The best water softeners will remove water hardness before the water even enters the house. This has the effect of making the water purer, minimizing damage to appliances and pipes, and comes with various health benefits. Choosing the right one depends upon several different factors.

Best Water Softeners at a Glance

  1. Overall BestSpringWell Salt-based Water Softener System
  2. Best Salt-Free SystemSpringwell Futuresoft Salt-Free Water Softener
  3. Great for Well WaterHarmony Series Whole House Water Softener
  4. Best ElectronicYARNA Water Descaler System
  5. Runner Up Salt-free SystemPelican Salt-Free Water Softener Alternative
  6. Portable for RVsOn The Go Portable RV Water Softener

Best Water Softener Reviews

1. SpringWell Salt-based Water Softener System

SpringWell Water Softener System Salt Based

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The Springwell whole house water softener is one of the best water softeners you can get on this list. It’s the cheapest of the salt-based water softeners and has a fantastic warranty. It also has several convenient features built-in.

 Get 5% off at springwellwater.com – Use code: JUG5 

Water Softening Method

The SpringWell uses a salt-based system to eliminate minerals like calcium and magnesium from the water supply. It uses sodium ions to drag the minerals to the resin bed at the bottom of the tank. Once there it flushes the mineral buildup out of the system. Due to the cleansing process, this water softening system works great for both city and private well water.

Periodically the system will automatically regenerate the resin media using sodium to keep it working properly. This regeneration cycle typically occurs based on use or can be set to occur at specific intervals.

The Springwell comes with a Connected Series Bluetooth head to track and monitor the process. This allows users to change settings to potentially save water waste or ensure the system is performing at peak efficiency. The benefit of this system is that settings can be changed on the water softener itself or remotely via the phone app.

House Size & Maintenance

The SpringWell salt-based systems can accommodate 2 to 3 bathrooms depending on use. There are larger sizes available, though these will cost more.

The user will have to add 40 pounds of salt to the tank every month or two. This will depend on usage or how frequently the system is set to regenerate. The integrated Bluetooth system will notify when this needs to occur making this one of the most convenient salt-based water softeners.

Warranty & Cost

The SpringWell is the cheapest salt-based water softener on the list. Surprisingly it is even cheaper than some of the salt-free options.

It also comes with a lifetime warranty on the tanks and valves making it one of the better warranties on the list. There is also a 6-month risk-free trial period in case the buyer changes their mind.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Cheapest of the salt-based systems that we reviewed.
  • Is ideally suited for both city and private well water.
  • Connected Series Bluetooth head allows customization and notifications.
  • Fantastic lifetime warranty on tanks and valves.
  • It can be used 6-months risk-free.
Cons
  • It is more expensive than many salt-free water softeners.
  • Salt needs to be added every month or two.
  • Water is wasted via the black flush system.
  • Requires a power source to run.

2. Springwell Futuresoft Salt-Free Water Softener

Springwell Futuresoft Salt-Free Water Conditioner

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The Futuresoft whole house water softener is a viable alternative to the SpringWell. It’s a salt-free water softener that doesn’t waste water or use electricity. It doesn’t remove water hardness, but depending on your water supply this might be enough for what you need.

 Get 5% off at springwellwater.com – Use code: JUG5 

Water Softening Method

Like other salt-free systems, Futuresoft uses template-assisted crystallization to descale the water. Minerals are converted into crystals that no longer result in the mineral buildup. There is also a 5-micron pre-filter that is used to catch larger particles and prevent sediment from entering the system.

While this product is called a water softener, it is technically more of a water conditioner or descaler. The hard water is still present in the water supply, but it no longer sticks to surfaces. For areas with city water or minimal mineral content, this water softener should do the trick. But for areas with poor water quality, a softener may be required.

House Size & Maintenance

This product uses ActiveFlo technology to maintain a high flow rate and minimize loss of water pressure. At 11 GPM this water softening system should support up to 1 to 3 bathrooms.

Like most salt-free water conditioners the Futuresoft requires minimal maintenance. Once every 6 to 9 months, depending on use, the pre-sediment filter will need to be replaced. Otherwise, this water softening system is a set it and forget it kind of product.

Warranty & Cost

This salt-free house water softener system is the second most expensive water softener on the list. However, it does come with a nice lifetime warranty which denotes the quality of the product. It also comes with a 6-months risk-free for buyers.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Salt-less system means no water waste, no electricity, and no salt refills.
  • Comes with a sediment filter to capture larger particulates.
  • Can support up to three bathrooms without a loss in water pressure.
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty and 6-months risk-free.
Cons
  • Only conditions the minerals present in hard water, it doesn’t remove them.
  • Is the second most expensive of the water softener systems reviewed.
  • The sediment filter needs to be maintained every 6 to 9 months.

3. Harmony Series Whole House Water Softener

Aquasure Water Softener Harmony Series

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The Harmony Series water softener is the best choice for private well water. But even with city water it’s a great option for larger homes and provides additional filtration. It also comes at a reasonable price for what’s offered.

Water Softening Method

As a salt-based softener, this water softening system uses sodium ions to soften drinking water. The minerals are captured in the main tank and salt is bled into the system from the brine tank. The salt forms resin beads that latch onto the minerals holding them in place. They are then flushed out in the backwash system leaving true soft water behind. This is a great system for removing minerals like calcium and magnesium.

What makes the Harmony ideally suited for private well water is the cation resin media. There is also a fine mesh resin option that can help filter out other contaminants like rust that are common in private well water.

House Size & Maintenance

These water softening systems can support up to 2 to 4 bathrooms. This is a better performance than most of the water softeners on the list. This makes it a suitable choice for bigger houses that have more bathrooms.

As with any salt-based softening system, users will need to replace the salt every month or two depending on use. The pre-sediment filter will also need replacing every 6 to 9 months.

Fortunately, this product comes with a built-in digital screen. Here users can check salt levels, monitor water hardness, and control the regeneration cycle.

Warranty Cost

This product is one of the cheapest water softeners we reviewed. This house water softening system is less than half of the SpringWell.

The warranty isn’t the best out there, but it’s also not the worst. The Harmony comes with a 2-year extended warranty on the whole system.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Best water softener when it comes to private well water.
  • This salt-based water softener removes calcium and magnesium completely.
  • Has a fine mesh resin alternative model for rust.
  • Can support up to four bathrooms, more than most water softeners on this list.
  • Built-in system to monitor, track, and adjust the regeneration cycle.
  • Very affordable for what’s offered compared to other electric water softeners.
Cons
  • Salt must be replaced every month or so.
  • The pre-sediment filter must be swapped out every 6 to 9 months.
  • Not the best warranty available with a 2-year coverage.

4. YARNA Water Descaler System

Yarna Electronic Water Descaler System

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The YARNA water softener is a unique option on this list. It is by far the lowest maintenance, small, and easy to install. It may not remove hard water, but for the right home, this may be all you need.

Water Softening Method

This product uses a series of electrical pulses to convert hard minerals like calcium and magnesium into crystals. No salt is needed and no water is wasted. It does require an electrical connection which makes it a bit different from most water conditioners.

This system does not create true soft water as there is no salt involved in the process. For someone looking to minimize mineral buildup, this is perfect. Anyone wanting a genuine water softening system will need another option.

House Size & Maintenance

According to the manufacturer, the YARNA can handle any size of home. It simply treats the water as it passes through the point of contact. Because it’s an electrical current that passes through the water as it flows there’s no decrease in water pressure either.

Maintenance is also nonexistent. There are no filters to replace and the system doesn’t use salt or any media to treat things. It may require a yearly checkup to make sure it’s getting proper electricity, but otherwise, it’s mostly hands-off.

Warranty & Cost

This is the second cheapest option on the list. It’s also the cheapest of the home-based water softener systems we reviewed. For a water descaler that can support any size of house, this is fantastic.

The YARNA does lose some points for its warranty. Unregistered it’s covered for one year with a one-year return policy. Once it’s registered through the company site it will be covered for 10 years.

According to the company’s site registration must occur within 30 days of receiving the product. You must also provide basic contact information including where it was purchased and sign up for a newsletter. This may be a deal-breaker for those looking to retain their privacy or who don’t want to receive newsletters.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • This water softener uses salt or wastewater to prevent buildup.
  • Can handle any size of home as long as it’s installed at the point of contact.
  • No maintenance, other than a yearly checkup to ensure proper functionality.
  • Is the cheapest home-based water softening system on the list.
Cons
  • Does not remove calcium and magnesium, simply crystallizes them.
  • Requires electricity to function which can be tricky to set up.
  • Initial warranty or for those who choose not to register their product is low at 1-year.
  • Even the registered 10-year warranty is less than the lifetime warranty offered by other products.
  • Requires the user to register, and provide contact info, to obtain a better warranty.

5. Pelican Salt-Free Water Softener Alternative

Pelican Water Softener Alternative

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The Pelican water softening system is a great salt-free softening alternative to the Futuresoft, however, there are just better and cheaper options out there.

Water Softening Method

This system creates softened water by converting calcium and magnesium into harmless crystals. This softened water then passes through the house without creating buildup or sticking to surfaces. Some users may prefer this as it does keep some beneficial minerals.

But for those who want to completely remove water hardness, they’ll need a salt-based water softener. It does come with a pre-sediment filter to remove large particles or other foreign objects before entering the system.

House Size & Maintenance

Like many water softeners, this one is designed to support 1 to 3 bathrooms. They do have a larger option but it is more expensive. It does have a lower flow rate compared to other water softeners at 10 GPM. For some homes, this could mean less water pressure.

This system is very low maintenance with only the pre-sediment filter needing attention. Depending on use and water quality it may need to be replaced every 6 to 9 months.

Warranty & Cost

The Pelican water softeners would be more highly recommended if it wasn’t for the price. It is the most expensive of the water softeners that were reviewed. This is even more expensive than a salt-based water softening system which can do more.

For such a high price it surprisingly also offers the lowest warranty for a home-based system. Buyers receive a one-year warranty only if it’s installed by a certified individual. For DIYers, this probably isn’t the best option as it will have no warranty. It is more expensive compared to the Futuresoft water softeners with less warranty coverage.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Does not use salt or electricity to create softened water.
  • Comes with a pre-sediment filter to improve water quality.
  • Only maintenance is the filter that needs to be replaced every 6 to 9 months.
Cons
  • More expensive than a salt-based softener.
  • Does not remove minerals like calcium and magnesium to create soft water.
  • Has less flow rate than most water softeners.
  • Lowest warranty of all home-based water softeners reviewed.
  • Must be installed by a certified professional to retain the warranty.

6. On The Go Portable RV Water Softener

On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT Portable Water Softener

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This is the best choice for RVs. It’s very affordable and can handle even the bigger RVs. It has a niche use which makes it the least recommended of those we reviewed.

Water Softening Method

This water softener uses an ion exchange process to remove hard water. It’s a single tank with a garden hose connection to bring water in before entering the RV. It can provide up to 1600 gallons of soft water before it needs to be flushed.

To do this a backflush system reverses the flow allowing the user to send it down a drain. Because it’s saltwater there shouldn’t be any issue dumping this at RV sites, dump stations, or in other designated areas.

This does require some manual manipulation to use as it must be backflow by the user. Starting a backflow while still hooked up to incoming water can also lead to problems. There is no way to set up automatic drainage. It operates via the water pressure from the hose so no electricity is required.

House Size & Maintenance

It was built exclusively with RVs in mind. It can provide up to 1600 gallons of soft water. This works out to be about 40 days’ worth of use in a standard RV.

As mentioned before it does require the user to eliminate the built-up hard water manually every month or so. It weighs about 32 pounds which can make it an inconvenience for some users to manage. The water softener must also have its salt replaced at the same time and will require two boxes.

Warranty & Cost

This is the cheapest option of those reviewed which is surprising for a salt-based system. The warranty covers only a single year.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • It is highly portable as it was designed for RV use.
  • Is the cheapest water softener we reviewed.
  • Uses water pressure to run so it does not require electricity.
Cons
  • Can only support an RV making it less than ideal for home use.
  • Must have the hard water manually removed by the user.
  • Must be dumped and have salt replaced every month or so.
  • Isn’t that much cheaper than the YARNA which takes less maintenance to use.

Buyers Guide: Choosing the Best Water Softener System for Your Home

Type of Water Softener

There are two different kinds of water softeners: Water Softeners and Water Descalers/Conditioners.

Water softening systems use salt to completely eradicate the minerals in water that causes water hardness. These tend to be larger units and require routine maintenance. They also must have a drainage system and electricity to operate. These are often strongly recommended for private well systems and cities with lesser quality of water.

Water descalers/conditioners do not use any salt and their job is to crystalize the minerals so they don’t stick to anything. The minerals are still present in the water, but they will no longer build up to clog appliances. These are simpler systems that don’t require drainage or electricity to operate.

These are great for cities that already take some measures to filter or soften their water. Typically this type of water softener is not recommended for private well water or areas with lesser quality of water.

Size

You also want to make sure you have a water softener large enough for the house they will be used in. A general rule of thumb is that a single person will use about 75 gallons of water a day.

Maintenance

Maintenance should also be considered when buying a unit. All salt-based water softeners require the user to replace the salt every month. With standard water softening systems, this can mean purchasing and loading around 40 ponds of salt every month.

Whereas salt-free water softeners require very little if any maintenance. Most water softeners of either kind will have a pre-sediment filter that needs to be swapped out every 6 to 9 months.

Price

Then as with any purchase, you should consider the cost of the water softer. Salt-based softeners go for hundreds if not thousands of dollars while salt-free softeners go for a few hundred.

If your water supply contains a low mineral count then getting a salt-free softener can save you money. You should also consider maintenance costs, while not expensive having to replace the salt or filters can add up over time.

FAQs

What Is the Difference Between a Water Softener and a Water Conditioner?

Waters Softener uses salt to remove hard water like calcium and magnesium from the water supply. This is recommended when the user desires to completely remove all minerals.

Water Descaler/Conditioner uses media or electricity to convert minerals into crystals. They remain in the water but no longer stick to surfaces or create buildup. This is preferred if the user doesn’t mind or wants to retain some minerals in their water.

Where Should a Water Softener Be Installed?

Ideally, the water softener should be installed at the point of contact where water flows into the house. This ensures the water is softened before it reaches any appliances where minerals may build up. If using a whole house water filter combo the water softener should be set up after it.

Benefits of Using a Water Softener

The primary purpose is to prevent minerals from building up in pipes, appliances, fixtures, and inside water heaters. This can extend the lifespan of these items and delay the need for maintenance or cleaning.

Some users report preferring the feel of soft water when showering or washing hands. It provides a smoother texture to the water.

Reduces the mineral spots that can appear on glass and dishware. It leaves dishes looking cleaner and can prevent a film from appearing in sinks throughout the house.

Downsides of Using a Water Softener

The elevated salt levels in the water supply can corrode copper and lead pipes, fixtures, and the water heater. In some cases, this can even result in corroded metal becoming present in the water supply as it enters the house.

Some users may find the elevated salt levels in their water irritating when they go to shower or wash their hands. While mostly negligible it does impact drinking water with slightly higher sodium content.

Using a salt-based water softening system adds another bit of maintenance to the user’s monthly routine. This can also produce an additional cost as salt needs to be replaced monthly.

Any system that uses a backwash will produce water waste. Those living in areas with frequent droughts they should consider getting a salt-less system.

How Do I Know If I Need a Water Softener?

The best way to find out if you need a water softener is to have your water tested. This can be done by purchasing an at-home testing kit or hiring a professional. Hiring someone will typically result in more accurate results and provide greater information. This additional insight can help you identify what type of water softener you should use.

Another way is to contact your local water department. Most cities will have a convenient way to contact them and can give you information about mineral content levels. Some will also send out reports or even newsletters with the water bill.

Do Water Softeners Impact the Environment?

Largely this depends on how the water is handled once it leaves your home if you use a backwash system. Some states will run the water through a treatment center that will eradicate sodium and other chemicals used to soften water. In these cases, it’s not likely that your water softener will have any impact.

On the other hand, some states don’t treat water in a way that removes the chemicals put out by water softeners. This wastewater is also sometimes deposited in local lakes and rivers. In this case, it could impact the water supply. Private well systems tend not to have any water treatment system set up and the water often enters local water supplies.

If you’re worried about it you could contact your local water department to gain more information about how they treat wastewater. Alternatively, you could use a water softener that doesn’t utilize salt or chemicals of any kind.

About the Author

Paul Morton

Founder and Editor

Paul is a retired plumber who now spends hours on home improvement projects. From fixing toilets to leaking pipes in crawls spaces, there is nothing Paul can't do or wouldn't try. Paul was running his own plumbing company and is our expert in regard to all types of water filtration systems.

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