Whirlpool WHES30E 30,000 Grain Softener | Salt & Water Saving Technology | NSF Certified | Automatic Whole House Soft Water Regeneration, 0.75 inches, Off-WhiteView on Amazon
Aquasure Harmony Series 48,000 Grains Water Softener with High Efficiency Digital Metered Control Head (48,000 Grains)View on Amazon
Whirlpool WHES40E 40,000 Grain Water Softener-Built in USA-Salt Saving Technology-NSF Certified, Off-WhiteView on Amazon
Last update on 2021-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API
To determine which one is the most suitable water softener for you, first you need to understand the definition of different types of water softeners. In general, there are four types of water softeners that you most commonly encounter: Salt-Based Water Softeners, Salt-Free Water Softeners, Dual Tank Water Softeners, and Magnetic Water Descalers. How they work, their characteristics, their pros and cons are further discussed below.
1. Salt-Based Water Softeners
Salt-based water softeners, also known as Ion exchange water softeners, are the original, most well-known among water softeners. You can probably tell by the name that this type of product adopts the mechanism of ion exchange, in which the calcium and magnesium in hard water is substituted by sodium ion in salt.
More specifically, the salt-based system features resin beads, which has negative charges. When the system is in use, calcium and magnesium (positive charges) in the water are replaced by sodium (also positive charges). These two minerals are then attached to the resin beads instead of sodium, and subsequently ejected out of the system during a cleaning phase called “regeneration process”.
Thanks to the thorough process, salt-based systems soften water quickly and efficiently. Products in this group leave absolutely no hard compounds behind, so if you buy such devices you won’t have to worry over their performance. One more bonus is that in the long run they are an affordable investment.
One remarkable example of this type is the Fleck 5600SXT. The Fleck 5600SXT is a highly efficient system that’s adequate for the entire house. In spite of the similarity to other salt-based systems in which rejuvenation happens following a pre-programmed time cycle, what sets this model apart is that it can also regenerate according to your usage. By measuring flow rate, the system can detect when water reaches maximum capacity and trigger itself to rejuvenate on its own. Whichever comes first, be it the preset cycle or your personalized usage, will determine the regeneration.
However, the downsides to this product type is tangible. Many people are hesitant when it comes to salt-based water softeners for fear of increasing their day-to-day sodium intake, and they’re not wrong to have such precautions. Regarding convenience, salt-based systems are not highly rated as their maintenance may be a discouragement. They require users to clean the resin beads and refill salt regularly (note that salt used in the system is not table salt). On a large scale, since salt-based water softeners get rid of hard minerals by flushing them out, they impose a serious threat on the environment.
2. Salt-Free Water Softeners
Unlike their salt-based counterparts, salt-free water softeners do not have salt in the system. While the name may pique your curiosity, the truth is that salt-free softeners do not actually soften water. In fact, they act like water conditioners, making it hard for heavy compounds to linger on the surface to form buildup.
In other words, salt-free water softeners do not remove anything from your water, all the minerals remain there. The only difference is that they are prevented from accumulating, thus no scale is formed.
Products of this type require simple maintenance, and in most cases they also belong to a lower price range. They are especially suitable for those that prefer their diets with a low amount of salt. Nevertheless, if you want your water to be completely free of heavy minerals or the concentrations of such compounds are too high to be treated with only conditioning, salt-free systems are not made for you.
If you’re interested in salt-free water softeners, there are many products available that can definitely satisfy you, some of them are the iSpring ED2000 Whole House Water Softener, the Pelican 15 GPM Whole House Water Filtration, and the APEC Futura-15 Whole House Water Softener.
3. Dual Tank Water Softeners
A dual tank water softener, sometimes called a twin tank water softener, is in fact an elevated version of salt-based water softeners. In most cases, it still utilizes the same method of ion exchange like salt-based systems. The thing that sets this product group apart, like shown in the name, is its number of tanks: two instead of one.
The addition of another tank makes dual tank systems a great choice in households or businesses with high water consumption. Why? The answer is pretty simple. Normally with one tank, when the system regenerates (usually at night), you don’t have soft water for usage. However, when one more tank is implemented, one can still work while the other regenerates, thus you have soft water regardless of time.
One of the best dual tank water softeners that you can find right now is the Aquasana EQ-WELL-UV-PRO-AST Whole House Water Filter System. This model is one of the few exceptions that aren’t based on the addition of salt or any other extra products for water softening. It also comes with UV purifier so you can combine both softening and filtration for incredible results. Or you can take a look at the Abundant Flow Water WS-48k-91SXT Complete Softener, which is considered the most efficient softener for water usage and salt saving.
Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning that dual tank systems are not a must-have for any family. Because dual tank water softeners have two tanks, they take up a lot of space and also cost you a massive amount of money. The installation may be difficult to tackle sometimes, so that’s another disadvantage.
4. Magnetic Water Descalers
Magnetic or electric water descalers is the most recent type of water softener, thus they’re the least common one. Rather than removing minerals from your water, a magnetic descaler uses a magnetic field to neutralize the minerals by stripping them of positively- or negatively-charged ions. Without charges, the minerals cannot rely on electrostatic force to form bonds, they cannot connect with each other and therefore no scale.
A magnetic descaler does not interfere with the water line or cut into the piping system. It’s a compact gadget that’s hooked to your electrical line, so it’s such a perfect match for those living in tight space.
If you’re curious about this group of product, don’t miss out on the Eddy Electronic Water Descaler. It’s the best option for a modern method of softening water, a small, affordable unit with so many things to offer.
After giving you an introduction about different types of water softeners, in the next section we want to show you some key factors that you should not forget when on the hunt for the best water softeners. These factors are elaborated as follows:
To measure water hardness, there is a concept called “grain per gallon” (gpg) in which one grain corresponds to 0.002 ounces of calcium carbonate in 1 gallon of water. Depending on different ranges and critical values, water is classified into soft (from 0 to 3 gpg), moderate (from 3.5 to 7 gpg) and hard (greater than or equal to 7.5 gpg).
That brings us to the next definition: the capacity of water softeners. When we talk about a softener’s capacity, we are referring to the amount of grains that it can handle during one week.
There are many different capacities suitable for different needs. Generally speaking, the smaller the capacity of a water softener is, the lower the water consumption it can allow.
For instance, those with capacities lower than 40,000 like the Whirlpool WHES30E 30,000 Grain Softener are designed for small houses and apartments. Units with capacities ranging from 40,000 to below 80,000 like the GE 40,000 Grain GXSH40V Water Softener or the Aquasure Harmony 48,000 Grains Water Softener can work well in medium and large houses. When you go past 80,000 you enter the zone of water softeners ideal for large residential and industrial use. If that’s what you’re searching for then the DuraWater 80k Blue Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener is a no-brainer.
Moreover, the level of hardness also plays an important role in the grain value. The harder the water is, the more grains are required. Take this factor into consideration besides the measurement of how much water you normally need.
Another key that you need to always remember is the size of the water softener, and how it compares with the space that you’re willing to dedicate to such a system. Keep in mind that the amount of water you’re supplied with is proportional to the size of the softener.
If you’re considering larger models like dual tank, salt-based or some salt-free softeners, our suggestion is that you measure your available area carefully and check the dimensions of the system in advance. Otherwise, there’s a high possibility that the softener won’t fit into your space, costing you a massive amount of money yet bringing no benefits at all. You can easily find the information about the measurements of water softeners online through several selling sites or from the sites of manufacturers themselves, so don’t forget to do some research.
If size is on top of your priority list, you may want to opt for a magnetic water descaler like the Capacitive Water Descaler CWD30 System, or a smaller water softener like the GE Appliances 30,400 Grain GXSF30V Water Softener.
On the other hand, for those that focus on water consumption instead of size, and your wish is to find a heavy-duty water softener, check out the Aquasana EQ-1000-AST Whole House Water Filter System.
3. Regeneration Setting
When it comes to regeneration setting, there are two choices that you can choose from: a timed water softener and a metered unit.
A timed softener is the more basic one. Based on pre-programmed settings, the unit will regenerate by itself after a fixed period of time, often a few days. This type of water softeners are not really flexible, because what may happen if you’re not home for a while? The unit will continue to operate, and you inevitably waste water and salt (in salt-based softeners).
On the contrary, the time when a metered water softener like the Genesis 2 Premier Water Softener rejuvenates can be decided by users. You’ll get the right to choose the volume of water from which the softener starts its regeneration process, so the unit is way more tailored to your needs.
1. How can hard water cause damage?
To discuss the harms caused by hard water, we want to look at the problem from two different perspectives: the harms done to appliances and those done to humans.
The heavy minerals in water tend to stick together and form limescale buildup in pumping systems. In the long run, this limescale can wreak havoc by blocking the system, resulting in leakage and broken components. The damage is even worse where water remains unmoved for a long time, such as your boiler and water heater, because the minerals have more chances to accumulate.
The effect of hard water on humans can be most easily seen through skin problems. Itchiness, acnes and other, more serious skin irritations can all be attributed to hard water. High mineral levels in hard water are also responsible for various hair problems as well, like dye decolorization, weaker hair or worse, hair loss.
2. What are the most trusted brands regarding water softeners?
We highly recommend buying products from well-known sources, those that take customers’ needs and satisfactions into account rather than overlooking all of them. The best water softener manufacturers according to our research are Fleck, Whirlpool, Aquasana, GE, Pelican, and iSpring.
However, you can buy from other brands as well, as long as they are reliable and can be trusted with your investment.
3. Does a water softener increase my water bill?
Definitely yes. When a water softener operates and the amount of calcium and magnesium ions have reached a certain level, the softener needs to flush them out. This task can only be completed with the use of water, so you will need to spend some more on that.
Nonetheless, the increases are often small, sometimes even negligible. You can look at them as a small amount that you need to pay for clean, soft water.
4. How to clean a salt-based water softener?
The first thing you need to do is to dispose of all the water and salt in the tank. This step is followed by the removal of the brine grid, and then you can use water and soap to scrub the interior surface of the tank. Afterwards, rinse everything with clean water.
You should also add in some additives to kill off any microorganisms and rinse it all one more time before placing the brine grid in again and replenishing water and salt. Then your unit is ready to go!
5. Where to install water softeners?
The position where a water softener is installed varies from household to household, so it’s not easy to answer this question with one fixed place. Yet, there are some rules that you can follow when thinking about where to put your water softener:
Your softener should be installed close to the incoming flow. Such a placement can intercept right at the root of the problem, so you won’t have to worry over different outlets in your house.
Install your softener before water reaches the heater. Not only does heat make the buildup form faster, it can also cause numerous incidents to the softening system as well. Thus, for maximum usage and durability, do not instal water softeners after water has reached your heater.
The integral role of water softeners in daily life is indisputable. Despite the availability of many models and units, there are still those that clearly outperform others. Below are one such unit, one so-called winner of water softeners.
The Fleck 5600SXT is a 48,000 grain water softener that can satisfy any customer for its premium-quality product. With the service flow rate of 12 gallons per minute (gpm) and the peak being 28 gpm, the Fleck 5600SXT can accommodate a household of six with moderate water consumption at ease.
To further help you select the most suitable one for you, we have made a brief compilation of the best water softeners as well as what they’re good for. The list is as follows:
Best overall, also best salt-based: Fleck 5600SXT
Best salt-free: Pelican 15 GPM Whole House Water Filtration
Best dual tank: Abundant Flow Water WS-48k-91SXT Complete Softener
Best magnetic descaler: Eddy Electronic Water Descaler
Best for well water: iSpring RCC7AK 6-Stage Water Filter System
Best heavy duty: Aquasana EQ-WELL-UV-PRO-AST Whole House Water Filter System
And that’s a wrap! We hope that you have gained some useful information on how to buy the best water softeners from our article. If you decide to purchase any unit mentioned, let us know in the comment section. Thank you and please look forward to our future posts.