Does the water you use leave white stains around? Whether in the kitchen, on the utensils, in your bathroom, or on the floor? Does your soap not give enough foam? Is your skin turning rough after a bath?
All these are the signs of hard water. We already know that water from different areas and water bodies have different properties, right? Based on the topography, underground water in some areas can have more calcium, magnesium, and other components that turn the water hard.
If we have to simplify it further, we can say that any water with 60mg (or more) of dissolved magnesium and calcium is termed as hard water. There are many ways to check the hardness of the water. But even without the tests, you can identify hard water through the stains.
Hard water reduces the lifespan of your water heaters, dishwashers, and faucets. The minerals in the water will form a layer on the insides of the pipes leading to blockage. The motors and electric units in your appliances will start to rust. Even your health will take a hit if you consume hard water regularly.
We don’t mean to scare you. Some of you must have already been facing these issues, right? Since there is nothing much we can do that alters the property of water from the source, we do it at the destination.
Not clear? We can purify and soften water by removing the excess elements using a special machine. Simply called a water softener (since that’s what it does), this unit processes the water before you use it.
You have to install it near the main pipeline so that the water that runs through the rest (in all rooms of your home) is softened and safe for consumption. But yes, there are many water softeners in the market. Some are sleek, some are bulky, and some are industrial versions. Which one should you choose? How to decide which softener is the best?
We are here to help you always. We have compiled a list of top 5 best water softeners in the market and the reasons, benefits, and factors to consider. This post will give you all the information you will need to buy the right water softener for your home. Are you relieved and excited? Let’s get down to the main job then, shall we?
Quick Comparison Table & Our Pick
This as you would expect from us is an EPIC post so grab a coffee before you start and see how we cut through every product and review it with precision. IF YOU ARE SHORT ON TIME and need to know the results of our reviews , CHECK THE RESULTS TABLE BELOW!
75 gal/ day
14.5” x 5.2” x 19”
Salt-free; Cartridge filter
5” x 5” x 24”
Dual Tank; Salt-based
10” x 10” x 54”
Other Great Recommendations
9” x 9” x 48”
52” x 12” x 12”
Best Top 5 Water Softeners in the Market for the Money
iSpring RCC7P-AK Boosted Performance Under Sink 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis Drinking Filtration System - Editor’s Choice
We start our list of top 5 best water softeners with reverse osmosis (RO) model by iSpring. With its high capacity and a one-year money-back guarantee, this model is one of the most reliable softeners.
The manufacturer offers a year warranty along with technical support for the lifetime. The unit also has a standard FDA certification. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages by a large margin. In fact, even the disadvantages can be minimized with proper planning. It is truly one of the best water softeners in the market.
Are you excited to know more? Why wait any longer? Read below.
Features and Benefits
RCC7P-AK has been designed for tough use. The unit has three filters attached to one another with a tank at the back and other parts at the top. This is a sturdy unit that filters and softens water for the entire house. It has a lead-free, strong brass faucet with nickel finishing and runs on electricity.
The unit comes in white color that makes it easy to set up anywhere in your home. White tends to blend in better than other colors, right? One of the best things we like about this model is that it can be connected to the ice maker or the coffee maker. Yes! Saves you time and makes things easier, isn’t it?
Are you worried that installing this would be hard? Fear not. Despite its size and multiple features, this model is super easy to install. The brand has designed the unit to cater to those who like to self-install their appliances. There is everything you need to know in the instruction manual. If not, you can check out the detailed videos online. Still, if you have never tried any installation before this, call the technician.
As mentioned above, the unit comes with a booster pump for households where the water pressure is low. RO model works best with high pressure, which is achieved using the pump. The 6-stage filter system removes sediments, chemicals, excess minerals, and just about every harmful element from water. The 6th stage is where the necessary alkaline minerals are added back to the water. Why, you ask?
Water should have the basic minerals needed by our body. These are added back so that we don’t end up using water devoid of beneficial minerals. The only issue is that the unit wastes 1.5 gallons of water for every 1 gallon it filters. This water can be collected and used for other purposes, such as gardening.
- Easy to install
- Alkaline remineralization
- 6-stage filtering system with three filters
- Comes with a booster pump
- Wastes 1.5 gallons of water for every 1 gallon
- Takes up more space
Nuvo H2O Dphb - Home Water Softener System - Best Salt-free Softener
The second softener on the list is none other than Novo H2O dphb. It is one of the most preferred salt-free softeners in the market. It reliable and fits in small to medium spaces without any issue. The only thing to keep in mind is the length of the softener.
You don’t have to spend half your time adding salt and maintaining the unit. Depending on the usage, you will have to change the filters 3-4 times a year. It works as a great descaler and is suitable to remove minerals like chlorine, sulfur, lime, etc. However, if you use well water, this softener is not the right choice.
Here is more information about its design and working. Shall we take a look?
Features and Benefits
The model is quite simple and uncomplicated. It’s a good thing that water softeners don’t have to look cute. The focus on design is more about how its mechanism works and how it will fit in the limited space you have.
The softener is 24” high with a 20” cartridge. You can see that it is thin but long. If you need to place it under the counter, make sure there is enough space to insert and remove the cartridge. You don’t want to sit in an uncomfortable position, do you? The best thing would be to install it above the counter.
The softener unit comes with everything you need to install it. The size of the inlet is 1-inch in diameter. That is something to keep in mind before you buy this model. It has to match the size of the pipes. The installation is pretty easy compared to other models. But you might still want a plumber to set it up (if you are not used to DIY works). The unit has a bypass valve in case you don’t want to filter the water through it.
The salt-free softener works to remove extra chemicals and enhances the taste of water. Your washing machine, heater, dishwasher, etc. will feel relieved to use softer water. The pipes, drainpipes, and faucets also will breathe easy. However, if you want iron-free water, this one is not for you.
With no salt or resin, the softener relies on cartridges to process water. This means that you will have to change them based on usage. Generally speaking, the cartridges need to be changed after every 50,000 gallons of water.
In case you wish to filter sediments from well water, you will have to buy and install another filter that will remove the traces before the water goes into the softener. All in all, this is a useful, low-maintenance salt-free softener.
- Easy installation and maintenance
- A decent flow rate of 12-15 gallons per minute
- Lightweight at just 8 pounds
- Noticeable improvement in water quality
- Need to change the cartridges once every 50 gallons
- Not suitable for well water
Abundant Flow Water WS-48k-91SXT 9100sxt Complete Softener - Best Dual Tank
Do you have a bunch of people living at home? Ordinary softener will not be able to handle the load, right? You need something powerful and strong. That’s what we’ve got here for you. Third, on the list is Abundant Flow Water by Fleck. This is one of the best known dual tank softeners for heavy water usage.
It is a salt-based model and has an LCD for you to keep track of details. The size and weight may hamper its usage in houses with limited space, but we have no complaints about its functioning. Shall we take a look at more details?
Features and Benefits
At around 100 pounds (96 to be exact), this softener weighs as much a grown-up child does. It is bulky but sturdy and highly durable. It works round the clock to provide you with treated water for the entire household.
It has touchpad controls at the top along with an LCD and 24x7 set controllers. The softener uses the ion exchange method to remove hardness from water. The poly glass tank is strong, and so is the resin tank. You don’t have to worry about this one being broken.
Installing this unit is not as easy, but it isn’t tough either. It takes about an hour or two to set it up. Unless you are highly comfortable with fixing up complex things, we recommend calling the plumber. We liked how easy it was when the plumber took care of the installation.
Abundant Flow Water can remove up to 48,000 grains of hardness with ease. And since the water is used throughout the house, your showers, appliances, utensils, clothes, skin, hair, and health will be safe from the side-effects of using hard water. The main purpose of using two tanks is that if one tank reaches its limit and goes into regeneration mode, the other will start treating water. It requires and stores 300 pounds of salt for regeneration.
- Heavy-duty salt-based whole house water softener
- LCD display
- Dual tanks
- 24*7 set controllers
- Durable and sturdy
- Needs more space
- Is heavy to lift
Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener Iron Filter - Best For Well and City Water
If you are looking for a water softener that would get rid of the iron content in water, this model is perfect for you. As the name says, Iron Pro 2 is a water softener and iron filter in a single unit. It is tall, very much so, and sleek in design.
The biggest advantage of using this model is that it works great for city water and well water. It doesn’t matter where you live; this one will do the job for you. While large families cannot use it, it suits most small to medium households. No wonder it’s yet another product by Fleck. Here’s more information about the softener.
Features and Benefits
The design is quite simple though it looks a bit different from other models. It has the trademark digital control Fleck is famous for. We’ve met people who have been using this for years and absolutely love the service. It is easy to program and has a power backup feature if there is no power supply.
The brand offers five years warranty on the valve and ten years of warranty on the tank. Not just that, you also get a 30-day satisfaction period offer in case you aren’t happy with the unit.
While the installation can be easy if you have the right tools and know what to do, it would be safer to get a plumber to fix it up. And if the connections are tricky, you don’t want to mess it, do you? Better to hand over the task to a professional while you sit back or do your work. Just make sure your area permits you to use salt-based softeners and get the required papers ready.
Do you know what we love about this model? It has a metered regeneration system so that the resin is processed only when necessary. This saves you a good amount of money on salt and water wastage. Also, the model has fine mesh resin that is highly effective. With a flow capacity of 16 gallons per minute, you can easily use the water for 10-12 people.
- Meter regeneration system
- Minimizes manganese up to 6 ppm
- No fear of water spills
- Extra-large 64,000 grain capacity
- The base of the tank is large
- Hard to fit in smaller spaces
AFWFilters Fleck 64k Water Softener - Best for Small Families
We have another model by Fleck on our list today. Similar to the previous one, this, too, is suitable for iron filtering and water softening. It has the same digital display at the top and works great for a family of four. The unit is a bit large, so you might want to measure the space before buying this one. There needs to be a place around the unit for other connections and drains.
But the model has a lot to offer. No surprises there, right? We wouldn’t be listing it otherwise. Let’s check out the details to know more. Shall we?
Features and Benefits
The model comes with five years warranty on the tank and ten years of warranty on the valve. It can process up to 4 ppm iron and filter it from water. It is similar to other models in the category, though it is durable and stronger than many of them. The control head has a backlit interface so that you won’t any difficulty checking it even in the middle of the night. Cool, isn’t it? You also get 48 hours of power back up in case there is an outage. We love this feature, and why not? The safety float in the salt tank is another feature we like in this model.
The manufacturer includes all the essential components required to set it up. From hardness tester to lubricant to sanitizer pack, it has everything. You also get instructions in a USB drive while you can also print them from the website. However, they aren’t as clear as they should be. This could cause issues for those who are new to DIYs. But if you have some experience, setting it up is quite simple.
The softener has a lesser flow rate compared to other models. At 12 gallons per minute, it has been designed for small families with limited water consumption. The resin used is a 10% cross-link so that you don’t need any additional iron filter. Also, this resin lasts longer than the traditional 8% one.
With a metered regeneration set up, you don’t have to worry about spending too much money on salt every year. The regeneration process starts only when it is necessary. Moreover, the automatic bypass plays its part by automatically redirecting water when the regeneration process begins and until it ends. One thing you need to consider is the lack of salt level indicator. You’ve got to keep an eye on it.
- Low maintenance
- Polyglass tank provides the best corrosion resistance
- No need for additional iron prefilter
- Automatic bypass valve
- Installation instructions are not clear
- No indicator for low-salt
Best Water Softener Buying Guide
We sure learned a lot of things, didn’t we? Understanding how softeners work will help in deciding which one would suit our needs. The size of our household, water consumption, and a lot of other factors play a role. But before we get to those, let us see the types of water softeners available in the market. Each of them is effective and highly useful, depending on the elements that are present in your hard water.
Types of Water Softeners
- Salt-Free Softener
While these require less work, they are not as effective as the salt-based ones. Salt-free softeners can condition the water so that it doesn’t leave stains and traces behind. The hardness stays the same. If your main aim is to simply reduce the stains or rusting of appliances, this type of softener will be sufficient. It works well in areas where the water is not hard enough to use a softener, yet it needs basic filtering and processing.
- Salt-Based Softener
The salt-based softener is the traditional type that requires effort from your side. But it also gives you the best results by converting hard water into soft water. Salt is used as the primary agent to soften water. These are also known as ion exchange softeners.
- Reverse Osmosis (RO)
RO purification systems are eco-friendly softeners that do not use chemicals to convert hard water to soft water. They have a filter that separates the hard minerals from water.
- Dual Tank Softener
If you have got a big home with a lot of people, water consumption will invariably be more, isn’t it? That’s where dual tank softener is useful and recommended. They are larger and have more capacity. We could say that they work pretty much like the industrial versions.
- Magnetic Descaler
These follow quite a unique concept that’s different from other softeners. They are easy to use and install. All you need is to wind a few wires on the water pipes. The electromagnetic force that passes through the wires will change the composition of water. This isn’t exactly softening. Yep. But it does limit stains and scales from forming in the water pipes and appliances.
Benefits of Water Softeners
You would have already made a list of benefits, didn’t you? Just in case some of you are still wondering if softeners do work, let’s convince you one more time. Water softeners, when you choose the right model for your home, provide a lot of advantages. They are an excellent investment to make. And when you know you can get back the money in another form, why hesitate?
- You don’t have to drink or cook using hard water. Excess calcium and minerals will not affect your health. If you have kids or elders at home, softeners are even more important.
- Your skin and hair will become softer and feel less itchy/ patchy. The thin layer of whitish dust will no longer form on your skin.
- Your clothes will be soft as well, with their colors still bright. They won’t appear faded or worn-out and will last for a longer time.
- The electric heaters and dishwashers will work without any trouble. Their lifespan will increase (considering you are using them the right way). That means you don’t have to buy a new appliance soon or spend money on getting the existing one repaired.
- This will also result in appliances using lesser energy to do the job. What does that mean? Yep, you got it right. The energy bill will come down.
- You don’t have to clean the pipes and faucets every week or so. Nor do you have to replace them due to rust.
- Your soaps and detergents will work better. The antiseptic will also be effective when used with soft water.
- Forget about white stains staring at you from odd surfaces and utensils. Your home won’t have patches of white dust at random places.
Factors to Consider When Selecting the Best Water Softeners
And finally, we come down to the list of factors you should consider when selecting a water softener for your home. Phew!
- Point of Use or Whole House
We mentioned that water softeners are usually placed at the main pipeline to treat water that flows throughout the house, right? But you can also get mini-units that can be installed only where you want them. For example, you get installed individual softeners in the kitchen, bathroom, etc. But remember that you have to clean and maintain them all separately. Too much work, isn’t it?
- Capacity/ Size
While size deals with the unit's size, capacity talks about the quantity of resin in a salt-based softener. Both are equally important, aren’t they? The softener should fit in your home at the designed place without any issues. You don’t want to trip over it or keep it in a location where it is likely to get damaged. If your home has confined spaces, you will need a single tank, compact softener.
If the softener needs more resin, it will also need more salt. This will directly increase the size of the tank and the unit. Now you see why we clubbed them together, don’t you? The grain capacities of softeners start at 16000 and go as far as 96000 (which is usually seen in a dual tank, industrial size softeners).
- Regeneration Setting
There are two ways to choose the regeneration setting. One is a timer, and another is a meter. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The timer one allows you to set a duration after which the regeneration should occur. But if you use excess water, you’ll end up with water that hasn’t been softened as the resin reached its limit. On the other hand, if you don’t use the softener, it’ll still regenerate, causing you unnecessary expenditure.
With meters, you can decide when you want to regenerate. You fix the number and it works accordingly.
- Bypass Valve
The bypass valve's main task is to allow water to go straight into the pipes without being through the softener. Are you wondering how this will help? Imagine that the softener has some defect or stops working. What will you do? You have to call the technician to work on it, right? But until then? You can’t live without water, can you? The bypass valve serves the purpose in such instances. You can use hard water for the time being. Such a relief, isn’t it?
- Automatic Features
Not all softeners have automatic features. But some models do have the facility of adding salt on their own or at least in alerting you when the salt is low. Instead of you wondering and checking the softener every day, you can be assured that it will notify you when you need to add salt.
Do you have all the information you need to invest in the best water softener? We hope you do. Apart from the factors we mentioned, you should also take into account the warranty of the softener, its working, installation requirements, etc. One point we would like to stress again is installation. Do not install it on your own if you are not sure how it is to be done. Always call an experienced plumber and technician to handle it. You can be assured that nothing will go wrong.
Go on then, order the softener you have chosen. But first, remember to measure the dimensions of the area where you will install the softener. Happy purchasing!