Water Softener Reviews – Consumers Report on the Best

By Fred Jenkins

Choosing the right water softener for your home or business can be a daunting task. We here at Water

Quality Home has created this page to provide water softener reviews to help you find the best unit for your home or business. These ratings were taken from consumers reporting on actual experiences to provide real-world ratings.

[Note: If you are unfamiliar with how water softeners (also known as water conditioners) work, or if you aren’t sure how to choose the right size water softener for your home or commercial building, see our thorough technical guides.]

Also, we would like to provide a word about conditioners which claim to remove hardness from water using magnetic treatment, also known as salt free water softeners. Multiple sources, including a study completed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, indicate that these devices have a minimal ability to remove water hardness. These units are likely to end up being a waste of time and money and are best avoided.

If you’re short on time and want to get straight to the bottom line, here it is: our top rated water softeners.

Top Rated

Fleck or Autotrol Softener from Waterfilters.net

A water softener constructed by Waterfilters.net with a Fleck or Autotrol valve is the best value for your money. You will need to become well acquainted with how water softeners work as you take on the programming and maintenance of your softener, but if you’re ready to do a bit of reading you can get up to speed pretty quickly – Waterfilter.net’s documentation is excellent and will give you what you need to know.


However, if you’re short on time and need a unit installed for you, the next top rated option is a full service softener from Culligan or Kinetico. Their units are high quality, and while you will pay a premium for their services, you definitely get your money’s worth.

Evaluating Water Conditioners

Quality Water Home evaluated the most common softeners and created writeups based on a comprehensive analysis of information online. Sources included product ratings posted by softener owners, forum postings by softener experts, and examination of technical specifications. Conditioners were then rated and compiled in tables. Please note that no guarantee of performance of any unit is implied – these summaries are provided as a courtesy and should represent one piece of research when buying a softener.

They are broken into three categories:

  • DIY Options

  • Full Service Installation Options

  • Budget Softener Options

This article contains descriptions of the best most popular and commonly available and best softeners followed by tables that summarize softener features.

But First!

Do you have severe hard water that you are just putting up with? You may have a much more expensive situation on your hands that you realize. Watch this video  – it may open your eyes to the true cost of hard water!

DIY Options

The next option is for those looking to save some money and are willing to take on some or all of the responsibility for for choice and installation of their softener. The most common of these include units that are referred to as Fleck, Clack, and Autotrol. These brand names actually refer to the valve that is used to control the flow of water.

These softeners are constructed by independent companies which acquire the various parts that make up a conditioning unit, assemble them, and sell them under their own brand name. All of these valves are high quality and consumer satisfaction with all of them is very high – they rate very well in Quality Water Home’s tables.

Click the link below for summaries of the DIY Options softeners.

Fleck / Autotrol / Clack Water Softener Reviews


Budget Options

The final option is to buy a unit from a home improvement retailer. These units are available both online and instore and use the same basic water softening technology that’s been effective for years. To install these units, you will either need to be comfortable with plumbing them in yourself or hiring a plumber to do it for you.

Consumers reporting on these units had mixed experiences – the link below will take you to summaries of common budget units.

Budget Option Reviews


Full Service Installation Option

Having a water softener chosen and installed for you removes much hassle and headache. The most common full service providers are Culligan and Kinetico, and they can do all of the following for you:

  • Water testing to determine the hardness of your water
  • A free estimate for their services

  • Sizing and selection to find a unit that best fits your needs

  • Delivery, installation, and programming of your softener

  • Ongoing maintenance and repairs

For those on a tight schedule with limited free time, this option can be a lifesaver. The tradeoff is that it is also the most expensive option because the technologies used in their softeners are proprietary. Because of this, their softeners are more expensive and ongoing maintenance and repairs are also more expensive.

When considering the full service option, it is important to understand that while Culligan and Kinetico are nationwide companies, they are made up of franchises which are small, local businesses. Because of this, the quality of service you will receive is depends on the quality of your local representative. You will be reliant upon these local representatives for all future maintenance, and you should move forward only if you feel comfortable trusting them to do that work. Using someone else to do maintenance not only voids the warranty on the unit, it is risky because the person doing the service is not likely to have been trained on the proprietary system – they may end up doing more harm than good.

It is extremely important that you do some checking on past work done by your local full service representatives. The best sources of information include experiences from friends and family, experiences written on the internet found by searching in Google, and of course, Angielist, which is always a reliable source of independent assessments of contractors.

(NOTE: As a special offer to Quality Water Home readers, Angieslist has created an exclusive 25% off coupon for signing up – follow this link to access this discount!)

Culligan Reviews

Kinetico Reviews


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