Hard water can negatively impact your home or RV. By choosing one of the best water softener units on the market, however, you can prevent minerals like calcium and magnesium, as well as limescale build-up, to have a more comfortable life overall.
But we get it, there are so many models out there, and you’re probably wondering, “Where do I even start?“. Well, that’s why we’re here to help you “filter” out the noise and find the perfect product for you. Do you want to figure out how to get rid of hard water? Dive in this blog post to see the top 16 water softening products to implement in your whole house.
- Do You Really Need a Water Softener System?
- Things to Know Before Getting a Water Softener
- Let’s See Our Comparison Chart
- Top 16 Best Water Softeners: Reviews
- 16. DuraWater USA Fleck 9100sxt Twin Tank Metered On-Demand
- 15. Eddy Electronic Water Descaler Water Softener Alternative
- 14. On The Go Portable Water Softener
- 13. iSpring ED2000 Whole House Electronic Descaler Water Conditioner
- 12. Aquasana 10-Year Whole House Water Filter with Salt-Free Softener
- 11. Pentair Fleck 5600sxt Upgrade High Capacity
- 10. Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener Iron Filter Fleck 5600SXT
- 9. Watts Water Quality/Condition M7002 Flow-Pur RV-Pro 10,000 Water Softener
- 8. Aquasure Harmony Series Water Softener Plus Iron Removal
- 7. OneFlow + Salt-Free Scale Prevention and Water Filtration System
- 6. Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener Digital SXT Metered Whole House System
- 5. On The Go OTG3NTP1DS Water Softener
- 4. Mobile-Soft-Water Portable 16,000 Grain (TM) Unit with Tank
- 3. BonyTec Shower Filter Water Softener
- 2. Tier1 Essential Series 32,000 Grain High-Efficiency Digital Water Softener
- 1. Whirlpool WHES30E 30,000 Grain Softener
- Water Softeners: How Do They Work?
- Water Softeners vs. Whole House Water Filters
- Water Descalers: How Do They Work?
- What Is Salt-Free Water Softener?
- What Is Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC)?
- What Is a Dual Tank Water Softener?
- Reverse Osmosis Water Filters vs. Water Softeners
- Water Softeners Buyers Guide
- Water Softener: FAQs
Do You Really Need a Water Softener System?
Have you ever done the laundry and needed to add more detergent because your clothes were drearily dull? What about when the bathtub curtains show unsightly spots of grime? And finally, do you remember seeing hard marks on your dishes when you pull them out of the dishwasher? Those are all caused by hard water.
Without these systems, hard water can tear down items in your household like sinks, bathtubs, washing machines, kettles, and more. It can also damage your skin and hair, clog your pipes, and leave soapy residue all over the place.
To combat that, a softener system is fundamental in today’s age to keep hard water out of your household. Water softeners and water descalers have the purpose & capacity to solve these issues by using a process called ion exchange, which eliminates limescale and improves the quality of your life.
Ion exchange is one of the most efficient water softening techniques that work by dissolving unwanted ions from calcified water and replacing them with ions with a similar charge. This quick and effective filtration system turns the hard water into soft water.
Things to Know Before Getting a Water Softener
This system eliminates the problems caused by hard water and limescale. You know this water poses plenty of issues when it comes to bathing with it. Fortunately, for this problem, we have filter showerheads to soften the water and offer us a comfortable bathing experience. It also raises some concerns when we wash clothes, drink it, use appliances, and so on.
Limescale causes unsightly spots on your surfaces and attacks your pipes, heating system, and appliances from the inside. In other words, you need to do something about it.
The problem with hard water is that it is prevalent in almost all American states, affecting about 8 out of 10 households. For this reason, salt-based softeners have been the go-to solution to remove the hardness minerals in the water through their ion exchange technology.
Nevertheless, in the past years, water softeners welcomed in their family new devices and innovations aiming to soften our tap drinking water without using specific salts and salt pellets. Conventional softeners do waste some water and raise some environmental issues. Moreover, most systems are massive, requiring space for the installation of tanks. Many are also expensive, at least in comparison to other devices.
But before we begin discussing the types of water softening technologies we presented in this article, let’s answer other more pressing questions.
Let’s See Our Comparison Chart
We did all the hard work so that you don’t have to. If you’re unsure where to begin, you can look over our reviews of the top eleven products. To factor into our decisions, we kept in mind features like maintenance, flow rate, whether it’s easy to install, grain capacity, and other traits. This is all to help you get the perfect system to meet your needs.
Before we begin, let’s take a quick look at a handful of products that draw our attention due to their unique tech specs and features!
Top 16 Best Water Softeners: Reviews
16. DuraWater USA Fleck 9100sxt Twin Tank Metered On-Demand
|Material:||Mineral tanks | Noryl plastic bypass|
|Design/Install:||Twin mineral high-flow tanks | Paddle wheel meter | Simple installation with how-to videos included|
|Life Expectancy:||20+ years|
|Performance:||Paddlewheel and turbine meter | Hard water passes through resin and ions are attracted to the resin|
The first entry on our list of top 16 units of the year is the DuraWater USA Fleck 9100sxt. It has a twin-tank system that pushes out soft water 24/7. This is done by the second tank behaving as a backup to provide more soft water once the first is used up.
Hence, you never have to worry about it having to wait for it to regenerate. With 64,000 grains per tank, it can handle just about any household.
While coming with a hefty price, this water softening unit works very well. Unfortunately, users complain about the customer support service, which could be better given the size and price of this device. There are, of course, other options on the market, but if you want performance quality, then you should consider this product as well.
15. Eddy Electronic Water Descaler Water Softener Alternative
|Type:||Electronic | Salt-free|
|Design/Install:||Easy to install indoors | Works best with plastic or metal pipes|
|Performance:||Uses an electromagnetic field to shatter particles and separate scale-forming ions|
|Life Expectancy:||Six or so months|
|Warranty:||Lifetime | 12-month money-back guarantee|
Compared to other products, the Eddy Electric Water Descaler Water Softener Alternative is a salt-free alternative to traditional softeners that uses electromagnetic waves so that minerals like calcium & magnesium don’t coat your plumbing.
This process doesn’t remove anything from the water. It is an inexpensive option compared to other systems and is overall eco-friendlier than its competitors. If what you’re looking for is less trouble cleaning out the build-up in your pipes, then this is the descaler for you. However, this isn’t the most effective as far as instant softening to your water.
The packaging is simple, and it’s super easy to install — all you need to do is wind two coils of the provided wire around your incoming water pipe and turn it on, no plumbers required. Be careful while you’re coiling the wires around the pipe so that they don’t hang loosely.
While this is not a water softener, but a water descaler, it is one of the best products for tackling hard water problems. It requires no plumbing changes, does not require any salt, and it costs a fraction of the price of conventional salt-based softeners. Environmentally friendly and maintenance-free with great results (solves hardness up to and above 20 GPG), the Eddy water descaler comes with enthusiast customers’ reviews.
14. On The Go Portable Water Softener
|Grain Capacity:||Standard model = 8,000|
|Design/Install:||Compact | Large mouth opening | Standard hose connection|
|Life Expectancy:||Up to 20 days between regenerations|
|Performance:||Allows high-flow rates with minor pressure drops | Inlet high-flow shut-off valve allows slow rinse for improved water quality|
|Flow Rate:||Allows high flow rate|
|Warranty:||One-year limited warranty|
One of the best water softeners is this portable model from On The Go. It is most user-friendly for those on the road with an RV. Even those who need softer water for their spa will appreciate this product.
The system is compact and features a handle for more straightforward carrying. It regenerates with one box of common table salt. It has a capacity of 320-800 gallons. And with most softeners, the salt can sometimes create a mess and increase the amount of water wasted.
The On The Go Portable Softener has a large-mouth opening to combat that. It even includes hardness strips so that you can do a test on your own to see how good the system is!
The On The Go Portable Standard Water Softener & Conditioner is one of the most compact and user-friendly softeners on the market. Built well and engineered to allow high flow rates with very low pressure drops, it is an ideal choice for RVs and people always on the go. Customers are more than happy with the product, as it is easy to install, set up, maintain, move, and store.
13. iSpring ED2000 Whole House Electronic Descaler Water Conditioner
|Type:||Electronic | Salt-free|
|Design/Install:||Works on any pipe (PVC and PEX included)|
|Life Expectancy:||Several months or so|
|Performance:||2 antenna cables wrap around the main water pipe to create a frequency modulated | Electronic magnetic waveform that brings about an oscillating electric field into the water|
Another one of the best water softeners is the iSpring ED2000. This salt-free, electronic softener is a budget-friendly option that not only saves the life of your appliances, but it can save on energy as well. If you have a small home or apartment, tankless water heaters, or a salt-free diet, this is the softening system for you.
According to the manufacturer’s website, this unit reduces energy consumption so that you can break-even in one year. This system is cheaper than the Eddy system listed above, and they are both salt-free. If you’re looking for an unlimited warranty, however, Eddy has that while iSpring only has a one-year warranty.
Another electronic descaler on this list, the iSpring ED2000 solves hard water problems without the need for chemicals, salt, or maintenance. It also prevents the accumulation of scale inside your pipes or appliances. Keep in mind it does not remove hard minerals nor lower TDS from your water. You can also use it with PVC, PEX, or metal pipes. Despite some flaws, this unit works well and customers are happy with their (now improved) water quality.
12. Aquasana 10-Year Whole House Water Filter with Salt-Free Softener
|Design/Install:||Filtration tank | 20³ pre-filter | bend supports | shut-off valves | couplings | bend supports. Simple installation and replacement|
|Life Expectancy:||10 years|
|Performance:||Salt-free SCM technology|
With this cost-efficient and long-lasting product, you can soften water for less than one penny per gallon. With its dual-tank design, you never have to worry about regeneration.
It features one million gallons (or 10 years), and there’s no draining or back-flushing required. Prices vary depending on whether you want 5-year, 6-year, or 10-year systems, and also whether you’d like UV and Conditioners. With this system, every faucet in your house will be clean and great-tasting.
It is extremely powerful and high quality, but like all salt-free softeners, it does not eliminate the calcium & magnesium from your water. Instead, it keeps it from coating your plumbing.
The Aquasana Whole House Water Filter with Salt-Free Softener features a family-sized home design. It can remove around 97% of chlorine from tap water, 99.9% of viruses and bacteria while cutting down heavy metals and organic chemicals.
We have discussed the Aquasana brand when we presented you with our top whole house water filter picks. This unit includes carbon and KDF filtration media combined with UV purifier and Scale Control Media (SCM) salt-free technology engineered to maximize contaminant reduction while leaving good minerals in your water.
It is not a salt-based softener, but rather a complex water filtration system. Cost-efficient and long-lasting, the system would benefit from more consistent customer support. Users say it is worth the investment, as the unit improves the water quality significantly.
11. Pentair Fleck 5600sxt Upgrade High Capacity
|Material:||Brine and mineral tanks | Plastic valve|
|Design/Install:||LCD display | Touchpad controls | On-demand metered system|
|Life Expectancy:||Several years|
|Performance:||System uses a flow meter to measure water use | 10% commercial-grade resin|
|Warranty:||10-year: tanks | 5-year: valve|
The Pentair Fleck 5600 SXT Upgraded High Capacity is one of the top softener systems on the market. It features simple installation and an easy-to-use LCD control panel, which points out error codes as well as system status to keep you informed at all times. Its sleek design makes it able to fit in the smallest of places without any problems.
As a salt-using softener, the Fleck sxt uses the ion exchange process to replace the calcium and magnesium ions with salt, completely eliminating limescale. It has also been tested to run continuously for up to 27 years. Holding about 250 pounds of salt, you will hardly ever have to refill it.
If you’re looking for a high-end, sleek product that can get the job done, this is the softener for you.
“Great product, good price, smooth install this is what customers say about this system. While you should ask for a plumber’s help with the correct installation, this softener will not disappoint. It works very well and it comes with excellent customer care. Users are enthusiast about this product and for all the good reasons.
10. Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener Iron Filter Fleck 5600SXT
|Material:||Mineral and brine tanks|
|Design/Install:||Almond resin tank | Round almond brine tank with safety float | Fleck 5600SXT digital metered control | Incorporated iron filter | Standard 1³ MNPT thread for easy connection|
|Life Expectancy:||5 years|
|Performance:||Removes hardness up to 75 GPG | Removes iron up to 6-8 PPM range | Removes manganese, sediment, etc.|
|Warranty:||5-year: digital Fleck valve | 10-years: tanks|
This whole house softener comes with an incorporated iron filter, eliminating thus the scale and some heavy metals as well. The device uses a meter based regeneration process.
The Fleck SXT Digital Control is the newest controller from Fleck and is built on the tried and true 5600 valve. The system is also able to remove ferrous (clear water) iron, and some ferric iron.
Iron Pro has an impressive 64,000-grain capacity. Suitable for larger homes and families, it is capable of removing severe water hardness. The iron and manganese filtration capacity make it a good choice for well water also. It delivers soft water fast and features one of the top digital valves on the market.
Besides the great warranties for the valve and the tanks, it also comes with a 30-days satisfaction guarantee for customers’ peace of mind. According to the users’ reviews, this is a “fabulous product.
9. Watts Water Quality/Condition M7002 Flow-Pur RV-Pro 10,000 Water Softener
|Material:||1 tank | Heavy Duty Plastic|
|Design/Install:||RV water softener tank | Built-in drain line flow restrictor | Full cradle base|
|Performance:||Removes hardness up to 200 GPG|
This portable softener from Watts a reputable brand in the field of water solutions is great for RVs, small homes, and people always on the go. While it is not suitable for larger homes and families, it comes with excellent tech specs for small spaces. It uses common table salt and features 10,000-grain capacity and 1/3 cubic feet of resin, making it a fantastic product for its size. It also features high flow rates (up to 4 GPM) with insignificant pressure drops. In the package, you will also find hardness test strips. It also removes trace amounts of iron and manganese from the water.
If you encounter hard and extremely hard water during your RV travels and adventures, then this Watts softener may be the answer to all your problems. Easy to install and maintain, this small device has the impressive ability to deal with the hardest of waters. The price/value ratio is great and customers are more than enthusiastic when it comes to this product.
8. Aquasure Harmony Series Water Softener Plus Iron Removal
|Material:||Fiberglass-lined polyethylene tank|
|Design/Install:||Tank | Bypass valve | Prefilled premium-grade fine mesh resin | High Capacity Brine Tank with Overflow Regulator|
|Performance:||Removes iron up to 10 ppm|
The Aquasure Softener comes with a highly efficient digital control head that calculates the amount of water it treats and backwashes as needed. It helps you save more water and lessen the need for salt replenishment. Allowing 3 types of regeneration and featuring premium grade resin, 1 bypass valve and durable high strength corrosion resistant fiberglass lined polyethylene tank, this product deserves your attention.
Despite some challenges with the brine tank, this system is an excellent addition to a large home of up to 5 family members and 3-4 bathrooms. Built for efficiency and performance, the unit does a great job of softening your water and removing iron from it at the same time.
Its built-in advanced digital control console allows precise backwashing only when you need it, saving hundreds of gallons of water and lower the consumption of salt. Users consider the softener as an excellent investment for their homes, being more than happy with the customer support service provided by the manufacturer.
7. OneFlow + Salt-Free Scale Prevention and Water Filtration System
|Type:||Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC)|
|Design/Install:||Tank | Pressure relief valve | Included mounting bracket | Standard 1 inch NPT inlet/outlet adapters|
|Life Expectancy:||250, 000 gallons/3 years for the TAC system | 50,000 gallons for the filter|
|Performance:||Removes hardness up to 75 GPG | Removes scale, sediment, chlorine, odor, and taste|
|Warranty:||Upon manufacturer request|
The system requires no backwashing, no salt, and no electricity; it also needs very little maintenance. It reduces typical hardness problems, especially build-up of scale in heating elements, pipes, water heaters, boilers, and on fixtures. As a TAC water softener, it does not act like a traditional salt-based device.
However, it does eliminate problems from your home caused by water hardness. It also comes with pre-installed 20-micron radial flow carbon block cartridge to remove sediment, chlorine, and other water impurities. The OneFlow+ system comes with tap water safety WQA certification against the NSF/ANSI standard 372 for lead, and NSF/ANSI standards 42 and 61.
TAC technology is a good alternative to salt-based water softening. The TAC system attracts and converts hardness minerals into harmless, inactive microscopic crystal particles. They stay suspended in the water and go down the drain. According to customers using this product, the unit is a cost-effective method to prevent scaling and dealing with calcified water. It has a great positive impact on the water taste and does not harm the environment.
6. Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener Digital SXT Metered Whole House System
|Material:||Mineral and brine tanks|
|Design/Install:||Black square brine tank with safety float | Fleck 5600sxt Digital Control| 1³ male threaded yoke connection | Fleck bypass valve|
|Life Expectancy:||10 years|
|Performance:||Removes hardness up to 75 GPG | 8% cross-linked resin|
|Warranty:||5 years | 10 years for the tank|
This complete whole house water-softening unit with high-efficiency Fleck SXT Digital “On-Demand” control valve will solve all your hard water problems. The SXT controller offers some great features, including a backlit LCD display, touchpad controls, 48-hour internal power backup, and a user-friendly interface.
The tank is durable and comes with a 10-years warranty. The installation only takes 1-2 hours with some basic plumbing skills. You can install it both indoors and outdoors. It is probably the top system on the market right now, and for this reason, it got its well-deserved place as our number one pick.
This is a massive unit able to meet the needs of a large home and family. Using the tested-and-true Fleck technology and coming with an outstanding warranty, this unit is durable and built for performance. Customers say it is easy to install and maintain. The system only regenerates when you need it to, thus saving water and salt in the process.
It is one of the top – if not THE best – water softener units on the market today. It may take a while to find it, but when you do, put it on your shortlist of winners, as you will not regret having it if conventional water softeners are what you need.
5. On The Go OTG3NTP1DS Water Softener
|Design/Install:||Compact | Standard Hose Connection|
|Life Expectancy:||Several months|
|Performance:||Prevents scale build-up | Improves taste and odor|
On The Go is a popular manufacturer of water softeners, based in the United States. This model is relatively affordable and offers some great features. For example, it’s compact and can fit anywhere. Also, it’s very simple to use and prevents scale build-up. On top of that, the unit prevents stains, water spots, and directly increases the life of other appliances.
Besides quick regeneration, the unit offers a pretty nice grain capacity. You can buy the Standard version with 8000 grains, or Double Standard with 16000 grains. Also, the unit comes with inlet flow control and perfectly handles high flow rates.
4. Mobile-Soft-Water Portable 16,000 Grain (TM) Unit with Tank
|Material:||1 Tank | Heavy Duty Plastic|
|Design/Install:||GHC Tank connections|
|Performance:||Removes hardness and soluble iron|
This unit is an excellent choice if you are looking for mobility. It’s small and compact and fits almost anywhere. Also, the unit regenerates itself without electricity and is very simple to install. Besides, it perfectly removes calcium, magnesium, and most heavy metals.
Another thing to notice is that you can use this softener for vehicles. It’s perfectly suited for recreational vehicle use. With 16,000 grains capacity, it also removes total hardness and soluble iron. The unit comes with a 1-year warranty, which is decent. Most softeners have no warranty at all, so this is a nice surprise.
3. BonyTec Shower Filter Water Softener
|Design/Install:||Twist on/off shower head|
|Life Expectancy:||Replace filter every 6 months|
|Performance:||Removes heavy metals, chlorine, odor, dust, etc.|
We all know that showering with hard water can be harmful to your skin and hair. Also, most shower filters provide a slow flow rate, which prevents proper showering. However, BonyTec is one of the rare shower water softeners that do a perfect job. It’s also very affordable and lasts longer, which is a big plus.
This unit reduces and purifies the water, by removing most heavy metals, chlorine, sulfur, rust, and similar. It comes with a unique 15-stage filtration, which traps all the harmful particles. Also, it requires no tools to install; you can do it in minutes, with no DIY skills. Even if you are not satisfied, the manufacturer offers a 30-days money-back guarantee.
2. Tier1 Essential Series 32,000 Grain High-Efficiency Digital Water Softener
|Life Expectancy:||Replace filter every few months|
|Performance:||Removes sediment and prevents itchy skin|
Tier1 Store is known for its high-efficiency products, and this water softener makes no difference. It directly saves your money, while improving the effects of soaps on your skin. Also, it is relatively small and requires minimal space for proper access and installation. The unit comes with a digital meter that enhances the ease of operation, which is a big plus.
Also, each of Tier1 Store’s products is compatible with most faucets. It won’t cause you problems with the installation no matter in which area you live. The unit comes with a pre-filled brine tank, a control valve, proper water connections, and other necessary stuff.
1. Whirlpool WHES30E 30,000 Grain Softener
|Life Expectancy:||A few years|
|Performance:||Prevents buildup on plumbing|
If you live in a four-people family, this unit might be perfect for you. It is NSF-certified and removes 8ppm of iron. Besides, the unit significantly softens the water and regenerates itself during use. It automatically calculates the amount of water and salt needed for regeneration, which results in big savings in the long-term.
Also, WHES30E is made of top-quality parts and assembled in the USA. It comes with a 1-year warranty by default, and 2 years if you buy multiple bottles of unit cleanser. These are usually very affordable, which makes them a very good investment.
Water Softeners: How Do They Work?
A water softener uses chemical processes to deal with the minerals that harden your water (calcium and magnesium, mostly). The water softening system captures these molecules and replaces them with sodium chloride (salt). Then, the device flushes out the excess minerals.
Before you buy a water softener, you should know more about an essential feature you cannot disregard in your purchase decision:
- Capacity – expressed in “grains”, the number shows how many grains of hardness minerals a softener can remove before you have to regenerate it (add fresh salt pellets to the tank). The higher the number, the more long-term efficiency your softener achieves.
- Size. You should know that most softening systems are large so you need to consider their dimensions in inches and their weight as well.
- Flow rate. As opposed to whole house water filters, softeners should not interfere with your home’s flow rate. The portable softeners on this list, designed for RVs, feature specific flow rates. You should pick a softener system that preserves a home’s usual 10-15 GPM.
- Warranty. As you have seen from our article, some of the best water softeners on the market feature 5 years warranty for the valves and electronic components and 10 years for the tanks. You should look for a system that comes with a lengthy warranty certificate and excellent customer support.
These water softeners are different than descalers because softeners use salt. Water softeners are not the perfect choice if you or anyone in your family is on a salt-free diet.
- Before you buy a softener, make sure your state/city/community did not ban, restricted, or regulated these devices’ use.
Water Softeners vs. Whole House Water Filters
Most whole house water filters do not soften the water unless they come together with an attached water conditioner/softener. The two systems are different in how they work. Water softeners do not remove contaminants, pollutants, or other chemicals from your water; they just soften it.
You can find some exceptions to this rule when you look at water softeners coming together with iron filters. We have had some examples in this article as well. Iron is a problem with both city and well water lines. However, if you want to make sure there is no amount of iron dissolved in your drinking water, a softener able to remove iron and manganese is probably the perfect solution.
Softeners work most efficiently in conjunction with whole house water filters. Experts recommend you install them together as point-of-entry devices. In this way, you ensure your water on all faucets, showers, sinks, toilets, and so on is free of limescale and clean of all contaminants and impurities.
- Specialists’ advice is to test your home water with testing kits or the help of an independent laboratory. Depending on the hardness levels in your area and the types/quantities of contaminants in your water, you can make the wise choices when it comes to filtration and softening.
Water Descalers: How Do They Work?
Water descalers, or water conditioners, use physical processes to deal with hard water and limescale. They function based on electrical currents and magnetic fields to change the structure of calcium & magnesium, not remove them.
- In other words, a water descaler keeps these good minerals in the water, does not replace them with salt, but modify them so they don’t stick to pipes or any other surfaces. Because of this, technically, you will still have hard water.
In our opinion, you should choose what you think is the perfect solution for your situation. Water softeners do indeed soften the water. They eliminate the problem completely for your entire home (just like filter shower heads do for your bathroom).
- However, you need to stock on salt pellets and understand that the flushed brine from the softening system ends up in the sewer lines, posing some environmental concerns.
Water descalers are clearly more environmentally friendly, since they do not use chemicals and do not flush away water. Nevertheless, they will maintain hardness levels. The difference is that this new water won’t be as dangerous as the initial hard water.
- Descalers are also more affordable and easier to install.
Water descalers electronic or magnetic depend on a power supply, just like most appliances. If the power goes out, they will stop working. Some whole house water filters and some softeners function independently from a power source.
When it comes to their true power of removing limescale and hardness minerals, water descalers might not work if you live in an area with severe hardness levels. Nevertheless, if you live in a state or community that is now restricting the use of water softeners, a water descaler might be better choice.
What Is Salt-Free Water Softener?
A salt-free water softener is different than a regular softener. Salt-free softeners can’t use ion exchange because, for that to happen, sodium ions replace minerals like calcium and magnesium from the hard water, making it soft water.
They work by using Template Assisted Crystallization, which creates nucleation sites that trap magnesium & calcium ions and crystallize them. Water softening systems are typically better to use than salt-free water conditions because with a water softener you are physically getting rid of the calcium & magnesium ions.
With a salt-free softener, the crystals formed are still present in the water. A salt-free system can be better to use than a traditional water softener system when you’re using a tankless water heater, and the water supply in your area causes a high percentage of calcium and magnesium.
Also, salt-free systems are generally easy to maintain, good for the environment, and you can use them anywhere in your home. Finally, when choosing a salt-free system, they typically cost between $600 – $1500, so make sure it stays in that price range.
What Is Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC)?
As you have seen in our article already, we presented you with a softening unit using Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) technology. TAC, mostly like conventional softeners, uses a tank containing a granular medium. When water passes through, this medium changes the calcium and magnesium minerals from their ionic form to a crystallized form (as it happens with water descalers).
A hybrid between classic softeners and descalers, TAC filters prevent hardness minerals to attach on any surfaces. They do not require salts and pellets and need little to no maintenance. Besides the fact they do not need regeneration, they also do not require a drain to function. For this reason, TAC softeners represent an increasingly popular solution to conventional softeners.
- They are also smaller and slicker in design in comparison to softeners, eco-friendlier, and more affordable;
- There is no brine discharge or backwash with TAC softeners, which will lower your water bills in the long run;
- You don’t need to clean them as frequently as you have to maintain conventional softeners.
- One of their major disadvantages is that they are vulnerable to manganese, iron, and other sediments. You should configure a system featuring a TAC softener, a sediment pre-filter, or a whole house water filter that protects the TAC tank as well.
What Is a Dual Tank Water Softener?
Dual tank water softening systems are perfect to have when your water softening system is charging, and therefore, unusable. If it’s unusable, then hard water is typically coming out of your water supply. Dual tank water softening systems keep this water out of your household by making sure that one water softener is always on.
Because dual tank softening systems are larger than regular water softeners, be mindful of how much space you have to allocate for it. Ensure there is an excellent warranty for the softener, but they should typically reduce water hardness levels effectively for 20 years.
Reverse Osmosis Water Filters vs. Water Softeners
Many people believe that reverse osmosis filters will solve all their water problems. However, the fact that you have an RO system in your home does not fully eliminate the problem of hard water. In fact, using an RO filter to remove the hardness minerals will only produce moderate improvements in your water quality.
The most effective combination you can configure for your home is to use a water softener, followed by a reverse osmosis water filter. The latter can remove up to 98% of the sodium left in the water by the softening process. In this way, you can eliminate the debate or concerns regarding the safety of drinking softened water.
Water Softeners Buyers Guide
When choosing the right water softener, you need to optimize the cost, maintenance, and shelf-life to minimize the hardness of water that enter your water supply. To do that, you first need to dig into the size & features of them.
The way water softeners are sold is by their grain capacity or the number of grain they can remove from hard water before the next generation cycle.
- The general rule of thumb to determine the grain capacity you need from your softener is to multiply the number of people who live in your home by 75 (amount of gallons per person per day), again multiplied by the number of grains per gallon of minerals in your hard water.
Let’s say, for example, you live in a household of 6 people, and the grains per gallon of minerals in your water is 12, you need a water softener that has a capacity of 5,400 minerals per day.
Features of a Water Softener
When determining the features for the water softener, see how long each cycle would last, how to control it, and how much water and salt is needed while it recharges.
Some softeners have timer controls that charge it at any time you configure it to load. It can sometimes be a waste because you may not need charging at that time, so make sure the way you set it is when it actually needs to get charged.
- If you want an option for a water softener that can detect when to charge, get a demand-initiated regeneration softener.
- These are typically more expensive, and either use a physical meter or electronically identify whether the system needs charging.
Once you’ve determined what size and features you need, you’re finally brought to the question of renting or buying a water softener.
- If you wanted to rent, you’d pay about $15 – $50 per month. If you wanted to buy, you’d typically pay around $150 per year for materials, and $400-$2,500 on the physical water softener.
It really depends on whether you will be at home for the long-term or short-term. In the long-term, purchasing over renting is more economical.
Which Water Softener Is the Best?
There is no way to objectively tell you which system is best because it depends on so many factors, like your budget, the length of time you’re staying in the home, how much grain capacity you need, and more.
In this article, though, we went with the Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener Digital SXT Metered Whole House System. Its lifetime expectancy is super high, you are maximizing soft water without wasting resources, and it’s a great size that can fit in most households with no problem.
Water Softener: FAQs
When it comes to calculating what water softener capacity, you need in your home, start with the number of people living in the household. Multiply this number with 80 (the average daily water consumption per person in gallons). Then, multiply this number with the hardness grains of your water (after you tested it) to learn how many grains of hardness your water softener should remove each day
Water descalers and conditioners, together with TAC softeners are effective in eliminating the limescale issues of your home. They are not effective, however, in removing the hardness minerals of your water. As we said above, such devices only change the structure of the minerals. On the other hand, salt-free softeners are smaller, eco-friendlier, and a lot cheaper.
The most effective way to get rid of hard water is with a water softener or descaler. With the above reviews about the best water softener systems, you’ll have a greater understanding of what to look for. Most of them may be expensive, but softening the water is worth it in the end, especially if you have the top system on the market. For an even better quality of your water try a home water filtration system as well.