If you’re among the 85 percent of the US population with hard water, it’s time to consider a water softener system. Hard water can cause costly damage to your home, appliances, and plumbing. It can also make bathing and cleaning more difficult, as well as leave behind unpleasant residues. Luckily, there are many effective water softener systems on the market that can help mitigate these issues.
We’ve done the research to determine which systems are the best and most effective for your needs. We considered ease of installation, salt consumption, operating costs, maintenance requirements, and warranties. Also, we made sure each product offers a variety of features that can be tailored to individual household needs.
Salt-Based Vs. Magnetic Water Softeners
Salt-based water softeners are the most popular choice for homeowners due to their effectiveness. These systems work by passing hard water through a resin bed which is charged with sodium ions. The hardness minerals are attracted to the sodium ions and become trapped in the resin bed. The sodium-charged resin bed then releases sodium-rich softened water into the home water line.
In contrast, magnetic water softeners don’t exchange ions. Instead, they use a strong magnetic field to weaken the bonds between the hard ions which prevents them from sticking to the pipes or other surfaces. Magnetic water softeners are not as effective as salt-based ones.
Best Water Softener System (Reviews)
#1. Best Overall: Whirlpool Whole House Water Softener
- Whirlpool WHES40E water softener is ideal for households of 1-6 plus people and removes up to 10 ppm of clear water (ferrous) iron
- NSF certified to reduce hard water symptoms such as embarrassing stains, build up on your Plumbing and Faucets and spotting on dishes
- Whirlpool water softeners automatically Calculate how much salt and water is required to regenerate and only uses what is necessary, resulting in a significant reduction in salt and water usage
- Full 1-year parts and labor . The system can be extended to 2 years when you buy 3 bottles of Whirlpool WHEWSC water softener cleanser (sold separately)
- Dimensions: 19" D x 18" W x 47 7/8" H
- Softener Type: Salt-Based
- Grain Capacity: 40,000
- Max Water Hardness: 125 grains per gallon
- Dimensions: 19 x 18 x 47.87 inches
- Warranty: 1-year
The Whirlpool water softener system provides up to 40,000 grains of natural filtration ability to remove water hardness without harsh chemicals. It’s NSF certified for reliability and performance.
No more rust, stains, and discoloration caused by ferrous iron in your water. This state-of-the-art softener removes up to 10 parts per million (ppm) of clear water (ferrous) iron. The system is suitable for 1 to 6+ people so your entire household can reap the benefits of soft and clean water!
It auto-regenerates, reducing the amount of salt and water used for regeneration. This makes it a cost-effective water-softening system. Whirlpool brings peace of mind with a full one-year warranty for both parts and labor. You don’t need to worry about unexpected costs due to potential malfunctions.
- Includes a step-by-step installation kit
- Auto sense and regeneration
- Reduce water waste
- Easy to clean
● The unit requires frequent salt refills in order to work properly
#2. Best Value: Aquasure Harmony Water Softener System
- 💧【 PERFECTLY DESIGNED FOR 3-4 BATHROOMS 】The Aquasure Harmony Series is the professional grade water softener that delivers ultra-softened water to every outlet throughout your entire home.
- 💧【 PROTECTS YOUR APPLIANCES 】Reduces water hardness and eliminates scale buildup while preventing damage to your plumbing and prolonging the lifespan of household appliances such as washing machine, dishwasher, water heater, etc.
- 💧【 CLEANER HOME WATER 】Rated to treat 48,000 grains of hardness by removing skin damaging hard minerals like calcium and magnesium that clog up the skin pore and causes irritation.
- 💧【 AUTOMATIC DIGITAL METERED CONTROL HEAD 】Comes with a fully programmable backlit digital display which allows you to easily customize your auto-flush intervals depending on your incoming water quality and water usage. Also allows for easy monitoring and hassle-free maintenance.
- 💧【 PREMIUM QUALITY 】Every Aquasure Water Softener is constructed with a high-strength, corrosion-resistant, fiberglass-lined polyethylene tank, durable bypass valve, and prefilled premium-grade resin. Besides the 30-day money-back, Aquasure stands behind its products by providing 5-year extended manufacturer warranty and life-time free US based tech support when you activate your product online within 60 days.
- Softener Type: Salt-Based
- Grain Capacity: 48,000
- Max Water Hardness: 120 grains per gallon
- Flow Rate: 12 gallons per minute
- Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 62 inches
- Warranty: 5-year
This powerful water softener system ensures maximum savings. With Aquasure’s 48,000 grains Water softening capacity, you’ll get unbeatable results that won’t break the bank. It features an efficient softening system that reduces salt consumption and operating costs.
The system is specifically designed to address the needs of larger families with 3-4 bathrooms. The softener eliminates scale buildup that can damage pipes and appliances, saving you money on expensive repairs.
Its programmable backlit digital display allows you to easily customize auto-flush intervals, perfect for those times when your usage fluctuates. It comes with a 5-year extended manufacturer warranty, providing customers with robust security and peace of mind.
- Smart digital control head
- Durable high-capacity tank
- Plug-and-play installation
- Detachable bypass valve
- No indicator for salt level
#3. Best for Well Water: PRO+AQUA Elite Water Softener
- 5 STAGE ULTIMATE PROTECTION: Specifically designed to provide unmatched filtration performance for well water. This whole house filtration package will provide safe water for your entire home and remove many contaminants found in well water as well as hardness.
- UNMATCHED PERFORMANCE: From small to medium size households on well water. The specially engineered filters are designed to work together in series in order to produce the best healthy, safe, soft, odor-free water.
- PRO-GRADE MATERIALS: Designed for commercial demand but made for your home - With commercial grade parts, the PRO+AQUA systems will outlast any other leading system on the market, your systems will last for many years.
- EASY LOW MAINTENANCE & AUTO REGENERATION: The PRO-100-E offers easy filter changes, the PRO-WELL-1E and PRO-S-80E Systems regenerate automatically for ease of mind maintenance.
- UNMATCHED QUALITY: Quality 100% guaranteed, no-hassle 30-day returns, 1 and 5-year warranty, and free lifetime tech support.
- Softener Type: Salt-Based
- Grain Capacity: 80,000
- Purification Method: Sand (5-stages)
- Dimensions: 9.5″L x 57″W x 9.5″H
The PRO AQUA Elite Water Softener is the ultimate water care solution for homes with well water. Benefitting from a powerful combination of filter and softener technologies, this bundle ensures that all areas of your home will be protected from high chlorine levels and hard water deposits.
The system provides relief for large households by eliminating hard mineral build-up with its impressive 80,000-grain capacity. This means that one system is enough to provide great water quality throughout your entire home.
It removes iron, sulfur, sediment, and more from your well water. With its low-maintenance setup and auto regeneration feature, you can rest assured that your water is always clean with minimal effort on your part.
- Specifically designed for well water
- Removes iron and sulfur while also softening water
- Protect your household from chlorine, pesticides, and sediment
- 2-in-1 (five-stage water filter + softener)
#4. Best Softener & Filter Combo: Aquasure Signature Complete Water Treatment
- 💧 Perfectly designed for 4-6 bathrooms homes, the Aquasure Signature Series is the professional grade Whole House Water system that delivers high quality filtered, ultra-softened water to every outlet throughout your entire home. No need for manual regeneration, backwash, draining, this system automatically regenerates and backwash, making it cost efficient and easy to maintain.
- 💧 Effectively removes water contaminants such as chlorine, VOCs, pesticides, bad odors, bad taste, soil, silt, sand, rust, heavy metals, and sediment. Providing clean, healthy, and great tasting filtered water at all times. Inhibits bacteria growth and algae growth with KDF media while prolonging the lifespan of household appliances such as washing machine, dishwasher, water heater, etc.
- 💧 Rated to treat up to 64,000 grains of hardness by removing skin damaging hard minerals like calcium and magnesium that clog up the skin pore and causes irritation, dryness, cracked skin and hair. It is engineered for both city and well water. Connects to plumbing up to 1-1/4″ in diameter. Connections out of the softener are 1” high flow threaded ports. Save twice as much compared to other brands on purified water for 1,500,000 gallons.
- 💧 Exceptional performance & highly efficient digital metered control head allows you to easily set your personalized auto-flush intervals depending on your incoming water quality and water usage. Aquasure Reverse Osmosis system helps save water and reduce overall maintenance cost while giving you the highest performance in terms of softening water and rejecting water contaminants. Easily replace filters every 6-12 months for best filtration and flow rate.
- 💧 Every Aquasure Water Softener is constructed with a high-strength, corrosion-resistant, fiberglass-lined polyethylene tank, durable bypass valve, and prefilled premium-grade resin. Besides the 30-day money-back, Aquasure stands behind its products by providing free life-time U.S. based tech support and a 5-year extended manufacturer warranty when you activate your product online within 60 days.
- Softener Type: Salt-based
- Grain Capacity: 64,000
- Purification Method: Reverse osmosis, sedimentation
- Dimensions: 13″L x 13″W x 62″H
- Warranty: 5-year
Aquasure Signature offers the best softener and filter combination with a maximum of 64,000 grains capacity. This combo ensures your water is softened to perfection while also filtering out any impurities or contaminants during the purification process.
The unit is designed to meet the needs of busy households with 4-6 bathrooms. Built-in features include smart regeneration that automatically adjusts your water flow and salt levels based on usage.
Aquasure’s complete water treatment includes a Reverse Osmosis System and a digital metered control head, which automatically monitors and adjusts filtering settings to ensure that you always get the purest drinking water available.
Aquasure has you covered with an extended 5-year manufacturer warranty. Enjoy the confidence in knowing that if any defects arise during the lengthy coverage period, they’ll be taken care of.
- High capacity: 64,000 grains
- Durable corrosion-resistant material
- Auto regeneration
- Need a professional plumber for installation
#5. Best Portable: On The Go OTG4-VM-DBLSOFT Water Softener
- MORE WATER: This 16,000-grain unit is a perfect fit and supplies approx. 40% more soft water than most units on the market for your RV/Marine
- SOFT WATER: Provides the owner with soft water up to 1600 gallons (or up to 40 days); Flow rate: 3 gpm
- COMPACT DESIGN: Its compact and space-saver design allows it to be installed in the tightest of places; Can be easily stored in your storage bay or dock side locker
- NO ELECTRICITY REQUIRED: Requires no tools or electricity; Utilizes a standard hose connection between park faucet and your RV/Marine
- IMPROVES TASTE & ODOR: Provides soft water that prevents hard water and rust stains, avoids scale build-up, and improves taste and odor, , increases lifespan of appliances, and will also improve rough, dry skin while increasing the lathering of soaps
- Softener Type: Salt-Based
- Grain Capacity: 16,000
- Flow rate: 3 GPM
- Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 24 inches
This portable 16,000-grain water softener is small but packs a powerful punch, taking up minimal space and giving you maximum performance. Its compact design means it can fit in tight spaces and makes installation easy, saving you time and money.
This water softener requires no tools or electricity, making it ideal for RVs. The flow rate of 3 gallons per minute is perfect for life on the move! This fast and efficient softening system offers immediate results at a fraction of the cost associated with traditional systems requiring professional installation.
It utilizes a standard hose connection which helps make setup super easy as all that’s required is simply attaching the hose and running softened water through. The unit boasts portability with a convenient handle on top.
- Designed for portability
- An easy-to-carry handle on top
- Brass Fittings
- Improve water taste and avoids scale build-up
- Some parts are plastic-made
#6. Best Electronic: iSpring ED2000 Whole House Water Descaler
- [Improve Water Quality] Solves hard water problems without the need for chemicals, salt, or maintenance, while keeping healthy minerals in the water by preventing scale deposits from forming and allowing existing scale to break down.
- [Reliable Descaler] Descales your entire water system and prevents scale buildup in pipes. Reduces energy consumption with an average one year payback period. Great for your home and the environment, individuals on salt-restricted diets, and those looking for healthier skin and hair.
- [Environmental Friendly] Designed for very hard water areas (10-19 grains per gallon). Saves energy and extends the life of your appliances.
- [Easy Installation] No plumbing modifications required. Maintenance-free. Works on any pipe, even PEX and PVC. 1-year money-back and lifetime tech support from iSpring.
- [No change on Chemistry of Water] Unlike salt water softeners, ED2000 does not change the chemistry of water.
- Type: Electronic-based water descaler
- Process: Electromagnetic wave
- Iron Limit: 0.3 ppm
- Flow rate: Does not affect the flow rate
- Dimensions: 7 x 3.5 x 2 inches
- Warranty: 1–year
The iSpring Water Descaler is the best way to make sure your home is practically limescale-free. This advanced salt-free hard water conditioner reduces limescale by preventing deposits from building up and ruining fixtures, sinks, appliances, and more. Plus, it’s an eco-friendly system that keeps the current mineral content in your household water which can improve the taste as well.
It requires no plumbing modifications, making installation hassle-free. Once you’ve connected the descaler, it is completely maintenance-free. It is also compatible with any kind of pipe for maximum convenience and flexibility.
You’ll get a 1-year money-back guarantee on your purchase if the descaling treatment isn’t up to snuff.
- Easy to install
- Prevents and reduces scale on fixtures
- Ideal for individuals on low-sodium diets
- If your water has more than 0.3 ppm of iron, it is necessary to install a pre-water filter since it won’t work with such water.
Things to Look for in a Water Softener System
When shopping for a water softening treatment, there are several key factors to consider to ensure the unit meets your needs.
If your water is very hard, then a salt-based softening system may be best for you. On the other hand, if you are looking to avoid limescale buildup in pipes but keep the mineral-rich taste, then a salt-free descaler may be more suitable for you.
Size and Grain Capacity
The first step in determining the required grain capacity for your home is to check your water hardness. Hardness is measured in grains per gallon (GPG) and is the measure of the number of minerals that are dissolved in the water. The higher the GPG, the harder the water, and the more minerals it contains.
Water that is between 1 and 3.5 GPG is considered slightly hard, while water that is between 7 and 10.5 GPG is considered hard water. You can find out the hardness of your water by having it tested by a professional or purchasing an at-home test kit.
Once you know the hardness of your water, you can use that information to calculate the grain capacity of the water softener you need. The average person uses approximately 80 gallons of water per day, so for a family of five, that translates to 400 gallons of water per day. So, if your water hardness is 7 GPG, you can use the following calculation to get an idea of the grain capacity your water softener should have to treat hard water for at least a week (7 days).
7(GPG) x 400 (daily water usage) x 7 (days) = 19,600 (Grain Capacity)
Using these calculations, a family of five would need a water softener with at least 19,600 grains capacity.
Installation and Maintenance
Installation can range from simple DIY projects where all materials and instructions are provided, to full-service installations that require professional contractors. If a professional installation is required, inquire about the initial cost and manage your budget accordingly.
Regular maintenance is also essential for keeping your water-softening system running efficiently. A good rule of thumb is to check the performance of your unit every 3-4 months by testing for hardness levels in your water supply. Also, make sure that you replace any necessary filters according to manufacturer specifications for optimal performance levels and extended product life.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the typical water softener installation cost?
Installing a basic water softener can cost anywhere from $150-$600, depending on if it is an electric or non-electric model and other features. Higher-end systems typically include larger tanks that are designed for large households or commercial use and can cost $1000 or more to install.
Can I install a water softener myself?
The installation of a water softener requires basic plumbing abilities and knowledge of electricity and wiring. If you do not have any expertise in these areas, it would be best to hire a professional plumber instead of trying to tackle the job yourself.
However, the job is much easier if you’re just replacing an old unit since all of the plumbing connections will be in place. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll have to put all of the pieces together.
What is the lifespan of a water softener?
The average lifespan of a water softener is typically estimated between 10-20 years, depending on the brand and model. The expected longevity of a water softening system is greatly dependent upon the level of usage, maintenance, and proper installation. Regularly checking and replacing brine tank components such as salt grids, resin beds, and other hardware components can extend the life expectancy of a water softener.
How long does a bag of water softener salt last?
A standard-sized bag of water softener salt can be expected to last between 6 to 8 weeks. Although this can vary depending on factors such as the hardness of the existing water supply and how frequently the softener system is used.
What happens if you don’t replace salt in a water softener?
If a water softener is not replenished with salt, the system will become saturated with calcium and magnesium ions from hard water. This saturation can reduce its efficiency in softening the water by causing the precipitation of insoluble salts. Moreover, cations present in the hard water may become concentrated, leading to the formation of scale buildup on surfaces that come into contact with the softened water. Such scale buildup can act as a barrier to ion exchange leading to further reductions in softening efficiency.
Which is better salt for a water softener?
Evaporated salt is the preferred choice for use in a water softener due to its hygroscopic properties. Its ability to absorb moisture allows it to dissolve more quickly and evenly than other salts, thus providing higher efficacy in the softening process.