Best Whole House Water Softener System – Reviews, Awards, And Discounts 2021
Whole-house water filter and softener systems can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on how they fulfill your water needs. A growing number of manufacturers claim to sell premium-grade water softeners, but it can be overwhelming to search for the best one when there are way too many options. To give you a hand with that, we have put together a guide comprising of the ten most reliable water softeners for your whole house, along with their prices*, functions, discounts, and more.
For those of you who are new to this, whole house water softeners are complex water treatment systems installed in your home’s water supply. As such, they can accommodate every faucet in your home so that you can have an endless stream of soft water, whenever and wherever you want it. These softeners are more complicated than regular systems both in installation and use. Some models also include water filtration systems, which further contributes to their bulky price tags. Below, you will find the best models that won’t cost you a kidney to buy – and are the most reliable in the long run.
*The prices of all whole-house water softening systems were correct at the time of writing.
1. AFW Filters Iron Pro 2 Softener & Filter ($650)
The best water softeners for the whole house are within the comprehensive Iron Pro 2 series, manufactured by AFW Filters. We’ve put this system at the top of the list because it is instrumental in reducing water hardness, it has a wide filtration range, and is budget-conscious. With $650, this system will soften your water, remove iron content from your water supply, and give your food, clothes, hair, and skin the lovely feeling only clean water can provide. These whole-house water softener systems come in two different grain capacities, the first holding 64 000 GPG (this model) and the second one supplying 80 000 GPG. The salt-based water softener removes water hardness up to 75 grains per gallon and is suitable for an iron range of 6-8 parts per million. By being the best water softeners, they also remove manganese up to 6 ppm, on top of reducing sediment, rust, and sand.
If you’ve been around Water Whizz for long enough, you may have noticed that we’re crazy about the Fleck 5600SXT control valve. This valve had honorable mentions on our best water softeners and best softeners for well water reviews, as well as our detailed guide on Fleck. The reason why this digital-metered valve is the talk of the century is that it uses a straightforward approach to conveniently adjusting to your water supply. The Fleck 5600SXT measures water usage as it is being used and adapts it to regenerate the whole-house system as needed. Thanks to its smart design, your house will gain a consistent water flow throughout the day, and you will have soft water, on-demand, whenever you need it. The Fleck 5600SXT is easy to install and more comfortable to use, as its digital controls make for straightforward customization that minimizes water, energy, and salt consumption.
Some of the most prominent abilities that this whole house filtration & softener system is crowned with are removing hard water scaling, eliminating rust stains, and eradicating soap scum. To do this, AWF filters have included fine mesh resin that’s destined to prolong the lifespan of the whole-house water filter and lower its overall consumption rate. The 64 000 GPG water softener also consists of a premium-grade brine tank designed with a safety float feature to prevent overfilling. The packaging also includes a handy bypass valve that allows the hard water machine to be bypassed without needing to shut-off the entire water supply. The iron-based mechanism is warrantied for five years, both by Pentair (Fleck) and AWF Filters. This range of house filtration systems & softeners has a 4.6 rating on Amazon and is one of the last decade’s best-reviewed systems.
2. Pelican Water Softener & Filter ($2,198*)
* With the code “combo,” you will get a $100 discount on Pelican’s combo water systems.
Our second best household water softener & filter is pricier than all the other systems shown here, but we believe we can convince you to give it a try. First, you must know that this system is designed to suit any household size, bathroom count, type of water, and mineral range. When we researched Pelican, we saw that the brand is among the very few manufacturers whose products are officially certified to treat hard water. As such, Pelican has been the talk of the town since it launched its NaturSoft salt-free water softener that was recognized by DVGW as the only salt-free alternative that effectively removes scale buildup from home appliances.
To ensure that its users will get a fantastic saltless water treatment and an operative method for combatting heavy metals, Pelican has manufactured the excellent water softener & filter system that we brought here today.
By purchasing the combo system, you will get the NaturSoft salt-free water softener and a complex filtration system of your choice. As of now, Pelican has three models for you to choose from. The first unit is the basic model, and it includes a carbon filtration system and a sediment filter unit. The second is the standard model in which both filters are combined, but it has a different bacterial protection mechanism that utilizes the Pelican UV. The third and last model goes by the premium label, in which it combines all the previous filtration systems but adds a professional UV bacterial protection unit to the mix. Thanks to this combination, your household appliances, cooked food, drinking water, and shower experiences will all upgrade to an immediate improvement in water quality. And since all system models are adjustable to the households’ size, you won’t have to worry about grain capacities.
Because this system is installed at your home’s property line, you’ll get an immediate reduction of common hard water contaminants before they even reach your water supply. Whether you deal with groundwater lead or city water chlorine, you can rest assured that all pollutants will have gotten rid of before you start the tap. If the price tag in this salt-free water softener & filter combo starstruck you at first, you should know that the system will pay back for itself in less than a year. Pelican has an indisputable background in cost-efficiency, so you ought to understand that the easy-to-install system will pose a lifelong solution to your hard water problem. To give you peace of mind, Pelican has warrantied the household system for a lifetime – and should you not like it in the first three months, you can easily return it. The brand has a 4.7 score on its website and a 4.6 rating on Consumer Affairs.
3. Genesis 2 Duo Platinum Softener & Filter ($1,697*)
* If you buy any Genesis water system with a Hydropure Undersink Dual-Filter System, you will get it for $75 off at Discount Water Softeners.
We have researched Genesis for quite some time now, and we can confidently say that its water softeners are manufactured with some of the best components that keep hard water at bay. Along those lines, the Duo Platinum water filter & softener makes for a very effective salt-based mechanism that efficiently reduces water hardness from any household. The digital-metered water softener houses a reticulated KDF media and high-quality salt resin that will eradicate calcium and magnesium from any type of water.
In case you’re wondering what KDF media is, it essentially explains the structure of the cubes involved in the brine tank mechanisms that take care of the softener’s properties. Since these cubes have a reticulated shape, they allow for a higher water flow, easier backwashing, and little to no pressure drop in the water supply. That sounds fantastic, doesn’t it?
It is fantastic, and not only because it boosts water flow, but because it meticulously treats hard water minerals as well. By purchasing this whole-household softener & filter, you will get an on-demand control valve, 10% crosslinked Aldex resin, a premium grade bypass valve, a resin and filtration tank, and a Tank Tux jacket for weather protection. The on-demand control valve adjusts your family’s water usage patterns to initiate material-saving regeneration cycles accordingly. The crosslinked resin is incredible in that it reduces the salt-reduction rates and prolongs the brine tank’s endurance due to its high-grade parts. The bypass valve is mostly favorable since it is easy to install and effortless to use when you need to cut off the water treatment system without shutting off your entire household’s water supply. And the best part about this water softener? Its resin and filter tank.
One of the most notable characteristics of this salt-based system’s tank is that it is housed with an incredibly durable neoprene coating. This coating protects the tank both on the inside (salt residue) and the outside (rain, snow, freeze), so your water softening system can accompany you for longer. The brine tank is designed with a salt-grid that prevents its interior from salt bridging, a phenomenon that occurs when there’s an inconsistency on the softener’s ill-design. The salt tank also includes a safety over float assembly that prevents the system from overfilling or causing other health hazards. According to your households’ demand, these salt-based water softeners have a starting 20 000 grain capacity but can go up to 80 000 GPG.
The system itself is warrantied for a lifetime, whereas the brand is rated with a 5.0 in DWS, 4.3 in Consumer Affairs, and 4.0 in Best Osmosis Systems.
4. Aquasure Trio Softener, Filter & RO ($930*)
* If you’re a new customer at Aquasure, you can get a 5% discount on all sitewide products using the code “NEW5“.
The Aquasure multi-purpose gem is another water treatment system that effortlessly combines three water processing mechanisms into one. Specifically, the Aquasure hard water machine comprises one Harmony dual-purpose water filter, one Premier water softener, and one Fortitude reverse osmosis system. This salt-based triple-protection system’s design is supported with a 50 000 grain capacity for the water filter, a 64 000 grain capacity for the water softener, and a contaminant reduction rate of up to 99% for the reverse osmosis system.
Instead of merely tackling calcium and magnesium as most water softeners do, this water treatment system ensures that all the minerals involved in decreasing the water quality, taste, and odor are eradicated at one go.
To get into more detail, we must note that this system treats the water treatment procedure in a hierarchical organization. First, the hard water goes through the dual-purpose pre-filter. Here, it eliminates bigger particles and chemicals that include sediment, silt, and larger molecules of calcium and magnesium. The hard water then undergoes a thorough cleaning process that removes chlorine and rust, making it ready to go through the softening process. This is especially required in city water since the disinfecting procedures taken on these supplies make it prone to an unbearable taste and smell. Afterward, the semi-clean water is carried onto the water softening system that removes the hard water minerals by using a salt-based ion-exchange technology. The third and last process includes the reverse osmosis system that further purifies the water to remove minerals.
The triple mechanism approach that this water softener employs is enough to turn any water into its optimal quality. Whole-home water softeners that filter, purify, and clean the water are hard to come by – especially at these prices. Moreover, its RO system can produce about 75 GPD per day, which is quite significant, considering that this is a bundle unit. Customers who bought this combo soft water system also noted that they experienced one of the most effortless installations, seeing how all the instructions and materials are provided with the purchase. The manufacturers over at Aquasure have also included an informational video on how to go about it, and in all frankness, it does look quite simple. With a 4.8 rating on Amazon and a two-year warranty, the Aquasure system convinces us that cheap and good is a dream worth going after.
5. GE GXSH40V Smart Softener ($649)
In case you’re looking for a standalone water softener that doesn’t overwhelm you with a considerable grain capacity, the GE Smart softener may be your best choice. The 40 000 GPG water softener is ideal for light to medium-duty households where water consumption is moderate. The premium-grade water softener poses an incredibly dependable salt-based system for calcium and magnesium removal, where maintenance is kept at a minimum. The reliable GE unit has a 230 lb storage tank that means you can store all the salt you need without having to run back and forth for each regeneration cycle. The system also includes a low-salt indicator that will let you know when the softener is close to needing a refill so that you won’t be bombarded with a midnight surprise of missing salt.
The water softening system is operated with an electric on-demand driven meter that makes it very convenient for us. That means that instead of adjusting the timer settings for the backwashing, regeneration, and cleaning procedures, you will only observe the system as it does its magic. By adapting to your water consumption rate, the water softener will pinpoint the most convenient times for launching a cycle, prompting you to use the soft water at all times. Each regeneration cycle within this unit lasts for about 90-130 minutes, roughly translated to reduced energy, water, and salt costs. The GE water softener is also certified for iron reduction, in which it can clear up to 8 ppm in one go. The resin supplied with the order is standard mesh, but you can always upgrade it to your preferred quality by referring to our resin guide.
When we reviewed GE Appliances, we saw that one of the most talked-about features on its water softener systems was the smartphone app compatibility within them. As explained, GE manufactures its hard water softeners with an integrated Wi-Fi adapter. This feature allows for a direct connection with your phone, in which you can access your GE system through the app. In this app, you can get daily notifications on your water softener, low salt indications, errors with the system, and much more. You can even control the softener by initiation regeneration cycles, remotely shutting off the system, and even customizing the soft water level required by your household. The GE water softener is backed with a ten-year warranty on the brine tank, three years on the electronic motor, and one year on the entire system. As far as reviews go, GE maintains a 4.6 score on its main website.
6. Whirpool WHES48 Softener ($689)
Hard water is notorious for causing many home appliances’ malfunction, improper performance, and eventual system failure. Many water softeners aim to fix this issue, and even though they manage to prevent further issues, they fall short when it comes to existing damage. The Whirpool softener model is one of those salt-based systems that show visible improvement in all hard water affected areas as soon as it is installed. As such, this medium-sized water softener utilizes a 48 000 grain tank to reduce calcium, magnesium, and iron. The new and improved water softener is neatly designed for a straightforward installation and use, for which we’re very fond of. The iron-based tank can accommodate households with six members or more, which is ideal for most US families.
The main reason why you should consider this Whirpool water softener is the 6th Sense technology it employs. Thanks to this feature, the unit will establish the minimal amount of water and salt it needs for each regeneration cycle. This way, the salt-based water softener will save you a fortune in supplies while prompting you to refill the system as infrequently as possible. This is further promoted by the softener’s on-demand regeneration valve that will make sure to have an endless stream of soft water ready for you at all times. The 48 000 grain system is built with a space-saving design and can connect to plumbing up to 1” in diameter, so you don’t have to worry about the fittings or the installation itself. All the components on this hard water machine are NSF-certified, which means that the product has undergone excessive testing and is fit for purpose with the industry’s standards.
When it comes to the specifications, we must note that the water softener is qualified for the effective removal of calcium, magnesium, and iron. This system’s iron reduction rate goes up to 12 ppm, which is rather significant for a traditional salt-based water softener. When it comes to use and maintenance, you should know that this unit will have your back with all the features it employs. Thanks to its easy to read indicator lights, the system will notify you of low salt levels, water flow range, and regeneration cycle initiations. The system’s high-flow valve is also handy, seeing how it will maintain a nice, consistent water flow throughout your entire home’s water supply system. The Whirpool WHES48 has a 4.5 rating on Lowe’s and is followed by a ten-year warranty on the brine tank, a three-year warranty on the electronic parts, and a one-year warranty on parts and labor.
7. A.O. Smith Premier Softener & Filter ($797)
For those on the lookout for more straightforward water softeners, an A.O. Smith model may be the best fit. If you haven’t heard of the brand before, you can read Water Whizz’s thinkpiece that showcases the best water softener products manufactured by A.O. Smith. The Premier Series water softener is neatly manufactured to promote maintenance-free use, as the components are pre-installed on the unit’s interior. The functional softener uses 30 000 grains per gallon to ensure enough soft water to go by for the whole family. The tank capacity is just enough for families of four, but it can also exceed that number if the water consumption patterns are below moderate. And the best thing about this unit? It’s a multi-purpose water softener combined into one.
With a 90 GPG effectiveness in removing hard water minerals, this water softener also utilizes a handy filtration unit built into the system. The integrated water filter reduces the awful chlorine taste and smell, so the system is best suited for homes supplied by a municipal water source. The water softener works with a salt-sensing technology that adapts to your water consumption rate and saves up more energy, water, and salt in the process. The salt-based softener is also designed for fast and quiet regeneration cycles, which will most likely pass you by without you even noticing them. The system has a chlorine filtration rate of 3 ppm, after which it will ensure that you have reduced scale buildup, fewer water spots, improved hair and skin, and enhanced appliance performance.
The salt-based softener is a fan-favorite since it’s shaped within a patented single-unit layout. This grants customers the freedom to customize their location freely without worrying about adjusting pipes. The hard water machine also has an incredibly ergonomic design, which means that salt refills and system customizations won’t result in arm strains. Like the GE water softener, the A.O. Smith tank also utilizes a Wi-Fi connection adapter. This way, you can control the unit directly from your sofa, whether you want to observe the iron reduction rate and salt levels or change the timing settings or the water hardness range. As of now, the A.O. Smith water softener has a 4.7 score on Lowe’s, whereas the brand is rewarded with the Product of the Year, Excellence in Manufacturing, and Brand Leader awards for several years. The Premier system is warrantied for five years on the electrical and mechanical parts and ten years for the tank, valve, and cabinet.
8. Springwell FutureSoft Salt-Free Softener ($1384*)
*If you use the code “10off”, you will get a 10% discount and free shipping on whole-home systems.
Salt-free water softeners presented on this list are pricier, but when you consider protecting the environment, they are truly priceless. The Springwell FutureSoft model is among the best-rated saltless softeners that when they say they soften hard water, they mean it. When we talked about well water softeners, we credited Springwell with one of the most innovative technologies used in hard water treatment, and not without credit. These water softener systems use the same mechanism as Pelican’s NaturSoft, commonly known as template-assisted crystallization (TAC).
Instead of exchanging hard water minerals with salt-based components, TAC merely alters the existing minerals’ overall structure. When doing so, minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium are turned into crystals that are unable to bind to plumbing. This inability is directly translated to reduced scaling and improved appliance performance, without the cost of dumping salts onto the environment.
Since this water softener doesn’t exchange ions but neutralizes them instead, it is advertised as a water conditioner instead of a water softener label. However, this shouldn’t worry you because these water treatment units will show fantastic results less than a month after purchase. The manufacturers over at Springwell guarantee that not only will this softener protect your plumbing, but it will also reach into the damage done and break down the hard water particles formed. According to them, you will see an improvement in water flow, machine performance, and water pressure in less than 90 days. The Springwell salt-free models are also renowned for providing excellent flow rates, as their models start from 12 GPM (1-3 bathrooms), 15 GPM (4-6 bathrooms), and up to 20 GPM (+7 bathrooms).
According to the WQA, an average home operates with a 5 GPM continuous flow rate, which is too low for many water softener products online. Since these softeners need a more effective rate to initiate regeneration cycles, they usually fall flat or cause irregular cycles that are inefficient and can damage the tank. Springwell fixes this issue by incorporating an ActiveFlo technology that perfectly adjusts to the water system’s ups and downs. Besides saving you money and resources, the Springwell salt-free softener also ensures that there’s a minimal (almost nonexistent) pressure drop in your tap, faucet, or showerhead. At the time of writing, this water softener had a 4.5 rating on Springwell and a 4.2 score on Amazon. The thing that these customers loved the most about the FutureSoft was the fact that the unit is warrantied for a lifetime.
9. Aquasana Rhino Filter & Softener ($1469)
This water softener is designed for heavy-duty use, which is ideal for those looking for a budget-conscious alternative for their pub, cafe, or restaurant. The Aquasana Rhino is a combined filter and softener that hosts a large 1 000 000 grain capacity. When we say this water softener does everything, we mean it – since the unit can reduce hard-water scaling, remove chlorine, pesticides, rust, sediment, herbicides, water-soluble minerals, iron, and industrial solvents. That’s a lot of work for a single water softener & filter combo, but the Rhino does it effortlessly. This multi-purpose system also includes a salt-free water softener, for which you can learn more on our Aquasana review.
Thanks to these components, the Rhino system won’t demineralize your water or put excess salt on the environment. Still, it will only clean your supply and provide premium-quality water in large amounts.
When we reviewed the Aquasana specifications, we saw that the water softener & filter combo has a 97% efficacy in reducing chlorine taste and odor from homes. Moreover, the iron-removal system is also renowned for improving the air’s quality thanks to its high-removal rate of VOCs produced by chemicals. The water system’s benefits don’t stop there, as the unit houses an upgraded sediment pre-filter that will eradicate any excessive dirt compounds from your water without removing the healthy minerals from their source. The water softener doesn’t require any electricity, drainage, or backflushing procedures, so it is as efficient as it can be. The system has a continuous flow rate of 7 GPM, an operating temperature range of 40-90º F, and a water pressure scale of up to 100 PSI.
The system itself can look quite overwhelming if you’re new to the water treatment world, but many customers have noted that it is almost effortless to install. Aquasana begins by reassuring its buyers that the product comes with a 90-day return window, so you don’t have to worry about it just yet. The installation instructions are provided within the purchase, and if we can trust the positive reviews on the comment section, they are relatively easy to follow. The iron system is also warrantied for ten years, and the guarantee includes most of the system’s components. At the time of writing, this water softener had a 4.4 rating on Home Depot. Many water treatment websites have also reviewed the system, including Water Filter Guru, Household Magazine, and Leaf Score.
10. iSpring ED2000 Descaler ($145)
Our honorable mention water softener is the iSpring ED2000 model that is also Amazon’s choice for the best descaler. The reason why we’ve saved a spot for this compact-sized device is that it is among the best-cheapest softeners that you can find online. Usually, softeners use resin, salt, or a special-type media that prevents the hard water molecules from harming the plumbing. Contrarily, the iSpring descaler uses electromagnetic waves that are effective to descale, neat to operate, and, best of all – cheap to acquire.
The water softener isn’t inherently cheap to buy, but it also is cheap to use. As iSpring tells us, this salt-free water softener reduces energy consumption within a one-year payback time. You should also not be confused by this unit’s size, as it is perfectly able to sustain hardness in areas with extremely hard water, ranging from 10 to 19 GPG.
The ED2000 descaler is a standalone system that works both in city and well water systems, so it is applicable throughout the US. If you’re unsure of how electromagnetic waves could soften the water, you can read our well-water review in which we’ve meticulously explained this procedure. To sum up, the magic happens inside the softener’s electric chip that emits an electromagnetic wave frequency in your home’s supply. This frequency changes the water molecules’ structure that causes them to bond effortlessly to the hard water particles. By doing so, the H20 components shield minerals like calcium and prevent them from attaching to your house’s internal pipes, home appliances, or cookware. This procedure has a two-fold design, as it breaks down the existing harmful minerals (that cause scaling) and prevents them from binding together again.
Even though we love this water softener, we must advise you that it is not the best choice for those living in large homes and mansions. This is because the system’s optimal functionality is within a 50 feet quota, so anything above that would require a second water conditioner to be purchased. Another reason that could tone down this softener’s efficiency would be high iron content on the water since that’s not covered with the system. Even though the water softener can take up to 0.3 ppm of iron, you would require an extra water filter system to reach the ideal softening & filtering results. Nevertheless, this unit is warrantied for a year, both in terms of labor and parts. And as of now, you can find the compact water softener on Amazon, where it currently holds a 4.1 score.
Fulfill Your Water Filtering Needs With These Consumables
Finding the right softener can be challenging, but finding the best one is virtually impossible. Homes differ in size, plumbing work, appliance use, and household members, making it harder for the manufacturers to pinpoint the right design. Luckily, there are some units to help with that.