Apr 132012
 

Dripping FaucetThe typical image of a water softener is a large, clunky tank sitting next to the water heater in the utility room. However, not all homes fit the norm, and many of them don’t have the space for a conventional water softener with its big tank. Fortunately, not all water softeners fit the norm, either. If you don’t have room for a large appliance – or you just want less clutter in your home – a compact water softener might fit right in.

Small Water Softener Systems

What does the phrase small water softener mean? In terms of water softener sizing, it means a lower capacity softener. The more water you use, and the harder your water is, the greater the softening capacity you require. This generally means you need a larger softener to hold more resin beads, more water, and more salt. However, some water softener manufacturers are challenging this idea.

You can now find compact water softeners that are designed to offer the same softening capacity in a much smaller package. Many of these systems work the same as larger systems, but the individual components are assembled ingeniously to conserve space. However, other systems like the WaterBoss line of softeners boast higher quality resin that works more efficiently than standard resin.

Tankless Systems

Just as there are tankless water heaters, there are also tankless water softeners – or, as they’re more commonly known, saltless water softeners. While conventional water softeners use an ion exchange process that requires a regular supply of salt, salt free softeners work through a variety of alternative methods. One thing all of these methods have in common is that they don’t use salt, and thus there’s no need for a large tank.

Some saltless systems are more compact than others. For example, a softener that uses a filter cartridge will require slightly more space than, say, an electronic water softener. However, in most cases, space is not going to be an issue with any saltless system. Without the large tank, they usually don’t even have to sit on the floor.

Deciding on a Compact Water Softener

If you’re set on getting a small water softener, your options are somewhat limited. There aren’t a lot of conventional salt based systems that feature a compact design, and saltless alternatives are still somewhat new and may not work well enough for homes with extremely hard water. Rather than buy a softener you’re not really sold on, you may want to consider alternatives such as installing your water softener outside the house, or rearranging existing appliances.

As with any water softener, you should do your homework before making a purchase. But this is especially true when you’re considering nonstandard systems like a compact or tankless water softener. Be sure to check out the reputation of the manufacturer and read any applicable reviews. Perhaps most importantly, buy from a dealer you trust and look for warranties and money back guarantees that will protect you in case the system doesn’t live up to expectations.