Hard water can be a pretty dangerous thing for both your health and various appliances. If you don’t intervene on time and let scale build up in the plumbing system, the amount of money you’re going to spend on cleaning and unclogging those pipes exceeds the price of a quality water softener. The only question is – which one is the best?
As you can assume, finding the best one in the sea of various softeners that are available on the market is a pretty challenging task.
However, if you take a look at our reviews, you’ll get a better insight into the capabilities of a particular model, and you’ll come up with a decision much easier. While many people think that they don’t need any help or insight about these units, it’s far from the truth. A lot of individuals overpay a product just because it seems like a good opportunity at that moment. However, most of them regret it soon because they don’t need as many features or the unit doesn’t fulfill their needs.
TOP RATED WATER SOFTENERS AND FILTERS
- APEC Essence Ultra Safe Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter
- Item Weight: 25 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 5.2 x 17.5 inches
- 1 Year APEC
- Customer Review 4.8/5
- Fleck 5600sxt Metered On-demand 48,000 Grain Softener
- Item Weight: 140 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 54 inches
- 10 year warranty on both tanks, 5 year on head including electronics
- Customer Review 4.3/5
- Eddy Water Descaler Electronic Water Softener
- Item Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.6 x 3.5 inches
- Lifetime Repair or Replace warranty
- Customer Review 4/5
To avoid making a mistake, read our reviews, and you’ll certainly find them helpful and informative.
Fleck 5600sxt Metered On-demand 48,000 Grain Softener
The 5600sxt model has programmable cycles, on-demand valves, and is digitally metered. Before you evaluate this particular model, bear in mind that it’s coming from one of the best water softeners companies on the market at the moment. It’s safe to say that you can rest assured that Fleck 5600sxt performs great and as advertised.
The first thing people notice about this unit is its unusual design. While most others have a standard “tank” design, this one is slightly different. It’s an elongated tank with an LCD and a capacity of 250 pounds (for salt.)
The dimensions of this softener are 15”x17”x33”. As you can see, it’s a medium-sized softener, and it can fit almost anywhere.
The installation isn’t as hard as one might expect. As long as you follow the user manual, you shouldn’t have an issue whatsoever. On the other hand, if you feel like it’s a challenging task for you, don’t hesitate to hire a professional. You’ll save a lot of time, effort, and money.
One thing you should pay attention to when hooking up this softener is the brine tank. Don’t forget to fill the tank with water before the first recharge. The resin comes pre-charged.
Overall Rating: (4.3)
One of the notable things about the Fleck 5600sxt is its innovative regeneration system. It will measure the amount of used water and regenerate the tank only when needed. This method is perfect for saving and controlling consumption. The SXT controller has a set of parameters which can be configured to your personal preferences. Also, the setting up isn’t complicated thanks to the LCD and user-friendly controls.
If you’re looking for a high-end water softener with an affordable price, this might be the one. Check it out, and you’ll certainly like its handy features and capabilities.
APEC Essence Ultra Safe Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter
When quality is in question, the APEC ROES-50 is among the best. The reason why people put their trust in this particular unit is the fact that it’s made in the United States rather than somewhere on the Asian market.
As far as the features go, they are mostly standard. The thing you should know about this particular unit is not to expect any auxiliary features. However, the ones that are a part of this product are top-notch. It has everything a medium-sized home needs when it comes to water purity and scale elimination.
The main difference between this product and the others from the same category is the price. While there are a ton of similar models, this one is the most affordable. In fact, it’s recommended for anyone who’s on a tight or limited budget. Investing in a water softener is a one-time thing, and that’s why you should thoroughly revise your decisions before you regret something.
Other things that separate this unit from the others are the ease of use, maintenance, and installation. You don’t need help from an expert as long as you follow the basic steps written in the user manual.
Overall Rating: (4.8)
Even if you never had an opportunity to deal with a water softener, you will have no issues with this one. The set of high-quality steel fittings is great when it comes to preventing leaks. In fact, every part that you get with this product is leak-free. One of the things that people don’t like about it is the 3:1 ratio.
In simpler words, you’ll get a gallon of fresh water for three gallons of hard water. While it doesn’t seem like an unfavorable rate, it could have been better. Some people don’t find it efficient enough because it spends large quantities of hard water to finish the softening process.
Eddy Water Descaler Electronic Water Softener
The first thing you should know about this product is that it’s not a conventional softener but rather a descaler. The main difference between a softener and descaler is the fact that you don’t need to hassle with the plumbing if you want to install a descaler.
However, although they are much easier to set up, the difference in quality is noticeable. In simpler words, water softeners are much more efficient than descalers.
However, if the water in your home isn’t very hard, a descaler is a great alternative, especially because of the affordability. A lot of people buy a high-end softener and pay a lot of money and realize they could have had the same results with a simple descaler.
The Eddy model is great for people who are on a limited budget. While it’s affordable, it still packs a set of useful features. It uses a powerful electromagnetic field to separate the ions which are responsible for scale forming.
As you can see, it doesn’t use salt to purify the water. The absence of salt is of particular importance for people who want to avoid sodium due to health reasons.
Overall Rating: (4.0)
The biggest disadvantage of this unit is the significantly less efficiency when compared to a conventional softener. Also, there aren’t any controls; everything is automatic. However, thanks to its simplicity, the installation is a piece of cake. You’ll get two coils that are included with the unit, and all you have to do is wrap them around two pipes. Avoid lead and iron pipes because this model can’t pierce through those materials.
The greatest thing about this model is the lifetime warranty. In other words, once you buy it, it’s yours forever. Whichever problem you stumble upon will be solved in the nick of time thanks to their highly responsive customer support.
QUICK PRODUCT COMPARASION
|PRODUCT IMAGE||PRODUCT NAME||TYPE||SUITED FOR||RATING:|
|Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Softener||Salt Based||Standard Homes|
|Eddy Electronic Water Descaler||Electronic||Small Homes|
|APEC Top Tier 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System||Salt Free||Large Homes|
GUIDE TO CHOOSING THE BEST WATER SOFTENER
Although choosing a softener doesn’t seem like a big deal, you should pay attention to a few critical parameters before opting for one. Take a moment and read these tips, they will help you with the decision.
What Size Do You Need?
The first thing you should determine is the size of the softener. Many people make a rookie mistake and impulsively purchase a product which is either too weak or overkill. Both situations are pretty bad because if you want to make a change when it’s too late – it will cost money.
Determining the size isn’t rocket science. You need to know your water hardness value to choose the suitable model for your household. Grains Per Gallon is the industry-standard for this. If you’re planning to buy a softener that uses salt to purify the water, you’ll need to know its grain capacity. However, make sure that you understand the softener efficiency rating before calculating the grain requirements.
Another thing you have to look for is whether the service flow rate (SFR) of your softener can support the water flow rate in your household. If the values don’t match or are far from each other, the unit won’t have an optimal amount of effectiveness.
Being able to control the amount of degraded salt or water flow is quite important, especially for large households. The devices that have custom controls use two primary methods for controlling the cycle. It’s important that you know how long it takes to finish a cycle, and the amount of salt and water used for recharging the tank.
The first method is timer control. If a softener has a timer, it will automatically restore the amount of used water. However, the biggest problem with this method is that it will recap the lost resources regardless of the requirements. As you can see, saving water isn’t its strong size, and that can be a burden if you use a lot of it. For example, if you set the recharge cycle to a particular time, it doesn’t matter how much water you’ve spent, it will commence the process regardless.
The second method is the demand-initiated regeneration, also known as DIR. This method is great for saving salt because the unit automatically reads when the resin needs a recharge.
Most people who use large amounts of water opt for this method because it’s more sophisticated than timer control.
Just like other products, softeners have additional features that might help with water saving, better purification, and more. To find the one with optimal features for your household, you need to think about it and decide which features you need the most.
For example, if you’re living in a smaller house, you don’t need a softener with a massive capacity. Instead, opt for a smaller one, and you’ll save some money. On the other hand, people with big homes tend to buy models with a timer or pre-determined cycles. Pay attention to the features because it’s one of the things that make or break a unit.
One of the last things you should pay attention to is the warranty conditions. Although most companies offer similar warranties, there are some who provide additional services, non-stop customer support, and so on.
Many people don’t take the warranty conditions seriously, and a lot of them end up with a broken product that’s not under warranty, which means you probably have to buy a new one because in most circumstances repairing is often more expensive than the purchase of a new unit.
BENEFITS OF WATER SOFTENER AND FILTERS
Hard water is a dangerous thing both for your health and various appliances. Although it’s not a major health issue, it’s certainly a menace for the devices that process water such as a coffee machine. For example, the heating unit inside the coffee machine will have issues with hard water due to scale build-up. Although it will continue to work, it will need more power to achieve the optimal temperature. As you can see, the electricity bill will be significantly larger.
Eliminating Hard Water
Having the ability to use soft water is great, especially if you’re living in a large household. It makes your skin smoother, hair stronger, and it improves your well-being. Other than that, it also preserves the functionality of your kitchen appliances.
Softeners and filters also eliminate harmful particles such as barium, chromium, arsenic, copper, lead, and more. Although all of these elements are invisible to the naked eye, they have a critical role in one’s health condition.
Although it may not seem so obvious, you will save a lot of money in the long run. If you’re wondering how is that possible – it’s pretty simple. The first thing you’ll notice is the reduced use of detergents and washing powder. In fact, some of the latest studies have shown that brand-new appliances use up to 50% less detergent with soft water.
Softeners also prevent scale build-up which means that your pipes won’t get clogged as easy. Without a softener, you would have to occasionally change or unclog the plumbing which is a pretty demanding and costly task.
Other than being bad for the heating elements in the kitchen, scale also has a negative impact on some other things. The best way you can see the adverse effect of scale is to clean a mirror with hard water. Once the mirror dries, you’ll see a bunch of leftover stains. Those stains are incredibly persistent and hard to clean, especially if you don’t have soft water.
The impact is also visible on your clothes. Soft water makes your clothes much softer, and it helps in preserving the bright colors. On the other hand, hard water often tends to kill the brightness of your laundry in a couple of sessions.You will also need a lot less soap and detergent when using soft water. Hard water makes it difficult for the soap to bubble which leads to increased consumption of soap and other cleaning products.
Some people argue that soft water doesn’t have many health benefits. Although it’s not completely wrong, it’s a slight overstatement. For example, clean water regulates the pH levels in your body which affect one’s physiological condition. Being well-hydrated is crucial for your well-being because dehydration can cause serious issues such as high blood pressure, fatigue, loss of energy, and even diabetes.
Saving the Environment And Power
One of the major benefits of these units is that they save energy and the environment. By using less energy (with scale-free appliances), you indirectly affect the reduction of pollution on a global level. Devices that use less energy also reduce the carbon emission, which is beneficial for the planet.
TECHNOLOGY BEHIND WATER SOFTENER SYSTEMS
Comprehending the technology and the way these things operate can help solve some issues and also help you to determine whether you need a softener in your household. It isn’t a complicated piece of hardware, but some elements may not be so straightforward and comprehensive.
The Important Minerals
While water is still underground, it picks up various minerals on the way to your plumbing. Many of those minerals are harmless, but a few of them cause some issues (primarily scale build-up.) The two most concentrated ones are calcium and magnesium. You may have heard that calcium and magnesium are sometimes used as health-boosting elements, which is true. However, the main difference between “good” and “bad” lies in the amount and structure. The unprocessed minerals from the ground aren’t beneficial for your health in any way. In fact, they do more harm than good.
Once water enters the system, it gets filtrated through a set of membranes, tanks, and valves. Thanks to the ion exchange process, the magnesium and calcium found in water get swapped with other minerals, most often sodium.
The “brains” of a softener is the tank. It contains small beads of a material called zeolite, which is negatively charged. Calcium and magnesium are positively charged minerals. Consequently, calcium and magnesium “stick” to the zeolite as the hard water passes through the tank.
Once these zeolite beads get drenched, the unit enters a 3-phase recharging cycle. The first phase reverses the flow direction to eliminate the dirt out of the tank. In the second phase, a concentrated salt solution is injected into the brine tank through the mineral reservoir. The sodium then collects on the zeolite beads thus replacing the minerals that were stuck on these particles. Once this is finished, the mineral reservoir is cleaned of excess brine.
The most popular models usually have an automatic regenerating system. The basic ones have a timer which can recharge the system on a pre-set schedule. However, during the recharge process, the soft water is not available.There is also a type which uses a computer that follows the consumption. When it hits a certain limit, the system triggers the regeneration process.
Devices with this system usually have a separate tank with soft water that can be used during the recharge. The third type uses a meter to measure the values and initiate the recharge process. One of the advantages of these models is that they don’t need any electrical components whatsoever. Also, the tank is recharged on demand. While one of the tanks is regenerating, the other one is always available for use.
Although it’s not a technological element per se, it’s paramount that you regularly maintain your unit. Various types of bacteria and fungi can form in the resin which lowers the effectiveness drastically. Occasional general cleanup is advised because hard water contains much more harmful elements than just calcium and magnesium. All these particles can stand in the way and lower the efficiency of the unit.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF WATER SOFTENER
There are four most popular types of softeners. Every one of those has its advantages and shortcomings. While one of them is the most popular, it’s important that you comprehend the difference to see which one suits your needs.
These are by far the most popular ones. They cycle water through two tanks of which one is filled with resins while the other is full of brine. The process of purification is called ion exchange. The concept is pretty simple, hard water enters the system, and the harmful minerals get swapped with sodium thanks to their different charges.
While zeolite particles are negatively charged, the minerals are positively charged which makes them adhere to the resin beads. The only disadvantage of this type is that people who are intolerant to sodium can’t use it.
Salt-free softeners use potassium chloride instead of sodium. As you can assume, this type is significantly better for people who have to take care about their sodium intake. However, these units are often descalers rather than softeners.
So, instead of reducing the number of minerals, they prevent them from being deposited as scale. These are mainly portable units, and the consensus is that these are better than none. However, they are much less efficient than a conventional softener.
The softening process is practically the same as in salt-based models, but these models have two tanks. They are better because you can still use soft water while the system is recharging, thanks to the dual-tank system. The only thing that bothers most people about it is the price. These are among the most expensive models on the market. Also, they require a lot of space.
Descalers are not softeners. These units use an electromagnetic field to isolate the minerals from hard water. Although they are much less effective than softeners, they don’t require any maintenance and installing them is a piece of cake.