GE Appliances, a trademark of General Electric and a subsidiary of Haier Group, is one of the most easily recognizable manufacturers of water softeners available on the market. We have chosen to highlight the 40,000 Grain, 30,000 Grain Standard Flow, and 31,100 Grain in our evaluation.
While going through each, you will learn all the important aspects about the different models in terms of features, price, installation procedure, any maintenance required, and the terms of warranty.
But we encourage you to look beyond so that you can get better acquainted with what you are buying. We’re sure that you’ll understand everything you need to know about how these work by the time you finish reading our guide.
If you are curious about why salting is necessary, what grains are, and how softeners work with them, as well as how softeners affect water pressure, you’ll find out below.
Reading our buying guide will help you pick the best GE water softener for your home.
In A Rush?
These are our top GE picks for the following categories.
For general use
GE 40,000 Grain
GE 30,000 Grain Standard
Read about each of these recommended models below, along with a couple of alternatives you might want to look into.
How to Pick the Right One For Your Needs?
First and foremost, before picking a product, you should determine how hard your water is and second, you should figure out the maximum amount of water you use at a stretch during the day and also in total over the course of the day.
Understanding these two factors will inform you of how economical a product will be in your situation. Then, there’s also the decision of if it makes more sense to purchase a more expensive model to reduce expenses on salt and water over the life of the softener or if you would be better off using a less expensive model to meet your present needs.
Grain rating is how you clear up the water hardness issue. You will get such a rating by using a water test kit. It will tell you how many grains of minerals are in each gallon of your water.
As far as your diet goes, mineral grains are actually great. When it comes to water softening, however, you don’t need them blocking your pipes and making spots on your dishes as they dry.
All (including all salt-using softeners) are rated by how many grains of minerals they can filter out of your water between regeneration cycles.
So, what is a regeneration cycle exactly?
To answer that, let’s consider how a salt-using water softener works.
A salt-using softener is comprised of three critical components: the salt (or brine) tank, the control head, and the resin tank.
A softener’s resin tank holds small beads that capture mineral (calcium and magnesium) grains. But the resin beads can only capture so many grains at a time.
For that reason, the tank relies on the control head monitor. They automatically record the amount of water flowing through the resin tank. When it determines that the resin tank has reached its filtering capacity based on the hardness of your water and how much water you’ve used, it’s time for the next step.
This, too, is automated: the resin tank is emptied of water and then, salt water from the brine tank is pumped into it. The saltwater discards the mineral grains and carries them down the drain. Fresh water then rinses the remaining salt out of the resin tank.
Regeneration refers to the complete process from emptying the resin tank to rinsing out the salt. When it’s finished, the resin can continue filtering out hard water grains, and the control valve resets its count.
Did you know?
The higher the grain capacity of your resin tank, the longer the softener will be able to run between regeneration cycles. The fewer regeneration cycles your softener needs, the less you’ll spend on water and salt.
We’ve talked about grain capacity and its effect on usage. To illustrate, let’s say, for instance, a family of four uses well water and another family of four uses city water. The average daily water usage per person is 80 gallons. So, a family of four would use 320 gallons per day for all of their needs: bathing, laundry, dishes, drinking, cooking, watering the lawn, etc.
The family with city water has an average hardness of 15 grains per gallon, the typical grain count delivered by city water systems. The family with a well has 40 grains per gallon in their water. Wells can vary, of course, depending on the soil in the area, but 40 is the national average.
If both families used a model with a capacity of 40,000 grains, the family with well water would trigger a regeneration cycle every 3 days. The family with city water would trigger a cycle every 8 days.
A higher grain rating can dramatically reduce regeneration cycles, conserving salt and water used for regeneration.a
GE water softeners are also rated by flow rate, which is defined as how many gallons of water it can supply per minute. For the softener to filter it, the flow of water coming from your supply line has to slow down. The softener is, in effect, a smaller section of pipe that the water needs to feed through.
To properly judge a softener’s flow rate, it’s important to know how many gallons of water you need at a stretch for any given period of the day.
Continuing with our example, let’s say the family of four has a husband, wife, and two teenagers who need to get ready in the morning. There would be four people trying to use the water at the same time. Two people might be taking a shower (2 gallons per minute each) while one started a load of laundry (1.5 gallons per minute), and a fourth was cooking breakfast at the kitchen sink (1 gallon per minute). The family would need a minimum flow rate during that time of approximately 7 gallons per minute.
If the flow rate is anywhere below that, each of them would notice a drop in water pressure as their various water installations supplied less water than normal.
A good rule of thumb is to buy a water softener that can supply 2 gallons of water for each member of your household. A family of four should have a flow rate of approximately 8 gallons per minute, a family of five 10 gallons per minute, etc.
If you water your lawn or have a pool or Jacuzzi, you might want to increase your flow rate requirements for the added water usage.
Additional Hard Water Problems?
Bear in mind that a product needs to be specially designed to take care of extra water conditioning needs. Assuming that the family of four was on city water and they noticed that their hair and skin was too dry, it would make sense to buy a water filtering system that removes chlorine.
The chlorine and chloramines that city treatment facilities add to the water kill bacteria and viruses that might be present, but you don’t need those safeguards once the water enters your house.
On the other hand, if the family had well water, they might notice orange stains in their shower from iron, or black stains from manganese. Their water might smell like hardboiled eggs due to the presence of sulfur in their water. They would want to get a water softener or filter to remove these elements.
In like manner, if they tested their water, they might see an abundance of nitrates, herbicides, or pesticides traveling through the groundwater into their well. Or they might have a bacteria strain growing in their well. They would need a water filter, not a softener only, to filter out these contaminants.
Most water softeners only soften water, filtering calcium and magnesium. To do anything more, they need additional filters added into the tank or to have separate filters added before or after them in the supply line. Chlorine, for instance, damages the resin in a water softener, so you would place a chlorine filter before the unit to extend the life of the resin.
Top Choices on the Market
Best GE Water Softeners
The following models are the optimal products that you can buy. Read the reviews to find out which model is right for your home.
The 40,000 Grain is the ideal model for homes of between 2 and 4 people. The salt and resin tank are included in one unit. The salt compartment feeds the resin tank on-demand for each regeneration cycle.
The control head tracks how much water you’ve used to automatically feed the salt into the unit and flush it as needed.
A built-in filter removes sediment in homes that run on well water. It has an average 40,000-grain filtering capacity per regeneration cycle. The low-salt beeper included in the unit will tell you when you need to refill the top brine compartment.
The 40,000 Grain has a flow rate of 9.5 gallons per minute. That’s enough water to supply families of 5.
It comes with a warranty of 3 years on the electronic head and 10 years on the tank. The company also offers models for 30,000 grains and 45,000 grains if you want a lower price or a higher filtering capacity. You can purchase 40,000 Grain model for less than $700.
30,000 Grain Standard Flow
The 30,000 Grain Standard Flow is the least expensive model on our list. Like the 40,000 model, it also combines the salt and resin tanks in one space-saving unit complete with an on-demand feed delivering the salt for regeneration.
Likewise, it features a control head, which keeps track of how much water you’ve used and feeds the salt into the resin tank automatically to flush it as often as needed.
It has a modest but adequate 30,000-grain capacity for filtering minerals between each regeneration cycle. When it gets low on salt, it will beep until you refill the salt compartment and reset it.
The 30,000 Grain has a typical regeneration cycle that uses 35.5 gallons of soft water in two hours.
It comes with a limited 1-year warranty for the electronic head. The warranty also covers the brine and resin combo tank for 10 years.
This isn’t as good of a value as the 40,000 Grain model, but it does have a friendlier price tag. The 30,000 Grain Water Softener is available for less than $500.
31,100 Grain and Filter
The 31,100 Grain is the most expensive water softener on our list for an obvious reason: It comes with a very efficient filter in addition to the brine and resin tank that is the common feature of all threes models on the list. And let’s not forget the automatic control head.
It also comes with a great self-cleaning sediment filter, which does a perfect job protecting your plumbing installations. There is also its 230 pounds salt storage capacity and intermittent flow rate of 22.2 gallons per minute.
As for warranty, it has a limited 1-year entire appliance warranty, a limited 10-year resin tank warranty, and a limited 3-year electronic monitor warranty.
All of these models have significant benefits, but we’re still recommending the 40,000 Grain as the top deal. Here’s why:
- Low price, less than $700
- 9.5-gallon per minute flow rate
- Automatic control head for measured regeneration
- 3-year warranty on the electronic controls
- 10-year warranty on the tank
- Long lifespan, 25+ years
- No maintenance