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Water Purification Systems

Best Water Softeners – Review and Buying Guide 2021

In need of the best water softener to free your tap water of contaminants and make it soft? Naturally, the consumption of hard water can cause hair, skin problems, and a weak immune system. It might clog up your plumbing system and reduce the lifespan of home appliances. Also, soaps do not lather well when you bathe with hard water.

Economically or hygienically, there’s nothing positive about the use of hard water. I had issues with high concentrations of calcium in tap water in the past. Then, I installed a dual-tank 24,000-capacity softening system in my home. It was expensive, but very effective in preventing the growth of lime-scale deposits and descaling the concentration of calcium in my hard water. Since then, I’ve been recommending excellent water softeners and filters for friends that have unmatched, harsh chemicals in their tap water.

It’s this rich experience with several types of water softeners that gave me some valuable understanding of tackling hard water. As you get ready to shop for the ideal system for your home or office, this buying guide will show you the way!

Best Water Softeners for Well Water: Comparison Chart

Pick NameThumbnailProduct NamePrice
Top Reverse Osmosis Water SofteneriSpring RCC7AKiSpring RCC7AKCheck Price
Top Choice for IronAFWFilters Fleck 5600sxtAFWFilters Fleck 5600sxtCheck Price
Top Magnetic Aqua SoftenerEddy Electronic Water DescalerEddy Electronic Water DescalerCheck Price
Top Salt-freeiSpring ED2000 Electronic Descaler Water ConditioneriSpring ED2000 Electronic Descaler Water ConditionerCheck Price
Top Salt-Based ChoiceDuraWater 64k-56SXT-10 64k softenerDuraWater 64k-56SXT-10 64k softenerCheck Price
6thOn the Go OTG4-DBLSOFTOn the Go OTG4-DBLSOFTCheck Price
7thFleck 5600SXT Water Softener 64,000 GrainFleck 5600SXT Water Softener 64,000 GrainCheck Price
8thWhirlpool WHES40E 40,000 Grain Water SoftenerWhirlpool WHES40E 40,000 Grain Water SoftenerCheck Price
9thPentair 5600sxt-48k-10 Water SoftenerPentair 5600sxt-48k-10 Water SoftenerCheck Price
10thAFWFilters Iron Pro 2 CombinationAFWFilters Iron Pro 2 CombinationCheck Price

Why Should You Trust Us?

The Faucets Reviewed team contains professional plumbers, home renovation specialists, interior designers, and DIY enthusiasts based in the USA. We love to share our expertise with people from all corners of the world, hence the beginning of the incredible journey of this platform.

This is a great opportunity for us to write how-to articles and give honest reviewed on different types of home improvement tools you will find in the industry. Our large base of audience is a solid proof that all the effort our team gives to maintain this website never goes in vain.

Also, you will find unbiased product reviews here because we have no connection with the manufacturing companies. We select out the finest choices from any product category following a testing procedure that we have finalized after a lot of trial and error.  You will get to know more about this procedure in the “How We Picked These Products” section given below.

How We Picked These Products

Finalizing the highest performance products for our guide on water softener system reviews was not a piece of cake as we had to sort them from so many choices. These are the things we did to make this review as much reliable as possible.

a) Online Research: At first, we spent close to 22 hours online to figure out those models that were the most popular at the time of our research. We were able to select 26 such units that we had then decided to put to test

b) The Testing Phase: Over the next 5 months, we tested every single model with the help from a volunteer team. For your information, we had to involve the volunteers because collecting and reviewing those water softening machines all by ourselves were near to impossible.

c) Shortlisting: Based on our findings,  we eventually finalized the top 10 choices. We compared their types, capacities, performances, build qualities, prices, and other essential factors during the selection process.

d) Re-evaluating the shortlisted products: We did not stop there. To double-check that our finalized choices were really up to par, we consulted with other industry experts and asked for their opinions. We also went through their ratings and reviews from real users available on eCommerce platforms like Amazon and eBay. As we had expected, we received nothing but positive feedback that ensured us that this is the best review on water softeners you will find online.

Top 10 Best Water Softeners Reviews

You might not need water softening machines to provide potable water, but they can keep your clothes free from stains when you wash with soft water. Alternatively, your bathroom’s floor and shower will appear pleasing with the use of top rated water softeners. There are health benefits when you choose the great units too. Make sure your preferred model has the availability of its spare parts. Your budget and the level of your tap water’s contamination will help you get an ideal product from these highest rated units.

So, what is the best water softener for sale? Let us find out!

1 iSpring RCC7AK

iSpring RCC7AK

Another iSpring on the list, but this model uses reverse osmosis (RO) filtration and six stages of filtration systems to soften hard water. The right word to describe the performance of this iSpring RCC7AK is “impressive.” We would recommend this reverse osmosis system for large families that need potable drinking water. However, let’s share all the features that make it a must-have for every household.

Alkaline Remineralization Filter: Do you know that alkaline remineralization filters help to retain healthy minerals in tap water? We confirmed the presence of healthy minerals with a test kit after filtering hard water with this filtration machine. Apart from the superb taste of alkaline water, an alkaline remineralization filter increases the pH value of water. This increase in pH value occurs in the sixth stage of the iSpring RCC7AK’s filtration process. We confirmed this effective process with the claims of the manufacturer.

Ease of Installation: We tried to connect the fittings, and parts of this RO system to the main water supply line in twenty minutes. The ease of installation is what DIY-enthusiasts will enjoy. However, we will advise you to follow the instruction manual if you want to ensure leak-free installation. I shouldn’t fail to tell you that during installation, our team made few wrong connections. But you can avoid this by watching the online walkthrough videos or speak with the technical support on the phone. Also, we noticed that it fits standard kitchen sink connections readily. We didn’t use threading pipes because it is easy to insert the quick-fitting connectors (half-inch deep) into the plumbing pipe and lock tightly.

Multi-Stage Filtration Process: Do you know the difference between a multi-stage and single phase filtration process? Unlike the single-phase filters, this machine uses many layers and stages to filter hard water, and remove different types of contaminants. Also, you’ll see the effectiveness of the high-capacity iSpring RCC7AK. It uses the RO membrane and CTO carbon block filter to trap small sediments and remove fluoride from water. That’s not all, the loose carbon (GAC, KDF) filters in this machine can remove microorganisms and large sediments. One of the advantages of the multi-stage filtration process is optimum performance and extended filter life.

High Water Pressure: With between 45 to 70 PSI, this water softening machine traps about 99% of lead by forcing hard water through the RO membrane. Its RO membranes effectively remove harmful pollutants like arsenic, pathogens, giardia, chlorine, and fluoride.

Specifications

  • Maximum TDS: 750 PPM
  • Production Capacity: 75 GPD
  • Inlet Water Pressure: 45 to 70 PSI
  • Operating Temperature Range: 40 to 100 °F
  • Filtration Type: Reverse Osmosis
  • Product Weight: 20 lbs
  • Brand: iSpring

Pros

  • Our under-the-sink Reverse Osmosis softener has the WQA (Water Quality Association) Gold Seal Certification that shows it’s a high-end filtration system
  • It can handle 99% of lead and over 1,000 contaminants in hard water
  • It uses 6 stages of filtration, and an alkaline remineralization filter to improve the quality of potable water

Cons

  • With a product weight of 20 pounds, this RO filtration system is bulky and not portable.

Our Verdict

We saw a lead-free brushed nickel faucet, 3.2-gallon pressurized tank, and other necessary accessories in this iSpring RCC7AK model. You can save money by using this low-maintenance, drinking water filter system and enjoy the benefits of alkaline remineralization. According to the manufacturer, this high-capacity iSpring softener model has gone through rigorous tests for air leaks. I’ll recommend this as one of the best home water softener systems for families that need reliable RO filtration systems.

2 AFWFilters Fleck 5600sxt (Top Choice for Iron)

AFWFilters Fleck 5600sxt

We tried to set the meter of this Fleck Whole House System to regenerate soft water, and it worked perfectly. After using the ion exchange process to remove hard-ions  (calcium and magnesium) during our test process, this high-capacity Fleck 5600SXT also monitored our water usage. I’ll share some features that make this Digital Water Softener a must-have for households and offices.

Digitally-Enhanced LCD Screen: To monitor your filtration process, this machine uses many programs that display on its LCD screen. It was easy for us to use the touchpad controls of this digital water softening machine. Also, its backlit LCD screen is user-friendly, and we could see the status updates with every process of filtration. Our test shows that users can resolve basic issues by understanding the error codes to shows on the LCD screen. Additionally, the volume of water usage (in gallons) that will be regenerated is often displayed on the digital screen.

High Capacity Resin: You’ll notice the Fleck 5600SXT as the first high-capacity filtration system that can handle a maximum of 48,000 grains per week. So, our team of in-house filtration experts recommends this machine for buyers that need heavy-duty resin filters to handle stubborn contaminants. Also, our test result shows that the Fleck 5600SXT system features 1.5 cubic feet standard of 8% resin (BR8) and treats 12 GPM flow rate of water.

Meter-Based Regeneration: There’s a built-in paddle wheel meter for on-demand, water softening services in this filtration system. With the meter-based regeneration process, users will conserve electricity bills and enjoy soft water only when it’s needed.

Ease of Installation: This is the best rated water softener for its extremely easy installation system by our volunteer team. However, it’s easy to install this machine when you have basic plumbing skills. This salt-based softener includes the Fleck 1-inch bypass valve, and (Male) threaded yoke connectors.

Specifications

  • Filtration Capacity: 48,000 Grain
  • Flow Rate: 12 GPM
  • Filtration Type: Salt-based
  • Product Weight: 20.8 lbs
  • Brand: Fleck

Pros

  • It comes with paddle wheel meter that delivers on-demand softened water
  • It has an LCD screen and soft buttons that make it user-friendly
  • It’s a complete softener system with double tanks (resin and brine chambers), and control head that is easy to install

Cons

  • This 48,000 grains per week capacity can handle soft water needs of large households. However, it’s a pricey softener model that might not be affordable for buyers with low budgets.

Our Verdict

The Fleck 5600SXT Digital System comes with high-efficiency bypass valves, resin beads, and control head. With a rating of 12 GPM, it can treat hard water and regenerate the right quantity for consumption. This device is recommended for households that have a minimum of six members.

3 Eddy Electronic Water Descaler

Eddy Electronic Water Descaler

This is the first hard water descaling machine on our list. Do you know that a water descaling machine doesn’t soften hard water? Instead, this Electronic Eddy Water Descaler works through magnetic fields to change the adhesion and gluing properties of hard ions in water temporarily. There are many ways to purify water but you may choose a descaler when the concentration of impurities in hard water is low. As an alternative to water softener, our test result proves this electronic descaling device can prevent lime scales from building up inside showerheads, pipes, and appliances. Usually, lime scale forms ‘dissolved’ water compounds like magnesium, calcium, and manganese.

No Need For Additives: While testing this product, we didn’t see the need for additives that could reduce lime scales. However, buyers only need to install and activate this electronic water descaler. It’s a great way of saving money that would have been used to buy additives like filtration salts or filters. As an alternative to water softeners, you’ll enjoy soft water with this Eddy Electronic Water Descaler and save your environment from salt deposits.

Low-Maintenance: The frequency of maintenance determines the durability of filtration machines. Generally, water descalers are great filtration systems because they have low maintenance. When you analyze the set up as we did, you’ll see that as hard water flows through these coil-wrapped pipes (plastic or metal), it reduces the accumulation of limescale. With this simple mechanism, buyers will enjoy the optimum performance and extended lifespan of their plumbing lines.

Mineral Retention: As mentioned before, it weakens the adhesion features of hard water minerals and retains essential water minerals. However, we discovered that atomic structures of water minerals are not altered because this descaling machine is not a water softener. Regardless of its mechanism, it’s a win-win situation for the owner of this descaler because they will enjoy the amazing benefits of healthy minerals.

For Small Households: Buyers with low-budgets can afford this water softener alternative, and use it to descale low-medium contaminant levels of hard water. This electronic water descaler package comes with looped cables to fit pipes that have diameters of 1.5 inches.

Specifications

  • Water Hardness Capacity: 20 GPG
  • Filtration Type: Nil
  • Product Weight: 1.45 lbs
  • Brand: Eddy

Pros

  • Its descaling strength can extend the life of your plumbing accessories, and appliances that use water
  • It helps to prevent the accumulation limescale in pipes, faucets and shower heads by dissolving existing mineral deposits.
  • It doesn’t alter water minerals’ structure but weakens their adhesion strength

Cons

  • It can be used on all types of water pipe materials except for iron and lead

Our Verdict

As a water softener alternative, this Eddy Electronic Water Descaler is ideal for small family units. While using it for homes and offices, you can save money because the system doesn’t work with any additive. Instead, it retains healthy minerals and emulates softened water effectively.

4 iSpring ED2000 Electronic Descaler Water Conditioner

iSpring ED2000 Electronic Descaler Water Conditioner

The  ED2000 Electronic Descaler manufactured by iSpring Water System is a superb salt-free alternative to the traditional water softener. So, what makes this electronic solution stand out from standard models? Let’s find out.

We all know that water with high mineral contents, known as hard water, contains mineral ions that, if not removed, forms clusters and reacts with internal surfaces of water pipes, as a result, limescale depositories freely clog the entire plumbing fixtures causing poor water pressure and damaging major appliances.

When traditional water softeners work by turning the hard minerals (Ca+, Mg+) into relatively soft minerals (Na+), this technology actually generates loads of sodium that is not healthy for the human body. These particular minerals can leach lead from pipes and water lines which is also damaging for health.

The  ED2000 Does Not soften the water. Instead it has a patented electric circuit that emits the right magnetic wave frequency into the water. The water molecules are thus charged and consequently pick all the existing hard mineral ions along the way. This saves the expensive plumbing fixtures and appliances.

We tested the model for over a week to find out whether it worked as the theory suggests, and Woah! It kills! However, if you have a bigger house with long water pipes, you might need more than one unit as the water may start to release the hard mineral ions after a distance measured 50ft.

Specifications

  • Installed on: PEX, Copper, CPVC or PVC pipe
  • Filtration Type: Salt-free
  • Product Weight: 2 lbs
  • Effective for over 25 grain water hardness level
  • Brand: iSpring Water System
  • 1-year guarantee

Pros

  • Super simple to install
  • Lightweight
  • Doesn’t soften water yet highly effective
  • Reliable after sales service

Cons

  • Effective within 50 feet long water pipe

Our Verdict

This is a smart solution for those who don’t want gushes of salt water pouring in when turning on the tap or shower head, since traditional softeners work that way. It’s rather a smart solution that minimizes the hazards hard water can bring. Besides, it’s not super expensive or difficult to install. So, get it if you want an advanced solution for your plumbing system.

5 DuraWater 64k-56SXT-10 64k softener

DuraWater 64k-56SXT-10 64k softener

Salt-based water softeners are the most reliable and widely accepted systems people have always trusted. The DuraWater has done an amazing job with this superb salt-based softener model. When compared to others, this one goes way  ahead in terms of performance, longevity and efficiency.

It packs a 5600 STX Fleck valve that is considered one of the most popular systems in the world. After setting this reliable kit on you can simply forget about it. The US based model comes with all the required installation kits e. g. crosslink resin, test strip, sanitizer, and lubricant.

AFWFilters install kit comes with printed instructions for accurate installation. We liked the  bypass valve that came with a yoke connection. The bypass valve enables you to turn off the system anytime you like.

It also features a full fledged brine tank and float along with overflow drain system, so there’s no chance for accidental overflow under heavy pressure.  We also found the LCD touch display highly useful as it projected all the useful information.

Specifications

  • Product Weight: 21 lbs
  • Color: Black
  • Filtration Capacity: 64000 grain
  • Brand: Dura Water

Pros

  • Completely US made product, manufacturer personally emails video instructions for easy installation
  • Comes with all the necessary kits for fast installation
  • Doesn’t require much maintenance
  • Advanced operation with LCD display

Cons

  • Initially the water might smell of chemicals a bit

Our Verdict

When it comes to salt-based solution for treating your hard water, Dura Water is the way to go. It packs advanced components ensuring the most efficient softening capacity with 64k grain system. You are going to save a lot of money by installing it yourself, as you are going to get full support from the manufacturer for DIY installation.

6 On the Go OTG4-DBLSOFT

On the Go OTG4-DBLSOFT

You’ll see that this 32-pound, compact RV Softener (OTG4-DBLSOFT model) from On The Go is one of the largest models on our list of water softener system reviews. Its large design allows for regeneration and extra storage for table salt. So, the choice of large design is to prevent users from reloading the salt chambers frequently. I am confident that owners of this product wit busy schedules will find this feature to be very useful. However, we used this 16,000-grain capacity machine, and enjoyed the benefits of water softener for 40 days.

While maintaining its capacity, we witnessed a regeneration process once every 30 days. As i said, we didn’t need to add more salts into the tank during this period. These are some reasons that made the On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT a top rated softener.

Space-Saver Design: Usually, homeowners or office workers with tight cabinet space will not have issues with the size of this compact RV Softener model. This 32-lbs machine is great for home and office because it comes with a space-saving design. The kitchen of our small apartment where this model was installed during testing was tight, but it fit perfectly. Also, we tried to install this RV Water Softener in a dockside locker, and we were impressed with its space-saving design.

The Dual Chamber for Salts: With only a few pennies that we spent on salt, this water softener regenerated with 2 boxes of common table salt. Also, in less than 30 minutes, this machine provided soft water (1600 gallons) that served us for 40 days. Apart from the RV softener’s space-saving design, it’s a cost-effective model that comes with two boxes of normal table salt.

Travel-Friendly Softener: This RV Softener might seem bulky, but it’s portable and travel-friendly. Our team of volunteers carried the machine into the trunk of our SUV when we had to test it at another location. Also, the machine has a high-grade resin chamber that’s designed with a large inlet for receiving salt. The design includes a leak-proof cap, 360-degree swivel, and handle at its top that’s easy to carry.

The 16,000 Grain Unit: The 16,000 Grain capacity is not written on the product’s sheet to deceive buyers. Instead, our experience reveals that it can handle 16,000 grains per gallons, and provide soft water. Also, this unit is a dual-standard softener and conditioner that has a diameter of 9.50 inches, and a height of 22 inches.

Specifications

  • Product Weight: 32 lbs
  • Filtration Capacity: 16,000 GPG
  • Brand: On The Go

Pros

  • It performs quick (30 minutes) regenerations that remove hard-ions, rust, and limescale from tap water
  • This compact water softening machine is made from sturdy materials, and it’s portable
  • it provides twice the gallons of soft water than regular softener models with similar features

Cons

  • Its inlet hose (fittings) is a plastic material that might leak at any time.

Our Verdict

Unlike regular water softening machines, the On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT 16,000 GPG softener performs simple regeneration that provides soft water for households. This RV Softener has a space-saving design and supports high flow rates. It passed our team of expert’s filtration tests and can provide 40% more soft water than you regular RV brands. I’ll recommend this for small-sized households.

7 Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener 64,000 Grain

Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener 64,000 Grain

If you are looking for a 64,000 Grain water softener stacking a Digital SXT meter that will offer a complete solution for the entire house plumbing system, Fleck 5600SXT might be the one for you. AFWFilters is a trusted household name for over 35 years in the US and they’ve done an excellent job here.

This is a whole-house system packing high quality resin loaded up to two cubic ft. inside the tank that has enough capacity to produce satisfactory results for years. We also found the brine tanks and USA Pentair tanks to be ultra efficient in saving on water as much on the sault.

The plastic bypass that we came across was noryl threaded and measured 1 inch in diameter. This fitted flex lines and standard plumbing. The brine tank came preloaded with resin, so the installation was super simple.

We also liked the digital meter having a built-in memory capacitor that is able to sustain memory for up to forty eight hours. Once programmed, you are not going to lose it even if there’s a power cut.

Specifications

  • Weight: 180 lb
  • Dimension: 48” x 12” x 12”
  • Model NO.: 64000 grain
  • Size: 64K grain
  • Color: Black
  • Inclusion: Complete System

Pros

  • Complete house solution
  • High quality resin
  • Digital meter keeps memory
  • Fast installation

Cons

  • Needs professional help for installation

Our Verdict

This is another reliable product from AFWFilters that you will not regret buying. It has a high capacity to take care of a large house plumbing system. Make sure you take professional help before installing the system. Once installed, you can just forget about it.

8 Whirlpool WHES40E 40,000 Grain Water Softener

Whirlpool WHES40E 40,000 Grain Water Softener

Iron is one of the primary minerals that harden water. Whirlpoos WHES40E has been engineered to deal with iron. It can remove iron at a rate of 10 ppm. If you have a family of not more than 6 persons, this device should be a great choice.

We wanted to test if the NSF certified system worked as efficiently as the manufacturer claimed on paper. It performed better than we expected. We found no worrying level of salt in the water. This smart system self-calculates the level of water and mineral mixture and maintains a standard level.

This is a proud US engineered, designed and assembled 40000 grain product and we were happy to see the result. The installation was super simple. What’s more, the cleaning process with WHEWSC cleanser seemed super easy, for that you need to buy the cleanser bottles separately.

Specifications

  • Weight: 95 lbs.
  • Dimension: 19” x 18” x 48”
  • Inclusions: Installation kit, Bypass valve, Softener system, instruction manual
  • Grain capacity: 40,000
  • Warranty: 1 year

Pros

  • NSF certified
  • Effective softening
  • Protects plumbing appliances
  • DIY installation

Cons

  • Clips for holding bypass are made from plastic

Our Verdict

This is a quality product from an American manufacturer who impressed us with their product lines over the years. Only complaint we have is certain parts are made from cheap plastic, but that shouldn’t be a problem as that does not have any effect on the overall performance of the product. You can reliably use it for years.

9 Pentair 5600sxt-48k-10 Water Softener

Pentair 5600sxt-48k-10 Water Softener

Of our top 10 softeners, this 48,000-grain capacity Fleck Water Softener WS48-56sxt10 from Pentair is the heavy-duty filtration system. We are satisfied that it’s an excellent choice for trapping large sediments in hard water. We saw its 1.5 cubic feet high-capacity resin tank, Fleck 5600SXT control head, and other plumbing accessories in the package. Generally, Fleck is one of the most reliable brands in the filtration industry. Let’s share other exciting features that make this WS48-56sxt10 model a top-rated choice.

Commercial Grade Resin: The last time we checked, this Fleck machine had more positive reviews in one of the most popular online shops than many  48,000 GPG capacity softeners. Like we did, you’ll see several sturdy materials in this machine. However, it comes with Polyglass tank and a 10% Crosslink resin for softening hard water. During the test process, its’ brine tank’s float system helped us to prevent overfilling of filtration salt. These features ensure increased lifespan for the resin.

48,000 Grain Capacity: Fleck Water Softener’s 48,000 GPG (maximum) capacity makes it a perfect filtration system for softening large volumes of hard water. It means that we are right to call it a commercial grade salt-based softener. Also, consumers in both homes and offices will enjoy high water quality.

On-demand Metered System: Do you know that you can regulate the on-demand setting of this complete filtration system? It was easy for our test team to use the touchpad’s control buttons and measure water usage. After regeneration, there’s a built-in paddlewheel-style meter that can help you to regenerate the quantity of soft water that meets your needs.

Fleck 5600SXT Control Pad: From the LCD screen and touchpad controls, we noticed the ease of using this commercial grade, water softening machine. This Fleck 5600SXT interface has three soft-touch buttons and a screen. With both devices, we could operate and understand important details during our softening operations.

Specifications

  • Product Weight: 130 lbs
  • Maximum Grain Capacity: 48,000 GPG
  • Flow Rate: 14 GPM
  • Maximum Pressure: 125 PSI
  • Brand: Fleck

Pros

  • It features an on-demand metered system that reduces salt and water consumption
  • This system has a built-in paddlewheel meter that works effectively
  • Its touchpad controls and the LCD screen shows the system’s status, and error messages that help operators to troubleshoot when there’s an issue

Cons

  • Portability might be a big issue with this commercial grade softener because it weighs a massive 130 lbs.

Our Verdict

I’ll recommend this Fleck Water Softener WS48-56sxt10 from Pentair if you want to enhance the efficiency of your home or office water filtration systems. Also, with its flow meter, you can maintain daily water usage by regenerating the volume of water. You’ll receive a set of the high flow bypass valve and installation kit too. However, I’ll recommend this Fleck Water Softener model for commercial users.

10 AFWFilters Iron Pro 2 Combination

AFWFilters Iron Pro 2 Combination

We like the fact that the Iron Pro 2 Fleck 5600 SXT is excellent for industrial and personal use. It’s a 64,000-grain capacity filtration system that we were able to install with ease. Consequently, other avid DIY homeowners will not have hassles during installation. Simply follow the installation manual, or reach out to Fleck’s technical support team (through toll-free calls) when there’s an issue with the process. However, this is a nice choice in the 64,000-grain category that can eliminate large sediments from hard water.

Filtration Capacity: We were excited about it’s 48,000 GPG softener, but the IronPro2’s massive 64,000-grain capacity took our breath away. We experience the removal of water contaminants with hardness ratings of 75 GPG (maximum), and a range of between 6 to 8 ppm. Usually, hardness levels of this value are solid particles that can cause health issue. During the test process, this unit trapped 6 ppm of Manganese and gave us soft water.

Fleck 5600SXT Control Head: The digital metered valve unit uses a control pad and a backlit LCD screen for regeneration. We observed the bright display of this screen under daylight, even people with poor eyesight could read the details. By including the SXT controller for meter-based regeneration system, the Iron Pro 2 can regulate the volume of soft water that you need in the tank.

Eliminates Scale Buildup: Generally, minerals in hard water form scales inside water pipes, faucets, showerheads, and appliances. However, it helped us to remove ferrous Iron, Manganese, and other harmful minerals from hard water. It’s this effective removal process that will descale any potential accumulation of limescale in your bathroom.

Iron Filter: Unlike some softener models that have low-quality filters, it has high-capacity iron filters. These filters were tested, and they ensured the trapping of heavy particles effectively. Also, this unit comes with a fine mesh resin that filters any type of grin from water.

Specifications

  • Product Weight: 119.5 lbs
  • Grain Capacity: 64,000
  • Hardness Level Suitability: 75 GPG
  • Brand: Fleck

Pros

  • It’s designed for removing high concentrations of ferrous Iron, and Manganese from hard water
  • The controller features an internal power backup system and user-friendly touchpad controls
  • It’s a heavy-duty softening system with a grain capacity of 64,000

Cons

  • The design makes it cumbersome while refilling the resin in preparation for regeneration

Our Verdict

Your household will enjoy the optimum performance of this all-in-one, Iron Pro 2’s meter-based regeneration system. However, as a high-capacity grain remover (64,000), you’ll need a big budget to enjoy its grain capacity. Usually, premium salt-based softeners are expensive; especially when they are designed to handle large sediments and descale water pipes. I’ll recommend this system for industrial and commercial users.

Things to Consider When Buying Best Water Softeners

best water softener for home

You have to ensure that your preferred choice is certified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI),  or Water Quality Association (WQA), or NSF. These regulatory bodies are standards for water filtration systems and water coolers, whether tankless, under-sink, inline or any other type. Aside from that, you should also consider the following factors.

1. Type

There are four basic types of water softening systems ideal for residential and commercial space use. Each type comes with some pros and cons. However, not all of them are classified as water softeners because water conditioners (descalers) might produce soft water.

  • Reverse Osmosis (RO) Type
  • Salt Based Type
  • Salt-Free Type
  • Magnetic Type
  • Reverse Osmosis Systems

Water softening machines that use the reverse osmosis technology usually have built-in, semi-permeable membranes. The treatment process begins as high-pressure pushes unfiltered water through this porous membrane and traps every mineral that’s positively charged. With Reverse Osmosis (RO) Systems, you don’t need additives like salt to ensure the desired output. Instead, the space-efficient RO system clears water from every (bad or essential) mineral, and it’s easy to maintain.

  • Salt Based Systems

The salt-based softener uses an ion exchange system (resin beads) to swap hard-water ions for soft-water ions like sodium and potassium. Usually, this process (ion exchange) occurs in two tanks- resin and brine chambers. The quality of water might improve in the first chamber, but a later stage of regeneration occurs from the brine chamber that provides soft water. However, the concentration of salts (sodium or potassium chlorides) can leave your soft water with a salty taste. So, these Sodium or Potassium ions might render your soft water unfit for cooking and drinking.

  • Salt-Free Systems

Instead of being called water softeners, salt-free or saltless systems are actually conditioners because they use the complex nano technology to descale water channels. These water conditioners (descalers) are not designed to remove minerals from hard water, but they prevent the formation of scales on water pipes, and appliances. So, descaling is a process of altering the chemical composition of hard-ion minerals in the water. This technique ensures that atomic structures of these contaminants can’t bind together, or accumulate inside your water pipes.

  • Magnetic Systems

Magnetic descalers don’t need additives to soften water. Instead, magnetic systems use magnetic fields to change the atomic structure of hard water temporarily. However, the hardness is reversed if you don’t use the soft water after 48 hours. Water softeners that use magnetic systems can handle hardness ratings below 8 GPG.

2. Capacity

The capacity of water softening systems varies according to requirements. Usually, water usage for families and single occupants are different. A single user might see more reasons to buy a compact softener with one tank. You can get the 1-tank system at a cheap rate, but the system will require frequent regeneration. Also, a dual-tank softener can handle medium to large-sized households. However, 2-tank water softening systems are more expensive, and they regenerate less frequently.

The range of measurement for water’s hardness is between 3-20 grains. While the value of 3 indicates very soft water, 20 is the highest quality of hard water. So, check your water source for its grains per week value, and choose the best water softener capacity for this purpose. Also, water softener systems with the following capacities; 16,000, 24,000, 32,000, 40,000, 48,000, 64,000, 80,000, and 100,000.

With a water test kit, you can measure the hardness in GPG (grains per gallon), MPL (milligrams per liter), or (PPM) parts per million. Also, 17.1mg/L is equal to 17.1PPM or 1 GPG. However, the durability of any water softener model not guaranteed when the weekly grains of your tap water exceeds the softener model’s capacity.

3. Performance

The performance of water softening machines varies according to their maintenance and design. The salt-based softener’s brine chamber needs to be assessed and refilled regularly. Without ensuring adequate levels of salt, you might not have a smooth filtration process with the water softener. Additionally, the brine’s unit performance may develop salt bridges when you use low-quality salts. It’s required to clear impurities from the tanks that, filter mesh (semi-permeable membranes), and resin beads. This practice will enhance your unit’s performance to a great extent. After softening the water, you can use a water filter pitcher to ensure the purity of drinking water.

4. Bypass Valve

A valve is a flow system that serves as plumbing accessories for homes and offices. Bypass valves that come with water softeners are designed to divert the flow of water when you don’t need soft water. Gardens and swimming pools might not need softened water. However, any great bypass valve should be user-friendly like the types in Fleck softening devices.

5. Regeneration Setting

Usually, softener systems regenerate according to their settings, or your water usage. Regeneration is regulated by a meter or timer, but you can run out of softened water when you rely on timed softening systems. Unlike a metered softener that regenerates when there’s the need to, the timed system will utilize more salt and water after an extended period of non-usage.

6. Price

You can get water softening systems for less than $50, but the high-end ones cost hundreds of Dollars. Aligning your budget with the type of softener that you can afford is a good decision where you will have to make some comparisons. Sometimes, conservative homeowners might need cheap, middle-of-the-pack softeners to enjoy good water quality. However, you shouldn’t expect energy-efficient softeners with high-quality to come cheaply.

What Are Water Softeners & Why Do You Need One?

A water softening system is a type of water conditioner that removes (positively-charged ions) minerals and metals from water. Various types come with different water filtration systems and provide you with the benefits of purified water. The softener’s unit where you’ll see its removal method might use ion exchange resins, reverse osmosis (RO), or magnetic fields. While the porous resin beads are coated with negative ions, the RO softeners have semi-permeable membranes. Generally, most resin beads or zeolite are charged with sodium and potassium (soft) ions to help you replace hard ions.

Usually, water flows from local municipal water pipes into your softener’s water tank. This household water is hard when it contains concentrations of ‘dissolved,’ hard ions like iron, calcium, and magnesium. For the salt-based types, hard water must pass through their tank’s surface resin. It’s this first tank that traps (ion exchange) hard minerals and gives soft water. There are grains of salt and water in the brine chamber whereas this (brine) solution ensures the next phase of regeneration.

The soft water contains sodium (salt) ions, but the brine solution will flow to the resin chamber that contains trapped minerals and displace them. It’s the displacement of these hard minerals with high concentrations of sodium ions that helps your resin tank to clear these hard water ions. Consequently, as the softener flushes these contaminants through its wastewater drain, soft water flows into your home’s plumbing system.

Soft water from your salt-based softener may be used for washing, but not for drinking because it might contain high concentrations of sodium salt. However, you should monitor the level of salt in the brine chamber for the softening system to work effectively.

You’ll need one of the best water softeners to clear hard water and for the following reasons:

  • Water softeners help extend the lifespan of appliances like washing machines, faucets, water heaters, pipes, coffee makers, dishwashers, water heaters, sinks, and ice-makers.
  • When you wash, soap and shampoos will lather with soft water easily. It saves the amount of soap you need to wash and bathe.
  • Soft water reduces the buildup of limescale and rust inside your water pipes and shower heads.
  • The use of water softeners ensures glowing nails, skin, and hair. Also, the difference between hard and soft water is noticeable because of the hygienic effect of the latter. So, the use of soft water for bathing helps to promote the health of households.

How to Determine the Perfect Size for You?

Whether electric or non electric, the outward appearance of any water softening system doesn’t determine its efficiency. Usually, the two models of portable and regular water softeners come in different sizes and capacities. The former type fits buyers with on-the-go lifestyles, while the latter is for buyers that don’t need outdoor softening systems. Also, both types of softening devices are designed to replace hard water into soft water, no matter the water is from a well or the tap. Here are some tips to determine the ideal size for you.

  • Before you settle for any, it’s important to know if the 1-piece or 2-piece softener meets your needs. You might save more money from the low maintenance of 2-piece water softeners than single-tank designs. Usually, the media chamber (for hard ion separation) in a 2-piece water softener is designed to hold the system’s control buttons. This style of construction is to prevent the spread of corrosion from salt in the brine chamber to the media chamber.
  • However, the 1-piece unit is ideal if you need it for personal or small household use. The design of this type of hard water softener helps you to conserve filtration salts and workload of the machine.
  • Apart from buying water softeners that are reliable and sturdy, their ease of maintenance and availability of spare parts are important factors of consideration.
  • Instead of purchasing a foreign brand with low availability of spare parts, try to get a locally-made product.
  • Additionally, you can determine the workload of a water softener by multiplying the number of hard ions (minerals) by your daily water usage. The capacity of water softening systems to serve every member of the family or household must be considered before choosing any model. Generally, the hardness of water is a measurement in grains per gallon, and the rating ranges between 3 to 20 grains

Water Softener Installation Tips

Best Water Softeners

Every installer needs to understand the specific installation instructions for different brands of water softening machines before wrecking them. The risk of a poor setup can cause a decline in the performance of water softeners. In extreme conditions, the poor installation process will increase the maintenance cost of your system. However, these are the basic tips to follow when installing regular water softening systems.

  • Have an understanding of the type of softener to buy. Generally, both the 1-tank and 2-tank softener operate differently. The digital controller of the 2-tank softener is often the system’s media tank’s top and detached from its brine tank. Additionally, single users and small families may find the single-tank water softener more ideal than dual-tank softeners.
  • Read the product’s user manual, and watch the online video before setting up your filtration system. You might call an expert for installation or test your DIY skills if the process interests you.
  • Turn off the shut-off valve that controls the main source of water supply to your household, and drain the residual water in the lines accordingly. Choose a suitable location for the new water softener; an even and dry surface is ideal. Don’t forget to position this softening machine close to a drain.
  • Position the resin and brine side by side, and close to a source of electricity. Take accurate measurements of the distance between your source of hard water and the positions of (bypass or inlet) valves that are attached to your filtration system. Also, ensure a tight connection of connector fittings and tubing pipes for the prevention of leakages. Don’t forget to connect the discharge and overflow tubes to the right port on your softener.
  • You’ll need a set of socket, screwdriver or Allen keys to install a bypass valve. The bypass valves are useful for connecting garden and swimming pool hoses. Then, turn on the main source of water to pressure test every unit for leakages.

Care & Maintenance

Our reviews will not be complete without learning how to maintain water softeners. Here are some maintenance tips for water softening machines that can extend their lifespan, and save money for softening system owners.

  • Your water softening machine consumes salt as it carries out the regeneration process. So, the right type and level (2/3 full) of salt is essential to ensure hitch-free softening operations. Don’t overfill the brine tank with its salt solution. Instead, get water softening systems that have floating devices attached to their brine tanks. Additionally, the regular refilling of brine tanks ensures the most efficient operations possible.
  • Salt bridging is an unpleasant experience that arises when you don’t use pure salt. The salt-free softening systems in our reviews show that hardness minerals remain in soft water after descaling them. These types of systems need cleansing formulas to clear your tanks from residual sediments.
  • After the regeneration process, inspect every unit of your filtration system for ‘dissolved’ particles, salt bridges or blockages. It’s only a regular inspection that can confirm the status of your softener. The resin bed and brine tank might corrode because of salt’s toxicity. So, make sure to apply resin cleansers after investing in any device.

Final Words

It’s the last segment of our review, we’re confident that you’ll have a great experience with any of these shortlisted choices. However, I’ll recommend the high-capacity Fleck 5600SXT IronPro2 Combination for industrial use. It has a grain capacity of 64,000 to trap large sediments like Manganese and Ferrous Iron. Fleck is a trusted manufacturer in the field of water filtration and you shouldn’t give room for the slightest chance of consuming hard water.

There might be no need to use heavy-duty filtration systems when you are on a budget. So, the Eddy Electronic Water Descaler is an ideal option for such conditions. It’s a great magnetic descaler that doesn’t cause pollution to the environment. Generally, our top 10 options have way more superior features than the regular market products offered by reputed brands like Culligan, Rainsoft, Clack, NuvoH2O, Sterling, EcoWater, Hellenbrand, AO Smith, Watts, Krystal Pure, Aqua Systems, Charger Water, Ionics, Commers, Fleet Farm, Ultima, Iron Brigade, Structural, Avantapure, Kinetico, Kenmore, GE (General Electric), Marlo, Rayne, Nugen, and Aqua Pure.

Hope you will make your final decision soon and don’t forget to share your experience with us in the comments section below.

FAQ

1. Does water softener remove calcium?

Ans. The main function of a water softener is to remove calcium, magnesium, and other forms of minerals from water. So, yes, it does remove calcium.

2. When do the resins in the softener tank need to be changed?

Ans. Usually, resins in the water softener function normally for 20-25 years. In case there’s an accident or malfunction, contact a professional.

3. How much salt should my softener use?

Ans. one-third of the brine tank should be filled with salt. So, if you need to add salt, the good practice is to fill it halfway.

4. How can I determine what kind of unit, and what size I will need?

Ans. For regular households, you wouldn’t need more than 32 thousand grain unit, meaning one cubic foot of resin.

More specifically, you can multiply the number of family members with 70.

Multiply the result by the inhouse water hardness in grains for every gallon. If the water contains iron, make sure you add 5 grains for each ppm of iron. What you get is the number of grains for each day. Use it to detect the right softener capacities for your house.

5. How can I tell what the flow rate of my water softener is?

Ans. Check out the specs sheet that comes with the softener unit. If you don’t find it there, you can find online flow rate guides.

6. How long does it take for a water softener to work?

Ans. It will take two weeks maximum for your water softener to start working.

7. Are water softeners bad for copper pipes?

Ans. For copper pipes, water softeners are not good because softened water may have lead, and copper ions still intact in it.

About the author

Warner Levit

Water Filtration Expert

As a trained chemist and an independent researcher I started working on a portable water filter project as part of my business plan. While carrying out my research, I got involved with FaucetsReviewed. My fields of expertise include environmental science, biochemistry and water purification chemistry. Apart from contributing to this website, I’m currently working on my book “Water Filtration Science”. It will be published soon. I grew up in California, and completed my postgraduate degree from the University of California-Berkeley. I also work as a private counselor on the household water management system.

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