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Recommendation of Fleck 5600 Econominder and Hankscraft Equivalent water softener replacement valves - Which Brand is Best?
Last Updated: 03/02/2016
I'm trying to decide what brand / manufacturer of water softener system is best.
Who do you recommend?

We like any system that uses the Fleck 5600 Econominder Valve.
And these are not sold as a "Brand".
There are only a handful of "true" manufacturers of the Valves and Tanks.
Pentair Water ( maker of Fleck and Autotrol ) is the largest, but sells "NO SYSTEM" under "Their Name", but every one uses their Valves and Tanks.

The important thing is serviceability and parts after you own the unit.
They all work great at first, but they all need a few parts replaced, and can last for Decades under normal conditions.
Avoid proprietary brands, like Hague, Culligan, Rainsoft, Kinetico, Water Boss, Ionics and a few others that "lock you in" to the local dealer for parts & service.
Generally the proprietary "brands" will cost more up front, and usually a lot more for any repairs later.
Water Softener Size System Recommendation

**** CUSTOMER QUESTIONS - Andrew's Reply / Opinion - posted March 2nd, 2016 ****

1) Previously in this email chain you recommended the "5600 Econominder or equivalent Hankscraft model". Please explain the differences in operation between the two models and provide your experience with the each regarding lifetime, failure rates, warranty, country of manufacture, and programming steps. If there are no differences in any of the listed items above, please justify the difference in price of $70 between the Fleck and Hankscraft valves.

** No operational difference. Same 5 year warranty. Both made with many of the parts from China. Both brands analog version are "programmed" the same way.
How to Set Meter without the People or Hardness Labels on Fleck Econominder Valves

Fleck valve cost more because they are the "brand name", but the quality of the Hankscraft is slightly better.
I have used the Fleck 5600 since I first got in this business in 1989.
We started stocking and selling the Hankscraft only after 4 years of evaluation. The product and the company have proven themselves to me.
The design ( using Piston & Seals ) has been used since 1980, and is the # 1 valve design used.

2) My unit is a downflow unit. Please explain the difference between a downflow and upflow water softener.

* It references the direction the salt water travels when regenerating. The standard method is downflow.
Upflow is slightly more "efficient" ( about 5% more ), but the valves tend to get "gummed up" on well water sources, as the process pushes everything UP into the Valve Body, instead of DOWN and out the drain during the Regeneration Process. We do not sell or recommend "Upflow" brining for that reason.

Also, please indicate which recommended model works best with a downflow tank and why.

* They all work the same. It's pretty simple.

Also, I've attached a copy of the Hankscraft Service, Installation manual to this email.
And the Fleck 5600 Econominder manual can be viewed and downloaded from Pentair Water ( the French company that owns Fleck brand ),

Finally, what are the changes in programming for proper operation of either the Fleck or Hankscraft valves with a downflow tank?

* ? You don't make any "changes" to program.
The valves are build to be either Downflow or Upflow. This is controlled by the internal porting of the Valve Body and the Main Piston design.

3) What recommendations do you have for a unit located as mine in a garage with the previously stated temperature range (central Oklahoma with temperature extremes of say 15F to 105F ) throughout the year to insure trouble free operation?

** One of the analog valves, as electronics do not hold up well under extreme temperature conditions.
My "recommendation" would be this valve,

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