Best Water Softener Consumer Reports

10 Best Water Softener Consumer Reports of 2022

Chalky films, mineral deposits and scale development, and dry skin and hair after showering are all issues that can be avoided with a water softener machine. A water softener has several benefits including the removal of heavy minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium from the water supply flowing into your house, RV, or point-of-use sites, enhancing drinking water and reducing water hardness.

The most effective water softeners either use ion exchange to remove the offending minerals from the water or neutralize them, rendering them insoluble in the solution.

Many of the top water softeners on the market may be found among the products listed below. We read through many reviews, checked out dozens of websites, and analyzed hundreds of data points to arrive at our final recommendations. We looked at the top choices available and compared their features and, just as importantly, their customer satisfaction ratings to come up with our top picks.

Top 10 Water Softener Consumer Reports: Editor Recommended

The 10 Best Water Softener Consumer Reports Review:

1. GE GXSH40V Water Softener

GE GXSH40V Water Softener
  • Electronic controls - Easy to use up-front electronic controls with status light...
  • Grain capacity - 30,400
  • GE exclusive days to empty - Makes sure you never have to guess when to refill...
  • Water usage - Uses up to 20% less water (based on internal analysis verses GE...
  • Plumbing connections - Plumbing connection up to 1"

This widespread water softener does a great job of softening water throughout an entire home, and it does it in an intelligent and economical fashion. The average 4-person household may easily make use of the GE GXSH40V’s 40,200-grain storage capacity. The system incorporates GE’s SmartSoft technology, which monitors water consumption to determine when it will be needed and then adjusts regeneration times accordingly, ensuring that softened water is always on hand, even during high-demand times like the morning rush for showers or the evening meal. It takes roughly two hours and 37 liters of water to regenerate.

This water softener is our top option because of its advanced features and low maintenance requirements. Compared to other water softeners on the market, this model only takes around 30 minutes to an hour to install. Its dimensions of 14.4 by 22.4 by 47.6 inches suggest it might be stored in a utility closet or a cloakroom.

The mixing valve on the GE GXSH40V is a standout feature because it allows you to customize the water’s hardness to your preferences. You can soften the water to your liking, reduce your salt consumption, or do any combination of the three with the computerized controller. When the 230-pound capacity salt bin is becoming low, the controller will let you know with a ‘Days to Empty’ indicator so you may restock without opening the cabinet.

Our top pick water softener is not only effective at removing iron and grains from water, but also features sophisticated technology that can nearly predict your needs.

Pros:

  • Smart features to optimize regeneration schedule
  • Relatively compact for its capacity
  • Adjustable water hardness controls
  • Useful digital indicators

Cons:

  • Long regeneration cycle

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2. WaterBoss Water Softener System for Whole Home

Water Softener System for Whole Home
  • Highly Efficient Tank for Whole House Softening - Conserves water and requires...
  • Features Built-In Self Cleaning Whole House Sediment Filter - The model 900 can...
  • Compact & Convenient High Usage Model - The 36,400 grain capacity makes this...
  • Fast On-Demand & Quiet Regeneration - Softens water in 26 minutes using less...
  • DIY Installation - Includes installation video, owner's manual and instructions...

While water softener systems can commonly slip above $500 or $1,000 depending on filtering abilities and amenities, the Waterboss 900 is an economical solution. This budget water softening system is tiny and cost-effective yet still able to meet the water needs of an ordinary 3-4 person household.

This water softener has a 36,400-grain capacity and filters water with a hardness up to 90 GPG. Impressively, the regeneration cycle takes just 24 minutes and utilizes only 17.2 liters of water. A user-friendly digital controller controls the softener’s settings and regeneration. As with many other water softeners, this tiny machine has a bypass valve to conserve media life.

Pros:

  • Quick and efficient regeneration cycle
  • High grain capacity makes it suitable for very hard water
  • Filters dirt, sediment, ferrous iron, for great tasting water

Cons:

  • Difficult to install

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3. GE 30,400 Grain Reduce Hard Mineral Levels at Water Source

Hard Mineral Levels at Water Source
  • Electronic controls - Easy to use up-front electronic controls with status light...
  • Grain capacity - 30,400
  • GE exclusive days to empty - Makes sure you never have to guess when to refill...
  • Water usage - Uses up to 20% less water (based on internal analysis verses GE...
  • Plumbing connections - Plumbing connection up to 1"

By removing minerals from the water and filtering out bad tastes and odors, a water softener system is a great addition to any home. The dual functionality of the GE GXMH31H Water Softener and Filter in One is achieved with a single, space-saving unit.

This water softener system can filter up to 31,100 grains of hard water before requiring regeneration, and it can soften water with a grain content of up to 120 grains per gallon. This softener’s regeneration process can be time-consuming, taking anywhere from 105 to 152 minutes, and it uses a lot of water (54.7 gallons) compared to other models.

The GE Water Softener and Filter in One not only softens the water to your preferred hardness with an unique blending valve, but it also removes chlorine from the water, making it taste and smell better.

Pros:

  • Indicator screen tells you how many days until the unit needs a recharge
  • Sediment and chlorine filter

Cons:

  • Long regeneration cycle

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4. On The Go OTG4-VM-DBLSOFT Portable Compact Double Standard

Portable Compact Double Standard
  • MORE WATER: This 16,000-grain unit is a perfect fit and supplies approx. 40%...
  • SOFT WATER: Provides the owner with soft water up to 1600 gallons (or up to 40...
  • COMPACT DESIGN: Its compact and space-saver design allows it to be installed in...
  • NO ELECTRICITY REQUIRED: Requires no tools or electricity; Utilizes a standard...
  • IMPROVES TASTE & ODOR: Provides soft water that prevents hard water and rust...

If you need a water softener but have limited space or need to be able to take it with you frequently, the On The Go Portable Double Standard Water Softener is your best bet.

The On The Go water softener has the smallest grain capacity at 16,000, but makes up for it with a quick regeneration cycle that requires only two boxes of table salt and less than 30 minutes of your time. The wide, open mouth of the mechanism facilitates regeneration even more. The On The Go’s grain capacity is high enough to deliver between 640 and 1,600 gallons of softened water before requiring a regeneration, though this will vary depending on the hardness of the water supply.

The On The Go lives up to its name by providing a variety of useful features that are particularly well-suited to frequent movers and other individuals who may need to remove and reinstall the device frequently. It measures 22 by 9.5 inches, features a carry handle, and is leak-proof thanks to its lid and plug. It can be set up in minutes with no special equipment and makes use of a regular hose connection.

This water softener has a flow rate of three gallons per minute, making it suitable for use in a shower installed in a recreational vehicle or a boat. It has a cradle base for secure installation and comes with hardness test strips and hose adapters.

Pros:

  • Compact design fits anywhere
  • Rope carrying handle
  • Easy regeneration

Cons:

  • Low grain capacity requires frequent regeneration

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5. Aquasure Harmony Series 48,000 Grains Water Softener

Harmony Series 48,000 Grains Water Softener
  • Reduces hardness in the water, and eliminates scale, spot build up for the...
  • Rated to treat 48,000 Grains of Hardness by removing skin damaging hard minerals...
  • Equipped with Aquatrol Advanced Digital On-Demand Meter Control Head, in and out...
  • Featured, time delayed, metered and manual double backwash for optimum...
  • Every Aquasure Water Softener is constructed of High strength corrosion...

Typically, an iron filter is included in a water softener designed for use with well water. Iron and rust stains on fixtures like sinks, tubs, and toilets are much diminished with the addition of this filter, which is especially helpful in houses that use well water.

Minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron are easily collected by the fine mesh resin found in Aquasure’s Harmony series. Water hardness of up to 110 GPG can be filtered by it. One can select a water softener with a GPG filtration capacity of 32,000, 48,000, or 64,000 before regeneration is required. In order to complete its 98-minute, 40-gallon regeneration cycle, the system needs 98 gallons of water. With the Aquasure, you may choose the size of your tank with the help of a digital control console that keeps track of water usage and adjusts the frequency of regeneration.

Pros:

  • Iron filter ideal for well water
  • Fine mesh resin to capture wide range of minerals
  • Ability to handle very hard water
  • Useful digital controls

Cons:

  • No way to quickly check salt levels

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6. Rheem RHS32 Preferred 32,000 Grain Water Softener

Preferred 32,000 Grain Water Softener
  • Genesis Premier System Includes: Genesis Premier Upflow On Demand Metered...
  • Family of 4 will save 6,480 lbs. of salt and 28,900 gallons of water versus...
  • Automatic Backwash Variable Preset for clean municipal water by matching...
  • Our Exclusive Genesis Premier Upflow On Demand metered digital water softener...

In homes where the water supply is hard, salt-based water softeners are a common fixture. The Rheem Preferred 32,000 Grain Water Softener is a common and reasonably priced salt-based softener for typical families.

A treated resin bed is used in this Rheem model to remove hard water’s calcium and magnesium ions. The regeneration process takes two hours and twenty-four gallons of water, and it occurs automatically after the system has processed 32,000 grains. It is necessary to periodically replenish the salt supply, as the tank can only hold 175 pounds, but a low salt monitor will flash a warning light when it is time to do so. To further reduce wasteful consumption of salt, water, and power, Rheem built this model with smart water monitoring and regeneration controls.

Pros:

  • Large salt storage tank reservoir
  • Low salt monitor
  • Angled design and inner tank light for easy maintenance

Cons:

  • Long, 2-hour regeneration cycle

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7. Pelican NS3-P Water Softener Alternative with Natursoft Salt-Free Technology

Water Softener Alternative with Natursoft Salt-Free
  • Prevents hard water scale in plumbing and appliances while keeping beneficial...
  • Simple installation; system comes ready to install inside or outside (in...
  • Premium Stainless Steel Exterior ensures long life, durability and unsurpassed...
  • Efficient design, no wasted water, does not require electricity to operate
  • Only water softener alternative certified 99.6% effective by DVGW-9191.

A heavy-duty water softener, with a greater maximum grain capacity than standard water softeners, may be useful for homes with extremely hard water. Pelican Water’s high-capacity softener can filter 4,000 gallons of water and 80,000 grains before requiring regeneration.

The water softener’s maximum capacity is 75 grains per gallon, which is lower than the capacity of some competing models but still far more than the typical hardness of local tap water. The regeneration cycle takes 105 minutes and uses 100 gallons of water, however there’s a controller for a metered backwash function built into the system so that no water is wasted.

Pros:

  • Processes 4,000 gallons of water before needing regeneration
  • Metered backwash controller

Cons:

  • Only handles water hardness up to 75 grains per gallon

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8. Whirlpool WHES40E 40,000 Grain Softener

WHES40E 40,000 Grain Softener
  • Whirlpool WHES40E water softener is ideal for households of 1-6 plus people and...
  • NSF certified to reduce hard water symptoms such as embarrassing stains, build...
  • Whirlpool water softeners automatically Calculate how much salt and water is...
  • Full 1-year parts and labor . The system can be extended to 2 years when you buy...
  • Dimensions: 19" D x 18" W x 47 7/8" H

Stop constantly replacing water-using equipment and fixtures like sinks, showers, and dishwashers because of early wear and tear caused by hard water. Whirlpool’s single-tank salt-based water softener eliminates hard minerals in incoming water for instantaneous quality improvement.

Hard water is avoided throughout the rest of the plumbing system by fixing the problem where it begins. Keep in mind that during the ion exchange process, a little amount of salt is supplied to the water, and this salt must be replenished on a regular basis. With a 40,000-grain capacity and an automatic timed recharge system, this water softener is convenient and effective.

Pros:

  • Metered system automatically regenerates salt only when necessary
  • Suitable for large households of up to six people
  • Built-in low salt indicator

Cons:

  • Adds salt to the system and must be refilled regularly

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9. iSpring ED2000 Whole House Water Descaler

Sale
Whole House Water Descaler
  • [Improve Water Quality] Solves hard water problems without the need for...
  • [Reliable Descaler] Descales your entire water system and prevents scale buildup...
  • [Environmental Friendly] Designed for very hard water areas (10-19 grains per...
  • [Easy Installation] No plumbing modifications required. Maintenance-free. Works...
  • [No change on Chemistry of Water] Unlike salt water softeners, ED2000 does not...

When it comes to treating scale buildup in appliances, faucets, and shower heads, the iSpring ED2000 water descaler is a cost-effective option. It does not remove the heavy minerals from the water like other magnetic water softeners do, so clothes may still fade faster than normal. There is no denying the mineral buildup that can occur in your home’s plumbing system, but this descaler has been shown to be effective in whole house water softener reviews.

Wrapping the two antenna cables from the water softener around the water pipe and then plugging in the unit makes installation of this top whole-house water softener simple for any type of pipe, including PEX and PVC. The neutralized water does more than just prevent further scale formation; it also dissolves any existing limescale for a fresher, more inviting atmosphere.

Pros:

  • Does not add salt to the system
  • Convenient compact size
  • Made for treating very hard water
  • Breaks down existing limescale in the pipes

Cons:

  • Clothing can still be affected by heavy minerals
  • Not for larger homes due to the 50-foot range
  • Requires electricity to work

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10. On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT-Portable 16,000 Grain RV Water Softener

Portable 16,000 Grain RV Water Softener
  • The Double Standard Softener & Conditioner produces twice the gallons compared...
  • Built for the owner of any RV/Marine model, this 16,000 grain unit is a perfect...
  • Its compact, space-saver design allows it to be installed in the tightest...
  • Its unique features includes easy to carry handle on top, large mouth opening...
  • It utilizes a standard garden hose connection between park faucet and your...

The On The Go Portable Water Softener is great for an RV, a large boat, a small home for one or two people, or an apartment because it is portable. With the hose that comes with the water softener, you can connect it directly to an outdoor faucet or the water supply at a campground. This gives you instant access to softened water for drinking, cleaning, and bathing.

The sand-based water softener is meant to be portable, and it can be refilled with just table salt. This is great because the 16,000-grain capacity means that it will need to be filled up often if it is used often. But since the size is smaller, the price is also lower, which makes this choice easier on the wallet.

Pros:

  • Regenerates easily with two boxes of table salt
  • Compact design is ideal for camping or travel
  • Connects directly to outdoor faucets and campground water supplies

Cons:

  • Requires frequent recharging

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Buying Guide: What to Consider When Choose Water Softener

a) Type

You can soften your water with a salt-based softener, a salt-free water conditioner, or an electromagnetic softening.There are a few different types of water softeners, but the ones that use salt are the most common in homes. Nonetheless, they need regular upkeep and care. Regular purchases of sodium chloride or potassium chloride to replenish the salt storage tank will be required of homeowners. The lifespan of resin media is variable depending on the water quality and the amount of use.

In contrast to conventional water conditioners, salt-free and electromagnetic models leave dissolved calcium and magnesium atoms in the water. As an alternative, these systems prevent particles from adhering to surfaces by neutralizing them. Water conditioning eliminates the need for frequent salt additions, saving money and reducing waste.

b) Capacity

The number of particles a water softener can filter before requiring a regeneration cycle is a common indicator of the system’s capacity. Small water softeners typically have a capacity of around 28,000 grains, whereas large softening systems can hold up to 80,000 grains. The typical grain capacity of a water softener for a household of three to four people is between 32,000 and 40,000 grains.

c) Diverter Valve

The ability to redirect water away from the softener system is provided by a bypass valve, which has several potential applications. In order to service the softening without turning off water to the entire house, you can activate the valve and divert the water flow away from the softer. In cases where water volume is being used and water hardness is not an issue, a bypass valve can be helpful. To perform yardwork, for instance, it could be practical to reroute water from the softener. This reduces the amount of time the resin media must spend filtering water and speeds up the system’s next regeneration cycle.

FAQs

i) How do water softeners work?

Coated resin beads (with a negative ion charge) are used in water softeners to attract and trap the calcium and magnesium ions that cause water to be hard (which have a positive charge). When water passes through a resin bed, it collects the particles in the water and carries them away as the water is sent on its way to be used in your home’s plumbing. 1

Scale buildup, caused by the presence of calcium and magnesium in the water, is a common problem with plumbing fixtures, according to Dunphy. Over time, the accumulation of scale in your appliances might pose serious problems. Since hard water evaporates into a powdery residue, it is also a major contributor to water spots on glasses and plates. If you switch to soft water, you will notice improvements in cleanliness, laundry brightness, appliance efficiency, and reduced skin irritation due to the absence of powdery residue.

ii) How do you clean a water softener?

Water softeners need periodic regeneration to keep functioning at optimal levels. As its name implies, this procedure “cleans” the resin bed. After a while, the resin bed will be too clogged with calcium and magnesium sand to accept any new particles. In most cases, the system will check the amount of processed water and restart if it’s necessary.

Backwashing and rinsing with brine are part of the regeneration process. The salt for the brine bath used to clean the resin bed is stored in a nearby salt tank. Calcium and magnesium particles will be bound by the sodium ions in the brine, and flushed away in either a single or double backwash.

When the softener has to renew, the brine wash will clean the resin continuously, so “as long as the valve and regeneration cycles are properly configured, the softer will kind of take care of itself,” adds Dunphy. As long as the system’s salt levels are kept constant, it can function normally.

The presence of hard water coming out of the pipes could indicate the presence of a salt bridge, which would explain why your system isn’t working properly. In essence, this is a crust of salt that blocks the salt from entering the brine tank and therefore preventing the hard minerals in the water from being dissolved. The salt bridge can be dismantled, but for safety’s sake it’s best to have a pro do it. It is recommended that you get your water softener inspected once a year by a professional, and some water maintenance firms offer this service. Dunphy explains, “We give annual maintenance on our water softeners to ensure everything is operating properly and we will examine the seals and the gaps to make sure there is no clogging and no wear.” If a leak develops or a seal breaks, “you don’t want it to reach to that point.”

iii) How long do water softeners last?

It is the durability of the resin bed that determines how long a water softener will last. Dunphy adds that if a water softener is cared for properly, the resin should last for ten years. “After some time, the resin’s effectiveness declines; at this point, a simple resin swap restores full functionality. Some upkeep is required (such as with the valves), but if you take care of it, it should last forever.” The water’s hardness and how often you use your softener will determine its lifespan. Your water softener’s treated resin may not hold up as long if it’s subjected to very hard water and regular regeneration.

iv) Is it safe to drink water from a water softener?

The quick answer is “Yes,” water from a water softener is safe to drink for the vast majority of individuals. While it’s true that water softeners raise sodium levels, this is usually not by an unsafe or unhealthy amount. However, several jurisdictions advise that people with hypertension consult a doctor before installing a water softener. The Minnesota Department of Health recommends that those who are following a low-sodium diet have access to a second, un-softened sink faucet for all of their domestic water needs. 2

v) Is soft water damaging to copper pipes?

The calcium carbonate scale that hard water leaves behind on the inside of pipes is often thought to serve as a protective coating, although this is not supported by research. A water softener does not make water more corrosive than it already is since it replaces calcium cations with sodium cations, but water that has been totally demineralized and stripped of all total dissolved solids (known as TDS) can. The Water Quality Association’s studies have found that water softeners do not accelerate the deterioration of copper plumbing.

Conclusion

The Whirlpool system was chosen as the best household water softener because to its 40,000 grain capacity, automated regeneration, and built-in salt indication. The water quality in homes with as many as six people can be dramatically enhanced by installing this salt-based, single-tank water softener.

The Waterboss system, on the other hand, is suitable for less-than-average households and is more affordable. This salt-based water softener can hold 36,400 grains, has an automatic shut-off feature, and can help you save a lot of water.

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