13 Best Water Softener System For 2021

Hard water problems lead to people spending thousands of dollars each year on wear off appliances, clogging pipes and tore off clothing.

Water softener has been widely used in most of the household to combat these issues. It is a hot topic and many water treatment companies claim to have the best water softener system in the market

Fortunately, hard water, which contains calcium and magnesium does not pose any health hazard because both minerals are beneficial. It only affects our household belonging.

If you are familiar with these systems, there are salt-based, salt-free, and electronic descaler methods to solve hard water problems.

Let’s take a look at the top-rated water softener in the market in all 3 categories.

DISCLOSURE: We may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

Our Top Pick

4.8/5

Genesis UpFlow​

Genesis Upflow softens the tap water with its game-changing upflow technology. The filter lasts up to 15 years and operates at a minimal cost of $150. No wonder it’s our top-pick in the category.

Choosing The Right Water Softener

There are many considerations you need to take note when choosing the right water softener system. It can be a little bit difficult to do so but using the list below may be helpful and can quickly narrow down your purchasing decision.

1. Do you need water softeners?

The first and foremost question is do you really need one? This can be done by testing your water hardness that your household is currently using. This can be done through an inquiry to the municipal office (for city water users) or use a water hardness level test kit. You may refer to our hard water level charts in this article.

2. Choose your water softener capacity.

A simple rule will be how many bathrooms you have and how many members of the household. Normally, a house with 1-3 bathrooms with 3 or less household members require a small to medium size water softener while a house with 4-6 bathrooms with 4 or more household members may require a medium to large size water softener.

3. Available area for your water softener

Every water softener comes in different sizes so it is best to make sure that you have adequate space for it. You can’t get a large water softener if you have a small area around your intake pipes. If you want a water softener that can fit almost everywhere (other features ignored), then an electronic descaler will be a great choice.

4. Buy from a reputable brand.

Another thing to note is the brand. It is not advisable to buy from an unknown brand even if it is cheaper than the competition. The best way to do this is to read the reviews, make some inquiries about the product and if it is possible, test it out.

Best Water Softener Reviews

  1. Genesis Upflow – Best Water Softener System
  2. Fleck 5600SXT – Best Salt Based Water Softener
  3. SoftPro Elite – Best Value Salt Based Water Softener​​
  4. Iron Pro 2 – Best Iron Removal Water Softener​
  5. On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT – Best On The Go Water Softener
  6. Aquasana Simplysoft – Best Salt-Free Water Softener
  7. Aquapure AP904 – Budget Salt-Free Water Softener​​
  8. FilterSmart FS500 – Best Value Salt-Free Water Softener​
  9. Springwell Future Soft – Popular Salt-Free Water Softener​
  10. Pelican NaturSoft – Certified Salt-Free Water Softener
  11. Eddy Water Descaler – Best Electronic Water Descaler
  12. iSpring ED2000 – Budget Electronic Water Descaler
  13. Capacitive Yarna – Best Value Electronic Water Descaler​

Genesis Upflow – Best Water Softener System

Genesis is one of the recommended brands which are using a different technology as compared to others such as Fleck. Let’s take a look in detail.

Background: There is not much information about the company that produces Genesis water softeners.

Key Features: One of the major key difference that Genesis has is the flow of the softener. It is using the latest upflow technology as compared to the downflow that is used by Fleck.

This creates a swirling motion up through the resin from the bottom of the tank unlike the traditional downflow technique might compress the resin and creates tunneling and channels.

The highly efficient Genesis will save up to 75 percent of salt and up to 64 percent of water when conducting the regeneration process as compared to the Fleck system.

Maintenance: For all salt-based water softeners, the resin normally can last about 15 years or more. The only maintenances are salt in the brine tank for the regeneration process.

The Genesis Upflow will require about 9 lbs of salt in the brine tank for a regeneration process for 48,000 grains model.

The annual spending on maintaining the softener is about $150 on salt plus the water usage for over 2000 gallons.

Customer Rating – 4.7 | Our Rating – 4.8

PROS
+ Latest Upflow Technology.
+ Pre-programmed to perform regeneration every 7 days.
+ Effectively remove calcium and magnesium from source water.
+ Affordable maintenance cost.
+ 7 years warranty of valve, lifetime warranty on tanks.
+ Design and Manufacture in the US.
CONS
Expensive on initial cost.
Does not remove iron.
Low flow rate of 14 gallons per minute.

Fleck 5600SXT – Best Salt Based Water Softener

When it comes to the salt water softener, you probably heard of Fleck 5600SXT as they are one of the best water softeners brands in the market.

Background: Fleck is a US-based water treatment company that produces water filtration, softener, and the digital controller valve. Their focus is on the whole house point of entry filtration system which provides clean and soft water to the entire home.

The digital controller valve is a masterpiece which is licenses to a lot of the company which is producing the water softeners.

Key Features: The grains are the heart and soul of the Fleck 5600SXT system. It will trap the hardness (calcium and magnesium) in the grains to make sure that it doesn’t go into your home.

What is best about it is it comes with a Fleck digital valve which makes regeneration more routine and seamlessly done as what was programmed by the owner. It uses low energy consumption and has up to 48 hours of battery life if power was lost.

This water softener is capable of support up to a 6 person household based on the average water usage and calculation.

It comes with a bypass valve which is easier for backwashing and servicing.

Maintenance: The grain is expected to have a minimum lifespan of up to 15 years. Filling up the brine tank with salt is the only maintenance to clean and rinse the grains that were filled with calcium and magnesium.

As this is a downflow system, the Fleck 5600SXT is expected to use more water and salt for the regeneration process. It is estimated to cleanse the grains every week.

Based on research, the 48,000 grains softener from Fleck will use as much as 15 lbs (780 lbs yearly) of salt and up to 89 gallons (4628 gallons yearly) of water per regeneration.

You will be looking at spending at least $225 per year on salt plus the water usage for over 4000 gallons for regeneration.

Customer Rating – 4.5 | Our Rating – 4.6

PROS
+ Fleck controller to pre-programmed regeneration process.
+ Effectively remove calcium and magenesium from source water.
+ Comes with a bypass valve.
+ 5 years warranty of valve, 10 years warranty on tanks.
+ Design and Manufacture in the US.
CONS
Huge usage of salt and water on regeneration process.
Expensive in initial and maintenance cost.
Does not remove iron.
Low flow rate of 12 gallons per minute.

SoftPro Elite – Best Value Salt Based Water Softener​​

SoftPro Elite salt water softener is one of the highly-rated water softeners from many satisfied customers. It is praised for its water quality, flexible configurations, and reliability.

Background – SoftPro is a water treatment company that provides high-quality water filter systems and high-efficiency water softeners for both city and well water. They also offer excellent warranty and flexible configuration.

Key Features – The SoftPro Elite water softener comes in with many excellent key features. First and most prominent feature of all is that it has an Upflow Regeneration technology which saves up to 64% of water and salt usage up to 75% every regeneration cycle. Unlike traditional water softeners which you’ll go through 2-5 bags of salt a month, here it is around 1-5 bags a year. This is a huge saving.

Another key feature is the smart settings which do most of the job for you such as automatic backwash, vacation mode, proportional brining, automatic reserve, etc. This makes it easier to manage and provide water without going through a lot of hassle.

You can also choose your grain capacity for your water softener thus giving you more flexibility choices. This ranges from the basic 24,000 the more expensive 110,000.

Maintenance – In terms of maintenance, the SoftPro Elite has a backwash feature that automatically maintains the filter media on its own, therefore lasting for a very long time. This also reduces any maintenance cost to only the salt cost. In terms of warranty, SoftPro Elite includes a 10-year warranty which is more than enough.

Customer Rating – 5.0 | Our Rating – 5.0

PROS
+ Upflow Regeneration Technology.
+ Smart Features.
+ RGrain Configuration Choices.
+ Low Salt Usage.
+ Low maintenance cost.
CONS
Expensive Upfront Cost.
Requires Electricity to operate.

Iron Pro 2 – Best Iron Removal Water Softener​

Have you ever experience rusty brown stains when flushing the toilet? You probably have a serious iron contamination in your well water source.

Key Features: The Iron Pro 2 uses the Fleck 5600 SXT as it’s controller to schedule the regeneration process.

The Iron Pro 2 is just like other salt water softeners, which are filled with grains to trap hard minerals such as calcium and magnesium in your well water.

In addition, it comes with an iron filter which removes excessive irons until a non-detectable level. The flow rate is about 14 gallons per minute for Iron Pro 2.

It comes with a 5-year warranty on the digital valve and 10 years warranty for the tanks.

Maintenance: The grains and iron filters are expected to last for at least 15 years. Like the Fleck 48,000, all you need is salt and water to rinse and cleanse the grains for the regeneration process.

For every regeneration, the Iron Pro salt water softener is required to have as much as 15 lbs of salt in the brine tank and up to 89 gallons of water. With a pack of salt that causes $15 in Walmart, you are expecting to spend about $225 per year on salt.

Customer Rating – 4.5 | Our Rating – 4.6

PROS
+ Fleck controller to pre-programmed regeneration process.
+ Effectively remove calcium, iron and magenesium from source water.
+ Comes with a bypass valve.
+ 5 years warranty of valve, 10 years warranty on tanks.
+ Design and Manufacture in the US.
CONS
Huge usage of salt and water on regeneration process.
Expensive in initial and maintenance cost.
Low flow rate of 14 gallons per minute.

On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT – Best On The Go Water Softener

The OTG4-DBLSOFT water softener is On The Go’s mid-range water softener that provides twice the capacity as their standard one. It receives a good amount of ratings from its satisfied customers.

Background – On The Go is a US Based company founded in 2004 that develops portable water softening products for RV vehicles. Their flagship product is the portable water softener which is easy to use, affordable and easy to maintain. They also offer accessories, refill kits, and a road wave pressure washing system to go along with the water softener.

Key Features – Designed for use in RV vehicles in mind, one of the features is portability. Its compact and space-saver design allows it to fit in almost everywhere, even in the tightest places without any compromise in water flow. It is also easy to carry and requires no tools or electricity to install and work.

The OTG4 water softener uses a 16,000-grain unit which can supply around 40% more soft water than the others. It also includes a back-flush adapter for quick reverse connection.

Maintenance – Like every other salt-based water softener, each tank can last for a very long time with the only maintenance having to be on the salt refills and resin. The Resin has a lifespan of around 7-10 years and cost around $125 for the refill kit.

OTG4-DBLSOFT can provide up to 1600 gallons or up to 40 days of softened water before regeneration is required, this is done by using ordinary table salt and takes around 30 minutes before it can be used again. Each On The Go requires a different amount of salt. In the case of the Double Model, it requires 2 boxes of table salt ($2.99 each).

The annual spending on maintaining the system is about $72 on salt refills plus the water usage of around 1600 gallons/month. Warranty is around 1-year and is included.

Customer Rating – 4.7 | Our Rating – 4.8

PROS
+ Small & Compact Size.
+ Portable.
+ 40% more soft water due to 16,000 grain unit.
+ Affordable Annual Maintenance Cost.
CONS
Constant Maintenance.
Average Flow Rate.

Aquasana Simplysoft – Best Salt-Free Water Softener

Moving to our salt-free water softeners, the Aquasana SimplySoft is one of the many customers who appreciate the clean taste of the soft water, long-lasting tank media, and easy to installation.

Background – Aquasana is a Canadian company that offers different solutions for better clean water. Their wide variety of products include whole house water filters, under sink water filters, and more. Furthermore, they also do provide replacement filters and tanks which can be purchased.

Key Features – One of the many features found in the Aquasana SimplySoft is the Scale Control Media (SCM) salt-free technology. What it does is it inhibits scale build-up by transforming hard minerals into inactive microscopic crystal particles that separate from the water.

This prevents any scale build-up that can negatively affect your plumbing and appliances. This also softens your water. It also has a pretty decent flow rate of up to 7 GPM which is enough for a small to medium-size household. Furthermore, another decent feature is the long-lasting media which is around 6-years.

Maintenance – In terms of maintenance, the Aquasana Simplysoft does not require any special maintenance unlike salt water softeners. This means that it does not need any complicated salt water replacement. However, the SimplySoft tank media itself does need to be replaced for optimal performance. Fortunately, it has quite a long lifespan of about 6-years but it is quite expensive.

The annual spending on maintaining the system is about $0. However every 6-years, you are required to change the whole tank which costs as much as your first purchase.

Customer Rating –4.0 | Our Rating – 4.5

PROS
+ Scale Control Media (SCM) salt-free technology.
+ Long Lasting Tank Media.
+ Decent Flow Rat.
CONS
Expensive upfront cost and replacement is every 6 years.

Aquapure AP904 – Budget Salt Free Water Softener​​

If you are living in an urban area and have a limited budget for whole house water filtration and softener, the 3M Aquapure is your solution.

Background: Aquapure is a water treatment company that focuses on whole house and drinking water filtration. It was eventually acquired by 3M as part of its subsidiary.

Their flagship model is the 3M Aquapure AP904 whole house water filter series.

Key Features: The AP904 has 3 filtration media which is used to filter sediments, chlorine taste, and odor as well as conditioning the hard water minerals.

The method that is used by this system is breaking the strong bonding of the calcium and magnesium. It is a common method that is used by salt-free water softeners.

The size is just nice to be installed in an urban city apartment and is having a high flow rate of 20 gallons per minute.

Maintenance: There is not much maintenance needed for the AP904 other than replacing the filter.

As it is a filtration and a hard water removal system, it is suggested to replace the filter every 12 months of 100,000 gallons of water.

It will set you back approximately $170 yearly on the replacement cost.

Customer Rating – 4.1 | Our Rating – 4.4

PROS
+ 2 in 1 water filtration and softener.
+ Small size and fit in urban living.
+ Easy installation and replacement.
+ Affordable initial and maintenance cost.
+ High flow rate of 20 GPM.
CONS
Not suitable for well water source with Iron.
Required a pre-sediment filter to avoid clogging.
Short 1 year limited warranty on the filter.

FilterSmart FS500 – Best Value Salt Free Water Softener​

When looking for water softeners, Filtersmart FS500 may be the right choice for you. It is one of the best water softeners and backed by a well-known company.

Background – Filtersmart is an American company that specializes in producing non-electric whole house water filters and salt free water softening system. Furthermore, they offer free shipping, 90-day guarantee, and lifetime warranty for all of their products. They are featured on several TV networks like CBS, FOX and NBC.

Key Features – The Filtersmart FS500 uses Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) technology to process hard water by acting as a catalyst to reduce certain chemicals like calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate ions from clumping together to form crystals. It has been tested already by the Arizona State University with scale reductions of 90%.

Another unique feature is it includes a sediment pre-filter kit. It is actually designed to filter and remove fine sediments such as dirt and debris from the water. These kinds of filters are usually found in whole house water filters but it is a nice touch to have one in water softeners.

In terms of options, you can choose different configurations for this water softener based on the number of bathrooms your household has. The base option can provide softened water for 1-3 bathrooms at 12 GPM while the other one can do it for 4-6 bathrooms at 15 GPM.

Maintenance – For maintenance, the Filtersmart FS500 comes in with a sediment pre-filter kit. Filtersmart recommends that you replace the filter every 8-10 months. There’s a 4-pack sediment pre-filter replacements that Filtersmart offers which are reasonably priced at $78.

The annual spending on maintaining the system is about $78. Furthermore, Filtersmart FS500 also includes a 90-day guarantee and lifetime warranty for all tanks and valve heads from manufacturing defects.

Customer Rating –3.8 | Our Rating – 4.0

PROS
+ Strong water softening performance using TAC Technology.
+ Sediment Pre-Filter Included.
+ Reasonable Maintenance cost.
CONS
Expensive upfront cost (additional $325 for high-end configuration).
Leaking reported by some customers.

Springwell Future Soft – Popular Salt Free Water Softener​

SpringWell FutureSoft is another great whole house salt-free water softeners that you can add to your household. It is compatible with both well water and city water. This one is well known for its faster flow rate.

Background – SpringWell is a water filter solutions company based in America. The company provides water solutions for different needs such as a whole house water filter, water softeners (both salt-free and salt-based), and filter replacement kits. You can read more about them here.

Key Features – SpringWell FutureSoft is without a doubt has some of its unique features. First, it uses TAC technology as well which converts hard water minerals into hardened crystals that separates from your water thus softening it.

SpringWell claims that it provides 99.6% scale build-up prevention which is beneficial for extending the lifespan of many appliances and also makes cleaning easier.

What makes it really shines is its flow rate. It uses its signature ActivFlo Technology which ensures that the product can operate at different flow rates which prevents any drop in water pressure. The SpringWell FutureSoft comes with a sediment filter which does the job of separating dirt and other debris from the water before softening it.

Maintenance – For maintenance, it is fairly low maintenance. It does however require constant change of sediment filter every 6 months. SpringWell does offer filter replacement in 2-packs which cost around $40.

The annual spending on maintaining the system is about $40. Furthermore, SpringWell FutureSoft also includes a very long 6-months satisfaction guarantee and lifetime warranty for all tanks and valve heads from manufacturing defects.

Customer Rating –5.0 | Our Rating – 5.0

PROS
+ TAC Technology with strong water flow powered by ActivFLow Technology.
+ Sediment Pre-Filter Included.
+ Optional Springwell UV System.
CONS
Installation is fairly difficult and may require a professional to handle.

Pelican NaturSoft – Certified Salt Free Water Softener

The Pelican NaturSoft is a salt-free water softener designed for users who are looking for premium and maintenance-free water softeners.

Background – Pentair is a water solutions company based in America. Over the course of the company’s journey, Pentair has been recognized and trusted by many other companies including Google, BBB, and Water Quality Association.

Key Features – The Pelican NaturSoft process water is quite similar to others which converts minerals into hardened crystals that separate from the water. It requires 3 seconds of contact with the water. This is pretty fast compared to other water softeners which require 9 seconds.

NaturSoft is DVGW certified 99.6% scale build-up prevention which ensures it has met the quality standards. It is IAPMO Certified NSF/ANSI 61 and NSF/ANSI 42 which ensures high-quality and structural integrity.

Maintenance – Like the other salt-free water softeners here on the list, the NaturSoft does require minimal maintenance which involves replacing the sediment filter. Pentair recommends that you replace the sediment filter every 6-9 months. A 1-pack 5-micron sediment filter that Pentair offers cost around $23 each.

The annual spending on maintaining the system is about $46. Pentair provides lifetime warranty on all filter housings, tanks and more against manufacturing defects.

Customer Rating –4.7 | Our Rating – 4.8

PROS
+ Certified 99.6% scale build-up prevention.
+ Sediment Pre-Filter Include.
CONS
Installation is fairly difficult and may require a professional to handle.

Eddy Water Descaler – Best Electronic Water Descaler

Electronic descaler is a new method of removing hard water problems. You will not miss out the Eddy if you are looking for an electronic descaler product.

Background: Eddy is founded by 2 engineers in London before the year 2000. They are exploring the possibility of removing hard water in an affordable way without breaking the bank.

Key Feature: Electronic scale inhibitor has been quite common in the recent years due to the affordability and zero maintenance.

It uses electromagnetic waves to alters the crystal particles of calcium and magnesium to make it softer. This breaks the bonding among the molecules of those minerals.

Unlike salt-based water softeners, there is no waste water involved in rinsing the softener. It is all done electronically.

It stands behind their product in providing a 12-month money-back guaranteed and a lifetime warranty against product breakdown and repair.

Maintenance: Eddy doesn’t require any maintenance. You literally install it and forget about it.

The installation is pretty simple that comes with a DIY instruction which doesn’t require plumbing.

Customer Rating – 3.8 | Our Rating – 4.3

PROS
+ No wastewater and salt needed.
+ High tech method of electronically descaler.
+ Lifetime warranty against repair.
+ Maintenance free water softener.
+ Design and Manufacture in the UK.
CONS
Requires electric to operate.
Not very effective in very hard water.
No filtration of iron or any other contaminants.

iSpring ED2000 – Budget Electronic Water Descaler

Moving on to our next water softeners and that is the Electronic Descalers which functions way different from the regular salt-based and salt-free water softeners. The iSpring ED2000 is a great Electronic Descaler that works right out of the box and it requires no plumbing thus easy installation.

Background – Located in Alpharetta, Georgia, iSpring Water Systems LLC is a family-owned company that provides water solutions such as under sink, whole house water filter, and more.

Key Features – The iSpring ED2000 is designed for handling hard water (10-19 grains) which process by using electromagnetic waves to change how the minerals and chemicals behave in the water. It does not leave any crystals or use salt unlike the others so the minerals retain.

It is easy to install which only requires wrapping the coils around the water pipes (PEX & PVC works too) and attaching the main descaler on the wall. The power supply cable is pretty long (around 16 feet) which you can plug away from the pipes to avoid any malfunctions caused by possible water leakage.

Maintenance – iSpring ED2000 does not require any maintenance so the annual spending on maintaining the system is about $0. iSpring provides 1-year-money-back and lifetime tech support. It does not however offer any warranty.

Customer Rating –4.0 | Our Rating – 4.5

PROS
+ Easy Installation.
+ Magnetic Wave water softening process.
+ Requires no maintenance.
CONS
No Warranty.
Some customers report no changes in water quality.

Capacitive Yarna – Best Value Electronic Water Descaler​

Capacitive Yarna CWD24 is the best electronic descaler on this list. Its streamlined design of the body and the coils, water treatment process, easy installation, and a long 10-year warranty makes it worth considering to add to your water treatment system.

Background – Yarna is a water solutions company dedicated to treating hard water by utilizing their innovative electronic descaler products. Most of their products have been featured in many tv networks such as NBC, CBS, FOX, and The CW. Furthermore, it is also a member of associations such as the Water Quality Association and USGBC. Yarna received many positive ratings on Amazon (4.5 out of 5.0)

Key Features – Like every other electronic descaler, the Capacitive Yarna CWD24 uses electromagnetic impulses generated by the Ultra Flat Impulse Bands. This changes the properties of minerals found in the water which prevents it from forming crystals that will not stick to anything such as appliances.

One of the most unique features found in this particular electronic descaler is its capacitive effect. The capacitive effect (or known as cathodic protection) is a process that protects metal against corrosion. This is very essential for metal pipes which usually corrodes over time due to the minerals found in the water.

It is also easy to install and it can work on any type of plumbing system made out of either iron, copper, stainless steel, or even plastic. However, it does require 10” of pipe space for the coils to properly fixate it.

Maintenance – The Capacitive Yarna CWD24 does not require any maintenance so the annual spending on maintaining the system is about $0. Yarna offers a 1-year warranty but it can be extended up to 10-year warranty if the product is registered on their official website.

Customer Rating –4.5 | Our Rating – 4.8

PROS
+ Streamlined exterior design.
+ Ultra Flat Impulse Bands for easy installation.
+ Capacitive Effect.
CONS
Requires 10” of pipe space for the coils.
Some customers report no changes in water quality.

What Is A Water Softener System?

From the name itself, water softening systems eliminate the hardness of the water by removing minerals such as calcium and magnesium ions and replacing it with usually sodium. This process is called ion exchange. There are different types of water softeners on the market today and they treat hard water differently from each other. These are:

Salt-Based Water Softeners

Also known as salt-based water softeners, it processes hard water through ion exchange by eliminating calcium and magnesium by utilizing salt as the source for sodium. They are usually maintained on a monthly basis by refilling the salt in the brine tank.

Salt-Free Water Softeners

It processes water through the Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) which changes the minerals found in the water into hardness crystals that do not adhere to surfaces. It does not use salt which is great for people who are concerned with sodium intake plus they are nearly maintenance free and some even include a sediment pre-filter.

Electronic Water Descaler

These use magnetic waves that change the properties of the minerals of the water. This prevents minerals from sticking to your plumbing system and also softening it. It requires electricity to operate but it is easy to install. It requires no plumbing and simply wrapping the coils around an existing pipe.

Types Of Water Softeners

Hard water problems have become common in our life. Companies have become more innovative in solving these problems by coming out various solutions other than using grains and sale.

Here are some of the methods which is used as a softener media.

Salt-based Softener

Most of the softener in the market are salt-based. The main ingredient are the grains and resin. It traps all the calcium and magnesium appear in the source water in the grains and only allowed soft water into the home.

Under salt-based softener, downflow is the most common flow methods that were used in the majority of the system. The downflow technology allows hard water is passing through the grain from the top to bottom and soft water was pumped to a passage in the middle into the house.

The potential problems of downflow method. 

  • Compressed grains and resin leads to blockage.
  • Tunneling and channeling will also be created which makes the water softening process less effective.
  • Downflow will require more salt and water during brining and backwash process.

Upflow technology is the latest method that is used on a salt-based water softener system. There are only a handful of products that are using the flow product.

The hard water is channeled to the bottom of tank and swirling motion up through the grains and resin. The anti-gravity motion will not create tunneling effect and compress the resin.

The benefits of upflow methods are:

  • Prevent tunneling effects and compressed of grains.
  • Use up to 75% less salt and 64% less water for brining and backwash.

Our best water softener system, Genesis, is using the upflow methods. Although it is slightly expensive as compared to the Fleck, you will definitely save more in the long run due to the less usage of salt and water.

Salt-Free Softener

This type of softener is one of a few methods that remove the hardness of the water without removing the calcium and magnesium minerals.

Some of the expected to consider this as a water conditioner instead of softener as it doesn’t remove the hard water minerals.

How does it work? The filtration media is capable of breaking the bonds between the hard minerals which formed the component of hard water.

The minerals are still in the source water but it is not able to crystallize and clogged the pipe.

Unlike the salt-based water softener, the lifespan of the filtration media is normally shorter which required to replace it yearly.

Electronic Water Descaler

The electronic water descaler is a solely electrically based solution to solve hard water problems. There is no plumbing required to perform the descaler.

The electrical wires are coiled over the piping and connected to the electronic controller. This creates an electromagnetic wave which breaks the crystallization of calcium and magnesium as water flows through the pipes.

Similarly to the salt-free systems, it doesn’t remove the impurities but rather just alter the existing structure.

How Does Water Softener Works?

All types of water softening systems works in various ways and for different purposes. Here we can look at how a salt based, salt-free and an electronic descaler works.

Ion Exchange (Salt-Based) Water Softeners

A salt-based water softener uses an ion exchange system. First, the water passes to a tank that contains resin. This resin removes calcium, magnesium, and other contaminants, making the water soft and cleaner. After the water has been softened, a second tank gets to work. The brine tank utilizes water and salt to rinse away all the minerals and contaminants attached to the resin. It is then disposed of as wastewater.

Salt Free Water Softeners

Salt-free water softeners use Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) which transforms magnesium and calcium chemically. This process prevents chemicals from clinging to surfaces and precipitating them into scale. It also softens the water.

Electronic Descaler

These types of water softener process water quite differently from the salt-based and salt-free. Electric pipes are wrapped around the existing pipe so no plumbing required. The way an electronic descaler processes water by producing magnetic waves which changes the properties of the minerals and chemicals in the water.

Water Softener Installation

Understanding Hard Water Level

Hard Water contains large amounts of dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Water hardness level is measured in GPG (grains per gallon) or PPM (parts per million).You can find out your water hardness level through different ways. First is by contacting your municipality or you can do it yourself by using a water hardness kit.

You can see the different water hardness levels on this chart below.

Water Hardness Scale
ClassificationGrains Per Gallon (GPG)Parts per Million (PPM)
SoftLess than 1Less than 17.1
Slightly Hard1 – 3517.1 – 60
Moderately Hard3.5 – 760 – 120
Hard7 – 10120 – 180
Very HardOver 10Over 180

6 Signs Shows That You Should Get A Water Softener

While hard water does not post a hazard to our body, it will potentially cost you thousands of dollars on repairing and replacement cost. Some of the common issues that you will face if your hard water is serious in your home.

  1. Skin and hair dryness – Dry, cracked skins and stiff hair are signs of hard water present in the water source. The minerals will create a thin film on the skin or hair which made it brittle.
  2. Clogged Pipes – Clogging of internal piping is common scene as the minerals will crystalize and create blockages to the pipe.
  3. Brittle and Stain Fabric – Clothes are easily torn apart and weren’t clean when it in contact with hard water.
  4. Soap Scum – When in contact with hard water, soap scum is created. The scum will make cleaning, washing and showering liquid less effective and required more detergent.
  5. Worn Off Appliances – Water-based appliances such as dishwasher and coffee machine are susceptible to be affected by hard water as it will clog the water inlet.
  6. Scales Built Up – Scales or thin films are often seen on bathtubs, mirrors, glasses, and fixtures. It is the hard minerals that built up on appliances.

The Benefits Of Using A Water Softener System

Like every other water treatment system, using water softening systems can be beneficial to both you and your household in many different ways.

1. Easier Cleaning

Softened water does not produce stains on furniture, appliances or clothing. This makes it easier to clean.

2. Cleaner and Spotless Dishes

Similar to the effects on furniture and clothing, the lack of stain producing minerals makes washing dishes a breeze.

3. Softer Skin and Hair

Softened water can be beneficial to your hair and skin. While soft water contains fewer minerals, your skin picks up moisture easier. On the other hand, soft water balances your hair’s PH level.

4. Increase longevity of appliances that uses water

Using Softened water reduces the mineral build-up on your appliances that use water thus increasing its lifespan.

5. Saves Money

With the lack of minerals that can cause build-up on your pipes and appliances, this reduces any potential expensive repair bills.

How To Install A Water Softener System

Installing your first water softener system can be a challenging task but nowadays it is incredibly easy to do it on your own. However, here are the steps for you to follow when installing a water softener system.

  1. Turn off the main water supply and locate the inlet pipe on your household.
  2. Cut the pipes after your water meter which is before the pipe enters your household.
  3. Attach the bypass valve and the water softener pipe onto the existing pipe connection.
  4. Always make sure that the pipes and connectors are well aligned when connected.
  5. Connect the brine tank
  6. Using a hose clamp, connect the drain line to the drain elbow.
  7. Connect the discharge pipe to the wastewater drain.

Of course, you can contact a professional plumber which does require a fee but will do most of the work. Electronic Descalers are installed differently that involves only wrapping its electrical coils around an existing pipe and attaching the main component onto the wall. Simple and easy.

FAQ On Best Water Softener System

How do I know which water softener to buy?

This entirely depends on what your household needs and your water hardness level. One example is if you find out that you have hard water but you are concerned about sodium consumption, then salt-free water softening system can be the ones worth considering.

Are water softener system worth it?

Yes. Soft Water is quite beneficial for many appliances which increases its longevity and performance. For drinking, A water softener system improves the taste of the water.

How long does a water softener system last?

Usually, the water softener system lasts for quite a long time. Each tank media we have taken a look at our best water softeners list last for around 5-20 years.

How often should a water softener system be replaced?

Most salt-based water softeners require its salt reservoir to be usually replaced every 30 days while salt free ones with sediment filters require replacement every 6 months.

Water softener vs water conditioner

A water softener eliminates the scale from calcium and magnesium by utilizing salt (or electromagnetic waves with electronic descaler and other substitutes by salt-free) while a Water Conditioner also reduces it but does not replace them.

Is it OK to drink softened water?

Yes, softened water is considered safe to drink. However, if you are on a low sodium diet, then it is advisable not to drink softened water.

Do bacteria grow on water softeners?

Bacteria do grow on water softeners although these are non-harmful and some of them may even be beneficial to living things.

Wrap Up

Many of us might be mistaken for a water softener for the water filter for whole house. Some of them carry a hybrid functionality but the majority of them only solved either hard water or water contaminants. 

Although hard water does no harm to our health, many people invest in water softening systems to prevent various household problems.

The 13 best water softener systems mentioned above have proven to effectively solve hard water problems. It is advisable to use a salt-based system to remove a very hard water source.

It might cost you hundreds in the beginning, but you can keep your home free from hard water problems which potentially save you in the thousands.

Get the Genesis Upflow today to enjoy soft water in bathing, showing, washing, and cleaning. Once you get a water softener, you can consider getting one of the best RO system to purify your drinking water. 

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