Nowadays, more and more people are treating hard water issues as something serious. In fact, they find this problem to be so frustrating that the demand for soft water systems has significantly increased in recent years. And while more household nowadays are beginning to understand the value of having a water filtering system under their roof, we cannot just let consumers go and purchase the first water softener they find in the market without educating them about a handful of purchasing tips.
We’d love to tell you that buying a home water softener is as easy as buying any conventional item, but it’s not because certain aspects have to be regarded in order to get the right device you really need. So we suggest that you take time in reading this article as we are going to share an expert and unbiased report to help you understand the underlying factors that will help you decide which water softening unit to choose before making an actual purchase.
Believe it or not, hard water is one of the common realities that most of us often face in our day to day lives. 85% of Americans encounter this everyday and yet none of us have a concrete idea where it comes from. So where does hard water really come from? Hard waters originate from aquifers as well as other underground sources which houses dissolved rock mineral elements. As the water flows into these areas, calcium, manganese, magnesium carbonate, and other earthen by-products are washed away with the water. And these same minerals give these undesirable qualities in water which is often dubbed as “hard”.
Technically speaking, hard water is not that harmful to the body as these minerals do not affect our health in a negative way (based on the latest medical research).
But coming from a financial and practical perspective, it can affect us in such a way that it will eat out our finances due to the frequent repairs we have to deal with once our pipes are clogged with ‘hard’ minerals and our kitchen appliances begin to malfunction. Aside from that, lime scale has the tendency to cake into water heaters and further affecting the functionality of the device, requiring repairs to be done more often.
In fact, the efficiency of the device if plagued by hard water problems is actually reduced by 22 to 30 percent according to a study conducted at Mexico State University for the Water Quality Research Council.
So if you think having hard water at home is not really a threat, think again. You may not realize this yet, but you might be spending money away due to repairs when you could have used this for other means. Maybe it’s about time to reassess your situation and consider installing a best water filter soon.
As mentioned in one of our articles, there are many types of water softeners we can install at our homes. By far, the most common of these devices is the ion exchange (salt-based) water softener, but other devices utilizing various technologies are also made available for residential use.
Salt-based – This water softening device distributes tap water through 2 tanks (resin tank and the brine tank). Most (if not, all) of the salt-based employ the ion exchange process in softening hard water. The water softener salt being used is usually sodium based, but homeowners can also shift into using alternative softening agents such as potassium chloride if they have issues with the use of sodium based salts due to health risks.
Salt free – This type of minerals are also called “descaler” devices or “conditioners” because they don’t actually remove the hard water minerals but rather initiate a certain process which prevents these minerals from attaching into the pipe’s surface as well as the water-using appliances in your kitchen. In other words, these units employ different technologies in producing soft water.
Dual-tanked units – This type of water softener system is usually installed in places where the level of hardness in the water is very hard, the residence as a large number of users, or the consumer has an issue regarding the downtime of the device during recharging. Basically, the technological concept of this device is designed to reduce the effects of these problems as 1 tank is servicing while the other is recharging the beads at the same time. One of the most popular units of dual-tank water softener is the Fleck water softener 900 model which operates with a fully adjustable meter controlled valve. As the first tank does the backwashing process, the control automatically switches the supply of water to the second tank to ensure a continuous flow of about 21 gallons/minute!
Dual-tank systems require more space compared to conventional soft water systems. Therefore, they should be installed at an area where it is roomy and the water line going inside the house is accessible, Aside from that, it should be set up near a drain and to an electrical outlet just like any device used for softening water. Moreover, when shopping for a dual-tank water softener today it is recommended that you look for the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certification. Apart from that, a handsome warranty offer for the water softener parts (3 years warranty for the control valve and 10 years for the tanks) in order to ensure that the softening device is serviceable up to 20 years.
Magnetic treatment devices – This type of water softener is more often considered as a water conditioner because it makes use of a certain technology that is still controversial up to this day. Magnetic water softeners employ the power of magnetic field in treating water. As the device is plugged-in or connected into the incoming pipe, the magnetic field is activated causing the calcium and magnesium deposits to repel into the pipe’s surface and into each other.
Magnetic water softener devices became a subject of controversy since the overall efficiency of the device is not yet tested under well-controlled studies. Rather, the effectiveness is only backed up by the user’s testimonials to prove the manufacturer’s claims. Even to this day, certain questions like “will the calcium and magnesium minerals continuously repel surfaces which are usually affected by hard water even if the magnetic field is deactivated?” is left unanswered. Nonetheless, the magnetic softening devices have earned a reputable following. And this fact is good enough for them to be mentioned in this article.
As a consumer, we see to it that we always get the best on the things that we want to purchase. That’s why some of us even take time to read various water purifier reviews over the internet so we can have an idea on which is the best water softeners to buy and which is not. So for the benefit of our readers, we compiled all the top water softener brands out there so you can compare all the details you need before making the actual purchase. Included in our list is the name of the brand as well the multiplicity of features which we believe to help you determine the most excellent unit to install to provide the kind of softening service that you need. Rest assured that all the information included in this section is carefully gathered and analyzed by our research team from a myriad of reputable sources.
Culligan – This manufacturing brand is currently considered as the best water filtration system in the industry today. The company was founded by Mr. Emmett Culligan in 1936 who happened to be one of the pioneering minds in the concept of water softening. Culligan brand offers many types of water softening products from their averaged-priced Medallist series to their high end Gold & Platinum softening system units. In addition to this, the company also offers Total Home Solutions products which are devices that can soften water and at the same time filter out undesirable elements to ensure the safety of the water being consumed.
A lot of customers appreciate their product line because of the extensive coverage of warranty that they offer in most of their products. Aside from that, their product specialists are always ready to lend a helping hand especially when it comes to installation issues. The down side however, is most of the water purifier reviews always mention about the expensive prices of their products that some consumers think their water softeners are overpriced compared to other water softening brands.
Kenmore – This brand was founded by SEARS and was initially introduced as a product line for washing machines. Decades after, Kenmore expanded their product line and earned their reputation of being a largest brand in the appliance industry. Today, Kenmore is still under the SEARS Company and all of their products can only be purchased through them.
Kenmore’s soft water systems are more focused on the value for money. Meaning, they manufacture high quality units without the hefty price (at $1,000 and below). Most of their clients commend their softening systems because it runs quietly upon servicing, it is easy to use, and salt efficient. The purchase and installation of their products are easy as it can be acquire through hundreds of SEARS stores all over the country. Plus, they also have 5 year warranty on all of their products and servicing is just 1 phone call away.
General Electric (GE) -- General Electric has been in the business for countless years. In fact, their history can be traced back through the time when Thomas Edison introduced his inventions to the world. GE houses many appliances under their umbrella and of this is home water softener devices.
GE water softener is fairly dependable when it comes to overall operation and the prices of their water softener products are very reasonable. They manufacture different kinds of water filtering systems according to size and shape so they can compete well with other brands. Their main feature is the SmartWater technology which regulates the usage of water in a particular household in order to lower the use of energy and the salt being consumed by the device. And although their water softener prices are very attractive, it does not come with similar warranties which are usually offered by other brands.
Fleck – This brand is owned by Pentair Company. Fleck was brought into attention because they were the first to recognize the importance of control valves in soft water systems. And because of this, they earned their spot in being one of the best water softening brands in the industry today.
Most (if not, all) of Fleck products are extremely reliable even if their features are not as extensive as others. Customers find delight in the fact that their products come with the best value and continue to perform well after many years. This makes sense since some of their clients opted for their product immediately after experiencing product replacement. We can’t say anything negative about the brand, but the only reason why they are currently having this rank is because they are not that well-recognized compared to preceding brands in this list (GE, Culligan, and Kenmore were able to make a name for themselves by promoting other brands other that water softeners while Fleck focuses only in manufacturing water softener products).
Kinetico – The brand was founded by a couple of engineers who developed a kind water treatment system without the use of electricity as the energy being utilized come from the flow of the water itself. This very feature is what sets Kinetico apart from other brands. Their countercurrent technology revolutionized the way water is softened since they can always provide soft water without needing to go offline during regeneration because of their twin tank systems. Aside from that, this same technology allows the resin beads to last longer. Kinetico water softeners are sold only through a network of dealers which can be contacted through your local directory or by going to their official website. And though their device is innovative, other consumers often remarked that Kinetico’s products are overhyped and overpriced. Needless to say, they still offer noteworthy products, but unfortunately it’s not suitable for any budget.
- (1) Culligan
- Quality: Excellent
- Features: Excellent
- Warranty: Very Best
- PRICE: $$$
- (2) Kenmore
- Quality: Satisfactory
- Features: Moderate
- Warranty: Best
- PRICE: $
- (3) General Electric
- Quality: Best
- Features: Moderate
- Warranty: Average
- PRICE: $
- (4) Fleck
- Quality: Very Best
- Features: Superior
- Warranty: Best
- PRICE: $$
- (5) Kinetico
- Quality: Very Best
- Features: Moderate
- Warranty: Best
- PRICE: $$$
Rainsoft – This brand is a subsidiary of Aquion Water Treatment Products and is only distributed through a group of dealers. Rainsoft usually call their products as “water conditioner” devices rather than water softening units and they provide a range of high end devices with a lot of impressive features. And while many clients commend their products for the quality and dependability of their units, there are others who complain about the price range since Rainsoft water softeners are usually lined on the high end. Still, their softening systems are worth mentioning. That’s why they are included in this list.
Morton – This brand is commonly associated for the salt softening regenerants that they have been producing for the past 150 years. However, Morton has also been manufacturing water softener devices under the System Saver brand. This is nothing special since salt is an essential component for most water softeners. What is surprising is the fact that their products can actually compete well against other well-known brands.
Morton is a go-to option for consumers who don’t want to spend more having their best water filter system units. The reason for this is all of their products utilize an ultra efficient feature in which the consumption of salt is lessened. Aside from that, most of their patrons have given high regards to their support team which is ever prepared whenever you need any assistance regarding their products.
Aqua-pure – This water softening brand is a water treatment division of CUNO Inc. which is a company that specializes in the manufacturing of filtration units for the separation, purification, and clarification of certain liquids and gases. In 2005, this was also acquired brand by acquired by the 3M Company which is an industrial giant in producing adhesives, medical equipments, electronics, and etc.
Aqua-Pure water softener products are mostly priced somewhere at the middle to the high end range, but most of their consumers don’t seem to mind about it since most of their remarks are good to best. The manufacturing companies sell their products directly to customers. And not only that, their customer support is highly regarded for their consistency in delivering excellent customer service. The downside however is their product line is limited compared to their counterparts, limiting the choices of their budget wary customers to a small range of water softener systems.
Crystal Quest – This brand is a subsidiary of Quest Technologies which is a major manufacturer of commercial and residential products. However, Quest Tech. has been acquired by 3M Company making this brand and Aqua-Pure under the same multinational corporation banner. And although these 2 water softener brands are housed under 3M, they products are still separated under their respective brand identities because their water filtering units are specialized in different functionalities.
Crystal Quest products include a very long mineral tank so the softening process will be enhanced further compared to the usual procedure. Aside from that, their carbon cartridges also include a special sediment for filtering organic pollutants in water. And if Aqua-Pure has mid-priced units in their product line, Crystal Quest soft water systems are dedicated only to the high end market for their units are priced luxuriously. After going through a lot of research and reading numerous reviews, we have come into conclusion that there is insufficient information being shared about this particular brand other the ones you see at the poorly formatted water softener website which is found all over the net.
North Star – This brand is collectively owned by Ecowater and the Marmon Group of Co. which are both subsidiaries of Berkshire Hathaway. North Star water softeners is a actually a “silent killer” in the water softening business since it manages to last for decades even if its popularity is not as big compared to all the prevailing brands in the market today.
Both plumbing experts and customers feel that North Star manufactures high quality and ever dependable products even if the brand is often overlooked. And apart from that, we honestly feel that they’ve earned their spot in this top 10 list and probably have a potential to rank higher. They just have to be consistent with all that they can offer so they can get more positive water purifier reviews in the future.
Here are some of the other important things you have to keep in mind whenever purchasing the best water filtration system to meet your softening needs:
Know the level of hardness in your water supply – Hard water exist almost everywhere, but the level of hardness actually differs from one area to another. So it would be best to know the hardness factor in your water supply as early as now so you can purchase the ideal water softener unit to eliminate this problem. As mentioned in our previous article, the hardness of water can be determined through water testing. And if you’re not really familiar about this process, you can always contact a water testing company in your area so they handle all the testing chores for you.
Decide what type of softening unit to use – As early as now, you have to decide which home water softener to install at home whether it would salt based or salt free. Moreover, read water purifier reviews so you can be familiar with the pros and cons of the product you wish to install at home.
Value for money – Never leave the budget out of the equation. Try to decide if you’re willing to pay more for better features or just look for other cheaper units which don’t compromise on the quality. Compare products that you are interested in buying (such as the tables being shown above) so you can have a clearer picture of the product you are eyeing on. Just go for any of the best soft water systems where you think you can get more value on the money you are willing to pay and you’ll never go wrong with it.