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Water Softener Rental is More Expensive than Purchase (Pros & Cons)

Scott Winfield
Written by Scott Winfield
Last Updated on

There are 2 ways to own a water softener; you either buy or rent. Most people prefer to have their own water softener, but that’s not always the way to go. Both owning and renting a softener have their advantages. For one, if you don’t have any experience with water softening, maybe you want to dip your toes in before going all out and investing in an expensive water softening system.

But that’s not all there is to it. There are many reasons and variables that might push you in either direction. For example, do you know how hard your water is? Do you like the taste of your water without a water softener?

Those are questions that you’ll have to answer for yourself before you make a decision. However, we’re here to help you with all the other things you need to consider before buying or renting a water softener and show you where to do either.

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Rental vs Purchase: Things to Consider

If your water hardness levels are over 61 mg/L of calcium carbonate, then it is considered as hard water. However, if your water is below these levels, but you still would like it to be softer, it might be a good idea to rent a water softener first and see if you get the desired results.

Since you’re here, you’re probably dealing with hard water, so here are some things to consider before opening your wallet.

Do You Own the Property?

The second thing to consider is the property where you’ll be installing the water softener. Is it a rental, or do you own it? Even if you have a long lease on your rental agreement, installing a whole house softening system is quite an undertaking.

If you decide to go through with it and your landlord gives you the green light, then it’s wise to rent the water softening system rather than buy it.

On the other hand, if you own the property, this is a non-factor. Buying makes more sense here since there are benefits you might not have thought of, like added value to your listing if you eventually decide to sell the property.

How Much Space Have You Got?

As we said, the installation of the water softener can be an arduous process and might require you to break walls. So, naturally, the issue of how much space you have also comes into question.

If you don’t have much space but would still like to do something about your hard water issue, it’s best just to buy a water softener, so you go through the installation process only once. Renting the system would inevitably mean that you’ll have to return it.

That would double the amount of time you’ll have to deal with clutter in an already cramped living space, especially if you choose to return the unit in a short time frame in case you don’t like it.

What’s Your Budget?

Having said all that, your budget should always be one of the deciding factors on whether you decide to buy or rent a water softening system.

If you decide to buy a water softening system, you will also have to consider the costs of regular maintenance and the equipment you’ll need to install the unit successfully. Renting a softening system is the more affordable option, but it offers less value in the long term. Rentals usually make sense for timeframes that extend to about a year.

If you are looking at rentals, you are probably looking at anywhere between $25-$50 per month for an average softener. Of course, this all depends on the type of softener, its quality, the manufacturer, your local area, and the policy on additional maintenance and repair costs.

Water softeners have a lifespan of about 10 to 15 years. This means that if you decide to rent a water softener at $30 per month, over the years of its lifespan, you are looking at a price tag of $3,600. This does not include the expenses for potential repairs and maintenance. If your rental agreement does not cover maintenance and repairs, you are looking at another $200-500.

In today’s market, you can buy a water softener for about $1,500. This means that it really makes no sense to rent for more than five years unless you have good reason to do so.

Before renting, make sure that you read and understand your agreement in detail so that you can assess the situation from every angle.

Do You Need a Salt-Based or Salt-Free System?

Your decision on whether to buy or rent a water softener also depends on the type of softener that you are after. For the most part, water softeners will either be salt-based or salt-free. Salt-free softeners are also referred to as conditioners.

The main difference between the two, apart from the salt-free system not using salt in order to function, is that salt-free water systems should be seen as conditioners, not water softeners. Salt-based systems get rid of the hard minerals in your water through the process of ionization, while salt-free systems crystalize the calcium and magnesium and keep them from damaging your water system infrastructure—they do not soften water, despite what many think.

So, at the end of the day, you might be looking for the latter “water softener,” and in that case, you can expect the following:

  • No cloudy dishes and glasses
  • No clogs in your water infrastructure caused by excess hard water minerals
  • Smoother and moisturized skin
  • Soft hair
  • No scale buildup on sinks and showerheads
  • Softer feeling clothes
  • Better soap lather
  • 30% lower heating bills

So, should you rent or buy a salt-free system? Yet again, we don’t have a straightforward answer. In a nutshell, refilling a salt-free system will be more costly since it uses potassium, which is more expensive.

That would likely cause higher upkeep costs, which, combined with an upfront payment to buy the system, may just be a deal-breaker. If that’s your situation, just rent one. However, if you can stomach the upfront payment, it’s much better to buy, since the over-time costs inevitably add up, much more than with a salt-based system.

Rent to Own

A rent-to-own scenario just might be the best of both worlds for you. Rent-to-own purchases are deals that allow you to keep paying for the unit as a rental on a monthly basis, but once your total rent reaches a certain sum, you end up owning the system.

This option does have interest attached to it and is more expensive than simply walking into a shop and buying a system on the spot. But, there are cases where it makes the most sense from a budget standpoint.

Do note that you won’t own the water softener until the very last payment is made. It’s a rental until the moment that you own it, and you should treat it as such.

This means that you will need a steady source of income because if you miss a payment at any time, you might get the water softener taken away, and all that monthly interest would go to waste.

Where to Rent Water Softeners

When it comes to rentals, it really depends on your location. There are vendors that cover a lot of the US, but a local vendor might have much better offers at better prices.

Culligan Water’s monthly rent fee is on the higher end of the spectrum, starting at $49 per month, but they are renowned for their quality. In order to get a precise offer, you will need to get in touch with one of their representatives and schedule a free water consultation. They will help you find the right solution for your water needs.

Reliance is another excellent choice for water softener rentals because they offer you full coverage for repairs and maintenance, starting at $1 per day. Their most popular offering is the Reliance™ Water Softener, also available in a bundle with a water heater.

If you need something else or require more “horsepower,” you can book a consultation by completing one of the forms on their page or calling their dedicated service phone line.

The best approach is to do a bit of research and get a sense of what the market for rentals is in your area, and then decide if it’s better to go with a bigger firm with a lot of coverage or go local.

Where to Buy Water Softeners

Much like when renting, you will find the best-suited water softener for your personal needs by researching your local market. That being said, you can always lean on brands and companies that have a proven track record.

SpringWell Water Filtration Systems has been one of the leaders in the water filtration industry for twenty years now. They’re a company that is constantly looking to Kind Water Systemslve and adapt to the latest and greatest technologies in water filtration and softening.

Most of their products are backed by a 6-month money-back guarantee policy, and they offer a wide variety of products, including:

Pros & Cons of Buying

  • Better long-term value
  • No monthly costs
  • Monthly payment purchase options
  • A new softener
  • Warranted high-quality performance
  • More options to choose from
  • Adds value to your property
  • Up-front costs
  • Maintenance and installation fees
  • Not suitable for short-term use

Pros & Cons of Rental

  • More affordable
  • Better short-term value
  • No upfront costs
  • Less risk
  • Malfunctioning systems are usually replaced at no additional charge
  • Less value than buying a system in the long run
  • Installation and maintenance might not be covered by the rental
  • No flexibility in settings
  • You’ll likely get a pre-used softener
  • Limited choices


The bottom line is that you are better off purchasing water softener if you have prior experience with one and you own your property.

If this is you, then investing in a water softener makes sense when you consider the investment-to-value ratio. If you intend to use a water softener for years on end, you’re likely to pay half as much as you would when renting one, albeit upfront.

Nevertheless, you might have personal circumstances that can absolutely justify renting a softening unit, even for long periods, and we hope we’ve helped you discern those.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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