8 Best Whole House Water Filter and Softener Combos of 2024

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The SpringWell 2-in-1 filter + salt softener combo is the best water filter and softener combined system for city water. See our other top picks based on specific applications right here!

Want to soften and filter your water supply with an all-in-one solution? You’ll find our top recommendations in this guide to the best whole house water filtration and softener system.

We’ve tested and compared dozens of the best filter/softener combos on our own tap water supplies in the US. Here, we’ve reviewed the most popular systems based on their softening and contaminant removal abilities, customer feedback, and overall value for money.

🥇 Best Whole House Water Filter and Softener Combo

📊 Comparison of the Best Water Softener and Filter Combos

SystemSpringwell 2 in 1 Filter + Salt Softener Combo
Springwell 2 in 1 Filter + Salt Softener Combo
SpringWell Water Filter and Salt-Free Water Softener
SpringWell Water Filter and Salt-Free Water Softener
Kind E-3000
Kind E-3000
Springwell Well Water Filter and Salt Based Water Softener
Springwell Well Water Filter and Salt Based Water Softener
Springwell Well Water Filter and Salt-Free Water Softener
Springwell Well Water Filter and Salt-Free Water Softener
SoftPro Elite Water Softener for Well Water + Iron Master AIO Water Filtration System
SoftPro Elite Water Softener for Well Water + Iron Master AIO Water Filtration System
Crystal Quest SMART Whole House Water Filter + Softener
Crystal Quest SMART Whole House Water Filter + Softener
Crystal Quest SMART Whole House Water Filter + Saltless Conditioner
Crystal Quest SMART Whole House Water Filter + Saltless Conditioner
Ranking1st1st2nd3rd3rd4th5th5th
Ratings5/55/54.5/55/55/54.5/54/54/5
Price$2212.98+$2542.52+$1,998$3302.35+$3639.93+$2,719+$2,794+$3,630+
Source WaterCityCityCityWellWellWellCityCity
Filter TypeCatalytic Carbon + KDFCatalytic Carbon + KDFCatalytic CarbonAIOAIOAIOCatalytic Carbon + ERA + Ion ExchangeCatalytic Carbon + ERA + Ion Exchange
Contaminants Removed10+3+10+4+3+4+10+10+
Filter Capacity1,000,000 Gallons1,000,000 Gallons80,000 Gallonsn/an/an/a1,500,000 Gallons1,500,000 Gallons
Water SoftenerSalt-Based Ion ExchangeTACTACSalt-Based Ion ExchangeTACSalt-Based Ion ExchangeSalt-Based Ion ExchangeTAC
Grain Capacity/ Max Hardness48K or 80K81 GPG75 GPG32K, 48K, or 80K81 GPGUp to 80K48K25 GPG
Flow Rate11 - 20 GPM9 – 20 GPM15 GPM11 - 20 GPM12 – 20 GPM6 - 12 GPM9 - 11 GPMnot specified
WarrantyLifetimeLifetimeLifetime (limited)LifetimeLifetimeLifetime on tank and other partsLifetimeLifetime

⭐ Reviews – Whole House Water Softener and Filtration System Combos

Springwell 2 in 1 Filter + Salt Softener Combo System OR Water Filter and Salt-Free Water Softener

Filter + Conditioner System

In our opinion, the SpringWell 2 in 1 Water Filter, paired with either the Salt Softener OR the Salt-Free Softener, is the best whole house filter and softener combo for city water.

This highly capable whole house water softener/conditioner and filtration system combo offers better features at a better value for money than any other filter/softener combo available today. The SpringWell Water Filter and Salt-Free Softener combo consists of two separate tanks, while the SpringWell 2 in 1 Water Filter and Salt Softener has an all-in-one design.

Springwell 2 in 1 Filter + Salt Softener ConfigurationsPrice
1-3 Bathrooms$2212.98
4-6 Bathrooms$2741.66

Key features:

  • Choose between softener or conditioner – Alongside the SpringWell whole house filtering system, you can choose between SpringWell’s water softener (the most compact option, using KDF and salt-based media in the same tank,) and the water conditioner (which comes in a separate tank).
  • Save space with a combo unit – The SpringWell 2 in 1 Water Filter and Salt Softener has a space-saving single-unit design that’s not as big or bulky as many of the combo filter/softener systems on this list.
  • Different capacities available – You can choose the right capacity for your home size. SpringWell offers several different system capacities, which are sized based on the number of bathrooms you have.
  • Targets contaminants and water hardness – The filter and salt softener combo system completely removes calcium and magnesium from water, while the filter and conditioner combo uses template-assisted crystallization (TAC) to convert calcium and magnesium into crystals that can’t form scale. Both models also remove chlorine and chloramine, VOCs, herbicides, and pesticides.
Water Filter + Salt-Free Softener ConfigurationsPrice
1-3 Bathrooms$2542.52
4-6 Bathrooms$2948.16
7+ Bathrooms$4351.86

Best For:

People looking for the most reliable, best-value softener filter combo for a city or municipal water supply.

Pros:

  • The SpringWell 2 in 1 Water Filter and Salt Softener/Salt-Free Conditioner is a smart investment. It’s not the cheapest combo system on this list, but you’re guaranteed high-quality, durable components and a reliable, long-lasting performance from a trusted brand name.
  • With its all-in-one design, the salt-based softener combination is best if you want to save the most space. With that said, it’s great to have a salt-free option, too, which is suitable for very hard water (up to 81 GPG) and can reduce up to 99.6% scale – ideal if you prefer to target limescale without the use of salt.
  • The filter system eliminates the taste and odor of chlorine. Our filtered water tasted great.
UpgradesPriceUses
UV Water Purification System$1100.99Boil water advisory protection
Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System$442.23Drinking water
Easy Installation Kit (For Filter + Salt-Free Softener) $197.99Ease of installation

Cons:

  • Some of the fittings are plastic.
  • There’s an easy installation kit that we wish was offered for free, but it comes at an extra cost.

Kind E-3000 Whole House Water Filter and Salt-Free Softener Combo

The Kind E-3000 is our top pick for the best cartridge-based filter and salt-free softener on this list. This system combines three filtration and conditioning media and costs just under $1,600, making it an exceptional value for money. It’s also significantly easier to install than a tank-based system.

Key Features:

  • Conditioning, sediment, and carbon filters – The Kind E-3000 combines a sediment filter with a carbon filter and an eSoft cartridge within a single filter housing. Filtration, adsorption, and template-assisted crystallization combine to produce conditioned, filtered water. Expect better-tasting water and relief from scale damage in your pipes and appliances.
  • Removes hundreds of contaminants & conditions water – The sediment filter in this system removes dust, rust, and dirt, while the carbon filter greatly reduces chlorine, chloramine, and other organic impurities. The eSoft conditioning cartridge prevents scale formation while retaining healthy minerals.
  • Good warranty and satisfaction guarantee – The Kind E-3000 is backed by a lifetime warranty and a 120-day satisfaction guarantee, so you can try the system risk-free.

Best For:

Anyone who prefers a cartridge-based softener filter combo that’s suitable for smaller budgets and easier to maintain, while still offering quality, effective water treatment.

Pros:

  • We think the obvious benefit of the system is the convenience of all three cartridges – for filtration and softening – being combined in the same filter housing. You don’t have to pay for two separate tank-based units. Everything is housed in one small, compact unit.
  • The design of the Kind E-3000 combo unit also makes installation and maintenance much easier. If there was any system to attempt to DIY install, it’s this one.
  • For a cartridge filtration system, the Kind E-3000’s system’s flow rate impressed us. It’s designed for homes with up to 6 bathrooms, with a maximum flow rate of 15 GPM.
  • We noticed an improvement in our water quality after installing the system. The straightforward yet effective filtration and conditioning processes produce water that’s fresher and chemical-free, with reduced scale-forming abilities. Check out the contaminants removed by the carbon filter here.

Cons:

  • The cartridges need replacing more frequently than the media in a tank-based alternative. You’ll need to buy yearly sediment and carbon filter replacements. The good news is that the eSoft cartridge never needs to be replaced.
  • The Kind E-3000 can only be used for city water. It’s no good at removing well water contaminants.

Springwell Well Water Filter and Salt Based Water Softener OR Salt-Free Water Softener

Filter and Salt Based Water Softener

Springwell Well Water Filter and Salt Based SoftenerPrice
1-3 Bathrooms$3302.35
4-6 Bathrooms$4416.89

If you’re looking to address contaminants and hardness minerals in a well water supply, we think the SpringWell Well Water Filter, combined with the Salt Water Softener OR the Salt-Free Softener, can’t be beaten.

This SpringWell system combo is the most capable dual system we’ve found for private well supplies thanks to its ability to remove iron, manganese, and sulfur, and virtually eliminate limescale issues.

Key Features:

  • Air injection for targeted contaminant removal – Both of SpringWell’s combo well water systems use the SpringWell air-injection well water filter. This chemical-free single-tank system uses an air pocket to oxidize and filter out sulfur, iron, and manganese.
  • Choose between softening and conditioning – You can choose to add SpringWell’s salt-free conditioner or salt-based softener tank to the air injection system. The salt-based system is recommended for most well water supplies wells with a higher hardness level.
  • Impressive warranty and guarantee – Both combo units have a six-month money-back guarantee and a manufacturer’s lifetime warranty against all defects – a vote of confidence from SpringWell.

Here’s a summary of the performance of Springwell Well Filter and Salt Based Water Softener as assessed through our third-party laboratory analysis.

ContaminantMeasurementPre-FiltrationPost-Filtration% Change
AntimonyPPM0.00030.000566.67%
BariumPPM0.0510.003-94.12%
BoronPPM0.0230.013-43.48%
CalciumPPM561.44-97.43%
ChloridePPM10.511.48.57%
Chromium (Total)PPM0.0010-100.00%
CobaltPPM0.00070-100.00%
CopperPPM0.2110.091-56.87%
FluoridePPM00.244n/a
HardnessPPM220.845.62-97.46%
IronPPM2.370-100.00%
LithiumPPM0.0790.003-96.20%
MagnesiumPPM18.20.414-97.73%
ManganesePPM0.0020.0221000.00%
MolybdenumPPM0.0030.002-33.33%
NickelPPM0.0090.0009-90.00%
Nitrate (as N)PPM0.3090.36417.80%
PotassiumPPM1.430.156-89.09%
SeleniumPPM0.0020.001-50.00%
SilicaPPM9.0412.639.38%
SodiumPPM18.8191915.96%
StrontiumPPM1.080.015-98.61%
SulfatePPM13215114.39%
TitaniumPPM0.0010.0005-50.00%
TurbidityNTU0.420.21-50.00%
UraniumPPM0.0020.0020.00%
VanadiumPPM0.00070-100.00%
ZincPPM0.1260.074-41.27%

Best For:

Well owners who are willing to make a big investment in the best protection against common well water contaminants and hardness damage.

Filter and Salt-Free Water Softener

Springwell Well Water Filter and Salt-Free Softener ConfigurationsPrice
1-3 Bathrooms$3639.93
4-6 Bathrooms$4700.61

Pros:

  • Air injection, the process used to treat well water in this SpringWell system combo, is our personal recommendation for removing iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide. It’s chemical-free and very low-maintenance, and backwashes the tank and replenishes the oxygen bubble automatically whenever needed.
  • Of all the well water whole home water filter and softener/salt-free water conditioner combo systems we tried, this SpringWell model made the biggest difference to our water quality. Our water looked, smelled, and tasted clean after installing this system.
  • The SpringWell Salt Based softener uses ion exchange, the most effective softening process. But if you prefer to address limescale without salt, the salt-free water conditioner is one of the best we’ve used. Many conditioners aren’t up to the task of treating well water, but SpringWell’s salt-free softener can treat water hardness up to 81 GPG.
UpgradesPriceUses
UV Water Purification System$1100.99Boil water advisory protection
Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System$442.23Drinking water

Cons:

  • If your budget is small, it probably won’t stretch to this expensive SpringWell system combo.
  • This unit takes up a lot of space because two separate tanks are needed. There’s no all-in-one configuration.

SoftPro Elite Water Softener for Well Water + Iron Master AIO Water Filtration System

If you have well water with a high iron content, we think you can’t go wrong with the SoftPro Elite Softener + Iron Master Water Filter.

This system softens water and removes a massive 30 PPM of iron, as well as up to 5 PPM of sulfur. It’s at least $800 cheaper than SpringWell’s combo systems for well water, and it removes more iron.

Key Features:

  • Efficient performance: The SoftPro Elite Water Softener is designed with efficiency in mind, and has a high-flow control valve that can be programmed according to your softening needs. The Iron Master filter is also highly efficient, with a control valve that maintains high flow rates, allowing for optimum performance when combined with the SoftPro Elite.
  • Dual softening and iron filtration – This salt-based softening system uses ion exchange to eliminate hard water minerals and air injection to remove up to 30 PPM of iron from water.
  • Multiple sizes available: You can choose between three sizing choices for the Iron Master filter: 1.0 cubic foot, 1.5 cubic foot, and 2.0 cubic foot. The SoftPro Elite also comes in a number of sizes, from 24,000 to 80,000 grains.
SoftPro Elite + Iron Master AIO ConfigurationsPrice (6-7 GPM)Price (8-10 GPM)Price (11+ GPM)
24000$2,719$2,959$3,109
32000$2,849$3,079$3,249
40000$2,879$3,119$3,279
48000$2,949$3,189$3,349
64000$3,009$3,249$3,409
580000n/an/an/a

Best For:

Folks who have private well water and are looking for the most efficient iron and hardness removal system that wastes minimal salt and water.

Pros:

  • This SoftPro combo system uses one of the smartest water softeners we’ve reviewed, with features including a 15-minute “recharge”, which adds a small amount of extra salt to the resin if more is needed before the scheduled regeneration.
  • You won’t find many other water filters that remove up to 30 PPM of iron, let alone soften water within the same system.
  • If you have well water with a hardness and iron problem, this system combo will treat them thoroughly. Iron issues will be eliminated after installing the SoftPro Elite Softener + Iron Master Water Filter, and you should notice less issues with scale.

Cons:

  • This water filter and softener combo is bulky, so you’ll need plenty of room to install it in your home.
  • There’s no option to buy this system with a salt-free conditioner, so salt top-ups will be required.

Crystal Quest SMART Whole House Water Filter + Softener OR Saltless Conditioner

Our top alternate choice on this list is the Crystal Quest SMART Whole House Water Filter, which can be combined with the brand’s Softener OR Saltless Conditioner.

The tank-based filter uses 6 stages of filtration to thoroughly remove a range of contaminants, and the Softener or Saltless Conditioner addresses hardness minerals, preventing scale formation. Both systems consist of three tanks: softening resin and brine tanks, and a water filter tank.

Crystal Quest SMART + Softener ConfigurationsPrice (Fiberglass)Price (Stainless Steel)
1.5 cu ft resin (Filters 1,000,000 Gallons)$2,794$4,387
2.0 cu ft resin (Filters 1,500,000 Gallons)$3,439$5,068

Key Features:

  • 6-stage filtration – The Crystal Quest SMART Whole House Water Filter combines six thorough stages of filtration: a sediment pre-filter, a solid carbon filter, a SMART multimedia filter (featuring a standard and catalytic carbon filter and an ion exchange resin), and ceramic and tourmaline balls.
  • Thorough contaminant removal and softening – This filter softener combo can remove heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceutical by-products, and chlorine/chloramine from water. It also enhances water’s pH and alkalinity and either removes hardness minerals via ion exchange (if you choose the softener) or transforms them into calcite crystals (if you buy the conditioner).
  • Several sizes available – You can buy the Crystal Quest filter system in two sizes: 1.5 + cubic feet (for homes with up to 3 bathrooms) and 2.0 + cubic feet (for homes with 2-4 bathrooms). You can buy both the softener and the saltless conditioner systems in 1,000,000 or 1,500,000-gallon capacities.
Crystal Quest SMART + Conditioner ConfigurationsPrice (Fiberglass)Price
1.5 cu ft resin (Filters 1,000,000 Gallons)$3,630$4,976
2.0 cu ft resin (Filters 1,500,000 Gallons)$4,186$5,242

Best For:

Folks looking for a softener and filter combo that can be exactly tailored to their needs. You can choose between salt-free and salt-based softening, fiberglass and stainless steel casing, and there are optional add-ons, like UV sterilizers, leak detector smart valves, and oxidation systems in different sizes.

Pros:

  • The Crystal Quest SMART Whole House Water Filter is one of the few systems we’ve reviewed that combines standard granular carbon with catalytic carbon. Catalytic carbon filter media has enhanced contaminant removal abilities – it can remove chloramine as well as chlorine, so it’s ideal for chloraminated city water supplies.
  • The system can also reduce heavy metals like lead and mercury – another unique performance ability for a POE whole house filter – thanks to its use of the Crystal Quest Eagle Redox Alloy®.
  • This Crystal Quest Softener eliminates limescale deposits, using a proprietary cation exchange resin bed to exchange hardness minerals with sodium or potassium. But if you don’t want to add salt to your water, upgrade to the Saltless Conditioner, which uses a salt-free, chemical-free conditioning method to transform hardness minerals into stable nanocrystals.
  • It’s rare for a water filter and softener combo to offer as many as six filtration stages and hard water treatment.
UpgradesPriceUses
12 GPM UV Water Sterilizer $569Boil water advisory protection
Leak Detector Smart Valve$179Water leak detection
Oxidation System 600 mg/h$789Well water contaminants reduction
Oxidation System 800 mg/h$979Well water contaminants reduction
Oxidation System 1000 mg/h$1,179Well water contaminants reduction
Oxidation System 2000 mg/h$2,879Well water contaminants reduction

Cons:

  • Regardless of whether you choose the softener or conditioner, the system is bulky as there are no all-in-one configurations.

🧾 Buyer’s Guide – Whole House Water Filter + Softener Systems

Looking to learn more about whole house water filter and softener combos before you buy? We’ve shared everything you need to know in this helpful buyer’s guide.

💡 How Whole House Water Filters & Softeners Work Together

A whole house filter system and softener combo works by merging two processes – one that removes contaminants with a filter media, and one that softens hard water by removing or conditioning hardness minerals. This system provides two benefits in one, purifying your water and making it safer to drink, while protecting your pipes, fixtures, and appliances from limescale damage.

There are two ways that a water filter and softener combo might work together to treat your water supply. These are:

Independent Softening-Filtration Combos

Independent water filter and softener combos consist of two separate systems. Usually, the water filter system comes first, so water is filtered before entering the softener unit. A sediment pre-filter may be hooked up before the water filter system.

These systems work as standalone units and can usually be purchased separately as well as in a combo package. First, water is filtered in the filter system, which removes a specific set of contaminants. Water then flows into the softener or conditioner, where hard water mineral ions are treated or removed.

Merged Combo Systems

Merged combo units typically use a single tank that contains a softening and filtration media. These units tend to be cheaper because fewer materials are required in their manufacturing, and they’re better for apartments and small homes because they take up less space.

In these systems, water flows through the tank, where it’s filtered and softened simultaneously. There may also be a sediment pre-filter installed before the system.

💭 Considerations When Choosing the Best Water Softener and Filter Combo

When deciding on the best whole house water filters and softeners for your family, consider the following factors:

Your Water Chemistry

First, if you don’t know already, you need to learn about your water chemistry.

You won’t be able to accurately choose the right system for you unless you know what you need to remove from your water.

We recommend getting your water professionally tested by a state-certified laboratory, especially if you own a private well.

Laboratory testing costs around $100-$250, depending on the type of test you choose. Many laboratories offer packages for well water or city water, testing for the most common contaminants. You may also pay extra to test for specific contaminants that are a concern in your local area.

You can choose the right type of media combination for your whole house filter system/softener combo based on the contaminants indicated in your water test.

If you don’t have the extra budget for a laboratory test and you get your water from a municipal supply, take a look at your water utility’s most recent Water Quality Report, which lists the contaminants detected in your water. It’ll give you a detailed overview of what your water contains, though it doesn’t account for daily fluctuations in contaminant levels or contaminants may enter your water on its journey to your home.

Use the EPA’s Consumer Confidence Reports tool to identify the report for your area. Alternatively, you can use an online resource like this one from the EWG to get a basic idea of what might be in the water in your area.

You may want to buy an at-home water testing kit if you’re concerned about specific contaminants in your water. These kits cost less than $20 online. DIY tests won’t give you the most accurate indication of your water’s chemistry, but they’re a good place to start.

understanding water chemistry

Whole House Water Filter Type

Now you know the contaminants you want to remove from your water, you can choose the most suitable filter type for your requirements.

Sediment Filter

Whole-house sediment filters can be standalone filters, or they may be included as part of a larger whole-house water filtration system.

The most common standalone sediment filtration systems are spin-down filters and cartridge filters.

Spin-down sediment filters

Spin-down sediment water filters are a particularly common option for well water that contains large grains of sediment or sand.

Water enters the top of the sediment filter and spins in a centrifugal motion from top to bottom. This circulates the water through the filter, removing the sediment.

Some spin-down filters come with a flush valve, and you will need to flush them periodically to remove the sediment. Others offer automatic flushing for convenience.

Cartridge sediment filters

Cartridge filters have a spun-cartridge or pleated cartridge design, and are commonly included as first-stage filters in whole-house filter systems.

Spun-cartridge filters send water through multiple layers of spun, melted polypropylene. The outer layers of the filter have the highest micron level, and the micron level decreases with each layer toward the center of the filter. The largest sediment is removed on the outside, while the smallest particles are removed when water reaches the inside of the filter.

Pleated filters have a folded or pleated design, and the same micron rating is used across the whole filter.

Whole house water filter cartridges

Carbon Media

Carbon filtration media is usually available in two filter types: granular activated carbon (GAC) and solid carbon block media.

Granular activated carbon water filters

GAC media is made from a naturally absorptive media, such as coconut shell or coal. GAC filters have a large surface area consisting of hundreds of tiny micro-pores, which trap contaminants in a process known as adsorption.

GAC filters are best for removing aesthetic contaminants (those that affect water’s taste and smell) from municipal water, such as chlorine. They can also be used to remove some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and certain heavy metals.

Solid carbon block filters

Solid carbon block media is made from compressed carbon, rather than loose granules, and its compact design allows for a long contact time between the filter and the water.

When water flows through a solid carbon block filter, it navigates a maze of pores, which enhances the filter’s contaminant removal abilities. Carbon block filters are better than GAC filters for removing heavy metals like lead, and some can even remove microbiological contaminants, depending on filter pore size.

coconut shell carbon

Oxidation Media

Oxidation media targets common well water contaminants, such as iron, manganese, and sulfur.

There are a few different oxidizers that can be used in a whole house filter system, including oxidizing chemicals like chlorine (in chemical injection systems), air (in air injection systems), and oxidizing media (in tank-based systems).

When water is exposed to the oxidizer, contaminants like iron are oxidized into their insoluble forms.

Once these contaminants have been oxidized, they can be filtered out of the water. An oxidizing media, usually made from manganese greensand or birm, is typically used to trap contaminants as water flows through the system.

KDF Media

KDF, or kinetic degradation fluxion, is a type of filter media that produces a chemical reaction known as oxidation-reduction, or redox.

This zinc-copper alloy media is available in several different forms.

KDF-55 removes chlorine, making it a good option for municipal drinking water users. KDF-85 is more suitable for well water as it filters out iron and hydrogen sulfide.

Combination Media

Occasionally, you may come across a filter system that combines several different types of media to provide a broader overall filtration result.

The most common filter media combination is KDF-F fine mesh and activated carbon. When these media are combined, they offer a more effective performance, removing a broader range of harmful contaminants.

kdf media

Water Softener System Type

Ion Exchange vs Water Conditioner

There are two popular types of water softeners available today: ion exchange water softeners and salt-free water conditioners.

Ion exchange water softeners

Ion exchange systems use salt to soften water. Sodium ions are released into the water, taking the place of the magnesium and calcium minerals that cause hardness.

Salt-based softeners regenerate when the resin bed is saturated with hardness ions.

Water conditioners

Water conditioners use a salt-free scale-prevention process, such as template-assisted crystallization. This coats calcium and magnesium minerals with a hard, crystallized overlay that prevents them from being able to stick to surfaces. Check out this study if you want to nerd out on the science of it 🤓

Water conditioners don’t actually remove water hardness. Instead, they prevent limescale – the biggest problem associated with hard water.

springwell salt-based water softener system

System Capacity

It’s important to accurately determine the capacity you need for your whole house water filter and softener combo.

The larger the system’s capacity, the longer it’ll last before it needs to be replaced or regenerated. Capacity and water flow rate usually go hand-in-hand; the larger the capacity, the faster the water flow.

Choose the right capacity for your daily water usage. If you buy a system that’s too small for your needs, maintenance will be higher than necessary. If you buy a system that’s too large, the water flow could damage your pipes, and regeneration would be too infrequent.

👨‍🔧 Want to know how to size a water softener? Check out our guide here 👈

Water Pressure & Flow Rate

Water pressure and water flow rate are two more important considerations when purchasing a whole house water filtration system and softener combo.

On average, whole-house water filters and softeners have a pressure rating of 10-15 gallons per minute (GPM).

Both units should be capable of processing water at a flow that can adequately supply your whole home, even during times of peak use.

Your Budget

The average cost of a single water softener or water filter system is around $1,500 – but if you buy them together, you can usually get $200-$500 off the overall price.

Another cost consideration is the cost of hiring a plumber or handyman for installation. Professional installation of a whole house water filter system and softener usually costs $150-$300.

For whole house water filters, there are various ongoing costs to consider. Most filter units use cartridges that need to be changed once every 2 years, 1 year, or 6 months.

You might purchase a whole house water filter system or water conditioner that uses filtration media. Typically, media lasts longer – usually between 6 and 10 years.

Water softeners that use salt are the most expensive to maintain. They require salt top-ups every 3 weeks or so, and they also waste water during regeneration. Check out our water softener cost guide for more information.

Cost Factor Average Cost Range
Salt (ion exchange only)$20 - $40/40 lb. bag
Potassium Chloride (ion exchange only)$40 - $80/40 lb. bag
Resin $100 - $150 cu.ft.
Water + Sewer (for ion exchange softeners) $20 - $30
ElectricityMinimal
Cleaner $10 - $20
Rust Remover$5-$15
Water Treatment Repairs $200 - $1,000

Physical Space Available

You’ll need more space to install two units together than you would installing a single system.

Some of the water filter and softener combos in this guide feature a single tank that does two jobs in one, but this is less common.

Usually, you’ll need enough room in your dedicated installation spot for at least two large tanks. Most tanks need to be installed vertically.

You’ll also need plenty of room for maintenance, including filter changes and salt top-ups, if applicable.

Make sure to carefully measure your available space and read the specifications for the system you’re interested in before you click “buy”.

smart water softener systems

Installation & Maintenance Requirements

Installing a whole house water filtration system and softener combo requires a certain level of DIY knowledge and expertise.

You’ll need to cut into your water line and install several tanks, valves, and additional tech. You’ll also need to install a bypass valve to divert water away from your system during maintenance or regeneration.

👨‍🔧 Related: Should I install my water filter before or after the softener?

Maintenance depends on the type of system you own.

Whole house water filters with filter cartridges require the most maintenance. POE water filter cartridges usually have a lifespan of 6 months.

Whole house water filtration systems with a media bed usually last much longer without maintenance. They may need to regenerate, but this can be programmed automatically.

Water softeners need regular salt top-ups. Like tank-based water filters, they regenerate automatically, usually based on water usage.

Water conditioners are the lowest-maintenance softening alternative. They don’t need to regenerate, and they don’t require salt top-ups. You’ll need to change the TAC media every 8 years or so.

Certifications

There are a number of certifications you should look for in a whole-house water filter and softener combo.

The best whole house water filter and softener units may have several NSF/ANSI certifications. Some of the most common whole house filtration certifications are:

  • NSF 42, for the reduction of aesthetic contaminants, like chlorine taste and odor.
  • NSF 53, for the reduction of harmful contaminants with health effects (e.g. lead) – usually applies to a whole house filtration system with an activated carbon filter.
  • NSF 401, for treatment of emerging contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals or currently unregulated chemicals.

The best whole-house water softeners (only ion exchange systems) should have a single NSF certification:

  • NSF 44, for the reduction of hardness (calcium and magnesium) minerals.
nsf logo

System Warranty

Regardless of the type of whole house water filter system and softener combo you buy, a good warranty is essential.

Avoid systems that don’t have any form of warranty. No warranty means you wouldn’t be able to exchange or return the system if it arrived faulty or developed a fault during operation.

A whole house water filter or softener should have at least a 2-5-year warranty on its most important components (such as tanks and valves). Most units are backed by a 10-year or limited lifetime warranty on their tanks, and shorter warranties on other parts of the system.

Make sure you’re aware of any warranty terms and conditions, or anything you need to do (such as registering the system online) to be eligible for the warranty.

✔️ Benefits of Using a Water Softener-Filter Combo

Alone, a whole house water filter system or water softener has its own specific set of benefits. Combining the benefits of these two systems means that you’ll get double the protection against drinking water contaminants in your home.

Some of the most notable benefits of using a whole house water filter-softener combo are:

  • Protects pipes and appliances – Whole house water filters and softeners can protect your pipes and appliances by preventing the formation of limescale. Systems that combine softeners with well water filters can also remove aesthetic contaminants, like iron and manganese, which can stain or leave deposits in your home’s pipes and appliances.
  • Enhances water quality – Using a whole house filtration system and softener combination can greatly improve the quality of your drinking water. Whole house filtration systems improve water quality by removing aesthetic contaminants, improving water’s appearance, taste, and odor. Water softeners improve water quality by preventing poor lathering, scale formation, and other issues associated with hard water.
  • Improves water safety – All public and private tap water supplies contain traces of dangerous contaminants, and the best whole house water filters can remove many of these impurities, improving your water safety. The type of system you choose determines the contaminants it can remove, and may include chlorine, chloramine, lead and other heavy metals, fluoride, radium, pesticides, and herbicides.
  • Saves money – Using a whole house water filter system and softener system eliminates your need to buy bottled water for drinking, cooking, filling pets’ water bowls, and other household uses. You only have to pay for system maintenance, which is a fraction of the price of constantly restocking a bottled water collection. Plus, soft water helps to support appliance efficiency and maintain low running costs, providing penny-saving benefits in the long run.

❔ Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a water softener if you have a water filtration system?

Do you have a hard water issue? Then yes, you could benefit from using a water softener alongside your whole house water filter system. Filtration systems can remove a broad range of tap water contaminants, including heavy metals, chlorine, chloramine and sediment, but they can’t remove hardness minerals – only a dedicated water softener can do this.

Do you need a water filter if you have a water softener?

You may need a whole house filter system if you’re dealing with a contamination issue alongside a hard water problem. Water softeners can only remove magnesium, calcium, and small amounts of iron. If your water contains chlorine, chloramine, heavy metals, high iron and manganese levels, sulfur, sediment, pesticides, or any other contamination problems, a whole house filter will address these needs.

What is the difference between a water filter system and a water softener?

The key difference between a water softener and a water filter system is that water softeners soften water (i.e. removes magnesium or calcium minerals) and prevent scale formation, while whole house water filtration systems remove specific contaminants that affect the taste, odor, or quality of water. Here’s a full guide on the difference between water filters and water softeners.

Are there any add-ons worth considering for a water softener-filter combo?

Potentially, yes, it’s worth considering some add-ons for a water filter and softener combo. If you get your water from a private well, you may want to install a UV light purification system to protect against microorganisms like bacteria and viruses.

Will whole home softeners and water filtration systems affect my home’s flow rate?

No, whole home softeners and water filter combos won’t affect your home’s water flow rate – not if you buy the right-sized system for your water usage. Check our section on system capacity and water pressure/ flow rate for more information.

I can’t afford a whole house filter and softener combo, but I still want their benefits. What can I do?

A more affordable alternative to a POE water filter softener combo is to purchase a whole-home water softener or conditioner, and a separate point-of-use water filter. Certain types of POU filters are much more affordable than point-of-entry systems. For instance, water pitcher filters cost less than $70 and can remove many of the most common contaminants from a city water supply, including heavy metals, fluoride, chlorine, chloramine, and more.

  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

2 thoughts on “8 Best Whole House Water Filter and Softener Combos of 2024”

  1. Avatar for Brian Campbell

    water play a big role on our life, is very important that the water we consume is clean and safe and is free of harmfull contaminats. If water do damages to plumbing, appliances could you imagine what could do your body.

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