If you find your household appliances suffering from calcification, you should consider buying a water softening system. This transforms hard into soft, i.e. low-lime, water. We will introduce you to various descaling systems and help you find the best system for you.
With our water softener reviews 2020, none of your questions about water softening remains open. We give you the most important criteria that you should consider when buying a water declassification system. In order to make your purchase decision easier, you will find helpful tips and tricks about water softening systems and water softening in general in our guide
The essentials in brief
- Limescale is removed from tap water during water softening, so that limescale cannot form on pipes and equipment. As a result, devices, for example, are more durable and use less electricity.
- The most common method of water softening is the ion exchange principle. Calcium and magnesium ions are exchanged for sodium ions. This process creates soft water.
- Before buying a water softening system, you should consider quality criteria such as capacity, regeneration control, salt consumption and possible DVGW certification of the system.
Softening system test: editors’ favorites
- The best all-round water softener
- The best softening system with ion exchange for small households
- The best softening system with ion exchange for large households
- The best physical limescale protection system
The best all-round water softener
The water softener Aqmos FM-60 is suitable for households up to 5 people and softens up to 6000 liters of water per regeneration cycle at 10 ° dH water quality. The system works according to the ion exchange process. This means that it exchanges the “hardness minerals” calcium and magnesium with sodium ions. The lime is removed and soft water is created.
The Aqmos FM-60 consists of a GRP pressure bottle, filled with high quality ion exchange resin, cabinet housing for a salt reserve of max. 70 kg, volume-controlled central control valve type FLECK 5600, an integrated fine blending valve, a suction device and a connection line to the central control valve
The best softening system with ion exchange for small households
The water softener from Water2buy is a water softening system that is supplied with a bypass valve. The low-noise and automatic meter softener is ideal for a small household for up to 4 people and delivers an average of 1250 liters of soft water every day. The softener works according to the ion exchange method and is suitable for indoor and outdoor.
Numerous customers are enthusiastic about the particularly simple installation and the perfect functioning of the system. Customer service is also rated as very good. In addition, buyers score that the device provides lime-free water for a very long time.
The best softening system with ion exchange for large households
The Water2Buy AS800-W2B800 weighs 29 kg with dimensions of 22.5 x 47.5 x 111 cm. The water softener works with the ion exchange method. This means that it exchanges the “hardness minerals” calcium and magnesium with sodium ions. The lime is removed and the result is soft water. The system has a display for control. This makes handling easier for the layperson.
The system can also be used for very large households of up to 12 people. The manufacturer recommends a maximum number of 12 users. This is due, among other things, to the water flow per hour, which is probably between 2 and 5 m³ per hour. This means that several people can use water at the same time without problems.
The best physical limescale protection system
The PKS 2000 plus X magnetic field generator ensures that even old limescale deposits can be removed and rinsed out. The device is variably adjustable, but also has an automatic function, whereby there is no need to intervene in the pipe system. The product is suitable for water consumption of up to 5 cubic meters per hour.
Customers are delighted that limescale spots have noticeably reduced and that kitchen appliances, such as coffee machines and kettles, work flawlessly. Buyers also notice that the water hardness has improved sustainably and quickly after connecting the device.
Purchase and evaluation criteria for softening systems
In the following we will show you which aspects you can use to choose between the large number of possible water softening systems.
The criteria you can use to compare water softening systems include:
- Water softening process
- Number of users
- Regeneration control
- Salt consumption
- scope of delivery
- DVGW certification
In the coming paragraphs we will explain what is important for the individual criteria.
Water softening process
Before deciding on a water softening system, you should know the two methods that are mainly used for water softening:
- Ion exchange process
- Physical procedures
Most descaling systems are based on the ion exchange process . Here, the hard, chalky water flows into a container that contains a special resin. This so-called exchanges resin exchanges the calcium and magnesium ions dissolved in the water with sodium ions. This process lowers the hardness of the water.
However, the resin can only absorb a limited amount of lime. When the resin reaches its capacity limit, a regeneration phase follows. The bound lime is released from the exchange resin using salt.
Salt water flows through the descaling system so that the lime can dissolve. As a result, the resin also gains additional sodium for future exchange processes. A mixture of water, salt and lime is created, which is discharged into the waste water. After the regeneration break, the exchanger resin is fully functional again.
There are also physical processes for water softening. This includes processes that try to soften water with magnetic or electrical fields. The structure of the lime crystals should be changed so that the deposition on pipes is reduced.
However, the effectiveness of this principle has not been scientifically proven and there are divided opinions as to whether this type of water softening system actually performs its function.
Number of users
Among other things, water softening systems differ considerably in their equipment and size. Some are suitable for use in single households, while others are designed for use in apartment buildings.
For each descaling system, there is information from the manufacturer regarding the maximum amount of water that is converted per day. An estimate is often already given for how many people the system is suitable for.
If you want to buy a descaling system, you should be aware of the daily water consumption of your household. The value of around 120 liters of water that the average German consumes every day can serve as a guide.
Make sure that the capacity of your water softening system is above your own water consumption.
In softening plants that work according to the ion exchange process, the resin in the plant is reactivated in the regeneration phase using salt. The resin is then ready to bind lime again. Depending on the system, regeneration takes place:
- Quantity controlled (acting volumetric ally)
Most of the water softening systems are based on the principle of volume control . These systems automatically recognize how much water has been softened and then decide when regeneration is necessary.
In the case of time-controlled descaling systems, the regeneration time must be set manually. The system always regenerates at a certain time regardless of the amount of softened water. The regeneration period can, for example, be set to 2 a.m.
Depending on the softening system, regeneration should take place every three to seven days and can take between 15 and 50 minutes. With time-controlled systems, you should observe the regeneration time recommended by the manufacturer.
Modern water softening systems are characterized by their economical way of working. They work in a quantity-controlled manner and have an economical salt solution. The regeneration only takes place when the capacity of the system is completely exhausted.
A key criterion when purchasing a water softening system is salt consumption.
So that water softening systems remain functional over a longer period of time, they need salt for regeneration. Replenishing salt must be added regularly so that the resin in the system is able to absorb lime again.
There are considerable differences in salt consumption among the various softening systems. When buying, you should pay particular attention to this factor, since the regeneration salt represents the largest cost factor for the operation of a water declassification system.
It is generally advisable to choose a system that is as modern as possible with savings salting in order to keep salt consumption low.
scope of delivery
When purchasing a water softening system, you should make sure that a connection set is included in the scope of delivery. You need this to connect the system to the in-house water pipe.
The set usually consists of a connection block and connection hoses with seals. If the connection set is not included in the scope of purchase, it must be purchased separately.
You should also make sure that the connection of the system is compatible with your water connection at home. For the most part, the connections have a size of 1 inch (2.54 cm), but the value should be taken from the description of the respective softening system, as it can vary.
The German Association for Gas and Water (DVGW) is one of the largest German industries certifying in the field of gas and water. The DVGW certificate guarantees the purchase of a reliable and high-quality softening system.
DVGW-certified descaling systems have an automatic disinfection device, are state of the art and have a low consumption of electricity, salt and water.
In addition, the certification confirms compliance with regulations for the guarantee of drinking water quality, the installation and integration of a technical non-return valve that must be installed in the system.
Since there are also some impostors on the market for water softening devices, one should do thorough research before buying a system without DVGW certification so as not to regret the purchase.
Decision: What types of water softening systems are there and which is the right one for me?
If you decide to purchase a water softening system, you can basically choose between two types of systems:
|Single-column water softening system||Lower purchase price||No water softening takes place in the regeneration phase|
|Two-column (duplex) softening system||No regeneration break, continuous supply of soft water||More expensive purchase price|
If you would like to learn more about the two different versions, you can find more information in the following two sections.
Adviser: Frequently asked questions about softening systems answered in detail
If you are thinking about buying a water softening system, there are certainly a few questions that you would like to have clarified beforehand. In our comprehensive softening systems guide, we have selected the most important and most frequently asked questions from customers and answered them clearly. Our guide is designed to help you find the calcification system that is right for you on the market.
How does a water softening system work?
One speaks of hard water if there is a lot of magnesium and calcium in the water. Together they form the lime that is only too well known in the household. A water softening system converts the hard, chalky water into soft water before it gets into the household pipes.
There are various methods of water softening, the best known, simplest and most reliable method is the ion exchange principle.
The water flows through the softening system and a process follows in which the “hard” calcium and magnesium ions are exchanged for “soft” sodium ions.
An important part of the calcification system is therefore the so-called exchanger resin. The sodium ions are stored there. If water now flows over the resin, the ion exchange takes place: calcium and magnesium stick and sodium dissolves and combines with the water. This process gives you soft water.
When does a water softening system make sense?
The purchase of a water softening system can make sense if your tap water has a particularly high degree of hardness (= high calcium content). The hardness of the water differs depending on the geographic location.Below is an overview of the classification of the degrees of hardness. ° dH stands for “degree of German hardness”.
|Hardness range||° dH|
|Soft||up to 7.3|
|medium||7.3 to 14|
|Hard||14 to 21.3|
|Very hard||over 21.3|
If the water quality is above 14 ° dH, the installation of a water softening system can be considered, because from this level of hardness the hard water is very likely to be responsible for some problems that arise.
These problems include, for example, increased limescale deposits on fittings, the coffee machine or in the kettle. This increases the energy required to operate the electrical devices. Especially in regions with hard water quality, lime residues and limescale deposits on pipes and in the devices can cause great damage.
For more information about water hardness, we have selected a video for you:
What are the advantages of a water softening system?
|Energy efficiency||Limescale deposits in pipes and on household appliances are present in almost all households. Calcified devices have a significantly higher energy requirement than lime-free devices. A lime layer of approx. 1 mm can lead to an additional energy requirement of up to 15%. A decalcification system also serves to save energy costs.|
|Extended lifespan of devices||Due to the water softening, devices and machines cannot calcify and the service life is extended. This postpones acquisition costs for a new device. In addition, there is a further saving effect due to the fact that lime cleaners and corresponding protective agents are no longer required.|
|Improved personal care||Decalcified water is more pleasant for the human body because soft water also contains less dissolved salts due to the generally low mineral content. Skin and hair will feel much softer through the use of soft water.|
|Saving detergent||With softened water, detergents and soap foam much better, so the consumption of detergent is reduced significantly. In addition, when washing with hard water, the laundry becomes a little grayish, this does not happen with decalcified water.|
|Better taste experience||Soft water is particularly beneficial for tea and coffee drinkers. Due to the low hardness, flavoring agents are better dissolved and their effects can develop more strongly. This also applies to vegetables, which also preserves their colors better when cooked with soft water.|
In summary, it can be said that the purchase of a water softening system can pay off extremely in the course of use and especially in the long term.
Which water softening system do I need?
If you have decided to purchase a descaling system, the question now is which system is the best.When choosing a water softening system, you should note several points, which we will explain in more detail in our purchase and evaluation criteria for water softening systems.
For example, it is important that the capacity of the system matches the number of consumers. There are also various methods of water softening. Descaling systems work most frequently with the ion exchange process.
The subsequent costs of the system can also be decisive, such as salt consumption (for the ion exchange process) or the purchase of an assembly set if this is not included in the scope of delivery.
Pay particular attention to whether the water softening system is DVGW certified. So you can be sure that technical and hygienic requirements have been checked.
What does a water softener cost?
There is a wide price range between the various limescale protection systems. Depending on the quality and design of the water softening system, prices vary widely. Depending on the requirements of the system, you can expect a medium three-digit to a medium four-digit amount.In general, descaling systems with a softening column, which can usually be found in single-family households, are cheaper than the duplex version with two columns, which is used in larger households or apartment buildings.
|Single column system||approx. € 400-2,500|
|Two-column (duplex) system||€ 1,700-4,000|
The purchase of a descaling system should be considered carefully. We recommend comparing different systems and manufacturers. The models of well-known manufacturers can be quite expensive. However, it is worth relying on tested quality and reliability, because in this case the softening system can be expected to have a long service life.
Where can I buy a water softening system?
You can get water softening systems directly from your sanitary specialist as well as from the hardware store or in online shops.According to our research, most of the descaling systems are sold through these online shops:
How often do I have to refill salt in a water softening system?
The number of times the regeneration salt has to be refilled in a softening system based on the ion exchange principle depends not only on the filling volume of the salt container, but also on the general salt consumption of the system, your own water consumption and water hardness.The larger the machine and the more frequently it is used, the more salt needs to be refilled. Modern machines usually have a display that signals when new salt has to be refilled.
With a water hardness of 20 ° dH in a family home with four people, the salt has to be replenished approximately every eight weeks.
How often does a water softening system regenerate?
Quantity-controlled water calcification systems regenerate automatically because they automatically recognize how much water has been softened and when regeneration is necessary. The regeneration is often carried out at two o’clock in the morning since soft water is not required at this time.In the case of time-controlled systems, the system does not itself recognize how much water has already been softened. The regeneration time must be set manually, whereby the manufacturer’s recommended regeneration time should be observed.
So that the water softening function is guaranteed in the long term and no germs form, regeneration should be carried out at least once a week.
What are the alternatives to softening systems?
In addition to conventional water softening systems, reverse osmosis systems are also used for water softening.The reverse osmosis technology is comparable to an extremely fine filtration. With water softening based on reverse osmosis, almost all dissolved components are filtered out of the water, including lime.
The filtered components are flushed down the drain, which usually requires a large amount of drinking water. The consumer advice center points out that this leads to high energy and water costs.
Another disadvantage is that not only lime but also other important minerals are removed from the water. The filter membrane is also susceptible to contamination.