Best Water Softeners – How to Choose The Right System
Hard water is an issue that affects 85% of American homes. We all know how annoying it is to clean the lime scale buildup in the bathroom and the spotty dishes and glasses. Unfortunately, these small problems are only the tip of the iceberg.
More on this in a bit…
Lime scale is building up inside your water pipes which ultimately leads to a decrease in efficiency of your water system as a whole and your water heater in particular. Scale build up damages your home fixtures and appliances.
Hard water leads to skin problems from itchy skin to eczema. Hard water makes your laundry rough and shortens the life of your clothes. In the long run, hard water is costing you a lot of money and will damage your health.
As you’ll soon find out…
If you are reading our water softener reviews, you have probably decided that it was time to find a solution to this common problem. The difficult part is to find which system is the most suited to your needs.
And that’s where we come in. We have written this water softener system reviews to help you decide just that. We are going to look at the different types of softeners available, the best water softeners brands and their best models, and finally, we are going to give you some tips so you can easily choose the best water softener system for you.
- Different Types of Water Softeners
- The Best Water Softener Brands
- The 5 Top-Rated Water Softeners
- Other Quality Water Softeners
- How to Choose your Water Softener?
- Our Top Choice: Morton 30000 Grain Water Softener M30
- To Conclude
Ultimate Guide to Better Water Comparison Table:
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Valve - 5 years Tank - 10 years
Updated as of January 2019.
Different Types of Water Softeners
Water softeners come in different shapes and price ranges. You will need to choose one suitable to the size of your household and the hardness of your water if you want to get the best results.
We are going to look at the traditional salt-based water softeners as well as some salt-free alternatives which are becoming increasingly popular.
Salt Water Softeners
Salt-based systems are the best known and the most popular softeners. Their popularity comes from the fact that the best salt free water softeners are efficient and reliable whole-house systems which are easy to install and to use.
Their main drawback is that they pollute the environment with sodium and chloride and they are now banned in some states. They also require some maintenance. The water softener salt must be regenerated and the brine tank has to be cleaned regularly, which can be a bit of a messy affair.
To soften the water, they use a process called ion exchange. The tank is filled with negatively charged resin beads which attract the positively charged ions of the calcium and the magnesium which are found in excess in hard water, thus removing them.
If the memories of your chemistry classes are a bit fussy, do not worry.
What it means is that you now have soft water, free of calcium and magnesium which are responsible for the lime scale build up in your home. No more clogged showerheads, no more scale build up and no more itchy skin.
Magnetic Water Treatment
Magnetic water systems change the molecular makeup of the minerals with a complex magnetic wave. The minerals are neutralized but are not being removed from the water. These systems are a bit controversial but get a lot of positive reviews from people who are using them.
The hardness of the water will not be decreased by these systems but the minerals will no longer adhere to the surfaces of your pipes and appliances. With time, the scale builds up will decrease and be prevented.
Although they been used since the 30’s, most scientists remain skeptical of this technology and often label it as junk science.
This magnetic field is created by permanent magnets, usually neodymium magnets, which are installed around your water pipes. It can also be created with an electricity device in which case it’s called electromagnetic water treatment.
Their main advantage is that they are cheap, easy to install and eco-friendly. Unlike salt-based softeners, they do not pollute your waste water. They are also maintenance-free.
Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC)
The newest technology in water softening is the Template Assisted Crystallization or TAC. TAC systems are rapidly gaining in popularity due to their efficient technology. They do not need any salt, maintenance or electricity. You probably have heard of them if you have read some water softeners reviews already.
To treat the water, they use a resin made of ceramic-polymer beads. The minerals are transformed from their ionic form to their crystal form. These crystals are too small to adhere to surfaces and do not cling together to form scale. They are simply flush away by the flow of water inside the pipes. This technology uses a process known as chelation.
These systems do not alter the hardness of the water as calcium and magnesium are not removed from the water. As you know, these two minerals are essential to maintaining good health and prevent disease.
In this category, we can also mention the Nucleation Assisted Technology or NAC which is the same thing with a different name.
The TAC/NAC process has produced superior results, compared to others water softener alternatives, in a study conducted by the Arizona State University in 2011.
The Best Water Softener Brands
Now that we have seen the different types of softeners, we are going to take a look at the best and most trusted water softeners brands.
The Morton salt company has been launched in 1848 and is best known for their table salt and the Morton salt girl. In the twenties, she became famous with the slogan When it rains it pours®.
At that time, clumping salt was a problem when it was raining or humid. The Morton company was the first to solve this problem by creating a free-flowing salt in all weather, by adding a magnesium carbonate to their table salt.
They are now a leading company in the salt market. As well as table salt, they are manufacturing some of the best morton water softeners and salt specifically designed for water softeners.
Morton provides an excellent customer service and a 10-year warranty on all their tanks.
Another brand of top rated water softeners is Fleck. Flecks Controls manufactures water softener and filter control valves. They used to be called L.W. Fleckenstein, Inc. and are owned by Pentair Water since 1995.
They have been a world leader in the market for over 50 years. Fleck Systems is operated by Us Water systems, Inc. and is located in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Fleck water softeners are salt-based and using the process of ion exchange.
Aquasana is located in Austin, Texas and is a leading filtration company. They manufacture filters for drinking water, showers as well as whole-house water filtration systems.
Their best-known product is the SimplySoft® whole house system which uses the NAC technology.
They are dedicated to providing healthier water to every home in America.
Aquios full house system uses the TAC technology and id extremely well rated in the industry. They offer a 20-year warranty as well as a 60-day money back guarantee, which is unheard of in the industry.
The Aquios company is dedicated to providing the best quality water as possible in your home and their all-in-one system will not only prevent scale problems but also reduce iron and sediments in your water, and eliminate 98% of chlorine odor and taste.
Now we are going to look at the best water softener systems. Our water softeners reviews include a detailed review of the top 5 softeners on the market as well as a quick description of 5 alternatives that you should consider.
The 5 Top-Rated Water Softeners
The choice of a water softener will depend mostly on the hardness of your water, the size of your household and your budget.
Softeners can vary greatly in size and efficiency and you have to consider all the different factors before making your final choice.
We have selected our top 5 picks based on the general reviews of these products.
When it comes to salt-based systems, the best water softeners are made by Morton. We love their compact design which is perfect if you don’t have that much space at home.
The Morton softeners are whole-house systems and your appliances and fixtures will be protected from scale damage. They are efficient and easy to use. They come with a ‘Look Ahead’ technology that predicts the future water needs of your household.
It means that it will regenerate only when it’s needed, it’s automatic and will save up to 50% of salt compared to another softener.
They have a power interruption protection. They come with a 10-year warranty on tanks and a 1-year warranty on parts. Customers have reported that replacement parts are a bit expensive.
You can choose from different grain capacity depending on the hardness of your water and how many people live in your house. The price will depend on the shop and the size you are choosing. You can expect to pay between $500 to $700.
One great thing about Morton softeners is that they remove some of the iron and manganese from your water which is great if you live in a city or if your water comes from a private well. The Morton water systems all come with a free installation kit and free technical support from their excellent customer support team.
If you’re looking for something with a greater grain capacity, the Fleck whole-house systems would be a good option for you.
They have an on-demand valve that measures the water you use and will regenerate only when it’s needed. They can handle up to 12 gpm and is suitable for households up to 6 people with moderate to hard water. The resin has an extra-long life.
The new STX controller has an LCD display, touch pad controls, as well as an internal power backup system that will last up to 48 hours.
The whole system has been designed to be user’s friendly and can be installed in less than 2 hours if you have some basic plumbing skills.
The fleck systems come in several grain capacities, up to 64.000 grains and of course, the price will depend on which capacity you choose. You can expect to pay between $500 to $800.
The Fleck products are always well-rated in water softener reviews. Both tanks come with a 10-year warranty and the head as well as the electronics have a 5-year warranty included.
The Aquios Full House system is the best water conditioners that doesn’t use salt.
It uses the TAC technology which we have described above. The resin they use is a polyphosphate additive known as Siliphos and has been approved by the FDA.
What we love the most is that the Aquios is a 2-in-1 system which is doubling as a water filter. They use a carbon block filtration system and will remove most of the sediment and impurities from your water, and also most of the chlorine.
If like me, your water tastes and smells like bleach, you will appreciate why it’s such a great addition.
It has a super-compact design and doesn’t require any electricity or programming. It’s also pretty much maintenance-free and the 40.000 gallons’ cartridge which is included will last up to 6 months. It comes with a 20-year warranty and costs less than $500 which makes it the best watersoftener alternative in the market.
If you are interested in a magnet softener, we would strongly advise choosing the best. All magnets do not generate the same force field and a strong force is critical to get good results.
This softener from Magnetic Water Technology is the strongest, the best-selling and has been recognized by the Federal Energy commission. Hundreds of thousands have been sold worldwide.
It’s an extra-large 11” neodymium magnet which is suitable for large residence. It fits any type of pipes up to 4” and can even be installed outdoors. It’s super-quick and super-easy to install and it can be done by anyone.
Although it can take several months to work through all your water systems, customers seem to be very satisfied with this product. At less than $300, this is a cheap and eco-friendly option.
It requires no electricity, no salt and no maintenance whatsoever. It comes with a no-hassle 10-year full replacement warranty. It’s made of strong galvanized steel and is made in the USA.
For a more innovative and modern version of the magnetic water treatment, you will definitely want to consider the SB-75 from ScaleBlaster.
The ScaleBlaster is a computerized electromagnetic softener which has successfully solved hard water problems all around the world since 1995.
It doesn’t require any plumbing and is easy to install. It needs very little space and will work for houses up to 4.000 sq.ft. It will treat hard water level up to 19 grains without salt, chemicals or maintenance.
It’s usually well-rated in the water softeners system reviews. Like the traditional magnetic system, it can take some months before the existing scale buildup is removed from your water system. Don’t expect instant result with such a system.
It comes with a 3-year warranty and its price is usually around $200. It’s the cheapest option but is unlikely to last as long as other softener systems.
It will remove existing scale as well as prevent further scale buildup. It works on all pipes except galvanized ones but can only be installed indoors.
Other Quality Water Softeners
We have listed below 5 more quality softeners that you can definitely consider.
The SimplySoft from Aquasana is using the NAC technology and costs around $300. It can be used as a stand-alone or as an addition to your whole-house filtering system and is an interesting option.
Another system that uses chelation is the Nuvo H20. The great improvement is that they use a citrus-based template rather than a phosphate-based one. It’s very compact but can cost up to $800. It is most likely the best water conditioner.
Another compact system using TAC technology from Genesis Water Technologies. The Genesis GW-SPS20-C is a whole house system and costs less than $300.
An electromagnetic alternative from Eddy Water Descalers. It comes with a lifetime repair or replace warranty as well as a 12-month 100% money back guarantee. It’s usually sold around $200.
If your budget is higher, you will want to consider a 2-in-1 water conditioner and filter. It doesn’t use salt or chemical and is eco-friendly. It should be the best water softener but didn’t make it in our top 5 picks because of its price.
How to Choose your Water Softener?
As we have seen, softeners come in many different sizes and at different prices. You will find below the main features you should take into consideration before choosing the best water softener for you.
Hardness level of your water:
First of all, you need to know how hard your water is. You can ask your city hall or buy a water testing kit. If you want a very precise test, you will have to analyze it in a laboratory but this option will be more expensive.
The hardness of water is measured in grains per gallon or gpg. You can consider that you have hard water if your gpg is above 5.
If you have 4 people in your household and choose a 30.000 grains system, you will need to regenerate it every 18 days on average. The hardest water you have; the bigger capacity softener you will need.
If you prefer a salt-free system, you have to choose one that can cover your whole house.
Size of your household:
The more water you use the most efficient system you will need.
Type of softeners:
You should avoid salt-based softeners if your doctor has prescribed a sodium-free diet. Some states have now forbidden the use of salt softener because of their negative impact on the environment. If you live in one of these states, you have to choose an alternative.
Magnetic softeners are a cheap, maintenance-free and eco-friendly option. The scientific community is not supporting the manufacturers’ claims so you have to use your own judgment. If your budget is tight, it is be the best alternative for you.
TAC systems are now all the rage in the water softening market and seem to be the future of water softening systems. They are compact and don’t require maintenance. Some of these systems are doubling as water filters and that's a great added benefit. They seem to be the best value for your money.
In the end of the day, your choice will depend on your personal preferences, needs, and budget.
Watch these tips about the maintenance of your salt softener:
Our Top Choice: Morton 30000 Grain Water Softener M30
- Over 11 gallons per minute
- Dimensions: 17” wide x 21” deep x 43” tall
- Weight: 95lbs
- Comes with a ‘Look Ahead’ technology that predicts the future water needs of your household
Hurry! Grab the Morton 3000 today and enjoy a GREAT deal running only until the end of January 2019.
Hard water doesn’t have to be a problem in your house. New technologies make it now easier than ever to have a water softener in your home. Can you imagine how nice a scale-free life would be?
In our water softener system review, we have seen that there are a lot of different types of softeners and choosing one can be a daunting task. You may also have wondered the difference between water softeners vs water filters, too. We have trimmed down the options for you and we hope you will have found this review helpful.
We have seen the different types of softeners and the best brands in the market and our links lead you straight to the REAL deal (no knock offs!). We have selected the 10 best softeners that you can choose from to help you obtain the best health benefits from water. We have given you some tips for choosing you softener.
Now you just have to choose!