How to get the right softener for you

Our guide to choosing the right water softener for you

We often get asked “what is the best water softener?” The answer is there is no one best water softener that is suitable for everyone. To work out the best water softener for you there are several factors to consider. 

This guide is designed to help you decide what might be best for you and your home. Here are our 4 top considerations with some links to other pages you may find helpful in making your decision.


Size of the water softener

In the majority of homes in the UK the main water stop tap is located under the kitchen sink and therefore this is where a water softener would usually be installed. So the space you have available may be a key consideration when selecting your water softener.

There are 2 distinct types of water softener on the UK market:

A twin tank compact water softener

Whilst one type is not necessarily better than the other, the twin tank type is a much smaller machine than a single tank water softener. For this reason, the twin tank is often more popular as it tends to fit in easily in most spaces.

A single tank water softener

However, if you have the space available you may find that the single tank water softener is a better option for your home.  This leads us on to our second consideration.

To read more about:

Twin tank and single tank water softener, whats the difference?


Water usage and your household

Low water usage homes

A home with low water usage would normally opt for a compact water softener that uses block salt. The advantages are it takes up less space and the block salt is convenient to handle and store. A house with only 2 people or a family of 3 with a low water bill would typically have to reload the machine with a packet of block salt once a month, giving an average  running cost of around £69 per year.

High water usage homes

For a home using a considerable amount of water, for example a family of 4 or more (or maybe there is a teenager who stands in the shower for 30 minutes) a block salt softener is still a solution that works. But, it is important to note that this will increase running costs. The machine may need topping up with salt every 2 weeks or less, making the running cost more in the region of £138 per year.

This is where a single tank softener can be a better solution. These softeners have much larger salt storage compartments, anywhere from 18-32 kg on an average sized domestic model. They also typically use tablet salt which is cheaper. This means the softener may only need to be topped every 2 or 3 months and brings the running costs down to around about the £70 mark similar to the cost for the low water usage home above.


Homes using less water are often better off with a compact block salt softener, but if space allows could still consider a single tank softener.

Homes using more water may want to consider a bigger softener which can be easier to manage and cost less to run.

We have given the examples above to help highlight how water usage should have some influence on what water softener you select. These are just examples and you may find that you fit somewhere between the two. 

To read more about:

Block salt and tablet salt, what’s the difference?


Quality of the water softener and your budget

If you have already started looking at water softeners you will have found that there are a lot of different types and brands of softener on offer. The price of which varies a lot. At the cheapest end of the market you can pick up a softener for £300 and, with installation costs and plumbing fittings, you could have it installed for less than £800. At the top end you could pay between £1400- £1900 for a premium softener supplied and installed including a new kitchen tap. 

As with most things you get what you pay for and some of the cheaper softeners are  inefficient and troublesome when it comes to getting help if a problem arises. There are some very good quality mid-range water softeners on the market but getting reliable independent advice on which one would be suitable for your home isn’t always straightforward. For this reason the biggest factor in the decision is where you buy your water softener from and how you have it installed.


Where to buy and installation of your water softener

Let us briefly outline 3 typical choices you will have:

Our aim is to get you the right product for you.

At Shires Water we want to help you purchase the right softener for you.
Want to know more? Get in touch to discuss your requirements.