Hard water often leads to unhappy wives, and that’s the last thing in the world anyone wants. Installing the best water softener system for well water in your home will quickly turn frowns upside down. Since well water is often untreated before it enters your home, there are more factors in play. One common problem with well water is high iron content. There’s also typically larger sediment in well water than municipal water. With the right setup, you can turn funky well water into delicious bottled-water quality water that flows from not only your sink but your plumbing fixtures as well. A water softener is a critical component in an efficient whole house water filtration system.

In this guide, I share:

  • Top 5 Water Softeners for Well Water
  • Best Water Softener Reviews
  • Tips on How to Choose the Best System for Well Water

Product Description
#1) Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener + Iron Filter

  • #1 Best Water Softener System for Well Water High in Iron
  • Capacity: 64,000 grain
  • Flow Rate: 16 gpm
  • Dimensions: 12″ Diameter x 54″ H (Main Tank w/ Control Head), 18″ Diameter x 33″ H (Salt Tank)
  • Weight: 119.5 lbs
  • Price: $$
  • Model: IRONPRO2
  • Warranty: 5-Year on Control Head, 10-Year on Tank
#2) Aquasure Harmony Series
  • #1 Best Water Softener for the Money
  • Capacity: 48,000 grain
  • Flow Rate: 12 gpm
  • Dimensions: 10″ Diameter x 60″ H (Main Tank w/ Control Head), 15″ Diameter x 34″ H (Salt Tank)
  • Weight: 120 lbs
  • Price: $$
  • Model: AS-HS48D
  • Warranty: 5-Year Manufacturer’s Warranty
#3) Pelican Water Systems NaturSoft Salt-Free Water Softener

  • #1 Best Salt Free Water Softener for Well Water
  • Capacity: Lifetime Media
  • Flow Rate: 10 gpm (NS3), 15 gpm (NS6)
  • Dimensions: 9″ Diameter x 49.5″ H (NS3), 11″ Diameter x 59.5″ H (NS6)
  • Price: $$$
  • Model: NS3 (1-3 bathrooms), NS6 (4-6 bathrooms)
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty
#4) Tier1 Everyday Series
  • #1 Best Cheap Water Softener
  • Capacity: 48,000 grain
  • Flow Rate: 11.2 gpm
  • Dimensions: 10″ Diameter x 54″ H (Main Tank), 14″ Diameter x 42″ H (Salt Tank)
  • Price: $
  • Model: WS-165-150
  • Warranty: 5-Year on Control Head, 10-Year on Tank
#5) Whirlpool WHES40
  • #1 Best Small Water Softener
  • Capacity: 40,000 grain
  • Flow Rate: 8.5 gpm
  • Dimensions: 18″ W x 19″ D x 48″ H
  • Weight: 112 lbs
  • Price: $
  • Model: WHES40E
  • Warranty: 1-Year Manufacturer’s on Parts & Labor, 3-Year Limited on Electronics, 10-Year Limited on Tanks

Best Water Softener Reviews

Whether you’re battling very hard well water or hard well water with iron, there are options in my Top 5 for you. There are also options to fit your budget. The key is to select the right size water softener system for your home.

Several of the systems in my Top 5 are available in various sizes to accommodate smaller households with 1-2 bathrooms all the way up to larger households with 5 or more bathrooms. I even added a salt-free alternative to accommodate folks with moderately hard well water. After the reviews below, I share several tips on how to choose the best water softener for well water, so be sure to check them out!

AFWFilters Fleck 64K Water Softener (Iron Pro 2)

AFWFilters manufactures a range of water softeners with premium Fleck metered control heads. The Iron Pro 2 system features a Fleck 5600SXT control head that makes adjustments to maximize capacity and minimize salt usage a breeze. The system automatically regenerates and tracks water usage to help you fine-tune the system to match your needs.

Special fine mesh resin removes (clear) ferrous iron up to 6 ppm and tackles hardness up to 75 grains per gallon. The round almond brine tank includes a safety float. It’s important to keep in mind that this system does not include an additional iron filter. The key is fine mesh resin is better than standard resin for iron removal.

The 16 gpm max service flow rate is enough to accommodate larger households with up to six bathrooms. Lastly, the AFWFilters warranty period makes this water softener one of the most attractive systems on the market, especially in this price range. The bottom line is if you’re battling hard iron-rich well water that tastes funky with a rotten egg odor, this is the water softener system for you.

Below are the pros and cons I found reported by owners in the AFWFilters reviews:

Pros
  • Turns hard well water with high iron content into clear drinking water overnight
  • No more red stains around plumbing fixtures and in tubs
  • The ability to customize the regeneration cycle is advantageous for hard well water with iron since you might want to shorten the cycle for smaller households
  • Easy setup and quiet trouble-free operation
  • 0 hardness readings after installation
  • Laundry looks better and sparkling clean dishes out of the dishwasher
  • No more rotten egg odor
  • Great value for the money
  • Awesome customer support
Cons
  • Might be overkill for small households
  • Needs to be reprogrammed after power outages
  • Removes up to 2 ppm of sulfur (well water with higher sulfur content may require an acid neutralizer)

Aquasure Harmony Water Softener

The Aquasure Harmony Series features 32,000, 48,000, and 64,000-grain water softeners to accommodate all households. Of all the systems I reviewed, the Aquasure Harmony is the best water softener for the money. It’s a premium system minus the premium price tag. Rather than a Fleck, the Aquasure features an Aquatrol Advanced Digital On-Demand Meter Control Head. One of the water-saving features I really like about this control head is the precise backwashing that may end up saving you hundreds of gallons of wastewater that show up on your water bill each year with inferior systems.

The system comes with everything you need to get up and running out of the box. Simply hook it up to your new or existing whole house water filtration system using the easy quick connect and included flex tubing. Aquasure water softener systems arrive pre-set for residential use by the manufacturer. Although, you may choose to customize the system to your liking. Simply choose between clock delayed control, meter immediate control, and meter delayed control operation. One-button regeneration is also available on the control panel.

The corrosion-resistant fiberglass resin tank comes pre-filled with 1.5 CF premium-grade resin. The tank also features an overflow regulator. Finally, there’s a bypass valve with a 1″ NPT male in/out port and the option to request 3/4″ size.

Below are the pros and cons I found reported by owners in the Aquasure reviews:

Pros
  • Total setup time takes under an hour
  • Reduced 44 grains per gallon well water to less than 1 grain per gallon
  • There are more options to customize the system than big box store units
  • A very economical water softener
  • 0 grain hardness after installation
  • Instructions are clear and easy to follow with pictures
  • The best alternative to Fleck (more intuitive display)
  • Built to stand the test of time
  • Excellent customer support
Cons
  • The pre-loaded resin tank is heavy upon arrival
  • The o-rings on the water connection might need to be greased during installation

Pelican NS3 Water Softener

For those of you who have moderately hard well water without an iron problem, you may find that a salt-free Pelican water softener is your best friend. The advantages of a salt-free system are zero monthly maintenance, zero wastewater, beneficial mineral retention, zero electricity, no buying big bags of salt, and easy inside or outside installation (when protected from freezing weather). Pelican is a leader in the water softener alternative department, and Pelican systems have been tested to provide 99.6% scale prevention. If scale is you main problem due to hard well water, a salt-free softener is worth a look.

On the flip side, salt-free water softeners are not as powerful or proven as traditional water softener systems. If you’re battling very hard well water with high iron content, the AFWFilters model is the superior choice or any of the other systems in my Top 5 when paired with additional stages of filtration. For most people on well water, a water softener won’t do 100% of the job.

One feature I like about the Pelican NS3 and NSF6 systems is they do include a sediment pre-filter with an industry-standard blue filter housing. If you’re set on buying a salt-free softener, Pelican offers whole house softener/filter combos for well water that are worth a look. They also offer specialized iron and manganese filters. All in all, the company offers a system for every scenario. The drawback is the more intricate the system the higher the cost.

Tier1 Everyday Series Water Softener

Of all the systems I reviewed to compile my guide, Tier1 stood out as the best cheap water softener on the market. This straightforward system gets the job done for a fraction of the price of bigger name-brand competitors. Like the Aquasure series, the Tier1 Everyday Series is available in 32,000, 48,000, and 64,000-grain sizes to work with all size households. Two things that stood out to me are the long warranty period for a system in this price range and the high customer service marks.

One advantage of the Tier1 control head over a Fleck is the more compact bypass assembly. You might also prefer the simpler programming over the more complicated Fleck controller. Overall, there isn’t much difference between the Tier1 head and a Fleck. Plus, the Tier1 control head is sufficient for keeping salt consumption low.

Each system comes with everything you need to install it including a pre-filled mineral tank with 1.5 cubic feet of cation resin, 3/4″ water line connections, brine tubing, mechanical components, and a drain line.

Below are the pros and cons I found reported in the Tier1 water softener reviews:

Pros
  • An excellent budget alternative to more expensive systems with Fleck control heads
  • Great efficiency, reported low salt consumption
  • Compact bypass assembly
  • Very helpful customer service team
  • Awesome water quality after installation
  • The control head electronic display is easy to read and user-friendly
  • Quiet operation
  • Easy to install (approved for hard water in Southern California)
  • Excellent customer support
Cons
  • Fewer programming options than Fleck
  • The included instrutions could be better
  • Two-hour water service interruption during regeneration
  • No low-salt indicator

Whirlpool WHES40 Water Softener

If you’re not fond of a 2-tank water softener system and in the market for a reliable brand name for an affordable price, the Whirlpool model WHES40 water softener fits the bill. The WHES40 is a good water softener for smaller households who demand max flow rates below 9 gpm. Be sure to take the lower max service flow rate into account before you buy this system. For households with four or more bathrooms, the other systems in my Top 5 are better options.

What I like about this system is it’s the best small water softener that gets the job done. It’s available in both 30,000 and 40,000-grain sizes. It takes up considerably less room than a 2-tank system and is at least a few inches shorter than most systems. This system is great for removing ferrous iron up to 10 ppm. It also has a high maximum hardness removal level of 125 grains per gallon.

The built-in controller calculates your home’s daily water use to schedule regeneration cycles. There’s a low-salt indicator light (a feature that’s missing from the Tier1 system). On the whole, the WHES40 is a top water softener for smaller households that comes at a very affordable price compared to larger systems.

Below are the pros and cons I found in the Whirlpool 40000-grain water softener reviews:

Pros
  • Efficient salt consumption, you may notice significantly less salt consumption after replacing your current unit
  • Super easy installation, no plumber required
  • More compact and less cumbersome than 2-tank systems with control heads
  • The control panel is easy to read and intuitive
  • A whole lot more affordable than larger systems
  • Seriously stands the test of time
  • Perfectly soft water
  • Quiet operation, won’t wake up your wife during regeneration
Cons
  • Susceptible to corrosion over time
  • A handful of leak reports

Buyer’s Guide

Below are several tips on how to choose the best water softener for well water:

  • Be sure to test your water before you buy to identify a potential ferrous iron problem – Ferrous iron is the clear form of iron that’s commonly found in well water. The Iron Pro 2 and Whirlpool WHES models are best for softening hard well water with high iron content. Depending on the size of your household, you may be able to get away with the Whirlpool system without a noticeable drop in water pressure.
  • How to choose the correct size – The average person uses 80 – 100 gallons of water daily (*). To calculate the required number of grains for your home, take the total number of daily gallons for your household x grains of hardness in your well water. For example, 300 total gallons x 30 grains of hardness = 9,000 grains of hardness per day. That equals 1 weekly regeneration for a 64,000-grain water softener. The harder your water the more often the system will need to regenerate. I’m sure you can already see why a 30,000 or 40,000-grain softener is too small for most households.
  • Measure Twice – Always be 100% sure about the dimensions of your available space and the size of your pipes. Most systems are ready to connect to 1″ or 3/4″ fittings. The last thing you want to have to do is return a system that doesn’t fit your space. Water softener systems are heavy and not something you want to return.
  • Max Grains Per Gallon – If you have exceptionally hard well water with very high grains per gallon, be sure to check the maximum hardness removal level of the system you intend to purchase to ensure it can handle your water.

If you’re unsure about your home’s requirements or have questions you need to be answered before you buy a system, it’s a good idea to contact the manufacturer or check to see if the answers are already available in the Q&A section of the product pages.

Bottom Line

Water softeners are one of the most critical components of a whole house well water filtration system. Carbon filters on their own won’t get the job done to significantly reduce scale and deposits around your plumbing fixtures. Be sure to test your water before you buy a softener to identify your iron and hardness levels. Once you know the exact figures, choosing the best water softener for well water is easy-peasy. No matter how many people are in your family, there are excellent options in my Top 5 to handle your home’s requirements.

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