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Top 3 Best Water Softeners
- W2B800 by Water2Buy (Family Choice)
- BWT WS455 (Easy to Maintain)
- BWT WS555 Hi Flow (Best Electronic Control)
Many residential locations across the UK suffer from some degree of hard water. This troublesome issue results in accumulated residue and grit on the surface of bathtubs and sinks, as well as causing damage to plumbing and appliances in the home.
Hard water doesn’t only pose a problem for your washing machine; more mineral-dense hard water can sometimes contain toxic substances, too. Therefore, using the best water softener is not only important for the longevity of your appliances, but it is also crucial in keeping your family healthy. But, with so many on the market, how are you to know which water softener is best for your needs? Here we have reviewed the top 10 water softeners on the market so you can spend less time scrubbing your bath.
How We Compared Water Softeners
To find the right water softeners we considered multiple factors including:
- Type of salt
- Extra features
Our team planned comparison points and specifically looked for products that would cater to all kinds of needs. We spent countless hours researching, consulting customer reviews and comparing features to come up with this list.
To find out more about our process please see here.
Best Water Softener Reviews – Top 10 Picks
While the W2B200 is great for the likes of apartments and small houses, the W2B800 is a size up from that, meaning that it is able to handle larger houses. In fact, this model can accommodate the volume of water softening required for up to 10 people, which is an average of 3680 litres of water per day. This makes it a great option if you live in a busier household.
This water softener promises to remove 100% of your limescale without being noisy or requiring large amounts of salt. It is compatible with Combi boilers and almost all German heating systems, so it should be suitable for most homes. Furthermore, it will not interfere with your water pressure, so you can enjoy a supply of soft water without sacrificing pressure.
In line with most other water softeners from the same company, it boasts a quick, quiet automatic cleaning mode, so it won’t take too much time to clean. Smart technology means that the cleaning cycle automatically starts at night, so you won’t be disturbed during the day and your water will be fresh and ready-to-use by the time you wake up. This clever technology also means that once it’s out of salt, it’ll begin cleaning itself more often, thus ensuring you don’t suddenly find yourself with lower water quality.
That being said, it does take time and effort to set up as it can be quite confusing. You will also need to buy the connection hoses and waste/overflow kits separately. Because of this, installation is probably best left to someone with a lot of experience. Furthermore, some parts may need more regular replacement, meaning it can end up being more expensive to run long-term.
- Quick, quiet and automatic cleaning
- Self-cleaning occurs at night when not in use
- Able to connect to most water supply systems
- Great for drinking water because it doesn’t require too much salt
- Regenerates once all the salt has been used up
- You must purchase additional items for installation
- Confusing installation process which isn’t suitable for novices
- The overflow hose may need replacing regularly
If you are thinking of buying a block salt or tablet water softener, this is one of the best products in the market. Capable of producing enough softened water for up to 4 people, the WS455 makes a great choice if you are finding yourself suffering from the woes of limescale and reduced water pressure.
This unit will easily fit into a standard kitchen cupboard and includes a full installation kit to make the set-up quick and simple. Once installed, the WS455 requires very little maintenance. However, if you find yourself experiencing any issues, it comes with free commissioning to overcome any problems you may encounter.
Once up and running, water consumption is monitored using smart technology, enabling you to keep an eye on the water usage of your household. This unit also intelligently adapts to the routine of you and your family – using an electronic control system to learn when it is likely to be used the most. This means you can rest assured that you will always have soft, limescale-free water, no matter your daily schedule.
However, this model will struggle to manage a high flow rate of over 10 litres a minute. If you have a very busy household and multiple bathrooms in use at once, you may need to opt for a bigger unit.
- Low maintenance water softening design
- Compact and easy to install
- Intelligent water monitoring
- Adapts to your water usage schedule
- Produces enough soft water for 4 people
- May struggle with a very high flow rate
- Maximum pressure of 5 bars – not suitable for business or industrial purposes
- Some users complained the supplied fittings were low-quality
BWT is one of the best-known manufacturers of water softeners. This model from their WS range is the result of 10 years of research and technological advancement.
Boasting a compact, easy-to-install design, the BWT WS555 is simple to set up and will fit in any UK kitchen in just a few minutes. The 14-litre capacity ensures a generous usage time before requiring regeneration. Additionally, its flow rate capacity of 10-50 litres per minute is capable of serving even a busy family home.
While it is quite expensive, the WS555 operates at a high-efficiency level, thanks to its cleverly-designed electronic control system. Brining takes place proportionally as the unit works – this is to reduce the wastage of salt and water and to keep your running costs low.
Ideal if you live in an area with very hard water, this model will keep your water supply tasting pure and your laundry feeling soft and fluffy. However, keep in mind that if your flow rate is less than 10 l/m, its effectiveness will be slightly reduced. With a 5-year warranty on parts, the WS555 is manufactured from durable materials and is designed to last.
- Generous 14-litre resin volume capacity
- Quick and easy to set up
- Designed to fit both modern and traditional kitchens
- Flow capacity of between 10 and 50 litres per minute
- High efficiency ensures low running costs
- Lid is a little flimsy and falls off often
- Hardness isn’t removed as effectively if you have a slow flow rate of less than 10 l/m
- Quite expensive
While not technically an electronic water softener, the Eddy Water Descaler is another great option that provides most of the same features as the other water softeners, plus a few more. Essentially, this descaler removes all of the metal in the water that causes limescale, without removing any of the vitamins or other healthy minerals contained within it.
Because of its alternative approach, this electronic water softener is super-easy to install. It is also eco-friendly so you’ll be having a much smaller impact on the environment. Having said that, it doesn’t remove as much from the water as other water softeners; it simply ensures that the limescale won’t collect in, or damage, any of your piping. This approach also has more of an economic value than most water softeners. However, with less electricity used and no salt needed, it may be too gentle if you want more highly purified, soft water.
In comparison to a typical water softener, it uses a magnetic field to help ensure that any limescale-causing elements don’t make it to your pipes. While it doesn’t really get rid of the hardness of the water, it does alter its makeup so that limescale shouldn’t stick to any of your sinks or showers. This is so that calcium and magnesium, which both have health benefits, can pass through relatively unaltered.
Furthermore, this salt-free water softener doesn’t work well with lead pipes. This means that you may need to replace a lot of the connecting pipes or find some other work-a-round to be able to use this softener.
- A healthier alternative to water softeners as minerals are retained
- It doesn’t require salt, so is easier to use
- It’s an eco-friendlier approach to dealing with limescale and hard water
- Economically better than water softeners
- It’s extremely easy to install, so anybody could do it
- It doesn’t work well on lead pipes
- It needs to be installed very close to a power supply
- Compared to a typical water softener, it doesn’t remove as much limescale
Water2Buy is known as one of the leading brands of water softeners, and it really shows with the W2B200. This water softener system boasts a number of benefits and features that make it stick out from the crowd, making it a great choice if you suffer the woes of hard water.
It requires very little salt to run, which is great if you are trying to watch your budget. Furthermore, even though it’s relatively lightweight, especially compared to other products on the market, it is pound-for-pound one of the most powerful water softeners you can get. It is able to provide up to 1,250 litres of water per day, which makes it a good option if you struggle with very hard water.
It has a lightweight, compressed design and is compatible with most heating systems which means it can be easily fitted almost anywhere in your house. This makes it one of the best domestic water softeners available, although a few customers found it to be a little tall compared to some other models. With its streamlined shape and programmable features, you should find that it is easy to use once it has been set up.
It has a number of settings that can be programmed to meet your particular needs. Because of this, you can calibrate it to a specific level of water hardness, as well as set it to clean itself at a time that suits your personal schedule.
Having said that, with so many settings, you may find that it takes a little while to set up. In addition to this, you will need to be aware of the exact level of water hardness in your area to achieve the best results. This can be slightly confusing if you aren’t used to setting up a water softener system.
- Streamlined water treatment design
- Quiet, quick self-cleaning feature
- Can be programmed for water hardness and optimal cleaning time
- Great drinking water because not much salt is needed to clean the water
- Simple to use installation kit
- Set-up can be quite complicated due to the volume of options
- A few people found it too tall for small spaces
- Recommended hoses are a bit stiff, which can make installation frustrating
As they are so popular, it shouldn’t be too surprising that this company is featuring again in our review. The W2B110 is one of Water2Buy’s smaller water softening systems, which is a more fitting choice for households with lower water usage.
One feature that remains consistent throughout all of their water softeners is the economic value; once it has been set up, it requires very little salt and you will find it is cheap to run. Furthermore, similar to other water softeners we have discussed, its cleaning feature is also relatively quick and will take place at night, so you’ll have no problem with water first thing in the morning or during the day.
That being said, compared to the W2B200, this model is a lot more compact and takes up a lot less space, meaning that it’s the best water softener if you live in an apartment, or a smaller home. It can be easily fitted under the kitchen sink, without taking up all your storage capacity. Though it’s still sizable enough to provide up to 1,250 litres of softened water a day, it is still considered small when compared to some other water softeners on the market.
Like many other products, the instructions for this home water softener are clear and concise. Despite this, many people found the installation process frustrating therefore, you’re probably better off asking someone with a lot of experience to install it for you.
- Small water softener which fits almost anywhere in the house
- Salt tablets last a long time, meaning no need to constantly refill
- Quick, quiet and automatic cleaning
- Perfect for single people or couples
- Economical electricity usage
- Can be a nuisance to install
- Not suitable for larger homes or families
- Some people complained it was noisier than expected
If you are looking for a water softener suitable for a larger family household, this model from Water2Buy could be just what you need. The W2B500 Meter Water Softener is a self-cleaning product that can provide up to 1.417 litres of soft healthy filtered water per day. It is ideal for households of up to 7 people and is fully compatible with most United Kingdom boiler systems.
It’s designed for both indoors and outdoors use to provide filtered water throughout your property without adversely affecting your water pressure. This means you can still enjoy a refreshing power-shower, without having to worry about troublesome limescale. Its intuitive system is also designed to self-clean at 3 am so it won’t interrupt your daily schedule. The cleaning cycle is incredibly quiet, too – perfect if you’re a light sleeper.
Whilst this Water2Buy softening system is compatible with the vast majority of households, according to some water softener reviews, setting up the regeneration cycle may be a bit confusing; the backwash, brine and rinse options can be tricky to get right. Furthermore, the manual is not much use and appears to conflict with the information on their website.
Additionally, extra care must be taken when refilling the unit as the lugs on top tend to be quite flimsy and are prone to breaking easily. The unit comes complete with 3/4″ BSP fittings and spare 15mm couplings should you need them. It is worth bearing in mind that you may have to purchase extra parts to install the unit, depending on your current set up.
- Gives up to 1,417 litres of soft, filtered water a day
- Suitable for households of 4–7 people
- Quiet self-cleaning cycle at 3 am
- Does not affect water pressure
- Quick and easy to install also fits most UK boiler systems
- Setting up the regeneration cycle can be difficult to master
- Some of the plastic parts may be easily damaged
- Extra parts may be required to install the unit
The Little Plumber LP1 Water Softener and Electric Descaler is an excellent choice if you are looking to extend the life of your appliances by adding an extra level of protection. These water softeners should effectively treat the water system of homes with one to four bedrooms.
This water softener is easy to install, and you don’t even need any tools, just the device itself and a mains power socket. Simply wrap the coils around your cold water pipe ten times or more, preferably close to your rising main, plug it in, and you are good to go.
Little Plumber LP1 water softeners are proudly made in the UK and have been popular for 20 years, so that you can depend on their quality and performance. This established family business has made a name for itself in the plumbing industry, and the LP1 water softener is a great example of why.
It may take some time to start noticing the positive effects, so don’t get discouraged straight away if your limescale does not disappear overnight. In addition, this device has a somewhat shorter power cord, and the entire product could be poorly packaged, but that shouldn’t affect its overall performance.
- Good for 1-4 bedroom homes
- Prevents and removes limescale buildup
- Easy to install
- Made in the UK
- Reputable top quality brand
- It may be slow acting
- Packaging could be improved
- May come with a short power cord
This Crown water softener is one of the most expensive water softening systems on our list but, due to their reputation for high-quality products, many customers view Harvey’s water softeners as more of an investment than a purchase.
Compact, easy to use, and light on maintenance, it’s definitely one of the more user-friendly water softeners that you’ll come across. This water softener comes complete with both an installation kit and a water hardness testing kit, which makes your setup process super easy.
This means you can easily test your water and set up your softener; feeling confident that you will get the best results as soon as it is installed, without having to adjust it later. The internal unit can also easily be turned around so that the input & output can be on either side of the tank. Because the design of this twin tank water softener makes it quite deep in size, this feature is particularly useful if you are short on space.
Harvey’s has also focused on the economic value of this water softener, choosing to make this model run on water pressure only, with no electrical supply required. This is a better alternative to an electric water softener if you are watching your household bills, but it could cause a problem if you live in a low-pressure area.
A starter softener salt pack is also included for convenience, but you will likely have to source Harvey’s block salt for future replacements, as those from other manufacturers often don’t fit.
- Easy to reverse the input/output mechanism for flexible installation
- Simple to set up
- It runs solely on water pressure, ensuring economical value
- Includes a water testing kit so you can be sure of water hardness level
- It comes with a compact design twin tank so can handle a higher volume of water
- Not as effective if you have low water pressure
- Block salt from other manufacturers may not fit
- Deep in dimensions compared to others
If you have been looking for an alternative solution to prevent limescale in your home, then this non-salt based water softener by AquaHouse could be just what you need. It works very well for small/medium households and can easily be fitted anywhere due to its compact size.
Once the system is installed and connected to your cold water pipes, it will not just prevent scaling with 99.6% effectiveness, but it also actively descales the pipes to improve water flow rate. It should be noted that this product isn’t compatible with hot water inlet pipes.
Because it is a chemical- and salt-free water softener, this eliminates the ‘slimy’ water feeling you may experience with salt-based water softeners. Therefore, this model is a great option if you find this sensation unpleasant. Instead, it uses a process known as Template Assisted Crystallization, which breaks down the hardness in the water and transforms it into microscopic crystals that cannot disrupt or damage your water system. The lack of salt means that this unit requires less maintenance and wastes less water, all while conserving the beneficial minerals found in your water supply.
With regard to flow capacity, the AquaHouse is capable of supporting homes where the water flow rate rarely reaches more than 8 litres per minute. While it can sustain a peak flow of 20 litres, it is recommended that this water softener is not put under this kind of strain for long periods. Therefore, if you expect to regularly exceed this, you may be better off opting for another model.
While it offers a 3-year guarantee for fixings and system parts, it should be noted that this guarantee doesn’t cover the filters.
- Salt and chemical-free water softener
- Low maintenance
- Reduces water wastage
- Actively descales pipes
- 3-year water softening guarantee on fixings and system parts
- A plumber is required to fit
- Not suitable for hot water pipes
- Filters are not covered by the guarantee
What Is Hard Water?
“Hard” water is the common descriptor of water when it filters through certain types of sedimentary formations before reaching the level of the local water table. It is particularly common in areas that boast large limestone formations close to the surface of the Earth.
As a result, when this water is drawn upon for drinking and other everyday household and commercial purposes, it picks up unusually large quantities of minerals. These minerals end up being left behind as a residue that accumulates over time.
Common Minerals In Hard Water
The most common minerals to be found in hard water are manganese, calcium and magnesium. These minerals can cause a variety of problems when excessive accumulation occurs. Most often they leave a gritty film on your bath, shower head, and sink, as well as any dishes, glasses, and tableware that are washed using the hard water.
Such accumulation is difficult and time-consuming to scrub free, and often requires the use of special cleaning agents in order to do so. However, the effects of hard water are not limited to just stains. It also produces a gradual build-up of chalky, gritty residue within the pipes and hoses which transport water into and out of your house, as well as those which are connected to all the various outlets and appliances you use.
Effects Of Hard Water
The effect of this residue build-up can be compared to the buildup of plaque in an unhealthy person’s arteries, and can eventually lead to catastrophic failure of the water distribution in your home, as well as costly damage to appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines.
As if this wasn’t troubling enough, hard water also contains other dangerous ingredients. One of the more common is tiny rust particles, however, hard water sources near an industrial or commercial area may also include trace amounts of arsenic as well as other toxic compounds. These can cause skin problems and can pose a risk to your health if exposed for a long time.
How Do Water Softeners Work?
The troublesome minerals which are suspended within hard water have already passed through an extensive, natural filtration system. In addition to this, they go through various water filtration plants within your local water supply system, too. These minerals consist of extremely fine particles which cannot be reliably filtered out by a simple screen. Instead, additional ingredients are needed to enable this mineral filtration process to work; this chemical process is known as “ionization.” Most water softener systems will use salt to enable this process, usually in the form of specially formulated block salt or tablets.
A water softener system is made up of a tank that is filled with thousands of tiny resin beads. These beads are extremely small, but they’re much larger than the individual mineral particles which the water filtration system seeks to trap. Importantly, they are large enough to be caught within a standard water filter. When a specially formulated salt is added to the water softener filter tank, it reacts with the resin beads and creates electrically charged ions.
The salt particles bond with the resin beads and, because they are electrically charged, they interact with the minerals suspended in hard water when it enters the tank. The electrical charge attracts the minerals which result in them being pulled towards the salt particles and becoming attached to them. This, in turn, causes them to become attached to the resin beads, too. Therefore, when the beads are caught by the filters in the hard water filtration system, the minerals are trapped as well, and “softened” water escapes through.
Points to Consider When Purchasing a Water Softener
There are a few things you should consider when choosing the correct water softener for your needs. As part of our water softener buying guide, we discuss the most important points to bear in mind below:
Type of Salt
As previously mentioned, most water softeners operate via the use of salt. This is a specially formulated salt which serves to remove minerals from hard water. However, the type of salt you should use depends upon the type of hard water you are suffering from. If there is a known hard water problem in your area, there should be information available as to the type of mineral present in your water. However, if there is not, there are easy ways to get your water tested and find out.
Once you have the results, you will need to purchase the correct type of water softening salts which are formatted specifically to extract these minerals, and the amounts thereof, which are present in your local water table. Water softener salt normally comes in crystalline form, or in small salt “blocks”.
It is important to note that some water filters are only designed to handle a small variety of salt. In general, cakes are highly recommended but they may not always be a practical solution depending upon the mineral content of your water.
This ties into efficiency but, generally speaking, it’s worth mentioning that a larger water softener system with a larger water filter will last longer without maintenance than a smaller tank will. This correlates directly to an increase in the expense, not only of the filtration device but also of the filter itself. That being said, for a substantial hard water problem, the additional cost may be worth it, to cut down on ongoing maintenance and the number of replacement filters that must be purchased.
You must bear in mind the efficiency of whatever water softener system you purchase in order to produce your desired effect. Take into account the size of its reservoir, the amount of salt it can accommodate, and approximately how long each supply of salt will last before needing to be replenished. Also, consider how long the filters are likely to last before they need to be changed.
It may turn out that a more expensive water softener will work better for you and your home than one which appears, on the surface, to be more affordable. This is because a cheaper model may require greater investment over time in order to consistently achieve the same level of efficiency as a more expensive model.
Whilst all of our top 10 water softener reviews showed great choices, in our opinion, the best has to be the Water2Buy W2B800.
We were really impressed by its generous water softening capacity of 3,680 litres per day, which is ideal for large and busy households. It is also equipped with an intuitive digital system that is capable of measuring your water consumption and will regenerate only when necessary. We also liked that this water softener is designed both for city and well water.
The W2B800 is powerful enough to deal with even the hardest of water but remains economical and highly efficient. Furthermore, the self-cleaning system automatically takes place overnight, so as not to disturb your availability of soft water during the day, while the amount of salt it requires is lower than its competitors.
Overall, if you are in a hard water area and find yourself tired of dealing with the consequences; we think that the W2B800 is the best water softener on the market today.