AO Smith Water Softener Reviews 2024

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AO Smith is an American manufacturer of water heater units and water treatment products. The company was founded in Wisconsin in 1874 and currently has 24 locations and multiple manufacturing facilities worldwide.

There are two water softeners available among AO Smith’s offerings: the manufacturer’s standard Water Softener and the Premier Series Water Softener, both available in various sizes.

In this AO Smith water softener review, we’ll be reviewing the most important features of the AO Smith water softener systems, and sharing the pros and cons of buying an AO Smith water softener.

πŸ“Š AO Smith Water Softener Comparison Chart

ProductAO Smith Water Softener
AO Smith Water Softener
AO Smith Premier Series
AO Smith Premier Series
Price$400 – $700$500 – $700
ProcessIon ExchangeIon Exchange
Max Hardness90, 100 GPG90, 100 GPG
Water For2 to 4+ people2 to 4+ people
Flow rate2 GPM2, 2.4 GPM
Regen MethodMeteredMetered
Warranty5 years (electronics)
10 years (valve & brine)
5 years (electronics)
10 years (media & brine)

⭐ Reviews of AO Smith Water Softeners

AO Smith Water Softener

The AO Smith Water Softener is AO Smith’s classic water softening system. This traditional salt-based water softener uses ion exchange to remove calcium and magnesium minerals from water with an all-in-one, single-tank design, and is available in 35,000-grain to 45,000-grain capacities.

AO Smith Water Softener


Price$400 – $700
ProcessIon Exchange
Max Hardness90, 100 GPG
Water For2 to 4+ people
Flow Rate2 GPM
Regen MethodMetered
Warranty 5 years (electronics)
10 years (valve & brine)

The different grain capacities available for this system are:

  • AO Smith 35,000 Grain Capacity Water Softener – for 2-4 people
  • AO Smith 40,000 Grain Capacity Water Softener – for 3-4 people
  • AO Smith 45,000 Grain Capacity Water Softener – for 4+ people

πŸ‘ What We Like

  • The all-in-one design of the model is space-saving and simplifies installation
  • There are three sizes to choose from based on your family size and water usage
  • The unit offers an efficient performance that adapts to your water usage and minimizes salt and energy use
  • The system comes with a salt alert, letting you know when to top up the brine cabinet
  • The 5-year warranty for mechanical and electric parts and the 10-year warranty for the control valve and media/salt tank are reassuring

πŸ‘Ž What We Don’t Like

  • Many customers complained about poor-quality components
  • The installation instructions could be clearer

Our verdict: The AO Smith Water Softener is a good option if you’re looking for a compact water softener system that’s relatively easy to install and offers a fast and quiet regeneration. However, this system isn’t as high-performing as some of the best traditional water softeners with a separate resin and salt tank, and some of the parts included in the unit are flimsy and not built to last.

AO Smith Premier Series Water Softener

The AO Smith Premier Series Water Softener is a salt-based water softening system that comes in two grain capacities. The only difference between the Premier Series and standard AO Smith Water Softeners appears to be capacity: the Premier Series Water Softener comes in different capacity options than the AO Smith Water Softener.

AO Smith Premier Series Water Softener


Price$500 – $700
ProcessIon Exchange
Max Hardness90, 100 GPG
Water For2 to 4+ people
Flow Rate2, 2.4 GPM
Regen MethodMetered
Warranty5 years (electronics)
10 years (media & brine)

The grain capacities available for the AO Smith Premier Series Water Softener are:

  • AO Smith 30,000 Grain Capacity Premier Series Water Softener – for 2-4 people
  • AO Smith 50,000 Grain Capacity Premier Series Water Softener – for 2-4+ people

πŸ‘ What We Like

  • Choose between two capacities based on your household size and water usage
  • Compact design for easy installation and saving space
  • The unit uses salt-sensing technology in the brine cabinet to reduce salt, energy, and water use
  • The battery backup offers power loss protection, saving your settings
  • The warranties are decent – 5 years for the electronic and mechanical parts, and 10 years for the control valve, brine cabinet, and media tank.

πŸ‘Ž What We Don’t Like

  • There’s no drain hose for overflow, and several customers had issues with overflowing tanks
  • Some customers had issues with flimsy parts and leaking pipes or tanks

Our verdict: AO Smith Premier Series Water Softener is just another take on the standard AO Smith Water Softener, but with two different grain capacity options. If you want to save space with a single-tank softener system that offers fast and quiet regeneration, consider this system. Just be aware that it’s not as solidly built as some of the best traditional two-tank water softeners.

βœ… What We Like About AO Smith Water Softeners

Some of the advantages of AO Smith water softeners are:

Reduce Scale Buildup

The AO Smith Water Softeners fulfill their role as soft water systems and reduce scale buildup in pipes, plumbing, and appliances.

NSF Certified

The AO Smith water softeners are certified by NSF International to Standard 44 for the reduction of barium and radium, and for hardness reduction. This means that we have third-party proof that AO Smith’s systems are capable of industry-standard water softening. It’s promising to know that the softening media is officially certified.

Designed For Convenience

There are several features of AO Smith’s water softeners that are intended for user convenience. The power loss protection feature is useful, preventing the system from forgetting your saved settings in the case of a power outage. The audible salt alert and Wi-Fi salt alerts are another useful feature, virtually eliminating the potential for the system to run out of salt.

AO smith water softener specifications

Fairly Efficient Performance

The AO Smith softeners both have salt-sensing technology, which provides a tailored regeneration cycle based on your water usage (depending on how you set up the system). This efficient feature helps you to save water, salt, and energy.

Minimal Maintenance

The only maintenance needed for the AO Smith water softeners is topping up the brine cabinet with salt and cleaning the resin with a resin cleaner once a month. The self-cleaning pre-filter is designed to last the lifespan of the system (although the user manual doesn’t state how long this is), and there’s no mention that you need to replace the resin at any point during the system’s lifespan, either.

Affordable Cost

An undeniable benefit of AO Smith water softeners is their cost. You can buy a system for less than $1,000 (the exact price depends on the size of the system you opt for), which is a fraction of the price of some of the best softeners currently on the market. Are these systems an exceptional value for money? Perhaps not. But are they worth considering based on their affordability? Yes.

❌ Potential Setbacks of AO Smith Water Softener Systems

The notable setbacks of AO Smith Water Softeners are:

Limited Warranty

The AO Smith systems have pretty average warranties: a 5-year warranty on mechanical and electronic parts and a 10-year warranty on tanks and control heads. Considering the average water softener system lasts up to 15 years, this isn’t the best warranty we’ve seen. A limited lifetime warranty would be more reassuring.

Flimsy Materials

Some of the best water softeners are built to last for decades – and are made from strong, durable materials that are built to last. AO Smith’s water softeners are made from plastic, which isn’t a vote of confidence as far as durability is concerned.

Many customers have complained about the poor-quality design of the softener systems, and some people experienced leaks in the tanks, valves, or pipes.

No Additional Certifications

Although AO Smith’s softeners are officially NSF certified, the systems don’t hold official certifications with the Water Quality Association (WQA) or the International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) for quality of build or components. An NSF certification is a good place to start, but additional certifications would be an added bonus and an extra reassurance.

Not Maintenance-Free

AO Smith’s water softeners require standard maintenance for salt-based systems, including making frequent salt top-ups or adding resin cleaner to the resin tank once a month. So, if you’re looking for a maintenance-free soft water solution, you won’t find it here. You’re best looking for a salt-free water conditioner or electronic descaler if you want to avoid as much maintenance as possible.

πŸ“ AO Smith Water Softeners Review: Our Verdict & The Best Water Softener Alternatives

AO Smith water softeners are good systems, but they don’t blow us away. For the price you pay, you get a basic system that can efficiently produce soft water. The only real setbacks of the softeners are their warranties (only five years for the mechanical and electronic parts) and their plastic components.

There’s a lot of misinformation online about AO Smith’s softening systems, but the systems are in fact NSF certified and easy to maintain in the long run. Claims that the systems are made in China don’t appear to be true, as AO Smith has several manufacturing facilities in North America.

πŸ‘¨πŸ½β€βš–οΈ Does this mean we’d recommend AO Smith’s water softeners? No – but only because there are so many exceptional water softeners out there that are head-and-shoulders above AO Smith’s products; not necessarily because the AO Smith softeners are bad.

Some of our recommended water softener alternatives are:

🧠 AO Smith Water Softeners FAQ

How often does AO Smith Water Softener regenerate?

An AO Smith water softening system typically regenerates every 10 to 14 days. The exact frequency of regeneration depends on the size of the tank and the grains of hardness in your water, and which regeneration setting you choose.

How long do AO Smith water softeners last?

Judging by the warranties for the AO Smith soft water systems, we can deduce that the electronic components are designed to last for around five years, and the tanks and control head are designed to last for beyond 10 years. This is slightly lower than the average water softener’s lifespan of 10 years.

How do I set the regeneration on my AO Smith Water Softener?

To set the time for regeneration on your unit, Press β€œ>”, then change the time with the + or – button. Press “SAVE”, then press back until you’re taken back to the main menu.

To enter the regeneration Mode and Type section, press β€œ>”. Then, enter each selection menu by pressing β€œ>” next to either Type or Mode. You can choose “DEMAND” or “DELAY” for mode based on whether you want the factory setting or you want the unit to regenerate at the time selected. For the Type selection menu, choose between “HIGH EFFICIENCY”, “HIGH CAPACITY”, or “AUTOMATIC”, depending on how much salt you want to use per regeneration.

Why is my AO Smith Water Softener full of water?

Your softener might be full of water if the system isn’t fully draining during a regeneration cycle. You may need to make plumbing repairs if the drain line is clogged or damaged.

  • Laura Shallcross
    Senior Editor

    Laura is a passionate residential water treatment journalist who holds an undergraduate degree in Print Journalism and a master’s degree in Creative Writing. Over a span of 5 years she's written on a range of topics including water softening, well water treatment, and purification processes.

2 thoughts on “AO Smith Water Softener Reviews 2024”

  1. Avatar for Laura Shallcross

    Laura, I currently have a pelican water filtration system which seems to do its job. I would like to add a water softener system and looking for the best product available. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated
    Thanks Steve

    1. Avatar for Laura Shallcross

      Hey Steve, thanks for the comment! Have you seen our Best Water Softeners article? We keep this article updated throughout the year and there you will find our top picks for different situations and needs. Please let us know if you have any further questions, happy to assist!

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