The best upflow water softener allows households to enjoy better savings in both electric and salt consumption. It is more efficient in removing hardness minerals from the water than conventional downflow systems, empowering families to relish the benefits of soft water in their water-related activities.
While there are instances when a downflow water softener is ideal, an upflow system makes perfect sense for the modern homeowner. However, this water softener’s advantages are only possible if one chooses the correct unit to install in the home.
Choosing an upflow water softener is not complicated if one knows what factors to consider. We found the following parameters essential in buying the best possible upflow water softener for the home.
- Water Softening Capacity: An upflow water softener must reduce as many hardness minerals as possible within a cycle before requiring regeneration. The system’s capacity also indicates its regeneration frequency requirements. In general, water softeners with a lower capacity (i.e., 12,000 grains) require more frequent regeneration than systems with a higher rating (i.e., 48,000 grains).
- Water Flow Rate: The main issue with water treatment systems is water flow reduction, as the water passes through membranes before distribution to the household. One must always choose a water softener with a flow rating (in GPM) resembling the household’s average flow rate. For instance, a 12-GPM water softener is better than an 8-GPM unit for houses with a 10-GPM water flow rate.
- Salt Requirements: Water softeners work by exchanging salts for hardness minerals in the water. While an upflow water softener requires less salt than traditional systems, it would still be best to check the product’s salt requirements for regeneration. A water softener that uses 300 pounds of salt is better than a 350-pound-requiring unit.
Prospective upflow water softener buyers can also consider other factors, which we will describe in this article’s buying guide section and highlight in the product reviews.
Table of Contents
- Top 5 Upflow Water Softener Reviews
- What to Look for When Buying Upflow Water Softeners
- What is the Difference Between an Upflow and Downflow Water Softener
- Can I Switch a Downflow Water Softener to Upflow
Top 5 Upflow Water Softener Reviews
1. ABCWaters 5600SXT Fleck Water Softener
The ABCWaters 5600SXT Fleck Water Softener enjoys substantially positive ratings among the many high efficiency water softener reviews I read. Not only is this product an upflow water softener, but it is also a dependable carbon filter for more efficient water contaminant removal.
Water softeners only remove ions that make water hard by replacing them with other chemicals. These products do not eliminate chlorine, pesticides, organic compounds, chloramines, herbicides, and other substances. That is why I am glad ABCWaters decided to include an upflow carbon filtration tank with its water softening system.
The softened water gets additional treatment before going to the rest of the house. Families will not only relish the benefits of soft water, such as more enjoyable showers, more effective washings, and less incidence of limescale buildup. They will also savor better tasting and pleasant-smelling water.
I am also fascinated by this product’s water softening capacity, handling 48,000 grains before requiring a recharge. It should last several weeks for a small household, allowing families to enjoy less frequent regenerations and improve their cost-savings.
Regeneration does not require too much salt, either. This product only needs about 250 pounds of salt, substantially less than what other water softeners demand.
I love the 5600SXT Fleck controller because it has bright, blue backlighting for easier reading. Setting the device is straightforward, allowing anyone to feel confident with using it. It is an on-demand system that will only regenerate according to the preprogrammed settings. People will also appreciate the product’s 12-gallon per minute (GPM) flow rate.
2. Genesis 2 Premier Water Softener
The Genesis 2 Premier Water Softener is one of the best water softening devices with an upflow design one can ever buy. It may have a straightforward water softener design, but it wows me with its high-efficiency water softening.
Featuring a 10% crosslink ion-exchange resin, this product’s exceptionally efficient at softening water without requiring too much salt. One only needs about 200 pounds of salt to regenerate this system, and it will remove up to 40,000 grains of magnesium, calcium, and other limescale-forming minerals from the water.
What surprised me most was the device’s 13-GPM water flow rating. It may not seem that much, but I can assure prospective buyers this rate is sufficient for small to medium-sized households. It is also the highest among the upflow water softeners on this list.
The combination of high-efficiency water softening and an upflow design gives families using this water softener remarkable savings. Households can save up to 32,000 gallons of water and 8,200 pounds of salt.
I also find the automatic refresh system ingenious. The technology automatically regenerates the system after seven days of inactivity. It may seem like a waste of brine resources, but it is the system’s way of protecting users against the risk of mold and bacterial growth due to stagnant water.
3. DuraWater Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener
I found some intriguing points in the ongoing Fleck vs Genesis water softener debate. Fleck loyalists point out the product’s high efficiency and more comprehensive water treatment design. However, Genesis acolytes point to the system’s more efficient upflow water softener configuration. Both sides have valid points in my opinion.
A case in point is the DuraWater Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener. While it is a downflow water softener, it compensates by including an upflow carbon filter and a terrific reverse osmosis system. Families will love the product’s water treatment capabilities, allowing them to enjoy both water and salt savings and clean and safe water.
Not only will families enjoy reduced limescale formation and more pleasant showers, but they will also relish the taste and smell of clean and pure drinking water. This product removes chlorine, lead, chloramine, arsenic, mercury, VOCs, organic chemicals, and microorganisms that can harm the family. Prospective buyers will not get a better deal than this whole-house water softener.
While this water softener has a downflow design, it is still more efficient than other products. It requires little INDION salt (about 250 pounds) to regenerate. I also like its Scan and Service feature, empowering users to learn more about their unit and facilitate effortless operation and maintenance.
The advanced ion-exchange resin ensures efficient water softening while facilitating effortless and quick regeneration. Users will never complain about operating the metered valve controller because its LCD display has bright, blue backlighting.
4. SoftPro Elite Plus Water Softener with Upflow Technology
The SoftPro Elite Plus is one of the top-rated upflow water softeners people can buy. This product can eliminate chlorine, lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals in the water. Whoever said that one cannot combine an upflow regeneration technology and a KDF55 filtration unit does not know this SoftPro water softener.
Unlike some other water softeners I know, this product features a 10% crosslink resin medium that increases its water softening efficiency. Regenerating the system is not only effortless, but it is also quicker. Families can save as much as 64% of their water consumption when using this product. They will also use about 75% less salt during regeneration, translating to hundreds of dollars in savings annually.
I also like its 32,000-grain capacity. When I consider this with the water softener’s resin, I believe families will use it for at least two weeks before regenerating. The system can last about a month before regeneration if households observe more prudent water use measures.
There is also no worrying about regeneration cycles because the system has a built-in mechanism that kicks in when the brine solution drops to 3%. It automatically regenerates up to 70%, and its intelligent controller determines the brine top-up needed.
The KDF55 filter is also worth mentioning because families will feel more confident about the water they drink, cook, or make ice with. No heavy metals will be present in the water.
5. Premier Whole House Water Treatment Package
Families looking for a more comprehensive water treatment system for their homes can consider the Premier Whole House Water Treatment Package. This product is a combination of three filtration technologies that soften water and remove harmful contaminants.
Let me talk about its water softener first, since most people reading this article are looking for a water softening system. This unit has one of the highest water softening capacities on the market at 64,000 grains. An average family can use the water softener for many weeks without regenerating, saving money and effort in the long run.
As far as water consumption goes, I am happy to report this product delivers 12 gallons of softened water every minute. Two people showering simultaneously while the rest of the household has other water-related activities will never cause problems with the water supply.
Like I said, this product is a complete water treatment package. It comes with an upflow carbon filter for eliminating chlorine, taste, odor, and other unpleasant water contaminants.
This product is also eco-friendly, requiring no backwashing. Hence, there are no drain lines, electricity, and wasted water to worry about. It makes a good argument for why upflow softeners are often praised in the upflow vs downflow carbon filter debate.
The reverse osmosis component features four layers of contaminant-removal media, ensuring families will only get the safest, cleanest, and purest water they could drink.
Operating this water treatment system is also effortless because of the proven Fleck metered flow valve controller integrated into the water softener.
What to Look for When Buying Upflow Water Softeners
Upflow water softeners look like conventional devices with a traditional downflow design, making it exceptionally challenging for first-time water softener buyers to differentiate the two types.
While they may look similar, an upflow water softener has a different internal design compared with a downflow system. The tank has a more complicated structure to draw hard water from the water pipe and direct it to a center column. The hard water moves down and out near the tank bottom. It then swirls around and moves up through the resin bed.
The hard water’s upward movement knocks magnesium, calcium, and other hardness minerals from the water, adhering them to the ion exchange resin. The swirling motion increases the contact time between the hard water and the resin matrix, allowing for more efficient water softening.
Although an upflow water softener may have a different mechanism from a downflow unit, it remains a water softener. As such, prospective buyers can look for the following parameters when deciding on the best possible upflow water softener to bring home.
Water Softening Capacity
As a rule, homeowners must choose a water softener with a high grain capacity to extend the service life between regenerations. Not only does it translate to less frequent maintenance, but it can also give the family more substantial savings.
One must determine the average water-softening requirements to know what water softener to buy. It would be best to invest in a good-quality test kit to assess water hardness levels. Most water hardness level testers show the results in milligrams per liter (mg/L) units. The majority of US households are more familiar with grains per gallon (GPG).
Converting mg/L values to GPG is a straightforward process. It only involves dividing the mg/L result by 17.1 to get the GPG equivalent. For example, if the water hardness tester returns a 250 mg/L reading, one can determine the GPG value by dividing 250 by 17.1. The result is 14.6 grains per gallon (GPG). Homeowners can also bring a water sample to a laboratory to get more accurate results.
Once a family has a clear idea of their water hardness levels, they can focus their attention on determining their average daily water consumption. The easiest way to do this is by looking at previous water bills and computing the daily average.
One can look at the previous month’s water usage and divide the value by 30 or 31 days. Suppose the family consumed 10,000 gallons in July and 9,500 gallons in August. In that case, the household used 19,500 gallons over 62 days, giving them a daily average of 314.5 gallons.
The next step involves multiplying the average daily water consumption by the computed GPG value. The value is equivalent to 4,591.7 grains (314.5 gallons x 14.6 GPG). Hence, the water softener must remove at least 4,600 grains of water hardness minerals per day.
Suppose the family picks an upflow water softener with a 12,000-grain capacity. In that case, the water softener will only run for two to three days before requiring regeneration. The household can regenerate the water softener up to 15 times per month or 180 times annually.
If the family spends $30 per regeneration, it will cost them $450 per month or up to $5,400 annually to regenerate their water softener.
On the other hand, a 48,000-grain upflow water softener will require less frequent regeneration. Using the same water consumption values above, a 48,000-grain unit can run for ten to eleven days, regenerating thrice a month or 36 times annually.
A similar computation will show that families who use the 48,000-grain unit will only spend $90 monthly or $1,080 yearly. That is substantial savings for the family.
One must realize that a water softener’s capacity is only part of its efficiency. It is also essential to look at other parameters before buying.
Water Flow Rate
Water softeners work like any water filtration system. They facilitate the movement of water across a semipermeable membrane, removing limescale-forming chemicals. Unfortunately, this action can impact natural water flow. That is why upflow water softener buyers must also consider the product’s maximum water flow rating.
It would be best to get a water softener with a flow rate between 6 and 12 gallons per minute (GPM), although any product with a higher rating is better. Installing a high GPM water softener ensures a sufficient water supply for everyone in the house.
Salt Requirements for Regeneration
One of the most valued attributes of an upflow water softener is its lower salt requirements for regeneration. A typical downflow water softener may need at least 300 pounds of salt to recharge the system. On the other hand, an upflow water softener may only require 200 to 250 pounds of salt, reducing the salt requirements by as much as 30 percent.
Upflow water softeners promote prolonged contact time between the hard water and the resin bed. This action allows the system to use substantially less salt than conventional systems to soften the same volume of hard water. That is why many experts consider an upflow system as a high efficiency water softener. It accomplishes the same amount of work as a downflow system but with less salt.
Shoppers must check the salt requirements of the product they wish to buy. For instance, a water softener that needs 200 pounds of salt may seem a wiser choice than a unit that requires 250 pounds of salt. However, one must also consider the product’s water softening capacity.
Suppose the product with a 200-pound salt requirement only has a 12,000-grain capacity, and the other water softener with a 250-pound salt requirement can accommodate 48,000 grains. In that case, one can choose the latter product because it is more efficient.
Valve Controller Design
Water softeners come in either of two valve controller types that regulate the flow of hard water into the resin tank for softening.
The first type is a timer-controlled valve head, which users must program to regenerate the system after a predefined time. For example, one can set the water softener to renew every 72 hours, whether there is still sufficient ion-exchange resin in the tank or not. The issue with this valve controller is inefficiency.
The second type is the metered controller, which monitors the ion exchange resin’s status and only regenerates when the system reaches a preset parameter. If the user programmed the water softener to regenerate after only 10% of the ion exchange resin remains, the machine automatically recharges the resin upon reaching 10%.
It makes perfect sense to get only a water softener with a metered valve controller to achieve better efficiency and economy.
Some upflow water softener manufacturers tend to introduce unique product features to differentiate their devices from the rest. While these attributes can increase the water softener’s price, it would still be best to check them out.
For example, some brands have an automatic regenerating system that bypasses the metered control valve’s programmed setting. The unit automatically renews the resin bed if the water’s unused for several days to protect against mold and bacterial colonization.
Other products may feature a scannable element to aid in troubleshooting and maintenance.
Additionally, some brands prefer including their water softeners in a water treatment package with a carbon filter and a reverse osmosis system. Consider which substances you want to remove from your water and whether you need more than one water filter type.
Last but not least, it’s a good idea to see whether a product comes with a warranty.
Installation and Operation Ease
Water softeners, whether upflow or downflow, are usually straightforward to install. Unfortunately, installation can be challenging if the product comes with fittings different from existing plumbing. Water softener installation can also be tricky if other components are present, such as a reverse osmosis tank and carbon filter units.
The display’s backlighting must be sufficiently bright to allow for easier reading of the water softener parameters. It would also be best to have a neat and uncomplicated control interface to facilitate ease of use.
What is the Difference Between an Upflow and Downflow Water Softener
The principal difference between an upflow vs downflow water softener is the direction of water flow during the water softening process.
A water softener tank has a center tube where water flows downward or upward, depending on the water softener’s design. The area surrounding the tube core contains ion-exchange media that remove the hardness minerals from the water. The softened water goes out of the tank for distribution to the rest of the house.
In a conventional downflow water softener, hard water enters a port at the tank’s top section and moves through the upper basket filled with the ion-exchange resin. The water trickles towards the tank bottom, knocking off hardness minerals from the water as it moves down.
Upon reaching the tank bottom, pressure forces the water into the middle tube known as the distributor pipe. It moves up the tubing and into an outlet port for distribution.
An upflow water softener has the opposite dynamics. Hard water enters through the center pipe known as the riser tube instead of entering the surrounding area. A valve controller regulates water pressure to push through the tubing where the hard water exits at the tank bottom.
Because of the pressure, the hard water comes out swirling as it moves up through the ion exchange resin bed. The continuous water supply pushes the water upward to a section near the valve controller and through an outlet port for distribution.
Hence, it would be safe to say that the upflow and downflow water softener classification pertains to the movement of hard water as the resin removes the hardness minerals.
Can I Switch a Downflow Water Softener to Upflow
No, you cannot interchange a downflow water softener with an upflow water softener. These products have different mechanisms for introducing hard water into the resin.
Water moves through an upflow water softener from the bottom to the top. On the other hand, a downflow water softener directs hard water from the top to the bottom.
The only way you can reap the benefits of an upflow water softener is by replacing your downflow unit.
However, one must understand that some situations call for a downflow water softener. For example, well water with high iron, manganese, and sediment levels will work better with a downflow water softener than an upflow unit. These particles are heavier than other chemicals, allowing them to settle at the bottom.
An upflow system can push these particles upward and clog the pores in the valve body. On the other hand, a downflow unit forces the iron and sediments to the bottom to facilitate more effortless flushing.
Hence, it would be best to determine your water characteristics before deciding whether or not to replace your downflow unit with an upflow water softener.
The best upflow water softener uses less salt and electricity than conventional water softening systems, giving families more substantial savings. It also does not require backwashing because of its resin fluffing. While it has its downsides, families may appreciate the upflow water softener advantages better.
Picking the best water softener with an upflow design is easy if one considers several crucial factors. These considerations include water softening capacity, salt regeneration requirements, impact on water flow, installation ease, and more.
We recommend picking from the products featured in this article if one wants to keep the process as effortless as possible.