10 Best Water Softener Systems for Well Water & Whole House [2019]

The best water softener needs to be efficient to solve hard water problems and save you many hours in cleaning your plumbing and appliances.

That's why we've spent more than 80 hours putting water softener systems through a variety of tests until we crowned the best products available to buy right now.

In this post, we're going to review 10 best home water softeners you can buy for your home or office. You'll also come away knowing what the top features are to look for in a high-quality water softener to make the right decision.

There are water softeners to match every budget and every hard water situation. Scroll down to find in-depth reviews of the top-rated whole house water softeners and more information.

So, dig into the information below to get started.

Top Picks Best Water Softeners Comparison

Are you in a hurry? Check The Quick Chart

AFWFilters WS48-56sxt10 Fleck

Capacity: 48,000 Grain
Household sizes: 5-6 people
Weight: 130 Pounds
Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 54 inch

Whirlpool WHES30

Whirlpool WHES30

Capacity: 30,000 Grain
Household sizes: 1-4 people
Weight: 102 Pounds
Dimensions: 19 x 18 x 43.5

Tier1 High-Efficiency WS-165-150

Tier1 High-Efficiency WS-165-150

Capacity: 48,000 Grain
Household sizes:  5-6 people
Weight: 10.4 Pounds
Dimensions:
10 x 10 x 62

Genesis 2 Premier By Discount Water Softeners

Genesis 2 Premier

Capacity: 96,000 Grain
Household sizes:  6-7 people
Weight:  Pounds
Dimensions: 31x 18x 74

Triple Action Poly Salt Free Water Softener

Triple Action Poly Salt Free Water Softener

Weight:  4 Pounds
Dimensions: 4.5 x 4.5 x 10

How We’ve Conducted the Test To Select the Best Performer

We’ve got a team of 16 evaluators. We’ve tried more than 50 products from different water softener brands. We’ve also spent about 300 hours to check the models which offer peak performance according to specific purposes.

10 Best Water Softener Reviews 2019

We reviewed each of the water softeners in terms of features, efficiency, installation, expected lifespan, maintenance, and price. We’ve included water softener systems for homes with city water, homes with well water, for supply with Iron and small to large homes.

Our years of experience and countless hours of research will have you up and enjoy healthy water in no time.

Read the in-depth write-ups for each of the 10 best water treatment systems.

1. AFWFilters WS48-56sxt10 Fleck :
Best for Very Hard Water

Specifications

  • Capacity: 48,000 grain
  • Flow Rate: 14 GPM
  • Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 54 inches
  • Household sizes: 5-7 people
  • Weight: 130 pounds
  • Maximum Pressure: 125 PSI
  • Color: Black

Top Features at a Glance

  •  Polyglass tank
  •  Fleck 5600Sxt digital metered control head
  •  1.5 cu. Ft. Upgraded 10% Cross-linked resin
  • Standard brine tank (14x33)
  • Mineral tank
  • Valve with bypass and adapter

Pros

  •  Complete system
  • Easy to install 
  •  Easy to understand instruction
  •  Excellent customer service

Cons

  •  Programming may take several tries

AFWFilters WS48-56sxt10 Fleck is a commercial grade complete water softening system that provides outstanding durability and longer resin life.

The unit comes with high-capacity 1.5 cubic feet 10% resin and 48,000 maximum grain capacity. It works effectively to remove large concentrations of chlorine from city water. What's more, it also eliminates the smell and test of chlorine from your water.

Of course, this water softener includes metered on-demand system for efficiency. The on-demand a metered system decreases the amount of salt use and lowers water waste. What's more, the paddle-wheel style meter is stronger. Moreover, it holds up better than the turbine-style meter.

The Standard 14x33 brine tank is durable and comes with brine and safety float. The included Fleck 5600SXT control head offers easy to use touchpad controls with an informative display. It allows you quick control over all settings and features.

Just as you'd expect, the installation of this system is easy. Of course, the package includes a water softener kit. Additionally, the yoke and high flow bypass valve make installation a breeze.

Although, there is 1-inch threaded fitting to connect to your water lines, you can easily change the yoke over to a ¾-inch to match your plumbing.


2. Whirlpool WHES30 :
Best Water Softener for the Money

Specifications

  • Capacity: 30,000 grain
  • Flow Rate: 7.6 GPM
  • Dimensions: 19 x 18 x 43.5 "
  • Household sizes: 1-4 people
  • Weight: 102 pounds
  • Hardness -filtering capacity: 95 GPG (maximum.)
  • Iron filtering capacity: 8 ppm

Top Features at a Glance

  •  Demand initiated regeneration technology
  •  Built in the USA
  • Salt Saving Technology 
  •  Do-It-Yourself Installation Kit
  • NSF Certified

Pros

  •  Smart design
  • Requires less maintenance 
  •  Reliable and easy to use
  •  Easy to clean
  • High-grade craftsmanship throughout

Cons

  •  Not best for homes with more than four members

Here's a popular water softening unit from the market leader Whirlpool. But its popularity is not only for the brand name but also for its smart design, reliability, affordability and much more.

For those who don't know, Whirlpool is the #1 selling appliance brand in the USA. It's no wonder that this brand has few water softeners and filters that have continued to top the lists with consumers.

Firstly, due to its mid-range capacity, it's one of the best economic options for small business or homes with four or people. Less capacity means fewer generation cycles and more savings on salt.

Secondly, it comes with a single tank space-saving design where the brine and resin tanks are combined into a compact unit. This unique design makes it a perfect and economical water softening system for light-duty shops and small offices.

Additionally, WHES30 water regeneration process is demand- initiated. It automatically calculates how much water and salt is necessary for the regeneration cycle. So, you'll enjoy significant water and salt savings.

What's more, the system features a low salt light indicator. It'll let you know when you require adding salt. So, no more guessing game!

The unit is very efficient. It removes high levels of hardness in the water of up to 95 grain per gallon. It also removes iron deposit up to 8 ppm, including ferrous iron. Of course, it requires very little maintenance to ensure its durability.

This Whirlpool salt water softener is certainly built to last. It comes with a generous 3-year warranty on controls and 10-years on the tank. It also offers a 1-year warranty for parts and labor that you can extend up to 2-year.

It's also worth noting that Whirlpool WHES30 is one of the Best NSF certified water softeners available.


3. Tier1 High-Efficiency WS-165-150

Specifications

  • Capacity: 48,000 grain
  • Flow Rate: 13 GPM
  • Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 62 inches
  • Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Color: Blue

Top Features at a Glance

  •  Cation resin (1.5 cubic feet)
  •  Digital meter valve with bypass (manual)
  •  3/4 inch water line connections
  • 14 x 42 Inch Brine Tank
  •  10 x 54 Inch Mineral Tank

Pros

  •  Smart design
  •  Compact & Space-saving
  • Energy efficient 
  •  Prevent limescale buildup
  • Easy to operate

Cons

  •  Pretty basic water softener
  • No low-salt indicator
  • No adapter included

If you're interested in basic salt-based water softener system for removing hardness from your household water, try Tier1 high-efficiency water softener. It's the right solution for your hard water problems.

The first thing you need to know is that it prevents limescale build-up. It can process up to 48,000 grains of hardness. It effectively removes the magnesium and calcium phosphate from hard water, of course without damaging the useful minerals. The generation takes only two hours.

There is a digital meter control valve with manual bypass. The LCD display shows pertinent operational information and is easy-to-read.

To ensure fast and easy installation, the package includes everything you need. It's a space-saving unit that allows for a tight area installation. Additionally, you can install it virtually anywhere, including your outdoor areas unless the temperature falls below freezing.


4. Discount Water Softeners Genesis 2 Premier - Best Upflow Water Softener

Specifications

  • Capacity: 96,000 grain
  • Overall Dimensions: 31x18x74
  • Service Flow Rate @ 15 psi
  • Pressure Drop : 22 GPM
  • Required Backwash Rate: 5 GPM
  • Household sizes: 6-7 people
  • Digital Metered: 1.25"
  • Voltage : 120V/60 HZ
  • Color: Black

Top Features at a Glance

  •  10% Crosslink Aldex resin
  •  3/4" and 1" bypass with an integrated turbine meter
  •  14x65 Resin tank
  •  Salt Grid to prevent salt bridging
  • On-Demand up flow control valve
  • High-efficiency up-flow technology

Pros

  • Efficient operation 
  •  Excellent capacity
  •  Easy to program
  • Simple installation
  •  Long-lasting performance

Cons

  • Costs more than a Fleck's water softener 

When it comes to quality, performance, and durability, this high efficiency water softener from Discount Water Softeners is one of the best options available. The unique up-flow technology ensures unmatched performance and savings.

The exclusive 96,000 grain capacity of Genesis 2 Premier makes it one of the best solutions for your large homes with 6 or more people. It can supply supplies you with 22 gallons of softened water per minute.

Genesis 2 Premier includes premium-quality 10% Crosslink Aldex resin that offers the highest capacity and durability. It's a highly efficient up-flow water softener that will help you save a significant amount of money in salt over traditional down flow water softening system. The system is designed to save you up to 64% less water and 75% on salt.

There is a 1.25-inch valve with electronic sensors, internal ceramic disc, and adjustable cycles. The direct flow design offers a more efficient operation with fewer moving parts. What's more, the reverse flow regeneration helps to preserve unused resin from unnecessary exchange saving salt.

The advanced smart control provides precise brining, reducing salt usage, whereas the selective backwashing decrease water usage over any standard water softeners. What's more, the brine refill helps to keep the brine tank cleaner.


5. Triple Action Poly Salt Free Water Softener

Specifications

  • Flow Rate: 30 GPM
  • Maximum Pressure: 140 PSI
  • Filtration surface area: 340 cm
  • Filter housing diameter: 12-1/4"
  • Drain valve: 1/2"
  • Installation Method: 1-inch pipe thread
  • Weight: 4 pounds
  • Color: Blue
  • Max. Working temperature: 140 degrees

Top Features at a Glance

  •  Combines scale control, water filtration, and siliphos treatment in one unit
  •  Designed for well or city water up to 25 grains hardness
  •  High impact poly-filter housing 
  •  Hard water bullet catalytic core (Lifetime )
  • Simple to disassemble and service
  • BPA FREE and NSF Certified

Pro​​​​s

  •  Compact and lightweight design
  •  Cost-effective
  •  Eco- friendly
  •  No wasted brine water
  • No backwashing brine
  • No electricity needed
  • Extra re-charge kit included

Cons

  •  Doesn’t remove chloramine from water

What’s great about this Triple Action water softener?

Read on to discover all the fantastic features!

If you don't want a salt-based water softener and just want to reduce or remove the effects of hard water, Triple Action Poly Salt-less Water Softener is a great product for you. Enjoy the purer, cleaner, and much tastier drinking water with this awesome water softener.

This triple-action system will offer you three functions- hard water filtration, softening, and conditioning. Importantly, it comes with all these features built-in. And actually, it does three individual functions in one compact system.

Firstly, it has a built-in removable and cleanable filter. Secondly, there is an “electro-mechanical” water conditioning core (catalytic process) that softens hard water. Finally, it holds polyphosphate crystals that keep the iron and aragonite in suspension and prevents spotting.

This salt-free system offers healthier water than any conventional salt-based water softeners. As it doesn’t regenerate or need to add salt, it’s ideal for septic systems too. It requires no backwashing and won’t waste any brine water.

You can install this compact unit anywhere where other systems or filters cannot work due to limited space. Additionally, it comes ready to install with stainless starter nipples and a pre-filled polyphosphate cartridge.

When it comes to cost, this bullet poly salt-free water softening system costs less than the most hard water treatment systems and water softeners.


Water Softener System Reviews Top Pick Chart

Image
Fleck 5600sxt Metered On-demand 48,000 Grain Water Softener with brine tank, bypass and 1" adapters
Iron Pro 2 Combination water softener iron filter Fleck 5600SXT digital metered valve 64,000 grain, 64k for whole house
Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener Digital SXT Metered Whole House System
ABCwaters 64k-56sxt-10bb 10% water softener, 64k grain capacity, Black
Hansing Whole House Water Softener System, High Efficiency Water Descaler, Heavy Duty Hard Water Filter - Reduce Scale and Chlorine for Heater, Shower Head, Dishwasher, Kitchen Sink and Laundry
Weight (Pounds)
119.5
20.4
20.8
147
6.25
Dimensions (inch)
14 x 7 x 21
37 x 16 x 16
27 x 17 x 62
12 x 12 x 52
3.9 x 3.9 x 23.7
Capacity(grain)
64,000
48,000
48,000
64000
280,000
Household sizes (people)
7-8
5-6
5-6
5-7
Large Family
Image
Fleck 5600sxt Metered On-demand 48,000 Grain Water Softener with brine tank, bypass and 1" adapters
Weight (Pounds)
119.5
Dimensions (inch)
14 x 7 x 21
Capacity(grain)
64,000
Household sizes (people)
7-8
Price Details
Image
Iron Pro 2 Combination water softener iron filter Fleck 5600SXT digital metered valve 64,000 grain, 64k for whole house
Weight (Pounds)
20.4
Dimensions (inch)
37 x 16 x 16
Capacity(grain)
48,000
Household sizes (people)
5-6
Price Details
Image
Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener Digital SXT Metered Whole House System
Weight (Pounds)
20.8
Dimensions (inch)
27 x 17 x 62
Capacity(grain)
48,000
Household sizes (people)
5-6
Price Details
Image
ABCwaters 64k-56sxt-10bb 10% water softener, 64k grain capacity, Black
Weight (Pounds)
147
Dimensions (inch)
12 x 12 x 52
Capacity(grain)
64000
Household sizes (people)
5-7
Price Details
Image
Hansing Whole House Water Softener System, High Efficiency Water Descaler, Heavy Duty Hard Water Filter - Reduce Scale and Chlorine for Heater, Shower Head, Dishwasher, Kitchen Sink and Laundry
Product Name
Weight (Pounds)
6.25
Dimensions (inch)
3.9 x 3.9 x 23.7
Capacity(grain)
280,000
Household sizes (people)
Large Family
Price Details

6. AFWFilters Fleck 5600sxt :
Best Salt Based Water Softener

Specifications

  • Capacity: 64,000 grain
  • Flow Rate: 16 GPM
  • Dimensions: 14 x 7 x 21 inches
  • Household sizes: 7-8 people
  • Weight: 119.5 pounds
  • Resin Media Fine mesh
  • Color: Almond

Top Features at a Glance

  •  Comes with a standard 8% Cross linked resin
  •  Fleck 5600 SXT metered softener valve
  •  Upgraded paddlewheel meter
  • FIBERGLASS USA Labeled resin tank
  •  Overflow elbow for brine tank
  • ½" drain barb
  • 1" Noryl plastic male threaded bypass
  • Safety Float
  • AFWFilters Fleck 5600sxt scan and service application

Pros

  •  Cost-efficient
  •  Flawless performance
  •  Great water-quality
  • Easy to program 

Cons

  •  Installation needs basic plumbing skills

The Fleck 5600sxt is one of the most popular and best-selling water softeners out there. That's probably because it provides excellent quality softened water and it's cost-efficient, durable and reasonably priced. The system comes with all of the key features you'd hope to see.

 This water softeners has a capacity of 48,000 grains. It uses ion exchange process to remove magnesium and calcium efficiently from hard water.

Although it's a salt-based water softener, you can also use Potassium instead of Sodium salt if you're on a salt-restricted diet or you don't like the taste of salty water.

The upgraded paddle-wheel meter will offer you the meter-based generation. That means, the system measures your water usage and regenerates water automatically on-demand. This feature lowers your expenses and saves your money on water and salt.

It's also worth noting that its Structural tanks and metered control valves are made in the USA. So, you'll enjoy the long-lasting durability of this unit.

The square brine tank has 250-pounds of salt capacity. Importantly, the system has a safety float that prevents overfilling. Additionally, the included overflow- drain acts as an additional backup to avoid water messes.

Another key feature is the new fleck 5600sxt by AFWFilters scan and service application that brings information about your water softener at the touch of your fingerprints. It allows you to access detailed configuration, technical Documentations, spare parts, and troubleshooting manual via your Android or Apple smartphone.

To sum up, this Fleck 5600 water softener can be an excellent investment for well water household.


7. AFWFilters Iron Pro 2 :
Best Water Softener for Well Water with Iron

Specifications

  • Capacity: 48,000 grain
  • Dimensions: 37 x 16 x 16 inches
  • Flow Rate: Up to 12 gpm
  • Water Consumption: up to 2.7 gpm
  • Max. Pressure: 100 Pounds (psi)
  • Regeneration: Meter-based, down-flow or up-flow
  • Color: by default Black or almond
  • Material: Polyglass 100%

Top Features at a Glance

  •  All in one- water softener+ iron filter
  •  Fine mesh resin
  •  High level of iron removal & long life
  •  Fleck 5600SXT metered valve
  • Auto-generation process

Pros

  • Large grain capacity
  • High iron removal
  • Long-lasting
  • Efficient
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Confusing installation instructions
  • Needs pre-filter if iron- level is very high

If iron is an extra nuisance in your well water, then Iron Pro 2 whole house system is the solution for you. The water softener and filter combo of Iron Pro 2 is best for well water with iron. It'll provide you a high flow of soft and filtered water for your whole house (House hold sizes: 7-8 people). Iron Pro 2 is the best whole house water filter and softener combo.

Iron Pro 2 is one of the best whole house water treatment systems. The unit comes with 64,000-grain capacity. That means it'll solve the water hardness problem and bring the right amount of soft water of a big to the family of 7 to 8 members.

Surprisingly, this best iron removal system comes with an impressive hardness scale. It can remove hardness up to 75gpg. What's more, it handles manganese up to 6 ppm and iron up to 6-8 ppm.

Additionally, the system includes FINE MESH RESIN that outlasts well in an Iron-Rich environment. This feature makes this AFWFilters Iron Pro 2 one of the best water softeners for well water with iron.

No more water or salt waste with Iron Pro 2. It offers a meter-based auto-generation process that helps you to save a lot with annual energy consumption.

Moreover, the Fleck 5600SXT valve helps it to work efficiently. The SXT digital controller has touchpad controls, which are pretty straightforward to operate. The valve also comes with an outstanding warranty.


8. Fleck 5600SXT:
Best Whole House Water Softener System

Specifications

  • Capacity: 48,000 grain
  • Flow Rate: 12 GPM
  • Dimensions: 27 x 17 x 62 inches
  • Household sizes: 5-7 people
  • Weight: 20.8 pounds
  • Water Consumption: 3 GPM
  • Certification Energy Star

Top Features at a Glance

  • High capacity 8% cross-linked resin (1.5 cubic feet)
  • Fleck 5600sxt digital on-demand paddle wheel meter
  • Fleck bypass valve
  • Square brine tank with safety float
  • Male threaded yoke connection (1-inch)
  • Made in the USA

Pros

  • Simple to setup 
  • Reliable & operational
  • Well-made
  • Easy to program

Cons

  • Drainage tubing not included
  • Poor instruction

If you're looking for the best quality water softener for very hard water, then this Fleck water softener may be just the thing you need.

It comes with high capacity 8% cross-linked resin that removes different impurities from hard water effectively. The 12 GPM flow rate works in any house with up to 6 members.

The design features a black square brine tank with safety float. What's more, there is 1-inch male threaded yoke connection. The Fleck bypass valve is very efficient at softening your whole house water supply.

The system promises to have a low waste of water and salt overall. The Fleck 5600sxt digital on-demand paddle wheel meter does a great job of providing an actual amount of water for your usage. So, no more waste of salt and water!

This great water softener is sure to last for many years. It comes with a generous 10-year on the tank and 5-year warranty on the control head.


9. ABCwaters 5600sxt-64k-10:
Best Whole House Water Softener

Specifications

  • Capacity: 64,000 grain
  • Flow Rate: 13 GPM
  • Dimensions:12 x 12 x 52 inches
  • Household sizes: 5-7 people
  • Weight: 147 pounds
  • Color: Black

Top Features at a Glance

  •  2.0 cubic feet of high capacity 10% cross-link resin
  •  12” diameter PG 2.5T
  •  Standard black brine tank with safety float
  •  Fleck 5600SXT Digital Control with a drain line
  • Backed by a 10-year warranty

Pros

  •  Ideal for a medium to large family
  •  Great grain capacity
  •  Long-lasting performance
  •  Tough and rugged design
  • Easy to install
  • Reasonable price

Cons

  •  Water connectors are not compatible with PVC pipe connections
  • Drain tubing not included

Next on our list is the ABCwaters 5600sxt-64k-10 water softening system. It outperforms the other brands when it comes to quality, price and warranty.

No matter, you’re on city water or well water, this unit is designed to solve your specific water issues. It removes hard water culprits and unwanted contaminant, tastes and smell from water before entering your home. That means, now soft and filtered water is for every room in your home with this water softener.

This complete residential water softener system comes with 64,000-grain capacity (suggested for household sizes of 5-7 people). What’s more, the 2.0 cubic feet of high capacity 10% cross-linked resin media ensures a longer life span.

The whole house water softener includes premium-quality Granular Activated Carbon (GAC). It prevents chlorine from damaging the water softener resin media. Additionally, if you can properly maintain, your water softener resin will last for decades.

It’s undoubtedly a reliable water softener for general home usage. The 13 GPM flow rate is definitely ideal for a family consisted of 6 to 7 members. You can efficiently run everything in your home, including washing machine, sink, showers and dishwasher.

ABCwater whole house water softener is made using the highest-end components. The system includes two American made tanks: 12-inch diameter mineral tank and a standard brine tank. Both the tanks come with a generous 10-year warranty.

The best part of this metered water softener is the SXT Fleck control valve. It comes pre-programmed for the majority of the settings. So, no more guesswork! Additionally, it offers some great features, including touchpad control, a backlit LCD, user-friendly interface and much more.

Installing this whole house water system is a breeze. The package includes an installation guide and everything necessary for installation.

Overall, this best-rated water softener is a top option for people who are looking for a whole house softener system for a fair budget.


10. Hansing HSFP-20IN - Best Cheap Softener System for Small Home

Specifications

  • Capacity: 280,000 grain
  • Flow Rate: 5-10 GPM
  • Applicable water pressure: 20-100 Psi
  • Applicable water sources: Municipal water and well water
  • Operating temperature: 40-110℉
  • Style: 3/4" Water Softener System
  • Color: Silver
  • Dimensions: 3.9 x 3.9 x 23.7 "
  • Weight: 6.25 pounds
  • Port size: 3/4" Stainless Steel threaded (FNPT

TOP FEATURES AT A GLANCE

  • Heavy-duty hard water filter
  • High-efficiency water descaler
  • 304 stainless steel housing
  • High flow design
  • 95 to 98% effective rate

Pros

  • Versatile 
  • Reduce scale and chlorine
  • Rapid action
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Durable

Cons

  • Reduce water pressure slightly

Hansing Whole House Water Softener System is another excellent salt-free water softener available. It softens water without any sodium or phosphorous. It works effectively both on municipal water and well water. The effective rate is up to 95 to 98%.

Interestingly, this whole house water softening system uses soften media made from coconut activated carbon and fruits polysaccharide. This unique technology inhibits up to 98% of scale and removes 99.5% of chlorine while leaving in all essential magnesium and calcium. It also removes odor and bad tastes from water providing you healthier, tasty water without any harmful chemicals.

280,000 high grain capacity means it’s a perfect water softening system for a large family. It’ll release you from routine maintenance such as salt addition, programming, and fouling, which will save your time and money.

It comes with 304 stainless steel housing which is resistant to rust and corrosion. What’s more, the unit is very lightweight and compact. It’s also easy to install. The sleek, slim design makes it perfect to fit into relatively small spaces.


That’s it- the list of 10 best home water softeners 2019.

Below you’ll find a comprehensive buying guide along with some extra information on water and water softening system.

So, sit back and Enjoy reading!

We’re going to give you an overview of all the related information about water softener.

The Water Softener System - Buying Guide

You want to be sure that your beloved family members won’t experience contaminated water conditions. So, you take care of your household’s water quality.

Right?

If you want to confirm that your family members are using and drinking organic pollutant- and chemical- free, fresh water, you should passionately consider installing a best water softener in your house.

But how to find the right and best water softener system?  What to look for when choosing a water softener?

There are some factors that you should consider when selecting a water softener.

Capacity/ Grain- rating

Determine your daily & weekly household water usage

The first thing that you should focus on is the number of your family members and the average amount of water usage of your family. If you decide to go for a salt softener, consider the resin capacity of the unit.

Larger capacity of a water softener means less frequently the unit needs to regenerate. Capacity is also depends on the brine tank. The lowest capacity starts from 15,000 grain whereas some units may come with 96,000+grain capacity.

The following formula can help you to determine your required water softener capacity:

Required softener capacity= Hardness (grain per gallon) * Number of People (+1 for appliances) * 80 gallons * Duration between regeneration

For example,

Hardness level:     9 GPM

Number of people: 4

Generation cycle: 7 days

Hence, the minimum required capacity= 9 * (4+1) * 80 * 7= 25,200 grains

If your household water has iron, suppose it’s 1.5 ppm, the minimum required capacity= {(9+5) * 1.5} * (4+1) * 80 * 7= 46,200 grains.

Note that, it requires adding 5 grains for each ppm of dissolved iron detected. Here, we assume that the average amount of water used by one person per day is 80 gallons. However, it may vary 70 to 100 gallons. So, you can adjust the figure accordingly.

The Hardness Level Of Your Water

Determine the 'hardness' of your water.

Before buying a water softener, it's important to determine the hardness level in your household water.

But how to figure out the hardness level of water?

Here, we’ll discuss three easy methods to determine the hardness level of water.

Method 1:

From the USGS's concentration of hardness map, you may get a rough idea of how hard is water in your area

USGS's concentration of hardness map

This map shows that more than half of the USA is suffering the problem of high mineral concentration in the water. However, the modern water treatment technology has evolved to reduce this impact.

Method 2:

Another way to determine the hardness level of your household water is by using the best water hardness test kit or TDS meter. It's a popular method among health-conscious people. Usually, in TDS meter, the hardness level is showed in ppm or mg/L. However, you can convert it into grains by using the following formula.

Hardness (in grains) = Hardness in ppm/17.1

For example, if the mineral concentration of your water is 190 ppm,

Hardness (in grains) = 190 ppm/17.1= 11.1

Method 3:

You can also take the help of professional lab for getting the full composition analysis of your water hardness.

If the TDS is below 7gpg, your household water doesn't need to soften.

If the TDS is 7+gpg, the minerals in the water start to become problematic. So, you need to take steps to minimize the impact of the dissolved compounds in your water.

Resin/ Cross-link Figure (For Salt-Based Softener)

Most of the water softening resins in the USA feature 8% cross-link. However, some water-softening systems are also available that come with 10% cross-link. Higher cross-link refers that the resin is more resistant to both physical damage and oxidation. Note that chlorinated water is likely to be more damaging to the cross-links. The number in cross-link refers to the lifespan or years of extended life for the resin.

10% cross-link is more durable and offers longer softener life than 8% cross-link resin.

Flow Rate

Look for the flow rate (how many gallons of water it can supply per minute) of each water softener system.

Typical Water Use of some appliances
Shower: 2 GPM
Dishwasher or washing machine: 1.5 GPM
Faucet: 1 GPM
Toilet: 3.0 GPF (gallons per flush)

How high of a flow rate you require depends on the number of people in your home who will use the water at the same time. In general, for every 1-2 persons, you'll need a minimum of 4 GPM.

  • For 2 persons 5 GPM
  • For 3 persons 6 GPM
  • For 4 persons 7 GPM and so on.

For medium to a large family that has 2+ bathrooms, the minimum required flow rate is 12 GPM.

Single household shouldn't opt below 7 GPM.

Decide on technology

Water softeners use different technology to soften hard water. Some of these are: ion exchange, salt-free and salt-based.

When it comes to choosing the right technology, pay attention to the features that will help you to obtain the desired outcome. Take your time and understand what each technology offers before investing your hard-earned cash in it.

Certification

Before making the final decision on a water softener, you should check the ANSI/ NSF certifications. Another certification that you should look for is the WQA Gold Seal.
Although having certification doesn't ensure that the unit is error-free, it ensures that the unit has passed the strict requirements of industry standards.

Certification of the water softener ensures that the unit has rigorously tested and passed the strict requirements of industry standards. And it'll also give you some confidence that you're getting a high-quality, durable and safe product.

Water Softener Brand & Warranty

There is the largest selection of water softener from various brands. Make sure you get the best product at the best prices. Never make any rush decision on the water softener.
Check out the warranties of the water softening system. Some company offers separate warranties for different components or water softener parts. Some brands also provide after-sale services.

**Local water treatment professional may help you to understand the water type in your area and be able to inform you what water softener works and what doesn't.

** Check the municipal regulation if the local authority has any restriction on salt-based water softeners.

Water Softener Price And Your Budget

Plan on how much you can spend on a water softener. Also, you need to consider installation and maintenance costs.

The overall cost of a residential water softener may be $500 to $2500. Water softener having higher grain tends to be expensive than lower grain units. For an average 40-pound of softening salt, you have to add monthly maintenance cost $5 to $10. Additionally, take into consideration the cost of od wastewater during backwashes.

Other Features to consider

Digital control head- This feature will simplify the monitoring, configuration, and water softener troubleshooting.
Built-in bypass valve- It'll save you from the hassle of installing one.

** It's wise to choose separated over combined brine/ resin tanks if space isn't a concern for you.

** For water softener replacement parts, opt for universal components rather than propriety one. It'll help you to find the replacement parts easily.

Top Water Softener Brands Featured on this List

More Facts about Water and Water Softener

Water Softener Alternatives

Is there any alternative to a water softener?

Water descaler is one of the best alternatives to a water softener. In general, descaler uses an electromagnetic field to change the properties of minerals adhered to the water when it passes through the pipes. It prevents scale from showing up in your dishes, faucets, and sinks.

If you're looking for something different than traditional water softening systems, you'll love the iSpring ED2000 Whole House Electronic Descaleran alternative to a water softener.

The ED2000 is a leading-edge, computerized electronic water conditioner. It's perfect for hard water areas 10 to 19 grains. It softens hard water without the need for filter cartridges, salt, or any chemicals.

One of the advantages of using this water conditioner is that it keeps healthy minerals in the soften water and at the same time prevents them from forming the limescale deposits. What's more, it reduces energy consumption and extends the life of appliances

Pros

  • ​Great for your home and the environment
  •  No plumbing modifications required​​
  •  Requires minimal space for installation​​
  •  Plumbing and maintenance-free
  • Cost-effective

Cons

  • Temporary water treatment effect
  • Does not remove hard minerals from your water

Types of Water Softeners

Water softeners soften hard water in different ways. So, based on softening process, they come in different categories.

Remember!

Some water soften types may be perfect for your home or business, and some may not.

Four major types of water softeners are:

  • Ion exchange
  • Salt-free
  • Magnetic
  • Reverse osmosis

Here, we’ll provide you all the details of each type’s specialties.

1. Ion-exchange / Salt-based system

This type of water softener exchanges or replaces the ions present in water with potassium or sodium ions. Through ion-exchange process it removes the hard mineral from the water. However, ion-exchange water softeners are not recommended for drinking water due to the high sodium levels.

ADVANTAGES

  •  Completely reduce/ remove hard minerals
  • Effectively prevents limescale buildup
  • Removes spots and stains 
  • Cost-effective in the long term
  • Quick to deliver results

DISADVANTAGES

  •  Large device, you may need some spaces to have it installed
  • May enhance your sodium intake
  • Requires salt refill and resin bed cleaning

2. Salt-free / salt-less system

It’s also called salt-free descaler. This system requires no salt, potassium or chemicals. It only uses a filter, so the minerals in the water remain unaffected. The salt-free system uses a softening agent fo deactivating the scale-forming factors in the hard water.

If you’re on a low-salt diet or live in areas where salt-based softeners are restricted for environmental concerns, the salt-less system is ideal for you. However, this system isn’t effective for very hard water.

ADVANTAGES

  •  The system needs minimum maintenance
  •  Relatively affordable

DISADVANTAGES

  •  Not effective to remove spots and stains
  • Slow process
  • Not buildup preventive in appliances

3. Magnetic/ Electronic

At this treatment system, the hard water passes through a magnetic field to reduce the water’s hardness. The concept is that the powerful magnet pulls and alters the forms of the hard minerals found in water. This option is recommended only when the water hardness level is low.

ADVANTAGES

  •  Compact design
  •  Inexpensive
  •  Low operational cost
  • Simple to install
  •  Easy to maintain

DISADVANTAGES

  •  Temporary solution; within 48 hours the water reverts to its previous condition
  • If the hardness level is 8+ GPG (grain per gallon), it’s not effective

4. Reverse Osmosis 

This process uses pressure to push hard water through a semi-permeable membrane to eliminate dangerous contaminants and delivers fresh, pure drinking water. This system can remove up to 98% of impurities. This type of system actually acts as water filter rather than a water softener.

ADVANTAGES

  • Requires no additives/ salt
  • Not expensive 
  • Low operation cost
  • Compact in size

DISADVANTAGES

  • Apart from minerals, it removes the beneficial nutrients in the water
  • Not very effective at eliminating hardness

Water Softener vs. Water Filter- Which one is better ?

  • What is the significant difference between a water softening system and a water filter?
  • Which system is better to treat my household water?

These are the two most common questions that many of us ask when we consider to buy a whole house water filter/ softener. Probably, you also have the same asking.

Water softener or water filter- what's in the name?

Water softener

Water softening is a process that removes the ions (in most cases magnesium and calcium) from water that causes the water to be hard. And a water softener is a unit that softens water by removing minerals from hard water. Simply to say, in this process, minerals are eliminated and replaced them with a softening agent.

Water filter

Water filtration system uses different filters of different sizes to trap the larger particles (such as manganese, iron, etc.) or even bacteria and micro-organism existing in the water source. 

Most of the water filtration systems are Point-To-Use devices, for example, they need to attach to a faucet or installs under a kitchen sink (Under sink water filter). Water filter provides filtered water only at a single channel/ outlet. For this reason, water filters are smaller and less costly than a water softener.

So, A Water Softener Actually Work?

The purpose of softening household water is to prevent limescale build-up in the appliances and plumbing systems and to protect them from pre-developed wear out.

In general, water softener systems are set up at the Point-Of-Entry of your house water supply. That means it requires connecting to the main point of water supply and softens all water in your whole house.

To answer the question is "YES, a softener also filters water. However, at the water softening system "all" that is eliminated are hard water ions. Softening systems are not designed to make water drinkable by filtering heavy metals, microorganism, chlorine, fluoride or other chemicals. A water softener will provide softer water which won't stain any surfaces.

Does a water filter soften hard water?

The answer is, “Not effectively or efficiently enough.”
But, if you want to improve your water aesthetics or if your water contains certain impurities or contaminants such as mercury, lead or pesticides, a water filter can be the right choice for you. A water filter will provide you healthier, cleaner water.


Which water treatment system is better? What will I need - a water softener or a water filter?

In fact, it depends on the water condition of your household.
Every water softening system serves as a water filtration system, but not every water filtration system serves as a water softener.

If your household water contains high-level of calcium as well as other minerals, and limescale buildup is a constant headache for you, you need a water softening system.
On the other hand, if you face potentially harmful contaminants and if you use water for drinking purpose, for removing the unpleasant odor and taste, you should opt for a filter system to your home.

A water softener will protect your appliances and plumbing, but a water filter also protects your health and provides great- tasting water.

How To Install a Water Softener

Fortunately, the basic installation of all whole house water softening system is more or less the same. Installing by yourself will help you save your hard-earned money.

However, installing a system properly sometimes can be challenging. Anyway, here we’ll discuss the main steps of the installation process for maximum clarity:

  1. Read the manual or browse the links to instructive video for detailed installation instructions.
  2. Turn off the main water supply, and then turn all the faucets in your home
  3. Place your water softener on a dry level surface.
  4. Measure the distance between the water line and the bypass ports on the tank. Connect the two by using a copper tubing of that length.
  5. Install the discharge tube to the head of the softener. (It may vary depending on the water softener model.)
  6. Connect the overflow tube and discharge tube to the drain.
  7. Install the bypass valve on the top of softener’s head and tighten the clamp.
  8. Hook up the tubing to the bypass regulator.
  9. Connect the water softener to the water lines.
  10. Scrub the fittings and solder them.
  11. Turn the water back on and start the system.

5 Common Water Softener Problems & Their Solution

Water softeners are very reliable when it comes to softening your water supply. But the system may suffer a breakdown or malfunction of some sort.

Some common problems are:

1. Clogs and blockage

It’s the most common problem with a water softener. When the salt and other minerals accumulate and create deposit against the interior of the softener, clog or blockage may occur. The deposits block the water flow.

Symptom: you may find out a huge decrease in the water softening, which will feel less soft and behave more like hard water.

Solution: Turn off the water supply to the water softener. Then, tap the salt or other deposit until it breaks up. Remove the loose buildup by using a scoop or just a container.

2. Salt Bridges

Salt bridge is a deposit of hard, crusty materials created by sodium inside the brine tanks. This happens if you install the water softener in a high humidity area or if you add too much salt or wrong salt to your softener.

Symptom: It restricts the flow of water, prevents your softener from using any salt and hampers the regeneration cycle of the unit.

Solution: You can fix the problem by yourself or hire professionals. Take a long stick or something like a broom, thrust it down into the water softener to break up the crust. Clean out all the loosened build up

3. Motor Failure

It’s the most vital part of a water softener and prone to failure. If your system fails to start, first, check that it’s not the disconnected cable which is causing the issue. If the cable is okay, the issue is of the motor.

Solution: To solve this problem, it’s best to contact the manufacturer of your water softener. However, to enhance the lifespan of the motor, it’s necessary to maintain your water softener regularly.
(Regular maintenance involves changing the filter, cleaning it, emptying it)

4. Dirty Filter

It’s one of the most common problems that you may encounter. At the beginning of the filtering process, water softener makes use of filters. For this reason, filters come into contact with more sediment than other components of the unit.

Solution: Change the filter of your water softener every 3 to 5 months. This will help your water softener to run at optimal performance. But if you notice any problems before this period, you should change the filter.

5. Defunct Resin Beads

A salt-based water softener uses resin beads to replace hard minerals with soft ones. Although resin beads are designed to last through the entire lifespan, like anything else, there’s a chance of it breaking.
Symptom: You’ll find small particles of beads floating in the softened water.
Solution: Clean the resin beads, or you may also need to replace them completely.

Water Softener Troubleshooting at a Glance

You can also troubleshoot the following without the help of a professional/ technician.

Problem

Possible reasons

Solution

The water softener doesn’t use salt

Salt bridge

  •  With a broom handle try to push to bottom of the brine tank
  •  Start manual regen

Leaking

  •  Installation error
  •  Damaged valve, hose, o-ring

Fix or replace

Discolored softened water

Rust in water or dirt in salt

Clean the brine tank

Brown water in brine tank

Rust in water

Clean the brine tank

Overly salty and/ or slippery water

The softener is using too much salt

Adjust salt setting

During operation the Water softener makes loud noises

Motor problem

  •  Check the motor.
  •  Also check for broken air valve, worn out timer, clogged valves/ tubing.

Increased salt use

  •  Too much water in the brine tank
  •  Inappropriate system setting

Regen cycle frequency or/ and adjust salt dose

Resin beads found in softened water

Resin bed worn out

  •  Entirely clean the system
  •  Replace the resin bead

Water level in the brine tank is too high

Accumulation of dirt

Drain and clean the brine tank

What to Do If Your Water Softener Is Not Working?

Try to follow the Water softener troubleshooting mentioned below:

  1. Check the power cable if it’s an electrically powered unit. Make sure it’s plugged into a live outlet.
  2. Make sure that the bypass valve is open.
  3. Inspect the brine tank. It should have enough salt.
  4. Start a manual regeneration cycle.
  5. If it’s a new unit, check it’s appropriately plumbed.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) About The Water Softener

What is the grain of hardness?

When a water softener refers to “grains,” it means how many grains of hardness it can process before regenerating.

How many grain of water softener do I need?

In general, s water softener is sized to regenerate about once per week.
Let’s take an example.
Family member: 4 & Grains of hardness: 20
Approximate use of water per day: 4 people x 80 gallons per person= 320 gallons
Daily Softening Requirement = (320 gallons x 20 grains of hardness) or 6400 grains of hardness.

How much iron does a water softener actually remove?

High level of iron in water is a thwarting problem for homeowners with private wells. Unfortunately, the water softening system can and do remove small amounts of iron from water. In fact, a water softening system isn’t designed to deal with high level of iron in your household water.

My household water has some iron in it. Do I need to install a water softener and an iron filter?

Well, the pH level in water is a common determinant in this case. If the pH level of your household water is below 7, a water softener may be perfect for you for removing iron. But sometimes it doesn't work well. A water softener is not a filter; rather it’s an ion-exchanger. During the softening process, ferrous iron (soluble ion) is readily taken up by the resin, but ferric iron (precipitated ion) often slips right through the resin.

So, if the pH level is above 7, it’s wise to opt for an iron filter to take care of the iron.

Does a water softening system include filters?

In fact, it’s a common misconception that a water softener also works as a filter. Water softener exchanges chemical ions to eliminate undesirable minerals present in hard water, but it does not filter out all contaminants, such as microorganisms, lead.

What’s the average cost for installing a water softening system?

The average cost to install water softener may vary depending on the type of water softener and the machine itself. However, professional installation may cost as high as $4000, whereas for DIY installation, it’s as low as $400.

Does a salt-less water softener work efficiently?

A salt-less water softener will offer you a maintenance-free aspect.
No wastewater, no electricity, no chemicals/ salt= Salt-less water softener.
Salt-less water softening system produces crystal of hardness minerals but leaves minerals present in the water. As the crystal doesn’t adhere to the surfaces, you will see a reduction in the scale build-up.

Conclusion

Our journey of the best water softener reviews is coming to an end.

After having a one to one experience with all the best home water softeners in our top 10 list above, we conclude that all the units work great and are suitable for a broad range of people.

This list and related information provide a great place to start on your journey to finding a reliable, fantastic water softener.

Never gamble with your water.
Hard water affects more than just your plumbing and appliances. It can affect your skin, your hair.


So, consider your household (or small business) water type and your usage amount, then opt for the best water softening system from our top 10 list.

More articles about hard Water solution :

Brien N. Gidlow
 

Chief Engineer and co-founder of a company specializing in contract operations of water and wastewater facilities. 15 Years experienced as a consulting engineer specializing in water, wastewater and water reuse treatment and much more. His primary area of expertise is water treatment & sanitation.