Best Marine Water Softeners

Best Marine Water Softeners | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

April 20, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Hard water can damage plumbing systems
  • A water softener is crucial to those who spend a lot of time outdoors
  • Find ones that can withstand a lot of water usage if needed for large families
  • Water softeners can be used in RV’s, boats, and even at home
  • Even our labels can mislead us, so do research on the best water softener for you

A compact water softener specifically built for boats can tackle hard water issues. But what is the best marine water softener?

Marine water softener brands such as On The Go, PRO + AQUA, and AO Smith provide top of the line quality in water softeners. These brands along with a few honorable mentions help treat hard water issues on your boat.

The best water softener brands will vary based on price, quality, and your intended use. As you will see, each boater will likely have a different need for one and how much they are willing to spend.


Table of contents

Top 10 of the Best Water Softener Brands

Portable water softener brands for a boat or RV make life easier and comfortable no matter where you are, even harsh marine environments. Some of the best commercial water softener brands use low maintenance materials so that you can count on them for a long time.

Depending on which brand you select to provide soft water, there are plenty of benefits no matter what you choose. The following are some of the best brands you can find.



On The Go’s Double Standard Softener and Conditioner is the largest RV and boat water softener available. It provides 40% more soft water than any other unit on the market.

It regenerates quickly with just two boxes of common table salt and can produce up to 1600 gallons of soft water. This makes it ideal for RV or marine use. The design allows it save space and for easy installation in tight areas and enables high flow rates with low pressure drop.


  • Does not require tools to set up
  • Travel friendly
  • Softens water up to 1,600 gallons


  • Roughly 32 pounds
  • Lacks feature to tell you it needs to regenerate
  • Around $273



PRO + AQUA has a portable water softener that is hard to pass up on. This softener generates an impressive 40% more soft water than similar models (like On The Go) and uses just two boxes of table salt for regeneration in less than 30 minutes.

Made with durable and long lasting materials such as polyethylene and fiberglass that meet high grade NSF standards. It also includes free salt and is designed for easy use with a garden hose port.


  • Easy to set up
  • Mobile friendly
  • Self cleans
  • Compact and easy to store


  • Around $273
  • Possibly leaks if installed incorrectly

AO Smith

AO Smith
AO Smith

The versatile AO Smith Whole House Salt-Free Water Descaler provides a solution to the problem of hard water. It is suitable for both marine and city water and delivers a higher volume of drinking and cooking water compared to other softeners.

Its compact and lightweight design makes it ideal for boats since it weighs just 14.22 pounds. It has a flow rate of seven gallons per minute and can soften up to 600,000 gallons of water without electricity that can help reduce plumbing issues.


  • Helps fight back scaling in water appliances
  • Light and compact
  • Estimated to work for six years since it comes with warranty


  • Higher priced at around $330

Portable Mobile Soft Water

Portable Mobile Soft Water
Portable Mobile Soft Water

Mobile Soft Water has a great portable water softener with five gallons per minute for water treatment and 1,600 gallons for conditioned water. It comes with new equipment, components, and a one year limited warranty on parts.

Regeneration is effortless and their customer service is supportive if you have any questions. Quick installation is possible but you will need a male-to-male union for connection according to user reviews.


  • Easy to set up and regenerates
  • Light and compact
  • One year warranty on equipment


  • Needs a male-to-male union

Watts M7002 Flow

Watts M7002 Flow
Watts M7002 Flow

Watts M7002 Flow Pur is another great option for a softener on the go since it is capable of holding 10,000 grains. This high quality gold resin softener eliminates calcium, magnesium, and iron from hard water while delivering a steady flow of four GPM of softened water for an entire month before regeneration.

It has a built-in flow restrictor and this softener regeneration capacity improves by 55%. The regeneration process uses only two pounds of salt and does not waste much water.


  • Has great user friendly softener features
  • The tank has an extensive limited warranty of five years
  • Head compartment is covered for one year


  • Connecting a feed hose to a stationary inlet hose connector may pose a challenge
  • Roughly $400

Tier1 Essential

Tier1 Essential
Tier1 Essential

Tier1's 48,000-grain water softener is perfectly suited for a large family and incorporates advanced features that have been adopted by other systems to enhance their efficiency. This particular water softener is compact and easy to store in tight spaces, even harsh marine environments.

Tier1 is a dependable water softener option that allows you to program regeneration cycles using timed or metered schedules. It also features a Fleck manufactured head and an easy-to-read LCD for system status.


  • Perfect for tight spaces
  • Manufactured with specialized material
  • Can handle a large family’s water usage


  • Unable to tell you when low on salt
  • Varies in price from $520 to $750

Essential RV Water Softener

Essential RV Water Softener
Essential RV Water Softener

The RV Water Filter Store E4012 Portable Water Softener offers over 2,000 gallons of soft water for up to 60 days whether in an RV or boat. It delivers 50% more soft water than its competitors and has a 16,000 grain resin that effectively eliminates hard water particles.

Regeneration is easy with its large opening for pouring salt. The pre-assembled system includes a four foot PVC water hose and is durable with NSF approved materials.


  • Around $230 for 16,000 grain
  • Great stability and portable
  • Come pre-assembled with four foot hose


  • Takes up more space compared to other brands

TastePURE Portable Water Softener

TastePURE Portable Water Softener
TastePURE Portable Water Softener

TastePURE's compact Portable Water Softener replaces hardening minerals in RV or boat water with premium ion exchange resin. It has a carry handle for easy transport, a large opening for salt regeneration, and a garden hose plug and cap for secure storage.

This compact system boasts a 10,000 grain capacity and can handle high flow rates up to four GPM. Setting up is a simple with the included four foot hose and male-to-male fitting. Regeneration is as simple as adding two boxes of salt to the large mouth opening.


  • Budget friendly at around $190
  • Simple regeneration process of adding two boxes of salt
  • Easy installation with four foot hose


  • Might not help for those with greater water needs such as a large family



WET SPOT works basically to utilize resin to eliminate water hardness by exchanging sodium with calcium and magnesium ions, resulting in softer water. It can also remove dissolved manganese and iron.

Dubbed as “the original portable water softener”, it is designed for marine use, is durable, and is a portable water softener that does not require electricity. It is made of tough materials such as PVC, aluminum, and brass hose fittings, with rubber wheels and specialized labels.


  • Trusted brand since it is the original portable water softener
  • Three versions to help meet your water softener needs
  • Can purchase a test kit to test water source


  • Might be hard to find since you need to contact a dealer

SoftPro PWS-16

The SoftPro RV water softener has an 8% premium resin and optional sediment filter that eliminates hard water issues. It has a 16,000 grain capacity, five GPM high flow rate, and provides 1,680 gallons of long lasting soft water.

Simple installation and a user friendly salt port make it hassle free. It is also a perfect affordable and portable water softening solution for under $200.


  • Affordable at under $200
  • Uses ion exchange for better hard water removal
  • Five GPM flow rate


  • Might be difficult to install if you are not handy

Why You Need a Water Softener

Water softeners are designed for both a boat and RV and have many different positives than just settling with hard water. They can efficiently addresses hard water issues while traveling such as:

  • Bad taste and odor
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Ineffective soap use
  • Water spots
  • Mineral buildup that leads to damage to water appliances

Hard water over time can cause a lot of issues to your health and happiness. The following are reasons why hard water needs to be handled with accordingly:

Reduce Spending on Cleaning Products

Hard water has magnesium and calcium ions that impede soap and cleaning product lathering that makes cleaning, showering, laundry, dishwashing, and car washing a tough task. Soft water washes better and can yield the same cleaning results with less detergent and at lower water temperatures.

Enhance Water Heater

Mineral deposits from hard water may damage your water heating system by creating blockages and reducing heat transfer efficiency. Soft water can gradually dissolve these deposits and restore the system's performance for boats and RVs that have water heaters.

Skin and Hair Conditions

Soft water is good for the skin and clothing but hard water can worsen skin issues and require excessive soap and cleaning products. This may cause irritation on skin and clothing. You will notice when switching to soft water how much different it feels on your skin and hair.

Living in a hard water area can increase the risk of skin problems. Switching to soft water for bathing can lead to a perceptible upgrade in hygiene and comfort and is often considered a great method to relax and alleviate daily tension or exhaustion.

Reduce Time Cleaning

Elbow grease is a well known cleaning technique but soft water is more effective at eliminating dirt without leaving streaks. Hard water can impede lathering and stain removal, while mineral deposits create blemishes on smooth surfaces. If you want to spend less time cleaning and how often you do it, consider switching to soft water by the means of a water softener.

More Appealing Food and Drinks

Soft water is the preferred choice for making drinks since it dissolves substances more efficiently than hard water. This also applies to cooking when you are adding water to certain dishes and the flavors can absorb better.

Keeping Appliances Intact

Hard water may lead to plumbing blockages due to limescale buildup. Installing a water softener can gradually dissolve these deposits and prevent further issues from occurring over time. This is a crucial benefit to using soft water over hard water.

What Size Marine Water Softener Should You Buy?

You should factor in water hardness and usage when sizing a water softener for your boat. Harder water will need a bigger tank to avoid constant regeneration but measure your usage first.

A family of four is estimated to use a 32,000 grain ion exchange softener. You might need to consider a 48,000 grain softener if your water usage is high or water hardness is insanely high. However, there are times when buying the wrong size can affect the usefulness of the softener.

How to Figure out Water Usage

For a general idea of your daily water usage you should factor in all sources of data that require water. These are usually household appliances and additional occupants within the household.

For your water utility, review your most recent bill to get an understanding. Remember that larger softeners for high usage, while smaller softeners are for low.

Issues with an Undersized Softener

Insufficient capacity of a small water softener can result in hard water when overused and defeats its purpose of preventing scale formation. Frequent regeneration to cope with resin's maximum capacity reduces lifespan and raises water expenses.

Issues with an Oversized Softener

Oversized water softeners lead to unnecessary upfront costs due to the system requiring less salt for water softening. Rare regeneration cycles may damage the resin from fouling and bacterial buildup. High water pressure may not be suitable for your home if this occurs.

This should come down to how much water you use per day. Simply determine water usage by multiplying the amount of users you have on board by their consumption rate.

Essential Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Marine Water Softener

Boat owners should consider important factors when purchasing a marine water softener. These include unit salt capacity, time for regeneration, size of the unit, and warranty availability to ensure optimal performance.

Selecting a properly sized softener with appropriate grain capacity is essential to maintain a steady supply of soft water, prevent frequent regeneration or salt shortage, and achieve long term cost savings through reduced salt and water usage. Each commercial water softener will have their pros and cons as well as trying to find the most user friendly softener.

How Much Resin is Being Used

Consider resin amount when calculating required salt. Production amounts from water softener manufacturers can be confusing so use estimators and calculate grain capacity before purchase for the best accuracy.

Time Amount for Regeneration

Water softeners vary with differing regeneration times that usually take full effect around 85 to 90 minutes. They utilize chemistry and physical techniques to soften and purify water to help effectively combat hard water.

Marine softeners use sodium carbonate and have a quicker regeneration period that only takes about 30 to 45 minutes. Soft water can decrease shower and washing waiting times.

Size of Unit

Compact and portable water softeners are recommended to help optimize space in RVs and boats and avoid installation issues and discomfort from salt. Always check the softener capacity to ensure it can provide enough water for four to five people.

Available Warranty

Automatic installation of water softeners minimizes maintenance with routine tasks like filter changes and salt addition being crucial yet inexpensive. Review warranty details for part, labor, tanks, and electronics coverage. Choose from various options based on your preferred features.

Comparing Descalers and Water Softeners

Differentiating between a descaler and water softener is essential for evaluating them properly. While a water softener completely eliminates water hardness, a descaler does not affect the GPG count or other secondary effects of hard water. Water softeners require more space and maintenance than descalers which are smaller and more adaptable for installation.

How to Install a Marine Water Softener

There are different was to set up your marine water softener depending on which brand you choose. Be sure to read the instructions that come with it even though most will likely be the same or a simple installation routine.

  • Properly position tank in desired location
  • Connect inlet to water supply and outlet to hot water appliances
  • Turn off water supply before draining pipes to ensure safety
  • Cut primary water supply line, gauge, connect pipes
  • Clamp drain hose
  • Link overflow tube

Once you have established a working connection, you will need to test it out. Allow plenty of time (according to your manual) to see if your hard water is being changed to soft water.

Best Marine Water Softeners
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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