If you live in an area with hard water, you’ve probably noticed that limescale forms really quickly on the surfaces the water has touched. Hard water can also cause a slew of other problems.
Luckily, you can solve these issues with a high-quality water conditioner.
We sifted the market for the best water conditioners, and today we’ll share 4 models we think have the most to offer. Let’s take a look at these devices in more detail.
The Best Water Conditioners
There are many reasons why a water conditioner can be considered “the best.” It can be because it’s really affordable, can remove limescale buildup very efficiently, or has a very effective filtration system.
While we don’t think there’s any one unit that’s best at everything, there are several water conditioners that would be a great choice for just about any home.
The water conditioners that we’ve outlined for you are the following:
- Springwell FutureSoft® Salt-Free Water Softener – Best All-Rounder
- Kind Water Systems E-2000 – The Most Powerful Flow Rate
- Yarna CWD24 – The Most Affordable Water Conditioner
- Aquasana EQ-AST-WH – The Best System for Small Homes
Springwell FutureSoft® Salt-Free Water Softener – Best All-rounder
- GPM – Between 12 and 20
- Warranty – Lifetime warranty on tanks and valves
- Installation – Difficult
- Price – $1,542.86 (base 1-3 bathroom model)
- Compatible with additional filtration systems
- Lifetime warranty on tank and valves
- Comes with an app
- The additional systems are expensive
This Springwell unit comes in different sizes and different flow rates, meaning that it’s a good fit for any home that has between 1 and 7 bathrooms.
The unit has a pre-filter that removes most of the common water contaminants, but you also have the option to get additional filtration systems. These additional systems include a UV purification system, a reverse osmosis drinking system, and a whole-house water filtration system.
The whole house filtration system takes care of any soil and debris that passes the pre-filter, while the UV system eliminates most germs. The reverse osmosis system provides a sort of final filter that catches and removes even the smallest contaminants.
These additional systems are great additions since they can remove specific contaminants that can’t all be removed by one filtration system. They do inflate the initial $1,500 price tag quite a bit, but they’re definitely worth it if you live in an area with unsanitary water.
The Springwell also comes with a lifetime warranty on the tank and the valves, as well as a 6-month money-back guarantee policy (provided the unit isn’t damaged, of course).
Additionally, this unit has an installation kit that you can purchase at an additional cost, which allows you to save a bit of money on installation costs by giving you a chance to try and tackle it on your own.
Kind Water Systems E-2000 – The Most Powerful Flow Rate
- GPM – 15
- Warranty – Limited lifetime warranty
- Installation – Moderately easy
- Price – $1,048.95
- 120-Day return policy
- Easy to install
- NSF-certified components
- Filter changes are difficult
The Kind Water Systems water conditioner is a lot larger and more powerful than it looks at first glance. The unit has 2 cylinders, both of which are over 2 feet high, and can produce up to 15 GPM (gallons per minute), making it ideal for homes with up to 6 bathrooms.
As with all other conditioners, the Kind Water Systems water conditioner doesn’t use a brine tank. This means that it can still easily fit into most homes, apartments included, despite the fact that it’s a larger unit.
The first cylinder contains a sediment filter that removes any dirt or large debris from the water. The second filter is where the water conditioning takes place.
This unit will set you back around $1,000, which makes it a better deal than the Springwell FutureSoft, but still more expensive than the Aquasana.
Yarna CWD24 – The Most Affordable
- GPM – Unlimited
- Warranty – One year
- Installation – Easy
- Price – $299.99
- Simple setup
- No maintenance
- One-year money-back guarantee
- Can only soften the water that leads to one sink
The Yarna water descaler is the simplest device on our list. It’s significantly smaller than any water softener as it’s only a few inches long, making it very easy to attach to the water pipes in your home.
The descaler uses a different technology than typical water conditioners when dealing with hard water. The device uses electrical impulses that are sent through the pipe to charge the mineral molecules in the water and create a magnetic field around them.
This field keeps the molecules suspended in the water and prevents them from sticking to pipes and other surfaces, but it doesn’t really remove them from the water.
With a price tag of only $300, this is a very cost-effective water conditioner that doesn’t take up much space in your home. Both of these characteristics make it an ideal option for small apartments.
The major downside of this device is that the magnetic field has a short lifespan. This means that any leftover water in your sink and appliances will revert back to hard water once the charge dies, which usually happens within a few seconds.
Additionally, while the GPM is unlimited, the Yarna CWD24 can only soften the water that’s coming out of a single faucet, so you’ll need several units around your home if you want soft water in your kitchen and all your bathrooms.
Aquasana EQ-AST-WH – The Best System for Small Homes
- GPM – 7-14
- Warranty – Six years
- Installation – Moderately easy
- Price – $799.00
- Very affordable for a whole-house unit
- 6-year filter life
- Easy to maintain
- Slow flow rate
Aquasana is a pretty famous brand in the water softening field, and the EQ-AST-WH model is a good example of why. When it comes to whole-house systems, this Aquasana model is by far the most affordable option, taking up very little space.
The Aquasana is built for convenience as it comes with a kit that can simplify the installation process to the point where everyone can do it. It also has filters and tanks that are very easy to detach and replace if needed.
Speaking of the tank, it’s made of an HDTE (High Density, Tri-Extruded) material. This makes it pretty sturdy, and while we wouldn’t recommend testing to see how much force it can withstand, you should trust its durability.
The Yarna is the cheapest model on our list by a large margin. However, the Aquasana will only set you back around $800, and it allows you to soften the water in your whole house – as opposed to just one faucet, as in the case of the Yarna.
Additionally, while the Yarna can only condition the water while it’s inside the pipes, the Aquasana filtration process keeps the water soft for a much longer period of time.
Water Conditioner Research
To address any potential doubts or concerns you may have, let’s dive deeper into the science behind water conditioners. You’ll be more confident in choosing the right product for your needs once you understand their main purpose, how they work, what perks you might expect, and what things you need to consider before making a purchase.
What is a water conditioner?
A water conditioner is also referred to as a salt-free water softener. While these systems alleviate some of hard water’s side effects, they don’t actually soften the water.
Water softeners use a purification method called ion exchange in order to soften hard water. The ion exchange process swaps the mineral ions in the water with the sodium ions in the resin when the water passes through. Without the mineral ions, the water is softened and no longer causes limescale buildup or worn-out-looking laundry.
Water conditioners use a method called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC). The TAC method prevents water minerals from sticking to the inside of the pipes, but it doesn’t actually soften the water because it doesn’t remove the minerals.
The reason why they’re called saltless water softeners is because they don’t use a brine solution or a regeneration process to keep the resin charged with sodium ions. Instead, they use “TAC media” that doesn’t need to be regenerated.
How does a water conditioner work?
Water conditioner systems usually come with a pre-filter and a tank. The water conditioner is hooked up to the main water supply of the house, and all the water that passes through the system is filtered and sent through the rest of the house.
The pre-filter leads water from the water supply into the tank, and then the tank passes the water throughout the house. The pre-filters use a reverse osmosis system that passes the water through a thin screen or membrane.
This membrane has holes that are only big enough for hydrogen and oxygen molecules. In other words, the pre-filter only lets water pass through and catches any contaminants that might leak into the system. However, this doesn’t apply to mineral molecules since they’re very small.
Once the mineral-rich water is in the tank, it passes through the TAC media. More specifically, it passes through areas called nucleation sites that are formed inside the TAC media.
The nucleation sites cover the magnesium and calcium molecules in a crystalline coating. This coating stops them from sticking to surfaces. Since they can’t remain on surfaces for long, the water used in the house is either flushed down the drain or immediately passes through a washing machine/dishwasher system.
This prevents limescale from forming since the minerals no longer stick to surfaces.
However, keep in mind that the minerals are still present in the water. This is an issue because, depending on how hard the water is in your area, you might not want to be drinking it.
The fact that the minerals remain in the water also makes it difficult to gauge whether the system is effective or not since a water hardness test will come back with the same mineral count before and after you use the system.
Different water conditioner types
As with any other device, there are many different types of water conditioners. As you might have already noticed from the products we’ve listed above, not every water conditioner model has a pre-filter, or even a tank, as is the case with the Yarna.
While the TAC system is the primary filtration method that water conditioners use, models like the Yarna use electric currents to prevent the hard water minerals from forming limescale on surfaces.
Benefits of water conditioners
One of the biggest benefits of using a conditioner rather than a softener is that they’re a lot more space-efficient.
Water softeners need brine tanks to deliver the sodium necessary to regenerate the resin beads responsible for softening the water. Since water conditioners don’t need a regeneration process to work, they come without a second large tank, which frees up a lot of space.
The lack of a brine tank also means that water conditioners don’t need to be refilled with salt. This keeps the water conditioner upkeep costs low.
On top of everything, water conditioners also protect your pipes, sinks, and appliances from hard water.
What do you need to look for when buying a water conditioner?
The first thing you need to look for in a water conditioner is the gallons per minute (GPM) measurement. Small houses with 1-3 bathrooms can get by with around 10 – 12 GPM, but larger houses with 4-6 bathrooms will need at least 15 GPM, and 7+ bathroom houses will need 18-20 GPM.
The Kind Water Systems E-2000 has a GPM of 15, so it’s ideal for medium-sized houses, but large houses will require the 7-bathroom Springwell FutureSoft® Salt-Free Water Softener model with 20 GPM.
The second thing you should look for is a good warranty. A lifetime warranty on parts is always good since you can replace most vital components if they break down. The Aquasana has the best warranty deal, in our opinion.
While 6 years doesn’t sound like much, the fact that it applies to all of the components in the conditioner is a great deal when you consider that most water conditioners never have insurance in case anything happens to the tank.
And finally, the price is the final factor to consider. Luckily, it’s a pretty straightforward one since you just need to pick the model that fits your budget.
Just keep in mind that the ultra-cheap Yarna can only soften one faucet, so the Aquasana is a better option for 2-4 bathroom houses, even if it does cost a bit more.
If you have a large house but don’t currently have enough money to afford the Kind Water Systems or the Springwell, then we’d suggest saving up instead of buying a smaller conditioner that can’t soften the water throughout your entire home.
What you need to consider when deciding which unit to get will ultimately depend on your unique wants and needs.
If you’re looking for a device to remove contaminants and prevent limescale from building up, then the Aquasana is a great choice for small homes with 2-3 bathrooms.
The Springwell conditioner provides the same benefits, but the optional extras you can get make this the most flexible system on our list.
The Kind Water Systems water conditioner is a perfect middle ground between the Aquasana and the Springwell, as it has a very good flow rate without being too expensive.
And finally, the Yarna is a good choice if you live in an area with moderately hard water and you don’t want to spend too much money on water filtration or softening units. It’s easy to install, and it requires no maintenance.