The water softener market is strong for all types of products; but the king is still going to be water softeners that are based on the salt method. It’s a thriving market that aims to make the expensive appliances and homes that consumers work hard for to work at the top of their game.
Having the best water softener system is a way to treat your home to a sort of renewal, rather than letting it continue to deal with the plague that is hard water. Hard water is easily turned into soft water thanks to these systems that are easy to install, and easy to maintain. Even the portable systems on the list that seem like a handful are easy to maintain once users get used to them.
We have managed to gather data on the top 10 water softeners available in 2015 and created detailed water softener reviews, with summary for each here below;
- 3M Aqua-Pure Filtration System
- Brand: 3M AquaPure
- Product Dimensions: 25.1 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches
- Weight: 9.1 pounds
- Warranty: Not Specified
- Fleck 5600SXT
- Brand: Fleck Structural
- Product Dimensions: Not Specified
- Weight: 150 pounds
- Warranty: 10 year warranty
- WaterBoss 220 22000
- Brand: Water Boss
- Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 14.8 x 25.8 inches
- Weight: 73.2 pounds
- Warranty: 3 years on the valve/10 years on media tank and outer cabinet
- Aquasana EQ-1000-AMZN
- Brand: Aquasana
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 46 x 44 inches
- Weight: 57 pounds
- Warranty: 10 year warranty
- 1 1. Aqua-Pure AP902 Water Filter System, Whole House
- 2 2. Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 grain water softener digitial sxt metered whole house system
- 3 3. WaterBoss 220 22000 Grain Water Softener
- 4 4. Aquasana EQ-SS20 SimplySoft Salt-Free Water Softener
- 5 5. Morton Salt Company 34M Wtr Softener Unit Msd34c Water Conditioner
- 6 6. nuvoH2O Manor Complete Salt-Free Water Softening System
- 7 7. Watts RV PRO-1000 OR M7002 10000 Grains Portable Water Softener
- 8 8. Iron Pro 2 Water Softener
- 9 9. Scalewatcher Small Wonder hard water treatment unit
- 10 10. Eddy Electronic Water Descaler – Water Softener Alternative
- 11 Top 10 Water Softener Reviews and Comparison Chart
- 12 Water Softener Buying Guide
- 13 Portable vs. Standard
- 14 Installation
- 15 Salt Free Water Softeners
- 16 Regeneration
- 17 Scale
- 18 Hard Water
- 19 Saving Money
- 20 Using in Apartments
- 21 Things to Remember
1. Aqua-Pure AP902 Water Filter System, Whole House
As the first water softener unit on the list, it is nice to start with the low priced Aqua-Pure AP902 that has been around long enough to have a good name. The base is a non-corrosive steel head that is made to be installed by non-technical users, with an ease that is hard to match. Both chlorine taste and odor are controlled by the carbon filter so there is little to worry about in that regard. Systems that are compliant are valued under the ever elusive FDA CFR-21 compliancy. Buyers will get one of the best flow rates in the business as the Aqua-Pure provides up to 20 gallons per minute, all filtered. Heavy duty is the key when describing this unit, even if it is just a notch below some of the more expensive products in performance tests. If buyers need to replace the cartridges after they have gone through their life cycle, or even due to unforeseen damage, the process is as simple as twisting it off and applying a new one. This saves a lot of time and is one of the more convenient features when dealing with a water softener of this size.
Housing materials are a stainless steel head with locking latch and an easy to spot mounting bracket. Unrestricted flow is provided through the 1 inch NPT connection and the unit comes with clear instructions on using replacement filter AP910R if needed. Besides the protection against staining and mineral buildup, customers can rest easy in knowing that the manufacturer of the AP902 filter system is none other than 3M Purification. Most people are probably more familiar with them when they were named CUNO, but other than the name change the quality has stayed largely the same and they’re a fierce competitor. This unit can easily power a large home and is decent for the scope of light commercial applications, whatever your taste is. Pressure rate is up to 125 PSI while the entire unit only weighs 9.1 pounds in total weight. As the first item on the list, it is a pretty good water softener with easy to use features that works in all situations. Sanitary concerns are also handled well with some of the features with this unit, and may be a big buying point for consumers. The first water softener on the list is one of the best, and a safe buy for anyone in the market for one.
2. Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 grain water softener digitial sxt metered whole house system
On the higher end of the price chart is the high priced Fleck 5600SXT that leapfrogs a lot of the lesser and even mid-tier units in the market. All cycles are fully programmable with the easy to read and use digital meter that requires little to no training to use. The setup by itself is one of the most compatible on the list, all without losing the user friendliness of more simple setups. Buyers can choose between two different colors of black or almond, with black being the default color. Warranty coverage is extensive and includes 5 years on the head including electronics and 10 on both tanks. Extra features on board are the bypass valve and 1 inch threaded plumbing adapter. This is another on the list that was made for large homes, and it can easily support up to 3-6 people without choking. Flow rate is a generous 12 GPM and it can handle moderate to hard water types. If looking for a complete system that isn’t a hassle to operate then this should be one of the standouts on the list for interested users.
It’s a bit of a beast in the weight department, capping out at about 150 pounds total, so some help is going to be needed if handling this yourself during installation. Filtration gets rid of more than calcium and magnesium, and even goes so far as to improve how soap feels on the skin and reduce scale build up caused by hard water. Because of the meter based regeneration system the unit only replaces water when it needs to based on how the system measures it. This saves you water, energy and ultimately money that is being taken out of your pocket by more inefficient systems. Valves based off of the 5600 series have been known to run 27 years without fault, so there is a lot of promise with this unit. Other premium features with this model are the backlit LCD display, 48 hour internal power backup and easy to use touch pad controls. A skilled DIY user could install the unit in under 2 hours without any problems, and without any professional help. For the second item on this list that is a big plus, and makes the race for the best water softener even closer.
3. WaterBoss 220 22000 Grain Water Softener
The WaterBoss 220 22000 Grain Water Softener is one of the highest priced items on the list, but potential buyers shouldn’t let that scare them away from this all-purpose unit. Rather than take the look of large unattractive tanks the WaterBoss instead focuses on making your primary workhorse of a water softener look professional, clean and pleasing to the eye. This compact water softener has a built-in 20 micron sediment and whole house dirt filter with on demand regeneration. Never again worry about the function of your water softener and let the system take care of your water and salt for you. The by-pass valve is easy to get to in any configuration, and users will enjoy a near silent operation platform that has been perfected with years of tests. When comparing models just on looks alone it’s easy to see that this product is in a different tier in both appearance and functionality for big homes. Technology within the unit allows it to reduce up to 10 PPM of ferrous iron and soften up to 70 grains per gallon. This is about as top tier as you can get, especially since this is considered a top tier unit.
Supported for families up to 4, rest assured that this compact masterpiece will keep working for years with little maintenance. Size of the unit is impressive for what it accomplishes, as it measures 14 /34 wide and 18 ¾ deep, while only being 25 ¾ tall so it can fit in the tightest of spaces while still being effective. If using the 2.5 pound salt setting, the system can regenerate in as little as 18 minutes so that it uses less water than other units on the list. Warranty information list the media tank and outer cabinet as being covered for 10 years while there is a 3 year limited warranty on the unit including the electronics. Customer support is readily available and is easy to talk to, so if there are any concerns about the purchase or even afterwards they are great to make contact with. Keep in mind this isn’t a portable unit even though it’s compact, so it has to stay stationary in one place. As one of the better models on the list, customers will be thrilled to get big water softener performance out of a size this small. This is one of the better units on the list and worth checking out if you need a replacement.
4. Aquasana EQ-SS20 SimplySoft Salt-Free Water Softener
Another system that is on the high end as far as price goes is this incredible kit that comes with some of the more advanced features on the list. NSF standards are exceeded by Aquasana Rhino by removing 97% of chlorine per 1,000,000 gallons. Take the pain out of owning a water softener by relying on this particular setup that doesn’t use electricity, salt or require back flushing. Included accessories are the pre-filter, activated carbon, copper-zinc KDF and post-filter and brass fittings. Basically everything you need to get started is available within one system and all inside of the original package. As an added benefit just having this system installed will not only filter your water, but it will improve indoor air due to the minimizing the chemicals that are usually present in shower steam. All of this and more is available in a light 44.5 pound system that measures 9x44x46 inches. So not only is it a champion of filtration on this list, but it will do a bang up job in fitting in just about any install area you can think of.
Along with the unrivaled versatility of the unit is a 7 GPM flow rate with a maximum pressure of 100 PSI. Of the removed elements in the water besides chlorine consumers can look forward to it attacking lead, mercury, herbicides, pesticides, VOCs and even industrial solvents. By removing all of these chemicals you’ll not only get greater tasting drinking water but you can look forward to better cooking water as well. Enhancing the taste of your dishes can be as simple as having the right water softener to filter and give you optimal quality in the kitchen. The system also promises to provide better water for your bathroom needs, as bad water can often dry out even the greatest of skin. Repeated exposure to non-filtered water can even affect hair health in the long term. This unit clogs less than any other on the list due to the Rhino’s upflow system, which was put in place specifically to increase water contact time and filtering power. With all this being said it does require a bit of no how when installing, as the average consumer will have issues with the original install. For users looking to complement their green lifestyle, then this is the perfect addition, especially with the promises made up front with how long it will last. It may not be the easiest system to install, but this is without a doubt one of the best water softeners on the list.
- Morton Salt Company 34M
- Brand: Morton
- Product Dimensions: 18.2 x 13.2 x 48 inches
- Weight: Not Specified
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- nuvoH2O Manor
- Brand: nuvoH2O
- Product Dimensions: 31.3 x 10.1 x 8.8 inches
- Weight: 3 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Watts RV PRO-1000
- Brand: Watts Water Technologies
- Product Dimensions: 21 x 9.5 x 9 inches
- Weight: 9 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
5. Morton Salt Company 34M Wtr Softener Unit Msd34c Water Conditioner
Things get really interesting with the addition of the high priced Morton Salt Company 34M Wtr Softener Unit Msd34c Water Conditioner to the list. This quietly efficient and compact water softener is made for protecting the whole house from harmful chemicals in the water without taking up too much of your home space. It has a 34,000 grain capacity and should be more than enough for households that house up to 6 people. Unlike the last unit this system is made to be installed by just about anyone, without the need for professional help. The kit is so detailed and well instructed that it can be done in as little as 2 hours and without causing headaches. Easy to read control panel lets you know when you’re low on salt with a flashing indicator light, and because the unit adapts to your use of water and adjusts accordingly, over time it will use up to 50% less salt. Regeneration is on demand so you save money with not only your energy bill but also the water that passes through the system, which is another added bonus to this great system.
Unique to this model is the ability to manually set the recharge times or to force a recharge time when it suits your water needs. This is perfect for a situation where there is current high water usage in your house and it wouldn’t be idea for the unit to be in full operation. Included in the kit is a 120/24 volt AC to AC adapter, 20 inch drain tube and bypass valve. Salt storage capacity is 200 pounds with a steady 8.0 GPM flow rate to keep everyone happy. There is a 1 year limited warranty on the product with a 10 year warranty on the tank, so pretty standard fare there. Dimensions of this compact unit are 18.2×13.2×48 inches with a weight of about 90 pounds in total. It has some heft to it, but nothing that is overbearing considering how small it is and how big of a family it supports. All in one units are pretty popular, and this one is no exception with its modern features. It ranks pretty high up on the list with few cons, and more pros than a lot of the others on the list. This is a definite buy, although a lack of some of the more innovative features elsewhere on the list may keep it from being in the top 5.
6. nuvoH2O Manor Complete Salt-Free Water Softening System
Really pushing the pocketbooks of users more interested in a modern take on water softening is the ultra-high priced nuvoH2O Manor Complete Salt-Free Water Softening System that innovates more than any other item on this list. It’s one of the smallest, and requires no electricity, no magnets and no salt which means that there is no waste to worry about. If limited spaces are one of the vices you are dealing with, then take comfort in knowing that it is only 8 inches wide and 29 inches long while weighing an incredible 3 pounds. It’s also very powerful and rather than just filtering new water it has the ability to remove existing scale and boost the efficiency of your current fixtures, appliances, water heater and pipes. You really can’t get any more modern than this, which is why the price is so high. For doubters of what this little gadget can do there is a 90 day money back guarantee and a lifetime warranty. Even with the high price tag this is as risk free a system that you can undertake without the headaches of a larger system that’s hard to keep up with.
This is another one of the items on the list that complement the green lifestyle, with this unit being the best in that regard by miles. Not having a giant salt water based water softener may seem like a step back since the market has been built on it, but these newer models that are salt free are really getting better and offering a lot more features than their larger and bloated counterparts. This small but complete system makes hard water a thing of the past so you can enjoy better water for bathing, washing, drinking, and lawn and plant watering. Water flow is 15-18 GPM with ports that are 1.5 inches and the unit able to handle a capacity of 60,000 gallons of water. So for small or large homes of 6, this is the idea solution if the price tag agrees with you. Performance will be rock solid for an entire year without any problems or intervention needed from you, and if switching from a salt water solution this will be light years ahead especially in terms of taste. Filters are cheap at under $100 and are easy to install and obtain. This is without a doubt one of the best water softeners on the list, whether it is for green purposes or not.
7. Watts RV PRO-1000 OR M7002 10000 Grains Portable Water Softener
Going back to the mid-priced part of the list is this Watts RV PRO-1000 OR M7002 10000 Grains Portable Water Softener that only weighs 26 pounds in total. Magnesium, calcium and even iron are easily removed from your everyday water so you can enjoy an improved experience in your home. This specific model was built for the RV, but can be used in smaller homes for the more experienced user. It’s listed as low maintenance, but this is only partially true, as newer buyers to water softeners may find this a bit of an experience that is a little over their head. Capacity of the water softener is increased naturally by up to 55% due to the regeneration technique that takes advantage of the built-in drain line flow restrictor. Rather than wasting water in cycles, this smaller unit makes the most of the ones that count to keep you running with fresh water. The flow valve is also set up so that users don’t have to connect or disconnect it for the regeneration process to take place. Whether this helps or hurts some consumers with specific manual settings is another story, and will be important on a buyer to buyer basis.
Portable open based tanks are usually not as secure, so the Watts RV PRO-1000 uses a cradle base to keep everything in place during the bumpier rides. Enjoy flow rates of up to 4 GPM with optional low pressure drop, with the 4 being one of the highest on the list. No special salt needs to be used with this unit, and it can use common table salt to function. Design is made to be functional, and with dimensions as small as 8.5×20.5 it has a profile that will fit just about anywhere it is needed. The included system comes ready to install with gold resin and should last for years without needing to replace the materials. Some minor cons is that even though the unit is portable and has a terrific profile it still doesn’t have a hose fitting that rotates, leaving some of the more complex situations where it can be stored completely out of the mix. Then of course the manual regeneration which can be a bit of a hassle for many reasons, but is expected with a portable unit like this. Good portable units are plenty, and this is one of them. Whether manual regeneration is a problem will be completely up to the user and their needs.
- Iron Pro 2
- Brand: Fleck, Structural USA
- Product Dimensions: Not specified
- Weight: 200 pounds
- Warranty: 5 year warranty!
- Scalewatcher Small
- Brand: SCALE WATCHER
- Product Dimensions: Not specified
- Weight: 6.08 ounces
- Warranty: Not specified
- Eddy Electronic Water
- Brand: Eddy Electronic Water
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.6 x 3.5 inches
- Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
8. Iron Pro 2 Water Softener
Getting back to the premium offerings on this list is this high priced product that has an incredible 64,000 grain capacity, and that’s just the beginning. It is one of the highest functioning water softeners on the list while also being the best at filtering out iron and other particles in the water. Long life with the filter is guaranteed due to the fine mesh resin that was designed from the ground up not only for high use but also for long use. You’ll get the best looking control panel on the list all in one package, with digital readings and buttons that are both intuitive and easy to use. Digital metered valves are made to be user friendly, but the company took it a step further with the Fleck 5600SXT. Feel safe while using this to the fullest capacity due to the 5 year warranty on the control head that goes well above and beyond what you’ll need in a system of this size. Removal rate of iron is up to 6-8 ppm range, hardness up to 75 GPG, and manganese up to 6 PPM. Other particles removed with ease are sediment, sand and rust.
Obviously the tank is on the larger size, with dimensions in the range of 18×33 in a round brine tank form, with various colors being pushed out to the market. Despite its size it is one of the easier models to install, with clear and concise DIY instructions that everyone will be able to follow. Total weight of the unit is 200 pounds, so that’s a little bit of a number to keep in mind when doing the install. Besides the control head there is a warranty on the tank that lasts 10 years, with a 30 day satisfaction guarantee for the entire system. The company has the best customer support on the list and offers free phone or email tech support, making sure that users are not baffled at all with the simple operation of the unit. Since the system is set up to use meter based regeneration, it will only go through that process when it needs to due to how the system measures the water. It’s a smart system that learns based on the amount of water the home uses and adjusts on the fly to what is appropriate. As the list winds down it is good to see another great water softener added, one that really does the job well.
9. Scalewatcher Small Wonder hard water treatment unit
The most interesting product on the list has to go to this mid-priced Scalewatcher Small Wonder hard water treatment unit by Aqua Genesis. There are a lot of things about the unit that have people talking, and it is a very innovative design and filter that has been gaining ground commercially and residentially for years. The no salt system is only 6 ounces in weight, so is the lightest on the list by far. It was built from the ground up to eliminate limescale from showerheads, toilets, water heaters and faucets. Immediately you’ll notice the difference in how the water feels on your skin, as well as how soap feels when using it in the shower. Energy is saved do the way it improves the efficiency of the water heater, with savings shown in as little as a few days. For buyers that suffer from bad water flow due to compromised systems, then they will notice a complete overhaul within a month with an improvement of the throughput. All of this is done with the green consumer in mind, and if used as the primary system in your home it can even improve the life of the water heater.
The good news is that if you’ve noticed dish spots and water spots in your kitchen this little unit can reduce those greatly. For consumers that don’t want a salt based water softener this is one of the friendlier alternatives on the list. Water is made so much more palatable with this little unit, which is incredible when you consider the size. Other great benefits such as no regeneration features means no manual maintenance or wait time while still having one of the most ecofriendly systems on the list. A lot less water is used as the system is more mindful of the process, and with more reliable parts than a salt water system, users will be a lot less concerned about the life of the product. This is a very good technology that has been patented, and as such is the only one of its kind. Be aware that there may be companies that use the same technology but are not licensed, meaning that their system is inferior to this one. This is one of the bigger surprises on the list, as the greenest option and also the smallest. It’s a definite top 3 winner, and should be at the top of everyone’s list when looking for a great water softener.
10. Eddy Electronic Water Descaler – Water Softener Alternative
Last on the list is the mid-priced Eddy Electronic Water Descaler, another one of the modern units that opt to be green and use no salt. It quickly reduces lime and scale whether it is in a residential setting or a commercial one. Whether you use metal or plastic pipes, it promises to deliver the easiest install procedure of any water softener on the list. When comparing between the previous unit and this unit in terms of install time, it has it beat by at least 15 minutes due to simpler instructions. As a no salt alternative water softener, it does an immaculate job of emulating softened water without altering TDS. With the 1 year money back guarantee paired with the lifetime repair or replace warranty this is an absolute no risk product that really stands out on the list. Look forward to eliminating calcium, manganese, and magnesium along with the scale it brings and get optimum water quality back in your home. Anyone can install Eddy, and since it doesn’t require any plumbing changes it comes in handy in situations where restrictions are already in place in the area.
There has been continual use of the product by both residents and businesses for over 15 years, so it has a history of being effective in both instances. Even though it filters out bad chemicals in the water it still leaves the beneficial ones in that help with human health. All of the benefits ae great, but potential buyers should keep in mind that it can’t be installed on lead and iron pipes. In the case of larger pipes they have an option called coil set c to better accommodate. This is a highly reviewed and well respected item in the industry that you are sure to be satisfied with, and it only weighs 1.4 pounds and works in a variety of situations. Buyers that are looking to remove current water spots rather than prevent them may want a more powerful option from the list. Also consumers that want to store the device on the outside should be aware that it isn’t waterproof and was meant for inside installation. A savvy consumer could easily built a small outdoor house for it if absolutely necessary as an option. For the last item on the list you can’t get any better than like it or your money back, so might as well take the leap.
Top 10 Water Softener Reviews and Comparison Chart
|Aqua-Pure AP902||N/A||25.1 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches||4.5|
|Fleck 5600SXT||48,000||10 x 10 x 54 inches||4.5|
|WaterBoss 220||22000||18.8 x 14.8 x 25.8 inches||4|
|Aquasana EQ-SS20||N/A||14 x 5 x 23 inches||4|
|Watts RV PRO-1000||10000||21 x 9.5 x 9 inches||4.5|
|Iron Pro 2 Fleck 5600SXT||64,000||N/A||4.5|
|Eddy Electronic Water Descaler||N/A||6.7 x 1.6 x 3.5 inches||4|
Water Softener Buying Guide
Barely any training at all is needed to work the manual systems, and with the instructions provided most buyers will be up and going in less than 2 hours. A great water softener is the simplest way to breathe life into clogged appliances that seem like they are past their run date. Results can be seen within the first week, with costs saving results showing in as little as the first month.
The cost savings monthly often snowball to give you yearly savings that are tremendous, and all from a self-installed system that took less than 2 hours. If maintaining a salt based system is an issue due to space or just personal reasons, then there are also electronic units available on the list. These units are significantly less than their salt based counterparts are require no recharge time, or plumbing skills.
The tradeoff is a bit less benefits than a standard system, but these electronic systems may also be the only way for people who live in apartments to get a water softener installed. They are compact and lightweight, with some of them weighing less than 2 pounds.
The heaviest standard water softener on the list tops out at a whopping 200 pounds, requiring the elbow grease of a willing participant in the installation process. Either method is fine as long as it suits your needs as a customer, as there are plenty of solutions on the list for potential buyers to choose from. As long as you come away with one, you’ll be doing your home a favor by giving it to the water softener it needs.
Portable vs. Standard
This answer is pretty simple and applies to all individuals based on the current setting. If your home is stationary then get a standard water softener. If you are always on the move, or you alternate between your RV and your home, get a portable solution. Portable solutions have their place in that they are universal and are pretty simple to get going. The problem with the portable solution is that it does not always have all of the great features of the standard, including the much loved automated regeneration.
Portable water softeners will also be a lot less power than their standard counterparts, and not because of size, but because the parts have to be made portable in order to be universal. This doesn’t mean that they are cheap, but that they are portable friendly and missing more consumer friendly features that make the standards so great to deal with. This of course might not be a problem at all, since they will end up handling less amount of water in a day than the standard house they are hooked up to. So realistically consumers only have to get their hands dirty when it really matters, and it isn’t as much of a babysitting job as it seems.
The plus with this is that anyone can handle the manual regeneration process, but it also means that just about anyone can screw it up as well. It isn’t exactly a science to manually handle the portable functions but it goes without saying that getting it correct the first time will get rid of unwanted handling later on during the trip. Without any surefire way to tell right away if something is wrong it may require some guesswork and going back and forth, which could really put a sting in the trip.
Good to great portable water softeners are available on this list, but no company has yet created the fantastic to perfect portable water softener. It’s a race to the finish line and it is almost guaranteed that the first major brand to come out with one will be swimming in loads of money. The demand is great for an automatic water softener with digital features, so there is no reason to keep denying the customers that want it. So once again just choose your water softener based on your traveling situation, and ideally you could have one for home and one for on the road.
For the most part all of the water softeners on the list as easy to install, with varying degrees of difficulty. Some of the more modern takes don’t even require messing with the pipes at all, and can be done in under 2 hours. Some basic installation steps for the average salt based water softener starts with reading the directions that came with the package. Although the below directions are generic and apply to most water softeners, it is only meant as a guideline in how the process works and your mileage may vary. Basic directions usually start with turning off the water to the house and shutting off the power to the hot water heater. These two first steps are the easiest but also the most important ones. Next is to drain all of the water left in the hoses and your house, usually by turning on faucets and outside hoses.
This process will take a bit but is worth it to make sure the install goes smoothly, and before setting up your tanks. If you have a two tank system, make sure that they are in an easy to reach place and side by side. You don’t want an uneven surface, and you don’t want them to be in a position where they can get damaged. Since some of the water softeners available can weigh as much as 200 pounds, positioning it right the first time will go a long way in getting rid of future problems where you may have to move it yourself. Some installs may require some soldering work, but it is rare. The most you will have to worry about in the situation with the bypass ports and tubing is measuring the tape that goes on them correctly.
If your unit comes with a discharge head make sure to follow the directions in the manual for installing it, as all discharge heads are made differently. Making sure that the correct tubing is attached to the drain is vital, so check and double-check as this can cause serious damage if done wrong. At this point having the correct tools are necessary, as you’ll be installing the bypass valve and tightening it. No fancy tools are needed in this process, just the standard set.
After installing the rest of the tubes and valves, it is as simple as checking to make sure nothing is loose or in the wrong place. At that point you can turn the water back on as well as plug in the electric heater. For all in ones or water softeners that come with a brine tank, make sure to follow the directions for prepping it for first use. At that point it should be ready to go through the backwash cycle to prep the water in the house for first use, and this is all done in under two hours. Once again directions vary per model, but this is just how easy all of them are to install.
Salt Free Water Softeners
In this list there are several salt free water softeners that are a lot easier to manage than your standard water softener that uses salt. But are they superior in usage or still trying to perfect a newer technology? Salt free water softeners differ in their approach in that rather than flushing out the minerals that cause scaling and other problems, it materializes their form in a way that prevents them from adhering to surfaces.
This is why salt free softeners may be a bit more effective at removing scale compared to the standard solutions. Now where a salt based solutions beats the pants off of the salt free options is when it comes to overall execution, especially with how the water feels. Customers will get that cleaner feeling in the shower that they’ve been looking for, including better and fresh tasting water. If you’re prone to dry skin then a salt option will make your skin feel refreshed again, since it actually removes the harmful minerals in the water rather than trapping them. Other benefits include brighter colors in your clothes when you wash, especially if you’ve noticed they have gone dull over the last couple of years.
With the way the salt free solution crystalizes the minerals all of the above benefits will apply as well, but in a lesser capacity. You may get brighter laundry, though not as bright. The water will taste better than what it used to, but not great. Your skin will feel more moisturized, but it will still suffer from the occasional dryness. The benefits of a salt free system lies in the no maintenance aspect, so that you can set it and forget it. You don’t have to worry about electricity usage, replacing the salt or measuring it, and you don’t have to worry about waste water.
It is a nice solution for someone that doesn’t want to do some of the handiwork involved in keeping up with a standard solution, but it also means you’ll be losing out on some of the benefits by using a salt based solution. Experts are still recommending salt based water softeners over the competition, because the competition still hasn’t caught up in terms of being a complete solution. Although there is nothing wrong with going with a salt free solution, and in some cases it is preferred, there is a small enough gap that the pros won’t recommend it over the standard setup.
The regeneration portion of water softeners can be a bit confusing to newcomers, and is often one of the most unexplained terms when it comes to water softening. The softening portion is where salt water softeners become worth their money, in a process that exchanges sodium in the resin beads for the hard water minerals in the water. The regeneration process is when those same resin beads need to be rinsed free of the minerals they collected, in preparation to start the softening process all over again. Regeneration can take up to 2 hours, but is quicker on more premium models depending on their size.
This is a very important part of the system, so when looking for a good water softener the regeneration information should be a top priority. Anything 2 hours and below is great, so try to stay within that range. This is especially important if you live in a house with 6, where a long regeneration time could frustrate a lot of users. On demand regeneration for this specific purpose is recommended, as the system adapts to how you use water and only regenerates when necessary.
Better systems on the list also use this option to save salt as well as water, since it isn’t on a timed interval that could waste more than it will help. The process for the automated version of water softener regeneration usually starts with the brine solution being created by the unit and then flowing through the resin tank, where the beads of the hard water minerals and refreshing exchanging them with fresh, new sodium. The brine and waste material is then automatically flushed out of the drain and at that point the system is ready for another round again. If using a water softener that doesn’t have an automated regeneration then you have to do it manually from the source, which gets easier the more times you do it. Granted it doesn’t become convenient, especially if it needs to be done at night, but this is why there are options and people prefer the automated version. For the portable units they still haven’t made a fool proof automated function, so this is a necessity more than it is an option. Regardless of which type you have, it is a really incredible process that shows just how effective the solution can be.
Scale is the evil mineral deposits that make water softeners worth the money you spend. I can also be described as fouling, and happens when several mineral deposits gather on certain surfaces. The most notable of those would be hot-water boilers, kettles, and even hot water central heating systems. The worst place for it to build up is on pipes, which not only downgrades the quality of your water but in severe cases restricts the flow.
In cases with the hot water heater it limits the overall capacity so it isn’t functioning at full strength. This leads to several hundred more dollars per year in operation costs due to it not fully functioning the way it’s supposed to, and in a situation where the pipes or hot water heater break due to the scale then it becomes an even bigger thousand dollar problem. Scale prevents several components of materials that use water from functioning correctly, and should not go untreated. A good water softener will not only reduce future scale, but over time will also get rid of the current scale that plagues your household. You should notice an improvement in less than a month in both the lack of scale and in your water bill going down.
On the more scientific side of the tracks, the iron components found in scale are usually made of wustite, hermatite and magnetite. More often than not you will hear more about removal of magnetite when water softeners describe the minerals they remove, but rest assured you’re also covered with the others as well. The other main component in scale is calcium, which is interesting because that is actually a mineral that’s good for you, but bad for your appliances.
Some water softeners on this list have the ability to keep calcium in the mix without damaging your pipes, so you still receive the benefits. But considering that calcium is not a hard vitamin to get, it wouldn’t make sense to choose a water softener solely based on it being able to keep calcium in the water. There isn’t enough calcium in the water to really make a difference, and in a situation where there was it would cause harm to the appliances like the other minerals. There are manual ways to reduce scale that are not recommended, like vinegar, or the much safer flushing of the water heater. But both of these options pale in comparison to just getting the best water softener on the list that you can find.
High in mineral content, hard water is formed of several materials that are harmful to appliances and equipment. Strangely enough the same hard water works well for drinking solution, but for showering the extra minerals in the water dries out skin. For consumers that like a good lather when they use soap hard water makes this a bit of a bother, and in effect can even leave soap scum in the bathroom due to the minerals involved.
The minerals in the water basically destroy the materials that produce lather, thus working against each other and leading to a less than stellar experience in the shower. Hard water in industrial settings is extremely harmful, with the ability to destroy cooling towers, boilers and any equipment that regularly handles water. If you’ve ever heard of plumbing problems and the horrors they cause pocketbooks, then at the top of the list will be buildup caused by hard water. Besides forming on the outside of plumbing lines in what could be described as a disgusting moldy look, there is also the complications of it causing even more disaster on the inside of the lines with clogging.
Hard water clogging is disastrous if left untreated, and can destroy entire home plumbing lines in the worst case scenarios. As previously discussed, scale is a big part of this as well, and buildup of scale is not only bad to look at but just as harmful. In a situation where a real estate agent wants to unload a house on a couple, and that couple sees the hard water buildup on the pipe, the couple would have a right to be worried since this could lead to problems in the future.
Hard water buildup significantly lowers the value of a home to potential buyers, especially if there isn’t a water softener system in place. That is extra cost on their end, and the buyer shouldn’t have to come out of their pocket for such an easy to fix solution. Even if the visual aspects of hard water are taken care of, there could still be water restriction problems due to clogging. Maybe a shaky sink that goes crazy every time it gets turned on high, or even an expensive shower that leaves disgusting soap scum that builds up over a week of use. A water softener should be a part of every home that is on the market that wants the best for the customer.
There are a variety of ways that a great water softener will save you money, and starting at the top of the list is the increased lifespan of all appliances that use water. If you’ve put out money for a new bathroom set, or even a new kitchen faucet then you don’t want second grade water running through it. Besides the nasty chalky buildup that will occur over time on your pristine looking designs, there is the problem that is occurring internally that gets worse each passing day with buildup and clogging. If a customer drops thousands of dollars on a kitchen and bathroom renovation and has their pipes bursts just a few days later because of hard water buildup then it is safe to say they are going to be very angry.
A lot of times when doing self-installs of faucets consumers don’t take into the account the equipment they’re removing and what is on it. If there is a lot of buildup on the equipment you’re replacing, then chances are that it will only be a matter of time before you see it on your brand new installs. By taking care of the hard water at the root, then any appliance you install afterwards will be taken care of as well.
One of the other surprising things that comes with soft water is cleaner clothes. If you’ve spent a lot of money shuffling through detergents, and yet none of them got the job done then you may suspect your washing machine. At that point you replace the washing machine with a top of the line one, and the problem still persists with the clothes being clean, but not as pristine as they should be. At this point you’re out a couple of hundred dollars and still don’t know what the problem is.
Most people don’t realize that detergents and hard water don’t mix well from the get go, so it was a losing battle the moment you started the machine. Softer water even goes so far as to require less than 50% detergent compared to hard water, with the increased softness of your clothes being a natural design. So not only are buyers saving on detergent, but fabric softener as well. This by itself saves loads of money per year, and that’s not even counting in the lifespan argument of consumers that say their clothes last longer and retain color longer when using soft water. There are absolutely no benefits at all of using hard water over soft water when doing the laundry, so keep that in the front of your priority list.
Earlier it was discussed how a couple looking to buy a house would be turned off by the hard water buildup in a home that doesn’t have a water softener. With the new age of search engines in effect online, some home finding sources allow couples to search for homes based on specific features, with one of those features being if the home has a water softening system. A lot of results will be omitted from a potential buyer if this filter is selected, and you’ll lose out on a potential buyer. A good plumbing system is a very important part of buying a house, as no one wants to deal with hidden costs in the future.
The best way to present this as not a problem is by installing a great water softener to not only fix the current problems with the home plumbing, but to also maintain it for when it is time to sell. Savvy sellers have even started to include this feature in their listing as a way to lure potential buyers-and it worked. So for a seller that is currently in the market to sell their home and they don’t have a water softening system in place, you’ll be going against very experienced sellers that have already installed a system in their home.
Lastly, if you’ve often dealt with a higher than average energy bill then it could be associated with the water in your home. Appliances that have hard water buildup don’t work as efficiently as they used to, forcing them to work extra harder just to get to normal throughput. Besides causing extra strain on the appliances, it also puts a burden on your bills as the appliances are working overtime just to compensate for the hard water buildup in the home. This will be more of an issue in a home of a least 4, where there are a lot of dishes and water use that takes place throughout the day. With a water softener in place the appliances will go back to working at normal capacity, and for the dishes stains will be removed a lot better since the water won’t have to work overtime to get it to good enough temperature. In fact with a water softener in place it might be wise to take advantage of bill leveling, if your company allows it. You’ll get extra savings the entire year, and all because you have a water softener that is doing all the heavy lifting for you.
Using in Apartments
Things get a little complicated when trying to soften water for the apartment, mostly due to strict guidelines on the property that are in place. And even in a situation where you were giving permission to install one, the way the apartments are set up wouldn’t even allow it to work correctly. There are solutions for apartments with hard water, although most of the options are very complex. The simplest one is to talk to the office managers of the complex and convince them to install one that works for everyone. This not only saves a lot of money for the apartments, but it increases the lifespan of their appliances which get cycled out every other year due to internal damage. If you’re more of the direct type, get the address or phone number to corporate and send them a nice detailed letter with the pros, cons and even costs of installing the system. Make sure that it’s detailed, or you may never get a response. For users that live in smaller apartment settings that’s owned by a single landlord, the option to convince the landlord to install one becomes infinitely easier, especially if you’re willing to split the costs with them. This of course means that when you leave they get to keep it, so pick your battles on that one.
If speaking to the people in charge fails, it becomes up to you to try some interesting little gadgets that may or may not solve your problems. For shower use in the bathroom, you can receive the benefits of a water softener by purchasing a single shower head water softener for as little as $30 bucks. You’ll get the same benefits of having a whole home water softener installed, except that it will be restricted to your bathroom. This is a very isolated solution, and if you’re more of a bath type of person this option becomes completely useless. There is also the issue of if you already bought and installed a custom shower head, then it will literally be money down the drain. There is also a market for cheap shower head water softeners and it’s very easy to get ripped off. Even the top of the line shower head water softeners won’t perform as well as a whole home solution, so even though you are getting the benefit that you desire, you’re still missing out on a lot. The best solution in this instance is to pair a shower head softener with another single softener in the house, in a way to bridge the experience.
In this article there were some electric water softeners that worked by attaching to the pipes, and didn’t require salt or even touching the plumbing at all. Depending on how your apartment is set up, installing one of these could be a breeze, and on top of that you would get the whole home benefit without having to resort to single gadgets. This is the most ideal solution if it can be installed, but then there comes the mumbling from the market about these types of devices. Many people swear by them, but as noted above, they are a notch down from the standard devices that use salt. Salt based water softeners will be king for a very long time, so in this specific situation beggars can’t be choosers. If you live in an apartment complex that will allow you to use an electric water softener then that’s your best bet, especially since when you move you can take it with you. With such a small footprint, ease of installation and the ability to retain a lot of the better benefits of water softening, it really is a winner for apartment installing.
If you have an RV and also happen to live in an apartment, this weird combination will benefit you in that depending on the portable water softener you purchase, you may be able to use it in your apartment. Like the electronic option you can take this with, but this is going to be completely dependent on the pipes and their placement. Always consult with the person in charge before trying anything so you don’t risk your security deposit, or worse. The least desirable of these options is this, since a portable water softener will require manual regeneration. If it ends up being installed in a place that is out of the way, it can be a real pain to deal with when you really need it. This should be considered a last resort out of all of the other options, as it requires the most patience.
The last thing you could try are over the counter cleaning products, which will give you temporary relief depending on what you want to do. Looking closely in stores reveal that they make products that are built specifically for hard water whether it be shampoos, detergents, dishwashing liquids, hand soap, soap, washing machine boosters and even special tabs that clean out drains. All of these are up for debate on how well they work, but if it is your last option, it is better than nothing. For the thriftier consumer there are even home remedies for such things, like using a special flavor of Kool-Aid to completely clean out the stains in your dishwasher caused by hard water. If you reach that point and have to try it, remember that something is always better than nothing.
Things to Remember
Price really shouldn’t come into play when choosing a water softener on this list, due to the eventual cost savings down the road that it gives consumers in other areas. Spending a few extra dollars for the best water softener for your needs is worth it, since it pays for itself over time. By going with a less than stellar option, you’ll miss out on some premium features that may have benefited your situation from the start. Getting a cheap water softener is like neglecting every single appliance in your home that uses water. Going with a great option up front is recommended, so you don’t look back and have to regret it later.
Electronic water softeners are still considered a new technology, and at this point is a proven one. Even though they lag behind salt based softeners, they are in no way a bad choice if that is the unit you decide on. Having a premium electronic water softener is better than having a cheap one, or none at all. They do have a lot less guaranteed time on them, minus the best electronic one on the list like the Eddy Electronic Water Descaler which offers full lifetime repair and a 1 year money back guarantee. This is a rarity for the electronic market, so with that it’s easy to see that the company stands behind its product. And just like the company, you have to stand behind the choice you make with a water softener, as it basically is a decision that can make or break your house.
There are plenty of options for prospective buyers when it comes to the water softener market, especially with the expansion to electronic forms of softening. The water softener reviews on this page should help you choose the best fit for you and you can use the comparison chart if you are not sure about features, size or ratings to narrow down your choices. As these two fight it out over the next few years customers will have even more choices to turn to when deciding the best option for their home, apartment or RV. The edge for price will always go to the electronic water softeners, as their cheaper to manufacturer chips are not only warrantied for less years but easier to replace overall.
The install is also light years ahead with an electronic system, so the edge once again goes to electronic. For some models installing is as simple as finding the correct pipes and wrapping the wires around them. And without having a tank to refill with salt, once again the edge for ease of use goes to the electronic versions which simply sets itself and leaves you to your daily routines. They are the ultimate set it and forget it devices when it comes to water softening, and if you need a solution for an apartment complex then more than likely this will be the best for both sides. But even with all of those checks in the win column, electronic water softeners lag behind the standard salt units by a good gap.
Salt based water softeners are king in this field, because although they are less likely to go into an apartment complex, they are capable of handling heavier loads in a big home, and are also ideal for RV systems, whereas an electronic unit is not. The installations are still as easy as ever, with minor plumbing skills required. The better brands on the list make it a point to provide the most detailed manual possible so that you as a buyer feel comfortable installing this complicated piece of equipment. Even as one of the most complicated pieces of equipment in the home, it’ll be an easy install and simple to maintain provided you have a system with generous functions.
You’ll also get the full benefits of cleaner drinking water, scale removal, bright and softer clothes and even awesome bathroom water making everyone in your home feel invigorated and refreshed. The only reason to not choose a salt based water softener would be to avoid the maintenance, which is minor. Water softeners of today are equipped with smart systems that learn as you use them so that when they regenerate it is only when needed, meaning you spend less time refilling the tank with salt. Whether electronic or standard though, the winner will always be the user when choosing the best water softener.