Hard water causes damage to your plumbing, appliances, hair, shower, dishware, and clothing. You may have noticed some of these (or all if you’re like me) and wondered what you can do about it. Installing one of the best electronic water descalers is a low-cost way to rid yourself of hard water scaling and all the problems that come with it.
Best For All Hardness Levels
Best Budget Descaler
If you’re looking for the best electronic water descaler, choose a product appropriate for your household’s water hardness. A capacitive device best handles high hardness levels.
That’s why the Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler is my favorite water descaler. Unlike other products, it has no maximum limit of water hardness.
Who are descalers for?
Descalers reduce the scaling effects of hard minerals in your tap water. Scale is a residue left on surfaces after water has come into contact with it.
Some people use water softeners to fix this problem. But the units are expensive and may also replace helpful minerals with sodium.
Descalers are for budget-conscious consumers that want to reduce the effects of scaling without changing the mineral composition of their water.
As a rule of thumb, if you have low hardness levels and are using city water, then a descaler may be a good option to remove scale. A softener will be a much better solution if you have well water and are in a very hard water area. If that sounds like you, we wrote an article about choosing the best water softener for wells, which you can read here.
The best electronic descalers
- Best for all hardness levels: Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler
(A powerful capacitive descaler with no hardness limits) > See Review
- Easiest to install: Eddy Electronic Water Descaler
(An easy to install device from a trusted brand) > See Review
- Best for small houses: iSpring ED2000 Whole House Electronic Descaler
(Extremely effective over short distances & budget friendly) > See Review
- Highest powered: Scalewatcher 3 Electronic Water Softener
(600ma power effective in areas up to 4000ft2 ) > See Review
- Best budget descaler: HQUA 5000E Electronic Water Descaler
(High power, low price tag) > See Review
- Ultra-low budget option: CPTDCL Electronic Water Descaler
(A low-powered DIY device for just a few dollars) > See Review
Best for all hardness levels
- Price: $$$
- Hardness: no limit
- Dimensions: 7″ x 2″ x 2″
- Outdoor use?: Yes, IP54 waterproof rated
- Warranty: 1 year, extendable online to 10
Yarna is one of the top capacitive electronic water descalers brands, and the YARNA CWD24 is one of their best-selling models. As it’s a capacitive model (read more about that in our buyer’s guide below), it has no hardness limit. That makes it one of our top recommendations for the best electronic water descaler – especially if you have very hard water.
This capacitive descaler uses a microchip to regulate its electrical field. That makes it both more effective and more efficient than many other products. Not only does it reduce the scaling of water on external surfaces, but it also cleans your pipes of preexisting scale deposits.
The YARNA CWD24’s wires are thin and flat, which makes them easier to wrap around the pipe during installation. With dimensions of 7” x 2” x 2”, it hardly takes up any space, and you can easily install it yourself.
As mentioned, unlike most other descalers, this model does not have a max hardness rating! That means it can descale water even if your water tests show you have a high number of grains per gallon (GPG).
Its IP54 waterproof rating means installing it outside without worrying about breaking during a rainstorm.
Yarna offers a 365-day money-back warranty, which you can extend to lifetime support by registering your product online.
Click here to check out the Yarna and see the latest price.
- Price: $$$
- Hardness: 20 GPG
- Dimensions: 6.75″L x 1.5″W x 3.5″H
- Outdoor use?: Yes – additional waterproof casing available
- Warranty: 12-month money back, lifetime repair or replace
Eddy is another long-standing favorite brand when it comes to water descalers. It’s the easiest to install on this list for two reasons. First, the included manual and instructions on their website are super straightforward. And second, you just need to wrap the provided plastic-coated wires around your pipe – a much simpler process than dealing with the copper bands of the Yarna.
This UK-made product immediately reduces surface scale and, in time, will even break up limescale buildup in your pipes and appliances. The colored wires and adhesive tape make installation a breeze.
The Eddy Electronic Water Descaler can operate on water with up to 20 GPG hardness, which makes it an excellent choice for homeowners with high water hardness ratings. It can handle flow rates up to 10 gallons per minute, suitable for most small to medium households.
This model is not water protected, so you shouldn’t install it somewhere it will be exposed to the elements. However, Eddy offers an additional waterproof casing if you want to install it outside.
Customers should also note that this descaler only works on pipes with a diameter of up to 1 inch.
Like other top brands, Eddy offers a 12-month “no quibble” full refund. Their lifetime repair or replace warranty extends this coverage, making it the only water descaler you’ll ever need to buy – check out the Eddy here.
Best for small houses
- Price: $$
- Hardness: 10-19 GPG
- Dimensions: 7″L x 3.5″W x 2″H
- Outdoor use?: No
- Warranty: 1 year, extendable to 10 years online
The iSpring ED2000 is marketed to descale water for an entire household – however, we found that it only works effectively for water up to 50 feet away from the device. That said, it’s very effective at reducing scale, and you can save yourself some cash if you only have a small place.
This electronic descaler works on water from 10 GPG to 19 GPG. Most water supplies in the US fall below 19 GPG, so this is suitable for most water sources.
Again, multi-colored installation wires make installation simple and hassle-free. The wires can send electronic pulses through either PVC or PEX pipes, so you don’t need to worry about conductivity.
iSpring customers appreciate the 1-year warranty because it is easily extendable online to 10 years.
- Price: $$$
- Hardness: Up to 30 GPG
- Dimensions: 15.27 x 8.62 x 3.43 inches
- Outdoor use?: No
- Warranty: 2 years + 10-year manufacturer’s guarantee
The Scalewatcher 3 has 600mA of power, is around twice the power of the Eddy, and is suitable for homes up to 4000ft2. So the Scalewatcher 3 will be adequate for most households with moderate water usage.
Scalewatcher has been designing electronic water descalers since 1991, making them one of the longest-running brands in the business. Their line of products ranges from the Scalewatcher 3 to 5.
The Scalewatcher 4 and 5 both offer even more power than the 3, but these would be more suitable for very large households or small businesses.
The electronics are packed within a compact white casing. This attaches to two wires sending electromagnetic pulses through the main water line. The wires connect to the water pipe with zip ties, and the descaling unit attaches to a nearby wall with the included screws and wall anchors.
This product is slightly larger than comparable units, at 15 x 9 x 3.5 inches. True to its size, however, it also provides a much stronger current. The 600mA of power can descale the entire water supply of most households without needing to use multiple units.
Scalewatcher offers a hefty 2-year warranty on their products, which customers can extend up to 10 years online after purchasing.
Some users report that their unit occasionally turns off without warning. A simple reset is all it takes to get it running again.
Best Budget Descaler
- Price: $
- Hardness: Up to 25 GPG
- Dimensions: 6.2 x 3.5 x 1.6 inches
- Outdoor use?: No
- Warranty: one-year money-back guarantee
The HQUA 500E packs a lot of power into a small price tag. It can both eliminate future limescale from forming on surfaces as well as erode preexisting scale that has built up in plumbing.
This product features two flat-band wires that easily coil around your home water pipe. I really appreciate the easily mountable descaling unit, which can adhere directly to a pipe or any nearby wall surface. No drills or screwdrivers are necessary.
Another surprising feature for a product in this price range is the maximum hardness capacity. At 25 GPG, the HQUA 500E can deal with water twice as hard as some similarly priced electronic descalers. If your water supply contains high levels of hard minerals, this product is definitely worth considering.
One thing to note is the unit’s lack of waterproofing, meaning this product is intended for indoor installation only.
HQUA offers a one-year, no-quibble money-back guarantee.
Ultra-low budget option
- Price: $
- Hardness: 12-15GPG
- Dimensions: 4.8 x 4.6 x 2.2 inches
- Outdoor use?: No
This product is for DIY enthusiasts and budget seekers alike. The CPTDCL Electronic Water Descaler is by far the least expensive water descaler I reviewed, and it holds up impressively.
This product arrives as simple as it can be. A small circuit board attaches to two blue wires, which users wrap around their water pipe. After that, you just plug in the unit, ensuring the LEDs light up.
The exposed circuitry means that users should either build their own casing or keep the unit protected so it won’t get damaged.
This product showcases how much you can do with a circuit board, microchip, and a few transistors. It can descale water ranging from 10.5-12 GPG. Although this is less than many other models, most municipal water sources don’t have water above these hardness levels. Just be sure to test your household water before choosing this product.
What are descalers & how do they work?
Electronic water descalers solve hard water problems that don’t require softening the water. Rather than removing the minerals that contribute to a water supply’s hardness, descalers prevent these minerals from clumping or scaling onto surfaces.
Whereas salt-based water softener systems require several tanks and replenishing, descalers simply attach to the outside of the water supply line. The water runs through the unit without leaving the main pipe. This leaves your home water supply’s original flow rate unchanged.
They do this by running an electromagnetic field through the water pipe. The field modifies the shape and charge of the hard minerals, a process called ionization. The modified mineral molecules are less likely to bond with surfaces and remain suspended in the water instead.
What is scaling?
Scaling happens when minerals in water stick to surfaces. Scaling can begin as a very thin film on surfaces, but it quickly builds up.
Calcium and magnesium exist in the earth typically as cations. Cations are positively charged because they contain more protons than electrons. This imbalance makes them more likely to bond with something else as they travel through your plumbing . That’s why the calcium and magnesium molecules in hard water stick to so many surfaces.
Charging these mineral cations makes them less likely to scale when subjected to heat, pressure, and other household conditions.
Where does scaling occur?
Some common household appliances that collect limescale include water heaters, showerheads, hot water kettles, and dishwashers. Water heaters often lose capacity over time because the bottom of the tanks fills up with scale. Small holes in showerheads can clog up as they fill with scale.
Surfaces like shower doors and plates in a dishwasher often show scaling first. Many people report noticing limescale on the skin and in their hair, especially in cases of very hard water.
Different types of electronic descalers
When shopping for the best electronic water descaler, chances are you will notice two types: electromagnetic and capacitive.
Electromagnetic water descalers are the most common type bought and sold today. These products use electricity to create a magnetic field. As water passes through the field, the hard mineral molecules are altered to make them less likely to stick to surfaces.
Capacitive magnetic units function similarly by generating a charge to ionize the hard minerals in tap water. The difference is that a capacitive descalers’ electromagnetic field comes from a capacitor instead of straight from your home electricity line (How Stuff Works).
The capacitor allows capacitive electronic water softeners to regulate the strength of the electromagnetic field. Because of this, a capacitive magnetic descaler can often handle a higher water flow rate than an electromagnetic water softener.
What Are the Advantages & Disadvantages?
Want to know why you should purchase a descaler unit for your home? Here are the advantages and disadvantages.
Electronic water descalers offer several advantages over bulkier, more expensive water filtration systems.
Easy to Install
Electromagnetic water descalers do not redirect any of your home water flow. That’s because they attach to the outside of your main water line.
Installing a unit only requires you to locate the water line, wrap the wires around it, and plug it in! Most users report installation times of less than 30 minutes. This is a vast difference compared to water softeners.
Descalers also take up much less space than full-size water softeners. That makes them much more convenient for apartments and houses with less storage space.
Preserves Helpful Minerals
Did you know calcium and magnesium are essential for healthy bodily functioning?
Magnesium supports muscle and nerve function. It also helps the body produce energy .
Most water softeners reduce water hardness by replacing these and other minerals with sodium. A descaler preserves these minerals, which benefit you when consumed in moderation.
Water softening systems often come with a hefty price tag. Most cost more (sometimes much more!) than $800 per unit. Electronic descalers let the electricity do the work, so you don’t need to shell out for a complex ionic exchange tank.
Descalers rarely cost more than $250, and many can be found for even much less. That leaves more money for the rest of your home repairs!
Did I mention how easy it is to install a descaler? That can save you a lot compared to the costs of hiring a water specialist to install all the new pipes and valves that a water softener requires.
Electronic water descalers just need electricity to run. They don’t even use much, so there’s minimal risk of them overheating or shorting a circuit. Many owners report installing a descaler and not needing to do anything else for years!
On the other hand, water softeners can develop a huge list of problems. They can collect salt bridges that will break the unit if untreated. Some minerals, such as iron and manganese, build up inside the tank and can eventually restrict water flow. If you’re interested, click here to read a list of water softener problems we wrote previously.
Even without any problems with buildup, water softeners will require regular cleaning of the brine and the resin tank .
And finally, all sodium-based water softeners need to be refilled with sodium.
With such a hefty list in favor of descalers, are there any drawbacks to it? Here are a few things to consider when deciding if a water descaler is right for you.
Does not reduce water hardness
As we’ve mentioned, descalers change the way the minerals in water behave, making them less likely to stick to surfaces. They do not modify the mineral composition of your home water supply. Descalers do not decrease water hardness, meaning they don’t remove anything from the water.
If you are concerned about the levels of minerals or other contaminants in your water supply, you need to install one or more filtration systems instead.
You can easily order a water test kit online if you don’t know your water hardness score. We recommend Tap Score’s Hardness Water Test.
Less effective for high GPG water supplies
Different models of water descalers can manage different levels of water hardness.
Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon (GPG). Lower-end descalers may only work up to 12 or 20 GPG, and even the high-end capacitive models usually only work up to 25 GPG.
At water hardness levels above 25 GPG, however, you might want to think of different purification systems anyways .
Buy a test kit to determine whether a descaler works on your water supply.
Electronic Descalers vs. Water Softeners
Let’s take a look at the key differences between descalers and softeners.
|Electronic Descaler||Water Softener|
|Installed around the main water supply pipe||Diverts water supply|
|Uses electricity to ionize hard minerals||Uses ionic exchange to remove hard minerals|
|Does not reduce water hardness||Results in 0 GPG hardness|
|Most units suitable for 12-25 GPG||Higher GPG max capacity|
|More affordable units and operational costs||Typically cost over $1000|
|Little to no maintenance required||Tanks require annual cleaning and ion replenishing|
|Does not introduce any other minerals into water supply||Replaces hard minerals with sodium|
|Compact||Requires space for two large tanks|
How to Choose a Descaler
1. Check your hardness levels for suitability
So you’re wondering about your water hardness? The first thing to do is to take a look around your house for signs of scaling.
Scaling commonly occurs in water kettles and showerheads. You might also notice your hot water heater has less capacity than before, which can indicate a buildup of scale at the bottom of the tank
Once you’ve decided you have a water hardness problem, the next step requires determining your water hardness.
Contact your water utility provider and ask them for information about your water supply (Utility Finder). They can tell you about your municipal water system, including its hardness levels.
These numbers may differ from the levels in your house due to hard minerals entering the water after leaving the local treatment facility. That’s why it’s best to get your own test kit in addition to the report from the utility provider.
Water test kits cost between $10 to $60, though prices depend on what the kit is testing. We recommend Tap Score’s Hardness Water Test for the most accurate results. They send a sample bottle to your place, and you return it (free shipping both ways!). Within a week, they’ll send you lab-tested results straight to your phone.
Once you have this number, choosing an electronic descaler to suit your household water supply should be easy.
For high hard water levels go for the Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler because it has no maximum hardness level.
2. Check the capacity. What size of house/number of people?
Selecting the correct water descaler setup depends on the house that you live in. A single-unit apartment is much smaller and uses less water than a household of 5 people.
Most electronic water descalers list a max flow capacity in gallons per minute (GPM). Smaller households typically do not use more than 6 GPM during the day, whereas larger homes might use up to 15 GPM . Choose a descaler that fits your approximate needs.
The size of your actual home also makes a difference. Remember that electronic water descalers change the charge of your water. However, this charge only holds for a certain distance after the unit. This is usually about 50 feet, but can change depending on the unit.
A very large house, or one where the main water line is located very far from some appliances or taps, might require special consideration.
For a large house, consider one of the following:
- Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler (effective up to 1.2m downpipe)
- Eddy Electronic Water Descaler (for large households and small industrial applications)
- Scalewatcher 3 Electronic Water Softener (suitable for homes up to 4000ft2)
3. Where will you install it?
Electronic water descalers take up very little space. But you still need to know where the main water is located.The wires that create the electromagnetic field will wrap around this.
Once you’ve found the supply pipe, remember that the descaler unit also requires electricity. So you’ll either need a location that is near an electrical outlet, or an extension cord to give it power.
4. Consider your budget
As you can see from the list above, electronic water descalers come in all different prices. The high-powered, top-of-the-line models can cost several hundred dollars, while others can go for less than $50.
Now that you’ve tested your water hardness and considered your household needs, it’s just a matter of choosing a product that both fits your needs and your wallet.
Conclusion: Scale Away with Me!
Descalers are a great way to remove scale. They’re low-cost, low-maintenance, and straightforward to install.
Descalers don’t, however, soften your water. Nor will they improve the taste or overall quality of your water. See our articles on water softeners for more information if that’s what you’re looking for.
Our favorite is the Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler because it can deal with all hardness levels, works in large houses, and is reasonably priced to boot!