Rheem Water Softener Reviews (Read Before Buying!)

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Rheem is a manufacturer that’s best known for its AC units and water heaters, headquartered in Georgia, USA. Rheem was founded in 1925 by brothers Richard and Donald Rheem.

Alongside its other home appliances, Rheem also offers a range of water treatment systems, including four types of water softeners.

This Rheem water softener review will share everything you need to know about these four water softener offerings:

  • The Rheem Preferred Platinum Water Softener
  • The Rheem Preferred Plus Water Softener
  • The Rheem Preferred Water Softener
  • The Rheem Preferred Compact Water Softener

We’ll also be discussing what we like about Rheem, and any potential setbacks of Rheem water softening systems that you should be aware of. At the bottom, we’ve answered common questions that you might have about Rheem and its products.

πŸ“Š Rheem Water Softeners Comparison Chart

ProductRheem Preferred Water Softener
Rheem Preferred
Rheem Preferred Plus Water Softener
Rheem Preferred Plus
Rheem Preferred Platinum Water Softener
Rheem Preferred Platinum
Rheem Preferred Compact Water Softener
Rheem Preferred Compact
ProcessIon ExchangeIon ExchangeIon ExchangeIon Exchange
Grain Capacity32K42K42K18K
Water ForUp to 4 PeopleUp to 5+ peopleUp to 5+ people1 to 4 people
Flow Rate7.9 gpm9.9 GPM9.9 GPM7 GPM
Regen MethodMeteredMeteredMeteredMetered
Warranty1 yr (parts)
3 yrs (electronics)
10 yrs (tanks)
1 yr (parts)
3 yrs (electronics)
10 yrs (tanks)
1 yr (parts)
3 yrs (electronics)
10 yrs (tanks)
1 yr (parts)
3 yrs (electronics)
10 yrs (tanks)

⭐ Reviews of Rheem Water Softeners

Rheem Preferred Water Softener

The Rheem Preferred Water Softener is the smallest of the Rheem salt-based water softeners and offers basic water softening features for a 4-person household. The softener treats up to 105 GPG of water hardness and is sold in a single capacity:

  • Rheem 32,000 Grain Water Softener

This all-in-one cabinet-style softener has a compact design that simplifies installation and uses Rheem’s patented Learning Technology, which helps to conserve salt and water use by learning your water usage patterns. The system is designed to be used with a flow rate of at least 3 GPM and a water pressure range of 20-125 PSI, and is backed by various warranties (from 1-10 years).

πŸ‘ What We Like

  • The Rheem Preferred Water Softener System has a medium 32,000 grain capacity that’s well suited to households of up to 4 people, with a rated service flow rate of 7.9 gallons per minute (GPM), so you shouldn’t notice a drop in water pressure if you have 1-inch plumbing.
  • This softener has an efficient performance that only becomes more so over time, thanks to the system’s built-in Learning Technology.
  • As well as hardness minerals, the Rheem Preferred Water Softener can reduce up to 3 PPM of ferrous (clear-water) iron to prevent unsightly brown stains as well as scale build-up from hardness minerals.
  • The system comes pre-assembled, so it’s quick to install and you don’t need to call a professional.
  • It’s easy to load salt into the large tank – just open the hinged cover and pour straight in. Plus, you’ll never forget about salt top-ups because the unit has a low salt monitor: a flashing blue light that tells you when the tank is getting empty.

πŸ‘Ž What We Don’t Like

  • This system has the smallest grain capacity of all Rheem softeners (aside from the portable softener) and might not be ideal for your water usage.
  • It’s also Rheem’s most basic model and doesn’t come with WiFi, so you can’t monitor this system on your smart device.

Our verdict: The Rheem Preferred Softener is a good choice if you just want a basic, affordable water softener that’s more compact and easier to install and load salt compared to traditional water softeners. However, if you need a high-capacity system or you prefer softeners with a few extra features, this isn’t the best option for you.

Rheem Preferred Plus Water Softener

The Rheem Preferred Plus Water Softener is the next step up from the Rheem Preferred Softener and comes in a single grain capacity:

  • Rheem 42,000-Grain Preferred Plus Water Softener

This softener is essentially the Rheem Preferred Softener but is slightly more expensive and has a larger capacity (though it’s still apparently suited to households of 4). In terms of features and benefits, it appears to offer exactly the same as the smaller Rheem Preferred model. The main difference is that the tank capacity is larger and it’s suitable for 1-1/4-inch plumbing.

πŸ‘ What We Like

  • With a larger 42,000 grain capacity, the Rheem Preferred Plus Water Softener is the ideal whole-house water softener for folks who want to enjoy fast water flow at all times after installing a water softening system, regardless of how many appliances and fixtures they might be using at once.
  • The softener uses the same Learning Technology that we mentioned earlier, which helps conserve salt and water by tracking your water usage patterns.
  • You can adjust your water hardness level with the system’s external blending valve to optimize the softener’s performance and eliminate calcium and magnesium ions from your water. The softener removes an impressive 140 grains per gallon of hardness (maximum).
  • Again, you get up to 3 PPM ferrous iron reduction, a low salt monitor, and warranties from 1-10 years with this system.
  • Loading salt is easy thanks to the wide-mouth tank with a hinged lid.

πŸ‘Ž What We Don’t Like

  • Since it offers virtually the same features as the smaller Rheem Preferred model, this Preferred Plus softener might not be worth the extra money if you don’t actually need a bigger-capacity system.
  • Again, there are no exciting extras included: just basic water softening.

Our verdict: The Rheem Preferred Plus Water Softener is a worthy choice if you just want basic ion exchange performance and reliable softened water production but you have higher grain capacity requirements than the average family. Otherwise, you may as well save your money and stick with the Rheem Preferred model.

Rheem Preferred Platinum Water Softener

The Rheem Preferred Platinum Water Softener is similar to the Preferred Plus model but with one notable upgrade: it has built-in WiFi that means you can monitor and manage the softener with a connected phone app.

There’s one grain capacity option for this water softener:

  • Rheem 42,000-Grain Preferred Platinum Water Softener

Like the other Rheem softeners, this water softener is all-in-one cabinet-style, with a combined brine tank and resin tank in a single unit. The softener connects to the iQuaβ„’ water management smartphone app, so you can monitor and adjust the settings remotely, and is compatible with up to 1-1/4-inch plumbing.

πŸ‘ What We Like

  • You get one notable additional feature from this softener: built-in WiFi and connection to a dedicated app. If you like the idea of being able to check up on or program your softener while you’re on the go, the Preferred Platinum softener is for you.
  • Again, you can DIY-install this system with little hassle. The resin bed is pre-loaded and comes in the same unit that houses the softener salt.
  • The Preferred Platinum model comes with all the features of the other Rheem softeners, including the low-salt monitor, the ferrous iron reduction, and the Learning Technology for the most efficient, penny-saving performance.
  • It’s easy to load salt in the tank, and you should never run out without knowing because you’ll be alerted on the app or by the softener itself.
  • The bigger tank capacity is ideal for households of all sizes.

πŸ‘Ž What We Don’t Like

  • We think most people wouldn’t get much use out of the app once the softener is programmed and ready to go, which makes us question whether the WiFi function is worth the extra money.
  • With a name like “Preferred Platinum”, we would expect more additional features than a simple WiFi upgrade.

Our verdict: The Rheem Preferred Platinum Water Softener is the best choice for you if you’re specifically looking for a softener that you can monitor and program without having to be physically near the unit. But if you’re not that bothered about built-in WiFi and don’t think you’ll use the app, it’s probably not worth the extra money.

Rheem Preferred Compact Water Softener

The Rheem Preferred Compact Water Softener is the smallest Rheem softener that’s intended as a portable water softener or a unit for smaller spaces, such as condos, apartments, and townhouses.

You can buy this softener in a single grain capacity:

  • Rheem 18,000-Grain Preferred Compact Water Softener

Although the system is smaller and costs less than the other Rheem models, it offers the same features, including built-in Learning Technology and easy salt loading. The difference is that its capacity is smaller and it’s intended for homes with 1-inch plumbing.

πŸ‘ What We Like

  • If space is limited in your install location and you have a small property, you’ll appreciate that the Rheem Preferred Compact softener is smaller than the other models offered by Rheem. It’s just 30 inches tall and 21 inches wide, so it doesn’t take up unnecessary space.
  • Being compact doesn’t mean that this Rheem softener has a greatly reduced flow rate, either. You can use it in homes with multiple bathrooms, and the rated flow is still a decent 7 GPM.
  • The maximum water hardness removal of 65 GPG is great.
  • As with the other Rheem models, you can enjoy the built-in learning technology that helps reduce salt consumption and water consumption based on your water usage habits.
  • Plus, there are the other benefits, like easy salt loading, a low salt monitor, and up to 3 PPM ferrous iron reduction.

πŸ‘Ž What We Don’t Like

  • Nothing to say here! There are no negative features to note so far.

Our verdict: The Rheem Preferred Compact Water Softener is the makes-sense option if you have a small family and live in a small home, and there’s no need to spend extra money on an unnecessarily large softener. However, you shouldn’t buy this system simply because it’s the most affordable option, since its rated service flow rate is slightly lower at 7 GPM, and undersizing this softener could affect soft water production.

βœ… What We Like About Rheem Water Softeners

Affordable Price

A major benefit of the Rheem salt-based softener models is that they’re all sold at an affordable price, so you can enjoy the benefits of soft water without the expensive price tag. That also means you can replace your softener if it breaks without having to spend a fortune.

Numerous Useful Features

There are a few useful features that come with all the Rheem softener models, including the low-salt monitor, the easy salt loading, and the efficient performance (thanks to the Learning Technology), which should help you to save salt and money with every regeneration cycle.

Rheem learning technology feature

Also Reduces Iron

We think it’s a great bonus that the Rheem softeners also reduce up to 3 PPM ferrous iron from your water supply, so you can avoid hard water stains and iron staining. This isn’t as high as competing brands (for instance, the GE cabinet softeners remove between 8 and 12 PPM of clear-water iron) but it’s still good enough for most situations.

Warranty For All Models

All of the Rheem ion exchange softeners are backed by the same warranty, which tells you that the manufacturer is confident in the quality and durability of its products and covers you in the case of a system fault (terms and conditions apply).

❌ Potential Setbacks of Rheem Water Softener Systems

The “Upgrades” Aren’t Very Exciting

Rheem’s only two upgrade options for the base model (the Rheem Preferred) are the Preferred Plus and the Preferred Platinum, which have impressive names – but one model simply has a bigger capacity, and the other has a bigger capacity and built-in WiFi. We think Rheem could offer a few more features to make the softeners more distinctive from one another and worth the additional expense.

The Warranty Isn’t The Best

It’s great to see that Rheem’s softeners have a 10-year warranty on the tanks, but the electricals only have a 3-year warranty, which is lower than the norm for water softeners, especially since these components are likely to get damaged or worn over time. Plus, you can only extend the 1-year warranty for the other parts to a 5-year warranty if you buy Rheem’s water softener cleaning product, which is a money grab that we don’t appreciate.

No Salt-Free Alternatives

Rheem is yet to venture into selling salt-free water softeners (water conditioners), which puts the company a step behind the majority of its competitors.

Questionable Durability

We have to question the durability of the Rheem softeners because they have an outer plastic casing, compared to other softeners that have durable fiberglass designs. You will need to be careful when installing the softener and performing maintenance to prevent damage to the unit.

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

In our opinion, Rheem water softening systems are worth it if you specifically want the benefits of a cabinet-style softener, including easy installation and salt top-ups, and affordability.

Rheem water softener installed in basement

However, despite the many benefits of Rheem water softeners, we wouldn’t personally recommend them to our readers. There are tens of other water softener models that are so much more capable than the Rheem models, which have more advanced features to offer a better and more efficient softening performance.

🧠 Rheem Water Softeners FAQ

Who manufactures Rheem water softeners?

Rheem water softeners are manufactured by Rheem Manufacturing Company, a private US-based company that is best known for its water heaters and boilers.

Are Rheem water softeners made in the USA?

Yes – from design to manufacturing, Rheem softeners are all made in the USA.

How long does Rheem water softener last?

The tanks of a Rheem water softener should last 10 years, but the moving parts and electricals might need replacing before this time. You can extend the lifespan of your softener by using high-purity salt and servicing the softener as recommended in the user manual.

What kind of salt does a Rheem water softener use?

A Rheem water softener uses any type of salt (as long as it’s intended for use in a water softener), either crystals or pellets. However, Rheem recommends that you use high-purity salt, such as evaporated salt pellets or salt crystals with more than 99% purity, to prevent a buildup of impurities in the softener tanks, which could reduce efficiency.

Do Rheem water softeners need a drain?

Yes, Rheem water softeners need a drain because there needs to be somewhere for water to drain during the regeneration process. As with any water softener, it’s best to have a floor drain near the water softener, such as a laundry tub or a standpipe.

  • Brian Campbell
    Founder, Water Treatment Specialist

    Brian Campbell is a water treatment specialist and water expert based in Denver, Colorado. He's always been obsessed with water quality, and has spent years testing all kinds of treatment devices from simple pitchers and portable devices to complex whole home systems.

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