Both GE and Whirlpool offer a range of salt-based water softener systems, but GE systems tend to be more feature-rich with advanced digital control heads and smart-home compatibility, while Whirlpool systems are known for their efficiency and ease of use.
In terms of maximum hard mineral removal, the Whirlpool 40,000 Grain Water Softener takes the win.
But that’s not the only factor you should consider.
Throughout this detailed comparison, I’ll apply my decades of experience in the water purification industry to examine GE vs. Whirlpool water softener specs, pros, and cons to help you find the ideal fit from these two industry giants.
GE vs. Whirlpool Water Softener Overview
General Electric, often referred to as GE, has been around since 1892, co-founded in Boston, Massachusetts, by none other than Thomas Edison himself. GE doesn’t just make lightbulbs and appliances; it also manufactures military aircraft systems, renewable energy equipment, and more. It currently offers six water softeners ranging from a 27,000 grain capacity to 45,000
Whirlpool was founded in 1911 by Louis and Emory Upton in Saint Joseph, Michigan. It’s probably most well known for its washing machines, but it manufactures all kinds of home appliances. Whirlpool also sells six water softener systems with grain capacities ranging from 20,000 to 48,000.
|GE||Smart Wi-Fi technologySoft water customization Water flow alertsLeak detection and remote shutoff“Days-to-empty” salt monitorOptimal flow rates||No certificationInternet connection issuesFrequent reports of malfunctioning smart features|
|Whirlpool||High capacity to remove mineralsSimple and easy to useLow-salt indicator light On-demand regeneration||Costly replacement partsReports of leaksLower flow rate|
GE vs. Whirlpool Water Softener: Features Comparison
Ion exchange water softeners in general tend to use the same technology and produce the same reliable result, matching features such as a self-cleaning sediment filter and bypass valve.
Differences usually fall within the realm of other features. After weeks of research and testing, I was able to compare and contrast these products based on seven important factors:
- Smart features
- Flow rate
While both the Whirlpool and GE water softeners are designed to remove high levels of hardness and iron, making them ideal for households with hard water issues, the Whirlpool water softener has a higher capacity to remove hard minerals than the GE water softener.
The Whirlpool removes up to 125 gpg (grains per gallon) of hardness and 10 ppm (parts per million) of clear water iron, while the GE Smart Water Softener removes up to 110 gpg of hardness and 8 ppm of clear water iron. The GE numbers are nothing to be ashamed of, they’re still good numbers, they’re just not as high as the Whirlpool’s.
Demand-initiated regeneration (DIR) technology, often referred to as “on-demand” or “metered” regeneration, is a feature commonly found in modern water softeners. It’s designed to optimize the regeneration process based on your actual water usage, making it more efficient compared to timer-based, automatic regeneration systems.
As the system tracks your water consumption, it keeps a record of the total hardness minerals that have been removed from the water. Once a certain level of hardness is reached in the resin tank (often based on a preset capacity or a specific level of hardness), the system knows it’s time to regenerate.
Both the GE Smart Water Softener and the Whirlpool WHES40 Water Softener use demand-initiated regeneration technology to regenerate water only when you need it, saving you money and conserving water.
Third-party certification provides consumers, retailers, and regulators the assurance that a product has passed rigorous testing and meets industry standards for quality and reliability. Most certified products bear the certifier’s mark on their packaging, which helps consumers and other buyers make educated purchasing decisions.
While the GE Smart 40,000 Grain Water Softener is not specifically certified by any third-party organization, it is manufactured by a reputable brand with a long history of producing high-quality appliances.
The Whirlpool WHES40 40,000 Grain Water Softener, however, is certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) to reduce hard water, ensuring the system meets industry standards for producing soft water.
When considering any appliance purchase, always check the manufacturer’s warranty. Water treatment systems can be complex, with various components and technologies. A warranty protects against defects in materials or workmanship. If any issues arise due to manufacturing defects, the warranty ensures repairs or replacements are covered.
Both the GE and the Whirlpool water softeners come with a warranty to protect against defects and malfunctions. The GE system is covered by one-year labor, three-year electronic monitor, and ten-year resin/brine tank warranties. The Whirlpool softener also has a one-year limited parts and labor warranty, a three-year electronics warranty, and a ten-year resin/brine tank warranty.
The difference is that you can extend Whirlpool’s one-year parts warranty to five years with the purchase of the Whirlpool water softener cleanser. Since you’ll have to buy a cleanser anyway, this makes the Whirlpool warranty a better deal.
Smart features in water softening systems can provide several benefits, including energy efficiency, convenience, peace of mind, and noise reduction. These features can make water softening systems easier to use and maintain while also reducing water and salt consumption.
The Whirlpool water softener comes with a few smart features that make it easy to use and monitor. These include a low-salt indicator light that flashes when the softener is low on salt, allowing you to refill it before it runs out, as well as a water flow indicator that notifies you of potential leaks or running faucets.
As I mentioned above, the Whirlpool water softener uses on-demand regeneration, another smart feature. The brand’s 6th Sense technology learns your water usage patterns and only regenerates when necessary.
None of that really compares to the smart features from GE though.
The GE softener comes with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing you to monitor and control the system from your smart device. Its leak detection with remote water shutoff allows you to shut off your water from your smartphone. If you’re out of town and you have any concerns about your system, you can turn it off. This is great for areas with frequent natural disasters.
The system tracks your water usage and provides insights into your household’s water consumption patterns, helping you conserve water and save money on your water bill. It also sends alerts to your smartphone when there’s a potential leak or a running faucet.
Lastly, this system sends you a notification when your salt is low, as well as displaying a “days-to-empty” countdown on the unit’s display.
The GE Smart water softening system is the clear winner due to its slew of smart features that allow you to monitor the softener remotely.
Service flow rate
The service flow rate is a critical specification for water softeners. It determines how much water the unit can effectively treat at a given time. In this regard, the GE smart water softener boasts a higher service flow rate of 9.5 gallons per minute (gpm) compared to the Whirlpool WHES40’s 8.5 gpm.
This difference means that the GE model can handle a higher volume of water flow, making it a better choice for homes with higher water demands, larger households, or those with multiple water outlets in use simultaneously.
However, it’s essential to consider your specific household needs when choosing between these two models. While the GE water softener offers a higher service flow rate, the Whirlpool WHES40’s 8.5 gpm capacity is still substantial and suitable for many households, and its high-flow valve helps to maintain a respectable flow rate.
Factors such as water usage patterns and the number of appliances running simultaneously should be weighed against the flow rate difference.
In cases where extremely high water demand is a frequent occurrence, the GE Smart 40,000 Grain Water Softener’s superior service flow rate could be considered the winner, offering peace of mind for households with substantial water needs.
Both the GE Smart Water Softener and the Whirlpool WHES40 Water Softener are compact systems designed with user-friendly installation in mind.
In terms of ease of installation, neither model appears to have a significant advantage over the other. Both brands aim to provide straightforward installation processes and offer customer support to assist users with any questions or challenges they may encounter.
GE vs. Whirlpool Water Softener: Standout Features
Need a recap of the qualities that distinguish each water softener? Here you go.
- Smart features: GE’s water softener has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for remote monitoring and control, as well as leak detection with a remote water shutoff and water usage tracking for insights into household water consumption patterns.
- High flow rate: GE’s high service flow rate of 9.5 means this water softener can handle larger homes with high flow rates.
- Salt monitoring: The salt monitor will send you a notification when your salt levels are low and the display on the device tells you how many days you have until your salt is empty.
- Efficiency: Efficient salt usage by regenerating only when needed, as well as consumption tracking to monitor water usage and flow rate.
- Water- and salt-saving technology: On-demand regeneration technology for efficient water and salt usage means you’ll waste less salt and water than with other models.
- High capacity: The Whirlpool model removes up to 125 gpg of hardness and 10 ppm of clear water iron, ideal for areas with high water hardness levels.
- Flow rate: While its flow rate is slightly (only one gpm, it’s not even that much lower) lower than the GE water softener, the ultra high flow valve makes up for it and maintains optimal water pressure.
To establish and maintain the authority necessary to review these water softeners, I developed a strict research plan. This section outlines the steps I followed.
Step 1: A list of water softeners available from both manufacturers
To start my research, I first compiled a list of the most popular models available from these two brands. This meant having to go through retail and manufacturer websites to find out which models had the most user interactions in terms of purchases and user reviews.
I wanted to compare them head-to-head, so I needed water softeners with similar specs, and I settled on the 40,000-grain-capacity models because they were the most popular for each brand.
Step 2: Online reviews
After that, I wanted to learn about users’ experiences with both water softeners. This involved sifting through hundreds of online user reviews and opinions, both positive and negative, on the internet. This assisted me in determining how the products performed and if consumers were satisfied with the units they purchased.
Both systems are highly rated by users. However, the more high-tech GE salt-based system had a couple user complaints with regards to Wi-Fi connectivity and system breakdowns when compared to the Whirlpool system. You know the old saying, “much cattle, much care”? The fancier, the fussier seems to ring true here.
Step 3: Product/service analysis
To remain objective through the research process, I needed to ask myself a few questions about both systems and water softening, in general, to evaluate their strengths and flaws. These include (but are not limited to) the following questions:
- What is the average gpg capacity of a water softener?
- How much salt should a water softener use?
- What hardness level can each system soften?
- How many gallons of water can both systems supply per minute?
- What effect do these systems have on household water pressure?
- What regeneration technology is applied? Is it wasteful?
- What is the difference between timed and demand-initiated regeneration cycles?
- What is the minimum flow rate during peak usage?
- Are there any high flow valves incorporated in both systems?
- Are there any differences in the water softening technology?
Step 4: Interviews with real customers
Online reviews are not always very accurate — or helpful. Furthermore, it is well known that many manufacturers manipulate their web ratings to appeal to more customers. I needed to speak to genuine users and get reliable feedback.
So I designed a door-to-door questionnaire survey and camped outside large retail outlets in my city with a few close friends, handing out cookies and lemonade to anybody willing to discuss their experience with GE or Whirlpool softeners. After a weekend of data collection, I had all the information I needed.
Step 5: Interviews with manufacturers
For this step, I called the two manufacturers to press them for answers regarding some of the less than stellar reviews they received and how they resolved the problems their customers were having. The major purpose here was to examine their customer service representatives’ behavior and how they handled themselves under pressure.
I also made sure they explained their warranty and return processes, not letting any fine print remain unread. I asked them to explain their troubleshooting processes, for example, how do customers contact them when their device acts up? Is it easy or does the company ghost its customers after purchase like some brands (definitely not talking about Samsung)?
Step 6: Test drives
This was the most important stage in the whole process. To write an authoritative review, I needed access to both water softeners for testing purposes.
To do this, I contacted a few local water equipment suppliers and requested if I could lease both systems for several test runs. After a few hours on the phone, one dealer agreed to provide both units on the condition that the test be overseen by his in-house qualified plumbers.
With that, I began the process of testing each product in my home — luckily I have really hard water, like 85% of the country.
Step 7: Ratings
After two weeks of data collection, I sat down and collated this information on a spreadsheet. I compared both systems side-by-side and ranked them based on the following criteria:
- Regeneration technology
- Grain removal capacity
- Smart features
- Available warranties
- Ease of use
- Ease of installation
- Flow rate and pressure
After rigorously testing the GE Smart Water Softener and the Whirlpool WHES40 Water Softener, it’s clear that both offer excellent solutions to the eternal battle against hard water. Here’s a quick recap to help you make that important choice:
Choose the GE Smart Water Softener if…
- You value smart technology.
- You want leak detection and remote water shutoff.
- You need a high flow rate.
Choose the Whirlpool WHES40 Water Softener if…
- You have extremely hard water.
- You’re not fussed about smart features.
- Your family or home is on the smaller side.
If you’re looking for a water softener with advanced smart features and efficient salt usage, consider the GE Smart 40,000 Grain Water Softener. For a reliable and high-capacity water softener, the Whirlpool WHES40 water softener is a top choice.
If you’d like to know more about this product, check out our Whirlpool Water Softener reviews.
In the end, your choice between these two fantastic water softeners depends on your priorities, whether it’s advanced features with GE or proven reliability and ample capacity with Whirlpool. Make the smart choice that suits your household needs and bid farewell to the hassles of hard water.
If this head-to-head comparison didn’t nail down a choice for you, read my review of the eight best water softeners to help you narrow down the search.