This is meant to help folks that are looking into a Kinetico* twin tank softener. Usually Kinetico folks claim very high salt and water efficiency and say that no regular two tank, or twin tank, type softener can have the same efficiencies.
The fact is that their salt efficiency is the same as a correctly sized regular two tank or twin tank softeners using the same type and volume of resin.
As to water efficiency, IF their twin tank softener is one of the tiny toy types (picture below) which has packed (resin) beds, then they use more total water. That's due to repeated regenerations. And they have a problem with SFR (service flow rate) of the resin, but they deny it. They also have the same problem with their larger tank yet too small models; especially when a tank is being regenerated.
Here's a picture of what Kinetico guys are so proud of; the installed price was $2200.00! The install was $295 leaving $1905 for the toy.
Below is a list of the problems I see with Kinetico twin tank softeners. Some of the problems apply to all twin tanks softeners, including those I sell except for the Clack WS-1 twin set up.
1. In many of their softeners, they use fine mesh resin. They do not tell their customer that fine mesh resin has a higher pressure loss than regular mesh resin and that it costs more. They also don't demonstrate the teeny bit of salt saved and justify it against the additional cost of the fine mesh resin.
2. Their brine line and float in the brine well is always under the home's full line water pressure psi except during the brining cycle of a regeneration. No other twin tank control valve allows that. That's the same as the low quality big box store (Lowe's, Home Depot and Sears) softeners.
3. You can not change the hardness/capacity setting on a Kinetico without taking a large number of screws out of the control valve and taking a couple modules apart to replace a disk that only the local Kinetico dealer has. That would require a service call and charge; plus I have been told $38+/- charge for the disk.
4. They pay no attention to what the resin manufacturer, Sybron Chemicals (C-249NS or C-266) says as to the SFR gpm per cubic foot of resin. They also don't use the sqft gpm/ft3 figures that most softener manufacturers use IF they don't use the resin SFR gpm to correctly size a softener.
5. They say that regular (electric) control valves (Autotrol, Clack, Erie and Fleck) fail very often due to electrical problems with their motors, wires and switches etc.. In my 23 years in this business I have not seen (or heard) that to be true except with big box store brands' cabinet models.
6. They claim better efficiency for both water and salt use because they use fine mesh resin and upflow, counter-current, regeneration. On the surface the salt efficiency claim is partly true if comparing up flow to down flow (co-current) regeneration only, and that is per regeneration BUT... they are using much smaller tanks and volumes of resin than the average softener. So their softener regenerates each tank numerous times a day with less salt and water per regeneration than a two tank softener uses but... They stop there without adding up the total salt and water used and then comparing that to the total used for a once per week regeneration of regular (two tank or twin tank) softeners. It's kinda like talking about the little bite you are chewing while eating an elephant, without reminding you that you have to eat the whole elephant!
7. On the softener pictured above and others, they have an Overdrive control valve option. That allows soft water use from both tanks at the same time. They claim 20-31 gpm SFR but... that is the SFR of the control valve; not the SFR of the volume of resin in the tanks, at least according to the resin manufacturer. Then as mentioned above, they do not explain that when one tank is in regeneration, the SFR gpm is reduced, cut in half really, or that the water use gpm will more than likely exceed the SFR of the resin in the one tank and the customer will get hard water through the softener.
8. They don't tell the customer that when a tank is in regeneration, which happens while water is being used in the house, they share water use with the softener's drain line flow. And when called on it, they pooh pooh it as no problem.
9. They claim that the reserve capacity of a regular softener wastes salt BUT, their softener uses softened water (capacity) from one tank to regenerate the other tank each time either tank is regenerated. That salt and capacity is close to the same amount of salt and capacity used for a regular softener's reserve capacity, and if totaled over a week, more capacity (or salt) that a reserve capacity uses. And with the Clack WS-1 control valve and its variable reserve, much more. Yet they go on about a regular softener running out of capacity; which is actually very rare. A metered/demand regenerated control valve of either type (regular calculated or variable reserve) that is correctly sized will rarely if ever run out of capacity before the next time of regeneration; a time clock type control valve will.
10. They require a disposable cartridge pre filter ahead of their twin tank softeners, especially the packed bed type that do not allow expansion of the resin bed into the freeboard space during regeneration. That pre filter is to get rid of dirt because there is no freeboard space in a packed bed tank. Dirt is next to impossible to backwash out of a packed resin bed. The addition of a filter costs their customer more work and money to maintain their softener WHILE suffering the inevitable loss of pressure between disposable cartridge filter replacements. Then to cover themselves, they tell everyone with any softener that they should have a pre filter too. Not true, pre filters cause a regular softener (not including big box rotary control valve models) more problems than they solve.
11. Their very close tolerance small gears needed to get water power to work are the primary cause of failure of their control valve and there again, the customer must call the one and only local dealer for service to replace it with the associated cost of the part and the service call.
12. It has been at mentioned on a number of forums by some long time (17-19 years) Kinetico softener owners, that they have been told $800-$1200.00 to have their softener rebuilt. Or $80 for a new brine pickup tube and float for their salt tank. One did it himself for $300.00 by I assume, buying new resin over the internet.
13. I've been told that their control valve is a 3 cycle valve. Autotrol, Clack and Fleck are 5-7 cycle controls, which is much better for resin and service free operation of a softener. Any doubts, ask any resin manufacturer.
14. You can only get their centuries old technology water powered wonder in black! And as we all know, black is very difficult to keep clean; especially in a garage or basement! but do they tell their customer? BTW, I can sell black tanks too.
Here is a link to a post from a Kinetico softener owner with problems and how Kinetico handled them and charged him.
* Kinetico is a registered trademark of Kinetico, Inc. Newbury Ohio. Kinetico is not affiliated with Quality Water Associates or Gary Slusser in any way other than some of their sales force and dealers being an irritant!