If you want the best ion exchange water softener, you’re in luck. We’ve searched the market and performed a comprehensive evaluation of today’s best-selling and most popular ion exchangers. These products can help solve many of your hard water-related problems.
Bathing will be a lot more pleasant. You will no longer feel embarrassed with the stains on plates and utensils every time you serve food and drinks to your family, friends, and guests. Best of all, you will be ensuring the integrity of your water appliances and fixtures for a much longer time.
Ion exchange water softeners are similar to salt-based water-softening systems, making them straightforward to choose from. Nevertheless, consider these three factors if this is your first time buying a water softener.
- Capacity: The top-tier ion exchange water softener should be able to remove as many hard water minerals as possible between regeneration. As a rule, the higher the ion exchange softener’s grain rating, the better it is. For instance, an 80,000-grain ion exchanger is more efficient than a 48,000-grain option.
- Salt Requirements: Ion exchange softeners use sodium chloride salts to recharge or regenerate the resin beads, allowing them to treat the water. Some products need about 40 pounds of salt, while others might only require 30 pounds. A product with a lower salt requirement is more cost-effective than a system demanding more salt.
- Flow Rate: Choosing the right ion exchange water softener can guarantee a substantial water supply for the household. Buyers should check their home’s average water flow rate and compare it with the product’s maximum flow rate. The device should not undermine water movement throughout the house.
Can’t wait to check out the top-quality water softeners that use ion exchange technology, can you? Read on then.
Table of Contents
Top-Quality Ion Exchange Water Softener Reviews
1. Aquasure Harmony AS-HS32D Water Softener
Fans of advanced technology are sure to appreciate the Aquasure Harmony Series AS-HS32D water softener.
This device gives you soft and scale-free water in a reliable, efficient, and dependable manner. It works a lot like a high-end General Ionics water softener but at a fraction of the price. Imagine if you can get this NASA-worthy system in your home. That would be great, wouldn’t it?
What attracted me most to this product is its bright, blue-backlit display. Other systems only have a grayscale screen, which can make viewing the different settings quite tricky. The backlighting of its control unit allows for instant viewing of essential water softening parameters.
Under this space-age-looking control unit is an intelligent system. While most products only come with a single regeneration method, the AS-HS32D provides three different options: meter-delayed, clock-delayed, and meter-immediate controls. This is fantastic since you have the chance to choose the top-rated regeneration method for your situation.
I also find maintenance to be ideal for those without much time to spend on such things. The control unit makes accurate computations as to the amount of water required for treatment and backwashing. You don’t waste water this way.
It is also worth mentioning that this system features a resin tank lined with fiberglass, ensuring many years of continuous use.
2. AFWFilters Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener
If you’re like me, who only wants the most suitable for my family, then you’d also pick the Fleck 5600SXT over any other system. This water softener ensures top-quality of water coming from your water lines and makes controlling and managing the system so much easier.
One of the things that I like about the 5600SXT is its digital controller. It eliminates the guesswork for regenerating the system. Once you plug it in, the device goes to work even without you putting in substantial inputs.
The controller has an operational lifespan of 27 years. It also has internal backup power. You’d still get continuous water softening in your medium-sized home, even if you don’t have power for 48 hours.
Of course, what’s the use of installing the most trusted ionics water softener if it cannot remove as many grains of dissolved calcium carbonate and iron from your water?
This is another aspect of this product that I admire. It can accommodate up to 48,000 grains before it automatically regenerates. This translates to significant savings in the number of salt bags you need to regenerate the system.
It also helps that the unique design of the AFWFilters Water Softener doesn’t affect the rate of water flow in your home. You can still enjoy a modest average of 12 gallons per minute, peaking at 28 GPM. What’s more, there won’t be issues with replacement parts, as you can quickly obtain one from your favorite supplier.
While the system is easy to install, you’ll need basic plumbing knowledge to get the different components right. I found a lot of YouTube how-to videos that are very useful in this regard.
3. Pentair WS48-56SXT10 Water Softener
If you’re ready to give up on your existing water softener, I would like to recommend the WS48-56SXT10 from Pentair. This is a lot similar to the 5600XT Fleck water softener of AFWFilters in that both systems use the same control unit. The difference is that the WS48-56SXT10 has a slightly friendlier price.
I love the control unit of this Pentair product. And you should, too. It makes controlling the different parameters of your water softening activities a lot easier. You can decide on the flow rate and the grain capacity of the system, depending on your needs.
This system can provide you with up to 14 gallons of flowing water per minute, although it can also reach a peak of 24 gallons. This is perfect if you have people who are using soft water at the same time.
I read many customer reviews, saying how Pentair could reduce the total dissolved calcium carbonate in their water. This water softener can handle 48,000 grains with each regeneration.
I need to point out here that the resin of the Pentair WS48-56SXT10 can last about 2 to 3 years longer than a similar system that only has 8% cross-link signification. This also translates to less frequent regenerations. A once-weekly regeneration is often enough to keep the system in tip-top shape.
4. Tier1 Essential Series Water Softener
There are some brands of water softeners that have very confusing codes to operate the system. You won’t get any of that from the Tier1 Essential Series. This digital water softener uses advanced ion exchange technology to eliminate magnesium, calcium, and other minerals that can render your water hard.
The top-tier part is that the control unit doesn’t come with instructions that only Martians can understand.
I guess I am oversimplifying things. I know you want your water softener to be as easy to operate as your smartphone. You can run it even without spending time going through the pages of the manual. That’s what you get with the Essential Series.
And get this. The Essential Series is one of those few products that are easy to install. And if something breaks – which is very rare – replacing the damaged ionics water softener parts is never a problem. The customer service of Tier1 is ready to assist you, just in case you cannot find the components in your local store.
While I did mention that the Tier1 Essential has a straightforward control interface, I did wish that the backlighting came in color. I would also like to warn you that this system’s flow rate is a tad lower than conventional water softeners. It has a rated water flow of about 11.2 gallons per minute.
Nevertheless, I know you will still find the system’s 48,000-grain capacity to be more than adequate for your needs.
You can even customize the regeneration settings to get the most out of the system. Everything depends on the level of water hardness in your home. If you have very high water hardness levels, you can expect that this product’s regeneration cycle will be more frequent than others.
5. Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series Softener
In case you haven’t noticed, most of the water softeners I reviewed here do not have a built-in water filtration component. The products I have shared with you so far are standalone water softeners that require an additional water purification system if you want top-quality of water for your home.
That changes with Whirlpool’s WHESFC Pro Series Softener.
I am not saying that this hybrid water softener can replace your RO and UV filtration systems. It won’t. However, it is good enough for households who want to improve the quality of their drinking water.
You see, the WHESFC doesn’t only remove calcium carbonate. It is also a significant water softener for iron removal. It can remove three parts of iron per minute. This translates to fewer reddish-brown stains on your water fixtures and appliances.
Another thing I like about WHESFC is its unitary design. Most systems on the market have a two-tank design that can take up space. This product has a control unit well integrated into the canister. If you look at it, the product seems like a very slim or tall washing machine.
Its 31 000-grain capacity is enough for medium-sized households, delivering a remarkable ability to remove 120 grains of calcium carbonate per gallon.
6. Discount Water Softeners Water Softener
If you’re looking for a water softener that can function as a General Ionics water conditioner, I suggest considering the Genesis 2 Premier Water Softener.
Like any other ion exchange product, this device’s main advantage is that it knocks calcium and magnesium found in water. It replaces these minerals with chloride ions. Water conditioners don’t remove calcium and magnesium. They only prevent these minerals from sticking to the inner surfaces of your water appliances and fixtures.
One thing you should know about Genesis 2 is that it is a two-tank system. If you’re looking for a one-tank system, then this isn’t for you. I would also like to point out that the system’s crosslink resin is a lot better than other systems that can only provide 8%. This system gives you 10%, allowing the system to last up to 10 to 20 percent longer than other products.
I also like the fact that the system has an automatic system to refresh technology. You’ll never have to worry about having to regenerate the system every few days. You can have this as infrequently as once every 7 to 8 days.
Do you know what this translates to? You get to buy bags of salt less often, giving you ample savings in the long run. This system also has an adjustable regeneration cycle. You can further extend your savings if you want.
At 48,000-grain capacity, the Genesis 2 is perfect for 3- to 5- person households. The system also has one of the highest flow rates on the market at 15 gallons per minute.
Ion Exchange Water Softener Buying Guide
Supposed some of the products I reviewed and listed above may not be to your liking, or you may have a particular brand or model in mind. Don’t worry. I’m still here to help you figure out the top-rated possible ion exchange water softener you can ever install in your home. Here are some of the essential things you should do.
Consider the Capacity of the System
This is the most crucial factor that you need to consider when buying an ionic water softener. Water softening systems always have a capacity rating that describes how much water they can accommodate in a given amount of time. It also describes the amount of grain of dissolved calcium carbonate that the system can handle at any given time.
For example, one product can handle 48,000 grains, while another system can only handle 31,000 grains. If you live in a place where the water hardness level is high, then you will need to choose the product with the 48,000-grain capacity.
Always check how much grain the system can remove per gallon. For example, a system with a 120 GPG (grains per gallon) rating is better than one with a 100 GPG rating.
Check the Water Flow Rate
Another rating that you need to look for in a sound ion exchange system is the water flow rate. Some products have high grain capacity, but with mediocre water flow rates. You may want to check the current water flow rate in your home. You don’t want a system that will reduce this rate of flow.
Check the Other Features
All products have distinct features that set them apart from their respective competitors. Some have built-in filters that can eliminate the need for an additional purchase of water filters. There are also those systems that feature digital meters and controls and automatic regeneration capabilities. Pick one that offers you the most benefits.
Read Consumer Reviews and Reports
Besides the ionics water softener price, it is always advisable to read consumer reports and reviews, regardless of how biased most of these can be. Make sure you understand the different circumstances on which a particular consumer is basing his review on. Some folks may have an experience that is very different from others. Put yourself in the reviewer’s shoes. Would you make the same conclusion about a particular product?
Check the Installation and Maintenance Requirements of the System
Water softeners that use ion exchange technology require regular maintenance. However, some systems provide a handy feature for taking the hassle of frequent Ionics water softener service and care. It would be wise to check the recommended maintenance routine of the system.
It is also essential to check the ease of installation of the system. Some products come as a whole-house, pre-installed system. All you ever need to do is connect one end of the system to your main water line and the other end to your water distribution line, and you’re done. Other products can be more complicated to set up.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long do ion exchange water softeners last?
The top-quality ion exchange residential water treatment systems can last up to a quarter of a century with periodic maintenance and proper care. Meanwhile, the average salt-based water softener can last ten to fifteen years.
However, several factors can impact an ion exchange water softener’s longevity. Learning and appreciating these parameters can help estimate how long a whole house water softener will last.
Families living in Texas, Southern California, Kansas, and other areas with unusually high hard water mineral levels can expect their water softeners to last not as long as others.
Water consumption can also impact the softener’s longevity. It is worth noting that ion exchange systems can only accommodate a predetermined volume of hard water minerals. In other words, the more water you consume per day, the shorter the softener’s lifespan.
Additionally, installation quality and water softener maintenance can affect how long an ion exchange water softener will last.
Which is better: reverse osmosis or ion exchange?
Ion exchange water softeners and reverse osmosis systems are two of the most efficient water treatment technologies. However, determining which is better depends on what you wish to improve in your water.
The CDC describes the ion exchange process for water softening as essential in reducing magnesium, calcium, and other hard minerals. Some can also remove iron, manganese, nitrates, arsenic, sulfates, selenium, chromium, heavy metals, and some radionuclides. However, the CDC says these softeners don’t remove viruses, bacteria, and protozoa.
Meanwhile, reverse osmosis water treatment systems can remove any microorganism and substance with a diameter of at least 0.0001 microns. This technology is highly effective in removing protozoa (i.e., Giardia, Cryptosporidium), bacteria (i.e., E. coli, Salmonella), and viruses (i.e., hepatitis A).
RO systems can also remove aqueous salts and metal ions, including lead, chromium, copper, chloride, and sodium. The CDC says RO filters might also reduce calcium, magnesium, nitrate, phosphorus, potassium, fluoride, radium, sulfate, and arsenic.
Hence, if your objective is to “soften” the water, an ion exchange water softener is better. However, if you want germ-free and contaminant-free water for the family, an RO system is your go-to water treatment system.
How much is an ion exchange system?
The cheapest ion exchange water softener can cost families around $500, while the most expensive versions can set them back at $6,000. That said, the price tag of a good-quality ion exchange system is only about $1,500. These systems can soften the water for the household.
Point-of-use ion exchange water softeners are less expensive. For example, the ShowerStick from WaterStick will only cost families around $300 or less. This ion exchange water filter for shower systems might be pricier than a shower filter, but its water-softening capabilities are superior.
Where to buy the most efficient ion exchange water softener?
The most trusted place to buy the most efficient ion exchange water softener is from the manufacturer’s official website or trustworthy retailers. You can research the best-performing water softener to determine which brand and model is the top-tier replacement for your ion exchange water softener.
Alternatively, you can read customer reviews on leading online commerce sites. User experiences might vary, but you’ll have a general grasp of the product’s performance. You can buy the most efficient ion exchange water softener from these e-commerce platforms.
You can also check product review blog posts that offer a comprehensive assessment and analysis of leading ion exchange water softeners.
I consider the AFWFilters Fleck 5600SXT as the best ion exchange water softener you can buy. It has a reliable computer system that automatically sets and monitors the different water softening parameters for you. Its capacity is also suitable for the majority of American households. Its average and peak water flow rates are also ideal for many household applications. Its construction is robust, and its water-softening abilities are something you can always rely on.
In case you disagree with my recommendation, I’m sure the other water softeners on this list would appeal to you. You can always consider my pointers for buying an ion exchange water softening system, if not. Your choice of the right water softener can bring you many benefits. Take time to study each product that you are entertained to buy. You will want it to be useful in reducing the hardness level of your water.
Hi, I am Ronald, founder of Saveourh2o. With this website, we aim to solve all the problems related to your water filters, softeners, and heaters. I have five years working in water equipment sales & service. I hope to bring the knowledge gathered from my daily work to help you to achieve comfort and safety in your home!