Best Water Softeners to Protect Your Pipes and Home Appliances in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update March 12, 2020
If you live in the area with hard water and want to save your home appliances from scale, a good water softener is a must-have for you. We have selected five best systems that will not only help you protect your plumbing but also provide you and your family with healthy drinking water. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2020
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Type
Grain Capacity
Flow Rate
Fitting Size
Characteristics
Dimensions
Warranty
 
PROS

The memory back-up facility will be restoring all key settings even when power supply failures last anywhere between seconds and 72 hours. The LCD screen is backlit, so you'll be able to manage the settings without turning on the lights in the kitchen.

CONS

The lid is relatively flimsy. 

OUR VERDICT

The BWT WS455 is easy to install, easy to use, and easy to maintain. The machine will work with old as well as modern plumbing systems. The resin offers high enough capacity to provide generous softened water amounts between regeneration. With its proportional brining, the machine's more efficient than most.

detailed parameters
Type

Regenerating ion exchanger 

Grain Capacity

10 L (14 L available) 

Flow Rate

Up to 4 people

Fitting Size

22 mm 

Characteristics

Advanced electronic control system, adjustable hardness, low voltage transformer, installation kit included

Dimensions

532 x 270 x 480 mm 

Warranty

5 years parts and 2 years labour warranty 

PROS

The salt cabinet has been constructed using polyethene, making sure that its walls do not begin deforming when filled. Using the supplied mixer, you can adjust not only the hardness but also the safety float in the cabinet to prevent spillages. 

CONS

The screen is not especially crisp. 

OUR VERDICT

With its increased capacity and flow rate, the Tapworks NSC11PRO will prove irreplaceable for households with 6-7 residents. The appliance is compatible with vented as well as unvented plumbing systems and both 15- and 22-millimetre fittings.

detailed parameters
Type

Regenerating ion exchanger  

Grain Capacity

~ 11 L 

Flow Rate

Up to 7 people

Fitting Size

Both 15 mm and 22 mm 

Characteristics

Adjustable time and hardness settings, high-flow valve, installation kit included

Dimensions

654 x 302 x 532 mm 

Warranty

1 year parts and labour (extendable to 2 years) 

PROS

The unit will not cost you more than 20 pounds annually to run. The fibreglass components are made from high-strength elements that are resistant against corrosion. Using the company's app, you can set different reminders, including scheduled salt top-ups. 

CONS

You might face some installation challenges with certain parts. 

OUR VERDICT

The Water2Buy W2B200 Water Softener can provide you with clean water supplies approaching 1,250 litres per day. It is compatible with both well and city waters. The machine's digital metre control makes sure the unit consumes less water and salt and water, all without reducing the regeneration output.

detailed parameters
Type

Regenerating ion exchanger  

Grain Capacity

10 L 

Flow Rate

Up to 4 people

Fitting Size

22 mm 

Characteristics

Digital metre control, adjustable hardness, installation kit included

Dimensions

650 x 220 x 525 mm 

Warranty

7 years (registration required)

PROS

The Freeflow valve tech allows the machine to reach an 83 LPM flow rate, all while maintaining low pressure drops. The Opti-Brining® solution coupled with HE resin ensures ~56% salt savings when compared to most mid-range softeners.

CONS

When dealing with very hard water, the flow rate reduces to 4-5 people.

OUR VERDICT

The Monarch Midi FreeFlow, with its elegant and nuanced profile, will be able to blend into the most expensive decorative schemes and even elevate some kitchen settings. The unit is more compact than most and will fit even the smallest cupboards.

detailed parameters
Type

Regenerating ion exchanger  

Grain Capacity

~ 10 L 

Flow Rate

Up to 6 people

Fitting Size

15 mm 

Characteristics

Freeflow valve technology, Opti-Brining ® with HE resin, self-protect programme, electronics controls, installation kit included

Dimensions

555 x 270 x 485 mm 

Warranty

7 years parts and 2 years labour warranty 

PROS

The auto-adjusting proportional salting will make sure you do not waste excess resources. The Self-Protect Programme (SPP) makes sure that there's enough filtered water left in the tank to delay the regeneration process until late at night when people usually aren't using water at all.

CONS

The instructions are sometimes inaccurate. 

OUR VERDICT

The Great Water SK-15 is a practical and capable machine that you should be able to install and operate with ease. The handles will allow you to comfortably move the unit when necessary. With this machine, you can rest assured that the washing machine, dishwasher, boiler, and all other appliances remain free from limescale.

detailed parameters
Type

Regenerating ion exchanger  

Grain Capacity

12 L 

Flow Rate

Up to 5 people

Fitting Size

15 mm (22 mm available) 

Characteristics

Water- and salt-saving technology, auto-adjusting proportional salting as standard, electronic controls, installation kit included

Dimensions

575 x 275 x 425 mm 

Warranty

7 years 

BWT WS455

Proportional Brining

The BWT WS455 will be able to boost the sense of wellbeing in your life, that's where we'll start. The machine is not cheap and even the 10-litre version will cost you above 500 pounds, which might be more than most are comfortable with but it is hard to say that the price is elevated beyond reason.

First off, the machine will last, that is what the company's products always do. The rotary valve is more reliable than standard valves and more efficient at the same time. Besides, though the price might be steep, the machine is actually quite frugal. Bringing proportional brining to maximise efficiency, this appliance is able to reduce water and salt use, reducing the operating costs even more than before.

The machine does not look expensive, which is something that we can describe both as an advantage and disadvantage. The grey bottom is pretty sleek and plenty modern but the blue lid looks and feels somewhat flimsy, making the product's outline fairly hard to dissect and categorise. On the one hand, we can see this machine fitting most kitchens. On the other hand, while contemporary kitchens will be able to accept its homey appearance, lavish kitchen settings with stainless steel appliances and expensive-looking cupboards might not accommodate this machine as much appearance-wise. They should be able to accommodate this appliance space-wise though since the model's 532 x 270 x 480 millimetres profile is compact enough to fit most cupboards.

Review of BWT WS455 Hi Flow Electronic Demand Block/Tablet Water Softener

Advanced Memory Electronic Control System

You can debate the product's appearance but the tech here is undeniably excellent. The company's next-gen AMECS (Advanced Memory Electronic Control System) lets you manage the tech and the machine's numerous features via the backlit display. The memory back-up feature lets the system restore all key settings, so even lengthy power supply failures (less than 72 hours) will not be able to disrupt its operation.

Besides that, the low salt alarm will make sure you do not run out, while the low voltage control system will keep the machine running even when the current is unstable. One would also be wrong to overlook the appliance's high-capacity resin that gives you more than generous amounts of softened water between regenerations. Last but not least, its flow rates are suitable for conventional and modern plumbing systems, making this water softener system quite flexible.

Bottom line, the BWT WS455 will be removing hardness from the incoming mains water supply with no discrimination.

BWT WS455 Hi Flow Electronic Demand Block/Tablet Water Softener in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Tapworks NSC11PRO

Not Modest at All

The Tapworks NSC11PRO is not modest at all. To start with, the appliance measures 654 x 302 x 532 millimetres, more than most water softeners but, fortunately, still nimble enough to fit standard kitchen cupboards. With its increased size comes increased capacity though, offering flow rates high enough to accommodate up to 7 people.

What's arguably more important is that the machine accommodates both 15- and 22-millimetre plumbing, making sure that the appliance is a welcome guest as far as all households are concerned. The company's EasyFit All-in-One integrated by-pass kit will present very little installation challenges and will allow you to set the machine up and running within ~10 minutes tops.

But that's not what drives the price forward here. The machine's not cheap and that is partially thanks to the high-flow valve that's compatible with both unvented and vented plumbing systems. You can also make an argument that's the case because the appliance's advanced electronics make it possible, even in blackouts, to maintain statistical and programming data. You'll be accessing these electronics via the LCD screen placed above the lid.

The screen has its moments, including bright backlighting that makes the values readable even in poorly lit places. Through this screen, you'll have access to various data points, including hardness, time, remaining exchange capacity, as well as water softened from the previous regeneration and the average water consumption in the last week. Its intelligent controller will be able to perform electrical self-diagnoses, analysing the operation duration and the regenerations carried out within that duration, all while making sure that the turbine and switches did not receive any damage. That being said, the font is pretty odd and the screen is not that crisp, so some might find its performance less than optimal.

Review of Tapworks NSC11PRO Water Softener Easyflow Metered

No Spillage

What you won't find less than optimal though is the salt cabinet. Made from polyethene, the cabinet does not start deforming when full, extending the machine's service life. Meanwhile, the mixer will let you adjust the hardness as well as the safety float in the said salt cabinet, so you'll be able to avoid unwanted spillages. When the unit's operation continues, the salt cabinet remains dry, meaning that you're able to use softened water even during the first regeneration phase.

Long story short, the Tapworks NSC11PRO will be perfect for large households with extensive families first and foremost.

Tapworks NSC11PRO Water Softener Easyflow Metered in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Water2Buy W2B200

The Right Fit for the Average Household

The Water2Buy W2B200 Water Softener has been engineered to accommodate average households, so while the unit is not necessarily versatile, it will usually prove the right fit for most people. Its flow rate will be able to support up to 4 people simultaneously, which is, again, more residents than the average house/flat holds. The machine will be providing completely limescale-free water, able to generate around 1,250 litres of filtered soft water on a daily basis. The components will last when dealing with both city and well waters. Plus, the unit adopts an efficient digital metre control, allowing the appliance to consume less salt and water without minimising the regeneration amount.

Size-wise, the machine reaches 220 x 525 x 650 millimetres, so you can stuff the unit inside most kitchen cupboards or put it in a garage or basement. Just make sure to leave enough space for hoses when planning its installation. As it is always the case with these units, you'll need a power source but the machine makes sure to consume very little of it, approximately 20 pounds annually.

You don't want to be replacing these units every few years, so the right products are the ones that last. That's precisely what we're dealing with here, a machine that's featuring high-strength corrosion-resistant fibreglass components, polyethene tank, and pre-filled premium-grade ionX resin.

Review of Water2Buy W2B200 Efficient Meter Water Softener

EasyConnect App

Pivoting towards its operation, the machine begins with the pre-fitted bypass valve that will be maintaining optimal water pressure throughout the entire home. There's an easy manual override mechanism next to the valve that will enable you to manually start the regeneration process when necessary. Normally though, you won't have to do anything manually, thanks to the free Water2Buy easyConnect app enabling easy setup.

Using this app, you'll be able to set monthly reminders for salt top-ups and access different data points, from the hardness and time settings to the exchange capacity and average consumption. The app's nice especially because you might face some installation challenges with the pipes and the guidelines you can find inside that app can help immensely. Before wrapping this thing up, the unit should not present maintenance challenges as it is able to automatically perform regeneration cycles when needed, keeping the tank and the pipes clean.

In short, with the Water2Buy W2B200 Water Softener, you can rest assured knowing that every member of your family has access to soft, limescale-free water via the mains.

Water2Buy W2B200 Efficient Meter Water Softener in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Monarch Midi FreeFlow

Fit for Royalty

The Monarch Midi FreeFlow looks royal enough to justify the company's name. More often than not, these filtering machines look quite rough and relatively uninspired, with plastic bodies and cheap-looking casings. That's not the case here. With its matte finish, the bottom part looks elegant and dignified, whilst the dark insert that holds the black LCD screen and the also grey but less light lid balances the matte finish with its smooth exterior, making the unit's profile much more nuanced and interesting than most softeners. You can hide this unit inside any kitchens' cupboards without worrying about opening them and exposing this unsightly appliance that ruins the whole place's vibe. You can not hide the unit at all if the layout allows you to do so.

Generally speaking, the machine's flow rate is good enough to support royal families. That said, when installed in areas that have very hard water, the flow rate might not be able to support the advertised 6 people but even with extremely hard cases, the machine will not fail to accommodate at least 5 individuals at once. Besides, its flow rate reaches 83 LPM and the unit has low pressure drops even compared to the biggest high-end softeners, so you can rest assured knowing the machine will provide consistent output.

Review of Monarch Midi FreeFlow Water Softener Ultimate Series

Opti-Brining® tech with HE Resin

The machine's excellent at removing existing scale and preventing new scale, that goes without saying. What does not go without saying is the Opti-Brining® tech with HE resin that gives you approximately 56% salt savings compared to its predecessor and most softeners within this price bracket. What also shouldn't be overlooked is the unit's modest dimensions, measuring 555 x 270 x 485 millimetres to accommodate even the most compact cupboards.

The LCD screen that we've mentioned above is pretty neat, keeping the values small but readable, making sure that the screen is not cluttered and that the data is accessible. The controls are fairly straightforward, with Up and Down buttons letting you adjust the time and hardness and the regeneration button enabling quick 8-minute top-ups. The self-protect programme completes the setup, able to detect problems in the plumbing system and store data in case power cuts happen, remembering the water usage settings that you've input beforehand to save on water and salt use.

To sum this up, the Monarch Midi FreeFlow looks good and performs even better, enabling bath/shower time bliss and providing soft water that's kind to your skin.

Monarch Midi FreeFlow Water Softener Ultimate Series in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Great Water SK-15

Mature and Understated

The Great Water SK-15 was an easy choice to make when adding softeners to this list. The machine's performance is not lagging behind its competition, the profile is modern and stylish, and all the right tech is there, making sure that the machine lasts.

To begin with, let's address that modern profile that we've alluded to before. Mixing this white-ish/grey-ish light bottom, all whilst keeping the top dark grey, the appliance strikes this nice balance between clean and understated yet smooth and polished. Plus, the dotted pattern on the bottom gives the unit this rugged, weathered appearance that adds character to an otherwise soulless machine.

From its outline, we're pivoting towards the footprint. The unit measures 575 x 275 x 425 millimetres, not unlike most water softeners, so you should be able to stuff this appliance inside some kitchen cupboard without making any changes to the layout.

The installation kit that comes with the package will let you set the machine up and running with most plumbing systems. The unit's designed to accommodate 15-millimetre fittings (these include standard plumbing systems, combi boilers, mains fed systems) but you can also go with the one that adapts to 22-millimetre ones (full-flow pressurised systems) instead. From where we're standing, the installation part is pretty straightforward, which's nice considering that the supplied instructions are sometimes inaccurate, so we would not recommend relying on those too much.

Review of Great Water SK-15 Water Softener - Meter Control PSK Installation Kit Included

Self-Protect Programme

The machine keeps interactions pretty simple and straightforward. Its screen is small but accessible enough to make the values easy to read. Plus, the screen is backlit, so you'll be able to view these values even in low-light conditions. The touch buttons under the screen make the unit's settings pretty accessible too, letting you adjust the regeneration time, hardness, and salting.

You don't have to do that last part though since the machine comes fitted with auto-adjusting proportional salting, which you can trust more often than not. Meanwhile, the metre control mechanism will be making sure that only utilised resin is regenerated, so you'll be saving ample resources long-term.

Finally, the Self-Protect Programme (SPP) will be measuring the water used and regenerating to the specific household requirements. The intelligent chip that fuels this program will make sure there's enough soft water left to delay the regeneration until 2 AM (the default setting that you can change), which is normally a time when little if any water is being used.

In closing, the Great Water SK-15 is an intelligent machine that you can trust to keep the water soft and healthy without skyrocketing the bills.

Great Water SK-15 Water Softener - Meter Control PSK Installation Kit Included in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

What Is a Water Softener?

Unfortunately, the issue of hard water is common and affect many people nowadays. It may cause many problems such as limescale formation inside your electro kettle or washing machine, which becomes one of the most common reasons for their breakdown. The problem with chalky depositions and the buildup of limescale may occur in plumbing, pipes, or boilers such as tank water heaters.

Moreover, water hardness influences not only our home appliances but also our skin and hair, not to mention the adverse health effects from the food cooked in hard water. In this case, water filters, also known as water softeners, are commonly used to reduce the level of adverse chemicals, insoluble salts, or minerals. Water that flows through such a softening system disposes of excess calcium and magnesium that cause hardness and becomes more suitable for use then. In this review, you'll find the best water softeners so you should be able to choose the one that fits your needs.

What Features to Compare

Types of Water Softeners

Before buying a water softener, you should take into account a few details that may influence your decision. First of all, there are several types of such appliances. They include:

  • Domestic filters or water jugs. This is the most common type that purifies small amounts of water at a time and requires frequent change of cartridge. Such a jug can provide you with improved potable drinking water.
  • Ion-exchange resin device is attached to the plumbing and has high throughput capacity. The enriched with sodium ions resin is the main ion-exchanging element of this system. When water passes through this material, these sodium ions remove calcium and magnesium very quickly, thus speeding up the whole process. There are simple, cartridge and regenerative filters of this kind.
  • Reverse osmosis membrane filter is one of the most efficient filters that softens, purifies, and even distills the water. However, you should know that it removes not only harmful components out of the water but also useful ones.
  • Magnetic water softener affects the hard water with a constant magnetic field. Such appliance usually comes in a case with built-in magnets and can be easily attached to water supply pipes. Magnetic field changes physical characteristics of water, thus preventing the build-up of hard limescale.
  • The electromagnetic system consists of a plastic case with an integrated microchip that generates electromagnetic waves. Under the influence of these waves, the composition of water remains the same but calcareous scale build-up is effectively prevented.

Grain Capacity and Flow Rate

You will also notice that the number of sodium ions in resin reduces with time. For this reason, the efficiency of water softening process declines. The pace of this process depends on the amount of treated water, its level of hardness, and grain capacity of the filter. When the water is too hard, in other words, it contains a lot of solid minerals, as well as the water flow rate, you should purchase the system with high grain capacity. Also, pay attention to the softener's flow rate, that is measured in gallons per minute and indicates the speed at which the device can process the water that goes through your plumbing system. With insufficiently high flow rate, you may experience a drop in water pressure around your house.

Dimensions

And last but not least you should pay attention to the dimensions of such system. Highly capacious water softeners usually take up much space. You will notice that there are portable space-saving models. However, they are better suited for car wash than for home use.

Are Water Softeners Worth It?

Water softeners are becoming more and more popular these days but they're not yet as prevalent as we believe these machines ought to be. Sure, they're pretty expensive, which leaves some people wondering if they are even worth the investment. As far as we're concerned, that's an easy question to answer: yes, they are. But, besides everything we've already said about these machines in general and the models above in particular, we reckon it wouldn't hurt to elaborate to help convince sceptics that these appliances are worth every penny.

Improving Heating Systems' Efficiency

Though somewhere around 60% of homes have hard water coming through the mains, only 3% of households own water softeners. That's a shame since, usually within one year, hard water will give you more than 1.5 millimetres of limescale build-up, which will make heating systems' efficiency drop at least 12%.

Saving You Money and Headache Long-Term

Again, these machines are not cheap but they will definitely be able to not only pay for themselves but even save you money and headache down the road. Over time, the limescale that we've mentioned above will break down the appliances and pipework. Also, those deposits around the taps and stains will shift, so the water coming from the baths and sinks will be getting worse and worse. With water softeners (even non-commercial), that's not the case. Other than that, these machines make sure that appliances that interact with water (kettles, dishwashers, washing machines, boilers, and more) will be lasting longer and performing better.

Bringing You Health Benefits Too

You don't think that hard, sometimes downright contaminated water that's coming from the mains is any good for you, do you? Sure, most people do not believe that since for most households that's an easy distinction to make. But it is hard to measure just how much damage hard water does to you until you make the switch to soft water and see how the number and amount of household items and toiletries you use (like soap, shampoos, conditioners, laundry detergents, and more) start shrinking. When the water's good enough, these become barely necessarily, so that you don't have to dump half a bottle of liquid soap only to make sure your hands are properly clean. In addition to that, soft, filtered water feels less heavy, making your hair soft and easy to manage. That's not to mention how much better softened water is for different skin conditions like eczema and dry skin types in general.

Busting the Myths

Electronic softeners use salt to remove the minerals (primarily calcium and magnesium) that are responsible for making the water coming from the mains hard and unpleasant. However, you won't be drinking salt. The ionisers inside these machines turn salt (NaCl) into sodium (Na), so that's what will be adding to your water. Is that something you normally want in your water? No, not really. However, the added sodium will not present any health challenges/complications for most adults and the minuscule issues that may arise do not even remotely outweigh the benefits.

FAQ:

Q: Will a water softener make my water safe to drink?

A: Unfortunately, it won’t. It is aimed at making water softer and preventing scale formation. So water must be clean before it goes to your water softener. In order to make sure that your water is safe, you should contact your local health department, where they regularly test the water and conduct full lab analysis to detect the presence of any harmful bacteria or chemicals that may pose serious health hazards. 

Q: Why do I have an odor in my water, if I have a water softener?

A: Despite the general opinion, water softeners don’t remove most odors and bad taste from water. However, they do remove the metallic taste though. If your water has a rotten egg smell, which is caused by hydrogen sulfide, or “bleach” smell of chlorine treated water, an activated carbon filter will help you to fix this problem. In addition, sometimes the problem may be in the water heater. In this case, you just need to find a good plumber, who will replace it. 

Q: How can I determine my flow rate?

A: Well, the process is quite simple. You may use your garden hose faucet or bathtub faucet, just turn it on the fully open position and put the gallon container under the water flow very quickly and record the time instantly. You should find out how much time it takes to fill the container. Then you need to divide one minute by the number of seconds. If it takes 15 seconds, for instance, then your answer is 4, so your flow rate is close to 4 GPM. In this case, we advise you to select the system that is capable of coping with at least 4 GPM. 

Q: Where should I install my water softener?

A: As a rule, water softeners are mounted where the water pipeline enters the house. However, you should notice that unless you have some decent plumbing skills you should probably delegate the system installation to an expert. 

Q: Are water softeners noisy?

A: Not at all! The only sound you can hear from them is the flow of water through the system. 

Q: How should I maintain water softening system?

A: Despite the fact that in most cases such appliance can supply you with soft water for many years to come and require little maintenance, you should check on some things, especially when the system had been in operation for a long time. Firstly, monitor the salt build-up in the brine tank. If a sediment has formed, you can remove it with a vacuum cleaner and soapy water. Also, if there is iron in the water, you should check for an iron crust in the resin bed as well. In this case, we recommend using an iron-removing product for more effective cleaning. Finally, you should check on the injectors from time to time, to make sure the system works properly. 

Sources:

1. Don Vandervort The Best Water Softener Buying Guide, HomeTips. May 12, 2017

2. Water Softener Buying Guide, Lowe's.

3. How to Choose a Water Softener, SFGATE.

4. Water softening, Wikipedia. May 15, 2017

5. Water Softening, Extension.

6. Thomas Klenck How It Works: Water Softener, Popular Mechanics. August 31, 1998.

7. Bob Formisano Water Softeners - How They Work, the spruce. October 26, 2016.

8. Don Vandervort How a Water Softener Works, HomeTips. April 7, 2016.

9. How Do Home Water Softeners Work? Fresh Water Systems.

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Publish Date: 2020-03-12 18:31:05