Imagine if you never had to think about water quality again…
You could just turn the faucet, and trust that the water coming out was going to taste crisp and clean, clear of contaminants.
Or you could step under the shower and enjoy smooth, soft water nourishing your skin and hair.
Sure, you could buy a ton of filter systems. Install one in your faucet, on your countertop, under your sink, and in your showerhead…
Or you could just get a whole house water filter and softener combo. It’s the one-stop shop for pure water solutions.
Whole house water filters are popular, but because of the specific challenges around tackling hard water, they aren’t able to soften water. And hard water is a scourge across the United States – 85% of residents have hard water in their homes.
Adding a water softener to your whole house system doesn’t just protect your pipes and appliances, or your skin and hair, from the hard water compounds. It also preserves the lifespan of your whole house filter.
It makes a lot of sense to buy a combination unit – but of course, these are a big investment too. So you’ll want to be sure you find the right one for your home.
Whether you’ve got money to burn or a tighter budget, whether you’re off the grid drawing well-water or a city slicker looking for slicker water, we’ve got the whole house water filter and softener combo for you.
Let’s dive in.
The Best Whole House Water Filter And Softener Combos In 2022
We’re talking about the whole shebang here. Multi-stage filtering and water softening, combined. Here are the best whole house water filter and softener combos of 2022.
1. Springwell Water Filter and Salt Based Water Softener System – Best For City And Municipal Water Supply
Springwell’s a household name in the water filter business and your whole house will be in safe hands with this combo filter and softener system.
- 1,000,000 gallon capacity
- Flow rate can be customized for up to 7+ bathrooms
- 4 stages of filtration
- Upgrade with optional UV and Reverse Osmosis stages
- Bluetooth head with app integration
- Solid filter lifespan
- A pretty pricey unit to begin with – and then you look at the upgrades!
- Installation requires additional attachments and fixings
The system combines four-stage filtering to eliminate a wide range of contaminants with a salt-based ion-exchange softener. The softener stage is tactically placed between the first and second stages of filtering: a KDF media removes chlorine that could damage your softener before the softening stage strips out compounds that will undermine the following filter stages.
The following three stages of filtering include a catalytic carbon media, a stage to channel water through the filters for greater efficacy, and then a 5-micron filtering membrane that strips out any final particles.
It’s a smart system and will maximize the lifespan of your filters – indeed, the 5-micron sediment filters should only need to be changed every six months at most.
You also have the optional upgrades to consider: a UV purification stage and a Reverse Osmosis filter. Because RO removes sodium from your water, it can be paired with a salt-based softener if you’re worried about salt.
So it’s a pretty customizable system – and it can be upsized for any home. The flow rate starts at 9 GPM, recommended for households with three bathrooms. But you can upgrade capacity here also, up to a whopping 20 GPM.
The low-maintenance system only requires intermittent filter changes and a Bluetooth head unit lets you program your softener to a tee – helping you reduce wastewater and limit cleaning.
That will appeal to those who like their water filters hands-off, but it’s also easy to install for the DIY-savvy.
2. Springwell Well Water Filter and Salt Based Water Softener – Best For Off-Grid Water Supply
Springwell’s well water filter has many of the benefits of its whole-house system for city water with the added bonus of common well water contaminants being targetted. It’s a great choice for those living off-grid with unique filtering requirements.
- Built to target well water contaminants
- Air Injection Oxidizing filter has an unlimited lifespan
- Low maintenance and easy installation
- Option for adding UV and RO filter stages
- Lifetime warranty
- Painfully expensive even before the add-ons
- For well water, UV becomes more essential and it’s not included in the base price
For the filter stage, Springwell’s system targets iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide – tackling these contaminants at up to 8ppm, 7ppm, and 1ppm respectively. It works through an Air Injection Oxidizing Filter (AIO) method – introducing oxygen to the contaminant molecules to oxidize them and then flush them out.
For the compounds mentioned, there’s no more effective system. But the absence of activated carbon and sediment filtering membrane means some other common contaminants might slip through. Fortunately, you’ve got the option of UV purification to eliminate microbiological menaces and an RO membrane. But they come at an extra cost.
The softener stage utilizes Springwell’s efficient and effective ion exchange technology – and the Bluetooth head gives you complete control over regeneration cycles, all from the app on your smart device.
There’s a customizable flow rate depending on the size of your home – starting at 11 GPM and shooting up to 20. That means you don’t need to spend more money on a larger system that you don’t use to its full capacity.
And there’s no long-term maintenance cost either, besides the sodium you feed the softener.
Handy types will find installation a breeze, and even if you’re not minded towards DIY it can still be tackled with patience and the right tool as Springwell’s installation guide is thorough and comprehensible.
3. Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener System – Best Efficient Salt-Based Softener In A Whole House System
When you bundle Fleck’s 5600SXT water softener with their impeccable filter systems, you’ve got a whole-house water filter and softener than can handle any contaminant you throw at it.
The softener itself is built on a salt-based system. It’s incredibly easy to use and, when you opt for Fleck’s upgraded 10% resin it’s one of the most efficient systems on the market. That means big savings in both sodium and water waste.
The softener comes with a digital interface giving you complete control over the system at the touch of a button. The smart regeneration process adjusts automatically to reduce salt consumption and water waste, while a whole range of settings allow you to customize your cycles to your water usage pattern.
And because you’re bundling Fleck’s filters and softeners, you can choose a combination perfectly suited to your water supply. The chlorine filter improves the taste of your water while the RO filter option completely eliminates a wide range of contaminants – including fluoride.
And a KDF media gives you the option of tackling heavy metals like lead and mercury.
It’s a build-your-own system, bespoke for your needs. But it’s not cheap to combine these filters and if you’re going for the full package it’ll stretch most budgets.
As a bonus, Fleck has thrown in free installation. That’s going to give you greater peace of mind about your system functioning exactly as it should.
4. SoftPro® Elite – Best Value For Iron Removal And Water Softening
SoftPro has been at the top of the water softening game for a while – expect cutting-edge technology and robust design.
This integrated softener with an iron filter is perfect for well water and, if you take the basic package, it offers great value as well.
Because SoftPro is known for its water softeners, let’s check that out first. With up to 80,000 grain capacity, this can handle anything your water supply brings in. It’s fully programmable and super-efficient, using smart technology to self-calculate the optimal brine levels so you never use more salt than you need to – it can save over 650lbs of salt a year.
The digital display gives you an intuitive control panel to access all the features, including Vacation Mode and Auto Refresh so you never run out of water. And the Smart Clean technology keeps the system in tip-top condition so you don’t need to get on your hands and knees!
The basic package will take iron out of your well water at up to 3ppm – while other systems advertise greater capacity, there’s no point splashing out on a bigger system if you don’t need it and the SoftPro elite offers unimpeachable value for iron filtering and softening.
Plus you have the upgrades: water ionizing for alkaline water, a KDF filter, and UV purification. Although the cost adds up, SoftPro has an answer to every contaminant question you might pose.
The flow rate varies considerably depending on the filters you add and your own well pump’s capacity, but it shouldn’t fall below 10 GPM. Bigger households will want to assess their water consumption before buying, however.
SoftPro recommends professional installation for this – and that comes at an extra cost. But you’ll notice the impact on your water bills almost immediately, so consider it an investment.
5. Aquasana EQ-1000-AST-UV-AMZN – Best Salt-Free Softener In A Whole-House System
While ion-exchange water softeners are prevalent in combination with whole-house systems, we don’t all love the idea of adding salt to our diet. And the ion exchange process, no matter how efficient, creates some amount of wastewater adding to your monthly outgoings.
So you should definitely consider Aquasana’s Whole House System with the salt-free descaler for water softening. The electronic descaler sends electrical pulses through your water, not removing the hard-water compounds but rendering them unable to attach themselves to your pipes and appliances.
As well as a low-maintenance descaler, the system packs in a powerful UV purification system with a 1,000,000 gallon capacity. This system removes 99.99% of viruses and bacteria, 97% of chlorine, and reduces lead, mercury, VOCs, and pesticides: it’s full spectrum filtering.
Additionally, the pre and post-filtering stages capture sediment and ensure your filtering stages are working at 100%.
The descaler component is a great low-maintenance component and, aside from occasional pre and post-filter changes the whole system is very hands-off.
The maximum flow rate is 7 GPM, something that larger families may struggle with. You can improve your flow rate with frequent replacement of the pre and post-filters, but for homes with more than two bathrooms that may still fall short.
Installation is best left to the professionals for this one, but with brass fixtures the whole system is built robustly. No wonder Aquasana feels confident about guaranteeing 10 years of use.
Buying Guide: How To Choose Your Perfect Whole House Water Filter And Softener Combo
A combo whole-house and softener water filter is a big purchase in many ways. Not only are these grand systems going to take up some serious space in your basement or utility room, but they’re going to put a big dent into your bank balance too!
So it pays to be prepared.Here’s everything you should know about these amazing combo water filter systems. Let’s find out how to make the right choice for your home.
Salt-Based or Salt-Free Softeners
One big difference between systems is if the water softener is using a salt-based or salt-free system.
Salt-free systems don’t actually soften your water: the magnesium and calcium molecules remain in your water, but the system neutralizes them with a zap of electricity. The hard compounds in your water become inert and unable to bond with your plumbing and appliances – and will be safely sent down the drain.
While salt-free systems aren’t as effective at softening your water as salt-based ion-exchange systems, they’re cheaper and if you’re worried about the added sodium in your water supply they give you a great plan B.
They’re also super low maintenance because there’s no filter media or resin to replace!
Salt-based systems use an ion-exchange process to eradicate the hard compounds from your water supply, giving you truly soft water. They’re exceptionally effective at softening water and will give your home the ultimate protection.
However, they’re a little more costly to purchase and require some degree of maintenance including the occasional clean-out. And there’s the long-term cost of buying salt to feed your system to consider.
There’s a wide range of filter media in any whole-house system: pre-filtering stages for sediment, activated carbon, KDF, ion-exchange resins, and heavy metal filtering. Before you know which whole-house filter is right for you, find out what’s in your water supply so you can target your filter system to the contaminants in your local area.
Most whole-house systems will have multiple filtering stages and that means a complex calendar of filter replacements. Some filters will last over a year while others may need to be replaced every three months, or more if you’ve got a busy, bustling household.
Filter lifespan should be factored into the long-term cost of running your whole-house filter system. And look out for handy features such as filter-change notification lights that help you remember to change your filters.
Filter capacity is equally important and plays its own role in how long your filters last. Water softeners are rated to a certain number of grains – how much hardness they can remove from your water. Capacity can generally stretch up to 80,000 grains and some whole-house systems reckon they can handle over one million gallons.
UV (ultraviolet light) purification is occasionally found in whole-house systems but it’s not essential. UV targets microbiological contaminants such as fungi and bacteria, meaning it’s an added layer of protection between those nasty bugs and your family. If you’re concerned about biological contaminants then reach for the light!
Fluoride is often added to our city water to improve the health of our teeth – but there’s increasing concern about the impact of fluoride on bone and brain health. Fluoride filtering might be an option to look out for as it’s not included in your average whole-house system.
NSF – the National Science Foundation – offers certification to water filter systems alongside the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). If you want total peace of mind, then NSF/ANSI certification is an important component – there are a few standards, including NSF 42 for taste and odor-improving filters and NSF 53 for the removal of harmful contaminants.
Whole-house systems work by filtering your water at the point-pf-entry to your home. So every drop coming from your faucet, showerhead or dishwasher has been thoroughly filtered. But when you’re water’s being put through multiple filter stages, you can expect to see a drop in the flow rate at which it reaches your faucets!
If you’ve got a busy household where you might be running multiple showers, doing the dishes, and throwing loads in the laundry then you’ll need to maximize your flow rate. 10-15 GPM (gallons per minute) is pretty standard for whole-house systems but premium units can hit as much as 20. Let it flow!
Installing a whole-house water filter system can be done by the DIY-savvy so if you have the tools and temperament for the job, then go ahead! Just remember that these serious systems take up quite a bit of space, so ensure you’ve earmarked a corner of your basement for the unit.
Sometimes home installation will void your warranty, so always read the small print. Many whole-house systems come with a lifetime warranty, so you’ll want to make the most of that. Spring for professional installation if you’re in any doubt.
Let’s face it: whole-house water filters and water softener combos are going to be expensive. These units are working hard to purify hundreds of gallons of water every day, and they utilize the latest and greatest technology to do so. You can expect to pay four-figure sums for these combo systems.
But don’t be put off – purified water can also save you a fortune. No more buying bottled water, for example, and a water softener will ensure your pipes and appliances last a lifetime.
Whole house water filter and softener combos are a big investment, there’s no doubt about it.
But with a lifetime warranty, minimal wastewater, and an appealing price tag, SoftPro® Elite Water Softener for Well Water turns out to be affordable on any budget – if you’re thinking long term.
Meanwhile, stacking upgrades and extras onto the Springwell Water Filter and Salt Based Water Softener System is going to cost you a pretty penny. But you’ll have ultimate filtering and softening and a flow rate for over seven bathrooms. That makes this the best all-rounder.
85% of Americans live with hard water, over half the population drinks water with lead in it and three out of four Americans live in an area with added fluoride. There aren’t too many systems that can tackle the full spectrum of contaminants, but a whole house water filter and softener combos can.
So why don’t you go all-in on a whole house filter and softener combo?