Our Pelican water softener reviews include a variety of models to suit your needs:
- Salt-free softener and filter systems
- Conventional salt systems
- Systems built specifically for well water
- Systems that filter iron and manganese
- Systems that filter nitrates
You can also do your own research and gain a better understanding of water softening systems with the help of our brief buying guide. We’ve provided information about the key terms you should know and what you’ll probably want to look for in a water softener.
Best Product Overall
PSE 1800 Whole House
In a Rush?
We’ve found the following to be the best model for each category. You can see our full review of each model further down the page or click the link to see it on the seller’s site. Our recommendations seek to balance functionality with price.
Click on the link to check the price on Amazon.com.
- Salt-free softener and filter system: PSE 1800 Whole House
- Conventional: Advantage Series PS48 Salt for 1-3 Bathrooms
- For well water: PSE 1800 Whole House Combo with UV Disinfection for 1-3 Bathrooms
- For iron removal: WF6 Iron/Manganese Whole House Combo for 1-3 Bathrooms
- For nitrate removal: PN3 Nitrate Filter System for 1-3 Bathrooms
We’ve also included similar models that you might want to consider for a lower price or more features. Check the review section below to read about them.
Top Brands on the Market
How to Pick the Best One for Your Needs?
The first step in shopping for a new water softener is knowing what you need. Are you looking for a water softener system that will remove hard water grains or would you rather soften water with salt-free technology?
Do you need to filter your water before or after you soften it? Do you need to remove iron, manganese, chlorine, or nitrates? Are you concerned about viruses or bacteria in your water?
You can use water test kit to determine how hard your water is and what else it might contain. You can also guess the hardness of your water and recognize some of the other possible contaminants by the effects minerals and other pollutants have on your sinks, clothes, skin, and pipes.
You’ll see the term “grains” frequently used in product descriptions. A grain is the mineral particle that you want to remove. It’s what makes hard water hard.
The grains or particles are usually calcium and magnesium. Neither is harmful. In fact, your body needs a daily dose of both of them to function properly.
The problem with having those minerals in your water is that they bond and adhere to other surfaces, including dishes, pipes, fixtures, skin, etc. So, we try to remove or treat as many grains as possible. The grain rating on a water softener is how many particles it can treat or remove before some sort of renewal phase.
Conventional water softeners that use salt or potassium regenerate, meaning that the salt or potassium automatically flushes the resin (filtering material) so that it can continue filtering out the hard water grains. Salt-free water softeners typically coat the mineral particles in polyphosphates and need to have their filters changed or cleaned and their polyphosphate supply refilled.
The grain rating determines how economical a water softener will be. If a conventional softener can filter more particles before regenerating, it will save you money on salt and water. If a salt-free model can filter more particles, you’ll save money on filters and polyphosphates.
The other factor is how hard your water is. If you have city water, you’ll probably have an average of 15 grains per gallon. If you have well water, you might have as many as 40 grains per gallon. Fifteen grains is a lot less than 40, but you’ll still want a water softener to eliminate the effects of hard water that can accumulate over time.
If you have well water and have been treating it with a water softener but are still experiencing the effects of hard water (spots, clogged pipes, low water pressure, dry skin and hair, dingy clothes), you can remedy the situation in one of two ways. You can purchase a water softener with a higher grain rating, or you can set a lower capacity softener to regenerate more often.
The third factor in determining how cost-effective a water softener will be is how many gallons of water your family uses per day. The grains in each gallon add up.
A person uses an average of 80 gallons of water per day for all of their life activities. A person on city water would, therefore, need their softener to treat approximately 1,200 mineral grains per day or 8,400 per week. A person with well water might need their softener to treat as many as 22,400 grains per week.
Add another 8,400 or 22,400 grains for each person living in your house. Adding the number of grains they would need to be filtered per day will help you determine how often your softener would need to regenerate or be renewed.
If you have a family of 4 on well water, you would need to filter 89,600 grains per week. A water softener rated for 48,000 grains would need to regenerate a little less than twice per week. That same family on city water could go almost a week and a half without regenerating.
Bags of salt and the gallons of water each regeneration cycle uses aren’t very expensive, but they add up over the lifetime of your water softener. Purchasing a higher capacity model is usually worth the investment in the long run.
The water from your main supply line passes through a conventional or filtering water softening system. That means that the softener will most likely slow down the flow of water through your house as it processes it. More steps will generally mean a lower flow rate or fewer gallons per minute being processed.
So, how high of a flow rate do you need? A shower uses 2 gallons per minute, a sink faucet 1, and a washing machine or dishwasher 1.5. Now, it’s a question of how many of those items do you need to run at the same time.
Typically, a person living alone can get by with 4 gallons per minute. A family of 4 could use 7-10 gallons per minute during peak periods. Beyond that, add 1-2 gallons for each additional person in the home.
Be sure you choose a water softener that won’t leave you with low water pressure when more than one person or appliance is using the water.
Polyphosphate Water Softeners
If you’re looking for a salt-free water softener, polyphosphate softeners are the most effective. As water passes through the polyphosphate material, the polyphosphate bond with and coat the mineral grains. Because polyphosphates do not stick to other surfaces, they won’t clog your pipes, leave spots on your dishes, or dry out your skin and hair.
Polyphosphates are natural and pose no threat to human health. They’re the same molecules used to soften city water.
They don’t use salt or water to flush the filters, and some don’t even use electricity. You will need to refill the polyphosphates and change or rinse the filters periodically.
Polyphosphate Full Filtering Systems
Salt-free softeners with additional filters can remove a host of other pollutants from your water. If you have city water, you can use filtering systems to remove the chlorine and chloramines. The benefits are better tasting water and softer hair and skin.
If you have well water, filtering systems can remove any bacteria or viruses, herbicides or pesticides that have seeped into your well from the groundwater.
Full filter systems will be more expensive than conventional or simply polyphosphate models, but they provide much cleaner water.
Crystalizing Water Softeners
The method that Pelican uses in their NaturSoft salt-free water softeners is to force the hard water mineral grains to crystallize so that they flow suspended through the water instead of adhering to surfaces.
As the crystallized grains flow past other grains, they bond with them so that they can’t stick to anything either. It’s a unique system that does not remove or add any chemicals from or to the water.
Well Water with Iron, Sulfur, or Manganese?
Some softeners or filters can also remove iron, sulfur, and manganese, but make sure to purchase one that specifically addresses these issues. Most models don’t.
Iron shows up in the form of reddish-orange stains on the floor of your shower. Manganese is an oily, black substance. Sulfur smells like hardboiled eggs.
You don’t want to buy a new water softener or filtering system that won’t help these problems if they’re present in your water. Look for one that uses KDF-85 as part of the filtering material.
Pelican Water Softener Reviews
Our Pelican water softener reviews include that use salt and those that use polyphosphates, both in simple water softer models and with full filtering systems. Each review has information about the model’s grain rating, its flow rate, any notable features it has, how easy it is to install, and what you can expect to pay both for the unit and for any refills or filter changes that you’ll need to conduct.
Top 5 Salt Models
The first 3 Pelican models we’re presenting are simple, conventional models that use salt or potassium to periodically rinse the resin filter. The 4th model uses salt, but also includes a full filter system, and the 5th is a specialized salt softener for removing nitrates in well water.
48,000 Grain Heavy Duty
The Pelican Water 48,000 Grain Heavy Duty Water Softener is the most basic option on our list. It has a flow rate of 12 gallons per minute, perfect for families of up 6 people. It also has a smart electronic head that you can program to meet your specific needs.
First, you can set the head to either regenerate automatically when it reaches its estimated grain capacity or to regenerate after a certain number of days. If you choose to regenerate automatically according to grain capacity, all you will need to do is input how grains are in each gallon of your water and whether you want the system to regenerate automatically or wait until a low usage period.
As the water softener can’t process water while it’s regenerating, you might want to set it to delay the regeneration cycle. It will, however, wait until the day and time you programmed for regeneration, so we recommend setting it to regenerate daily. It won’t regenerate every night but will have the opportunity to do so if it reaches filtering capacity.
If you choose to have it regenerate after so many days, you can take advantage of the override feature, setting it to a vacation mode for 1-28 days. It will pause its countdown to the next regeneration cycle for the number of days specified. Setting it to a timed regeneration cycle, however, might cause it to regenerate sooner or later than needed.
Your daily water usage will vary. If the unit regenerates before it reaches its actual grain capacity, the salt and water will be wasted. If you use more water during a certain period and you exceed the unit’s grain capacity before the timed regeneration, you’ll end up with unsoftened water.
If you set it to metered regeneration, it will keep track of how many gallons you use and only regenerate when you’ve used the amount of water necessary to exhaust its filtering capacity.
When the Pelican Water 48,000 Grain Heavy Duty Water Softener does regenerate, it will flush the tank twice, ensuring a more thorough cleanse each time. The head also has a battery-powered backup power supply that can “keep the meter running” for up to 8 hours. If the power goes out for that amount of time, you won’t lose your settings, and it won’t lose track of how many gallons of water it’s processed.
This is an easy unit to install, and it comes with all the standard fittings you’ll need.
This 48,000 grain model comes with a lifetime warranty on the tanks and a 5-year warranty on the control head. It is a very well-built head, though, so it should last much longer than the warranty covers. You can purchase the Pelican Water 48,000 Grain Heavy Duty Water Softener for less than $1,480 and expect it to last 25 years or more.
80,000 Grain Heavy Duty
The Pelican Water 80,000 Grain Heavy Duty Water Softener is very similar to the above model with the difference being that it’s more costly at the outset but more economical in the long run. It also delivers a higher flow rate of 18 gallons per minute.
It comes with the same metered control head that you can program according to your needs: regeneration every so many days, regeneration immediately after it reaches capacity, or regeneration on a certain day only after it reaches capacity. It has the vacation mode feature and the backup power supply for up 8 hours.
It still flushes twice for better cleaning and is just as easy to install. The same lifetime warranty on the tanks and 5-year warranty on the electronic control head applies.
We like the 80,000 grain model because it’s a more economical use of salt and water. Even on a well with particularly hard water, this unit shouldn’t need to regenerate more than once a week. If your softener lasts 25+ years, the amount of money you’ll save on salt and water usage in that time will be significant.
We also like the increased flow rate. It provides a comfort zone for larger families or allows you to do more with your water at one time. You won’t need to worry about the water pressure used to water the lawn or fill a hot tub. The kids can play in the sprinkler or with the hose and not affect the water pressure inside the house.
The Pelican Water 80,000 Grain Heavy Duty Water Softener is available for less than $1,840, the $360 difference being well worth the upgrade from the 48,000 grain model.
Advantage Series PS48 Salt for 1-3 Bathrooms
The Pelican Advantage Series PS48 Salt Water Softener for 1-3 Bathrooms is an upgrade from the standard 48,000 grain model both in appearance and for the inclusion of a high-powered turbulator.
The chrome jacket over the tank simply gives the water softener a brighter, cleaner appearance. There’s no reason that your water softener can’t look like an attractive appliance. The shine will illumine any basement corner and give the entire area a sense of cleanliness.
The turbulator gets the salt water and resin moving around more during the regeneration cycle. It lifts heavy resin from the bottom of the tank so that the entire unit can be cleaned more thoroughly. Like the Heavy Duty units, this one also back-flushes twice.
With the turbulator and two-cycle backflushing, this water softener cleans the resin most thoroughly. There are two benefits to a cleaner resin tank.
First, minerals can build up in your resin tank over time, even when you regenerate frequently. The number of grains that the resin is actually filtering out will steadily decline as more and more of its capacity is taken up with minerals on the bottom of the tank. Cleaning your resin tank more thoroughly will keep its grain capacity accurate.
Second, cleaning your resin better will help it to last longer. Resin usually lasts 7-15 years. A more thorough rinsing of the resin material can help it to last 20 years or more.
The Pelican Advantage Series comes with the same control head that you can set for immediate, delayed, or timed regeneration. The vacation mode setting and 8-hour backup battery are included, and so are the 5-year (control head) and lifetime warranties (tanks).
It has a 12-gallon per minute flow rate and is available for less than $1765. We recommend the Advantage Series for appearance, accuracy, and for getting the most life out of your water softener.
Whole House Filter & Salt Softener Combo for 1-3 Bathrooms – PAC3
The PAC3 combines the 48,000 Grain Advantage Series water softener with the Carbon Series Whole House Water Filter and a 5-micron pre-filter. This is the basic full-filtering model that most people need.
The Advantage Series water softener features the chrome jacket for a more attractive appearance and the built-in turbulator for a more thorough cleansing of the resin.
The electronic control head allows you to set it to regenerate weekly, immediately as the resin reaches filtering capacity, or at a low-usage time of the day after it reaches capacity. You can set it to suspend its cycle when you’re away from home, and a battery automatically saves your settings and cycle progress for up to 8 hours in a blackout.
The Carbon Series filter includes material from coconut shells, wood, and coal. Each material helps to filter different pollutants that might enter your water. It especially designed to remove chlorine and chloramines. If you have city water, removing these elements will help you have softer hair and healthier skin.
The 5-micron pre-filter catches sand or any other grit that might come up from your well or through the city supply line. To get an idea of how small the openings are in a 5-micron filter, imagine something 20 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Not much gets through that small of a hole.
You will need to change the pre-filter approximately every 6-9 months. You can buy 4 filters for less than $70.
The control head on the softener is covered for 5 years, and the tanks are all covered for a lifetime. Installation is still an easy task, but it will take slightly little longer with more the added filtering tanks. Because it does add the filter, the flow rate is reduced to 10 gallons per minute, still adequate for families of 4-5.
You can purchase the PAC3 for less than $2,650. It won’t take much maintenance, and the entire unit should last more than 20 years.
PN3 Nitrate Filter System for 1-3 Bathrooms
The Pelican PN3 Nitrate Filter System for 1-3 Bathrooms is the first specialty softener on our list. It is specifically designed to filter out nitrates from well water. Nitrates typically enter the groundwater that supplies your well from fertilizers and manure.
Nitrates are not harmful in moderation, but an increased intake of nitrates in drinking water is linked to Methemoglobinemia (blue baby syndrome), pancreatic cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. It reduces your blood’s ability to reduce oxygen.
If you have a well and live in an area where fertilizers are frequently used, or manure is spread, we would recommend using this softener as an added protection against nitrates.
It comes with the same metered control head and valve that allows you to set your automatic or weekly regeneration cycle. You can turn it to standby mode when you go on vacation and have the added convenience of an 8-hour backup battery to preserve your settings and cycle stage.
It still delivers 12 gallons of softened (now, also nitrate-free) water per minute and comes with the standard lifetime warranty on the tanks and 5-year warranty on the head.
The grain capacity, however, is a little less, only processing 32,000 grains between regenerations compared to the standard 48,000 grains. In this case, though, the filtering capacity is not important as the additional nitrates it’s filtering. The PN3 Nitrate Filter Systems comes at a price of less than $1,715 with an expected lifespan of 25 years.
Top 5 Salt-Free
This section includes Pelican PSE1800 whole house water filter and softener reviews of different sizes and with various filtering options. The first one feature the basic PSE 1800 softener and filter with the others providing more specialized water treatment.
Pelican PSE 1800 Whole House
The Pelican PSE 1800 Whole House Water Filter & Water Softener is ideal for city water because the Carbon Series filter is specifically designed to remove chloramines and chlorine. When you remove these two elements from your water, you’ll notice your skin becoming healthier and your hair becoming softer.
It’s also a suitable solution for most well water conditions as it removes bacteria and algae. Wells are untreated with chlorine and chloramines to kill these organisms, so you’ll want a filtering system that does it for you. The carbon media in the filter will need to be changed approximately every 5 years at a cost of less than $212.
The pre-filter catches any sediment from your well or city supply line. You can purchase a 4-pack for less than $70. It should last you 1.5-2 years if you’re changing the filter every 6-9 months as the company recommends.
The PSE 1800 doesn’t use salt or electricity. It’s easy to install and doesn’t require any programming. The NaturSoft water softener filters water in such a way as to make the hard water grains crystalize, preventing them from bonding to your pipes, fixtures, sinks, appliance basins, or tubs.
You’ll enjoy a flow rate of 10 gallons per minute and a lifetime warranty on all of the components. The only maintenance you’ll need to complete is cleaning the tanks out once every 5 years.
You can purchase this lifetime water softener and filtering system for less than $2300. Continue reading for more specialized filter and Pelican NaturSoft water softener reviews.
PSE 1800 Whole House with UV Disinfection for 1-3 Bathrooms
ThePelican PSE 1800 Whole House Water Filter & Water Softener with UV Disinfection for 1-3 Bathrooms is the next step up.
It features the same pre-sediment filter that catches debris 20 times smaller than a human hair and only needs to be changed once every 6 months. You can purchase the filters in 4-packs for less than $66.
It has the same carbon filter that removes chlorine, chloramines, algae, and bacteria. The carbon media will need to be changed every 5 years. You can purchase a fresh supply for less than $212.
And it includes the same NaturSoft water softener that filters hard water grains together so that they bond and crystalize, flowing through your plumbing system without clinging to it and without the use of salt or other chemicals.
The addition to the system is the UV light. As water passes through it, the intense ultraviolet rays kill viruses and bacteria. When you drink your water, you can be sure that it’s the healthiest it can be. Not only are you receiving the minerals that you need, but you’re also not getting the pathogens that you don’t need.
Even with the added UV light, the system still provides a flow rate of 10 gallons per minute.
The Pelican PSE 1800 Whole House Water Filter & Water Softener with UV Disinfection for 1-3 Bathrooms is available for less than $3,020 with all components covered by a lifetime warranty.
PSE 1800 Pro UV for Wells for 1-3 Bathrooms
The Pelican PSE 1800 Pro UV Water Filter & Softener for Wells for 1-3 Bathrooms is similar but with a different type of UV light.
You can expect the same 5-micron pre-filter to rid the system of well sediment and the same carbon filter to take care of algae, bacteria, and any chlorine or chloramines that might be present in your water.
The NaturSoft water softening tank crystalizes hard water mineral grains, preventing them from negatively affecting your plumbing and fixtures while allowing you to keep the benefit of them in your diet.
The UV light kills bacteria and viruses and keeps them from reproducing. The entire system is incredibly easy to install, requires no salt or chemicals, and delivers fresh, clean, softened water at a rate of 10 gallons per minute.
The tanks are covered by the same lifetime warranty as the other models. The warranty for the UV light is a little more complicated. They offer a 1-year warranty on the sensors, 3 years on the power supply, and 10 years on the main unit.
You can expect the UV bulb to last for 2 years. The cost of a replacement is approximately $203. Other than the UV light, the pre-filter needs to be changed every 6 months (less than $66 for 4) and the carbon media needs to be changed every 5 years (less than $212).
The Pelican PSE 1800 Pro UV Water Filter & Softener for Wells for 1-3 Bathrooms is available for less than $4,260.
WF6 Iron/Manganese Whole House for 1-3 Bathrooms
The Pelican WF6 Iron/Manganese Whole House Water Filter & Salt-Free Softener for 1-3 Bathrooms is a 5-stage water system treatment system that specifically filters iron and manganese. It uses the same salt-free, electricity-free, polyphosphate-free NaturSoft technology that funnels hard water particles to form crystals, neutralizing their ability to cling to other surfaces.
The 5-micron pre-filter catches any sediment being pumped up from your well. Its aluminum bracket holding it in place ensures that it doesn’t rust even in a wet basement.
Next in the supply line, the chlorine pump mixes chlorine with the water to neutralize the iron. The pump requires no electricity. It is powered by water pressure as your water flows through the system.
Besides helping with iron removal, the chlorine also kills bacteria and viruses that might be present in your well water.
As the water enters the metered greensand tank, the iron is caught much like hard water grains are in a conventional water softener. After 2-3 days, the system flushes the tank with chlorine and sends the iron into your septic system.
As the water leaves the greensand iron removal tank, it enters the carbon filter where the chlorine is removed. Finally, after the water has been completely filtered, it enters the NaturSoft tank.
The WF6 is quite a system for removing iron and other contaminants from your well. The installation is easy, but expect it to take a couple of hours as you connect each component. Everything you need is included with your purchase.
This unit will also require a little more maintenance than the others on our list. First, you’ll need to replace the pre-filter every 6 months. You can purchase a pack of 4 filters for less than $66.
You’ll also need to re-fill the chlorine every 2-3 months and change the carbon media every 5 years. The carbon media costs less than $212 for another 5-year supply. Finally, the UV bulb will need to be changed once a year at a cost of less than $125.
Even with all of the stages of filtration and softening, the WF6 still delivers 10 gallons per minute. All of the tanks are guaranteed by a lifetime warranty, and the metered control head for the iron removal tank is guaranteed for 7 years.
You can purchase the Pelican WF6 Iron/Manganese Whole House Water Filter & Salt-Free Softener for 1-3 Bathrooms for less than $4,620 and get the iron out of your water.
20 GPM Whole House NaturSoft System
The Pelican Water 20 GPM Whole House Water Filtration and NaturSoft Salt-Free Softener System is the largest Pelican system you can buy. The carbon filter and NaturSoft tanks are larger to supply more water (up to 20 gallons per minute) for busy homes or properties.
The 5-micron pre-filter still delivers sediment removal while the carbon filter removes algae, bacteria, chloramines, or chlorine. The NaturSoft tank filters water in a manner that encourages calcium and magnesium grains to crystallize, so that they can’t cause clogs, spots, or stains.
If you have a large home, more than 6 people living in your home, or a need for an abundant supply of water, consider the Pelican Water 20 GPM Whole House Water Filtration and NaturSoft Salt-Free Softener System.
You’ll enjoy a lifetime warranty on the tanks with the usual six-month changing of the pre-filter and 5-year changing of the carbon filtering material. It comes with everything you need for an easy installation job and won’t require any additional maintenance.
You can purchase this high-flow system for less than $5,425.
Unless you have special filtering needs or a higher flow rate, we’re recommending the Pelican PSE 1800 Whole House Water Filter & Water Softener.
It’s a versatile system that you can use with well or city water. Not only does it soften your water without the use of salt or added chemicals, but it also filters out the most common unwanted elements in your water, including sediment, algae, and bacteria from well water and chlorine and chloramines from city water.
There’s no electronic meter, so there’s no need for a power supply, and everything is covered by a lifetime warranty. It delivers 10 gallons per minute, a more than ample flow rate for most homes.
It’s also one of the most affordable models at a cost of less than $2,300 for the entire system and low maintenance costs. The only care it will need is changing the pre-filter every 6 months at a cost of less than $66 for 4 and a cost of $212 every 5 years to replace the carbon media.
If you want a salt-free and filter system, the Pelican PSE 1800 Whole House Water Filter & Water Softener could be the model for you.