In many cases, hard water can negatively impact your home from your appliances (e.g. dishwasher, water heater) to your showers and baths. To soften hard water, you will need a quality water softener system. Deciding on which softener works for you and your home can be time-consuming, so in the following article, we’ll review our top picks to help you find the best water softeners on the market in 2018.
10 Best Water Softeners: Our Top Picks
1. ABCwaters Elite High Flow 1″ Water Softener System
First up on our top 10 list is the Elite High Flow Water Softener from ABCwaters. It is an eco-friendly water system that is designed specifically for a well water home with about 4-6 household residents. This utilizes a Fleck 5600SXT digital valve, one of the more popular digital meters on the market.
To help prolong its life, this system has a 10% fine mesh cross link resin. Concerning the resin, however, there may be a good deal of it introduced into the main water line. However, you could have to switch the supply lines that go to the softener, and it may correct this.
The Elite High Flow 1″ Water Softener System is also user-friendly. For starters, the units arrive completely assembled along with an installation kit. The kit includes a sanitizer packet to help flush your system, water hardness test strips, and silicone lubricant for ‘o’-rings.
For plumbing in, there is an installation and programming guide found under their Manuals and Specs. There are also installation videos online made by the company for the truly DIY users. Once it is hooked up, it is also simple to use. It has a large touchscreen display and a straightforward interface in which you can program it by using push buttons.
- 10% Cross Link Resin
- 64,000 Grain High Capacity
- Continuous service flow rate up to 37 GPM
- Color LCD Display
- Fleck 5600SXT Digital Valve
- Fine Mesh Iron Treatment
2. PENTAIR Fleck 5600SXT Upgraded High Capacity 10% Resin
Another product sold by ABCwaters is the PENTAIR High Capacity System. This also makes excellent use of 10% cross link resin in order to prolong the overall life of the system. It utilizes various components in order to soften hard water.
For one thing, it has an ion exchange process, and with this, it eliminates calcium and magnesium ions. Another procedure this water system uses is a meter established regeneration process. With this procedure, the water you use is calculated accordingly, and the system will only then regenerate when it has to. This can help the water system run smoothly and efficiently.
There are a few other features that help keep the system performing optimally. This system includes a safety float that assists in preventing overfilling. In addition to that, there is also an overflow drain that acts as backup.
When it comes to the setup process, there is an instruction guide included in case you want to DIY the system. However, some users have noted that the instructions could be clearer and suggest going online to find additional help. Even so, using the product is seen as simple process. The interface is user-friendly, especially with the large back-lit LCD display with touchpad controls. There is an even a convenient backup power supply.
- Fleck 5600SXT Digital Metered Control Head
- 10% Cross Link Resin
- Back-lit LCD Display
- 48-Hour Internal Power Backup
- 48,000 Grain High Capacity
- Meter Established Regeneration
3. Aquasana 10-Year 1,000,000 Gallon Whole House Water Filter
For those of you looking for a product that will last, the Aquasana Whole House Water Filter can be the ideal choice. It is able to remove up to 97% of chlorine for 1,000,000 gallons (or 10 years). This can be highly effective for the entire house, and unlike many water filter systems, it does not use salt or other similar chemicals. This is because it utilizes Scale Control Media (SCM) softening technology.
Not only does this system help provide healthier drinking water and water that is safer for your appliances, it can also contribute to healthier skin and hair. Much of that is due to the water system reducing how much synthetic chemicals and chlorine you’re exposed to.
This Aquasana Whole House Water Filter also has a unique design that it allows it to stand out. It features an up-flow dual-tank layout that can help increase the water contact time with contaminants while also preventing media channeling and clogging.
Installing this product is not seen as the easiest thing to do if you lack any experience. Also, a point to note is that this does not appear to come with testing data so that you can properly compare your water before and after using this system. This is always something you can purchase separately, however.
- One Million Gallons/10 Years
- SCM Salt-Free Softening Technology
- Up-Flow Dual-Tank Design
- Sediment Pre-Filter
- Activated Carbon Filter
- Installation Kit for 0.75in Pipe Fittings
4. Tier1 48,000 Grain High Efficiency Digital Water Softener
The Tier1 Digital Water Softener uses a digital meter control valve that is similar to the Fleck 5600SXT. This LCD display helps to simplify the system for a more user-friendly experience. It only shows pertinent information such as regeneration mode and the gallons you have remaining in the system. Adjusting the cycle times is also easy to do.
Another aspect about this water softener system that makes it easy on you is that it is actually a complete system. This means it includes a mineral tank, brine tank, and a valve with bypass and adapter. With that said, some users claim that certain parts of the installation process seem a bit difficult to do.
However, with proper instructions, it appears that this system can be installed and setup without professional help. To further aid you in installing this, the system comes with quick-connect fittings on the brine line and drain line (with ‘o’-ring seals), as well as a power cord.
If you are interested in something that will save space, the Tier1 Digital Water Softener does that well. All in all, it can save more than 4ft of floor space. This is done because the precision turbine meter is incorporated in with the system bypass valve.
- Digital Meter Control Valve
- 48,000 Grain High Capacity
- Adjustable Cycle Times
- Complete Home System
- Quick-Connect Fittings
- Compact Design
5. Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener
With this Water Softener, you obviously get the Fleck 5600SXT system. This LCD display is informative and still easy to read, and controlling it is simple also thanks to the touchpad. Concerning the rest of the build, it has a black square brine tank that includes a safety float. In addition, it also has a Fleck bypass valve.
This product is metered in terms of efficiency. It is done by using a flow meter that is able to measure the complete water used. Then, it only regenerates what is needed to cut back on waste as well as save on salt. More so with this metered system, it makes use of strong paddlewheel style that adds to its durability. It also reduces the chance of leaks when compared to a turbine style.
There is some positive and negative feedback concerning the installation of this softener. On the positive side, it does have a bypass valve and 1″ yoke connection which is seen as beneficial. However, some other material may be missing that is not listed anywhere on the product description. It can help you to go online and look up installation tips, or you can simply hire a professional.
- LCD Digital Display w/ Touchpad Controls
- On-Demand Metered System
- 48-Hour Internal Backup Power
- 8% Cross Link Resin
- 48,000 Grain High Capacity
- Service Flow Rates Up to 12 GPM (28 GPM peak)
6. Triple Action Poly Salt-Free Water Softener
The Triple Action Poly Water Softener is a contrast to similar water systems due to its appearance. It is compact, lightweight, and it can seamlessly blend in. Those of you looking for something that does not stand out too much can appreciate a system such as this.
This unit is also designed for those who want an all-in-one product. With just one product, you can filter the water, control scaling, and have a siliphos treatment. Another benefit to all of this is that it does not use any salt for those of you more interested in salt-free products. Because it is salt-free, this water softener can be ideal for septic systems.
For the sake of convenience, this contains a permanent stainless steel filter that’s easy to clean as it’s removable. With this, you don’t have purchase filters anymore, which can save you money over time. The Triple Action Water Softener also reduces the risk of decreasing your water pressure as it uses a 30 GPM high flow design. It is environmental-friendly as well as it does not waste brine water.
Some DIY individuals may find trouble setting this up, however. There are some installation difficulties (e.g. connecting fittings), but it may just take more time to install properly.
- Eco-Friendly Technology
- Salt-Free System
- Built-In, Removable Stainless-Steel 50-Micron Filter
- 30 GPM High Flow Design
- 3-Level Conditioning (Water Filtration, Scale Control, & Siliphos Treatment)
- Compact & Lightweight Design
7. On The Go OTG3NTP3M Portable Water Softener
The On The Go Portable Water Softener is a good choice for those that need something they can easily take on the road. It is able to produce up to 800 gallons (10-15 grain hardness) in a single cycle. This can help provide high flow rates without drastically dropping the water pressure. It does appear to be a bit flow-sensitive though.
When it comes to regenerating the system, it only takes one box of common table salt. Also, this can be done in less than 15 minutes. You are able to get about 20 days worth of soft water with this.
This water softener is also user-friendly. It features a compact design, and it is also light in weight. To provide you with even more convenience, there is a built-in handle so you can carry it with ease. It is even designed in a way to save on space both when it’s in-use and in storage.
When you focus on its setup, it makes use of a standard hose connection that does not require any electricity. There is also a 360-degree swivel that allows for easy connection of the inlet hose. Overall, when purchasing this, it also comes with storage inlet/outlet caps, inlet hi-flow shut off valve, inlet/outlet hose adapters, back-flush adapter, high-pressure 4ft white drinking hose, full cradle base, and hardness test strips.
- On-the-Go Design
- Softens 300-800 Gallons Per Cycle
- Easy-Carry Handle
- 8,000 Grain
- Less Than 15min Regeneration
- Requires No Electricity
8. Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener 64k
With the Iron Pro 2 Water Softener, you are able to have an all-in-one system; it is both a water softener and an iron filter. It is able to remove iron up to 8 PPM max, hardness up to 75 GPG, and even manganese up to 6 PPM. To help with the iron removal, this water softener system utilizes a specialty resin component.
Using this product is not seen as difficult thanks in large part to the Fleck 5600SXT control head. This offers an informative display that is backlit. There are also easy-to-use touchpad controls. On the LCD display, you are able to view the current status of the system including error codes. This is done so that you can troubleshoot and handle everything quicker.
Overall, it is easy to install. Even so, the installation guide you can download seems lacking in detail. A quick look online should help remedy everything though.
When you acquire the Iron Pro 2 Water Softener, you receive a complete system. This includes the tank, brine tank, fine mesh resin, and the control head. In addition to all of that, this also comes with an iron hardness test kit.
- 64,000 Grain Capacity
- Fleck 5600SXT Digital Metered Valve
- Complete Brine Tank w/ Float
- LCD Display w/ Touch Controls
- Removes Hardness Up to 75 GPG/Iron Up to 6-8 PPM Range
- All-in-One Design
9. Eddy Water Descaler Electronic Water Softener
The Eddy Water Descaler Electronic Water Softener is a product that can work well in either a home or a business. However, it should be noted right away that it is not a permanent solution. It is able to reduce lime scale and suspend hard water by using a magnetic water softening system. This means that the water is technically still “hard”, but lime-scale deposits are reduced.
No matter, the Electronic Water Softener will still provide you with healthier water even if it is only for up to 48 hours at a time. Even though there is still hard water, this system also does not alter TDS, which are the healthy minerals you still need to have. This also does a good job at saving you energy. It only uses a 110 volt system that runs on about 5 watts, far less than your major appliances.
Another benefit about this is that it is simple to install. You can place it on either metal or plastic pipes, and as it is extremely compact and lightweight, it is not difficult to carry or move it to another location. It is required to be installed indoors, however.
- Uses Magnetic Fields
- Suspends Hard Water Up to 48 Hours
- Easy Installation on Metal or Plastic Pipes
- No Salt Needed
- Lightweight & Compact
- Low-Power Usage (Runs on Approx. 5 Watts)
10. HydroFLOW HS38 Electronic Water Softener
Last on our review list of water softeners is the HydroFLOW HS38 Electronic Water Softener. Likewise with other similar water softeners, this is not seen or should be used as a permanent, primary solution. Rather, it specifies that it can provide up to 24 hours of water softening. It does this though in a way that it will not interfere with other electronic systems.
Furthermore, there is no heavy installation needed with such a system. You do not have to make any plumbing modifications. Also, it is capable of being installed on any pipe, including PVC and PEX. Concerning the actual fit, it can work on pipes that have up to a 25mm (1in) outer diameter.
For those of you looking for eco-friendly options, this is a good choice for you. It is capable of reducing the harmful effects of scale build-up without adding any chemicals into the solution. This Electronic Water Softener is also versatile. You can use it as well in RVs as you can in residential water heaters and homes. The max amount of power this device uses is 1.2 watts.
- 24-Hour Water Softening
- Quick, Non-Intrusive Installation
- Signal Monitor Light
- Eco-Friendly Design
- Fits Any Pipe
- Reduces Energy Consumption
Buying Guide – Water Softeners
Hard water is never easy to deal with. It’s not just the smell or the inconvenience- hard water can be difficult on your pipes and cause you to spend quite a bit of money on repairs over the years. While you can’t change out your water source in most cases, you do have the ability to get rid of hard water through the use of a water softener system. These systems are becoming increasingly common among those who don’t want to subject themselves or their homes to the problems that occur alongside hard water. Unfortunately, finding the right system isn’t as easy as just walking down to the store and picking one up.
Finding the right water softener requires knowing a bit about how they work and the factors that will make a unit the right fit for your home. Below is a brief buying guide that will help you to know what you need to ask before you buy a softener, as well as detailing a few minor variations on the systems about which informed consumers should make themselves aware.
How Hard is Your Water?
Oddly enough, you can’t just buy a water softener and expect to be done with the whole process. You’ll need to know exactly how hard your water is before you can determine which type of unit is best for your home. While this might seem like it would be difficult to do, there are actually a few different methods you can use to accomplish this task. Some are easier than others, but they all work.
The easiest way is probably to look up your own municipality’s studies on the local water. Hard water is rarely a problem that is limited to a single neighborhood or area, so your town has probably looked into the problem in the past. Unfortunately, not every municipality conducts these tests.
Your next best bet will be to buy a home testing kit. They’ll give you an approximation of how hard your water is in terms of milligrams per liter of calcium carbonate or other agents. These tests vary in terms of price and in terms of utility, but they’re definitely among the most common ways to figure out how hard your water may be.
If you want the best answer, you’ll want to check with a professional. There are many services that will test your water using professional equipment and most can give you a straight-forward answer about how hard your water actually is. Professional tests can be pricey, but they’re also worthwhile if you’re looking to make sure that you know exactly what to do next. Consider a professional if you can’t find a trustworthy kit or you suspect that your water issues might be outside the norm.
How Much Water Do You Use?
Once you’ve figured out the hardness of your water, you can start looking at the next most important factor when it comes to deciding upon your water softener of choice. You will absolutely need to know roughly how much water your household goes through on average, as this will give you an idea of how large of a unit you’ll actually need to buy. While there are some rough estimates out there you can use to figure out how much water your family should be using, doing a little homework will make buying your water softener system much easier.
You’re going to need to know about two major factors to get the raw numbers right. The first is the flow rate of water in your home – literally how fast the water comes out of the spigot. This one is incredibly easy to test because you just need a one-gallon jug to get the job done. Open the spigot and time how long it takes to fill up the job. Divide it by sixty and you have the flow rate. You can now look at your potential softener to determine if it can keep up with your home’s flow rate.
Next, you’ll look at water usage itself. The national average number is about eighty gallons per day per person. Multiply that by the hardness of your water, and you’ll get a firm idea of how many grains of water need to be removed per day. It’s easy math, but it can end up being very important.
While it’s never fun to talk about the bottom line, the truth is that you need to consider the cost of any water softener before you make a purchase. As you might imagine, you’re not just looking at something that’s as simple as a price tag – you’re also trying to figure out how much it’s going to cost you to keep running the machine as the years go by. This can be a very difficult thing to figure out, but there are thankfully plenty of forums and guides online that can help you to determine roughly what it’s going to cost you to keep your water softener running for the foreseeable future.
In addition to the cost of buying and running the machine, you’ll need to think about maintenance and installation. The latter, at least, is a one-time cost that can simply be added on to the purchase price of the softener. Maintenance is a little harder to figure out, but the general rule seems to be that more popular models tend to have lower associated maintenance costs than those of their more obscure cousins. When you factor in all four of these elements, you’ll get the true cost of the water softener.
Regeneration: Manual vs. Automatic
When looking at water softeners, you’ll probably run into the phrase “regeneration” quite often. While it’s rarely explained, this is actually a fairly easy topic to understand. Regeneration is simply the process of washing up the build-up of the particles that make water hard out of the unit. It can be a lengthy process depending on the unit, but it’s absolutely vital for making sure that the water softener continues to work well. Depending on the type and size of unit you buy, you may have to do this between once a week and once every few months.
When looking at the difference between automatic and manual units, you’re really looking at how much input you need to have in the regeneration process. Manual units require you to manually start the process, usually through adding in salt and pressing a few buttons on the machine. Automatic units, on the other hand, go through regeneration mostly on their own. There are even semi-automatic units that require a bit less input but still aren’t quite as self-sufficient as automatic units.
The big reason this should matter to consumers generally has to do with pricing. Automatic units tend to be more expensive but require much less work. Manual units will softener your water for less, but do require you to keep a closer eye on them. In the end, which works best is really something that is up to the individual user.
Salt vs. Salt-Free
Finally, you’ll also want to consider salt. Salt is a vital component to water softeners, but it’s not the only option any longer. It’s often used in the process of regeneration and helps to flush out the particles that make your water hard in the first place, but there are many who don’t particularly like using it for one reason or another. Determining if a non-salt unit is for you is a matter of looking at the new technology that is out there and figuring out if the extra price is really worth paying just to get away from salt.
On the more technologically advanced side of things are those softeners that use magnetic descalers and TAC to get rid of build-up. These processes are both effective at keeping particulate matter out of your pipes but aren’t quite as good at softening your water as salt tends to be. They’re nice for those who really don’t want to deal with salt or who have specific issues related to sodium in their diets, but they’re not quite as effective as the original solution.
There are also those who use potassium chloride in their systems. It’s quite effective in most cases, but it’s also much more expensive to use than salt. Again, this is really only a choice for those who absolutely need to get away from salt as a cleaning agent. Otherwise, you’re just spending more money on a cleaning solution that’s honestly less useful and less easy to find than salt.
Buying a water softener doesn’t need to be tough, but you do need to do your homework. Know the capacity you need, the price you’re willing to pay, and how much water needs to be softened before you think about anything else. Once you know that, get into specifics about regeneration, salt-usage, and brand. If you have all the information you need in once place, you can make an informed decision. With the right softener, you should be able to rely on softer water that will not only make your life easier, but that will keep vital systems in your home functioning for much longer.
To wrap things up, there are many water softeners on the market today, but not all of them will work for your specific needs. Some could make better use of smaller, portable options, while others require something larger. Regardless of what you need, our reviews of 10 top-selling water softeners should help steer you in the right direction.