While hard water can be a common problem, it’s not so easy to get rid of. There are hundreds of water softeners promising to be the solution, but after trying out and trusting more than a dozen. I still had to deal with the unsightly spotting, and the continuous deposit of the hardness minerals eventually led to major leaks, which were costly to repair.

water softener

Well, you can head to your local store, purchase any water softener from the shelf, just don’t come running back after a bad experience with them.

Not many water softeners live up to their hype, and if this is your first time purchasing this device, there’s a high chance of you ending up with the wrong product. However, if you already had your share of the bad experience with these devices like me and need to find the best water softener, you came to the right place.

Here is a list of the best rated water softeners, based on our first-hand experience with each of these products. Also, we’ll walk you through our decision process to guarantee you make the right choice.

Why Do you Need a Water Softener?

If you’ve got hard water in your home, then you understand how hard dealing with the effects of these hard minerals can be.

Hard water is caused by the presence of calcium and magnesium in your water, and these hardness minerals may be safe and essential to our growth and development.

So, why do you still need a water softener if these minerals can be beneficial?

Scale-Free Pipe System

The hardness minerals are responsible for limescale on pipes, and over time, damages your water network. This is where the water softening system comes in handy. It removes magnesium and calcium to prevent limescale formation.

These systems are the perfect solution if you find yourself calling your plumber to fix your pipes due to these deposits.

Residue-Free Appliances

The primary purpose of water softeners is to prevent mineral buildup, which in turn prolong your household appliances and reduce leakage. Not just that, using these systems prevent your water heater, showerheads, bathroom sinks, and faucets from smelling awful due to the residue present.

Smoother Skin and Hair

While using shower head filters has been proven to be great at improving water quality, it’s not your best bet for getting rid of these hardness minerals. Having your bath with hard water is bad for your hair and skin, which is why you should try soft water instead.

Soft water reduces hair dryness and skin irritation. However, not everyone is a fan of washing with soft water. Some people do not find soft water clean and smooth but unpleasantly slippery. Therefore, it boils down to personal preference.

Soft Clothes

Do you notice your towels and clothes are stiff after laundry? You probably have a hard water problem. But once you get rid of the unwanted hardness minerals in your water, your towels and clothes will get softer and silkier. Also, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of soap scum and stains. Plus, your fabrics won’t fray or fade in a short period.

In addition, soap and detergents don’t dissolve well in hard water, meaning you’ll need more detergent and soap for your laundry.

Clean Silverware and Glassware

Not all types of water softeners remove the hardness minerals; some models alter the minerals’ structure. However, regardless of the type, you shouldn’t experience a hardness mineral film on your car, glasses, or mirrors after washing with your water.

Which Size of Water Softener is Needed?

A water softening system is usually installed at the entry point. This means the size of the system you need depends on how much water is used daily in your home. When trying to determine the size of water softener to opt for, you need to consider the duration between regenerations.

Typically, regeneration often occurs about once every three days or two weeks. Frequent regeneration tends to waste more water, depending on the water softener size. The process takes at most two hours, which means no soft water for that period.

Water softeners are available in different capacities and sizes. Some products can process up to 1 million gallons of water a year, while others can only handle less. So it’s essential to install a small tank if you’ve got a small household and vice versa.

Thus, you should consider your options and choose a system that would be able to meet your household water usage. The best way to estimate your household’s daily water consumption is to find the average of your water bill for the last six months. First, divide the average consumption value by 6, then by 4, then by 7.

How We Picked Top Rated Water Softener

Determine Hard level

No matter what your water source is or where you live, your water will contain some amount of hardness minerals. Therefore, when trying to choose the best water softener for your home, you need to consider how hard your water is because these products are designed to handle a specific hardness range.

There are three ways to determine your water hardness level: test it yourself using a water test kit, get a water report from your local water supplier or ask an independent lab to test your water.

Grain Capacity

Water softness or hardness is measured using grains per gallon (gpg). 1 gpg means 0.002 ounces of calcium carbonate is present in a gallon of water. Soft water is rated 0 – 3 gpg, and hard water goes above 7.5 gbg – anything in between is considered ideal and moderate.

Small water softening systems are best used for small houses, apartments, and RVs with 16,000, 24,000, or 32,000 weekly grain capacities. For a medium or large household, it’s best to opt for water softeners with grain capacities from 40,000 to 64,000. Water softeners coming with grain capacities up to 100,000 are best suited for industrial or commercial purposes.

Certifications

Certifications indicate that the device has been tested and proved to be effective for removing certain elements. Keep in mind that this doesn’t guarantee an error-free experience.

It only means you are splurging on a high-quality softener from a reliable brand. Products with a Gold Seal from WQA, Water Quality Association, assures homeowners of durability, quality, and safety.

Installation

Dual-tank, salt-based and some salt-free water softening systems require a lot of space to install them. Hence, you should measure the available space to install the device and compare it to the installation specs on the manufacturer’s website. A

Among the types of water softeners, magnetic water softening systems are the easiest to install and take up the least space. Thus, they are the best choice for smaller homes, apartments, or RVs.

Maintenance cost

In general, salt-free water softeners are cheaper to buy than salt-based water softeners and not so expensive to maintain. However, how much you are willing to spend will likely determine the type of water softener you end up with.

The maintenance cost of water softeners depends on the manufacturer and whether it’s a salt-free system or salt-based softener.


Top-Rated Water Softener Review


1. Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener

Well water can pose lots of challenges to homeowners since it’s up to you to regulate and ensure it’s safe to drink. The Iron Pro 2 is the best rated water softeners from AFWFilters and can remove hardness up to 75 grain per gallon.

Iron-Pro-2-Combination

In addition, this unit removes other impurities such as manganese and iron. And its fine mesh resin helps get rid of sand, rust, and sediment to prevent building in your expensive appliances and pipes.

Build Quality

The Iron Pro 2 is a digital version of the reliable Fleck 5600 valve with a non-corrosive fiber-reinforced polymer body. With a digital design, this unit is easy to operate using its touchpad control. This model has fewer moving parts which mean less stuff to worry about.

More so, it is equipped with a 48-hour memory backup that stores the operational model setting during power failure or if accidentally unplugged. This way, it gets rid of the hassle of resetting the system every time power is out.

On top of that, it has an LCD display with a backlight to easily read information about your system’s state either at night or day. The readout gives useful information about the number of days to regeneration, the remaining volume of water to be treated, and a lot more.

Grain capacity

This model offers a 64,000 grain capacity with its special fine mesh resin built to last longer even when used to purify water with high iron content.

Contaminants remove

While the Fleck Iron Pro 2 is designed to be more than just an iron removal and water softener. The resin can eliminate water hardness up to 75 gpg, manganese about 6 ppm, sulfur up to 2 ppm, and iron around 6 – 8 ppm range. Also, it’s excellent for removing rust, sand, and sediment.

Control

The Iron Pro 2 employs a turbine-electronic flow meter as opposed to the manual flow or timer meter that offers a more accurate measure of water left in the system to be treated that guarantees an excellent, efficient rate of regeneration.

This system employs a metered regeneration that allows the system to remove the hardness minerals when it needs to. Another function of the meter is its adjust your water consumption by controlling how often the regeneration occurs.

Maintenance Cost

When it comes to maintenance, the sodium, and the resin beads are the two main areas to focus on. The sodium needs to be topped up regularly to ensure excellent performance, while the resin beads last about 5 years before replacing them. The cost of replacing them cost about a hundred bucks.

Our thought

This water softener comes complete with a metered control, a brine tank, a bypass valve, fine mesh resin, and a 64,000 grain count softener tank to remove iron and hardness minerals in your water.

Even better, it’s backed up by a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, a 5-year manufacturer warranty on the controls, and up to 10-year on the tanks to protect your investment.

Additional Specification

  • Ideal For: Whole House
  • Capacity: 64,000 Grain
  • Flow Rate: 16 GPM
  • Manganese: Up to 6 ppm
  • Warranty: 5 Year Warranty Tank

2.AFWFilters 5600sxt 48,000 Grain Water Softener

If you want something other than salt-free softeners, you might want to consider the AFWFilters 5600sxt Metered On-demand 48,000 Grain Water Softener. This model gets rid of the hardness minerals known to reduce soap efficiency and scale buildup. It comes with an extra long-life resin for optimal durability.

AFWFilters 5600sxt

Build Quality

The AFWFilters 5600sxt Metered On-demand Water Softener features an eco-friendly up-flow design tailored with its 1.5 Cu. Ft. high activity carbon to allow this system to deliver soft water. In addition, this system is contained in a poly glass tank, which makes it easier to handle and install. Plus, it ensures low maintenance costs.

This system includes a standard square brine tank approximately 15-inch x 17-inch x 33-inch and holds up to 250 lbs of pellet salt. In addition, it comes with a safety float to prevent overfilling, and the overflow drain offers extra backup to guarantee a mess-free experience.

Grain capacity

This water softener is suitable for a whole house with a grain capacity of 64,000. It comes well-loaded with 8% crosslink resin to provide safe and healthy water.

Contaminants remove

The AFWFilters 5600sxt Metered On-demand Water Softener has a high capacity resin to eliminate scale buildup. More so, this model uses the ion exchange process to eliminate magnesium and calcium, causing hard water. This unit is also great for removing iron.

Control

The SXT controller is the latest controller from this brand, and it’s built on reliable 5600 valves. In addition, the AFWFilters 5600sxt Metered On-demand Water Softener comes with a lot of features, including 48-hour internal power backup, backlit LCD display, touchpad controls, and a user-friendly interface.

In addition, the Fleck 5600SXT controller offers some great features, including touchpad controls, backlit LCD display, 48-hour internal power backup, and a user-friendly interface. This model features a Fleck 5600 SXT Metered Softener valve that measures your water usage and triggers the regeneration process when needed.

Maintenance cost

This system is easy to install and maintain. In addition, this model is fully automated, which means less stuff to deal with. However, you might have to spend a couple of hundred dollars on resin beads every 5 years.

Our thought

The most exciting thing about this water softening system is its longevity, making it one of the most sought-after Fleck products.

Also, its filters, media, and parts are approved by the NSF standards. More importantly, a 5-year warranty for the control head and a 10-year warranty for the tank guarantees quality, performance, and durability.

Additional Specification

  • Ideal For: Easier Installation
  • Capacity: 48,000 Grain
  • Flow Rate: 12 GPM
  • Voltage: ‎24 Volts
  • Warranty: 10 Year Warranty Tank

3. Whirlpool WHES40E 40,000 Grain Water Softener

If you want a salt-based water softener, the Whirlpool WHES40E 40,000 Grain Water Softener can be a decent alternative to other models out there.

Whirlpool-WHES40E

This model features a different design from the traditional water softeners that employ a control head and a cylindrical tank. It does more than provide your whole house with soft water. It removes other impurities such as iron.

Build Quality

This unit features a salt-saving technology to minimize the amount of water and salt necessary for cleaning its resin. With this design, this unit only uses the required amount of salt. The Whirlpool WHES40E 40,000 Grain Water Softener is designed, engineered, and assembled in the U.S.

Furthermore, it’s a one-piece model, which means the brine tank and softener tank are enclosed in a unit. This makes it a go-to for people not looking to sacrifice lots of space. The housing measures 19-inch deep by 18-inch wide by 43.5-inch high.

Grain capacity

The Whirlpool WHES40E 40,000 Grain Water Softener has a 48,000 grain capacity, which should provide soft water for families up to 6.

Contaminants remove

This model is designed to remove all possible traces of water hardness. Also, it’s touted to remove iron deposits up to 10 ppm.

Control

The Whirlpool WHES40E sport the EZ-Touch Technology, making it easier to operate this system effortlessly via its user-friendly touch screen.

Maintenance Cost

Every time a water softener regenerates, it uses salt, which keeps the resin fresh. Older models regenerate based on specific times, even when it’s not needed. This leads to continual maintenance. But with Whirlpool WHES40E, this system only regenerates on-demand, which means less maintenance and allows you to save more water, salt, and electricity.

Our thought

Based on its space-saving design, this model is an ideal choice for apartments. It’s best used for a family of up to 5. It features a demand-initiated regeneration ensuring this model uses less salt than older models.

Additional Specification

  • Ideal For: Families of 1-6+ people
  • Capacity: 40,000 Grain
  • Iron Removal: 3 parts per million
  • Clear Water Iron: ‎10 ppm
  • Warranty: 10 Year Warranty Tank

4. Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler – Alternative Water Softener

The YARNA capacitive descaling system is an excellent choice for people looking for an alternative to water softeners. This model offers many bells and whistles, and mainly it prevents limescale buildup and rust formation.

Capacitive Electronic Water

This descaler system is built to keep your plumbing network and appliances free from limescale for peak performance. In addition, it guarantees a no-rust experience, which means no need to replace your faucets, fixtures, sinks, and other metallic surfaces in contact with the water.

Although it’s not a water softener, it works effectively in reducing soap wastage, which helps you save money and time. Other benefits include healthier hair and skin, soft fabrics, and shiny silverware.

Working Principle

This alternative water utilizes the frequency of the electric field to keep the ions and cations moving continuously in a stirring manner. This ensures they stay separate and minimizes the chances of solidification. Thus, you don’t have to deal with limescale buildup.

Additional Specification

  • Ideal For: Whole House
  • Power Cord Length: 60″ (1.5m)
  • Wattage: ‎4 watts
  • Voltage: ‎‎120 Volts
  • Warranty: 10 Year Warranty

Top-Rated Water Softener Comparison

NameIdeal ForCapacityWarranty
Iron Pro 2 Water SoftenerWhole House64,000 Grain5 Year Warranty Tank
AFWFilters 5600sxt Water SoftenerEasier Installation48,000 Grain10 Year Warranty Tank
Whirlpool WHES40E Water SoftenerFamilies of 1-6+ people40,000 Grain10 Year Warranty Tank
Capacitive Electronic Water DescalerWhole House-10 Year Warranty

Are salt-free water softeners better?

Salt-free water softeners create hardness crystals that are left in the water. This leads to a noticeable reduction in the scale buildup, but its performance is not up to par with salt-based models. The main benefit of the salt-free water softener is its low maintenance.

Can you drink softened water?

Yes, a water softener only removes calcium and magnesium from the water.

How long should a water softener last?

Depending on the type and quality you purchase, a water softener should last from 10 – 20 years.

Is it bad to oversize a water softener?

If you oversize a water softener, the system won’t do enough work that means regeneration will take place late, leading to bacteria growth in the tank.

Conclusion

If the hardness minerals in your water are making life almost unbearable with clogged appliances and plumbing, then you should invest in the best rated water softener. These devices put an end to hard water, causing stains on dishes and sinks and non-lathering soap.

The type and size of water softener to choose should depend on where you live and the number of people in your house. To ensure you make the right choice, it’s best to determine the hardness of your water. But regardless of your option, you should get the expected result – soft water to keep your skin and hair healthy, plumbing and appliances running at peak performance, and leave your kitchenware shiny.