, automobile, and liability). Home Depot provides a service warranty with their installation work.

Read my article Is Home Depot Water Softener Installation Worth the Cost to learn a lot more.

Lowe’s Water Softener Installation Cost

Lowe’s provides water softener installation services. The cost to have Lowe’s install your water softener will vary depending on a few factors, but the average cost is $1,450.

  • For a simple installation, Lowe’s may charge you as little as $375.
  • More complex installations may cost more than $3,000.
Lowe's Water Softener Installation Cost

Variables that can affect the installation cost include:

  1. Amount of piping work that has to be done
  2. The type of water softener you purchase
  3. Availability of 110-volt power near the installation spot
  4. Installing a bypass loop
  5. Setting up zones to provide treated and untreated water to different parts of your house
Important! Lowe’s doesn’t do the installation work themselves – they use local contractors who are knowledgeable about water softeners. Their contractors are licensed (if required by local regs) and carry insurance. Lowe’s also does a background check to weed out the bad actors.

Lowe’s provides a one-year warranty with installation. Lowes offers financing to help you afford the purchase and installation of your water softener. They also offer deals with your Lowe’s credit card such as discounts and no interest charges for up to 6 months.

Permit Costs for Water Softener Installation

Some municipalities don’t require permits at all, while others charge a significant fee. If you live in a municipality that requires permits for water softener installation, the cost of those permits will be added to the overall installation cost.

  • The average permit fee is around $50, but it can vary significantly depending on your location.
  • The highest permit cost I’ve heard about was $450.

DIY Costs for Water Softener Installation

If you’re comfortable doing the installation yourself, you can save a significant amount of money.

  • The cost of materials will be significantly less than if you hire a plumber or contractor to do the work for you.
  • You’ll also save on labor costs, which can add up to hundreds of dollars.
Important! However, it’s important to note that not all water softener installations are DIY-friendly. If you’re not comfortable doing the work yourself, it’s best to hire a professional.

Long-Term Costs of Water Softeners

In addition to the equipment and installation costs, you’ll also need to factor in the cost to operate your water softener and keep it in good working condition. Some of these ongoing costs can be higher than the cost of the softener, so you need to consider them in your purchasing decision.

Over the life of your system, the water softener installation costs aren’t the most significant. The long-term costs can be 10 times what you pay for the softener. The following table summarizes the major costs associated with water softener maintenance and repair.




Repairs and Maintenance

$150 – $900


Potassium Salt

$120 - $500


Professional service

$5 – $10

40-lb bag


$50 – $70

40-lb bag

Ion Exchange Resin

$90 – $130



$8 – $20


Rust/scale remover

$5 – $10


1. System Maintenance

Like all appliances, a home water softener requires regular maintenance to keep it running efficiently. Most systems need to be cleaned and flushed annually to remove any built-up sediment or deposits. They also require disinfection to ensure harmful bacteria aren’t growing in the resin vessel or brine tank.

This process is relatively simple, but it can be time-consuming and may require the help of a professional. The cost of this service will vary depending on where you live and the company you use.

  • Annual maintenance service by a professional can cost between $120 and $500.
  • If you need to replace the resin in your system, it costs between $90 and $130 per bag.
System Maintenance

You can also save money by cleaning and sanitizing the system yourself, but it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Important! If your water softener isn’t properly maintained, it may not work as well as it should or could eventually stop working altogether. This will increase your long-term costs and may require you to replace the system sooner than you would have otherwise.

2. Salt

Salt is used to regenerate the resin beads in the water softener, so it’s an essential part of the system. The price of salt can vary depending on where you live and the type of salt you purchase.

Most water softeners require between 40 and 80 pounds of salt per month, so the cost can add up over time. You may be able to save money by buying in bulk or by switching to a less expensive brand of salt.

  • The cost of sodium chloride salt ranges from $0.125 to $0.70 per pound.
  • Potassium chloride salt costs approximately $1.25 to $1.75 per pound.
Note: If you have a salt-free water softener, then you won’t incur these costs. If you have a water softener with a built-in grain meter, it will automatically adjust the amount of salt needed each month. This can help you save money on salt and avoid running out.

3. Water Waste

All ion exchange water softeners waste some amount of water because they have to regenerate the spent resin. The amount of water wasted will vary depending on the size and type of softener, but it’s typically between two and six gallons per regeneration.

Water Testing

If you pay for public water and sewer, this is an added cost. Fortunately, it’s not significant, but you should be aware of this aspect of water conditioners.

4. Water Testing

It is important to monitor your water softener to ensure it’s working properly and reducing your water’s hardness. An important way to check how well the softener is working is to test the water hardness.

The cost of testing will depend on the method you choose and the company you use.

  • Home test strips are about $25 for 20 test strips.
  • Professional water companies charge $40 or more for a hardness test.

5. Routine Inspections and Service Contract

Having your system inspected and serviced on a regular basis is an important way to keep it running efficiently and prolong its life. Most water softener companies offer a service contract that includes regular inspections and maintenance.

The cost of this service will vary depending on the company you use, but it’s typically less expensive than paying for repairs or replacement parts if something goes wrong with the system.

  • Annual maintenance contracts range from $100 to $300 per year and include a thorough examination, flushing, and cleaning.

6. Water Softener Rental

My friend Liam chose a rented water softener. When I had a discussion with him about this system, he told me that it’s one of the suitable options available. This price ranges between $25 and $50 every month. Hence, he finds it as an ideal option to suit budget restrictions.

Water Softener Rental

And, I can’t disagree with his findings. Renting out provides an opportunity for one to sample the system without commitment. This also helps in reducing the risks of buying when you have doubts about the right choice to make. This is a personal choice that depends upon the requirement and ease of use.

What Affects Water Softener System Costs

Having a water softener in your home can be a great way to improve the quality of your water and save money on energy costs. It’s important to note, however, that not all softeners are created equal. The cost of a water softener varies depending on the type of softener you buy, the size of your home, and the hardness of your water.

  • You can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to more than $6,000 for a complete system, including installation.

1. Water Softener System Capacity

An important factor in the overall cost of your water softener is the system’s capacity. This is determined by the hardness of your water and how much water you use on a daily basis. A larger system will be more expensive than a smaller one, and it’s important to choose one that can handle all of your needs.

  • For a large family: If you have a large family or if you live in a multi-story home, you will need a larger system with a higher capacity. You may also need to buy a commercial-grade water softener if your water is extremely hard.
  • For a small family: If you have a smaller family or live in a single-story home, you may be able to get away with a system that has a lower capacity. In this case, you can save money on the purchase and installation costs of your water softener.

The good news is that most homeowners only need a standard residential water softener. This type of water softener system typically has a capacity of between 15,000 and 30,000 grains of hardness removal.

Note: Overall, it’s important to select a system that has the capacity to meet your needs. If you choose one that’s too small, you may end up having to purchase a larger system down the road, which can be costly.

2. Water Hardness

Hard water contains significant amounts of mineral buildup such as calcium and magnesium. I have personally experienced a thin coating around my sink and noticed spots on dishes. Furthermore, a friend of mine, Sara told me that it causes the formation of sludge in appliance pipes, water heaters, and dishwashers.

Hard water may be beneficial since it contains calcium and magnesium but it damages equipment and clothing. The water hardness is described as either soft, moderately hard, hard, or very hard. Scale buildup occurs as a result of hard water which differs across the U.S.

Here is a table that shows the hardness level of water:

Hardness Level

Milligrams per Liter

Parts per Million

Parts per Million





Moderately hard |








Very hard




3. Your Home’s Size

The size of your house will also affect the overall cost of your water softener. A larger home will require a larger water softening system to produce sufficient water for your needs. As you would expect, a larger water softener is more expensive.

  • For a large home: If you have a large home with multiple stories, you may need to buy a commercial-grade water softener. These systems are designed to handle high volumes of water and can usually accommodate homes with up to 12 bathrooms.
  • For a small home: On the other hand, if you live in a small home or apartment, you may be able to get away with a system that has a lower capacity. This will save you money on the purchase and installation costs of your water softener.
Your Home's Size

It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. You may need a larger or smaller system depending on your specific needs.

4. Whole-House versus Point-of-Use Water Softener System

The cost of a water softener will vary depending on whether you treat all of the water that comes into your house or just some of it. A whole-house water softener is more expensive than a point-of-use system, but it’s also more efficient.

A whole-house water softener treats all of the water that comes into your home before it enters the plumbing system. This means you won’t have to install a separate unit for different zones or individual appliances in your house.

Note: Most people install a whole-house system because it doesn’t require extensive plumbing or purchasing multiple units.

5. Options and Features of Water Softener Systems

Water softeners come with a variety of options and features. These can affect the overall cost of the system.

  • Automatic regeneration: Some water softeners have an automatic regeneration feature that activates when the unit has processed a specific volume of water. This is more expensive than a timer-based system that regenerates the resin on a fixed schedule.
  • Digital display: Some units have digital displays that keep track of the volume of water treated, the amount of salt left in your tank, and remind you when it needs maintenance. Other expensive options include the ability to control your water softener through a smart phone app.
  • Extra options: Options like a particle filter, carbon filter, and pH adjustment add to your costs.
Options and Features of Water Softener Systems

If you don’t need these extra features, you can save money by choosing a system without them. In general, the more features and options your water softener has, the more expensive it will be. It’s important to select the system that best meets your needs and budget.

6. Where You Live

The cost of installing a water softener may vary depending on where you live. Labor costs can vary significantly depending on the area, so it’s important to get quotes from several different installers.

Where You Live

Some areas have more stringent plumbing regulations than others, which can drive up the cost of installation. You may also need to factor in the cost of permits and inspections if they are required in your city or town.

Important! The overall cost of a water softener will vary depending on these factors, so it’s important to get an accurate estimate before you make your purchase.

7. The Brand You Purchase

There are dozens of water softener brands on the market, and they all have different prices. In general, the more expensive brands are also the most reliable. A low-cost water softener may end up costing you more, especially if it can’t keep up with your home’s water-softening needs.

  1. If you’re looking for a high-quality water softener that will last for many years, you may want to consider spending a little extra money on a top-of-the-line brand.
  2. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, there are many less expensive brands that will get the job done.

It’s important to do your research and compare different brands before making a purchase. Keep an open mind while you’re doing your research. This will help you find the best system for your needs and budget.

Strategies to Save Money on Your Water Softener

If you’re considering buying a water softener, there are a few ways to save money on the cost. Here are a few strategies to get started:

  • Shop around. Not all water softeners are created equal, so it’s important to shop around and compare prices before you buy.
  • Size it properly. An over- or under-sized softener costs you more. (read my article about properly sizing a water softener).
  • Install it correctly. If your softener is installed improperly, you may find it requires more frequent regeneration or maintenance.
  • Optimize the regeneration cycle. Salt is the biggest ongoing expense. Make sure you’re not wasting it by regenerating too often.
  • Test it routinely. Monitor your softener’s performance to keep it operating in the optimum range.
  • Include pre-treatment. Installing a water filter upstream of your softener can reduce fouling and increase the life of your softener system.
  • Buy a unit with a built-in grain meter. These units regenerate based on the hardness removed from the water which minimizes salt usage.

Cost Savings from Having a Water Softener

Water softeners cost money to buy and install. They also save you money in the long run.

Here are some cost savings you can expect from your water softener.

  1. Appliance life extended
  2. Plumbing repairs and replacement
  3. Water heater energy savings
  4. More efficient use of detergent and soap

Example Costs to Install a Water Softener

Let’s look at a couple of examples of the installation cost for a water softener.

Scenario #1: 2-bedroom home with very hard water

In this example, the home has a water softener installed that is sized for a family of three. Their water is very hard – 14 grains per gallon. They use 240 gallons of water per day.



Equipment purchase


Professional installation


Salt for one year


Maintenance contract


Other costs


Total costs


Scenario #2: 5-bedroom home with hard water and public water and sewer

In this scenario, the homeowners install the softener themselves. They purchase a unit with a flow-based, digital controller and dual tanks. They use 400 gallons per day, and their water has a hardness of 9 gpg.



Equipment purchase


DIY installation


Potassium chloride salt for one year


Maintenance contract


Other costs


Total costs



How much does it cost to install a water softener in a 5-bedroom house?

A typical cost for installing a water softener in a 5-bedroom house is $1,000 to $3,500. Costs will vary depending on the water hardness, water usage, and options the homeowner chooses. Your softener installation cost can be affected by where you live.

How much does salt cost for a water softener each year?

The typical water softener uses about 60 pounds of salt each month and about 720 pounds each year. The cost for salt for a water softener is between $144 and $504 per year.

How much does a water softener cost to maintain each year?

The average water softener costs between $200 and $800 per year to maintain. This includes salt, maintenance, and miscellaneous costs.

How much will an under-the-counter system cost to install in my kitchen and bathroom?

An under-the-counter system for your kitchen and bathroom costs between $200 to $500 or more.

How much does it cost to fill a water softener?

How much does it cost to fill a water softener?


Summing up how much does a water softener cost depends on various factors like brand, type, and maintenance. On average, a simple water softener can cost you around $600 – $2000. But, if you opt for other systems, the cost can take a turn. A salt-free system can have a price tag ranging from $500 – $4000 whereas, the Magnetic one will only fall between $200 – $600.

Nonetheless, whatever system you install, will help you get rid of problems like dry skin, stains on clothes, clogged pipes, etc. You can either install the softener yourself or seek the help of a professional. I would recommend you hire a plumber for a swift installation and to avoid potential mishaps.

The Filter Guy

Scott Birch is a water filtration installer and designer. He has worked in the industry for many years and is very familiar with and knowledgeable about residential water treatment equipment. Scott enjoys helping people get the most out of their water filtration systems and ensuring that their homes are getting the best possible quality of water.

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