Hard water can be a hassle to deal with. It's rough on your hair and skin, and it can make it difficult to get your clothes and dishes clean. Plus, hard water can cause problems with your plumbing and appliances.
If you're tired of dealing with hard water, a water softener may be the solution. Water softeners can extend the life of your electronics, make water easier on your skin and hair, and make cleaning and doing dishes easier.
Water softeners used to be seen as a luxury, but they are now more affordable and accessible. There are options available to fit most budgets, so you can find a water softener that works for you and your family.
If you're considering getting a water softener, check out our list of the best water softeners on the market in 2023. We've researched and compiled a list of the top options to help you find the perfect water softener for your needs.
The Best Water Softeners of 2023
- 48,000-64000 grain capacity
- Suitable for family homes
- Requires less maintenance
- Excellent 64,000 grain capacity (medium to large homes)
- One-demand system with LCD touch display
- Requires low maintenance
- Designed for medium and large homes
- Unit offers DIY installation kit
- 6-months money back warranty
- Travel friendly
- Uses table salt
- Easy to use & install
- Suitable for households (30,000 grains)
- Easy to clean
- Excellent 1, 4 & 10 years warranty
- Retains healthy minerals in water
- Energy efficient
- Best for skin and plumbing appliances
- Extends life of your plumbing appliances
- Delicious water with all essential minerals
- Risk-free 365 days warranty (money back)
- Whole house capacity (64,000 grain)
- Digital metering
- Neither wastes salt nor water
- Excellent 600,000 and 1,000,000 gallon capacity
- Low upkeep
- Removes 99% of contaminants
- Expensive ($$$)
- Suitable for medium-sized homes (48,000 grain)
- Digital control panel
- Easily customizable
When it comes to water softeners, we're playing hardball. Here are the best water softeners on the market.
1. SoftPro® Elite – Best for City Water
The SoftPro® Elite is a top-of-the-range water softener that is assembled in the US. It's designed to soften water for the entire home and can handle even the hardest city water, such as that found in much of the central US. This water softener is ideal for a family home.
- Extremely efficient – using less salt and less water than most competitors
- State of the art upflow regeneration system
- Comes with a water report
- Suitable for family homes
- The initial expense should quickly be counteracted by long term savings
- You may need professional help to install the SoftPro Elite if you aren’t handy
The SoftPro® Elite is a high-efficiency water softener that uses 64% less water than similar models, saving an average of 4,000 gallons of water per year. It's an ion exchange softener that uses salt, but its design includes an elite upflow regeneration system, which means it regenerates quickly and fully while using less salt.
When you purchase a SoftPro® Elite, you'll receive a free water analysis report to help you set your new softener for perfectly soft water throughout your home. While it's a big ticket item, you can save money by purchasing directly from the manufacturer. The savings from not having to deal with the costs of washing and heating with hard water will offset the purchase after a couple of years.
The SoftPro® Elite is a great option for larger homes or active families who use a lot of water. It can help solve hard water issues and improve water quality.
2. Durawater Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener System – Best For High Water Consumption
The Durawater Fleck 5600SXT is available in a range of grain capacities from 24 to 64k, making it easy to find a water softening system that works for your home. When making a big purchase, it's important to consider future proofing. If you anticipate your family growing in the next few years, it may be wise to choose a high grain capacity to ensure your water softener can meet your needs.
Prices for water softeners generally increase as the grain capacity increases. To get the best price, consider purchasing directly from the manufacturer, as they often offer deep discounts.
The Durawater Fleck 5600SXT is an on-demand, metered water softener that can adjust the volume of softened water and regeneration as needed, such as during high water usage periods. Otherwise, it will only use the necessary amount of water and salt to meet normal usage levels, saving you money and reducing maintenance.
In the event that something goes wrong with the Durawater Fleck 5600SXT, the advanced metering system provides diagnostic capabilities to quickly identify and fix the issue.
If you have a large household and need a water softener that can keep up with your demand, the Durawater Fleck 5600SXT may be a good option to consider. It is a higher-priced choice, but it delivers performance that matches its cost.
3. FutureSoft® FS1 – Best For Large Homes
The FutureSoft® FS1 is an advanced salt-less system that performs as well as a good ion exchange water softener. It's suitable for softening the water in a medium to large home, causing no drop in pressure.
The FutureSoft® FS1 system is an efficient and environmentally-friendly solution for eliminating 99.7% of scale in your water. It not only extends the life of your appliances but also makes cleaning with water more enjoyable. Additionally, it doesn't waste water or discharge brine into the water supply, saving both the environment and your wallet.
It's worth noting that the FutureSoft® FS1 system is expensive. However, it's a fantastic option if you need to avoid salt and don't want to use electricity around your water supply. Plus, the 6-month no questions asked money back guarantee allows you to purchase with confidence.
If you're looking to avoid salt in your water supply and the water wastage that comes with salt-based ion exchange systems, the FutureSoft® FS1 system is likely the best choice on the market for you.
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4. Quantum Water Softener AR2 – Best For Minimal Salt Consumption
The Quantum Water Softener AR2 has a grain capacity ranging from 32000 to 64000, making it suitable for any household.
- Capacity up to 96000 grains
- Super efficiency – 75% less salt and 64% water savings
- Long term it’ll be great on your monthly water bill
- Additional filtering add-ons are an option
- High price point
- The add-ons also cost a few bucks, making the complete system out of reach for most budgets
The Quantum Water Softener AR2 brings smart technology to the water softening industry with its in-built computer system. This allows for a customized system of regeneration that is highly efficient and produces consistently pure water.
The Quantum Water Softener AR2 boasts impressive savings, including 75% less salt and 64% less water usage compared to traditional models. These efficiency improvements lead to a 68% reduction in running costs for the softener. However, the initial high price tag may take some time to recoup these savings.
One unique feature of the Quantum Water Softener AR2 is its smart recharging system. If the capacity falls below 3%, the system will initiate a mini-recharge to ensure that you never run out of soft water. Additionally, optional water filters, including reverse osmosis, can produce bottled-quality drinking water, but these come at an additional cost.
The Quantum Water Softener AR2 has a user-friendly design that makes installation and maintenance easy. It also comes with a 7-year warranty for added peace of mind.
5. Fleck 2510SXT – Best For Off-Grid Water Supplies
The Fleck 2510SXT water softener is designed specifically for use with well water. It's also effective at reducing iron levels to provide your family with high-quality drinking water in an off-grid setup.
The Fleck 2510SXT has a grain capacity of up to 64000, making it suitable for most hard water areas. It can also reduce iron levels by 3 PPM, making it a good choice for well water.
If iron is a major concern in your area, an upgraded iron filter can remove up to 30 PPM. The Fleck 2510SXT offers packages targeting specific contaminants, such as sulfur and heavy metals. These customized packages may be more expensive, but they offer a tailored solution for your needs.
In terms of flow rate, the Fleck 2510SXT offers three options ranging from 6 GPM to 11+. This ensures that you won't experience a loss of pressure in your plumbing.
Installing the Fleck 2510SXT can be a bit complicated, and the instructions may not be clear. However, the company's customer service is available to assist with any issues.
6. On The Go OTG4-DBL – Best Portable Water Softener
The On The Go OTG4-DBL is a portable water softener designed for use in RVs, motor homes, trailers, and tiny homes. It's the largest compact water softener model available on the market.
The On The Go OTG4-DBL produces twice as much softened water as its competitors. It uses common table salt for regeneration, which is cost-effective and easy to find. Two boxes of salt are enough to get you started. Regeneration takes about 30 minutes and the water softener can run for 40 days or 1600 gallons of softened water.
One of the benefits of the On The Go OTG4-DBL is its compact, space-saving design. It requires no tools for installation and no electricity to run, making it suitable for outdoor settings like RV parks. It can also be used indoors as long as the water demand is not too high.
The On The Go OTG4-DBL is designed with travel in mind. It has a carry handle, a wide mouth for easy salt refills, and a no-spills cap and plug.
Overall, the On The Go OTG4-DBL is a simple but effective water softener. It is user-friendly and gets the job done with minimal hassle. If you need a water softener for travel or a small home, the On The Go OTG4-DBL is a great option.
7. Whirlpool WHES30E – Best Easy to Use and Install
The Whirlpool WHES30E water softener is a great choice for small to medium households. It has a capacity of 30,000 grains and can soften and remove iron from the water. This model is suitable for households of up to four people. If you've a larger family, Whirlpool also offers other water softener options.
The Whirlpool WHES30E not only softens water, but it also removes up to 8ppm of iron.
This water softener helps you save both salt and water by regenerating only when necessary. If you use less water because some family members are away, the softener will regenerate less often. If you have more water usage due to family visits or a big spring clean, the Whirlpool WHES30E can keep up with the demand.
The Whirlpool WHES30E features easy-to-program electronics, making it user-friendly. Plus, all units come with a 1, 3, and 10 year warranty on parts and labor, electronics, and tanks, respectively. This is impressive given the affordability of the softener.
If you want a whole-house softener for a small or medium-sized household, but don't want to spend a lot, consider the Whirlpool WHES30E. It's user-friendly and a great first water softener for a younger family.
7. iSpring ED2000 – Best For Small Homes
The iSpring ED2000 is a unique water softener. It effectively addresses most hard water issues.
The iSpring ED2000 is a salt-free water softener that uses electromagnetic waves to break down minerals in hard water, resulting in softer water that is easier on your skin and extends the life of your appliances. This system is a good choice for those on a sodium-restricted diet or for homes where soft water may leach metals from old pipes.
One potential issue with the iSpring ED2000 is that it may not work as effectively in water with high iron content. Additionally, the effects of the system are temporary, which means that larger homes may require multiple units.
Despite these limitations, iSpring estimates that the cost savings from softer water and reduced appliance maintenance can pay for the ED2000 model within a year. Plus, a portion of iSpring's profits go to water access charities.
If you're looking to avoid sodium in your water supply, the iSpring ED2000 water descaler system is worth considering.
8. YARNA Capacitive CWD24 – Best Budget
The YARNA Capacitive CWD24 looks more like it belongs in a computer store than a DIY store. However, it offers excellent salt-less water descaling at a reasonable price.
- Excellent value for money
- Very easy to install
- State of the art technology
- No upkeep, no sodium
- If you want softened rather than conditioned water, this isn’t the product for you
- The Yarna can take a little while to show results if there is already extensive limescale buildup in your plumbing
The YARNA Capacitive CWD24 uses electrical impulses to break up limescale, protecting your home and appliances. It conditions the water rather than softening it, so it still contains magnesium and calcium.
Installation is easy and no plumbing knowledge is required. The YARNA Capacitive CWD24 simply wraps around your existing pipes. One unit is sufficient for a large family home.
YARNA offers a 365-day risk-free trial, during which you can claim a refund if you're not satisfied with the product.
If you want an alternative to salt-based water softeners, the YARNA Capacitive CWD24 is a good option. It doesn't add sodium to your water and may be more cost-effective.
9. Iron Pro 2 Fleck 5600SXT – Best For Removing Iron
The Iron Pro 2 Fleck 5600SXT is another great value water softener. In addition to softening the water, it also removes iron from your water supply. With a 64,000 grain capacity, it's suitable for softening the water for a whole large house.
The Iron Pro 2 Fleck 5600SXT is a high-flow water softener that can cater to a whole large house. It removes up to 75 GPG of hardness, up to 6-8 ppm of iron, manganese up to 6 ppm, sediment, sand, and rust. It comes with a five-year warranty.
One of the standout features of the Iron Pro 2 Fleck 5600SXT is its affordable price compared to many competitors. It also has an excellent digital metered control head, which looks and works like it belongs on a more expensive water softener. The control head manages regeneration, ensuring the system only regenerates when necessary to conserve salt and water.
If you need a reliable, good value water softener for a whole house, the Iron Pro 2 Fleck 5600SXT may be a great option for you. Its ability to remove iron, manganese, and other contaminants is an added bonus.
10. AquaSana EQ-1000-AST-UV – Best Filter + Softener
The AquaSana water filter system is available in two models: the 600,000-gallon model and the 1,000,000-gallon model. It's called the EQ-1000-AST-UV.
The AquaSana EQ-1000-AST-UV and the Rhino are both whole-home water filtration systems that are plumbed in at the point of entry from the mains. The AquaSana system uses template assisted crystallisation for water conditioning, while the Rhino uses bacteriostatic materials to triple filter the water through a pre-filter and two carbon media filters, removing 99% of contaminants.
The AquaSana EQ-1000-AST-UV is an add-on to the water filter system and is designed to extend the life of plumbing and appliances while avoiding potentially unhealthy additions to the water supply. While the AquaSana system is one of the most expensive options for water softening, it is also one of the most comprehensive. However, the Rhino requires minimal upkeep, saving you time and money in the long run compared to competitors.
If you want a comprehensive water treatment system with all the bells and whistles and are willing to pay for it, the AquaSana EQ-1000-AST-UV filter system might be a good choice for you.
11. Tier1 Essential Series – Best High Efficiency
This mid-range water softener is suitable for medium-sized homes. It's easy to install and includes a manual bypass valve for easy maintenance.
The Tier1 Essential Series water softener is designed with ease of use in mind. It features a digital interface that allows you to set your desired water hardness level. With a grain capacity of 48,000, this system is suitable for a family of four and only requires regeneration every few days.
Regeneration is automatic and metered, so you don't have to worry about scheduling it. Unlike some more expensive systems, the Tier1 Essential Series is not reactive, so you may need to adjust the regeneration times during periods of high water usage.
This water softener also comes with a US-based support team that is available to answer customer queries and address any issues.
The Benefits of Using a Water Softener
Here are the potential benefits of using a water softener:
Improved Water Quality
Hard water contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium that give it a metallic or bitter taste. A water softener removes these minerals to provide softer, smoother, and cleaner-tasting water.
Increased Lifespan of Appliances
Hard water can cause limescale build-up on appliances, reducing their efficiency and lifespan. This build-up occurs when hard water comes into contact with heat. A water softener removes the minerals that cause limescale, extending the life of appliances such as washing machines, water heaters, and dishwashers.
Reduced Soap and Detergent Use
Hard water interferes with the ability of soap and detergent to lather and clean effectively, requiring more to be used. A water softener removes the minerals that cause this interference, allowing soap and detergent to work more efficiently and requiring less to be used.
Improved Hair and Skin Health
Hard water strips hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry and lifeless, and can cause skin irritation and dryness due to its high mineral content. A water softener removes these minerals, improving the feel and appearance of hair and reducing skin irritation.
Easier Cleaning and Laundry
Hard water can leave soap scum on surfaces and cause laundry to appear dingy and discolored. A water softener removes the minerals that cause these issues, making cleaning easier and improving the appearance of laundry.
Reduced Plumbing Issues
Limescale build-up in pipes can restrict water flow and increase the risk of plumbing issues such as clogged pipes or leaks. A water softener removes the minerals that cause limescale, helping to prevent this build-up and improve water flow.
Find the Perfect Water Softener for Your Home: A Comprehensive Buyer's Guide
Before we delve into the key factors to consider when choosing a water softener, it's important to understand the different types of water softeners available:
Explore Your Options: The Different Types of Water Softeners
There are three types of water softeners:
1. Ion Exchange
Ion exchange systems are usually suitable for most households and provide high flow rates. Ion exchange systems work by exchanging the minerals that cause water hardness (such as calcium and magnesium) with softer minerals (such as sodium) which may not be suitable for those on low-sodium diets. Ion exchange water softeners require a salt supply to regenerate the resin beads that perform the exchange.
2. Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC)
TAC water softeners are a type of salt-free water softener that reduces the effect of hard water rather than exchanging minerals. However, they may not be as effective at reducing water hardness as ion exchange water softeners but only prevent future limescale. Many TAC systems come with multi-stage filters for taste, smell, and contaminants such as chlorine and heavy metals.
Electromagnetic water softeners use an electric current to generate pulses that alter the structure of minerals which causes water hardness. As a result, these minerals are less able to bind to surfaces. Since they don't require salt or chemicals, electromagnetic water softeners are an eco-friendly option and are also known as “salt-free water softeners.”
However, it's worth noting that these systems may not be as effective at reducing water hardness as ion exchange water softeners and may not be suitable for very hard water.
The specific functioning of electromagnetic systems may vary by unit and manufacturer, as they are often controlled by patented computer chips. Like TAC systems, they don't remove minerals from the water supply, which may be beneficial as the body requires magnesium and calcium for various functions such as bone and joint health, nerve health, and more.
Don't Miss These Key Factors When Selecting a Water Softener
Before shopping for a water softener, it's important to consider several key factors to ensure that you choose the system that's best suited for your needs.
The first and most important factor to consider is the hardness of your water. Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon (GPG) and is determined by the concentration of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, in your water. The higher the GPG, the harder your water is.
For example, if your water has a GPG of 15, it's considered moderately hard. In this case, you may want to consider a water softener with a higher capacity to effectively soften the water in your home.
To determine the hardness of your water, you can have your water tested by a professional or use a water test kit.
In addition to hardness, you should consider other aspects of your water quality, such as pH level and the presence of toxic contaminants. Some water softeners are designed to address specific water quality issues, such as chlorine, magnesium, iron or sulfur.
For example, if your water has a high pH level and is prone to scaling, you may want to consider a water softener with an acid neutralizer to address these issues.
Types of Water Sources
It's important to consider the type of water source when choosing a water softener, as different water softeners are designed for specific types of water sources, such as city water or well water.
For instance, if well water is your concern, Consider our list of water softeners specifically designed for well water.
Size and Capacity
Consider the size of your home and the amount of water usage when choosing a water softener. For instance, if you've got a large family or a home with high water usage, you may want to consider a water softener with a capacity of at least 48,000 grains.
Ion exchange and TAC water softening systems can typically cover a medium to large home, but the exact specifications of each softener should be considered. Electromagnetic systems may need to be used in pairs for larger homes.
A bypass valve allows you to move water from your plumbing past the water softener, which can be useful when you don't need your water softened (e.g., for yard work or car washing). This can also help you use water more efficiently and potentially lower your water bill.
Just like other electric appliances, some water softeners are more energy efficient than others. So, Choose a water softener that's energy efficient to save on energy bills.
Installation and Maintenance
The installation and maintenance requirements for water softeners vary by brand and type. Some systems may require professional installation, and attempting DIY installation may void the warranty. Other systems may be easy to install and require little maintenance.
For example, if you're not comfortable with DIY projects, you may want to consider a water softener that can be easily installed by a professional. Alternatively, if you don't want to worry about ongoing maintenance, you may want to consider a water softener with low maintenance requirements, such as a salt-free system.
Price and Budget
The cost of a water softener can vary widely depending on the size and type of system you choose. Ion exchange water softeners can cost up to four or five times more than simple, easy-to-install electromagnetic water conditioners.
Ion exchange water softeners, which are the most common type, generally range in price from $400 to $5,000 or more, depending on the size and features of the system. Electromagnetic water softeners tend to be less expensive, with prices ranging from $100 to $1,000 or more. Reverse osmosis water softeners are typically the most expensive option, with prices ranging from $400 to $1,500 or more.
In addition to upfront cost, there's an ongoing cost: If you choose to go with ion exchange water softeners, you'll need to provide a consistent salt supply to make it work efficiently. The amount of salt will depend on the size of the system and the frequency of regeneration but cost you anywhere between $5 to $40 or more per month.
However, if you're on a tight budget, you may want to consider a water softener that is more affordable, such as an electronic descaler. However, keep in mind that while a cheaper option may be more budget-friendly upfront, it may not necessarily be the best value in the long run.
Warranty and customer support
Look for a water softener with a strong warranty and good customer support to ensure you can easily resolve any issues or water softener problems that may arise.
Some water softeners allow you to customize the settings, such as the regeneration cycle or the amount of salt used. Consider whether these customization options are important to you when choosing a water softener.
Water Softener FAQs
Are you interested in learning more about water softeners? Here are some common questions people have about these devices:
What Size Of Water Softener Do I Need?
To determine the size of water softener you need, consider the hardness of the water in your area and the water consumption in your home. Water is considered hard when it has a high mineral content, usually measured in grains per gallon (GPM). A level of 5 GPM or higher is considered hard, and some areas in the United States have water with a GPM of 10-20.
For a family of five living in an area with moderately hard water, a water softener with a capacity of 32,000 grains should be sufficient. However, a capacity of 64,000 grains may be necessary in areas with very hard water. On the other hand, a single-person household may only need a water softener with a capacity of 16,000 grains to address hard water issues.
How Long Does A Water Softener Last?
A water softener, with proper care and maintenance, can last for over 10 years and up to 15 years. Salt-based water softeners tend to have a lifespan of 15 years, while salt-free systems, such as electronic descalers, can last up to 20 years or more. It's important to take care of your water softener to ensure a longer lifespan.
How Do You Clean A Water Softener?
To keep your water softener functioning properly, you should regularly add salt to the brine tank. Check the brine tank at least once a month.
There are three elements of a salt-based water softener that may need occasional cleaning:
1. The brine tank should be cleaned out.
2. The resin bed should be cleaned regularly, especially if your water has a high iron content.
3. The resin tank injector should be cleaned.
Salt can sometimes build up and form a salt bridge in the brine tank, which can prevent the softener from working efficiently. If this happens, you'll need to break down the bridge and clean the brine tank.
What Are The Signs Of A Good Water Softener?
Efficiency is an important factor when choosing a water softener. Salt-based water softeners use salt to soften the water, but they also produce some amount of wastewater. High-efficiency water softeners, on the other hand, use 75% less salt and produce only ⅓ the wastewater of regular models.
How Much Salt Do Water Softeners Add?
Water softeners work by swapping sodium for the minerals that cause water hardness. The amount of salt added to the water depends on the initial water hardness. For most people, the amount of sodium added by a water softener is minimal. Even in areas with extremely hard water, a water softener will add approximately 500mg of sodium to every gallon of water. This equates to around 35mg of sodium per glass of water, which is less than half the amount of salt in a serving of ketchup. Unless you follow a low sodium diet, the sodium added by your water softener should not be a concern.
Will Water Softeners Increase My Water Bill?
Salt-based water softeners create wastewater and can increase your water bill. They may also use up to 20 gallons of water per day during the regeneration process.
On the other hand, salt-free systems like electronic descalers do not produce any wastewater and will not affect your water bill. However, they may contribute slightly to your electricity bill.
Can Reverse Osmosis Soften Water?
Reverse osmosis removes impurities, including minerals like calcium and magnesium that cause hard water. However, reverse osmosis is not designed to soften water. In fact, hard water can damage a reverse osmosis membrane, reducing its lifespan. If you want to use reverse osmosis, it's a good idea to install a pre-filter water softener.
Why Is Hard Water Bad?
Hard water contains minerals that can clog pipes and appliances, leading to reduced efficiency and increased appliance replacement costs. Additionally, the minerals in hard water can cause dryness and irritation on the skin, and showering in hard water can damage hair by stripping it of essential oils. Although hard water is not harmful to health, it can still be a nuisance in the home.
Do I Need A Water Softener?
It's highly likely that you need a water softener if you live in an area with hard water. Approximately 85% of Americans live in areas with hard water. If the mineral content in your water exceeds around 7 grains per gallon, a water softener can significantly improve the quality of your water.
There really is something for everyone on this list of water softeners.
Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener System is my pick for the best all-around option on this list of water softeners. Its high capacity makes it suitable for larger homes with high water consumption, and it even has built-in diagnostics to ensure the water quality is pure.
For those who prioritize efficiency, whether, for financial or environmental reasons, the SoftPro Elite High-Efficiency City Water Softener is a top choice. It uses almost two-thirds less water than other options, which can save money on monthly water bills.
If you're interested in a salt-free option, consider the FutureSoft® Water Softener. It uses template assisted crystallization and is surprisingly affordable for a modern solution. While salt-free systems don't soften water as effectively as ion exchange systems, they do leave minerals in the water and are a good choice for those on a low-sodium diet.
For those on a tight budget, the iSpring ED2000 is a budget-friendly option. It's an electronic descaler that's much cheaper than salt-based systems and can effectively address hard water issues.
Overall, this list of the ten best water softeners offers a range of options for different needs and budgets.
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