Keen to learn more about the Aquios AQFS234 or AQFS234L Jumbo before you spend your money? In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about performance, key features, pros and cons, installation and maintenance, and more.
Table of Contents
The Aquios AQFS234 Jumbo and the Aquios AQFS234L Jumbo are salt-free water softening and filtration systems with almost identical features (hence why we have decided to review them both in the same article). Both systems use a single cartridge with a 6-month lifespan, which inhibits scale deposits and eliminates chlorine tastes and odors.
The only difference between these two systems is that the Aquios AQFS234L Jumbo can trap more contaminants with its smaller filter cartridge. More on that below.
📝 System Specifications
The Aquios AQFS234 Jumbo and the Aquios AQFS234L Jumbo have virtually identical system specifications. Note the difference in the filter pore size between the two units:
|Dimensions||25.4 x 8.0 inches|
|Flow rate||15-18 GPM|
|Filter pore size||5 microns (AQFS234 Jumbo) OR 1 micron (Aquios AQFS234L Jumbo)|
|Filter lifespan||3-6 months|
|Maximum water hardness||30 GPG (517 PPM)|
|Maximum operating pressure||100 PSI|
|Maximum Operating temperature||40-115 degrees F|
Compact, Durable, All-in-One Design
The Aquios AQFS234 Jumbo and the Aquios AQFS234L Jumbo both have a compact design, thanks to their all-in-one built, and use UV-resistant plastic and solid brass inserts for durability.
15-18 GPM Flow Rate
The larger-diameter housing prevents a reduction in flow. Families of 5+ should enjoy the same fast flow of water in their homes after installing any of these salt-free water softener filter system models.
Carbon Filtration & Scale Reduction
Both salt-free water softener systems combine carbon filtration with scale reduction technology to prevent hardness damage and reduce other common contaminants that affect water’s taste and smell.
The housing, sump, and other components are all protected by a 10-year warranty (as long as you have proof of purchase). The systems also have a 60-day money-back guarantee for folks who want to try before they commit to an investment.
We rate the performance of a water softener and filter system based on three factors:
- The effectiveness of water treatment (including softening/conditioning and contaminants removed).
- The longevity of the system, or how long it will perform at its peak.
- The speed of performance, or system flow rate.
Let’s look at how both Aquios water treatment systems perform in these categories.
First: water conditioning. Both the AQFS234 Jumbo and the AQFS234L Jumbo treat up to 30 GPG of water hardness, which is fantastic.
Hard water is rated between 7 and 12 GPG, so even if your water is very hard, either of these systems should completely resolve your scale issues. Note, however, that neither system physically removes hardness minerals from your water.
As for contaminant removal, the systems perform slightly differently.
The AQFS234 Jumbo, with the 5-micron filter, removes chlorine tastes and odors, as well as some sediment. If you have city water and chlorine is your main issue after water hardness, this softener and filter system is best for you.
The AQFS234L Jumbo, with the 1-micron filter, is more capable. With its smaller filter pores, it removes volatile organic compounds, chloroform, and rust, as well as chlorine odor and taste, chloramine, and pesticides. You’ll need to install a pre-filter upstream of this system to prevent the tiny pores from becoming quickly clogged and reducing flow rates, especially if you get your water from a private well.
📌 A quick word on filter lifespan and how it affects performance longevity: The AQFS234 5-micron filter lasts about 3-6 months, while the AQFS234L 1-micron cartridge lasts up to 6 months. That’s pretty decent for a cartridge-based system, although not the best we’ve seen.
Good news if you’re looking for a whole house water softener and filter for a large home: both of these Aquios systems provide a fast flow of 15 to 18 gallons per minute.
Suppose you have multiple bathrooms and more than five people in your home. In that case, Aquios’ commercial-strength technology will deliver plenty of water for all your appliances, even during times of peak use.
🔧 Installation & Maintenance
The Aquios Jumbo salt free water softener and filter system models are easy to install thanks to their compact design and minimal components. It should take you less than two hours to install the units from start to finish.
Check your local plumbing codes to make sure your installation process is compliant before you get started. We also recommend installing a bypass valve (which you’ll need to buy separately) to divert water away from the unit during maintenance.
Included in the initial package are:
- Whole house water softening and filter unit
- Initial filter and conditioning cartridge x1
- Mounting hardware
- Mounting bracket
- Housing wrench
- User manual with instructions
We’ve briefly outlined the installation process below:
- Choose a suitable location for installation, upstream of your water heater, as close as possible to where your main water line enters your home.
- Shut off your main water supply and open your faucets to drain the remaining water from your pipes.
- Use the provided screws to attach the U-bracket to the wall studs about 36 inches above the ground, then detatch the blue collar to remove the housing head.
- Find the inlet and outlet ports and attach a threaded nipple to each, sealing with plumber’s tape.
- Insert the threaded nipples through each side of the U-bracket and connect the unit to your water supply line.
- Install the filter cartridge in the sump and make sure the o-ring is properly aligned, creating a seal.
- Secure the sump on the housing and tighten with the included wrench, being careful not to overtighten.
- Switch your water supply back on, then check for leaks. If no leaks are present, the system is ready to use.
Both Aquios whole house water softener and filter system models need about two filter changes. If you buy the AQFS234 with the 5-micron filter (with a 3-6 month lifespan), you might need to change the filter up to four times per year – especially if you have very hard water or high TDS.
Replacement filters cost $120-$135 on the Aquios website, depending on the filter you buy.
💡 Considering the upfront affordability of both of these models, you might think the increased maintenance is worth it. But keep in mind that you’ll be paying about $200-$250 per year on two filter replacements, so you’ll probably end up paying the same as you’d pay upfront for a longer-lasting cartridge-free system in about three years.
One of the most important considerations to make is whether you’d rather pay less upfront and more in the long run, or more upfront and less on maintenance. If you fall into the former category, an Aquios water treatment system should be fine for you.
📝 Filter Info
Aquios specializes in the all-in-one system, and the AQFS234 and AQFS234L are no different. These salt-free water softener and filter systems combine scale-reduction media and filtration media within the same filter cartridge.
How does the scale-reduction media work in an Aquios water treatment system?
Unlike salt-based systems, which use salt and ion exchange to soften water, the AQFS234 and AQFS234L use a natural technology that treats water as scale-causing minerals pass through the media.
A food-grade additive known as Siliphos prevents calcium and magnesium from sticking to surfaces. It doesn’t actually remove these minerals – rather, it prevents most scale-causing minerals from sticking to surfaces. As a result, scale is inhibited, but you can still enjoy the health benefits and appealing alkaline taste of hardness minerals.
To target other undesirable materials in water, the AQFS234 and AQFS234L Jumbo salt-free water softener models also act as a filtration system, using a solid carbon block design to trap common contaminants in the media.
Carbon block has the advantage of being more compact than other types of carbon, so it increases contact time and traps a greater number of contaminants across its surface.
As we mentioned earlier, the type of filtration system you choose determines the size of the media’s pores. The AQFS234 has 5-micron pores, while the AQFS234L has 1-micron pores.
📌 We recommend the AQFS234 for most people who just want to enjoy scale-reduction benefits and improved water taste. However, if your priority is to remove as many contaminants as possible as well as conditioning your water, and you don’t mind buying and installing an additional pre-filter, the AQFS234L is best for you – especially since it only costs about $10 more than the AQFS234.
No other maintenance is needed aside from changing the filter cartridges when required.
🔔 Pros & Cons
👍 What We Like
- Up to 30 GPG of hardness removal is as good as it gets. Both Aquios systems should give you noticeable scale-reduction benefits on your faucets and shower heads, and in your appliances and plumbing. Plus, you still get healthy water, because no hardness minerals are actually removed.
- We think the 15-18 GPM flow rate is excellent. You should experience virtually no pressure loss after installing either Aquios system.
- You don’t have to pay for salt, and there’s no wastewater, which you’d get with a salt-based full house water softener. This salt-free water softener filter system only has one maintenance requirement: cartridge changes.
- If you’re eco-conscious, you’ll love that the Aquios salt-free water softeners are better for the environment as they don’t discharge sodium or potassium into our water systems.
- No salt = no slimy water.
👎 What We Don’t Like
- Aquios makes quite a few promising claims about its products, but we were unable to find industry proof (in the form of lab testing reports, for instance), to support these. It would be more reassuring to see third-party evidence of performance.
- As salt-free conditioners, the AQFS234 and the AQFS234L don’t physically remove calcium and magnesium minerals as a salt-based full house water softener would. This means you can’t measure their performance by testing your water hardness.
- Replacing the cartridges is costly, especially if you buy the AQFS234, which may only last 3 months. This makes us question the long-term cost-effectiveness of these Aquios systems.
❔ Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between the Aquios AQFS234 and the Aquios AQFS234L?
The Aquios AQFS234 uses a 5-micron filter, while the Aquios AQFS234L uses a 1-micron filter. The AQFS234L’s smaller filter pores allow it to remove more contaminants, including VOCs and chloroform, compared to the AQFS234.
How long does the Aquios AQFS234 last?
The Aquios AQFS234 has a filter cartridge that lasts 3-6 months before it needs replacing. If you upgrade to the Aquios AQFS234L, it should last about 6 months with suitable pre-filtration.
Will the Aquios AQFS234 affect my water pressure?
No, the Aquios AQFS234 and the Aquios AQFS234L shouldn’t affect your water pressure because they both have a fast flow rate of 15-18 GPM.
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