Hard water can cause negative and long-lasting effects on your body.
Whilst softening your water is relatively easy, the positives it can bring are outstanding…
Hard water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, which in larger doses can cause ongoing health problems. Using a water softener reduces these risks massively.
Not only is it good for you internally, but soft water means no more water spots when doing household chores. It also makes your water much more ideal for your daily skincare routine.
The right water softener takes your hard water and makes it perfect for everyday use. Depending on the model you go for, it can even serve your entire home. No need for installation in different rooms, and no need for unsightly fixtures on show for guests to see.
We’ve handpicked the best water softeners on the market today. By taking out the guesswork, you can make an informed choice on which model is right for you and your home.
A Quick Comparison
Pelican Salt-Free Water Softener Alternative
Discount Water Softeners Genesis 2 Duo
Nuvo H2O Dphb-a
Aquasure Harmony Series
Tier1 Essential Series
The Best Water Softener with Reviews
Here's a list of the best water softeners I found:
1. Pelican Salt-Free Water Softener
- Great energy efficiency
- Does not require electricity to operate
- Leaves in beneficial minerals
- Certified 99.6% effective
- Some customers still found spots and hard water stains in their water after use
Where to begin? The Pelican Water Softener is an incredible piece of kit that’s widely regarded to be the best that money can buy.
This water softener can be installed either indoors or outside, without affecting performance. Its salt-free system, meaning less water wastage, and therefore great efficiency, although some customers have found the system to still leave water spots at times.
If you’re an avid gardener, this water softener creates conditioned water without the slippery feel. It also makes better drinking water for your family and pets, meaning it’s the perfect choice for families wanting healthier water for a number of different reasons.
Whilst it may soften your water, its built-in filter ensures beneficial minerals remain in your water. That means tastier, healthier water for your home. It can even serve up to three bathrooms in one home!
There are many reasons the Pelican sits top of the pile, which makes it worth the higher price if you’re looking for performance and practicality combined.
2. Discount Water Softeners Genesis Duo
- Incredibly soft, clean, drinkable water
- High efficiency
- Helpful service team
- Poor installation instructions
- Occasional issues with brine tank not filling correctly
As our best value pick, Discount Water Softeners Genesis Duo ticks all of the right boxes, whilst still remaining respectable on price.
Incredibly high-tech, the Genesis Duo’s on-demand metered control and automatic system refresh makes maintenance a breeze. This softener can remove an outstanding 48,000 grains before a regeneration cycle (see our Buying Guide and FAQs for more information on this).
Whilst its flow rate isn’t as high as some of the other models in this guide, its efficiency and results speak for themselves. Although, some reviewers did have the occasional issue when it came to the brine tank filling as it should. You may also want to avoid self-installation without the necessary experience, as the instructions that come with this system aren’t the most helpful.
With that being said, if you do encounter any problems, customers who’ve reviewed the Genesis Duo sing the praises of their helpful and knowledgeable service team. This water softener also comes with a lifetime warranty, meaning you can enjoy soft, clean, drinkable water in your home for as long as you desire.
3. Nuvo H2O Dphb-a Water Softener
- Eco-friendly; no salt, no wastewater, no electricity
- Easy to maintain with lightweight cartridges
- Compact and easy to store once installed
- Some reviewers didn’t see a difference in water softness
- Cartridges need regular replacement - about every 6 months
The Nuvo H20 Dphb-a uses revolutionary technology to make hard water in your home a problem of the past. Fully FDA and NSF-approved, Nuvo lowers the pH level of your water using chelation. This binds magnesium and calcium to a special formulation, which keeps the minerals soluble and unable to cause hard water problems.
By using this technology, it makes for an incredibly efficient and eco-friendly water softener. It uses no electricity, with no salt, whilst also minimizing waste water. Maintenance also comes easy, with lightweight cartridges making replacing them a simple process. Although, these cartridges may need replacing every six months or so.
Similar to the Fleck 5600sxt, Nuvo’s H2O Dphb-a is a water softener that comes with expert installation as an optional extra. In addition, the unit is compact and incredibly easy to store once it’s in place and working. It’s the perfect choice for homes with 1-2 residents, and although it may be relatively small, it still provides big results.
4. Whirlpool WHES30 Water Softener
- Ideal for households of 1-4+ people
- Automatically calculates salt and water requirements
- Easy to install
- Not as long-lasting as some competitors’ systems
- Some customers experienced leaks and broken display
It may be low in cost, but when it comes to performance the Whirlpool WHES30 is in a league that exceeds its modest price point.
Significant salt and water savings are made by automatically calculating the amount of salt and water required to regenerate, meaning it only uses what is necessary. This makes it incredibly efficient when softening your water.
As may be expected with a lower-cost model, customers do say it’s not as long-lasting as some of the other products on this list. However, it does come with a one year warranty, with an optional two-year extension.
A 30,000 grain capacity is still very respectable for the Whirlpool’s price, and it’s fully NSF certified to reduce hard water symptoms. You can also save a small fortune on implementing this water softener, as customers have heaped praise on its ease of installation.
Suitable for households of 1-4+ people, this is the water softener to buy if you’re willing to compromise on the extreme performance of higher-end models, but still want a product that’s going to serve you and your household well.
5. Fleck 5600sxt Water Softener
- On-demand and ultra-efficient
- Great tasting water
- Exemplary customer service
- Amazing value for money
- Doesn’t come with installation instructions
- Cheap plastic components
The high 48,000 grain capacity of the Fleck 5600sxt certainly stands out amongst the competition. Coupled with ultra-efficient water softening and upgraded paddle wheel meter, this unit makes the most of technology to give you a high-performing water softener for your home.
Its flow rate is joint-highest in this guide, coming in at 20 GPM. Customers praise its great-tasting water, as well as its ability to remove water spots whilst doing housework.
The Fleck 5600sxt also comes with optional expert installation, although if you’re in-the-know with installations such as these then it should take no longer than 1-2 hours to do it yourself; although some customers did note they didn’t receive installation instructions with their order. With that being said, the exemplary customer service Fleck show means you won’t be without what you need for long.
This water softener is great for any household, no matter the amount of water you use. Its high efficiency means the water you use is continuously measured, which therefore means the system will only regenerate when it needs to. If your water needs increase, then the system regenerates more often to keep up.
6. Aquasure Harmony Series Water Softener
- Excellent value for money
- Well-designed and good looking
- Great customer support
- Quiet even during backwash cycle
- Better guides on how to program the system would be helpful
If you’re looking for soft, scale-free water, the Aquasure Harmony Series is the unit of choice for many. With a respectable flow rate of 12 GPM, Aquasure have created a water softener that proves great value for money whilst remaining efficient and reliable.
This water softener comes equipped with a highly efficient digital control head. This carefully calculates the volume of water that passes through the system and then completes a backwash cycle only when it’s required.
While backwash cycles can be a loud process for some water softeners, the Harmony Series remains quiet and virtually undetectable. This makes it perfect for smaller homes that may not have the luxury of keeping their water softener out of earshot.
With an excellent 5 year warranty, alongside great customer service, this water softener is well-designed and built to last. Its tank is highly durable and corrosion-resistant, due to it being made from fiberglass-lined polyethylene.
Looking for longevity from your water softener, without breaking the bank? The Aquasure Harmony Series is an excellent choice for you.
7. GE GXSH40V Water Softener
- Learns water usage patterns
- Reasonable price for quality of product
- Notably softer water in the whole house
- Some systems have been reported to leak
- Difficult to follow installation guide
The GE GXSH40V is fully NSF and CSA certified, giving you peace of mind that this water softener has been through rigorous testing to ensure it works efficiently and safely.
Its salt-saving features reduce maintenance time (and cost). Its electronic controls are incredibly easy to use, and with the added feature of a salt level automatic reminder, you don’t have to worry about periodically checking them. This unit does it all for you!
The marginally lower flow rate may contribute to a lower price point, but with a capacity of 40,200 grain it’s undoubtedly good value for money. It may come with a lower warranty of one year, but customers have found it to work reliably as it creates softer water for an entire household.
When it comes to installation, everything you need is included. Whilst some customers have noted the installation guides can be tricky to follow, anyone with some experience should find setting up the unit a breeze.
The GE GXSH40V learns your water usage patterns for maximum efficiency. With this and its advanced technology, this water softener is perfect if you’re wanting better water without the need for ongoing maintenance.
8. Ecopure EP42007 Water Softener
- Works as advertised
- Reasonably priced
- Reduced salt and water usage due to autosense technology
- Doesn't have an internal GPG (grains per gallon) meter
- Display always lit which wastes energy
When it comes to efficiency, the Ecopure EP42007 blows away many competing units. With their autosense technology, the water softener only uses exactly the amount that’s necessary. Customers have exclaimed this works incredibly well, and its preciseness makes it one of the most efficient water softeners on the market.
However, with that being said, some customers have noted the display is always lit. This is something to consider if you’re especially concerned about energy wastage.
A sleek design means the EP42007 can be installed anywhere without being an eyesore. This water softener works just as advertised, effectively reducing the hardness of water. Say goodbye to embarrassing water spots, and expect your appliances which use water to last longer by operating more efficiently as a result.
Even with all of these features, the EP42007 is very reasonably priced. It also comes with a 1 year warranty. This can also be extended by another two years for qualifying purchases. Suitable for homes with 1-6 people, no matter the size of your home the Ecopure EP42007 will serve you well.
9. Tier1 Compatible Water Softener
- Clean, great-tasting water
- Fairly intuitive when programming to your needs
- Excellent value for money considering the included reverse osmosis system
- Some customers found installation instructions difficult to follow
- Would benefit from more knowledgeable tech support
The Tier1 Compatible is a water softening system that has everything you need. Straight away, you can use their 10-panel water testing kit to test the hardness of your water and determine which settings you need to use in order to get the best out of the unit.
Also included in the Tier1 Compatible is a reverse osmosis system. This will filter your water to make it perfect for drinking, whilst leaving in essential nutrients. You’ll also receive four glass bottles to fill with water when you’re on the move, making this uniteco-friendly by reducing the plastic waste from water bottles.
When you consider everything included in this water filtering and softening system, it’s difficult to believe how reasonable its price is. Although, you may need to hire a professional or someone with experience to come and install it for you.
The Tier1 Compatible also includes a valve head that features a user-friendly LCD display and fully adjustable cycle times; most people go for 2am so as not to disrupt their regular water usage during the day.
If you live in a medium sized home and want not only soft but great tasting water, the Tier1 Compatible is the water softener for you.
10. Pentair WS48-56sxt10 Water Softener
- Easy to install with AFW install kit
- Incredible value for money
- Great customer service
- Lower performance than competitor models
- Doesn’t regenerate as often as some customers expected
The Pentair WS48-56sxt10 comes as a complete system that’s fully equipped and ready to install. With a 48,000 grain capacity, this water softener comes with a brine tank and float to provide you with soft water from the moment it’s fitted.
An included AFW install kit makes this process an easy one, which can’t be said for many of the units in this guide! The Pentair proves to be great value for money, even if its performance levels are slightly less than some competitor models. Some customers also expected it to regenerate a little more often.
However, Pentair do have great customer service, who could show you how to manually adjust certain settings on the LCD display and touchpad controls. Like many products in this guide, this water softener is built for efficiency. A Metered on-demand system ensures you don’t waste water or salt whilst getting perfect soft water for your home.
If you’re happy to sacrifice a tiny amount on performance, but for a more cost-effective price, then the Pentair WS48-56sxt10 is the water softener you should choose for your home.
The Benefits of Soft Water
Water containing high levels of calcium and magnesium is classified as hard water. If you live in an area of the US with hard water, you may want to consider the benefits a water softener could bring to your home and family.
There are many negative effects hard water can have on your home, many of which are unnoticeable and hidden from plain sight. From clogging pipes and leaving water spots, to reducing the efficiency of your appliances and therefore increasing your energy expenditure.
So, what are the benefits soft water can have? Here’s an overview of what you can expect from installing a water softener in your home:
- Clean and shiny silver and glassware, with no water spots left from household chores
- Smoother, cleaner hair and softer skin
- Softer-feeling clothes with the absence of hard minerals embedded in the fabric
- Cleaner clothes, with whites staying white for longer without dulling for hard water
- Extend the life of your household appliances
- Reduce the amount of energy you use to run your appliances
- With an in-built water filter, get great tasting water as well
With all of these benefits to gain from installing a water softener, why would you continue to put up with hard water?
Number of Grains
With water softeners, “grains” refers to how many grains of hardness (i.e. minerals such as magnesium and calcium) the unit can process before it requires regeneration.
The number of grains you need depends on your water usage, as well as the hardness of your water. If you’re a smaller household, you may not need a full 48,000 grains, as your water softener won’t need a regeneration cycle as often as homes with 4-5 people in.
Also, if your water isn’t very hard then your unit won’t use up as much capacity as someone with harder water. Grain capacity can influence price and can reach up to 96,000 in some cases. So choose wisely depending on your needs.
Salt-Free vs. Salt-Based Systems
When looking to buy a water softener, you’re likely to face two main options: salt-free or salt-based.
The primary difference between the two comes in how it makes your water soft. A salt-based system will remove the magnesium and calcium that make water hard, whereas a salt-free system doesn’t remove them.
Instead, a salt-free system will change the structure of minerals, which in turn makes it more difficult for them to stick to surfaces – which is usually the cause of water spots and drain blockages. A salt-free water softener will condition your water in order to mitigate the risk of this occurring. In addition, they require less maintenance, as they don’t require salt levels replenishing.
With a salt-based water softener, the minerals are actually removed from your water. This means that appliances where water doesn’t constantly run (think dishwashers and other expensive items around your home) are better protected. There is more risk of mineral build-up with a salt-free system.
With that being said, salt-based systems do have their downsides too. Namely, they leave small levels of sodium in the water. Whilst this shouldn’t be a problem for the majority of healthy adults, areas with harder water will mean there’s more sodium left in the water. For those on strict low-sodium diets, this can be a health risk.
Consider your needs, and whether you require low-sodium or low-maintenance before making a decision on salt-based vs. salt-free.
One vs. Two-Tank Systems
The one or two-tank systems refers to the number of resin tanks the water softener has.
A single-tank water softener often includes an on-demand system, which will count the volume of water you use. Once you reach capacity, the system will regenerate. However, this means that if you reach capacity in the middle of the day, you may be left without soft water. When the system regenerates, it enters a process called “bypass”, during which time it cannot provide soft water.
To combat this, many single-tank water softeners come with an additional 30% capacity to deal with heavy water usage. This minimizes the risk of you running out of soft water during the day.
One-tank systems need to use hard water to regenerate and clean themselves, which is less than ideal. It makes the cleaning less effective, but because it can’t create the soft water for cleaning, all it’s left with is hard water to use.
Dual-tank units don’t have this problem, as their second resin tank creates the soft water that is used in the first tank’s regeneration cycle.
With two-tank water softeners, they’ll also regenerate when they reach capacity. The main difference here, however, is that it has a second tank to switch over to. This ensures you’ll always have soft water.
A main difference between the two when making your decision will come down to price. As expected, a two-tank system is more expensive. You’ll also need to consider the space you have available to you. If the area you’re looking to install your water softener is relatively small, then you’ll probably require a one-tank.
What is resin used for?
Resin beads within a water softener are used in a process called “ion exchange”. This is where hardness ions in the water swap places with the soft ions from the resin beads. The result? Soft water.
What size shall I get?
The size of your water softener depends on the area that you have available. If the area around the pipes that intake your water is small, then you’ll need to find a unit that fits.
What is GPG?
GPG means “grains per gallon”, and is used to describe the number of grains in one US gallon of water. The higher your water’s GPG, the harder your water levels.
Do I need a bypass valve?
A bypass valve will allow you to stop water from entering your water softener, but you’ll still receive water to the rest of your house. This is ideal for maintenance, as you won’t be without water.
What is GPM?
GPM means “gallons per minute”, and describes how much water flows through your system in a given timeframe. The higher the GPM, the higher the flow rate and the faster your water softener will get to work on turning your hard water soft.
What’s a regeneration cycle?
A regeneration cycle occurs when a water softener has reached its grain capacity. When capacity is reached, the unit will flush itself out to regenerate its capacity. This process usually takes a couple of hours, with some units doing it automatically. Others will let you schedule a regeneration cycle so it doesn’t interfere with your water usage.
How do I measure my water’s hardness?
The best way to test the hardness of your water is to pick up a testing kit from a hardware store. By knowing the hardness of your water, you can make an informed decision on which water softener is right for you.
Wrapping it up
When you’re shopping for a water softener, higher capacity and flow rate is better for those with heavier water usage. Large family homes would be better-suited to these higher levels. If you have space, a dual-tank will work perfectly for you.
You may be more focused on keeping costs low, which would make a single-tank system the one to go for. This is also sufficient if you’ve got a smaller household and don’t require as much water.
Our best pick had to be the Pelican Salt-Free Water Softener. It comes with all of the necessary certifications, a lifetime warranty and a great grain capacity. Its price may be higher than some competitor models, but it’s certainly worth it for high performance and a system that lasts.