Water softeners are an effective way of removing minerals that are contained within hard water. These minerals, which are mostly made up of Calcium and Magnesium, cause numerous problems to appliances and our skin/hair. If you’ve lived in a hard water area all of your life, you might not be aware of all of the problems it causes or how softened water could improve your life. Hard water is known to clog pipes, stop soap and detergents from dissolving effectively, and leaves behind watermarks.
We’ve checked the market and compiled below some of the best water softeners available. In the first part of this article, we’ll present our take for some water softeners reviews and any of their defining features. Then, in the second part, we’ll explain how water softeners work, some of the advantages/disadvantages and how you would go about installing them.
Before we start, keep in mind, there are two different types of water softeners available: salt-based water softeners and salt-free water softeners. The former is more popular and effective, but are more expensive. The latter is easier to install and requires little upkeep, however, salt-free (or electronic-magnetic) water softeners divide opinions regarding effectiveness. Below is a brief description of how each option works.
Salt-based systems: these water softeners contain resin beads that attract magnesium and calcium as water passes over them, causing the water to become less hard. Once the resin beads have reached full capacity, the regeneration process will flush away any of the minerals that the beads have retained by using a brine solution.
Salt-free systems (electromagnetic): this method works by fitting two coils around your incoming water supply pipes and then subjecting the water to an ever-changing magnetic field. This alters the adhesion properties of limescale in the water and prevents build-up on appliances and pipes. This option doesn’t actually remove any of the hard water minerals; a more fitting name is a water conditioning system.
Best Water Softeners – UK 2019
|Water2Buy W2B200||BWT WS455||Harveys Crown (Dual Tank)||Eddy Electronic Water Descaler||Tapworks AD11|
|Dimensions||23 x 44 x 64 cm||27 x 48 x 53.2 cm||21.2 x 46 x 49 cm||17 x 3.5 x 9 cm||49.6 x 29.6 x 64.8 cm|
|Weight||18.4 Kg||23.2 Kg||N/A||621 g||37kg|
|Capacity:||1250 Litres at 300PPM||1666 litres at 300PPM||508 Litres per tank at 250PPM||N/A||1690 Litres at 300PPM|
|Price||Check Price Now||Check Price Now||Check Price Now||Check Price Now||Check Price Now|
Water2Buy W2B200 Meter Water Softener
Water2buy is one of the most popular companies for supplying water softeners, and they have thousands of customers all over Europe. The W2B200 is their most popular model, which is currently one of the cheapest salt-based water softeners available. This doesn’t mean the system is not high quality, you don’t have to look far for positive reviews on this model.
This model is perfect for the average family, as it can provide up to 1250 litres of soft water per day. It works on a meter-based system, so when you get close to using 1250 litres it will start the cleaning process, however, the system will try to delay cleaning until 3 am to prevent disturbance.
Installation is relatively straight forward; 3 out of 4 water2buy customers install their own equipment. However, one downside is the water softener does not come with some required kit for fitting (it requires hoses, overflow pipes, and a water hardness testing kit). This installation kit can be found online. We would have preferred it if Water2Buy included this equipment with the water softener.
On average you’ll need to purchase 25kg of salt every 5-6weeks. This machine can take a variety of salts, including block, cubed or pellet. Water2Buy offer a 30-day money back guarantee and a 7-year warranty. An Electricity socket in close proximity is required.
- High quality, with good reviews, for a relatively low cost
- Does not include some required equipment for installation
W2B200 vs W2B110
It is also worth noting that Water2Buy have a cheaper option, the W2B110, available. This model works on a timer system, so the cleaning process will begin at whatever pre-set time you have programmed. Although this may seem like the cheaper option, this uses more salt – It requires a 25kg bag of salt every 3-4 weeks. So, the W2B200 model will cost approximately £164 per year to maintain (£19 bag of salt every 6 weeks), compared to £247 for the W2B110 (£19 bag of salt every 4 weeks).
BWT WS455 Hi-Flow Electronic Demand Block/Tablet Water Softener, Blue, 10 Litre
Best Water Technology is another company with a large presence in Europe. Their WS range is designed for UK homes and plumbing systems, and the WS455 model is one of their most popular. This model is compact while still being efficient and stylish. When compared to the Water2Buy W2B200, the WS455 is slightly bigger (with a larger width and depth, but smaller in height).
This model is designed for an average family of 4 and has a maximum exchange capacity of 1666 litres at 300ppm before regeneration. BWT water softeners are easy to install and come with a free installation kit. Once installed, BWT offers a free service where a fully trained engineer will come to your house to commission it. This means the water softener will be set up to suit your specific requirements, including the local water conditions, and will give you a chance to ask any questions about the water softener in general.
This model meters water usage, stores water usage patterns and intelligently manages the regeneration process including the frequency to maximize efficiency and to help ensure you always have softened water when you need it. This model can take a variety of salts, including block, cubed or pellet. BWT offers 5-year parts and 2-year labour at home warranty.
- Smart meter maximizes efficiency and saves cost by only regenerating when necessary
- Free commissioning once installed
- Some users have complained the covers and electronic connectors are flimsy, and will easily pop out of place when replacing the salt.
Water Softeners- Harveys Crown Non-Electric Block Salt Softener F15+SLT
Harvey is one of the market leaders of water softeners within the UK. They’re known for producing high-quality reliable products and the Crown model is one of their most popular. This softener is compact, as it’s the smallest one in our list, but it still packs a punch. It relies entirely on water pressure – no electrical supply is required, making it much easier to install.
The biggest unique selling point of this model is that it contains two tanks. Normal single tank water softeners cannot provide soft water whilst performing a regeneration cycle. However, the F15+SLT will always allow you to have access to soft water, as only one tank undergoes the regeneration at a time. This is also more efficient as regeneration only occurs when necessary, compared to other models that regenerate every day at a set time.
Harvey’s water softeners are more expensive than most other brands, but that is the premium you pay for the quality. Initially we had planned on reviewing Harvey’s HV3 model, which they claim is the UK’s number one water softener, however, there was a lack of information readily available online for this. We think the F15+SLT is very similar to the HV3 spec, but it is the cheaper option.
Harvey offers five-year parts and labour warranty. This model accepts either block or tablet salt.
- Twin tank allows instant access 24/7 to soft water
- Non-electric makes it easier to install
- Similar in spec to the HV3 model
- Most expensive brand for water softeners
Eddy Electronic Water Descaler – Water Softener Alternative UK/EU Version
This model is an alternative to the traditional heavy duty water softeners. It works by using electromagnetic waves to alter the form of calcium and magnesium crystals in your water supply, causing the crystals to become softer, less harsh and corrosive. This means the mineral deposits will be less likely to adhere to taps, basins, toilets, boilers and pipework. EDDY doesn’t remove the minerals from the water, so you’ll still receive the benefits of those minerals when drinking the water.
EDDY is not only one of the cheapest options, but also one of the easiest to install. Anybody can install an EDDY system in their house, all you have to do is identify the mains water inlet and have an electricity socket in close proximity. Two metal coils have to be wrapped around your water pipe (which can be copper, plastic or iron), and if your water mains pipes split into two you can wind one coil around each pipe.
Electric-magnet descalers are polarising; from reading user’s reviews online you can get a real bunch of mixed views. Ultimately, if you live in a very hard water area, you ideally want to get a salt-based water softener to eradicate the problems hard water causes. However, if your main concern is limescale deposits, the EDDY will prevent some build up and make it easier to wipe away any that do occur. EDDY offer a 12-month money back guarantee if you’re not happy, so you have little to lose by trying it.
- a cheaper alternative to salt-based water softeners
- Easy to install and no-quibble 12-month money back guarantee
- It does not remove the minerals from your water, so the limescale will still be somewhat present
- Not very effective if you have very hard water in your area.
Tapworks AD11 Water Softener Meter Controlled Includes Full Installation Kit
Tapworks is the world’s largest manufacturer of domestic water softeners and the AD11 is their most popular model. It is brilliant value whilst having superb quality. This model is slightly larger in size (both dimensions and weight) than the other water softeners mentioned above. It is recommended for up to 7 people and is perfect for larger families. However, it can only provide 1690 litres of softened water before regeneration, which is a similar amount to other smaller softeners.
This water softener is a fair price and has some good reviews from users; it has also been marked as ‘Amazon’s choice’. This model is easy to install and comes with an all-in-one installation kit. It also comes with a 2-years part and labour warranty, and a 10-year warranty on the resin vessel.
If you live in a hard water area you’re probably all too aware of the problems it causes. Buying a water softener will give you a range of benefits, but it also has some drawbacks.
Advantages of salt-based water softeners
- Cleaner and shinier silverware, glassware, mirrors, tiles, cars, or any plumbing fixtures.
- Softer skin and clean, smooth hair – The minerals which are contained within hard water prevent products from creating a lather. Consequently, you end up using more soap and shampoo, which is not easily washed out. This can leave your hair dry and your skin irritated.
- Reduced limescale – not only is limescale unsightly and annoying to clean, but it can clog pipes and damage your appliances. Softened water will increase the life of your appliances, such as dishwashers, washing machines and boilers.
- Softer clothes – fabrics last longer and whites stay whiter without the dingy grey caused by hard water.
- Save money on monthly energy costs and damages to appliances.
Disadvantages of salt-based water softeners
- Storage space – water softeners take up space and you’re limited to where you can install it. The location of your water softener will depend on your mains water inlet, which in most cases is the kitchen, so you will lose cupboard space underneath the kitchen sink.
- Installation and additional plumbing – It is possible for many people to install their own water softener, especially if they are replacing an old one. However, if you want a professional to do it, it will end up costing around £150.
- Softened water taste – with minerals removed and sodium levels heightened, soft water is not something you would enjoy drinking day in and day out. Also, those on a strict sodium-free diet should avoid drinking soft water. It is recommended you install a separate kitchen tap for drinking water.
- Water usage – during the regeneration process, salt water softeners use both salt and water. The amount of water and salt that is needed is different from system to system, however, some models can be wasteful.
- Ongoing costs – Water softeners require that salt be added to them every few weeks and this can cost between £30-70 per year. Also, depending on the manufacturer and model, your water softener may need to be serviced every couple of years.
Hopefully, this guide will give you a clearer idea of some of the best water softeners on the market. We’re dedicated to helping you make informed purchases by providing up-to-date and unbiased opinions. We’re always open to feedback, so please feel free contacting us if you have any comments or queries about our water softener reviews.