- Updated June 3, 2019
- Posted by: June Spencer
- Category: Water
The contaminants found in tap water are no longer a secret and the fact that the municipality puts little effort in solving this problem is known as well. Hard water is another common problem found in many households and its effects can be seen in the limescale deposits on dishes, tiles, appliances, and even on the skin of whoever uses the water. This means that each person must take matters into their own hands and do their best to find a solution and eliminate the risk of contracting a waterborne disease, fighting the effects of hard water. The biggest hope rises with the development of the whole house water softener systems that have the ability to fight all these problems at once.
7. Tier1 48000 Grain
For hard water-related issues, it is a budget-smart solution to opt for that uses a resin tank which is filled with ion exchange resin to ensure soft water to bathe with, and prevents scale build-up in the pipes. It includes a brine safety valve that adds overflow protection, and it allows you to fully adjust cycles so that you can maximize the results of its operation.
The operating pressure range spans from 20 to 125 PSI, while the operating temperature ranges from 40 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It passes the water through a 4-stage filtration process in order to remove a plethora of contaminants, including calcium, manganese, magnesium, and more. The filter media it uses include a 5-micron sediment pre-filter, a carbon block pre-filter, a 1-micron sediment pre-filter, and an ultrafiltration membrane post-filter. In addition, the capacity of the resin tank is 48000 grains, meaning that you are provided with approximately 2 years of flawless service.
As it softens hard water and prevents scale build-up in your pipes and systems, all without charging a high price upfront, it makes for a smart acquisition. It includes features for overflow protection and it allows you to adjust cycles in order to maximize operational efficiency, these being just some of the system’s highlights.
6. Aquios FS-234
As it uses a food grade polyphosphate addition which is known as Siliphos, the Aquios ensures water hardness will greatly drop without using salt that would have otherwise altered water quality. As time passes and you continue to utilize it, scale deposits will disappear completely, and all of your appliances that require water in their operation will receive a lifespan increase. It is designed for use in large residences, and it can even be used in small-sized commercial facilities.
It is rated for 60000 gallons, which means that media replacement is required rarely, thus maintenance costs being minimal with it. In addition to helping soften hard water, it removes impurities that would alter the taste, smell, and quality of the water you drink for hydration purposes. Its large-diameter housing accepts 4.5-inch cartridges. Additionally, the housing and everything it includes is backed with a 20-year warranty by the manufacturing company.
A great pick for large-sized households where hard water is an issue, the FS-234 is one of our favorite systems. Maintenance work is rarely required, more precisely after it purifies up to 60000 gallons of water, and it uses a salt-free method to keep scale deposits at a minimum and protect your water-using appliances.
5. ABCwaters Built Fleck 5600sxt
Its 48000-grain capacity is what recommends it for households where 2 to 5 people live, ensuring that hard water won’t be an issue anymore. It uses a 10-inch diameter mineral tank and a 36-inch brine tank for the softening process. It features an LCD display which alternates between days until regeneration, time of day, and volume remaining. For the regeneration process to go smoothly, it uses a hydraulically-balanced piston. Another highlight is that it does not lose its programming when a power outage occurs, the preferred settings being stored in its memory.
It comes at a rather reasonable price when compared to most entries on the market, and it is easy to install – as long as you follow the instructions closely, there should be no issue. The fleck valves it comes with are backed by a 5-year warranty, while the tanks are accompanied by a 10-year warranty. Thus, it is clear that the manufacturing company trusts this is a long-lasting, qualitative system. Furthermore, it comes with a hardness test that you can utilize to see how big of a difference its installation actually makes.
Easy to install, delivering promising results in terms of water softening, and backed with generous warranties for its most important parts, this ABCwaters was an obvious choice for our top. Best of all, it comes at a reasonable price which definitely recommends it for those who are on a limited budget.
4. Apec FUTURA-15
As the Apec FUTURA-15 doesn’t use salt to remove hardness minerals from the water running through the supply line, but rather it neutralizes the minerals and converts them into scale-resistant crystalline that are stable, don’t attach to surfaces thus cannot cause lime deposits, neutral, and harmless, it provides a safer, more Eco-friendly manner to soften hard water. It is a costly acquisition indeed, yet one worth making nonetheless as it provides exceptional efficiency. Furthermore, the installation process is a cinch as you simply have to connect the system to the main water supply line to your home, so you won’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on expert installation.
There’s the added benefit of the long lifespan as well, and the fact that the manufacturing company backs it with a lengthy 10-year warranty. It is suitable for homes with 3-6 bathrooms where hardness levels don’t exceed 25 grains per gallon, and it boasts a high 15 GPM flow rate that ensures water pressure won’t drop regardless of how many water sources are used at the same time. Additionally, it is a maintenance-free system that won’t require electricity to run, backwashing, or wastewater drainage, so there are no headaches involved with using it.
Perfect for homes with 3-6 bathrooms due to its 15 GPM flow rate, the Apec FUTURA-15 not only delivers a salt-free, Eco-friendly manner to resolve the hard water issue, but it boasts a long lifespan that ensures it is an acquisition which will serve you for years to come.
3. Crystal Quest Salt-Free
Crystal Quest puts quite a few options at your disposal in terms of casing and cubic feet of resin. With their salt-free systems, you can opt for 1.5 or 2.0 cubic feet of resin models, and when it comes to the casing, you can choose between fiberglass and stainless steel. For an additional sum of money, you can add the 12 GPM UV water sterilizer to keep the water bacteria-free. The salt-free system transforms the calcium into mechanically stable calcite crystals that cannot cause lime deposits and are easy to rinse away.
It passes the water through 4 stages of filtration: in the first stage it uses a 20-inch sediment filter to remove dirt, silt, sand, and sediment, in the second, it uses an anti-scale media tank that evidently removes scale, in the third it uses a 20-inch solid carbon cartridge that removes VOCs, industrial solvents, pesticides, and insecticides, while in the fourth it passes the water through a 20-inch 0.2-micron ultrafiltration membrane that removes viruses, bacteria, colloids, proteins, pyrogens, and so on. When it comes to backing, the manufacturing company has it covered against defects in materials and workmanship for 1 year after you make the purchase.
Passing the water through 4 separate filtration stages, it eliminates impurities all while tending to fix your hard water issues for the piping system to be protected and your water-using appliances to perform better and boast a longer lifespan.
2. Aquasana Salt-Free Softener & UV
It boasts a 1-million gallon capacity, which means that you can rely on it for up to 10 years. The 7 gallons per minute flow rate makes it appropriate for large households, whilst the 40 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit water temperature range ensures you won’t be limited when it comes to any of its operational aspects.
As it relies on kinetic degradation fluxion as its main filtration method, you can confidently rely on it to remove up to 97% of impurities. Some of the most important contaminants that it tends to eliminate include chlorine, industrial solvents, herbicides, and pesticides. Our only issue with it from a performance point of view would be that it cannot tackle chloramines. To ensure a thorough cleansing of the water you drink and use, it even helps inhibit the growth of bacteria.
As the water flows through the system, it is passed through multiple filtration media to ensure high-quality results:
- Softening media: prevents scale build-up.
- Sediment pre-filter: removes rust, silt, and sediment.
- Sub-micron post-filter: removes the rest of the small particles.
- Copper-zinc mineral stone media: eliminates most chemical compounds.
- UV filter: delivers protection from germs and bacteria.
- Provides a maximum pressure range of 100 PSI.
- Preserves health boosting minerals in the water.
- System is backed with a lengthy 10-year warranty.
Instead of relying on chemicals or harsh salt, it utilizes the SCM salt-free technology. This means that the water flow is used to change hard mineral ions structure into small clusters that aren’t able to bind with each other. This is a natural method that ensures beneficial minerals are not lost during the softening process.
If you want to enjoy other benefits besides soft water, then this is the filtration system for you. In addition to the standard capability that all of these systems come with, the Aquasana inhibits bacterial growth and preserves beneficial minerals as well. Furthermore, it does not use salt in the water softening process, and it requires maintenance work less often than most similar systems do.
1. Pelican Salt Free Softener with UV
Manufactured by what most, including us, consider as being the best company on the water filter market, it can remove water contaminants while fighting hard water. It incorporates the latest technologies in water filtration and it maintains a high 15 gallons per minute flow rate regardless of the impurities it collects. It measures 44 inches in length, 46 inches in height, and the tank has a 9-inch diameter. It has been tested according to NSF/ANSI 42 standards, so its efficiency in chlorine reduction is undeniable. Additionally, it can last for around 10 years and enjoys a limited warranty for both filter cartridges and the tanks.
The high efficiency in removal of impurities and contaminants lurking in the drinking water is what makes this Pelican system so sought-after, being the ideal solution in households where municipal water which runs through the pipes is hard, or in households where well water is used as a source. What makes it highly effective is the granular activated carbon media it features, a filter that ensures a 97% approximate contaminant removal efficiency. Among the important impurities that it helps get rid of are included chlorine, chloramines, VOCs, pesticides, herbicides, and industrial solvents. The other filtration media utilized include a 10-inch and a 20-inch pre-filter which remove rust, sediments, silt, and other small-size particles found in the water.
To provide excellent results, it uses an effective filtration that involves the use of a GAC filter and two sediment pre-filters. However, its efficiency is truly maximized not by these media, but by the UV technology it utilizes. With the help of the UV filtration it uses, it is able to inhibit the growth of bacteria to complete the water sanitation process. Some of the harmful water content the UV light kills on spot include E. coli and cysts that are resistant to chlorine treatment, like giardia and cryptosporidium.
- Operating temperature ranges from 36 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Helps reduce scale buildup in a natural and safe manner as it does it without the use of chemicals or salt.
- As it reduces your body’s exposure to synthetic chemicals and chlorine, your skin and hair will look and feel better.
- The purified water it provides helps produce stronger flavors when you are cooking, and it reduces the time you spend in the kitchen as well.
- The powerful UV filtration it employs destroys approximately 99.99% of bacteria, viruses, and germs lurking in the water, including chlorine resistant cysts.
- There are 2 options that you can pick between when it comes to capacity – a 1-3 bathroom model, and a 4-6 bathroom model.
You will be glad to know that major maintenance work is required quite rarely with it as the main and most expensive component only needs to be replaced once every 5 years, or after it purifies 1000000 gallons of water, depending on which one comes first. However, what you will have to replace quite often are the pre-filters. The 10-inch pre-filter lasts approximately 1 to 3 months depending on water usage, while the 20-inch pre-filter needs tending to once every 2 to 3 months. Luckily, these two components aren’t expensive to replace, so you needn’t worry about the financial aspect of maintenance work.
We strongly recommend it if you are dealing with hard water and want to ensure the protection of your health as well as the well-being of water consuming appliances. The impressive tank it features can remove sediments from up to 1 million gallons of water before it requires to be changed. In addition to removing sediments, it can eliminate other harmful contaminants from drinking water, including chlorine and volatile organic compounds. It also uses granular activated carbon filtration in order to ensure perfect results each time it is used.
Top 3 Compared
|1. Pelican Salt Free Softener with UV||2. Aquasana Salt-Free Softener & UV||3. Crystal Quest Salt-Free|
|Manufacturer||Pelican Water||Aquasana||Crystal Quest|
|Capacity of Filter||1,000,000 gallons/3.78 million liters||1,000,000 gallons/3.78 million liters||750,000 gallons/2.83 million liters|
|Sediment Pre-Filter/Sediment Filter||Sediment Pre-Filter||Sediment Pre-Filter||Sediment Filter|
|Filtration Method||GAC||KDF||Solid Carbon Cartrdige|
|Operating Temperature||36-120 °F/2-48°C||40-90 °F/5-32°C||35-120°F/2-49°C|
|Operating Pressure||25-80 PSI||20-100 PSI||35-65 PSI|
|Flow Rate||15 GPM||7 GPM||12 GPM|
The Most Important Contaminant Removal
|Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s)||✔||✔||✔|
|Inhibits Bacterial Growth||✔||✔||✔|
|Keeps Beneficial Minerals||✔||✔||✔|
|Salt-Free Softening Technology||✔||✔||✔|
|Sediment Pre-Filter/Sediment Filter||6-9 months||2-3 months||12-18 months|
|Tank||5 years or 1,000,000 Gal.||10 years or 1,000,000 Gal.||6-8 years or 750,000 Gal.|
Warranty & Support
|Warranty||Limited Warranty on Tanks and Parts||10-year Warranty||1 Year|
Water Softening 101
Whole house systems are installed on the main water pipe that supplies your home with water so they manage to solve the water safety issue at every water source, be it a tap or a shower. Although these systems cost more than regular under counter or faucet filters, their extended efficiency makes up for the investment. The cartridges used are various and most of the times, you will find models with more than one filter cartridge for increased performance in eliminating as much as 99% of the water impurities.
Water softeners handle the hard water issue by removing the minerals responsible for the residues that are left on every item you wash with water. They use a type of technology that attracts the minerals in the water in order to make it softer and more beneficial for your health. Although the damage hard water does is not related to your health, it is a matter that should concern you if you want to improve the quality of the water you use.
Hard water contains high levels of magnesium and calcium, and it causes limescale buildup. If you live in an area where abrasive water is an issue, you definitely need to install a water softening system to protect the pipe system and the appliances that use water when they operate. Even if modern systems do not require much in the way of maintenance work, there are still certain tasks that need to be done to prolong their lifespan. Here is what you should do to protect your acquisition:
- Make sure that you check the salt levels at least once every 3-4 weeks. In the accompanying instructions manual, you will find out what is the ideal salt level that you must maintain for the system to work at peak levels. When you check the salt levels, add as much salt as needed to reach the level indicated in the manual.
- Sometimes, the salt forms a solid layer in the brine tank, and you have to break it up. If you do not do this, the loose salt won’t mix with the water and the system will underperform. To break up the solid salt layer, you can pour hot water over it and use a long broom handle to penetrate all the way through the layer and disperse it.
- Although cleaning the tank is a maintenance task that must be done rarely, you should not skip on it. Most modern systems require to be cleaned only once every 5 to 10 years, while older electric models require annual cleaning. When it is time to clean the tank, you must first empty it. Just shut off the water intake, remove all the water that resides in the tank, and clear out the salt. When you are done with this step, you must remove the brine grid and scrub the interior of the tank with soapy water. Afterward, dump out the soapy water and rinse the tank thoroughly. If you consider that it is not clean enough yet, clean the tank with bleach and wash it out carefully. When you are done, simply refill the tank with water and salt, let them dissolve for a couple of hours, and use it normally when the time is up.
Benefits of Whole-House Systems
Having a filter that will remove all the impurities from the water you use for drinking, cooking, and bathing means you will enjoy an overall improved lifestyle condition. You will manage to cover all your clean water needs so that you will only get into contact with clean and fresh water.
- It will eliminate the need for a separate filter on every faucet in your house. The investment will be smaller, the installation work will be easier, and maintenance, in the long run, will be limited as well. Most systems only require first-level plumbing that you can do yourself, and the fact that you will only have to replace one filter cartridge means less work to be done.
- Not having to deal with contaminated water automatically brings a wide range of health benefits. It will keep waterborne diseases at bay so that your health is protected. Given how dirty tap water usually is, clean water for drinking and cooking should become a top priority, and the filter is the most reliable for the job. With the system in place, you can rest assured knowing that your family will no longer be threatened by the contaminants found in tap water.
- Your food will taste better if you cook it with purified water as well because there will be no more impurities to alter its taste and smell. Get ready to enjoy a tastier cup of coffee and to eat food that tastes the way it should. You will be able to wash your fruits and vegetables with clean water too, thus eliminating the risk of contracting bacteria.
- The effects of clean and healthy water will be visible on the outside as well as you will no longer have to bathe in water filled with sediment, minerals, and bacteria. You will be protected against allergies, irritations, and rashes often seen in people with sensitive skin, and your hair will look shinier and healthier as well.
Benefits of Water Softening
Hard water is a common problem found in many homes and it can affect the functioning of your appliances, the durability of your water pipes, and the way you look. The fact that these systems can deal with water hardness is what makes them so useful and essential in almost any home.
- Since hard water can cause limescale deposits on the main components of your appliances, you can say that getting a water softener is the best thing you can do to extend the lifespan of the appliances that use water. You will manage to protect items like the washing machine, dishwasher, dryer, and coffee maker, so you will prevent further repairs caused by limescale damage.
- Hard water also affects your skin and hair because the mineral particles are very harsh and can cause irritations. Washing your clothes in hard water can worsen your sensitive skin problems because minerals stick to the fibers and get in contact with your skin. Using the system will ensure proper care for your skin and will help improve your aspect.
- Due to the fact that soap crud will be greatly reduced, you won’t have to do as much housework as you used to, which manes that cleaning will become easy with the addition of a water softening system.
- It might sound surprising at first, but installing a softener will actually help when it comes to the production of hot water. Water heaters perform at a more efficient rate when they have to heat up softened water due to the fact that it does not have the same chemical structure as hard water. Therefore, you will actually improve energy consumption by making this addition.
- Due to the fact that there will be reduced costs on the energy bills, your appliances will be better protected, and the pipes won’t have limescale deposits on them, thus not needing to be replaced, you will save a lot of money in the long run. This means that the money you invest will feel like nothing compared to how much money you save when you look at the big picture.
What to Look For
When you go shopping, you must be aware of the elements that influence the system’s performance in order to make a quality pick, and in the following, we will list what you should keep an eye out for:
The filtering capacity indicates how many gallons of water it can purify before it requires tank replacement. There are systems that can last for as much as 10 years or 1,000,000 gallons of water, and systems that will last a shorter time and can handle a smaller amount of water. However, keep in mind that every model will require you to replace the cartridges every 6 months or so.
Several types of filter cartridges
Choose a system that includes at least two types of filters, usually a prefilter and another type of cartridge. The prefilter acts as a bumper for the cartridge because it retains the larger particles that would otherwise damage the fine porosity of the second cartridge that is usually an activated carbon media.
Advanced contaminant removal
It is the combination of various types of cartridges that influences the contaminant removal rate of the system. A quality model will handle the unpleasant odor and taste caused by chlorine, it will remove large residues and deposits like rust and sand, and it will deal with volatile organic compounds, pesticides, and industrial solvents often found in tap water.
Besides the water purifying capacities, the system should handle the hard water issue that is caused by the minerals in the water efficiently as well. However, it should not remove the good minerals like calcium and magnesium, but should only interfere with the ones that cause limescale.
In order to extend their performance, some systems are paired with a UV light that completes the water filtration process. Although the filters are already designed to remove bacteria from the water, a UV light increases their efficiency and guarantees that the water will be 100% pure and safe for drinking. It is highly recommended in areas with severe water pollution and in case you want to make sure the water you and your family drink is pure.
Brands Worth the Money
When it comes to water filtration systems, 3 brands stand out due to the quality products put at the disposal of their clients, more precisely Pelican Water, Aquasana, and Crystal Quest.
One of the most powerful brands is Pelican Water, and all of its products are designed with performance and convenience in mind. The range of products provided includes water filters, water softeners, well water filters, UV filters, shower filters, and replacement parts and filter cartridges for every product sold. Pelican really puts a high price on water quality so it only provides systems you can count on when handling water safety matters. Among the top products, you will find the combined system with the added efficiency of the UV light that will target every aspect of water quality enhancement.
Another popular brand is Aquasana, a reputable manufacturer that aims to provide the most reliable and durable water filtration systems. It provides everything from counter systems to whole house systems and water softeners that combine only the latest technologies in order to maintain a high operating standard. The combo system is an excellent choice that ensures safe and clean water for a very long time. Although expensive, it will make up for its initial cost and offer a high level of satisfaction.
Our third brand option is a more affordable one that provides high-quality filters for those who are on a budget. Crystal Quest manages to combine affordability and performance into water filters that meet the needs of every family. You can find a wide range of products from this manufacturer, saving money while enjoying quality.
Explaining Our Choices
We rated the capacity
When we analyzed the systems, we rated them according to their filtering capacity. The first two models were designed to purify as much as 1,000,000 gallons of water or over 3 million liters, which is the highest capacity available. This not only means extended protection against water contaminants but less maintenance and fewer costs in the long run as well.
We analyzed the temperature and pressure range
This aspect is important because you will want it to handle both cold and hot water and you would not want it to be damaged by high water pressure. The Pelican has proven to be the most versatile as it can handle temperature as high as 120F while the one that withstood the highest pressure was Aquasana.
We looked at the flow rate
Often, installing a system tampers with the flow rate of tap water, meaning the water will not flow at the same intensity it used to. Therefore, we looked for systems that will not affect this aspect. Our top choice, the Pelican model, provides an incredible flow rate of 15 gallons per minute, ensuring no changes will occur after you install it.
We tested for contaminant removal
Without a doubt, how many contaminants it can remove is an important detail in deciding its efficiency so we looked only for systems that could eliminate a wide range of impurities, from the unpleasant chlorine odors to the very dangerous pesticides, industrial solvents, and VOCs. We were very pleased with the performance shown by the Pelican, although the Aquasana and the Crystal Quest systems were not far from matching its efficiency.
F.A.Q. How often do filters need to be replaced?
There does not exist a clear answer to this question as it depends on the specific product you purchase. What is a certainty is the fact that all systems come with spec sheets and user manuals where you can find this piece of information.
Does the UV light technology make a difference?
Yes, the UV light system helps make a big difference in the quality of the water you consume and use as it eliminates bacteria, germs, and viruses.
Does the brand I purchase from really influence its quality?
While there is no actual correlation between the performance that a softener boasts and the manufacturer that produces it, what no one can deny is the fact that there are certain brands out there that seem to constantly produce better quality systems than others. So yes, it is smart to take brand name and recognition into consideration as the experience of these manufacturers usually makes them better, smarter options to go for.
How do I figure out if I need one or not?
The answer to this question fully depends on the quality of the water provided by the local water supply. Use a test kit to figure out if there are any worrying issues with the hardness of the water which you use and comes from the supply. If the test reveals a worrying level of hardness, it is obvious that a softening system is needed.
Is the installation complicated?
Although we do not necessarily encourage you to call in a professional as this does cost a few extra hundreds of dollars, we do recommend you do so if you feel like the process explained in the manual is too much for you to handle. Usually, the systems come with clear instructions which, if you follow closely and step by step, you should have no issues and finish the whole installation in approximately 1 hour.
Although any of the systems you pick is sure to provide more than excellent results, we must admit that the 97% contaminant removal rate and the granular activated carbon technology of the Pelican Salt Free Softener with UV makes it a bit better when compared to its competitors. By far, the biggest highlight of the Aquasana Salt-Free Softener & UV is the fact that its tank needs replacement only once per decade. However, this is not to say that its performance is neglectable as it utilizes the effective KDF filtration method. Our third pick, the Crystal Quest Salt-Free, is equally impressive, providing a high 12 GPM flow that makes it perfect for large households.