The 6 Best Water Softeners of 2024

A.O. Smith Water Softener installed in a garage

The 6 Best Water Softeners of 2024

A water softener is a water treatment system designed to reduce the hardness of water by removing or reducing minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium through an ion exchange process. If you notice your sinks and faucets at home have limescale or soap scum buildup, this can be a telltale sign of hard water. Hard water can also lead to pipe bursts and reduce the lifespan of your appliances, so it’s imperative to fix the issue before it can lead to major damage.

Below you’ll find our list of the best water softeners of 2024 so you can choose the right system for your home.

Our top water softener picks for 2024

  • A.O. Smith – 35,000 Grain Water Softener with Audible Salt Alerts – AO-WH-SOFT-350
  • WaterBoss – 700 Water Softener
  • Whirlpool – 18,000 Grain Compact Home Water Softener – WHES18
  • GE – 30,000 Grain Water Softener – GXSF30V
  • Durawater – The Fleck 5600 SXT Metered Softener – 5600-sxt-48kFM
  • AquaSure – 48,000 Grains Water Softener – AS-HS48D

A.O. Smith – 35,000 Grain Water Softener with Audible Salt Alerts – AO-WH-SOFT-350

A.O. Smith – 35,000 Grain Water Softener with Audible Salt Alerts - AO-WH-SOFT-350

System Cost: $479

System Overview

At the top of our list is the A.O. Smith – 35,000 Grain Water Softener with Audible Salt Alerts. The softener is certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 44, which sets requirements for the materials, design, construction and performance of cation exchange water softeners.

The softener is designed for households with 3-4 people, and it comes equipped with an audible salt alert feature that notifies you when it’s time to refill the salt tank, ensuring an uninterrupted supply of soft water. The salt-sensing technology incorporated in this system even adapts to your water usage patterns leading to efficient salt, water, and energy utilization. 

We also like the patented slim, single-unit design with a bypass valve that adds to the convenience of installation, and maintenance is a breeze thanks to the self-cleaning pre-filter. The softener also features power loss protection with a backup battery that safeguards your settings during power outages, providing peace of mind.

Regarding other performance measures for a softener, this system has a max hardness rating of 90 grains per gallon (GPG) and removes up to 10 parts per million (PPM) of clear water iron which are exceptional for the system’s price. It measures in at 15.7” x 32” x 19.7” which is compact for a softener, though its salt storage capacity of 105 lbs is on the lower end compared to other systems, meaning you may have to replace salt more frequently.

Backed by a limited 3/10 year warranty: three for mechanical and electronic parts and ten for media tank/main control valve and brine cabinet — this water softener is built to last, making it a reliable investment for your household’s hard water treatment needs.

Pros

  • Certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 44
  • Features salt technology to monitor salt levels and initiate regeneration based on water usage
  • Power loss protection to safeguard settings during a power outage
  • Max hardness rating of 90 GPG and removes up to 10 PPM of clear water iron
  • Small form factor makes it a great choice for those with limited space
  • 3/10 year warranty

Cons

  • Salt storage of 105 lbs is lower than other softeners

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WaterBoss – 700 Water Softener

WaterBoss – 700 Water Softener

System Cost: $579

System Overview

With a 22,000-grain per gallon capacity and dimensions of 14.75” x 18.75” x 25.75”, the WaterBoss – 700 Water Softener is a compact softener that’s great for small households of four or less. The softener is certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 44 and can effectively treat most city and well hard water problems, including reducing calcium, dirt/sediment, and up to 10 PPM of ferrous iron. 

The softener has a max hardness rating of 70 GPG which is above average, and a salt capacity of 120 lbs which is decent. This softener doesn’t feature power loss protection like our top pick, but it does monitor salt levels and utilizes demand regeneration to ensure you have an uninterrupted supply of soft water. The softener’s regeneration cycle is just 20 minutes, and the manufacturer notes that it uses only 12 gallons of water and two pounds of salt each time it runs. Compared to other units, it uses less salt and regenerates faster. Similar to our top system, this softener also has a self-cleaning sediment pre-filter to prolong the effectiveness and lifespan of the system. 

We did see user reports that the softener arrived broken in some cases, or broke easily when trying to install it which is a knock against it. In those situations, owners can at least rely on the 5/10 year warranty, though users claim the brand will not pay for repairs themselves and expressed frustration.

Pros

  • Certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 44
  • Comes with a self-cleaning sediment pre-filter
  • Regeneration cycle of just 20 minutes, which regenerates based on demand and claims to use less salt than other softeners
  • Max hardness rating of 70 GPG and removes up to 10 PPM of clear water iron
  • Small form factor makes it a great choice for those with limited space
  • 5/10 year warranty, though users express frustration with it

Cons

  • 22,000 gallon capacity isn’t suitable for larger homes
  • Lacks power loss protection
  • Some users reported the unit arrived broken or broke easily when trying to install it

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Whirlpool – 18,000 Grain Compact Home Water Softener – WHES18

Whirlpool – 18,000 Grain Compact Home Water Softener - WHES18

System Cost: $567.76

System Overview

Next up on our list, this compact home water softener is certified to NSF/ANSI Standards 44 and 372, the latter of which certified a low level of lead in plumbing products.

The system has a max hardness rating of 65 GPG and reduces up to 3 PPM of clear water iron, which is on the low end of similarly priced systems. However, it still offers convenience over timer-based softeners because this unit is equipped with salt technology to automatically monitor your salt levels and water usage and initiate its regeneration cycle based on demand. With dimensions of 21.25” x 14.50” x 30.25” and salt storage capacity of 125 lbs, it’s compact and low-profile to help you save space. It also features an easy installation process with a kit and DIY instructions that may allow you to skip hiring a plumber.

The only real knocks on this system are the low capacity that make it not suitable for large homes and a 1/10 warranty that’s a bit short for parts and labor.

Pros

  • Certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 44 and 372
  • Features salt technology to monitor salt levels and initiate regeneration based on water usage
  • Small form factor makes it a great choice for those with limited space
  • Easy installation

Cons

  • 18,000 gallon capacity isn’t suitable for larger homes
  • Max hardness rating of 65 GPG and 3 PPM of iron removal are on the low end compared to other systems
  • Only a one year warranty on parts and labor, though the tank has a 10 year warranty

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GE – 30,000 Grain Water Softener – GXSF30V

GE-30000-Grain-Water-Softener-GXSF30V-2

System Cost: $499

System Overview

The GXSF30V is the last softener on our list that’s certified, but it does draw some eyebrows with certifications to NSF/ANSI Standards 44, 372, and CSA B483.1 – which is a Canadian testing standard similar to NSF/ANSI.

The softener offers great performance and features for its price. It has a 30,000 grain capacity, a max hardness rating of 95 GPG, removes up to 7 PPM of clear water iron, and a salt storage capacity of 200 lbs which are all exceptional for a system that’s under $500. 

Measuring in at 22.44” x 14.44” x 43.25”, it’s medium-sized but uses that extra space to deliver exceptional performance and features including salt technology to automatically adapt to your usage and an indicator that tells you when you’re low on salt and how many days until you’ll run out. It also features a permanent memory in case of power loss.

The softener comes with an installation kit and users report it’s easy to install. It also has a limited one year warranty on the appliance, a three year warranty on the electronic monitor, and a ten year warranty on the brine and resin tanks which are comparable to other systems. However, several users have reported issues with the manufacturer not covering damages under the warranty, even in cases where the unit arrived damaged due to shipping. Some users also reported leaks with the softener behind the unit and around the tank neck, and expressed difficulty getting the issue repaired under warranty. One final thing to note, is that it does not come with a sediment pre-filter, though there are upgraded versions of this softener with one included.

Pros

  • Certified to NSF/ANSI Standards 44 and 372, along with CSA B483.1
  • Features salt technology to monitor salt levels and initiate regeneration based on water usage
  • Permanent memory to retain settings in case of power loss
  • Easy installation that doesn’t require a plumber
  • Max hardness rating of 95 GPG and removes up to 7 PPM of clear water iron
  • Salt storage capacity of 200 lbs
  • 1/3/10 year limited warranty

Cons

  • User reports of leaking issues from behind the softener and around the tank neck
  • User reports of issues with getting issues fixed through warranty claims
  • No sediment pre-filter

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Durawater – The Fleck 5600 SXT Metered Softener – 5600-sxt-48kFM

Durawater The Fleck 5600 SXT Metered Softener

System Cost: $765

System Overview

Next up is the Durawater Fleck 5600 SXT Iron Blaster 48,000 Grain Water Softener, or the 5600-sxt-48kFM. Unlike other systems on this list, it is not certified to NSF/ANSI Standards which is one of the reasons we have it rated lower, especially considering the higher cost than comparable softeners.

While the system isn’t certified to NSF/ANSI Standards, it does have a lot of attractive attributes. First and foremost, the softener’s 48,000 grain capacity and 250 salt storage are on the higher end of softeners, meaning regeneration and salt replacements won’t be required as often. It also features salt monitoring technology to automatically regenerate based on demand.

At first glance, you’ll also notice that this system has two components: a 10” x 54” mineral tank and a 14” x 34” brine tank with a safety float. Unlike other softeners that do everything in a single unit block, this system separates the two which may be a consideration if you’re limited on space. Speaking of design, you’ll likely also notice the LED control valve which is programmable with 16 customizable settings to help you maximize the efficiency of your system if you like to be hands-on. However, it lacks any type of power loss protection, meaning settings will be lost if your power goes out. 

The brand touts easy installation for the softener, with the mineral tank pre-loaded with FineMesh resin that’s said to have a longer lifespan and greater hardness and iron removal capabilities compared to other choices. In terms of performance, we couldn’t confirm a max hardness rating and the hardness removal was listed as a range between 6-8 PPM, which is unusual considering other systems give direct figures. The product is said to have a five year warranty, though we also couldn’t find very much information about what was covered for this specific unit, it seems you’d need to contact the manufacturer for additional details.

Pros

  • 48,000 grain capacity and 250 lbs salt storage is on the higher end
  • Features salt technology to monitor salt levels and initiate regeneration based on water usage
  • Programmable LED control valve with 16 customizable settings
  • Salt storage capacity of 250 lbs
  • Five year warranty, though details on what’s covered are scarce

Cons

  • Not certified to any NSF/ANSI Standards
  • No power loss protection to retain settings
  • Two units means this may take up a larger amount of space than other softeners
  • Performance details on max hardness rating and hardness removal are unclear

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AquaSure – 48,000 Grains Water Softener – AS-HS48D

AquaSure 48,000 Grains Water Softener

System Cost: $549.50

System Overview

Finally, we have the Aquasure Harmony Series 48,000 Grains Whole House Water Softener (AS-HS40D). This unit is ideal for homes with 3-4 bathrooms, or up to 5 people. 

Unlike most of the other water softeners we’ve outlined in this article, this system also lacks any certifications to NSF/ANSI Standards. It has a max hardness rating of 110 GPG and removes up to 2 PPM of clear water iron, which is the lowest of any system on our list. It has a higher than average salt capacity of 160 lbs and like other systems we’ve discussed, it automatically adjusts salt usage to ensure you always have access to softened water.

Much like the Fleck 5600 SXT, this softener also separates the mineral and brine tanks. However, we couldn’t find the dimensions for both, the listed dimensions were 10” x 10” x 62” which may just apply to the mineral tank. Also like the Fleck 5600 SXT, this softener comes pre-filled with resin for easy installation and it also has a digital control head that provides automatic backwashing and cleaning for easy maintenance. Though it also lacks power loss protection which means you’ll have to manually update settings like the time after a power outage.

Interestingly, some users report their softener came with a pre-filter while others did not. It’s possible this may have been a temporary gift for some users, so you may need to purchase one separately to prolong the life of your softener. We also wanted to note that some users reported leakage issues during installation. The softener does come with a five year warranty, though you’ll need to contact the manufacturer for details on exactly what’s covered.

Pros

  • 48,000 grain capacity is on the higher end
  • Features salt technology to monitor salt levels and initiate regeneration based on water usage
  • Max hardness rating of 110 GPG
  • Five year warranty, though details on what’s covered are scarce

Cons

  • Not certified to any NSF/ANSI Standards
  • Only removes up to 2 PPM of clear water iron, the manufacturer recommends other systems if iron is high in your water
  • No power loss protection to retain settings
  • May not come with a pre-filter
  • Some users describe the unit leaked during installation

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How to Choose a Water Softener

When comparing water softeners, it’s important to consider several factors including capacity, regeneration method, max hardness rating, and iron removal.

  • Capacity: Choose a system with adequate capacity to meet your household’s water softening needs without frequent regeneration cycles.
  • Regeneration Method: Opt for a system that uses demand-based generation to automatically regenerate based on your usage, rather than a timer-based softener that may leave you without hard water in some situations.
  • Max Hardness Rating: Ensure the GPG of any softener is suitable for the hardness level of your tap water, whether it’s from the city or a well.
  • Iron Removal: Ensure PPM is appropriate for the level of iron in your area’s water.

There are a lot of water softener choices on the market, and we hope this list helped you whittle down your options and identify the best choice for your home’s needs. If you want to learn more about each of our picks, you can learn more on our Water Softeners Reviews page.