Electronic descaler vs water softener

I live in an area with seriously hard water. And my house is suffering.

Our house is a manufactured home with no garage. My plumber tells me a salt unit (that most people in my town use) needs to be protected from the elements. Not impossible in my situation, but challenging.

My wife did some investigating and discovered electronic descalers. Googling around, it seems like all of the information about them is promotional. Sometimes cleverly disguised but promotional nonetheless. I’m getting a scam vibe.

Question: are they legit?

I’ve never heard of them and I work for a property management company. Does anyone here use one or have any experience?

I would appreciate any feedback. Thanks.

We looked into this recently ourselves, as we have very hard water.

Those so-called softening systems that use electromagnets or whatever are heavily promoted as an alternative to the systems that require you to dump bags of softening salts into a repository every few weeks, but the explanations as to how they work trigger all my BS meters.

We have some inquiries out, but I’d be shocked if they come back with anything but a skeptical shrug.

The descriptions I’ve read are 100% woo with no relation to the actual electrochemistry or electrophysics of minerals in an aqueous solution.

Are you saying you have to install it outside? I’ve only seen them installed inside.

Protected from the elements because you don’t have a garage and can only put it outside? The indoor units I saw recently were tall and thin, maybe 4’ high but only about 1 sqft of floor space. It shouldn’t take up much space indoors. Do you have a well or city water? Either way it shouldn’t take up that much space indoors. There are undersink models also but maybe not sufficient for a whole house.

Correct. I suppose I could do a little work inside and make it work. Alternatively I could build a cover for it outside.

I’m not opposed to making the salt system work, but I wanted to explore all the options available to me.

My unit was installed in my crawl space. The installer just dug a little pit about 18" deep and placed the unit in it. He was nice enough to allow enough space above it to pour salt into it easily. This actually made the required plumbing a lot easier, since it put the unit right next to my well pump control and pressure tank.

Anecdotally: I tried an electronic descaler. Complete waste of time and money. No change in calcium deposits, all of which disappeared when I put in a proper water softener.

If you are managing large properties with chillers with cooling towers and have stationary engineers working for you check with them. If they are skilled they will probably laugh at your question.

I have seen quite a few sales men pushing their electronic systems. They will try to compare their system to the same electronic systems that protect ship hulls. The systems that protect ship hulls are not protecting against scale but corrosion two different problem. In an closed or open water system to protect against scale there are normally two methods. One remove the scale manufacturing compounds(filtration). Two neutralization of the scale forming compounds (mostly by a water softener-salt system).

There are alternates to an outside salt system. There are services out there that will provide a regenerated softener tank. The tank can be exposed to the weather. Once every so many days, weeks or months the service company comes out and exchange out the tank with a freshly regenerated tank. The timing will depend on usage. Another method is whole house filtration. The larger filter tanks are good for 5 years or more. All you have to do is replace the tanks every 5 years or so. Then there are the smaller filters but you will have to change them out more often. I like the filters because they are designed to leave you with almost pure water. They will remove chemicals that will pass through a salt system. And in a salt water system it is exchanging Ca & Mg ions for Na ions. NOt good for a low Na diet.

I meant to ask what do you mean by seriously hard water?
I lived in the Santa Clara county and our water ran form around 730 tp1200 PPM in dissolved solids. I always advised people two things. If you must drink the water untreated chew it 1st, and the other thing if it was unfiltered just don’t drink it at all. Now I live in San Diego county and everyone her thinks the water id bad. I tested if several times and it runs about 230. But I still drink filtered water and plan on a whole house filter.

I have been using an Ion exchange water softener (the type that needs salt) for about 17 years (this is my third one). One recommendation I have is to use a resin regenerator like this one to extend the life of your softener:

You can also use phosphoric acid from hardware stores, if you understand how to use it.

Also, check every year if the unit is properly doing its job by checking the inlet versus outlet hardness. Sometimes these things fail, but the placebo effect makes you think that it is still doing its job.

I have installed them outdoors (Houston, TX) and they do okay for 3-4 years (Which is how long they will work anyways with severely hard water). If you are in a place with hard freezes, you will need freeze protection. The pipes / valves freeze in hard freezes. The electronics (on top of these systems) get destroyed by the sun - if installed outdoors.

Santa Maria, CA - 730 mg/L

Thank you for the recommendation.

Ok that is hard but not chewable.