Electric VS Non-Electric Water Softener, Which Is Better?

Electric water softeners are becoming increasingly popular, as they require no maintenance and are quick and easy to install. They work by passing salt-impregnated resin beads through a magnetic field that removes the hardness ions from the water, replacing them with sodium ions. This process is known as ion exchange, which is much more efficient than traditional softening methods.

Non-electric water softeners work in a similar way, but instead of using electricity they use sodium chloride (salt) to remove the hardness ions. This method is known as salt-exchange and is much cheaper than electric softening systems. However, it requires more maintenance and can be less effective at times.

Water is essential for everyday life. It is important to have high-quality water in our homes to use for cooking, cleaning, and drinking. Hard water contains too much mineral content like calcium and magnesium which can be a nuisance when it comes to home appliances, plumbing fixtures, and laundry items. Water softeners help reduce the amount of these minerals in your water, making it more suitable and safer for everyday use.

The two main types of water softeners are electric and non-electric systems. Both can be effective at reducing levels of hard minerals in the water, but they have different advantages which must be taken into account before investing in a system.

What Are Electric Water Softeners?

What Are Electric Water Softeners
Electric Water Softeners

Electric water softeners use a process called ion exchange, which swaps calcium and magnesium ions in hard water for sodium or potassium ions. Softened water produces better tasting drinks and food and makes it easier to clean dishes, clothes, and floors.

What Are Non-Electric Water Softeners?

What Are Non-Electric Water Softeners
Non-Electric Water Softener

Non-electric water softeners are systems that utilize mechanical parts to filter out hard minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, from your water. They generally require a backwash tank or other mechanism to periodically purge the filtered minerals from the system, so they must be manually operated.

Electric VS Non-Electric Water Softener

Electric VS Non-Electric Water Softener
Electric VS Non-Electric Water Softener
  • Cost : Electric water softeners are usually more expensive than non-electric models. However, the cost difference is typically marginal and can often be offset by other factors, such as energy savings and better performance.
  • Efficiency: Electric water softeners are much more efficient than their non-electric counterparts. This is because they use less electricity and can be programmed to deliver softened water when you need it, rather than having to rely on a timer or manual control. They also require less maintenance than non-electric models.
  • Suitability for different household sizes: Electric water softeners are the better choice for larger households since they use a motor to operate and can, therefore, process more water faster. On the other hand, non-electric water softeners are ideal for smaller families because they require manual regeneration and have a lower processing capacity.
  • Installation: Non-electric water softeners are much easier to install. They don’t require any wiring and can be installed in a matter of minutes compared to electric water softeners which requires electrical work, tools and skills for installation.
  • Programmability: Electric water softeners are more programmable than non-electric types. This means they can be set to run at specific times of the day so that you get the most out of your softening process. Non-electric models require manual operation and adjustments, which can be tedious if done frequently.
  • Common Sizes:Electric water softeners come in a wide range of sizes to fit all kinds of households. A standard size electric water softener might be 24,000 grains per gallon and covers up to 4-6 people. Smaller tanks are available for smaller households or apartments, while large systems can handle up to 16 people or more.

Non-electric water softeners come in limited sizes, usually starting at 32,000 grains per gallon and up to 48,000. This is because non-electric models depend on salt to regenerate and the higher the grain capacity of a system, the more salt it will require. For larger households or homes with high water use, you may need two or more non-electric systems to provide enough water for all your needs.

Keep in mind that the size of an electric system will determine how often it regenerates, so you may want to choose a larger system if your household uses a lot of water. This is especially true if the unit must regenerate frequently and doesn’t have an economy mode. In any case, you should consult a professional to determine the best size water softener for your home or business.

Water Usage: Electric water softeners require more water for their operation than non-electric models. This is because the process of regenerating the resin bed and flushing out the contaminants requires much more water than just running salt through a system. Non-electric systems, on the other hand, can use up to 50% less water in their regeneration cycles.

Salt Usage: One of the main differences between electric and non-electric water softener models is their salt usage. Electric water softeners use significantly less salt than traditional ion exchange systems, making them a much more eco-friendly option for those who want to reduce their environmental impact. Additionally, electric water softeners require no electricity or wiring in order to operate, which can save money on installation and energy costs.

Electric Usage:Electric water softeners are powered by electricity and use a process called ion-exchange to soften hard water. This means they will pull out the minerals such as calcium and magnesium that cause hardness, exchanging them for sodium or potassium ions. The process is virtually maintenance free and should you run into problems with your system, it’s easy to call in a technician to diagnose and fix the issue.

Reliability: Non-electric water softeners are typically more reliable than electric ones. This is because they don’t rely on power or electricity to work and therefore, won’t be affected by power outages like electric softeners can. Non-electric softeners also require less maintenance than electric ones since there’s no motor or other moving parts that need to be serviced or replaced regularly.

Chance of Overflowing: Electric water softeners are equipped with sensors and alarms that will alert you if there is a problem. In comparison, non-electric water softeners require manual checks to ensure they don’t overflow or become overfilled.

Repair Costs: The repair costs of an electric water softener are often higher than those of a non-electric one. Electric ones have many more moving parts and require more regular servicing, while non-electric systems tend to be much simpler and easier to maintain.

Can I Program An Electric Water Softener To Not Regenerate When I’m On Vacation?

Can I Program An Electric Water Softener To Not Regenerate When I’m On Vacation
An Electric Water Softener

Yes, you can program an electric water softener to not regenerate when you’re away. This feature is particularly beneficial for vacation homes or those that are often away from their primary residences. It allows you to save water, electricity and money while still enjoying the benefits of softened water on your return.

The programming process will vary depending on the make and model of your electric water softener, but generally you can program it to start regeneration at certain times or after certain amounts of time have passed. This allows you to customize your water usage schedule based on when you need softened water and when you’re away.

Do All Non-Electric Dual-Tank Water Softeners Alternate Softener Tanks?

Most non-electric dual-tank water softeners alternate their tanks to ensure consistent performance. The alternating allows for one tank to soften water while another regenerates and prepares for the next round of filtration. This ensures that softened water is always available in the event of a mechanical malfunction or power outage with an electric system.

How Does A NON-Electric Water Softener Know How Much Water To Put In Its Brine Tank?

Non-electric water softeners have a float system that determines when the brine tank needs to be recharged. The float system is located inside the brine tank and measures how much water is in the tank. When the level of salty water gets too low, it triggers a mechanism that signals to the unit that it needs to be recharged.

Pros Of Electric Water Softeners

Increased efficiency: Electric water softeners can usually cycle through more grains of hardness than non-electric units and have a higher capacity for filtering, meaning they are able to treat more water in one cycle.

Better for large households: When it comes to large households, a non-electric water softener may be the better choice. It uses salt to soften hard water and requires little maintenance – just adding more salt every few months. This system also requires very little energy since no electricity is needed to run it. However, an electric water softener may be worth considering if water usage is high in the household and you want to avoid having to regularly replenish salt levels.

Fully automated: electric water softeners are powered by electricity and feature computerized settings that make them easy to program and operate. This means you don’t have to constantly check the settings or adjust them as needed. An electric water softener can also be set up for more detailed operation, such as multiple regeneration cycles if necessary. Ultimately, this makes it easier to use and maintain.

Easy to maintain: Non-electric water softeners are much easier to maintain than electric water softeners. They don’t require any electrical outlet or external power source, and they are not connected to a central control unit. This means that the only maintenance required is the occasional cleaning of the media bed and valve system. On the other hand, electric water softeners need to be connected to an electrical outlet and require regular maintenance in order to function properly.

Cons Of Electric Water Softeners

  • Higher upfront cost: Electric water softeners are more expensive than non-electric models. They also require additional installation costs, as they must be professionally installed to ensure proper operation.
  • High electricity consumption: Electric water softeners require electricity to run, making them energy-intensive. This option can significantly increase the cost of running the entire system and make it more expensive in the long term if you need to replace parts or repair the unit regularly.
  • Needs professional installation: Non-electric water softeners need to be connected to the plumbing system by a professional. This will require you to find and hire someone to do the job for you, which can add to your overall costs. Electric water softeners are designed for easy installation, so this is not an issue with them.
  • Not eco-friendly: Electric water softeners use electricity to operate, which makes them less eco-friendly. Non-electric water softeners do not require any energy and are therefore more environmentally friendly options.

Pros Of Non-Electric Water Softeners

Lower upfront cost: Non-electric water softeners are considerably cheaper than electric models, and the savings can sometimes be substantial.

Low maintenance cost: Non-electric water softeners require minimal maintenance and have a very long lifespan. This makes them ideal for those looking to significantly reduce their monthly bills associated with running a water softener system.

Environmentally friendly: Non-electric water softeners are eco-friendly as they don’t require electricity and therefore do not produce any emissions. The salt used for the regeneration process is also safe for the environment, compared to electric softeners that use sodium chloride.

No electricity consumption: The main advantage of non-electric water softeners is their lack of electricity consumption. This means that you can install them just about anywhere, even in remote locations where no power source exists. They are also quite easy to maintain since they don’t require any electrical equipment to run or maintain.

Cons Of Non-Electric Water Softeners

Manual operation: Non-electric water softeners require manual regeneration, meaning you will need to add salt regularly and perform periodic cleaning.

*Not suitable for large households: one of the major disadvantages of electric water softeners is that most models are not suitable for large households because they have limited capacity. The salt tank and the brine tank are small, meaning that you need to replace the salt or brine more often if your household uses a large amount of water.

Needs frequent regeneration: Electric water softeners need frequent regeneration due to the use of electricity. With a non-electric water softener, you don’t have to worry about this as it uses salt instead of electricity for regeneration.

Less efficient than electric water softeners: Non-electric water softeners are less efficient than their electric counterparts in terms of performance. They require more maintenance, need to be refilled with salt or potassium chloride more often, and can take up to 24 hours for the softened water to flow through all taps.

Factors To Consider Before Choosing A Water Softener

Water hardness level: The hardness level of your water can affect the efficiency and longevity of your water softener.

Water usage: When it comes to water usage, electric and non-electric water softeners have different ratings. The average non-electric water softener can use up to 50 gallons of water per regeneration cycle, while an electric model uses significantly less, usually around 25 gallons. This means that if you’re looking for a more efficient option for conserving water, an electric water softener may be the better choice.

Household size: When choosing between electric and non-electric water softeners, it’s important to consider the size of your household. An electric water softener is better for smaller households — typically those with two or fewer people — as it can provide enough softened water for a smaller family. On the other hand, larger households (three or more people) may require a non-electric water softener, as these units tend to have a larger capacity and can provide enough softened water for an entire family.

Budget: If budget is an issue, then you have to take into account the cost of the unit and installation. Non-electric water softeners tend to be cheaper since there is no additional setup costs for electricity supply and wiring. Electric water softeners are more expensive but require less maintenance and are easier to maintain.

installation and maintenance requirements: When it comes to installation and maintenance requirements, there are distinct differences between electric and non-electric water softeners. Electric water softeners require a more involved installation process that may involve running wiring, while non-electric ones can be installed directly into the main water line.

Eco-friendliness: When it comes to eco-friendliness, electric water softeners have the upper hand. These systems require no salt or chemicals to be added and use only electricity to run small motors. Non-electric models, on the other hand, need salt or potassium chloride to be added periodically. As these minerals are poured down drains into sewers, they can harm the environment. Additionally, salt or potassium chloride can build up in the soil and cause issues with groundwater contamination. Some local governments are even banning non-electric models in areas where water supplies are especially vulnerable to pollution. Ultimately, electric water softeners provide a much more sustainable option for those looking to reduce their environmental impact.

Which Is Better For You?

Electric water softeners use electricity to soften hard water. They work by exchanging the calcium and magnesium ions in hard water for sodium or potassium ions, which are much less likely to cause build-up on pipes and appliances. Non-electric water softeners do not use electricity, relying instead on a process called ion exchange. This involves using specialized tanks to contain a bed of resin beads. As hard water passes through the tank, the calcium and magnesium ions are exchanged for sodium or potassium ions which replace them in the water.

When deciding between an electric vs non-electric water softener, it is important to consider your budget, how much space you have available, and how often you plan on using the softener. Electric water softeners are usually more expensive than non-electric versions, but they may also require less maintenance and provide faster results. Non-electric systems are generally cheaper and can be installed in smaller spaces, but they will need to be manually regenerated after a certain amount of use.


Does it matter what type of water softener you use?

Yes, it does matter what type of water softener you use. Electric water softeners are more efficient than non-electric ones and can provide better overall performance. They also require less maintenance and upkeep. Non-electric water softeners can be used in areas with limited electricity, but they may not be as effective or reliable as electric models.

Are water softeners hard on electricity?

The answer depends on the type of water softener you use. Non-electric water softeners require no electricity at all, and they are generally considered to be less expensive to purchase and operate. Electric water softeners cost more upfront but can offer a higher level of performance than their non-electric counterparts.

How often do I need to regenerate a water softener?

Depending on the type of water softener you choose — electric or non-electric — this will dictate your regeneration schedule. Electric water softeners are designed to regenerate every few weeks, typically when salt levels reach a certain point. Non-electric water softeners, however, need to be manually regenerated when the resin tank has exhausted its ability to soften hard water. Depending on your usage, you may need to regenerate a non-electric softener every few weeks or every couple of months. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for specific details.

Can a water softener be used with well water?

Yes, softeners are designed to work in both municipal and well water sources. Well water has a higher mineral content than city water and requires a more powerful or larger capacity softener to achieve the same results as when using city water. Non-electric softeners also offer an advantage for those who rely on a well because they don’t require an electrical connection to function.

Do I need to add salt in a non electric water softener?

Yes, salt must be added to a non electric water softener in order for it to function correctly. The type of salt used is typically sodium chloride or potassium chloride. In most cases, the salt is placed into the brine tank where it dissolves into salty water that is then flushed through the system. This salty water pulls out all the hard minerals and replaces them with sodium or potassium ions, therefore softening the water. Depending on how often you use your water softener, it may need to be replenished every few months.

Can a water softener remove bacteria and virsus from water?

The answer is no. A water softener does not remove bacteria or viruses; it treats the hardness of the water by removing calcium and magnesium ions from hard water. Therefore, while a water softener can improve the overall quality of your drinking water, it will not filter out harmful contaminants such as bacteria and viruses. If this is a concern, it is best to pair a water softener with other types of water filters or purification systems.


In conclusion, the choice of electric vs non-electric water softener will depend on your individual needs. If you need a system that is efficient and convenient, an electric water softener may be the best choice for you. However, if you want something more cost effective and easier to maintain, a non-electric water softener could be a better option. Ultimately, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of each type before making a decision to ensure that you choose the best system for your needs. No matter which type you choose, both electric and non-electric water softeners are great solutions to hard water problems.

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