The Pitch: Gets You Softer, Better Water Using the Power of Citrus!
The Verdict: We'd be less skeptical if they showed us their "testing."
The nuvoH2O claims to produce softer water by using citric acid rather than sodium. However, experts in water technology say getting softer water from a salt-free system is impossible; the only way to soften water is to use sodium. A salt-free system like nuvoH2O produces conditioned, not softened, water.
While a small percentage of users say they see some improvement in scale deposits, or say their water seems to taste or rinse better after installing the NuvoH2O, the majority are disappointed, saying the Nuvo does not even come close to living up to its claims. In addition, plenty of experts point out that, except for one study that was sponsored by Nuvo, there is no independent, third party testing to back up the claims made by the company. We saw a few test results posted by owners who tested their water "before and after" NuvoH2O and found no discernable difference in their water.
Those who are most satisfied seem to be homeowners who don't have very hard water to begin with and who primarily want to control scaling. Even then, many say, you need to change the cartridge more frequently than the recommended every six months -- most say three months is better for optimum de-scaling. Unfortunately, that can add up. The base price of the basic NuvoH2O system is $650, and replacement cartridges are around $100. The reason that most people try the Nuvo in the first place is because water softeners are so pricey -- they can run in the thousands of dollars -- but if you have to replace cartridges that frequently your costs will add up quickly, and you still won't have a water softener.
NuvoH2O also claims to be easy to install, but most of the reviews we saw beg to differ and recommend you hire a plumber to do it for you. Customer service is reported as responsive in trouble-shooting problems, but many customers who returned the Nuvo within the 90-day money back guarantee period say they had long delays in getting their money back.
Hard water is a very real issue for some people, but NuvoH2O is not the answer to your problem. Experts say the only way to effectively deal with hard water is to have a qualified plumber test your water and find the water softening unit that fits your particular issue. If you're leery of salt-based softener systems, there are ways to work around having hard water that don't require a purchase, just some lifestyle changes, such as:
Some studies indicate that hard water is healthier because of its higher mineral content, so that's something to consider as well before buying a water softener. However, we can't recommend the NuvoH2O simply because its main selling point -- which is that it softens water -- is false advertising.
In more than 125 reviews, the NuvoH2O earns an overall average rating of 3.2 stars out of 5, with most owners saying it simply does not work as advertised. A number of the most positive reviews come from plumbers who sell the system, which, as some point out, gives them a built-in bias.
Review: Nuvo H20 DPHB Home Salt Water Softener System, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2015
Mark Timmons, who has been working in the water-treatment industry for more than 38 years, addresses water-related questions on USWaterSystems.com, a site that sells water-treatment filters and accessories. When a contributor asks specifically about the nuvoH2O system, Timmons asks him to send a before and after water sample and finds no change in softness (in fact, TDS levels went up). The customer ultimately requested a refund from NuvoH2O.
Review: Does Nuvo H2O Soften Water?, Mark Timmons, Feb. 15, 2014
Editors at WaterWyzard.com "Fail" the Nuvo H2O system, and give it an overall rating of 2.5 stars out of 5. They note that this is not a water softener and that media replacement is pricey. Its final grade is "fail."
Review: Nuvo H2O Review, Editors of WaterWyzard.com, Not Dated
This forum discussion thread was started in September 2009 by a Consumer Reports member to find out if anyone had experience with salt free water softeners, such as the NuvoH2O. The last post was made in March 2014. The general consensus is that salt-free systems like the NuvoH2O do not live up to their hype.
Review: Salt Free Water Softeners, Contributors to ConsumerReports.org, As of February 2015