Hard water poses plenty of issues to people all over the world, as it contains large amounts of contaminants. Today we offer you a list of suggestions highlighting the best water softeners to consider this year. They might just be what you need in case you struggle with such problems!
Keep in mind that conventional water softeners that use salt share a fair amount of controversy. After the water softeners’ ban in California and a wide range of new regulations and restrictions regarding their installation and functioning, you should look for alternative water softening solutions. Read our guide to learn more about the best water softeners on the market and the best water softener alternatives you should consider this year!
How Did We Choose the Best Water Softeners this Year?
To offer you this list of best water softeners, we checked each product against experts in the field who have participated in testing. Moreover, we asked the forums, gathered conclusions, and discussed with the users.
5 Best Water Softeners to Buy in 2020: Reviews
|Product Name||Size||Weight||Flow rate||Price||Capacity||Best For|
Fleck 5600 SXT
|27 x 17 x 62 inches||20.8 pounds||12 gpm||$||48,000 grains||Whole House Use|
|54 x 10 x 10 inches||21.2 pounds||12 gpm||$||48,000 grains||Well Water|
OneFlow + Salt-Free Softener
|19.3 x 9.2 x 9.2 inches||15 pounds||15 pounds||$||N/A||Eco-Friendliness|
On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT-Portable
|22 x 9.5 x 9.5 inches||32 pounds||10-12 gpm||$||16,000 grains||Travel|
iSpring RCC7P-AK Dual Filter+Softener
|14.5 x 5.2 x 19 inches||34 pounds||12+ gpm||$||N/A||Under Sink Water Filter + Softener|
After a quick view of the five best water softeners we chose, next, we will talk about their features, pros, cons, and purchase suggestions. We’re here to help you decide which one of the next water softeners and water treatment systems is best suited for your home.
Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener
|Efficiency||Works great for families of 2-3 people dealing with very hard water that contains calcium, magnesium, other minerals, iron, manganese, and sulfur, among others.|
|Additional features||If you introduce your estimations regarding grains/gallons of water hardness correctly, it will perform regeneration automatically. It also comes with a fine mesh resin to filter iron and the branded KDF-85 Mediaguard to remove manganese and sulfur.|
|Warranty||Standard 5-year warranty for the control head and 10-year warranty for the resin and brine tanks.|
Why choose the Fleck 5600 SXT Best Whole House Water Softener?
The Fleck 5600 SXT is the best whole house water softener on this list. Ideal for a family and easy to install, this water softener will keep your water clean, safe, and great-tasting, while eliminating the water stains and smell problems in your home.
Here are some more things you need to know about this water softener:
- The package contains the tank, control head, resin, and brine tank. Plumb it in, add the salt, and enjoy clean, safe water!
- The device boasts a flow meter to measure the water used and the needed regeneration, thus saving salt and reducing waste.
- The head offers digital controls with an informative display and easy setup.
|Easy installation||Make sure you buy the system from the manufacturer and not some shady third party, as you may encounter problems|
|Low maintenance overall||Some complained about the system feeling a bit flimsy, so you may need Teflon tape to avoid leaks|
With its fair price, easy installation, and high water softening capacity, the Fleck 5600 SXT Metered Whole House System is the best whole house water softener on this list. It works great for apartments and homes dealing with iron and sulfur in their water. A great choice overall, mainly due to the excellent warranty offered by the manufacturer.
ABCwaters Iron Man Series Water Softener
|Efficiency||Works great for families of 3-5 people dealing with very hard well water containing iron and manganese.|
|Additional features||Comes with an upgraded 10% cross-linked resin system that extends its lifespan. Features a WQA certification. The Fleck valve is pre-programmed for the US.|
|Warranty||5-year warranty. Both resin and brine tanks come with 10-years warranty.|
Why choose the ABCwaters best water softener for well water?
The ABCwaters ABC48K-56SXT-FM Iron Man Series for well water lives up to the expectations, and then some! Probably one of the most eco-friendly best water softeners on the market, the ABCwaters/Fleck units include the finest quality materials and boast designs that lower annual power consumption.
They also use less salt, which is better for the environment. Here are some more things you need to know about this water softener:
- The units arrive fully assembled and ready for plumbing.
- The installation kit contains silicone lube, a hardness test strip, a sanitizer packet, 4 ft 3/8 inches brine line, small parts kit, and an install guide written by ABCwaters technicians.
- The water softener features 2 American made tanks for resin and brine, respectively – both backed by a ten-year warranty.
- The best type of salt to use with this water softener is salt pellets.
|Full installation kit containing a water hardness test||Pricey|
|Excellent customer support and post-sale assistance||Some needed a professional plumber to put things into place and in motion|
The ABCwaters Iron Man Softener may be a bit pricey, but it will keep you, your plumbing, home appliances, surfaces, body, and health safe from hard well water. With a 48,000-grain capacity and an upgraded high-capacity fine mesh resin, the water softener addresses a family of 3 to 5 members. If you rely on well water, you probably deal with plenty of iron and other heavy metals. This unit is the best water softener for well water on this list.
One Flow+ Water Softener
|Efficiency||Uses Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC), attracting and converting hardness minerals into harmless, inactive microscopic crystal particles. Reduces scale build-up in water heating devices, pipes, and fixtures. Improves water flow and helps with the life extension of appliances. It is salt and chemical-free, making it a great alternative to water softening (ion exchange) or scale sequestering devices.|
|Additional features||Certified by the Water Quality Association (WQA) to NSF/ANSI Standard 372 for lead-free, carbon block has NSF/ANSI 42 certification, and anti-scale media is certified NSF/ANSI Standard 61.|
|Warranty||Upon request from the manufacturer.|
Why choose the OneFlow + Salt-Free Scale Prevention and Water Filtration System?
The OneFlow+ Scale Preventer and Filter is one of the top-rated water softeners in the “non-traditional” and “eco-friendly” departments.
You should know that this device also saves you money in the long run (about $300 annually for a 4-person household using 75 gallons of water/person/day).
TAC technology does not add or remove minerals from the water, allowing the useful ones (calcium, potassium, and magnesium) to remain in their soft version.
We mentioned Watts when we talked about the best whole house water filters. OneFlow+ is a salt-free dual device, combining water filtering with water softening, boasting the considerable advantage of saving you money in the eco-friendliest way possible.
|Eco-friendly solution to traditional water softeners and filters||Not a traditional water softener|
|Flexible and easy installation|
|Saves money in the long run|
The OneFlow+ Scale Preventer and Filter work well for small/medium families who want to drink and use clean, safe water daily, without concerning with maintenance and hidden costs. Moreover, this water softener, albeit non-traditional, address those users who want to make a positive and significant impact upon the environment. The device saves money for a family while also protecting our planet – it uses no electricity, and it does not sustain drain water waste or the use of sodium.
On The Go Water Softener
|Efficiency||Regenerates with two boxes of common table salt in half an hour. Provides you with soft water up to 1600 gallons or up to 40 days.|
|Additional features||It comes with a compact, space-saving design. It allows high flow rates with very low-pressure drops.|
|Warranty||Upon request from the manufacturer.|
Why choose the On the Go OTG4-DBLSOFT portable water softener?
Are you a road-trip aficionado, a camper, or an RV travel buff? Perfect! On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT, portable water softener for travelers is the largest compact RV softener on the market, able to produce twice the gallons compared to the standard models. Let’s see some other features, shall we?
- It shows significant improvements in the reduction of water hardness, eliminating surface stains, improving water’s taste, and lowering the negative impact of hard water on your appliances, clothes, and skin.
- The water softener prevents hard water and rust stains and scale build-up. It improves water taste and odor, increases the lifespan of appliances, and protects dry skin while increasing lathering of soaps.
- The patent-pending design includes hardness test strips, storage inlet/outlet caps, handle, and more.
|Best water softeners in their class||It may not soften 100% tough water found in RV parks|
|Significant water softening results||It is a bit heavy so don’t let children handle it|
|Affordable and easy maintenance|
If you spend most of your free time in the RV traveling, the On the Go OTG4-DBLSOFT portable water softener is a must-have for your everyday water consumption and needs. It shows significant hard water reductions on surfaces, clothes, and skin, and offers a cheap and easy to maintain alternative to other models in its class. The riveting users’ reviews are a clear indication this water softener lives up to your expectations: the On the Go OTG4-DBLSOFT portable water softener is a must-have for any RV users out there!
iSpring RCC7P-AK Water Softener
|Efficiency||Filters up to 99% of 1,000+ pollutants including chlorine, fluoride, lead, arsenic, pesticides, pathogens, sulfur, THMs, PFOA and PFOS. Restores healthy minerals and a natural alkaline balance; offers a more natural taste.|
|Additional features||Features a PP sediment filter, a carbon KDF (GAC) filter, and a carbon block (CTO) filter. They remove large contaminants and protect the RO membrane from chemicals like chlorine and chloramines. Compliant with FDA standards (CFR-174, 177) and NSF/ANSI standards.|
|Warranty||30-day money back guarantee, one-year warranty, and lifetime tech support to all products.|
Why choose the iSpring RCC7P-AK Under Sink 6-Stage RO Dual Filter + Softener?
The next name on this list of best water softeners to consider this year is the iSpring RCC7P-AK Under Sink 6-Stage RO Dual Filter+Softener.
Here are some more things you need to know about this water softener + water filter:
- DIY installation by most users, the entire system fits nicely under a standard kitchen sink.
- The device features a noiseless booster pump that ensures optimal pressure to the RO membrane at all times;
- Re-mineralization restores just the right proportion of healthy minerals.
- The RO membrane provides clean water to a large family.
|Best under-sink dual water filter + water softener||You may need a whole house water filter if water hardness is through the roof|
|DIY installation backed up by stellar technical support|
|Best water softener for the money|
|Built-in booster pump raises low incoming water pressure|
If drinking water, stained dishes, dry skin, and bad-tasting or bad-smelling water are your main concerns, then the iSpring RCC7P-AK Under Sink 6-Stage RO Dual Filter+Softener is the device you want to consider this year for municipal or well water. It has few competitors in the water filtration department.
Given the poor water quality in the United States, this RO filter + water softener combo is the best money can buy if you deal with a handful of water pollutants, contaminants, toxins, heavy metals, and water hardness. Its greatest advantage is the compact design that allows you to install it under the sink. In other words, it works well in both homes and city apartments/studios.
The iSpring brand is also a good reason to include this unit on your shortlist of water softeners to buy this year. The company makes some of the best under-sink reverse osmosis water filters on the market.
However, if you test your water hardness and you want to make dramatic changes to your home’s water hardness, you may want to look for a water softener boasting a more significant grain number.
Best Water Softeners Alternatives and Other Water Treatment Systems for Your Home
A water softener as a standalone device works best when you want to intervene upon the hard water in your area that does not also require filtration. You can also look for shower filters for hard water if you do not like bathing with hard water either.
What is Template Assisted Crystallization?
Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) technology, although not new, but on the rise, is a salt-free alternative to conventional salt-based water softening. One of the products on our list – the Watts OneFlow + Salt-Free Scale Prevention and Water Filtration System – uses TAC for water softening.
The process is similar to conventional water softeners, but not quite. Such a water treatment system does not use ion exchange and does not replace the hardness minerals in the water with sodium. A TAC system modifies the structure of the minerals, preventing them from adhering to pipes and appliances and thus eliminating limescale.
TAC water softeners, in short, do not create a separate stream of wastewater. It simply transforms the hardness ions into crystals. The crystals are still in the water, but after the crystallization process, are less dangerous from a hardness point of view.
A hybrid between conventional water softeners and water descalers (that we will discuss immediately), TAC water softening systems have a few drawbacks.
- Your water is just as hard as before the treatment, it just doesn’t affect your pipes, plumbing, faucets, and appliances anymore.
- TAC water systems are vulnerable to iron, manganese, and other types of sediments and impurities. For this reason, you should combine a TAC water softener with a pre-sediment filter, an iron filter and/or a whole house water filter with carbon technology to protect the TAC systems at the same time.
In conclusion, TAC water softeners leave the healthy minerals in your water, do not create a salty brine that goes down the drain, are more environmentally friendly, consume less energy to work, and are more affordable than salt-based water softeners. Since they do not require regeneration with the help of salt pellets and take little room, these water softening systems are becoming increasingly popular.
What Are Water Descalers?
Just as TAC water softening systems, water descalers are salt-free water softeners using electrical impulses or magnet technology to change the physical properties of the hardness minerals in the water.
A descaler is a small, compact unit you can install in any house or apartment. As the water passes through its field of influence generated by electricity or magnetic fields, the water descaler modifies the structure of the calcium and magnesium ions. In other words, a descaler does not replace or remove the hardness minerals, but leaves them there in a different shape.
This modification prevents these minerals to adhere to pipes, plumbing, faucets, or appliances. You will not have limescale anymore, but still enjoy healthy minerals in your water.
Our recommendation of best water descalers to consider this year are the Eddy Electronic Water Descaler – quite the classic when it comes to electronic water softeners – and the iSpring ED2000 Whole House Salt-Free Electronic Descaler Water Conditioner.
As you can easily understand, water descalers are an eco-friendly alternative to conventional water softeners. They consume little energy, are easy to install, require little to no maintenance, are quite affordable, and do not take space.
Understanding These Best Water Softeners’ Tech Specs and Features
Now that we finished the water softeners reviews and discussed water softener alternatives, we want to make sure you understand a few things about these devices, because we saw plenty of misconceptions running around, confusing even the experts.
What is the Difference between Water Filters and Water Softeners?
For starters, as we mentioned with a previous occasion when we discussed the best whole house water filters to consider this year, a water softener and a water filter are not the same things. On the contrary, they work best together. A water softener also shields your plumbing from particles, making the system more efficient and ensuring that you drink and use clean, safe water.
People living in areas with polluted and hard water combine the two systems (water filter first and water softener second) to make sure they drink and use clean, safe water.
If you want to make sure you do not drink softened water coming from the conventional softener, we recommend you install an under-sink reverse osmosis water filter as well. This device is capable of removing 99% of the sodium in your water, making drinking water taste great.
If you want to learn more about combining different types of water filtration technologies, water softening, and water conditioning, check out our guide on how water filters work. There, you will also find a table helping you to match the water problems in your home with the best types of filters and home water solutions!
Now that we made this clear let’s focus on the tech specs and features you should consider before you buy any of the best water softeners we analyzed today.
Water Softeners’ Tech Specs and Features to Consider
- Size: Just like water filters, water softeners have to fit in their designated places. Some are large (industrial size), and you have to make room for them. Some are small and slick enough to fit under the sink or in your bathroom to treat water, so it does not stain, smell, or taste funny.
- Weight: It is an essential factor especially when you have to install the device by yourself or carry it around.
- Flow rate: The standard for proper water flow rate in a home for a family is around 10-15 gallons per minute (GPM). Water softeners should not interfere with the water flow rate in your home.
- Softener Capacity: Measured in grains, it describes the amount of water hardness it can remove before it needs to regenerate. A “grain” of hardness represents 1/7000th of a pound of dissolved particles (calcium, magnesium, etc.). As you can figure out, the higher the grain number, the more efficient the water softener.
- Warranty: Measured in years and usually offered by the manufacturer.
Salt Water Softeners vs. Salt-Free Water Softeners
As we discussed above, the majority of water softeners you find on the market are salt-based. A great advantage is they completely remove calcium, magnesium, etc. from your water before you even turn on the faucet. The downside is you have to pay attention to stock on the salt they need to work correctly.
Salt-free water softeners do not use chemicals to soften the water (thus appealing to health-concerned people and environmentalists), but they do not remove particles in the water, they neutralize them. In other words, they still expose you to water hardiness, even if it is in a neutral state. However, with the current bans and restrictions on water softeners, some of the best eco-friendly choices you have are TAC systems and water descalers.
Remember to contact the manufacturers in case you have more questions about these top-rated water softeners.
If you want to learn the hardness of your water and what is the best water softener for your home, we recommend you purchase a water hardiness kit and use it following the instructions.
Some reverse osmosis water filters also deal quite well with eliminating the hardness minerals, becoming good alternatives to salt-based water softeners. However, if you have very hard water in your area, you should mix activated carbon filters, water softeners, and reverse osmosis filtration.
The benefits of having a water softener to counter the adverse effects of hard water
- Healthier water to drink;
- Softer skin and hair;
- Stain-free surfaces;
- More efficient water-using appliances from an energetic point of view;
- Significant reductions in the amounts of soaps and detergents you use.
What are the Best Water Softeners You Use?
As you could see, we tried to cover most needs when we put together the water softeners reviews of today. We have
- one for overall use;
- one dedicated to well water;
- an eco-friendly version;
- a water softener for travelers;
- and one for those concerned about the water they drink.
Now it is time for you to tell us what the best water softeners are in your opinion and experience. Do you use a water softener in combination with a whole house water filter? Are you happy with your current water softener or do you plan to change it this year? We would love to hear from you!
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