Ok, I think I have distilled everything I've read.
H2O_MAN, I can't express how grateful I am for your patience and willingness to impart your knowledge to ignorant (ME).
A twin tank seems the most efficient system to me, please feel free to correct me on this point.
I found this softener:
The SETHC uses a Fleck "high flow capacity" 1 inch (1.0" connections standard) valve with an advanced microprocessor based metered control. The SETHC-9000 has a brass valve body, and the new SETHC-9100 uses a Noryl valve designed for residential use! The SE control allows for easy programming and is packed with features like calendar override, soft water remaining, time of day, service and diagnostic indications, and more! The SE valve delivers a higher flow rate for larger residential applications and uses an "up-flow" backwash for a very efficient cleaning of the softener resin bed. This softener has a "twin tank" duplex design with two separate resin tanks and single brine tank. A twin tank system operates at maximum efficiency, using 100% of the resin of the tank in service before switching to the second tank, for continuous supply of soft water with no regeneration downtime. The SETHC regenerates with soft water and uses a soft water pre-rinse which flushes the resin of hardness and stagnant water before a new tank comes on line. The system stays clean, for optimum operating efficiency and minimum maintenance. The almond colored resin tanks, manufactured by Structural, are poly lined and fiberglass reinforced. All twin softeners supplied with premium grade Ionac C-249 resin, high flow 1.05 inch riser with gravel underbed, brine valve & safety float, and brine tank grid (salt platform). No by-pass valve is available with a 1 inch 9000/9100 valve - a by-pass system can be plumbed in separately.
1) Is this a good system in your estimation?
2) Is the resin mentioned (Ionac C-249) a quality resin?
3) This is twin tank system, does the rating (24K grain, 32K grain, etc.) apply to each tank, or the system as a whole?
4) I read that GE holds the patent on Noryl, so do GE softeners use Noryl valves?
5) In regards to charcoal filters, should I use one for the whole house, or just for drinking water?
6) How much water does a regeneration process consumer?
7) Does and RO system remove the sodium introducing by softening from the water?
Thanks again to everyone.