Have you always wanted to avoid the ugly scale buildups in your plumbing fixtures, but don’t seem to have enough space to install a large water softener?
This shouldn’t be a cause for alarm because we can help you find premium quality systems that will fit in the tightest of spaces like next to your RV filtration system or your tiny house.
It is no easy task to find the best small water softener, with all the numerous products in the market claiming to deliver the best results.
Not everyone knows what’s best for their system. So, in our top nine selections, we took into consideration the size, capacity, and regeneration features that you should be looking for in a compact system.
Mobile-Soft-Water Premier Portable Water Softener is our top pick. This new release from Mobile-Soft-Water has the smallest size and capacity any RV, cabin, or small house owner could wish for. Apart from being space-conscious, it also does a good job of removing hard minerals from your water.
What is the Best Water Softener on the Market?
1. Mobile-Soft-Water Premier Portable Water Softener — Best Overall
If you are looking for portability and superior performance, this new release from Mobile-Soft-Water is the overall best compact water softener you can find.
With an 8,000-grain capacity, this system can effectively treat up to three gallons of water per minute. You’ve got a three-piece molded PVC tank head that is highly durable and an ergonomically designed handle for easy lifting of the system from one place to the other. The large mouth at the top has a removable cap that allows you to add salt for regeneration. You’ve also got a carry screen for preventing resin loss.
However, operating the system may not be simple for everyone. You may have to contact tech support.
- 8,000-grain capacity
- 3 gallons per minute
- 10 grain per gallon of hardness
- Three-piece molded PVC tank head
- 2.5-inch salt port
- Carry screen
- Brass fittings
- Manual regeneration
- The system is compact and portable
- The convenient handle allows for easy lifting
- A great choice for RVs, tiny homes, and small cabins
- The carry screen prevents resin loss during transportation
- The brand has reliable tech support
- It can be a challenging small water system to operate
- Only suitable for water hardness of up to 10 GPG
This is the perfect water softener for RVs, tiny homes, cabins, and campers. You just have to figure out how to operate it effectively.
2. On the Go OTG3NTP3M Portable Water Softener — Best for Standard Hose Connection
Are you looking for the best compact water softener that can remove scale, dirt, paint, and rust? The OTG3NTP3M from On The Go fits the description.
The system offers a portable 8,000-grain capacity, suitable for RVs, tiny houses, cabins, camping, and any other small-scale application you might think of. The softener comes in a compact design that will fit perfectly in the tightest of places. Installing the softener is a breeze, thanks to its compatibility with a standard hose connection. For a 20-day supply of soft water, this system will only need one box of common table salt for regeneration.
- 8,000-grain capacity
- 10 to 25 GPG hardness
- Standard hose connection
- 360-degree swivel
- Back-flush adapter
- Shut-off control valve
- 4-foot high-pressure hose
- Full cradle base
- It is rated to remove scale, dirt, paint, and rust
- The compact design can be fitted in tight spaces
- The big mouth opening makes it easy to add salt
- Delivers up to 20 days supply of soft, clean water
- Comes with a variety of accessories for added versatility
- Some models may come with leaking issues out of the box
- It is possible to receive a tank with a faulty thread
The OTG3NTP3M from On The Go is just what you need for your small-scale soft water supply. Just make sure you get a model with no design issues.
3. Pentair Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener — Best for City Water
Increase the life of your plumbing fixtures and water appliances in your small household with this amazing compact water softener from Pentair.
This system features a high-performing Fleck control valve, which automatically controls the regeneration cycles for water and media to ensure that the softener is working optimally. It comes prefilled with a premium-grade 10% crosslink resin that can withstand the chlorine that is in your city water compared to a conventional resin. The LCD digital display on the meter is easy to program.
You’ve also got a plumbing adapter (bypass and one-inch yoke) that makes the connection much easier.
- 32,000-grain capacity
- Digital meter
- 10 percent crosslink resin
- Plumbing adapter
- High-efficiency valve
- Touchpad controls
- Safety float included
- It controls regeneration cycles automatically
- The resin is high-performing and long-lasting
- The high-efficiency valve improves salt efficiency
- The LCD and touchpad make programming easy
- The safety float avoids overfilling of the brine tank
- It may not be the best choice for plumbing pipes larger than one inch
- Slightly costly considering its capacity
You should choose this unit with confidence as long as your plumbing pipe size is compatible because it comes with one of the most efficient meter-controlled valves and features a high-quality resin.
4. Pro+Aqua FBA-WS-P-16 Portable Water Softener — Best for City or Well Water
The FBA-WS-P-16 from Pro+Aqua is an ideal travel companion for anyone wanting soft, clean water while camping or during a road trip.
This small-capacity softener has a 16,000-grain capacity, able to deliver up to 40 days of soft water supply. It’s also pretty easy to install. All you need to do is connect the FBA-WS-P-16 to any spigot and then connect the other end to your RV’s main water line and turn on the water. You will have softened water flowing through your RV in no time.
The system is uniquely and innovatively designed to work with well or city water and reduce hard minerals, iron, and lead. It comes complete with everything you need to get water flowing in the shortest time possible.
- 16,000-grain capacity
- 2,000 gallons or up to 40 days supply
- City or well water
- Premium capacity resin
- Heavy-duty tank material
- Wide sturdy base (10-3/8-inch)
- Brass ports
- Quick-connect adapter
- Tank jacket
- 2-in-1 pre-filter and regen kit
- Delivers a constant supply of softened water up to 2,000 gallons
- The quick-connect adapter allows easy and quick installation
- Works with both city and well water
- Removes hard minerals and iron
- The tank jacket keeps the system protected from bad weather and bumps
- The premium capacity resin lasts a long while
- Possible leakages with some models
- Some units may come with missing connectors
The FBA-WS-P-16 from Pro+Aqua is not just for RVs. It is the best small water softener for any cleaning job that needs soft, clean water.
5. Pro+Aqua WS-P-REG-KITV2 Water Softener — Most Compact System
If a super-compact water softener is what you need, then you should consider getting the WS-P-REG-KITV2 from Pro+Aqua. It is just the perfect choice for RV, boat, and cabin.
What is truly impressive about this system is that it regenerates the same way a whole house system would. It does a brilliant job of introducing brine to the resin bed through a backwash cycle. This way, it doesn’t take long to regenerate 40% of the resin. Not to mention that it is very effective at extracting minerals causing hardness in your water.
Installing the softener shouldn’t be a problem for most people, thanks to its universal garden hose connection. You can use a standard 3/4-inch garden hose to connect the system to any water feed. As an added advantage, you’ve got a dual workhorse pre-filter that helps with odor, chlorine, and sediment elimination.
- Backwash cycle regeneration
- 1 to 2 pounds of table salt
- Double filtration
- Universal garden hose fittings
- Quick and easy installation
- The backwash cycle takes less time to regenerate
- Dual filtration removes chlorine, sediments, and odors
- Universal connections allow for quick installation
- Extreme portability makes it easier to transport
- Comes equipped with all the necessary accessories
- Sometimes, regeneration may not meet your expectations
- Not ideal for heavy usage
This is a great model for anyone looking for a super compact and portable water softener. But don’t overestimate its regeneration ability.
6. Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener — Best Salt-Saving Design
With a 32,000-grain capacity, this uniquely made water softener is ideal for one to four people. This makes it a suitable choice for a small household.
This on-demand metered system comes with a flow meter, which is good because it regenerates when necessary based on your water usage. The meter has a paddlewheel design that reduces leakages as compared to a turbine design. The touchpad makes it easy to program, while the LCD digital display gives accurate readings at a glance. The high-efficiency valve, on the other hand, saves a lot on salt during regeneration.
The brine tank comes equipped with a float to help prevent overflowing. You’ve also got a bypass and one-inch yoke for added versatility during plumbing connection.
- 32,000-grain capacity
- Metered on-demand system
- Touchpad controls
- Float in the brine tank
- Standard 8 percent resin
- High-efficiency valve
- Bypass and one-inch yoke
- The one-inch yoke and bypass improve versatility
- The high-efficiency valve reduces salt usage
- The flow meter regenerates only when needed to reduce wastewater
- The 32,000-grain capacity is ideal for a small family
- The DIY instructions simplify the installation process
- Some models may come with a faulty float and brine tank
- Could reduce maintenance cost with a 10 percent resin
This water softener from Fleck is relatively compact and is fairly easy to install for most people. But what truly makes it stand out is the digital metered valve that regenerates only when needed.
7. EcoPure EP31 Water Softener — Best Salt-Saving Technology
It’s good to have a small water softener that has a reliable digital control system. If you’re searching for one that is perfect for a family of up to four people, then the EP31 from EcoPure is your best choice.
The system features demand-initiated regeneration to automatically calculate the amount of water and salt needed for regeneration. This helps you save a lot of money in the long run. You don’t have to worry about the salt running out without you knowing because this system has a low salt indicator. Normally, when the indicator light turns on, you will still have a few days to go to replenish the tank.
The system is uniquely designed to connect to one-inch pipes, making it highly convenient for most homes. The softener comes with a detailed DIY instructions manual for quick and easy installation.
- 31,000-grain capacity
- Hardness removal of 110 GPG
- Iron removal of 8 PPM
- Autosense technology
- High flow valve
- Demand initiated regeneration
- The auto-sense technology improves water and salt efficiency
- The digital control meter is super easy to program
- The DIY installation instructions are easy to comprehend
- The low salt light informs you when the tank needs replenishing
- Has a slightly larger capacity that is ideal for a few people
- Not suitable for more than one-inch pipe sizes
- The tech support may not be the most reliable in some situations
The EP31 from EcoPure is a great choice for a small family of one to four people. But make sure your plumbing pipes are not bigger than one inch in diameter.
8. Watts RV Pro-1000 Portable Water Softener — Best for RV Owners
Prevent hard water from ruining your sinks and appliances in your RV with this portable water softener from Watts Water Technologies.
What is quite impressive about this model is that it includes a built-in drain line flow restrictor, which improves regeneration. Because of this, capacity increases by about 55%. With custom-designed flow valves, regeneration occurs whether the system is connected or disconnected. As an added bonus, this system is designed to work with common table salt. So, you don’t have to spend a lot on commercial salt.
You’ve got a full cradle base that ensures the tank is well-secured and stable. Hardness strips are also included in the package for measuring the hardness of the water.
- 10,000-grain capacity
- Compact and portable
- Premium-grade resin
- Built-in drain line flow restrictor
- Custom made flow valves
- Full cradle base
- Hardness strips included
- The compact design is space-saving
- The custom-designed flow valve adds versatility
- The premium-grade resin will last a long time
- It can be used with common table salt
- High flow rates with low-pressure drop
- Cracks and leaks are possible with some models
- The brand doesn’t have the most reliable customer service
This is a great small water softener for the money. It is exactly what an RV owner or camper needs when out on the road.
9. Discount Water Softeners Genesis 2 Premier Water Softener — Best Auto System Refresh
A small family of up to four people can save a significant amount of salt and thousands of gallons of water with this compact system from Discount Water Softeners.
This high-performing system features advanced upflow brining and computes the exact amount of salt needed for regeneration, saving you up to 30% salt. We like the automatic system refresh feature that will flush out any stagnant water after a week of non-use. This ensures there is no room for bacterial growth.
- 24,000-grain capacity
- Integrated turbine meter
- 10 percent crosslink resin
- Electronic sensors
- Adjustable regeneration cycles
- One-inch bypass
- Auto system refresh
- It is compact enough to fit in a small household
- The system improves efficiency by computing the exact amount of salt needed
- One-inch bypass improves versatility during installation
- Adjustable regeneration cycles improve water efficiency
- Auto system refresh gets rid of any stagnant, non-used water after a week
- Customer support for this model may not be the most reliable
- The digital control panel is vulnerable to moisture
This uniquely designed upflow water softener from Discount Water Softeners is a great addition to a small household in need of soft water. Just make sure you don’t receive a system with design issues because customer support isn’t the most reliable.
Things to Consider When Looking for a Compact Water Softener
When considering buying a small water softener, there are a few things you need to know.
Types of Water Softener
There are two popular types of water softeners you can consider when looking for the best small water softener: salt-free and salt-based.
Salt-free water softeners don’t use salt to reduce hardness. Instead, they use either an electromagnetic waveform or template-assisted crystallization to alter the molecular structure of hard minerals. The alteration reduces the bonding or adhesion properties of the hard minerals to pipes and appliances. In a way, the process emulates soft water while not removing the hard minerals.
Salt-based water softeners, on the other hand, use salt for regeneration. This type of water softener uses ion exchange to replace hard mineral ions with sodium ions. The hard minerals are usually flushed out of the system. Unlike saltless water softeners, salt-based systems make sure that the water is super soft. Most small, compact, or portable water softeners are usually salt-based.
Size and Capacity
A small water softener needs to be compact in size and capacity to meet your needs. Most people would look for a compact system if they have an RV, cabin, or a tiny house. For an RV, look for a portable one-tank system that can fit effortlessly next to your RV filtration system.
The most ideal capacity for this size should range from 6,000 to 16,000 grains. For use in a cabin or a small house, you would need a compact water softener with a capacity that ranges from 16,000 to 32,000 grains.
Manual, Meter, or Timer Regeneration
There are various ways for controlling the regeneration process of a water softener, including manual, meter, and timer regeneration.
You will have to manually control the regeneration process for a system that doesn’t have a time or a meter. This system may not be the most convenient option for most people. What you want is a timer or meter compact water softener.
A system with a timer will repeat a cleaning cycle at a pre-set time, whether you use a little or a lot of water. A system with a digital meter will only start a cleaning cycle after a present amount of water has been used, making this option the most efficient.
How Small Should a Compact Water Softener Be?
Go for the most space-saving system, but more important is the capacity, which should not be too much for your intended use. This way, you can cut down on cost. Having said that, any water softener with a capacity of 32,000 grains or lower is a good choice.
Do Small Water Softeners Use Common Table Salt?
Most small, compact, and portable salt-based water softeners use common table salt. Usually, one or two boxes of common table salt are enough per recharge.
Can I Use a Small Water Softener with a Very Large Hot Tub?
Most compact water softeners can deliver about 300 to 500 gallons, depending on water hardness. So, if you are using a very small system, say a 8,000-grain capacity, you will have to recharge the softener every 15 minutes or so until the tub is full.
Can I Travel with a Compact Water Softener Laid Down?
You can choose to lay it down during transit, but make sure the lid is properly sealed to avoid spilling the resin. You also have to give the system enough time for the resin to settle when you configure the unit for use. Some compact designs are a little bit taller and may take considerable vertical space.
For this roundup, the winner is Mobile-Soft-Water Premier Portable Water Softener. What makes this model our overall best compact water softener is its super small size. If space is an issue on your RV, cabin, or small home, then this system is a perfect choice. It delivers just enough capacity to meet your simple soft water needs.
The fact that this is a salt-based system means it does a great job of removing hard minerals like magnesium and calcium out of the water. So, it produces truly soft water. The only thing that may appear inadequate for some people is the manual regeneration.