8 Best Water Conditioner Reviews & Guide 2020: Whole House Systems

Please note: This page may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more about our product review process or check our FTC affiliate disclosure.

There are 2 ways to deal with hard water. One is installing a traditional salt-based water softener. It softens the water by simply removing all hardness minerals. The second way is using a water conditioner to reduce the scaling effects of hard water.

Both methods can be effective. However, the latter has many benefits over the former. Most importantly, a properly functioning water conditioner also dissolves already existing limescale deposits. What’s more, there are absolutely no maintenance requirements, you don’t have to hoard salt and worry about excess sodium, the conditioned water won’t feel slippery on your skin, etc.

How to find the best water conditioner? This buying guide lists a collection of our favorite systems as well as units that are popular right now. You’ll also learn what to consider when buying a water conditioner. So without further ado…

On This Page You Will…

No Time to Read? Check Our List of the Best Water Conditioners!

ModelOur RatingPriceTypeFlow RateWater ForWarranty
SpringWell FutureSoft Water Conditioner

Our #1 Water Conditioner: SpringWell FutureSoft FS4

Read Review
$$$TAC15 gpmUp to 6 PeopleLife
FilterSmart FS500 Water Conditioner

The Runner-Up: FilterSmart FS500

Read Review
$$TAC15 gpmUp to 6 PeopleLife
 Tier1 Essential Series Water Conditioner

Most Affordable: Tier1 Essential Series Water Conditioner

Read Review
$$TAC20 gpmUp to 6+ People?
Eddy Electronic Water Conditioner

Best Electronic Water Conditioner: Eddy Electronic

Read Review
$ElectromagneticLife
P3 Magnetic Water Conditioner

Best Magnetic Water Conditioner: P3 P7920

Read Review
$Magnetic10 Years

Best Rated Water Conditioner Reviews

1. Our Favorite Water Conditioner: SpringWell FutureSoft

In our opinion, the best water conditioner in 2020 is the SpringWell FutureSoft. It uses Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) to reduce the scaling effects of hard water by as much as 99.6%! (Source)

In a nutshell, TAC crystallizes hard water minerals with the help of a catalytic media bed. Once crystallized those minerals will stay suspended in the water and have no chance of sticking to surfaces.

This not only protects your home’s plumbing system, the water heater, and all water-using appliances etc. from scaling, even already existing deposits will vanish over time – something no salt-based water softener can achieve. The result: Increased efficiency, lower maintenance requirements, fewer repairs, and overall longer lifespans will potentially save you a lot of money a few years down the road. Chances are that your hair and skin will benefit from the conditioned water, too – more details below!

All in all, a great alternative to traditional salt-based water softeners. 5 stars!

SpringWell FutureSoft Water Conditioner

SpringWell FutureSoft FS4 Water Conditioner

Price:$$$
Process:TAC
Flow Rate:15 gpm
Water:For Up to 6 People
Warranty:Lifetime

Our Rating

Pros

  • Choose from 3 system sizes based on the size of your household.
    • 1-3 bathrooms: FutureSoft FS1 rated at 12 gallons per minute water flow.
    • 4-6 bathrooms: FutureSoft FS4 with 15 gpm service flow rate.
    • 7+ bathrooms: FS+ providing 20 gpm. Only makes sense for very large houses.
  • Effectiveness of Template Assisted Crystallization was verified in scientific study conducted by Arizona State University. Customer feedback is extremely positive, too.
  • Hardness levels of up to 81 grains per gallon (considered extremely hard) can be handled, says SpringWell.
  • Process is chemical-free and doesn’t involve the use of salt. Takes a huge burden of the environment + no carrying of heavy salt bags.
  • Catalytic media lasts indefinitely and doesn’t need to regenerate. Saves you a lot of money on water and salt.
  • Water doesn’t feel slippery like traditionally softened water does.
  • Remaining scale is “soft” and wipes off easily.
  • Healthy minerals remain in water adding to your daily nutritional intake.
  • Better lathering of soaps, shampoos, and detergents promote healthy hair & skin.
  • Reduced limescale spotting.
  • With all its benefits the SpringWell FutureSoft water conditioner pays for itself within a few years.
  • Pre-filter traps sediment to protect the TAC media in large tank. Replace every 6 to 9 months. Cost: ~$40-55 per year which is very affordable.
  • Designed for DIY installation. Install kit, written instructions, and explainer video are provided.
  • Water conditioner is virtually maintenance free.
  • SpringWell offers 6-month money-back satisfaction guarantee.
  • System is backed by lifetime warranty.
  • Customer support is A+.

Cons

  • Well water requires pre-treatment if it contains iron, hydrogen sulfide, manganese, copper, or other contaminants that could foul the conditioning media.

2. The Runner-Up: FilterSmart FS500/FS500PRO Water Conditioning System

Personally, we really like SpringWell, but if you’re looking for a water conditioner alternative check out the FilterSmart FS500 or FS500PRO which are a tad more affordable.

Just like the SpringWell FutureSoft, both FilterSmarts apply Template Assisted Crystallization which causes the minerals in hard water to form small crystals. This stops them from causing scaling which basically renders them harmless with all the associated benefits already mentioned in the first review (increased water heater efficiency, longer life expectancy for your home’s entire water system, easier manageable hair and more moisturized skin…). On top of that, old scale formations will gradually dissolve.

What’s the difference between the FS500 and FS500PRO? Only that the FS500PRO features a larger sediment pre-filter, which is only really necessary if your (well) water contains a lot of dirt, sand, and other large particulates that need to be taken care off to prevent them from clogging the large conditioning tank.

FilterSmart FS500 Water Conditioner

FilterSmart FS500 Water Conditioner

Price:$$
Process:TAC
Flow Rate:15 gpm
Water:For Up to 6 People
Warranty:Lifetime

Our Rating

Pros

  • Water conditioning systems come in 2 sizes:
    • The smaller version is for homes with 1-3 bathrooms. Rated service flow: 12 gallons per minute.
    • The larger version is for 4 to 6-bathroom households. Water flow is 15 gpm.
  • Treatment process doesn’t add or remove anything from your water.
    • Calcium and magnesium minerals add to your daily nutritional intake.
  • TAC media doesn’t require regeneration. Saves water and salt (and money).
    • No excess sodium will be released into water supply.
  • All parts are NSF certified according to health and safety standards.
  • You can do the installation yourself if you’re handy with tools.
  • Pre-filter removes sediment to prevent fouling of TAC media. Every 8 to 10 months replacement is needed. Average annual cost: About $20-35. It doesn’t get any cheaper than that.
    • FilterSmart FS500PRO includes larger 20” cartridge. FS500 uses 10” filter.
    • The only type of maintenance that is required.
  • FilterSmart guarantees that their products will perform as advertised or you get your money back. You can try each system for a full 90 days.
  • Tank, valves, and other parts are backed by lifetime warranty.

Cons

  • Water must not contain iron, sulfur, or manganese.

3. Cheapest Option: Tier1 Essential Series Water Conditioner With Pre-Filtration

Affordability is the main selling point of Tier1 Essential Series water conditioners. Depending on which competitor system you use for comparison, the price difference is as high as several hundred dollars!

That said, you might need to lower your expectations in terms of product quality and things like satisfaction guarantee and warranty – which doesn’t mean that Tier1 water conditioners aren’t effective. They rely on the same process as SpringWell and FilterSmart systems to reduce hard water scaling. 4.5 stars!

Tier1 Essential Series Water Conditioner With Pre-Filtration - Large

Tier1 Essential Series Water Conditioner With Pre-Filtration – Large Version

Price:$$
Process:TAC
Flow Rate:20 gpm
Water:For Up to 6+ People
Warranty:?

Our Rating

Pros

  • Template Assisted Crystallization changes calcium and magnesium in water from ionic to crystalline form. Almost completely prevents scaling in pipes, home appliances, and fixtures and dissolves existing limescale deposits.
    • Maximum hardness level: 75 grains per gallon.
    • No backwashing of scale reducing media required. Saves resources.
    • Has all the benefits of reduced scaling as mentioned above.
  • Media is NSF Standard 61 certified for health effects.
  • Small version of water conditioner provides 12 gallons of conditioned water per minute. Ideal for 1-3 bathrooms.
  • Large unit provides 20 gpm which is more than enough for homes with 6 bathrooms and more.
  • Everything that’s required for installation is part of the package including flex connectors. Piece of cake.
  • 20″ sediment pre-filter removes sediment (obviously), rust, silt, etc. from the water before it enters the conditioning tank. Prevents clogging/fouling.
    • Requires annual/biannual replacements. Cost: $25-50 per year.

Cons

  • Manual says the catalytic media lasts 3 to 5 years, depending on water quality. Competitors claim their TAC media lasts much longer than that.
  • No information to be found regarding product warranties.
  • No trial period that would allow you to return the product for a full refund if you’re not satisfied.
  • Maximum allowed ferrous iron level in feed water is 0.3 ppm. Manganese has to be below 0.05 ppm. Copper must not exceed 1.3 ppm.

4. Best Electronic Water Conditioner: Eddy Electronic

In our opinion, the best electronic water conditioner in 2020 is the Eddy Electronic descaler. How does it work? It applies electromagnetic waves to reduce scale caused by hard water by about 50% (according to the same study that also tested Template Assisted Crystallization used by the three water conditioners on top).

In addition, the remaining scale formation is much less persistent and can be easily cleaned. 4.5 stars!

Eddy Electronic Water Conditioner

Eddy Electronic Water Conditioner

Price:$
Process:Electromagnetic
Flow Rate:
Water:
Warranty:Lifetime

Our Rating

Pros

  • The second most affordable water conditioner in this buying guide. Cost for electricity is negligible.
  • Eddy Electronic water conditioner works with 2 coils which need to be wrapped around the incoming water supply line. The coils generate electromagnetic waves which alter the adhesion properties of hardness minerals in water to ultimately reduces their affinity to attach to surfaces – think pipes.
    • You can expect great results at hardness levels of up to 20 grains per gallon, says manufacturer.
    • Maximum allowed pipe diameter is 1.5″.
  • All healthy minerals are retained in water.
  • Electromagnetic treatment works with tap water and well water.
  • Very easy to install. Barely takes 5 minutes without any plumbing involved.
    • Fits in any tight corner.
  • Zero maintenance needed. It’s set and forget.
  • Electric water conditioner is certified to US, UK, and EU standards (CE + FCC).
  • Money-back guarantee for the first 12 months after purchase.
  • Backed by lifetime replacement and repair warranty.

Cons

  • A small percentage of people complained about ineffectiveness.
  • Does not work with iron and galvanized pipes.

→ Read Our Full Eddy Review Here

5. P3 P7920 Magnetic Water Conditioner Review

The P3 is a magnetic water conditioner. Just like the Eddy Electronic it induces a magnetic field within a water pipe to prevent scale through the formation of microscopic calcium crystals. Opposed to dissolved calcium, the precipitated crystals don’t adhere to surfaces. Effectiveness? Between 34 and 50 percent scale reduction according to research.

Considering the extremely low price tag, it’s 4 stars from us!

By the way, the difference to the Eddy electronic water conditioner is that the P3 uses real permanent magnets, whereas the Eddy uses wired wrapped around pipe to create an electromagnetic field.

P3 P7920 Magnetic Water Conditioner

P3 Magnetic Water Conditioner

Price:$
Process:Magnetic
Flow Rate:
Water:
Warranty:10 Years

Our Rating

Pros

  • Extremely affordable. Cheaper than any other water conditioner that is part of this guide.
  • 2 simple plastic halves with permanent magnets wrap around pipe.
  • Installation is child’s play.
  • Highly compact.
  • Magnetic water conditioner is warranted for 10 years.

Cons

  • Only fits standard ¾-inch pipes.
  • While some people were surprised about the magnetic water conditioner working better than anticipated, others were disappointed due to not seeing any changes.
    • The majority saw positive results in form of reduced hard water scale.

6. Crystal Quest Whole House Water Conditioner with Pre- & Post-Filtration

The Crystal Quest whole house water conditioner; at first we weren’t entirely sure if we wanted to include the system in our water conditioner reviews guide or not. But in the end we thought it would allow you to check out one more product before making your final buying decision, so why not.

Anyway, the Crystal Quest is another water conditioner based on Template Assisted Crystallization which we’ve mentioned a few times already so we’re not going to repeat how it works. Just know that it’s super effective at reducing scaling and dissolving existing buildup in a short time.

Furthermore, the Crystal Quest features pre- and post-filtration. In other words, you will not only see less to no scaling but also get access to better-tasting, healthier drinking water.

Crystal Quest Whole House Water Conditioner with Pre & Post-Filtration

Crystal Quest Whole House Water Conditioner with Pre & Post-Filtration

Price:$$$
Process:TAC
Flow Rate:?
Water:For Up to 6 People
Warranty:1 Year

Our Rating

Pros

  • Crystal Quest water treatment systems are Made in USA thus the higher price tag.
  • Uses pre- and post-filtration:
    • First water flows through a pleated sediment filter (20 inches, 5 microns) to remove sediment, silt, sand, and dirt. Prolongs life of all other filter stages.
    • First post-filter is a 20-inch solid coconut shell carbon cartridge. Removes volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides, and other chemicals. Also removes unpleasant taste and odor.
    • Second post-filter is a 20-inch ultrafiltration membrane (0.2 microns). Filters out colloids, bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other microorganisms and organic molecules + “most other water contaminations known today” (source: Crystal Quest).
  • Filter stage 2 is where the actual water conditioning happens. Water flows through anti-scale media.
  • You can upgrade fiberglass tanks to stainless steel for longevity.
  • Somewhat more difficult to install than the other water conditioners due to the additional filtration stages.
  • Maintenance is kept to a bare minimum:
    • Pre- and post-filter cartridges last 1-3 years, depending on which filter stage as well as your average daily water consumption and feed water quality. Annual cost: Between $80 and $125.
    • Softening media lasts up to 10 years.
  • Crystal Quest water conditioners are warranted for 1 year.

Cons

  • Water might require pre-treatment if iron, manganese, copper, phosphate, or hydrogen sulfide is present, or if water hardness level is too high.
    • Best to contact Crystal Quest support team about this via live chat.

7. Aquasana SimplySoft Water Conditioner

This is another water conditioner using scale control media to “naturally” lower the scaling effects of hard water. We can only assume that the process is very similar, possibly identical, to what SpringWell, FilterSmart, Tier1, and Crystal Quest water conditioners use. The result is that hard minerals which initially were in ionic form restructure into crystals which prevents them from binding and forming scale buildup. All other benefits are as listed in one of the above reviews.

Unfortunately, there have been numerous complaints about the effectiveness of the Aquasana SimplySoft. Bottom line: 3 stars.

Aquasana SimplySoft Water Conditioning System

Aquasana SimplySoft Water Conditioning System

Price:$$
Process:SCM
Flow Rate:7 gpm
Water:For Up to 3 People
Warranty:6 Years

Our Rating

Pros

  • Uses 5-micron sediment pre-filter to remove larger contaminants and increase the conditioner’s life.
    • Requires replacement every other month. Total annual cost: $30.
  • Water conditioner system doesn’t rely on salt or chemicals meaning it’s safe for your family, garden, and septic system, and the environment.
    • All healthy minerals are preserved.
  • You should be able to install the system yourself.
  • Aquasana offers a 90-day full satisfaction guarantee (only when purchased directly from the manufacturer). If you don’t like the conditioner you can send it back to receive a full refund of the purchase price – no questions asked.
  • You get a 6-year limited warranty.

Cons

  • There are too many disappointed customers for our liking. Some people even called the Aquasana SimplySoft a “waste of money”.
    • Although the rated softening capacity is 6 years, we read reviews that reported systems stopped working after a mere 6-12 months.
  • The water conditioner isn’t designed for very hard waters. Hardness levels below 25 GPG can be handled but the unit works best at 15 GPG or less, says the manufacturer.
  • 7.0 gallons per minute water flow only works for small homes with 2 bathrooms.
  • There’s no bypass valve which makes the installation more complicated if you want one.
  • Changing the pre-filter can get a little messy.
  • Dual-tank design doesn’t seem to provide any real benefit. A single large tank would have been just fine.

→ Read Our Full Aquasana SimplySoft Review Here

8. Pelican NaturSoft Water Conditioners | Models NS3 & NS6

Last but not least, Pelican NaturSoft water conditioners. They’re pretty much identical to what SpringWell and FilterSmart provide, using a special type of catalytic media to convert excess calcium in hard water into calcium carbonate crystals. These crystals have different characteristics than the dissolved calcium. Most importantly, they won’t attach to surfaces and thus scaling is reduced significantly. 4 stars!

Pelican NaturSoft Water Conditioner

Pelican NaturSoft NS6 Water Conditioner

Price:$$$
Process:TAC
Flow Rate:15 gpm (Peak)
Water:For Up to 6 People
Warranty:12 Years

Our Rating

Pros

  • Comes with sediment pre-filter.
  • Protects your plumbing and water-using appliances from scale and dissolves existing buildup.
    • Maximum hardness level: 75 gpg.
    • For more benefits of reduced scaling please read above.
  • WQA certified according to NSF/ANSI Standard 42 for structural integrity and Standard 61 for material safety.
  • Pelican NaturSoft NS3 water conditioner has a max flow rate of 10 gpm. Recommended for homes with 2, maybe 3 bathrooms.
  • Pelican NaturSoft NS6 is larger and can supply homes with 4-6 bathrooms with enough conditioned water to meet the daily demand.
  • Not more difficult to install than any of the other whole house water conditioners reviewed on this page. Process is quite simple.
    • Optional Pelican installation kit has to be purchased at extra cost.
  • Maintaining the system is quick and easy. All there is to do is replacing the pre-filter every 6-9 months. Cost: Approximately $30 per year.
  • 90-day Try It – Love It money-back guarantee.
  • Tank, valve, non-electric head, bypass, and fittings are warranted for 12 years.

Cons

  • A few hundred dollars more expensive than our favorite water conditioner (SpringWell).
  • Pressure release button on pre-filter tends to leak.
  • Water should not contain hydrogen sulfide, hydrocarbons, oils, lubricants, phosphate (more than 1 ppm), or copper (more than 1.3 ppm).

→ Read Our Full Pelican NaturSoft Review Here

More Reviews

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Perfect Water Conditioning System for Your Needs

Types of Water Conditioners + Price Range

Water conditioners can be categorized into 3 types:

  1. Those that use catalytic media to alter the adhesion properties of hardness minerals, the most prominent example being Template Assisted Crystallization systems. They usually consist of a large tank + optional pre- and post-filtration. Cost: Highest.
  2. Systems that release a chemical additive into the water. Cost: Medium to high.
  3. Devices that induce a magnetic field within a water pipe. The magnetic field can be created through a wrapped wire (electromagnetic) or plain magnets. Cost: Lowest.

Type one is the most effective. A study has shown that up to 99.6% scale reduction can be achieved. Furthermore, even extremely hard water can be handled most water conditioners of this type.

As far as chemical water conditioners are concerned, it depends on the exact process. Some use a chelating agent like citric acid to bind calcium and magnesium ions which prevents the formation of scale deposits. Others rely on polyphosphate. Customer feedback for both is rather mixed. Personally, we’re no big fans.

According to research, electronic and magnetic water conditioners reduce scaling by about one-third to one-half.

Pre-Filtration

The only of drawback of TAC water conditioners is that they require pre-filtration if water contains too much iron, sulfur, manganese, copper, or other contaminants that could foul the media. These contaminants are often found in well water. Most tap waters should be just fine.

Flow Rate

As with all whole house water treatment systems, you want to make sure that your potential new water conditioner can provide enough conditioned water to meet your demand even at times of peak consumption.

As a rule of thumb, 12 gallons per minute water flow should be enough for homes with 1-3 bathrooms, 15 gpm can supply 4-6 bathrooms.

woman taking a hot shower

Space Requirements

Except for electric/magnetic units, water conditioners aren’t exactly small so make sure that you have the space to accommodate one.

Installation & Maintenance

You don’t need any prior experience to install the Eddy Electronic Water Descaler for example. However, if you want to install the SpringWell FutureSoft you should be at least somewhat experienced with tools. Pro tip: Make sure a bypass valve is part of the package which saves you from the extra hassle of installing one. A bypass comes in handy if you need to maintain or repair your system requiring temporary shutoff.

Of course, you also have the option to hire a professional plumber which will cost you a few hundred extra bucks.

In terms of maintenance, all water conditioners that are part of this buying guide can be taken care of by the homeowner. Usually, all there is to do is replace the sediment pre-filter cartridge once or twice a year – easy!

Seller + Warranty (Where to Buy)

We see absolutely no problem in buying a water conditioner online. Quite the opposite: We recommend it as you can compare a wide range of models from various brands/manufacturers using different technologies. And chances are that you’ll find the best prices.

That said, we prefer sellers that

  • are responsive with US-based, technically-versed customer support.
  • offer a trial period for all their products allowing you to return and receive a full refund if you’re not satisfied.
  • back their systems with a lifetime warranty.

Of course, buying from a local dealer can have the benefit that he knows the water parameters in your area so that he can offer more in-depth advice.

Brand/Manufacturer

Personally, when it comes to whole house water treatment we really like SpringWell. But there’re more legit water conditioner brands respectively manufacturers out there.

More on Water Conditioners

What Is a Water Conditioner?

A water conditioner is any water treatment system that reduces the scaling effects of hard water without using salt as traditional salt-based water softener do.

As mentioned earlier, water conditioners can be categorized into 3 types: Template assisted crystallization (TAC) and other systems using a catalytic media bed, chemicals systems, and magnetic/electronic units.

How Do Water Softeners That Don’t Use Salt Work?

TAC is based on a catalytic media bed. As the feed water flows through the bed, the majority of dissolved hard water ions are converted into relatively large crystals. This alters their adhesion properties. The crystals cannot stick to surfaces and remain suspended in the water along the way through your home’s plumbing system. The result: Up to 99.6% scale reduction.

In order to achieve high flow rates, a large media tank is required. And, depending on the condition of the feed water, pre-treatment might be mandatory – think high iron content.

As for water conditioners releasing a chemical into the water, they usually make use of chelation. Common chelation agents are citric acid or polyphosphate which bind the hardness minerals together to stop them from forming deposits. Results are mixed and we don’t like the idea of adding chemicals into our water so we wouldn’t recommend this water conditioner type if you can avoid it.

Lastly, electric and magnetic water conditioners which induce a magnetic field into the main water line. The field can be created using wrapped wire or simple magnets. It causes calcium and magnesium to form microscopic crystals which precipitate out. As a result, scale formation is reduced by up to 50%.

Benefits of Purchasing a Water Conditioner

Most importantly, a proper water conditioner reduces or completely eliminates the scaling effects of hard water. This means all plumbing elements in your home like pipes, fixtures, and fittings will last much longer and require fewer maintenance and repairs. The same goes for your water-using appliances (up to 30% longer lifespans). More benefits include:

  • Even existing scale deposits will dissolve with time.
  • Your water heater works more efficiently which means lower energy cost.
  • Any remaining scale is much easier to wipe off.
  • The conditioned water doesn’t feel slippery.
  • There’s no excess sodium in the water.
  • Water conditioners don’t need to regenerate so no downtime and no additional expenses for wastewater/salt.
  • Maintenance is kept at a bare minimum.
  • Affordability.

Water Conditioner FAQs

  • Does a water conditioner remove hard minerals from water?
    No, it does not. It only changes their characteristics.
  • Is conditioned water harmful?
    It’s not! In fact, when you install a system using TAC nothing will be added nor removed from your water.
comment banner

Questions? Ask away!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about .

Gene

Leave a Comment:

Want cleaner, safer and healthier water?

Sign up to join 1,000+ subscribers and get notified about new BOS guides & checklists as well as exclusive product sales and discount codes.