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Best NorthStar Water Softeners in the Market

by Carl Jensen

Plumber, Welder, Contractor

> 2 min read

Water sustains life. Our planet needs water to survive, and so do we. But water isn’t enough; water quality matters, too. A water softener takes the substandard water available in your area and transforms it, removing impurities, contaminants, and detrimental minerals.

I bought a water softener to help me drink more during the day. I wanted something which made water taste clean and took away the odor and taste, but I didn’t want to depend on store-bought bottled water. North Star is a trusted company, established in 1925, and was a company I focused on in my search for the best water softener. Here are the best North Star Water Softener reviews to help you decide on the right unit for your home.

Here are the NorthStar water softeners you may want to consider:

  • NSC42 Water Softener: Best for City Water
  • NSRO42C4 Reverse Osmosis Filtration System: Best for the Money
  • NSCWC18 Water Softener: Best Hybrid
  • PA132S: Best Commercial
  • NSC40UD1 Ultra Demand Water Softener: Best Premium
  • NSC3: Best Whole House
  • NSC2218 Water Softener: Best Small Household

Top Choices on the Market

Best NorthStar Water Softener Reviews

1. North Star NSC42 Water Softener: Best for City Water

North Star makes EXCEPTIONAL water softeners. Whether you’re a person living on your own, or a family of 6 or more, this water softener caters to every kind of living situation. With this model, you get the full North Star water softener warranty, and you get a durable machine featuring all the typical North Star features you’d expect. 

But this isn’t all. You also get the ULTIMATE grain and iron removal rates. The North Star NSC42 showcases the best of what North Star has to offer but is packaged in a way that makes it the best option for the greatest number of people.


  • Caters to any kind of household situation
  • Has the ultimate grain removal rates
  • Single tank, space-saving design 
  • Has all the convenience-enhancing features you’d expect



  • Has the highest grain removal rate 
  • Can suit a variety of households
  • U.S.-based manufacturing facilities
  • Only has a 1-year warranty 
  • Higher price point

The MSC42 is a cabinet model; however, it’s suitable for any size household—from 1-6 (or more) people. This helps increase this water softeners’ versatility and makes it well-suited for a range of people.

This water softener is considered a 42,000-grain softener, capable of filtering 120 grains per gallon. This is an improvement from other models. It has a great iron removal rating of 11ppm, which reduces scale in your appliances and drains.

This machine is made for efficiency, featuring a low-salt indicator light and Autosense Technology. Both of these features help you use the least amount of salt and avoid wasting it needlessly. You won’t make a mistake because the MSC42’s hi-tech feedback provides you accurate information.

Your purchase comes with a single tank, bypass valve, drain hose, 3 installation adaptors, 4 O-rings, 2 hose clamps, 5 clips, a grommet, and adaptor elbow.

Measuring at 48” x 41.5” x 17” x 21” x 3.75”, this is an average-sized unit which is easy to install, low maintenance, and high-quality. North Star’s U.S.-based manufacturing facilities produce 95% of all its machine components, giving it exact control over its work quality.

This particular model EXCELS the specifications of other similar models, operating at higher speeds, producing higher quality water while maintaining consistent results.

As with other North Star products, this model comes with a 1-year warranty on the unit, a 3-year warranty for the control board, and a full 10 years on the salt and mineral tank.

2. North Star NSRO42C4 Reverse Osmosis Filtration System: Best for the Money

 NSRO42C4 Reverse Osmosis



  • Comes with a stylish faucet
  • Is a cheaper option
  • Produces superior quality, great-tasting water
  • Doesn’t provide whole house filtration
  • Only produces Reverse Osmosis water

The North Star NSRO42C4 is a reverse osmosis filtration system. If you’re looking for a cheaper way to get top-quality, great-tasting water, an RO system, such as the NSRO42c4, can achieve great things at a fraction of the cost.

RO water is naturally soft water; its filtration process removes the calcium, magnesium, and other minerals, which cause hard water. 

This North Star model is made to provide great-tasting drinking water right at your sink. Its compact design is made for an under-the-sink set-up or can even be installed at your refrigerator.

The faucet, which comes as part of your purchase, is made from stylish chrome and is entirely lead-free. 

This model features an efficient 3-part filtering process, using the pre-filter, membrane, and post-filter. By using all these filters, this model can remove chlorine and sediment, inorganic and organic contaminants, chemicals, and metals. 

Use the water quality monitor, placed at the faucet base, to assess when it’s time to change the filters. Red indicates the membrane needs to be changed, yellow indicates the pre/post filters need to be changed, and green indicates the pre/post filters are operating optimally.

Typically, the pre- and post-filters will need to be changed every 6 months, while the membrane is good for 2 years. Simply replace these components by using the twist-and-pull sanitary filters. You can EASILY purchase replacement parts for your North Star water softener online; just make a note of the model to ensure you’re buying the correct part.

As with all North Star products, this model has NSF Certification and a warranty. However, unlike other models, the NSRO42C4 only has a 1-year limited warranty.

3. North Star NSCWC18 Water Softener: Best Hybrid




  • No filters to change
  • Both softens and filters water
  • Suitable for both city and well water supplies
  • Offers an average grain filtering rate
  • A financial investment

The NSCWC18 is a cabinet model built to suit a household of any size. This model isn’t limited to small or medium-to-large household sizes; it can cater to various situations.

This is a 2-in-1 whole house system that softens and filters, combining a powerful carbon media with high-capacity resin. The carbon media EFFECTIVELY removes unwanted components from your water, which contribute to unpleasant odor and taste.

Use the MSCWC18 with both city and well water sources, and enjoy the great taste without needing to replace filters. The carbon media bed is set to regularly self-clean, automatically, without any effort on your part.

This is classified as a 35,000-grain water softener, specifically with a 35,600 maximum capacity. It has a maximum efficiency—the number of grains removed per lb. of salt—of 4,780. While this isn’t as high as other models, this isn’t detectable from the results.

The user-friendly control panel is designed with efficiency and simplicity in mind. Set the salt level, activate the tank light, and adjust the settings using the basic button display. Even if you’re entirely new to using water softeners, you’ll be able to navigate your way because of the control panel design.

This tank is well-suited for low-light conditions. The low-salt indicator light blinks when more salt pellets are required. The built-in tank light helps you see the critical information, regardless of the environmental conditions. 

With your purchase, you’ll get the single tank, bypass valve, 3 clips, a drain hose, 2 hose clamps, a grommet, and adaptor elbow. You’ll get everything you need for an easy installation.

4. North Star PA132S: Commercial




  • Built for durability
  • Has 2” pipe attachment
  • Made for professional use
  • One of the most expensive options
  • Made for commercial use

The PA132S is classified as a commercial heavy-duty water softening system. This model is ideal for commercial use, for businesses that use water as part of their services, such as restaurants or hotels. When a North Star softener is classified as commercial, they run ECONOMICALLY and are constructed to meet these economic needs.

Equipped with a high-flow, high-capacity, this model has a 132,000 maximum grain capacity. Like all commercial models, it utilizes a countercurrent flow to lift the hardness materials out of the tank while minimizing water and salt use.

Measuring 41” x 24” x 73”, with a high-density salt storage capacity of 1,000 lbs. this is a SUBSTANTIALLY sized machine. The commercial construction allows you to benefit from a 2” pipe size, unlike other cabinet models, which only have a 1” size. If you have larger pipes, the PA132S is the obvious choice.

This model has a 2-tank design and is made from fiberglass resin. This is a heavy-duty tank designed to withstand daily wear-and-tear. 

The tank utilizes a self-cleaning feature, a high-flow backwash, which helps ensure bed cleaning. The backwash can be adjusted. 

The filter system uses activated carbon filters, an effective way to eliminate chlorine and other organic substances which impact the smell and taste of water. Also featured are multi-media filters—to remove particulate matter and sediment—catalytic carbon filters, and greensand plus filters.

Like other North Star models, water is produced on demand, not prepared in advance. Only FDA-approved softening resin is used so that the machine can sustain its high-performance reputation. This model is also available in single, duplex, triplex, and quadplex operations.

5. North Star NSC40UD1 Ultra Demand Water Softener: Premium




  • Considered a premium water softener
  • Easy to operate
  • Brilliantly designed LCD Display
  • Will not be suitable for commercial use
  • Very expensive option

The North Star NSC40UD1 is an ultra demand water softener classified as a cabinet tank type. 

 This model is part of North Star’s PREMIUM water softener series, producing better flow rates and eliminating water pressure loss. One of the North Star ultra water softener’s unique features is the hardness setting; by using the LCD, you can customize the machine to match your area’s water hardness level.

The NSC40UD1 is a 39,000-grain water softener, with a full flow bypass valve and flow rate of 10 GPM (grains per minute). This makes the model one of the best when it concerns grain filtration. 

The built-in ion exchange technology helps remove hard minerals from your water supply. It does this because of the overall design; the GROUNDBREAKING controller technology and tank design utilize the best water softening technology. 

This model utilizes a 200 lbs. salt tank with fiberglass resin construction, which uses a regeneration flow path. Simply put, this kind of flow path assures optimal tank efficiency.

This North Star ultra 2 water softener features a back-lit LCD, enabling you to program the machine to your requirements. This only needs a quick set-up for full operation, set the hardness you require, and the time and your softener is ready to go.

The display has been designed to be user-friendly and efficient. Easily access information about the hardness, the time, current flow, average daily use, total daily use, regeneration time, and percent remaining capacity. Use the control panel to adjust these settings.

Like other North Star models, the NSC40UD1 comes with a full 1-year warranty on the unit, a limited 3-year warranty on the electronic control body, and a limited 10-year North Star water softener warranty on the mineral and salt tank.

6. North Star NSC3: Whole House




  • A great option for larger households
  • Excellent grain removal rate
  • Extensive warranty periods
  • Won’t suit smaller households
  • Is an expensive machine

The MSC31 is classified as a cabinet model, suitable for medium-to-large households (ideal for families of 5 or more).

It is a 31 000-grain water softener, meaning it can filter a maximum of 31,300 grains, 110 grains per gallon. It has a maximum efficiency—the number of grains removed per lb of salt—of 5,090, which is one of the highest numbers of similar models. This is a SUPERIOR hardness removal rate.

Unlike previous water softening models, this machine doesn’t produce water on an everyday basis. Instead, it produces superior water on an as-you-need basis. Not only is this more effective, but it will also suit people who prioritize the best possible drinking water—you’ll be getting a fresh supply with the MSC31.

The design of this machine is user-friendly and informative. The low-salt indicator light blinks when more salt pellets are required, and the inbuilt Autosense Technology helps you make efficient use of salt, reducing unnecessary use and wasted money. 

This machine won’t impact your water pressure. The ultra-high flow valve and direct connection to your pipes ensure you don’t sacrifice good water pressure. You’ll always experience optimal water pressure with the MSC31.

You’ll get a single tank, bypass valve, drain hose, 2 hose clamps, 3 clips, a grommet, and adapter elbow with your purchase. 

Its dimensions are 47.75” x 41.5” x 16.5” 19.75” x 3.375”, and the machine has been built to be NSF certified. The NSF—National Sanitation Federation—is a public health organization that only pronounces something NSF-worthy after rigorous testing. 

Enjoy the 1-year warranty on the machine, 3-year warranty on the electronic control board, and a phenomenal 10-year warranty on the salt and mineral tanks.

Read More: Tips on Increasing Water Pump Pressure

7. North Star NSC2218 Water Softener: Small Household




  • Has a space-saving design
  • Made for small households
  • Utilizes North Star’s efficiency-optimization features
  • Only suits smaller households
  • A financial investment

The MSC2218 is PERFECT for those who have a small household of 1-4 people. This is not an excellent option for people who have many people in their house but perfect for small homes who don’t want to sacrifice water-quality.

This softener is a maximum grain capacity of 22,100—reflecting its design of small-scale operation. You can expect a maximum efficiency—the number of grains removed per lb. of salt—of 4,474, and a hardness removal rating of 95 grains per gallon. You also don't need to worry about scale build-up; this model has an iron removal rating of 6 ppm, helping to keep your appliances and drains SCALE-FREE.

The single-tank construction is a great space-saving solution. The tank itself is designed to be durable and robust, made to be used with both city and well water sources. 

You’ll get in-depth feedback from this machine. The Low Salt Light indicates when more salt is needed, giving you a buffer of a few days to replace. The Auto-Sense Technology calculates how much water and salt is necessary for system regeneration, ensuring an EFFICIENT operation.

Measuring 47.75” x 41.5” x 16.5” 19.75” x 3.375” and weighing around 87 lbs., this is a typical size for a cabinet model. Simply connect this softener to a standard 1” NPT male pipe thread during the installation, and you’ll be all set. North Star prides itself on creating easy-to-install models, and this is no different.

The MSC2218 includes the standard warranty for this kind of model. This is a 1-year unit warranty, a 3-year electronic control board warranty, and a 10-year mineral and salt tank warranty.

Final Verdict



When you want an easy way to drink more water, buying a reliable water softener is a great solution. While there are many water softeners on the market, you’ll want to focus on one that will suit your particular situation. 

North Star offers a variety of models made for a variety of people. The reviews in this list should help you determine which kind of model will suit you.

If you want the ultimate water softener, look no further than the North Star NSC42. This is a great all-rounder water softener, made to suit the majority of people and situations. Yet, this versatile design doesn’t compromise the machine’s performance. It produces exceptional results, great-tasting water without odor or taste. The single-tank cabinet style is made to easily fit into the household, whatever the available space. 

The warranty highlights the reliable nature of North Star products.

Carl Jensen

About the Author

Carl Jensen is a plumber with over 50 years of experience in the industry, as well as related jobs like underwater welding. He runs a successful plumbing practice in Tampa, Florida, and contributes his plumbing expertise to our DIY articles, and helps to fact check and consult on most of our other stuff to boot.

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