For years the names of certain products have become synonymous with a particular company, one of best known examples is the vacuum cleaner and Hoover. In the same way it is not unusual for a group of products that are similar or share characteristics to be known or to be described under a general term. Such is the case for ‘softeners’ which is a term often used to describe an array of water treatment products used to tackle the problems caused by limescale.
Steve Sperring the Technical Director at BWT explains that there are too many people simply mixing up the terms which makes it difficult for an installer to compare products and explain those differences to their customers. Here Steve takes a few minutes to explain the basics differences between the two main groups of products, water softeners and water conditioners.
Simply put, water softeners soften water, water conditioners condition water and scale inhibitors inhibit scale.
If you take, for example, the BWT Luxury Water Softener, it works by using ion exchange to remove the minerals that cause hard water. With the hardness minerals removed the water is physically softened and if you were to test it, the results would confirm either no or little hardness in the treated water. This softened water not only protects the home from limescale but brings a wide range of lifestyle benefits too. Homes fitted with a softener can look forward to water that is gentle on your skin and hair, a reduction in the amount of shampoo, soaps, conditioners and detergents you need to use and water that is also kinder to clothes.
Typically, water conditioners and scale inhibitors in contrast do not remove the hardness minerals they simply alter the structure of the water using a variety of different technologies. When the treated water is heated scale deposits can be noticeably reduced and what scale there is often takes a form that is more easily washed away. As good as these devices are at protecting boilers and other heating elements like those found in showers they do not soften water. The result is Limescale protection but without the all-important benefits of softened water.
So whilst to some the term ‘softener’ might only be a name, the implications for the unsuspecting can go much deeper. Consumers are likely to be disappointed when a poorly described scale conditioner doesn’t deliver the benefits of softened water. They may be upset when the price of a water softener is more than that of a conditioner and embarrassed when they realise their mistake.
Whilst it is not unusual to give the products we sell a generic name, we all have duty to describe the goods we sell honestly. Installers in turn should be able to choose products knowing they are described and labelled correctly.
BWT offers free training to Installers who are keen to learn more about water treatment where the differences between each product group is fully explained and the Installer can see first-hand how each one works. This knowledge is invaluable to the installer when explaining and describing this part of their quote to the customer. Whilst it might be just a name to some, to the BWT trained Installer it is about future proofing their business through building credibility and a satisfied customer base.