Having a hard water problem in your home can do more harm than you could ever imagine. The high mineral content found in some tap water can severely damage your appliances, plumbing, pipes, and fixtures. Not even your skin and hair are safe from the harsh effects of hard water.
Luckily for you, the right water softener can be an effective solution to deal with hard water and the dangers it presents. Two of the most recognized brands in the water softening arena are GE Appliances (GE) and Springwell Water Systems (Springwell, for short).
Both brands are well-known for manufacturing some of the best water treatment systems on the market. As such, it is only right that we pick a similar water softener from each brand and put them head to head to see how they match up against each other.
In this review, we’ll be reviewing the GE GXSF30V 30,400-Grain Water Softener in detail then compare the Springwell FutureSoft Water Softener to determine which system is the better choice.
To provide the most concise and conclusive review and comparison, we will be breaking down the most critical aspects of each softener, including:
- What situation(s) each unit is best suited for
- Their design, specs, and other details (including weight and dimensions, appearance, capacity, features, power ratings, available upgrades, and accessories, etc.)
- Softening processes and performance
- Ease of installation and maintenance
- Warranty and satisfaction guarantee
Without further ado, let’s jump into the review.
GE GXSF30V 30,400-Grain Water Softener
The GE GXSF30V 30,400-Grain Water Softener is a salt-based water softener that is designed to remove hardness-causing minerals from your home’s water supply. GE claims that this system can enhance the quality of water throughout your home for cleaner dishes and laundry, and less scale buildup in your water heater systems for potential energy savings. During our time with it, the system didn’t fail to deliver on these claims.
The GXSF30V is most suitable for an average family. It can comfortably provide softened water two to four people in a small to medium-sized home.
Design, Specs, and Features
Compact Size and Simplistic Design
The GXSF30V is one of GE’s most compact water softening systems. It has relatively small dimensions of about 23 x 44 x 15 inches (depth x height x width) and a net weight of around 81 pounds. That means it most likely won’t occupy much space.
In terms of aesthetics, it rocks a light gray color with a unique, sculpted, rectangular-shaped body. Together, these design features give the system a neat, simplistic look.
Excellent Softening Capacity
When it comes to softening capacity, this GE softener can remove up to 30,400 grains of hardness before the system requires a regeneration cycle. Moreover, it can remove hardness from water at a maximum rate of 95 grains per gallon (GPG). On top of that, its one-inch plumbing connections help the system produce a service flow rate of 7.5 gallons per minute (GPM).
Unlike salt-free water softeners, GE’s salt-based softeners must undergo a regular regeneration cycle to eliminate minerals from the resin beads that absorb minerals from the hard water. Impressively, the regeneration cycle for this particular model efficiently removes 4,800 grains of hardness from the softener media per pound of salt used.
The regeneration cycle usually uses about 2.8 gallons of water per 1,000 grains of hardness removed and lasts for approximately 104 minutes. That’s way more efficient than the typical regeneration cycle in some systems that use up to 35.5 gallons of water and last for more than two hours. The system also has a salt storage capacity of 200 pounds, so you don’t have to struggle to lift those back-breaking bags of salt very often.
Another thing we have to admire about the GXSF30V is its exceptional efficiency, particularly as it relates to its 24V/60Hz power rating and overall energy usage. The GXSF30V helps you cut back on your monthly energy bills. Besides, water softening can help you reduce the amount of soap and detergent that you use by up to 50%. The onboard SaltSaver system also significantly reduces the amount of salt required for the system to work efficiently.
Other Impressive Features and Technologies
The GXSF30V has several indicator lights that display the current status of the system, like when the salt is running low. It also has an audible alarm that alerts you when the salt is running out and when something needs your immediate attention.
The built-in “Days to Empty” feature allows you to monitor the salt level, so you’ll know when you need to refill the salt reservoir. Refilling the salt is made even easier by the ergonomic design of the system, which has a tilted lid that makes it easier to replenish the brink tank.
The real crowning accomplishment of the GXSF30V is its SmartSoft technology, which monitors and “learns” your home’s water usage patterns. By doing this, the system adjusts its cycle to fit with your daily routine. That way, you’ll always have soft water when you need it while saving money on power, water, and salt. You can even adjust your water’s hardness level so you can control how soft you want your water to be.
Softening Process and Performance
When you use the GE 30,400-Grain Water Softener for the first time, you’ll notice the difference immediately after bathing or showering with the softened water. Then sooner or later, all your kitchenware, bathroom fixtures, pipes, and appliances will start to show the positive effects.
This GE softener is an ion-exchange water softener. It works by using resin beads and salt to displace hardness-causing minerals like calcium and magnesium, and up to 7 parts per million (ppm) of iron in the water. Essentially, ion exchange softeners replace the hardness minerals with sodium (or potassium chloride), simultaneously removing those elements that cause the water to be hard and adding an element that softens the water further.
Ion exchange uses the concept of “opposites attract” to soften water. Now, the resin in most modern softeners holds millions of tiny beads on its surface, all of which are negatively charged exchange sites. The ions considered in this process (calcium, magnesium, and sodium) are all positively charged. First, the softener loads the resin beads into the system with sodium by pumping diluted brine (positively charged ions) through the beads. When hard water flows through into the water softener and makes its way to the resin tank, it has to make contact with the resin beads. Once this happens, the beads attract/trap the hard water minerals on the resin bed and release the sodium ions that were attached to the beads. The displaced hardness ions are then washed down the wastewater drain during the regeneration cycle, then the salts are replaced, and the system is ready to go again.
Ease of Installation and Maintenance
Installing the GXSF30V should be straightforward once you have some prior DIY experience. The system comes with an installation instructions guide, but some people reported that they found it difficult to follow the directions.
GE recommends that you install the system on the inside. Any damages to the system due to freezing temperatures or direct sunlight will void the warranty. Also, place the softener as close as possible to the main water line in your home. That way, all the water coming into your home will be softened before being distributed throughout your household.
This GE softener comes with a limited one-year warranty on the entire appliance, a limited 10-year warranty on the brine/resin tank, and a limited three-year warranty on the electronic monitor.
Why the Springwell FutureSoft FS1 Softener is the better choice
The GE GXSF30V 30,400-Grain Water Softener is an excellent softener by all means, but like all other softeners on the market, it’s not perfect. When compared to the Springwell FutureSoft Salt-Free Water Softener, the GE system cannot match up. (Not saying the FutureSoft system is perfect either.)
Better softening process and performance – without the salt
First off, unlike the GXSF30V, the FutureSoft system doesn’t use salt to soften water. Instead, it uses a physical process known as Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC). This process passes the water through the FutureSoft media that contain catalysts that convert the minerals to small calcite crystals. Once the crystals are no longer dissolved, they become suspended, and their chemical structures change. But how is this process any better than the ion-exchange process used in the GE system?
Well, there are many health effects and environmental impacts regarding the use of sodium to soften drinking water. When ion-exchange is used during the softening process, the salt particles usually remain behind and enter your drinking water. Now, elevated sodium intake in water can have adverse effects on people with diabetes and other health conditions. For instance, kids with persistent skin disorders, like sensitive skin, may experience severe rashes and itchiness.
High levels of sodium in water can also dissolve potentially toxic metals, such as lead and cadmium from pipes, and introduce them into your drinking water. Exposure to these chemicals can be toxic to your health and can even cause death. Beyond that, the salt can eliminate vital minerals in the water. Without these minerals, your body’s internal physical and chemical conditions may become imbalanced, leading to increased urination, decrease in red blood cells, and even an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
If you care enough about the environment, you’ll see clearly that ion-exchange softeners are a no-go. Ion-exchange softeners like the GXSF30V discharge high amounts of sodium chloride into the environment after several regeneration processes. Sooner or later, the sodium chloride may enter septic or sewage systems, then move into delicate ecosystems. Also, keep in mind that plants cannot thrive in saline environments, so the sodium will most likely affect their acidity and cause them to wither and die. Moreover, the salt can accumulate in the soil and prevent the growth of future plants.
Another problem with water softeners like the GXSF30V is their frequent regeneration and backwashing cycles. These processes use more water than regular consumption. The EPA states that a typical ion-exchange softener uses an estimated 25 gallons of water a day or up to 10,000 gallons per year.
Since the Springwell FutureSoft system doesn’t use salt, you don’t have to worry about any of these problems mentioned above. It even provides 99.6% scale prevention without using a single ounce of chemicals or salt, so you’ll know you’re protecting your health as well as the environment.
More suited for larger households
The FutureSoft system produces a flow rate of 12 GPM, which is almost twice the GE System’s 7.5 GPM flow rate. That means the FutureSoft system can adequately supply fresh, softened water to homes with up to three bathrooms, while GE system will likely perform poorly.
A 12-GPM also means that you won’t experience any drop in water pressure when using the FutureSoft system. However, depending on the size of your home, you might see some reductions in water pressure while using the GXSF30V.
The FutureSoft system also outperforms the GE System when it comes to softening capacity. The FutureSoft softener removes 35,000 grains of hardness while the GE softener only removes 30,400 grains. Also, while the GXSF30V can remove up to 3 ppm of iron, the FutureSoft softener can remove up to 3 ppm of free chlorine.
Optional UV purification add-on
If you also have a bacterial contamination problem in your home, the GXSF30V won’t be of much help in that aspect. However, the FutureSoft system comes with an optional UV purification system that destroys 99.9% of pathogens in water, including viruses, bacteria, Cryptosporidium and Giardia lamblia, E. coli, and many others.
If the design of your softener is important to you, then you should know that the Springwell FutureSoft softener has one of the best designs we’ve ever seen. It has a cylindrical shape with a glossy silver body with a black base, and the Springwell logo near the top of the unit. All we can say is that it looks darn good – even way better than the GE Softener.
No Electricity or Replacement Needed
We love that the GE system is very energy-efficient, but the fact that it requires electricity to work makes it inferior to the Springwell System. The Springwell Softener is designed to work without power or salt. It also doesn’t waste water and will never need any replacements. In our opinion, these are benefits surpasses the energy-efficient of just about any softener.
Industry-Leading Lifetime warranty
Springwell is one of the few manufacturers that offer a lifetime warranty on their water systems (the parts and valves) and a six-month money-back guarantee. These benefits also apply to their FutureSoft softener. That means, if you aren’t satisfied with the performance of the system, you can return it within six months for a full refund. You’ll have to stand the return shipping costs, though. The GXSF30V, on the other hand, only comes with a limited one-year warranty and no satisfaction guarantee.
Financing Option Available
If you cannot afford to cover the full cost of the GXSF30V upfront, you might have to continue saving, borrow the difference, or choose a cheaper alternative. Thankfully, Springwell allows you to finance the FutureSoft system with affordable monthly payments over three, six, or 12 months – with no hidden fees. They’ll ask you to enter a few pieces of information to see if you’re eligible.
All in all, the GE GXSF30V is a high-quality water softener that is ideal for tackling hard water issues in small households. GE certainly has an eye for quality, and it shows in the design and performance of the GXSF30V. However, when compared to Springwell’s FutureSoft Salt-Free System, it honestly doesn’t provide the same value. Both water softeners are excellent in their unique way, but the Springwell System takes the cake!