If you’re looking to improve the quality of your home’s water, you may be wondering whether a Halo water system or a traditional water softener is the better choice. Both offer benefits, but there are some key differences between the two technologies that are worth understanding before making a decision.
This comprehensive guide examines the pros and cons of Halo water systems and water softeners to help you determine which solution may be right for your needs.
A Brief Comparison Table
|Feature||Halo Water System||Water Softener|
|Filtration||Multi-stage filtration removes range of contaminants||No filtration|
|Hardness Removal Method||Filters out hard minerals||Ion exchange replaces hard minerals with salt|
|Salt Use||No salt required||Uses salt for regeneration|
|Removes Existing Scale||Minimal removal||Yes|
|Installation||Whole house or point-of-use||Whole house recommended|
|Cost||More expensive system and filters||Lower upfront cost|
|Maintenance||Replace filters every 6-12 months||Periodic resin bed cleaning and salt refills|
How Do Halo Water Systems Work?
Halo water systems use a multi-stage filtration process to remove impurities and minerals from tap water.
The systems contain a sediment pre-filter that traps particles like dirt and rust.
Water then flows through a carbon block filter that reduces chemicals, odors, and discoloration.
The key stage in a Halo system is the DI resin filter.
This filter contains a spherical resin bead that attracts and binds to minerals like calcium, magnesium, and manganese.
As hard water passes through the DI resin filter, the minerals are removed, leaving purified water.
Some Halo systems also include a remineralization filter after the DI resin stage. This adds beneficial minerals like calcium and magnesium back into the water for improved taste. However, levels are very low compared to untreated tap water.
Halo systems do not require any backwashing, drainage, or regeneration like a salt-based water softener. The filters simply need to be replaced every 6-12 months depending on water usage and conditions.
Benefits of Halo Water Systems
Here are some of the major benefits of choosing a Halo water system for your home:
- Removes Hard Minerals: Halo systems are highly effective at removing minerals like calcium and magnesium that contribute to hard water. This helps address issues like scale buildup and soap scum.
- Improves Taste: By reducing minerals and chemicals, Halo filters can improve the taste and smell of drinking water. The remineralization stage also adds back some beneficial minerals.
- Whole House Filtration: Larger Halo systems can be installed to filter all the water entering a home. This provides filtered water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and cleaning.
- Low Maintenance: Halo systems do not require backwashing, draining tanks, or salt refills like a water softener. Just replace filters every 6-12 months.
- Eco-Friendly: Because they don’t use salt, Halo systems are more environmentally friendly compared to traditional water softeners. No risk of salt runoff or contamination.
- Retains Beneficial Minerals: Halo filters only remove hardness minerals. They do not strip out other beneficial minerals that may be present in tap water.
- May Improve Hair and Skin: Softer water from a Halo system can result in smoother skin and hair compared to hard water.
Drawbacks of Halo Water Systems
While Halo systems have many advantages, there are some downsides to consider:
- Higher Upfront Cost: Purchasing and installing a whole house Halo system often costs significantly more than a water softener. Replacement filters also add ongoing costs.
- Still Needs Periodic Maintenance: While less intensive than a water softener, Halo filters need to be replaced every 6-12 months to maintain performance. Ignoring this can result in decreased effectiveness.
- Remineralization May Be Inadequate: Critics argue the remineralization stage in Halo systems does not adequately restore beneficial mineral levels for health. Magnesium in particular may remain too low.
- No Softening Capabilities: Although they remove hardness minerals, Halo systems do not replace them with sodium like a true softener. So softened water benefits are more limited.
- May Need Additional Equipment: For optimal results, some homes may need additional water purification equipment used in conjunction with a Halo system. This further increases costs.
- Not Designed for Iron Removal: Halo systems are not effective at removing high levels of iron often found in well water. An additional iron removal system would be required.
What is a Water Softener and How Does it Work?
Water softeners are appliances designed to remove hardness minerals and replace them with sodium or potassium ions.
This process eliminates most of the negative effects of hard water mineral buildup.
Softeners contain resin beads that are charged with sodium ions.
As hard water enters the softener, the calcium and magnesium ions trade places with the sodium ions on the resin beads through a process called ion exchange.
The hardness minerals remain trapped on the beads while the softened water flows out of the system.
Once the resin beads become saturated with hardness minerals, a regeneration process cleans and recharges them with sodium. This involves backwashing the beads with a brine solution (salt dissolved in water) and flushing the trapped minerals down the drain.
The softener can then continue removing minerals and exchanging ions for several more days before needing regeneration again. The frequency depends on the hardness level and water usage.
Benefits of Water Softeners
Here are some of the main advantages provided by a water softener:
- Softens Water: By replacing hardness minerals with sodium, softeners create softened water. This prevents buildup and scaling and allows for better cleaning.
- Removes Existing Scale: Softened water can slowly dissolve and remove existing scale and buildup from pipes and fixtures.
- Improves Lathering: Soap and detergents lather and suds up better with soft water. This allows for effective cleaning with less soap scum.
- Protects Plumbing: Removing scale helps prevent damage and clogging in water heaters, pipes, and appliances that use water.
- Affordable Price: Water softener systems and installation are significantly less expensive compared to most whole house filtration systems.
- Low Maintenance: Once configured properly, water softeners effectively operate with minimal maintenance aside from occasionally adding salt.
- Simple Installation: Softening systems are straightforward to install with a cold water line, drain line, and power source. No major home modifications are required.
Drawbacks of Water Softeners
Despite their benefits, water softeners also come with some disadvantages:
- Requires Salt: The sodium used in regeneration comes from salt. This means regularly filling a brine tank with salt pellets or blocks.
- Salt Consumption: Families on low-sodium diets need to account for increased sodium levels in water from the softening process.
- Environmental Impacts: The salty backwash water discharged during regeneration can potentially harm lakes, streams, and groundwater over time if not properly regulated. Proper drainage is key.
- Doesn’t Improve Taste/Health: While softeners address the nuisance issues of hard water, they do not filter out other contaminants or improve water taste and health benefits.
- Can Over-Soften Water: If not configured properly, softeners can make water too soft, resulting in slippery feeling water, difficulty rinsing soap off, and potential corrosion of pipes.
- Ongoing Costs: In addition to the initial investment, water softeners require the continual purchase of salt bags or blocks.
- More Frequent Maintenance: Softener systems need occasional maintenance like cleaning injectors and resin beds to keep working efficiently.
Does a Halo System Soften Water?
One common question people have is whether Halo filtration systems actually soften water in addition to removing impurities. The answer is no – Halo systems do not replace hardness minerals with sodium like a true softener.
While Halo filters are excellent at removing calcium, magnesium, and other hardness ions, they do not add anything back into the water through ion exchange. So the softened feel and sudsing effects of softened water will be very minimal with a Halo system.
However, reducing the total concentration of hardness minerals does make the water less scale-forming. So Halo systems remove some nuisance issues of hard water but not to the same level as an ion exchange softener.
Just don’t expect fully soft and slick water from a system like Halo.
Is There Anything Better Than a Water Softener?
When it comes to completely eliminating the issues caused by hard water minerals, a properly-working ion exchange water softener really can’t be beat. The sodium ion swap effectively addresses scaling and buildup problems in a way no other home system can match.
However, for those concerned about salt use or who want to additionally filter other water contaminants, alternatives like Halo systems and other types of whole house filtration may be preferable.
These remove hardness along with other impurities for improved health and taste.
But make no mistake – while systems like Halo provide certain advantages, no other home system will fully soften water like a correctly-sized and configured traditional water softener. The choice comes down to priorities and water quality needs for each home.
Is Halo Water System Good?
Overall, Halo systems are very effective home water filtration solutions:
- Remove hardness minerals without salt use
- Provide cleaner and better tasting water
- Effective whole house filtration
- Low maintenance requirements
- High upfront investment
- Do not fully soften water
- May need additional purification equipment
Halo filters are an excellent option for removing contaminants without introducing sodium. Just recognize the technology’s limitations in terms of achieving softened water.
For the right homeowner who wants improved water filtration without salt-based softening, a Halo system can be a very good choice. But those wanting full water softening may be better served by a traditional ion exchange system or combining a Halo unit with a softener.
Does Halo 5 Soften Water?
The Halo 5 series is one of Halo Water’s newest and most advanced filtration systems. Like other Halo models, the Halo 5 systems utilize a multi-stage process to remove impurities and hardness minerals.
However, Halo 5 systems do not use ion exchange or replace minerals with sodium. So no, the Halo 5 water filter does not fully soften or condition water.
While the Halo 5 is excellent at reducing the overall hardness mineral concentration, it does not provide the complete benefits of softened water. Expect cleaner, better tasting water without scale buildup, but not slippery soft water feel and sudsing.
For maximum softening benefits, the Halo 5 would need to be paired with a water softener.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
No, Halo systems do not soften water through ion exchange like a traditional salt-based water softener. While Halo filters remove hardness minerals, they do not replace them with sodium, so water will not feel softened or become slippery.
For completely eliminating hard water mineral issues, a properly working water softener is hard to beat due to the ion exchange process. However, alternatives like Halo filtration avoid salt use while removing other contaminants softeners don’t. There is no one perfect system – choose based on home needs and priorities.
Yes, Halo filtration systems effectively remove hardness minerals and other contaminants to improve water quality without using salt. They provide an excellent whole house filtration solution. Just recognize Halo systems do not soften as effectively as a salt-based softener.
No, like other Halo models, the Halo 5 system filters water and reduces hardness but does not truly soften or condition water by replacing minerals with sodium ions. The Halo 5 improves water quality but does not create softened, slippery water on its own without being paired with a softener.
Deciding between a Halo filtration system and a traditional water softener ultimately comes down to your specific water quality needs and priorities. While both systems improve hard water issues, they work in different ways.
Water softeners use an ion exchange process to completely remove hardness minerals and replace them with sodium. This effectively prevents scale buildup and mineral spots. However, it requires added salt consumption.
Halo systems utilize multi-stage filtration to reduce a broader range of contaminants, including hardness minerals. The water feels cleaner and tastes better. But Halo does not soften to the same level as a salt-based ion exchanger.
Factors like salt use, water taste, scale prevention, and filtration capabilities should be weighed when choosing your ideal system. Halo and softeners both make hard water more manageable with their respective pros and cons.
For whole home water quality with minimal salt use, Halo systems are an excellent choice. But for full water softening specifically, traditional ion exchange softeners remain the most effective home solution. Combine both technologies for the ultimate water makeover.