Best Water Softeners 2020 – Reviews and Buying Guide

Having a water softener saves you from the trouble of dealing with stains on your appliances or simply dreading any activities that may involve using water. Hard water causes a lot of damage not only to objects but also to your skin. You may experience breakouts or even suffer from dry skin. It will also affect the natural state of your hair if used on it. We all know that water is meant to be used without any side effects. This is why you need to pay attention to the level at which the minerals in your water are.

Using a water softener will make everything easier and save you from all the hassle. However, with a water softener doing your research and investing in a good one is key. To ensure you get the best performance with the purchased product. Below are a few options for some water softeners to invest in and recommendations on the best among them.

Best Water Softener Reviews 2020

Each consumer is different and based on their needs, they may need different water softeners for their home. But don’t worry, we have made it easy to make an easy buying decision by listing different water softener systems for different kinds of needs and hard water levels. Here’s our list of the best water softener reviews of 2020:

1. Fleck 5600SXT- 48000 Grain Water Softener

 

This is by far the best water softener out there it has features that make it more efficient and easy to use. Fleck 5600SXT removes the hardness in your water through ion exchange to make the water better and of use. With this water softener, you are assured of efficiency because of the presence of a flow meter. The flow meter will indicate the amount of water and when to regenerate the system. The best part about regeneration is that you get four modes of operation. This includes; immediate, delayed, delayed time clock or day of week meter regeneration. With this, you can set when the system should be regenerated.

This water softener also has touchpad controls that make it even easier to navigate. It is very easy to install this water system as it comes with a brine tank, salt grid, and a safety float system. As you can see having this water softener is a good investment because you are assured of the best performance each time. For houses with larger families, investing in the Fleck 5600SXT 64000 grain is the best way to go. It will be more efficient in fulfilling your soft water needs.

2. Iron Pro 2- Filter and Water Softener Combination

 

 

This water softener is very easy to install even for beginners mainly because it comes with DIY instructions that are super easy to follow. The iron pro 2 comes with a durable resin tank, Fleck 5600SXT digital control head with a metered valve and also a brine tank. As you can see it features parts from other companies that have proven to be very efficient. It has a capacity of 64000 grains which means it will cater for a large family. It also measures water used and regenerates only when necessary. Doing this helps conserve salt usage and reduce wastewater production. This water softener removes some of the most common contaminants including; iron, hardness, rust, sand, manganese and more.

It removes hardness up to 75gpg and features a fine mesh resin that ensures maximum iron removal up to 6-8 ppm range. This water softener does a very decent job of giving you clean water for consumption at a very affordable rate. You also get a five-year warranty for this purchase.

3. Pelican PS48 Salt-Based Water Softener

 

This water softener uses salt or potassium to soften the water and make it suitable for consumption. It has a few features that make it unique and efficient for use at your home. It has a high capacity resin tank and an easy to program metered electronic head. It also features a high capacity resin, a high flow rate, and a standard bypass.

It has a capacity of 48000 grains and is very easy to install. It also has three modes of operation during regeneration. This includes meter immediate, meter delayed, and time clock delayed. It also has a 12 GPM flow rate and is suitable for your home and also your office.

The Pelican PS48 works in 3 steps.

  • Backwashing

Involves removing all the dirt in the mineral tank

  • Regeneration

This is where the mineral tank is recharged with sodium to remove calcium and magnesium.

  • Rinse

The mineral tank is rinsed and prepared for the next cycle.

4. Pelican NS3 and NS6 Salt-Free Water Softeners

 

These two water softeners do not use salt. If you do not want to use a water softener that uses salt or sodium, then these two are your go-to. They make your water soft by neutralizing the minerals rather than removing them. Since the minerals are only neutralized, this means that they will be left in the water. This should however not be alarming because they will be in a crystalized form which means they won’t have any effect when using the water. Having calcium and magnesium in your water has a lot of health benefits.

Despite being salt-free, these water softeners do not use any electricity this makes them very eco-friendly. They also do not waste water and do not require any monthly maintenance. These water softeners are also very easy to install and also cost-efficient. The Pelican NS3 has a flow rate of 10 GPM while the Pelican NS6 has a 15 GPM flow rate. With these two you are assured they’ll work well for your home and give you water that can be used for anything including drinking after filtration. It is without a doubt that these are the best salt-free water softeners to invest in. They are both very similar which means any of them will give you your desired outcome.

5. Eddy Water Descaler- Electronic Water Softener

 

 

This is a salt-free water softener that is very affordable and easy to install. It uses electromagnetic waves to soften your water in place of salt. It makes the water soft without changing its hardness and retains the beneficial minerals in your water. It has a flow rate of up and above 20 GPM. It requires no monthly maintenance mainly because you don’t have to keep restocking on the salt.

The Eddy descaler is a great option especially since you can install it yourself by following instructions and can be installed on both metal and plastic pipes. It also comes with a 12-month money guarantee in case the product does not meet your expectations. You also get a lifetime repair cover or a replacement warranty. This is quite a good deal for the price and also its efficiency. You are assured to get you water as soft as needed to make it better for use.

6. Aquasana Simply Soft Whole House Salt-Free Softener

 

 

This water softener can be used for the whole house since it has a dual tank design that uses NAC technology. NAC stands for Nucleation Assisted Crystallization which naturally conditions your water to neutralize the hardness. This makes it easier to use the water without all the scaling effects on your appliances. This method does not remove or add anything to the water, all it does is alter the structure of the minerals. This ensures that the don’t bind to form deposits.

It also does not require electricity nor any back flushing this makes it very eco-friendly. It has a flow rate of 7 GPM and can handle water with a hardness of up to 25 GPG. This system can only be used in a house with a maximum of 2 bathrooms which means it is not suitable for large homes. Since it does not use salt this makes it easier on the pocket when it comes to maintenance. It also promises a lifespan of 6-10 years. This means it will serve you for a long time.

7. iSpring ED2000 Water Softener

 

This is also a salt-free water softener that uses electromagnetic waves to soften the water while still conserving the minerals. These minerals are beneficial to your health and this system ensures they are neutralized to ensure they don’t form scales.

8. Whirlpool WHES30E 30000 Grain Water Softener

 

This is an NSF certified water softener that is very easy to install and does not need the help of a professional. This water softener does not leave any sedimentary deposits in your pipes and it also filters your water to remove the unusual taste or smell. It also comes with a 1-year warranty and removes up to 8 ppm of iron.

9. On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT- Best RV Water Softener

 

This water softener is best if you have a recreational vehicle (RV). You can install it and have it on the go wherever you are. It provides at most 1600 gallons of water that can last for forty days. It also uses salt and has a grain capacity of 16000.

What Is Hard Water?

Hard water is water that has high quantities of dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium. The presence of these minerals including iron and also dirt makes the water hard and unfit for consumption.

Water Hardness Levels Chart

According to the standards established by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers(S-339) and the Water Quality Association(WQA), below are the degrees of hardness.

Water Hardness Level PPM Unit GPG Unit
Soft 0-60 0-3.50
Somewhat Hard 61-120 3.56-7.01
Hard 121-180 7.06-10.51
Very Hard ≥ 180 ≥ 10.57

How to Know If You Have Hard Water?

Finding out whether you have hard water is relatively easy. There are a few tests that you can carry out in the comfort of your home to get the answers you seek.

  1. You can get your water tested by professionals or just contact your water company and they might have answers for you.
  2. Buying a self-test kit.

With this, you can test the hardness level yourself. All you need to do is mix the water with color-changing chemicals. This works by counting the number of drops before the color of the water changes to determine the hardness.

  1. Checking for mineral scales.

Hard water affects your laundry and appliances by leaving them stained and feeling rough or stiff. It also affects your faucets by leaving them with white scales that may even cause blockades. If any of this happens to you then it is proof enough that you have hard water. If not then your water is soft and safe for continued consumption.

  1. Looking for soap scum

All you need here is a bottle of water, some liquid soap, and water. Follow these steps to get the right results with this test.

  • First, fill the bottle with water ¾ way to leave some space for the soap.
  • Add 10 drops of liquid soap to the water
  • Shake the water and soap solution thoroughly to ensure that they mix well.
  • Let it settle and observe if any suds have formed.

If you notice a lot of suds forming, then your water is most likely soft since it easily lathers. However, if there are no suds or are very little then you should continue with the following steps.

  • Add more soap to the water and give it another thorough shake.

Continue adding 5-10 drops each time to the solution. The number of drops it takes to produce suds will give you a rough estimate of the level of hardness in your water.

Here’s a breakdown to guide you:

20 drops – Slightly hard

30 drops – Moderately hard

40 drops – Hard

50+ drops – Very hard

  • Look for soap scum.

In soft water, the soap solution will lather and form suds while leaving the water clear. However, hard water reacts differently with soap which means that if your water has any degree of hardness then the water will form a cloudy substance known as soap scum and will have very few suds.

List Of Known Hard Water Problems

1. Soap scum frustration.

This occurs when you find yourself having to clean up white spots left after cleaning an appliance or a surface. These white spots occur mainly because hard water and soap do not work well together. After cleaning, the water evaporates leaving the minerals on the surface. These occurrences can be really frustrating especially since you expect after washing anything you wouldn’t have to go back again. It also forms on shower curtains which is very dangerous because when they accumulate, they form a microbial biofilm that may contain disease-spreading bacteria.

2. Stains

When you find brown or reddish spots or streaks on surfaces then that should be a sign of hard water. The stains are caused by the presence of iron in the water which might also be an indicator of rusty water pipes. While it is possible to remove the stains using vinegar and a lot of scrubbing it is not the solution. It is important to first take care of the root cause before cleaning up. If you do not take steps towards softening your water then you’ll be back in the same position after a while.

3. Ruined shower

Now, we all know that when you go to the shower you expect to have a good time and come out squicky clean. However, with hard water that is not the case. Thanks to the minerals in the water, having a good lather becomes very difficult. You are unable to use your soap effectively to get that nice clean feeling. This water also makes it hard to rinse off the soap on your body leaving you with some soap residue. There are also times when the shower is a bit clogged and the water is not coming out with as much pressure as it should. Hard water generally ruins your shower time and experience.

4. Skin and hair issues

We all depend on water for our daily cleanse which makes it a very big necessity. With hard water, you experience a lot of hardships that may translate to skin irritation. Considering that when showering you may be left with the residue of soap, this may cause your skin to dry out. Similarly, with the minerals deposited on your skin, you are at a very high risk of having dry skin or even developing eczema especially the kids. Hard water will also affect your hair by stripping it off its natural oils and moisture. This will leave your hair dry and very brittle.

5. Plumbing issues

If you are experiencing any plumbing issues then this could be a result of clogged pipes. With the presence of hard water, mineral deposits build up inside your pipes making it hard for water to flow through. This however mostly occurs on steel pipes and not copper or PVC pipes.

6. Laundry issues

Using hard water to wash your clothes may make them wear out faster or even feel rough and stiff. This is because of how soap and hard water relate to each other. Soap scum also forms on the clothes and since the water cannot thoroughly rinse the clothes, they tend to attract even more dirt that sticks. It may even make your towel rough to the touch and completely ruin them.

7. Appliances wearing out too fast

With the mineral deposits left behind by hard water and all the soap scum, you are bound to have some appliance problems. When appliances stop working at their best capacity then you find yourself dealing with larger utility costs. It gets worse and may even force you to get new appliances when the existing ones completely shut down and are of no use anymore.

8. Unusual taste and smell

We all know that water is both tasteless and odourless. With that said, if you find your water has a strange smell or taste then that should raise some red flags for you. The water could either have too many minerals, bacteria or dirt. For some people, they find their water tastes like dirt which could be a sign of too much dirt or old pipes. For others, it’s the taste of metal that dominates which indicates that the water has too much iron. With the strange taste and smell, it is important to stop using the water until it is conditioned and softened for human consumption.

Water Softener Buying Guide

Before going to purchase anything, it is important to have something to refer to. This ensures that you actually invest in something that will serve you well without any regrets.

What is a Water Softener?

A water softener is a device that removes minerals like calcium and magnesium that cause the hardness in water. Once the minerals are out, you are left with soft water that is safe for use at home. However, other water softeners work by distorting the form of the minerals which then distorts the hardness in the water. After this, you are left with soft water and also helpful minerals that are good for your health.

How Does A Water Softener Work?

Water softeners use the process of ion exchange to remove iron, calcium, manganese, and magnesium from the water and replace them with sodium ions. This exchange is made possible by the fact that in this group of minerals sodium has the lowest charge. When the hard water enters the mineral tank, it flows through resin beads that are negatively charged. These resin beads contain the sodium ion which is positively charged. In addition, all the minerals we want to remove from the water are all positively charged. Now since ‘opposite charge always attracts’, the minerals will be removed from the water onto the resin beads. The resin beads will then release the sodium ion since it is the weakest charge among the minerals. This leaves you with soft water flowing into your home for safe use.

Benefits of Using a Water Softener System

As discussed earlier, you have to take care of the root cause of all the problems which is hard water. Well having a water softener in your home will solve your problems and with it, a lot of benefits will present themselves. Here are the reasons why you should have a water softener.

1. Reduced Cost

With all the damage that hard water causes, having a water softener will save you a lot of money. From clogged pipes, faulty appliances, rugged clothes to using too much detergent or soap. With a water softener, you will say goodbye to all these things. You won’t have to call in plumbers or even buy new appliances when your existing should last you for a while.

2. Improvement in appearance

Remember that shower that you love and would stay in the bathroom enjoying? Well with a water softener you can shower without having to worry about the consequences. You forget about the skin irritation, dry skin, and damaged hair. With soft water, you are able to lather the soap very easily and your skin is able to absorb and hold on to the moisture.

3. Reduced cleaning time

No more soap scum or poorly rinsed surfaces. Having a water softener will help you reduce the stress of having to clean over and over again. Whether you are washing your utensils or cleaning surfaces, having soft water will make it easier and faster. Soft water also rinses well, and your clean utensils are not left with any soap on them.

4.  No more stains

Having a water softener allows you to say goodbye to the annoying stains that make a surface look dirty and unkempt. You no longer have to worry about the reaction the minerals in your water will have with your appliances or other utilities. With soft water, you can be at ease knowing that you won’t have to deal with cleaning stains with vinegar anymore.

Types of Water Softeners

There are 2 types of water softeners. These water softeners include;

  1. Salt-based water softener

These water softeners use salt or sodium to remove the hardness of the water. They use electricity and require regular maintenance especially with replenishing the salt. This water softener would however not be suitable to people with restrictions around sodium or salt intake. This is because once the water is soft it will have these minerals.

  1. Salt-free water softener

This water softener does not use any salt or chemicals to soften the water in your home. It is also very cost-efficient since you don’t have to deal with monthly maintenance. These softeners do not use electricity which makes them very eco-friendly. Salt-free softeners use filters to remove the minerals that are not wanted to make your water soft and useful.

A salt-based water softener is the best option among them mainly because it caters for all levels of hardness. Salt-free softeners are only recommended to a certain degree and cannot be of any help if your water is too hard.

How to Choose a Water Softener for Your Home: Things to Keep in Mind.

1. Type of water softener

Decide on the kind of water softener you want to invest in. There are four types that can be programmed differently.

You can either go for salt-based softeners, salt-free softeners, magnetic softeners or the dual tank water softener. Each water softener has its advantages but there are only two that are used very often. They include salt-based and salt-free. Magnetic is avoided mainly because once the water gets to the magnetic field the hardness is removed. Once that is done you get soft water but only for 24 hours then the water is back to being the same hard water. Investing in such an option would simply be frustrating.

2. Maintenance required

It is important to get the details on what each water softener requires you to do and at what intervals. This will help you gauge whether you are up to the task. When you get your water softener, be sure to read the user manual to get full detail on what to do. For some water softeners if you do not take your time to maintain it, then it will fail and won’t be as efficient as it should be. Take your time to do the most basic things like, mixing the brine tank regularly and filtering out the iron from the water to avoid a clogged resin.

Well, for every water softener there might be a few more things you need to keep an eye on. Just be sure to do as required and you will get to enjoy soft water and the service of a good system for a while.

3. The level of hard water

Checking the level of hardness in your water is very important. As discussed earlier there are softeners that you cannot use for the high levels of hardness. Determine whether the level of hardness in your water is high or on the low side. This will help you determine which softener is best. Just keep in mind that for the high levels of hardness, your go-to water softener should be salt-based.

4. The size of the water softener

Getting the right water softener for your home would mean you have to put into consideration the level of hardness the water softener can get rid of. This is measured in grains per gallon (GPG). Once you have an idea of which softener will meet your expectations, it is time to deal with the size. The size will be determined by the number of people you have in your home. Take that number and multiply it by 75 gallons (the average amount of water a person consumes a day). After that multiply by the GPG, you determined earlier from the hardness level in your water. The result will be the amount of hard water that your softener should handle. This will give you a guide and help you invest in the right system for you.

5. Budget

This is actually the first thing you need to determine. Get clear on how much you plan to spend and stick to that. After you have done all the calculations and found out the size and amount that your water softener should handle, you can now buy one. When buying, you’ll find different water softeners from different companies with the specifications that you need. Just get the best among them and be sure to stick to your budget. Do not feel the need to surpass it. After all the water softeners all work towards one thing to soften your water.

6. Ease of use

Having a water softener that you understand and can easily use the controls is very important. You need to be able to work around the settings and make it work according to your schedule. For some water softeners, you get smart features that make using them very easy. When it comes to regeneration you can set it to automatic where you set a time for it to start. This is however not preferred by most people because it may lead to wastage of both water and salt. You could also use the demand-initiated regeneration feature. It works by sensing when the resin beads need to be recharged. This makes it easier to conserve more water and salt as regeneration only occurs when need be.

How a Water Softener Keeps Working Through Regeneration

As seen earlier, a water softener works by ion exchange which means minerals such as calcium and magnesium are exchanged for salt. For a water softener to keep on working there needs to be a process called regeneration. Regeneration refers to the process where a water softener cleans and recharges itself to ensure it continues to work at its peak providing soft water. Regeneration occurs when the resin beads are full of the hard water minerals that they attract from the water.

Your water softener comes with a secondary storage tank where salt and water are added to make a solution called brine. Thus, the name brine tank. During regeneration, the brine solution will be directed into the softener tank for the ion exchange process. However, for regeneration, the hard minerals caught in the resin beads are the ones to come out and be replaced by sodium ions. The hard minerals and other unwanted substances are then flushed out of the system. The best part about regeneration is that the water softener is also cleaned and disinfected in the process. However, if not monitored, regeneration may waste too much water and salt. This is why you need to invest in a good water softener and set it to regenerate only when needed.

Why are Salt-Based Water Softeners the Most Effective?

There is no doubt that there are different types of water softeners that make your water soft using different processes. However, among those water softeners, the salt-based water softener has to be the best. It uses salt and may get a little costly with maintenance, but you will not be compromising on the quality.

Getting rid of soap scum and deposit build-ups is best done by using the salt-based water softeners. Since these water softeners use salt, you get that the water is better and may even leave your clothes brighter and more vibrant than they were while using hard water.

For families with high levels of hardness in their water, the salt-based softener is the only option they have. Using salt and electricity ensures that all the unwanted minerals are removed, and you are left with soft water that is safe for consumption.

When using the salt-based softener you are assured that there are no more hard minerals left. You can determine this by taking a water test before and after the softening process. If before the water was at 10 grains per gallon then after treatment you get to 0 grains per gallon. However, with the salt-free water softener, the minerals are only crystallized. This means that before softening it may be at 12 grains per gallon but then after treatment, the test may be at 6grains per gallon. As you can see the minerals are still in the water however, they won’t affect surfaces or clog pipes. It is still soft water just that there are minerals left.

As you can see, the best type of water softeners that will meet all your needs without having to worry about efficiency or leftover minerals are the salt-based systems. Salt-based water softeners will serve you well and ensure that you get soft water for use in your homes.

How to Install a Water Softener – A Brief Guide

When installing a water softener, you have two options. You can either incur the installation costs and have a professional do it for you or do it yourself. If you decide to do it yourself, then there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

  • Installation of the water softeners will differ from one type to the next. It is said that the magnetic water softener is the easiest followed by salt-free then lastly the salt-based water softeners.
  • Be keen to follow the instructions on the manual to avoid messing anything up.
  • Get a permit before installing the system.
  • Determine the best place to install your water softener. This is a whole house filtration system which means all the water should first pass through the softener before getting to your faucets or shower. With this in mind, the best place to have it is close to where the water flows into the house. If not so then the hard water would travel a distance to get to the water softener which would cause significant damage to the pipes.

It is also important to note that if you intend on installing a salt-based water softener and you have sodium restrictions, then it should be away from your drinking faucets. Just keep in mind that whichever water softener you decide to install you have to follow the instructions provided. Use the guide to ensure you get good results for your effort.

Conclusion

With the extensive coverage on the different types of water softeners, the Fleck 5600SXT-48000 Grain is the best among all of them. It is a salt-based water softener with great features and stellar efficiency. The best part with this water softener is that it also comes in the 64000 grain which is suitable for large families. This ensures no one is left out. It is also affordable, easy to install and easy to use provided you follow the instruction guide that comes with it.

Having a water softener in your home is very important especially if you have hard water problems. With this guide, you are sure to find that which fits your home and delivers the results you require.

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