Water with more than 60mg of magnesium and calcium is considered hard water that is detrimental to your health, plumbing systems, and equipment. Hard water is an issue in most households but fortunately, there is a simple solution – water softeners.
What Is A Water Softener?
A water softener is a device that filters minerals from hard water, mostly magnesium and calcium. It improves water quality to get rid of problems caused by lime scale build up and mineral deposits. These include spotty laundry, stained pipes and appliances as well as bad water taste and smell.
How Does A Water Softener Work?
A water softener rids water of calcium and magnesium using plastic beads and is self-cleaning through a process known as regeneration.
It is made up of three main components. First, water goes through a mineral tank with resin that removes water contaminants including calcium and magnesium ions.
Second is the brine tank that contains a high solution of salt or potassium. This solution is regularly flushed into the main tank to clean way the hardness ions and let it out through a drain.
A control valve controls water flow during regeneration and there are models that come with dual tank systems. They work like regular salt-based water softeners but has two tanks so there is no downtime during regeneration.
Who Will Need A Water Softener?
Before you buy a water softener unit, it is important to check the composition of your water. However, there are visible indicators that your water is hard and you need a water softener.
These include scale in your plumbing system and pipes, dry and irritated skin after a shower, scale build up in your appliances and faded clothes. Hard water also has a salty off-putting taste and is harmful to your health. A water softener saves you money as your plumbing and equipment lasts longer and is cheap to maintain.
Below are two common types of water softeners that vary slightly in their softening agents, salt base and salt free water softeners.
What Is A Salt Base Softener?
A salt base softener provides soft water by an ion exchange process. Calcium and magnesium ions are separated from your water at an atomic level and replaced with salt, for example, sodium.
They recharge automatically through a regeneration process and most modern units are automated.
What Is A Salt Free Softener?
A salt-free water softener does not typically make your water soft as it does not remove water hardening ions. Instead, it conditions your water to prevent hard minerals from clumping up in water and settle as scale or film. These units are more appropriately referred to as descaler and are effortless to maintain.
To help you find the best water softener for your home and circumstance, here are our top picks in three groups that based on their functionality.
Whole House Water Softeners
A whole house water softener is also called a Point of Entry (POE) water softener system, a whole house water softener softens water going into a household before it reaches water system in your house. Softened water will then be delivered wherever there is a faucet, whether hot or cold.
1. Best Salt Base Whole House Water Softener – Fleck 5600 SXT 48,000 Grain
Fleck is one of the best brands of water softeners available in the market. It is highly efficient in removing calcium and magnesium, with 1.5 cubic feet of high capacity 8% cross linked resin. This makes water softer, improving the overall quality of your tap water.
Fleck 5600sxt uses a flow meter to determine how much water has been used and regenerate whenever necessary. This is efficient in saving the amount of resin in your tank while getting full service from your unit.
It’s 15”x33” black brine tank is made with safety float that prevents overfilling and an overflow drain that helps reduce water spills. It can hold up to 250 lbs. of salt and comes with a ten-year guarantee.
The Fleck unit has additional features that improve usability. These include a backlit LCD display, touchpad controls and a 48 hour power backup.
This water softener is easy to install and does not require a plumber if you have some basic plumbing skills.
- Easy to install.
- Great customer service.
- Made to excellent quality.
- Does not come with brine tubing and connections.
- Could be a task to install if you do not have an access drain.
2. Iron Pro 2 Combination Fleck 5600SXT
The Fleck Iron Pro 2 is not only a whole house system but also an iron filter. This is an added advantage as it protects your household appliances and pipes from red rust stains. It also improves the taste of your water and makes cleaning easy without the use of chemicals.
It has a huge capacity of 64,000 grains that is suitable for extreme hard water and a large household. The fine mesh resin removes up to 75 grains per gallon, iron up to 6-8ppm and 6ppm of manganese.
The softener has a continuous flow rate of 16 gallons per minute and can provide more than 80 gallons of water per regeneration cycle.
The digital control valve that is set to regenerate automatically.
The tank comes in a beautiful almond color and has a 10-year warranty with a 5-year warranty on the digital valve.
The iron filter of Fleck Iron Pro 2 is not featured in other water softeners is an added bonus.
- Large capacity.
- Professional-grade water softener.
- Lasts 10 – 15 years.
- Removes iron stains.
- May require a plumber to install.
- Does not come with a power backup.
3. Tier1 48,000 Grain High Efficiency Digital Water Softener
An efficient water system prevents scale from building up and has better water taste. The Tier1 water softener is efficient affordable and well-engineered to work perfectly. It works well at home or in a business setup.
It has a digital meter control valve with a bypass and an LCD display. This unit regenerates automatically and the display is convenient for when you need to check the remaining gallon count.
Has a grain capacity of 48,000 and can eliminate calcium phosphate and magnesium. Regeneration takes about two hours, with interrupted water flow.
It comes inclusive of a mineral tank that is 10”x54” and a brine tank that can hold up to 4 to 5 packs of salt. This does not take up much space during installation.
It comes in two colors; blue and black and can be installed anywhere including outdoors as long as the temperature is above freezing.
- Has a compact bypass valve.
- Low salt usage.
- Easy to program.
- Cannot be installed outside during winter.
4. Best Salt Free Whole House Water Softener – Aquasana 10-Year, 1,000,000-Gallon
The Aquasana line of water softeners is versatile and dependable. The EQ-1000 is one of the easiest systems to install that eliminates chlorine and other chemical substances in your municipal water. Below are cool features that make it a good choice for a large household.
The Aquasana salt-free technology in this system effectively reduces scale build up and protects your plumbing systems from corrosion.
Each unit comes with a professional installation kit that makes installation easy. This includes brass fittings, pre and post water sub-micron filters and a UV filter.
Its dual tank has a special up flow design that improves the Aquasana 10-year’s efficiency. It increases the time of contact between water and the softener media for better filtration results.
As the name suggest, this is one of the largest category softeners that can last you ten years or more. It can filter more than 1,000,000 gallons of water and leaves it tasting better.
The UV filter is an added feature that rids water of harmful pollutants such as waterborne disease causing bacteria and viruses.
- Improves water taste and smell.
- Prevents water stains.
- Large capacity.
- Reduces water pressure.
- Does not have a digital meter.
Under Sink & Portable Water Softeners
Thanks to technological advancement in the industry, your water softener unit does not have to be installed into your plumbing system. Portable softeners are compact systems that remove water hardening agents such as calcium and magnesium ions.
Most units do not require connection to power. You can therefore soften water while outdoors as well as when cleaning your car as it is energy efficient. It is a convenient choice for renters who may not have the luxury to install a permanent water softener.
5. On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT RV Water Softener
Get two uses out of the On the Go water softener that also conditions your water. This is a compact designed softener that is made to superior quality compared to other units available in the market. It supplies about 40% more water than other units and prevents hard water and rust stains.
The double-standard water softener treats about 1600 gallons of water that would last you about forty days.
It only uses two boxes of salt to regenerate in less than 30 minutes. This is low maintenance and convenient when traveling.
It measures 10 x 22 inches. This size can fit just about any kind of storage locker and is portable for activities like camping or travelling in an RV.
It has a high flow rate that peaks at 120 psi water pressure even with low-pressure drops.
Comes with a number of nifty features that make it easy to use. It has a wide mouth opening for refilling salt, a handle for improved portability and a 360 degree swivel for easy hose connection.
It fits any standard hose connection and comes with an on and off valve that you can regulate water to a slow rinse to reduce wastage.
- Inclusive of water test strips.
- Large capacity.
- Salt is cheap.
- Low battery life.
6. Portable Water Softener Pro 16,000 Grain Premium Grade
This is a portable water softener that is ideal for an RV and works well with both municipal and well water. It makes water soft by eliminating calcium, iron, lead, radium and other heavy metals that pollute your water.
Has a large 16,000 grain capacity that can soften up to 2,000 gallons of hard water.
It has a flow rate of 5 gallons per minute and can provide up to 40 days of soft water. It gives so much value and has a polished look.
It is about 10”x19.5”and can fit anywhere. Additionally, it has a wide, sturdy base that can settle on uneven surfaces, a handy feature when camping.
It regenerates fast, a maximum of half an hour. It uses table soft that is cheap and accessible to replenish even when on the road.
It fits standard hose connections and is made of polyethylene housing reinforced with fiberglass wrap. This is durable and NSF certified.
- Compatible with standard fittings.
- Easy to install.
- Optional kit for faster regeneration.
- Vague installation instructions.
- Poor customer service.
Another alternative to salt-free water softening is a digital or magnetic softener.
What is a digital/electronic softener?
An electronic water softener reduces water hardness using electromagnetic coils to separate calcium and magnesium ions from water. In the past, their efficiency has been questioned as it only works on water that is within the magnet’s field.
How Does It Work?
Magnetic softeners are a great alternative to salt softeners. To install these softeners, wires are coiled around your plumbing pipes and charged.
This creates a magnetic field that alters magnesium and calcium ions so they are suspended in water and does not settle on plumbing or appliances. Even though it does not eliminate TDS from water, it reduces lime scale buildup.
Who will need it?
Magnetic water softeners are a great choice when looking for a stress-free and simple solution for reliable soft water. It is easy to install, affordable and can last you over 40 years with very little maintenance.
It especially good for people who are on low sodium diets and provides water that is good for watering plants as no chemicals are added.
7. YARNA Whole House Electronic Water Softener & Descaler
The YARNA electronic water filter is designed by a great team of experts to provide the simplest solution for everyday people. It is a chemical-free system that turns calcium and magnesium into small crystals that cannot cause any lime scale or settle in your pipes.
The YARNA softener unit softens water that is 1.2 miles away from the point of installation.
The calcium and magnesium ions turned into micro-crystals stay in this state for up to seven days after water leaves the pipes. This is a considerable amount for a reliable water softening solution though this period of time may differ as it is affected by temperature.
This unit’s power adapter has 5ft of cable. For best results, it is recommended to install it near your water meter or main supply line.
The YARNA salt free mechanism is a healthy alternative to traditional water softeners that use salt to treat hard water. It is also easier on your fixtures and heat appliances.
This unit consumes 120 volts and 2 amps of power making it energy efficient.
It is easy to install. Comes inclusive of an installation kit that self-adheres and has an anodized aluminum finish lasts longer than other units available in the market.
- Cheap to maintain.
- Saves money.
- A commercial-grade softener.
- Takes time to be effective.
8. iSpring ED2000 Whole House Electronic Descaler Water Conditioner
The iSpring ED2000 is a computerized, heavy duty water softener designed especially for hard water. It prevents and breaks down lime scale build up with electromagnetic waves that conditions your water while leaving beneficial minerals intact.
It is designed for very hard water that ranges between 10-19 gpm. In addition to preventing lime scale build up, it breaks down any lime scale that is in your pipes. This increases the efficiency of your plumbing system and the lifespan of your heat appliances.
It does not require any plumbing to install and takes very little space. They are convenient to maintain compared to salt-based softeners that require replacement salt or filter cartridges.
The ED2000 removes minerals that cause water hardness using two antenna cables wired around your pipe from the main outlet. It creates electromagnetic waves that destabilize calcium ions and turns it into calcium bicarbonate that is soluble in water.
It works for water that is 50ft away from its installation point.
- Effective in removing calcium.
- Does not remove rust.
- Chemical reaction reverses after 50ft.
9. Eddy Electronic Water Descaler
The Eddy electronic water descaler is one of the smallest units available and weighs less than a kg. It is a simple solution that efficiently works to provide you with healthier water and lengthen the lifespan of your appliances.
The Eddy descaler removes lime scale adhesion properties from your water using two coils that run electromagnetic waves along your water pipes.
It does not remove any TDS in your water, leaving you with beneficial minerals like calcium that improves health.
It is cost efficient and easy to install with no plumbing needed.
Has a lifetime repair or replace guarantee and works on all types of water pipes with the exception of lead and iron.
- Works for well water.
- Easy to install.
- Eco-friendly solution.
- Customer satisfaction guaranteed.
- Doesn’t soften water.
10. Scalewatcher Nano Original Electronic Descaler
The Scalewatcher Nano Electronic Descaler is the father of all lime scale descaling units with a patent for the technology in 1991. This is the 12th version of the original design that is built to work better and last longer.
It is an electric water softener that makes water quality better results when you use it on your skin during cleaning, cooking and bathing.
It leaves Totally Dissolved Solids in your water which is healthier for drinking.
This system is easy to install and comes inclusive of installation hardware. It works on all types of pipes and is ready to go once you install it.
It is small and light but made of high quality housing that lasts. It also includes LED indicators that lets you know if it works fine.
It works with 110v power supply and improves the overall efficiency of your plumbing system by removing lime scale deposits that had already settled.
- Compact design.
- Heavy duty unit.
- No maintenance required.
- Cuts down water pressure.
Water Softeners Buyer’s Guide
The type of water softener you buy determines its functionality. There are several options available which can be overwhelming for the buyer. To help you out, here are a few considerations you can make while at home so your shopping experience is easier.
The amount of water that is softened by a unit is measured by grain capacity which often ranges from 16,000 – 96,000 grain capacity of resin. The more water a household needs, the larger the resin capacity should be.
Higher levels of hardness also affects usage, so ensure to test your water when considering a water softener’s capacity.
Water softeners come either metered or with a timer-based regeneration setting. With a metered softener, the unit regenerates automatically after a set amount of water has been used. This is efficient as it only regenerates water on demand.
A timer based softener regenerates after a number of days, regardless the amount of water used. This is usually set at after 4 days and a week. This system is less efficient as you could run out of soft water before the set regeneration time.
Besides capacity, the space you have allocated for your water softeners will determine the device you buy. Water softeners are generally small and there are portable ones that are specially designed for RVs and outdoor activities.
A bypass valve lets you shut off water going through your unit when you do not need soft water, for example, when filling a pool. An easy to operate bypass valve increases the functionality of your water softener and is cost efficient.
Soft water has lots of benefits for you and your family. It protects your skin and hair from harsh minerals and improves the longevity of your pipes, faucets, and appliances. It also brightens laundry and leaves anything that is cleaned with water spotless and shiny. For a cost-efficient solution, a water softener will surely improve your general lifestyle. Hopefully, the above review will help you pick the best filter for your home, hassle-free.
Table Of Content
- Best Water Softener – Our Pick
- What Is A Water Softener?
- How Does A Water Softener Work?
- Who Will Need A Water Softener?
- What Is A Salt Base Softener?
- What Is A Salt Free Softener?
- Top 4 Best Whole House Water Softeners Reviews
- 2 Best Under Sink & Portable Water Softeners
- Digital/Electronic/Magnetic Water Softeners
- 4 Best Electronic/Magnetic Water Softeners
- How To Find Your Best Water Softener?
- Table Of Content