The 8 Best Water Softeners of 2018

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Best Buy Water Softener
Best Whole House Water Softener
Best Water Softener for Well Water
Best Water Softener System

If you’re looking to get rid of hard water riddled with various minerals like calcium, manganese, and limescale deposits, the best solution is to get a reliable water softener. Once you detect a hard water problem, it’s important to take action because the excess of natural minerals in the water can damage your plumbing or certain water-using appliances. There’s no health risk involved but it can make washing dishes, clothing, or skin more difficult. You might also be interested in our articles about the best portable washing machines and the best electric water heater.

Before making the investment into a water softener, it’s essential to do the proper research. This is why it’s recommended to consider the presence or the lack of certain features which can potentially affect the suitability of the softener for your needs.

1. Types of water softeners

The most commonly used type of water softener for whole-house usage is the ion-exchange model. It works with salt making use of a special ion-exchange mechanism softening the water on the principle of substituting sodium for a varied range of hard minerals including calcium and magnesium. Other interesting types of water softeners that you can consider are dual-tank, salt-free, and magnetic water softeners. Dual-tank models can be more practical especially if you have large water needs or you don’t want to wait for a single tank softener to regenerate. Salt-free and magnetic variants can be decent options though they’re usually not as reliable when it comes to softening the water.

2. Size

When you’re shopping for a brand new water softener, getting the right sized one can be a critical factor. It’s not really about physical size but the capacity of the unit to get rid of hard minerals without relying on frequent regeneration. A good recommendation is to pick a softener that lasts a minimum of three days between regenerations.

3. Controls

A reliable water softener should have the right controls and must be easy to use. Certain features are done automatically but even the most advanced units require some occasional manual work. The most important methods to control the cycles are by using timer and softener demand-initiated regeneration controls. They all have their strengths and downsides but it’s generally agreed that the demand-initiated control method is more sophisticated. It doesn’t recharge in a wasteful manner saving precious salt and water in the process and it’s more suitable for very large water usage.

Considering these features, let’s take a look at the market for water softeners. These are the best products you can find in terms of performance per cost. They are different in some regards, diverse enough to suit a large range of needs and budgets so you can find the best water softener for your home.

Best Buy Water Softener

1. Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener

With a large capacity and multiple great features, the Fleck 5600SXT is a solid water softener able to handle the needs of any large house. This is a complete system for getting rid of hard water once and for all. Included in the package are all the needed components such as the tank, control head, resin, and brine tank.

This water softening system uses a flow meter which is designed to manage your water consumption and regenerate according to your needs. It keeps the salt usage to a minimum and prevents wasting water. The paddlewheel style of the meter is more durable and reliable compared to the turbine style of other softeners.

There’s an LCD display which shows the current status of the softener. It’s also used to help you figure out the nature of any issue that may appear as error codes are also displayed for troubleshooting at a glance. The settings can be adjusted with ease as there’s a basic control panel with buttons.

Installing this system isn’t very hard for experienced users. The manufacturer provides a very detailed guide with clear-to-follow steps and some helpful tips along the way. If you’re not sure how to proceed, getting a qualified plumber to do the job for you is definitely recommended.

A great advantage of this water softener system is the inclusion of a brine tank and brine well. The tank arrives complete with the float assembly. For convenient servicing, the bypass valve uses a 1-inch yoke connection.

If you’re searching for the best bang for your buck, there’s hardly a better choice out there for a water softener than the Fleck 5600SXT. Even though salt-free models are becoming popular and seem like great alternatives, they aren’t as performant and reliable as salt-based units like this one. It’s also great that this is an authentic American made product, proof of superior durability.

Key Features:

  • Polyglass tank
  • On-demand valve
  • Fully programmable cycles
  • 48,000 grains
  • Made in the USA

2. On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT Portable 16K Grain Water Softener

If you’re looking for a high-quality water softener that’s also very portable, one of the most appreciated models is the On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT. With its 16,000 grain capacity and the compact design, it can fit ideally for those who own an RV. Let’s take a more in-depth look at what it can do for your hard water.

The unit is capable of delivering a steady production of soft water gallons compared to the previous model. In terms of size, there’s a good balance between the compactness of the softener and the reasonably large capacity. For an RV, it should fit just right. At 16,000 grains, this offers almost 40% more softened water than other models in its class.

Regeneration is done with the help of two boxes of table salt. The whole process doesn’t last for more than 30 minutes and will give its user approximately 1600 gallons of soft water or a maximum of 40 days supply. The flow rates are also quite decent, maintaining a low-pressure drop.

One of the more interesting features of this water softener is the handle placed on top of the unit. This helps with the overall portability. Another great aspect is the large mouth opening that makes it easier and more convenient to add salt. The resin used for this unit is of great quality and to connect the inlet hose without too much effort, there’s a 360-degree swivel in place.

The garden hose connection used for this model is standard. There are no special tools required to install this and the good news is that you will also won’t be needing any electricity.

With such an impressive amount of reliable features, the On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT is a water softener that you can count on. It softens the water very well and it’s not very difficult to recharge. The instructions are also very intuitive and on point making for a very straightforward installing process. An ideal solution for RV uses, all things considered.

Key Features:

  • Compact and portable design
  • 16,000 grains
  • Regenerates very fast
  • High flow rates
  • Requires no tools or electricity

Best Whole House Water Softener

3. ABCwaters PENTAIR 48000 Grain Water Softener

The ABCwaters PENTAIR is a full system for softening your water. There are lots of great features offered for a reasonable price so this certainly seems like a good option. One of its main highlights is the LCD display and the intelligent on-demand metered flow system which helps conserve the salt and water used.

The 48,000 grain capacity of this unit is more than enough to handle the needs of a large house. This is a complete system for water softening with 10% crosslink resin. It’s a special commercial-grade resin which is designed to work for a longer time and extend the durability of the whole system. Contained in this system, there’s also a tank, control head, and a brine tank with float.

In terms of performance, this model can remove hard water scale deposits and significantly improve the efficiency of soap cleaning. It makes use of a reliable method of exchanging ions to annihilate the calcium and magnesium ions which are the main culprits in creating hard water.

The regeneration is meter-based. The system analyzes the water used and decided when it’s time for regeneration. In this way, you can prevent wasteful water usage. The controller has an LCD display with easy-to-use buttons for a very user-friendly experience when adjusting various settings. A 48-hour power backup has been integrated internally so the machine can face even a power outage.

The poly-glass tank is made with durability in mind and the black brine tank can keep a total of 250 pounds of salt. A safety float is included to ensure the danger of overfilling is avoided. Additionally, an overflow drain is integrated to prevent any unexpected water mess.

Considering how efficient this water softening system is, it deserves a high spot on this list. The ABCwaters PENTAIR is simple to install and program and the resin comes pre-loaded. The performance is definitely on par with what you pay and the construction quality is also spot on. This represents great value for the money.

Key Features:

  • 10% crosslink resin upgrade
  • More resilient to chlorine
  • 48,000 grains
  • Complete water softening system
  • Digital metered control head

Best Water Softener for Well Water

4. Fleck IRON Pro 2 Combination Water Softener

Fleck is a trusted manufacturer in the industry of water softeners and another great model of theirs is the IRON Pro 2. It’s particularly effective at removing iron and scale from water and the installation kit provided is a fully DIY type so you can actually install it yourself without too much hassle.

The red staining caused by iron build-up in the water along with scale and other hard water issues can all be solved with the help of this water softener. It treats a maximum of 14 GPM and thanks to a quality fine mesh, it will do a better job at filtering and is designed to last longer. The fact that this water softener is manufactured in the USA is great news as you are sure to benefit from a high-quality product able to handle the removal of any accumulated sediments in your water.

As this model makes use of meter-based regeneration, the water softener is more efficient and will never leave you hanging when you need water. The system can detect how much water you use and if there are times when you don’t need that much water and the consumption is low, it will adjust to regenerate less often and save some water.

This water softening kit comes with DIY installation instructions though it’s still a bit complicated if you don’t have plumbing knowledge. The manufacturer has a reliable technical support team to assist you either by phone or through email.

If you’re concerned about elevated sodium levels in the water, it’s strongly recommended to pair this with a reliable reverse osmosis filter to drink softened water without any worries. All things considered, the Fleck IRON Pro 2 will take the quality of your water to the next level as long as it’s properly maintained.

Key Features:

  • Digital metered valve
  • Fine mesh resin
  • 14 GPM hardness removal
  • Made in the USA
  • Round brine tank included

5. Watts RV PRO-1000 Water Softener

Some people would love to enjoy the great benefits of pure water, without any hard minerals even while they’re on the road. This is why products like the Watts RV PRO-1000 were created. This one is designed to handle the needs of RV owners so it’s not really practical as a whole house water softening system.

This unit has a custom-designed flow valve which allows for convenient regeneration without the need to connect and disconnect the system. Another great feature of this water softener is the built-in drain line flow restrictor that boosts the regeneration rate and effectively increases the total capacity by a maximum of 55%.

In terms of construction, this unit is designed with user-friendliness in mind and it’s very portable. Its full cradle base helps to maintain a more secure fit compared to other models that use open base tanks. It uses a high-quality resin with 1/3 cu. ft. capacity and it’s nice that the tank accepts common table salt. The fact that this water softener is built in the USA adds another solid reason to consider it.

This versatile softener does a good job performance-wise. It’s able to stop hard water staining as it will take care of magnesium and calcium as well as trace amounts of iron which should disappear from your water. It comes with everything needed to perform an effortless install and the original resin should last for a very long time.

When you take into account how effective is the Watts RV PRO-1000 at softening the water you can be seriously impressed considering the low price. It performs just as well as more expensive water softeners but the trick is that this requires manual regeneration and quite frequently depending on your usage. Still, this is highly recommended if you plan on softening the water on an RV.

Key Features:

  • Highly portable
  • Full cradle base
  • Custom flow valve
  • Built-in drain line
  • 4 gpm flow rate

Best Water Softener System

6. Aquasana EQ-1000-AST Filter and Water Softener Kit

If you’re searching for a complete system for both filtering and softening your hard water without relying on salt, the Aquasana EQ-1000-AST is powerful kit that can cover your needs. It’s not exactly cheap but the kit is designed to handle one million gallons of water or about 10 years of reliable service.

Getting clean water is easier than ever if you have such a performant water filter and softener kit. It removes 97% of chlorine from the tap water while also reducing the number of heavy metals such as lead and mercury which are known to be very harmful.

The design used by this unit has been efficiently optimized to ensure the best filtration possible. A special dual tank design using high-performance upflow technology from Aquasana, called Rhino, has a lot of benefits for your water. It can prevent clogging as well as media channeling and it guarantees that the contaminant grabbing media can actually do its job and clean the water thoroughly.

The softener incorporated in this kit uses salt-free SCM technology to get rid of scale and protect your plumbing from corrosion. It’s not just like any other softener as it won’t add excessive salt or other chemicals to the water which also has a great effect on the environment.

Installing the whole kit can be a difficult process but Aquasana provides the best tools to make the job easier for you or your plumber. Some of the things included are brass fittings, bend supports and reliable pre- and post- filters. To change the filters more easily, shut-off valves have also been added.

In conclusion, the Aquasana EQ-1000-AST performs in a reliable manner and can definitely exceed your expectations. It’s designed to improve the quality of water and it does its job well but the truly great feature of this system is how durable in the long term it can be. The installation can be too hard to do if you’re not familiar with basic plumbing skills so it’s probably better to let a professional do it for you.

Key Features:

  • High-performance water filtration
  • Removes 97% of chlorine
  • Salt-free softener
  • Aquasana Rhino upflow
  • Optional upgrades available

7. Mobile-Soft-Water MSW 3.2Kgr Water Softener

Suitable for those who value space, the Mobile-Soft-Water water softener is another solid model that’s easy to use and regenerate. It will remove calcium, lead, iron, and other harmful heavy metals from water. The performance per price ratio is quite nice for this unit so this is why it deserves a spot on this list.

This is a very portable softener and it’s particularly easy to use. There’s no energy needed for its regeneration cycles and the tank is loaded with high-capacity resin for water softening. As this unit is fully capable of treating a total of five GPM, this means that it performs quite nicely.

The softening system is complete. There’s a softener vessel that’s been reinforced with fiberglass and can handle 150 psi operating pressure. Another component is the inlet connection manufactured from lead-free Nylon and the male hose as well as the outlet are crafted using NSF 61 listed materials.

Each male hose connection needs to be capped for extra portability. About a half cubic feet of quality 8% crosslink resin is used in the tank.

When it comes to seeing the results of this water softener, it looks like the unit performs as advertised. It eliminates soluble iron and calcium from the water so you can take advantage of clean water without any damaging hardness.

The Mobile-Soft-Water water softener is a decent unit if you value portability above all else. If you’re tired of the poor water quality from your RV and need a way to resolve this problem, this model should be strongly considered. It’s also great to know that in case of installing issues, the technical support is very prompt.

Key Features:

  • Compact, space-saving design
  • Eliminates soluble calcium and iron
  • Ideal for RVs
  • It regenerates without electricity
  • Simple to use

8. Eddy Water Descaler Electronic Water Softener

This water softener from Eddy water is a more different water softener. It’s a magnetic model capable of limiting scale deposits while retaining the natural properties of minerals such as calcium. At this price, this looks like a very attractive investment considering its decent performance.

If you find yourself plagued by hard water problems, you could definitely try a no-salt alternative like this model. It fits with ease on both plastic and metal pipes without needing complex plumbing. You can save some expenses with the salt provisions that are needed for a conventional water softener.

The way this model works is by generating an advanced electro-magnetic wave which goes through two coils around your water pipe. If it’s properly installed, the water will go through an ever-changing magnetic field created by these coils and the adhesion of the limescale will be altered. What this means is basically that scale will no longer deposit on surfaces and appliances.

This process is done without making changes to the TDS or the chemical hardness of the water so you can still take advantage of the health effects of calcium and other minerals. It can be considered a truly economical and eco-friendly solution for softening the water anywhere. Apart from lead and iron pipes, it should be effective in all places. The manufacturer is also highly professional in handling any issues with its dedicated technical support team.

While this represents a considerable investment, it can be worth it if your hard water problem is out of control and you wish to get a reliable salt-free alternative. The Eddy Water magnetic descaler is very effective and can solve your hard water issues without having to do a very complicated installation. This is a seriously underrated product in the water softening industry though it’s obviously not for everyone as it doesn’t soften the water like an expensive salt-based unit does.

Key Features:

  • Doesn’t alter TDS
  • Simple installation
  • Solid performance
  • Decent no-salt alternative
  • No plumbing changes needed