Best water softener salt based system to buy in 2020

fleck water softener system


This outstanding innovation from Pentair  boasts of a 48000 grain capacity. It is a whole house water softener salt based system .

The system filters and softens water using its commercial grade, long lasting and pre-charged resin.The system comes with  a pre-loaded commercial grade resin.

The system also comes with a water hardness test strips to test your water before and after installation. It also comes with an easy to understand manual and videos on
USB .This is meant to simplify your first time experience with the system.

How it works

  • The Pentair water softener salt based system uses ion exchange to soften water. Hard water passes through the commercial grade 1.5 cu .Ft resin .
  • The hardness causing minerals (Magnesium and calcium) are eliminated from your water by replacing them with soft ions(sodium or potassium) found on the resin beads.
  • Calcium and magnesium in hard water are trapped on the resin beads.The resin beads releases soft ions(sodium or potassium) into the water in exchange
  • The softened water is released from the tank into your plumbing ready for use
  • During the scheduled regeneration sessions, salt is used to clean the resin beads so that they can continue working optimally to produce soft water.
  • The brine which is a salt-water solution is created; it then flows through the 1.5 cu .Ft resin beads in the tank.
  • The resin beads get rinsed of all the calcium and magnesium. This renews or recharges the resin beads to start collecting calcium and magnesium out of the hard water again.
  • During the regeneration process  ,the salt solution and the hardness minerals which would have accumulated on the resin are flushed out into a drain .
  • With the Pentair 5600 Sxt-48k,the regeneration can be scheduled to suit your needs using the touch pad controls  on the control head
  • For an illustrated explanation on how a salt based water softener works ,please click here

Whats included

  • Tried and tested Fleck 5600 valve which can last up to 27 years
  • Square shaped brine tank measuring 15″x 17”.This  where you pour your salt for regeneration. It has a capacity of holding 250 lbs. max of salt at any given time
  • 5 cu.Ft. cross linked , high capacity and commercial grade resin beads for optimum ion exchange
  • LCD Display and touch pad controls. The easy to use LCD display is for displaying the current system status for at a glance information .The LCD display is also for displaying error codes for ease of troubleshooting
  • The touch pad controls are for changing settings of the system which includes the  regeneration schedule
  • Sanitizer pack for cleaning the 1.5 cu. Ft resin beads and the system
  • Lubricant for the O rings
  • Durable Paddle wheel styled flow meter .This meter is the one the system uses to determine when to regenerate.
  • The flow meter records the amount of water that passes through it. When the set threshold is reached;the regeneration process is triggered to start.
  • Test strips. These are used to test the hardness of water. Test and record the hardness of your water before you install the water softening system
  • After installation, test the water coming out of your faucet to check how effective the system is.In case you need some help with how to rate water hardness, check the table below:
  1. Soft water should not exceed 1 grain per gallon
  2. Slightly hard water it should range between 1-3.5 grains per gallon
  3. Moderately hard water ranges between 3.5-7 grains per gallon
  4. Very hard water Ranges between 7 to 10 grains per gallon
  5. Extreme hard water Anything above 10 grains per gallon



With more than 50 years’ experience under its belt, Fleck is the designer and manufacturer of 5600 SXT Control head

water softener salt based

Some might be confused with the difference between the Fleck water softener 5600SXT and the Pentair 5600 SXT-48k.

Actually they are just as similar because Fleck is a part of Pentair.

According to New York Times ,Pentair bought Fleck Control in 1995 as a way of expanding its
multinational water systems business.

From the time Pentair bought Fleck Control, the multinational company has continued to produce high end control valves at both commercial and residential level.

  • Pentair water softener salt based systems are the most trusted and recommended salt based water softening systems around the globe


  • Comes with a durable black painted mineral tank which is made out of poly-glass. In the event that the tank stops performing to its expectations, it is replaceable.
  • The tank can be replaced free of charge within the first 10 years of using it.Terms and conditions apply of course
  • The brine tank can hold up to 250 lbs. of salt .So you can just pour your 250 lbs into the brain tank and expect it to actually last for some months depending on how much water you use as a family.So you spare your self time of constantly pouring several small bags of salt into the brine tank now and then
  • The Pentair water softener salt based system works with a power socket which can output 120 v
  • The yoke makes installation process a breeze .
  • The bypass valve plays an important role.The bypass valve ensures  that the system is not overworked to produce soft water for things like gardening which do not need any soft water at all

Pros of a water softener(salt based system)

  • The lifespan of your appliances and home plumbing is greatly increased .This is because the water hardness minerals (Calcium and magnesium) are eliminated from your water.
  • Do it yourself (DIY) installation. The manual and videos on the USB which comes with the system are easy to follow .
  • Although some basic plumbing skills are desirable prior to the installation, you can simply rely on the detailed instruction videos or manual and the system .Using the videos and manuals,you will be up and running in an hour or 2
  • It is a high capacity water softener salt based  system of 48000 grains
  • Because soft water softener lathers soaps faster than hard water, you will use less washing soap. This translates to some good $ savings on your pocket,you use up to 50% less soap when you start using this unit
  • The lifespan of your water using appliances is greatly extended .For example washing machines might last longer as they work less to remove dirt from laundry when using soft water. So the tear and wear of the washing machine will be slower when using soft water
  • Your laundry will come out of the washer more whiter and showing off all its bright colors
  • Your skin will look smooth and feel soft to the touch
  •  Spot causing minerals(Magnesium and calcium ) are eliminated. Your kitchen appliances like glasses and dishes will have less spots and looking more shiny
  • Reduced electricity bills. When water is soft, it takes less time of heating for it to reach boiling point. So if it took 10 minutes to boil a gallon of hard water, it will take much less time to boil the same amount of water.This ultimately translate to reduced power bills
  • The metered on demand technology reduces water wastage and salt used significantly.The reason being that regeneration is done when necessary

Cons of a salt based water softener system

  • The Pentair water softener salt based system does not have a low salt indicator .So you have to check the amount of salt left now and then. You will have a good judgment of how long a certain amount of salt lasts in the brine tank with time
  • The system is bulky, might not be ideal if you stay in a small apartment without a basement.
  • It might be a waste of resources if you are a small household of less than 3 people. If less than 3 people use the system, you will be under-utilizing it
  • The claim on the durability of some few small plastic parts might just be a marketing gimmick. To make sure the plastic parts on the control header won’t break, secure the system on a level ground .
  • A draw back for customers on low salt diet. The system actually replaces minerals in hard water with sodium. Sodium intake might exacerbate cardiovascular conditions for those with heart problems. For customers with heart problems, I highly recommend you to use potassium instead although it’s a little bit expensive than salt. Potassium comes in pellets, so you have to grind it before use
water softener salt based

Ideal for

  • Treating medium to very hard water (either city water or well water)
  • A household of 3 to 6 people
  • People who are ‘lazy’ like me who just want to set and just forget their water softener systems. The system can be programmed to perform a regeneration when a certain amount of water has been used


  • This system has got an upgraded 10% cross linked resin  for much longer life span.This also means that you won’t be replacing the resin any time soon thereby saving some dollars in your pocket
  • The water softening system utilizes a meter controlled regeneration technology to determine when it’s necessary to regenerate. To put it in simple terms,the system records how much water passes through it and automatically starts the regeneration process when a set threshold is reached .This lowers the amount of water wasted and amount of salt used.
  • The SXT valve has an outstanding warranty of 5 years, meaning you can have it replaced for free if it stops working within your first 5 years of using it.Even though they give a warranty of 5 years with this valve, the valve has been tried and tested to work continuously for approximately 27 years before replacement is needed.
  • In case of power outage, the system has got an in built 48 hr. power backup.
  • The safety float feature of the brine tank ensures that you don’t overfill the tank
  • The overflow drain is a feature designed as a backup to avoid water messes
  • The premium grade resin has been proven to be more resilient to chlorine found in chlorine treated city water than most standard resins on the market

Special instructions

  • You might need to visit the nearest home improvement store near you for a reducer or coupler to connect to your plumbing. You might as well change the york to a 3/4 inch so that it matches your plumbing .
  • You can buy your Fleck 3/4 Plastic Yoke NPT Bypass on Amazon
  • When scheduling regeneration, set a time that is realistic. You might not need the water softener to regenerate at 7:00 AM when you want to take a bath .So you better schedule it to start regenerating at 12:00 midnight when everyone is not using water.
  • It’s not advisable to use rock salt as it does not have a high purity .
  • If the salt used is not all that pure, maintenance issues might arise .You are advised to use either evaporated salt pellets or solar salt pellets(harvested by evaporating salty sea water).
  • Although more expensive than the 2 recommended salts, potassium chloride is the best as it can be used by people with heart conditions. Potassium is environmentally friendly also.
  • Installation of the system becomes much easier when you have a Sharkbite tool.You can check the tool price and verified customers’ reviews on Amazon

Frequently bought together

3/4″ Stainless Steel Bypass Valve

Can buy this bypass valve to replace a worn out valve or simply upgrading from your yoke valve which comes with the system. The advantage of buying this one is that it fits all 2510, 5600, & 9000 valves by Fleck.

Check price on Amazon

Shark bite tool

For ease of installation, this gadget is highly recommended. Can check current price and customer reviews on Amazon

Final verdict

The Pentair 5600 SXT  water softener salt based system is manufactured by a world leader in water treatment systems with about 50 years of experience under its belt.

The premium grade 1.5 Cu .Ft resins ensure your water is soft all the time.

This high capacity water softener can service a medium sized family of 3-6 members.

If your household is less than 3 people, buying this system can be a waste of money as you might not even use half of its capacity.I would recommend you to buy a smaller water softener.

The meter controlled regeneration technology makes it one of the best salt based water softener systems to date, you can significantly minimize the amount of water wasted during regeneration and also saving on salt.

Installation is a breeze as the manual and video instructions are very easy to follow.

One major downside in my opinion is that the system is a little bit bulky for a small apartment .You might need a basement to house this system. If you don’t have a basement then you have to create a shed for it outside.

Check price and verified customer reviews

You might need to check a system that is just as similar to this one .Check out the Fleck 5600 SXT for more inspiration