The holidays are upon us and that means it's time shop, travel and gain some extra weight (I started early on the weight gaining this year). Because some of us will be hosting visitors in our homes that will likely want to take showers, wash laundry and the like, I wanted to talk about how different water softeners allow for more or less flow of water into your home. The critical question we will answer is "under a peak demand situation (multiple uses simultaneously) will the water softener allow for that additional use or restrict it?"
Is there really that big a difference of flow rates from brand to brand? YES
Let's look at some progressions in society and how some water softeners have adjusted and others have not. My grandmother-in-law lives in the Arlington area of Jacksonville in an older home. Back then and all throughout her area homes were constructed with one bathroom per home and one kitchen per home. Contrast that to today where it's common to have three, four, or five bathrooms per home along with a powder room, extra utility sink in the laundry room and more. A water softener that was originally designed to handle the flow rate demands of my grandmother-in-law's house would not be able to provide the needs of a four bathroom home say in Durbin Crossing North. If you were unaware and purchased a water softener that did not meet the flow specs needed for your home you would notice a restriction of flow during peak demand moments. For example, some units still being sold in our area today have a maximum flow rate of 5.9 gallons per minute while others (including most to all of our units) will allow close to 20 gallons per minute.
How do I know what my peak demand in gallons per minute is?
Our residential water softeners are equipped with a precise, digital meter that automatically records peak demand in gallons per minute. Depending on the size of the family and the number of bathrooms we will see anywhere from 6 to 15+ gallons per minute recorded on our water softeners.
How do I know what the water softener is rated and tested to handle?
You have to find the "capacity specifications" page from the actual manufacture. This information may not be immediately available as most sales persons either won't have access to it or don't know where to look to find this information. Just to be clear, sales literature is not the same as a capacity specification sheet. A peak flow rate on a spec sheet has a corresponding psi pressure drop listed along with it. For example, water softener X with a such and such sized tank, will have a peak flow rate of 8 GPM@12psi drop. Sales literature is usually very generic and won't offer technically specific data. They will typically say high flow system or something like that. Which doesn't really tell you anything.
Do higher rated systems cost more than a lower flow system? Not really
The truth is the price of a lower rated system and a higher flow system could be very similar. So why not get the most bang for your buck?
Thanks for taking the time to read our post. I hope this helps with your water softener research. If you have any questions feel free to email or post a question.