Hard water is an issue in almost every home. It is not only harmful to your health but equally damaging for the plumbing, home appliances, kitchen, washroom, and everything. Removing hardness from water is difficult, but it can be made easy with the use of the best water softeners. There are many varieties in the market regarding the water softeners. It is difficult for a buyer to pick the perfect one. As a buyer, you might know the fact that \u201cNot a single one is the best suitable choice for all\u201d. To find the best one for your needs, you need to do extensive research among the plethora of water softeners\/water descalers. Our researchers have done this extensive research to save your precious time and listed the best choices for you to make. Our research is based on many factors such as salt free water softeners, electronic, and magnetic water softeners functionality. We have also researched the best options for well water, iron removal, and the whole house. Now you could save your precious time. Read all water softening system reviews one by one to find what model of water softener fits your needs. Our Top Picks In hurry? Want to pick a best choice softener in minutes? Best Water Softeners of 2021: The best water softening system is the one that reduces the level of hard water to the minimum \u2013 zero grains per gallon. It reduces the existing scale buildup in your plumbing and appliances too. Also, it makes you bathing, dish washing, and laundry experience more pleasant. There are top water softeners for the whole family, and that one unit is enough for all of you. If you specifically want to remove a mineral from water, i.e., iron, you will need the best softener for iron removal. There is much more to the story, from electronic to non-electric water softeners, from magnetic to portable water softening systems, and from automatic to very basic water softening systems. See below to find the best suitable water softener as per your requirement. Best Softener System Comparison Table: 1. WECO UXC-1665 Water Softener WECO presents you with the best possible and high-end water softener to purchase. It is the most suitable option for municipal and well water supplies. No matter how much hard water you have, it will reduce the hardness to minimal. It is installed at the point of entry of water and uses a high-efficiency 10% cross-linked gel-type strong acid resin which is highly resistant to oxidation, osmotic, and thermal shock. The unit comes with a full installation kit. Technical Support: Customer support assists you better with the suitable variant as per your requirement. It also provides 24\/7 technical support by professionals over a phone call. Compatibility: The best automatic water softener unit is compatible to work with residential, industries, institutional and medical water supplies. It eliminates scale buildup throughout the water supply, in appliances, and on utensils too. It also reduces hard water levels up to 10 to zero grains per gallon gpg. Capacity: This smart water softening system automatically regenerates as required. With 72,000 grain capacity, this water softener solution also offers a flow rate of 27 gallons per minute. Display Screen: Its touch screen LCD display offers easy setup and operation. Besides, it only requires 110 volts to operate. Warranty: The seller offers a one year warranty for this very top water softener to purchase. Pros Cons \tThe fully automated system can take care of itself. You don\u2019t need to look for it every week. \tProvides drinking-quality softened water. \tWorks with well water \tRequires plumbing experience for installation. 2. OneFlow + (7100638) Water Softener For those who don\u2019t want chemicals or salts to soften their water, OneFlow + offers you the best salt free water softener. This system uses template assisted crystallization (TAC) to attract hard water minerals. It converts them into harmless and inactive microscopic crystal particles. The crystal suspension remains present in the water but passes smoothly to the drain. The pack contains housing and head assembly relief valve, scale reduction cartridge, 20-micron radial flow carbon block cartridge with preinstalled filters, Outlet Connector, two1-inch NPT inlet\/outlet adapters, easy to install Mounting bracket, two inlet\/outlet adapter locking pins, and multifunction tool. See the picture for how all this looks like. Compatibility: OneFlow media cartridge prevents scale buildup up to 250,000 gallons or three years, whichever comes first. Adds nothing to the water and also removes nothing from it. Eliminates the scale buildup, chemicals, and sediment. Also, it is the top water softener to remove chlorine, taste, and odor, from every faucet and appliances. It also gives safe to drink water. Weather Resistance: It can be placed outside as it is weather-resistant up to the freezing point. It needs no electricity nor salt. Besides, it requires only a little maintenance with no backwashing requirement. This primary water softener option is also flexible for installation. It can be mounted on to a wall and installed on the floor too. It is the best nature-friendly water softener because of zero waste to drain. Capacity: This system offers a flow rate of up to 10 gallons per minute. It is used in combination with a 20 Micron radial flow Carbon Block for the reduction of Sediments and taste and odor of Chlorine. Lasts up to 50,000 gallons or one year, whichever comes first. Pros Cons \tIdeal product for the goal of scale prevention. \tVery easy to install. Instruction manual and video is also available. \tOne of the best salt free water systems \tDoesn\u2019t softens the water. Narrow water pipes may get blocked within a year. 3. Aquasure Harmony Series AS-HS32D If you have water supply from a well, then you must need a best well water softener system. Aquasure introduces its highly efficient water softener ever, which will supply spotless, crystal clear and healthy water in your whole house. Available in three variants; 32,000, 48,000, and 64,000 grain capacity. So, choose as per your requirement. In this water softener, digital regeneration control is available in 3 types to fit your needs. It includes time clock delayed control, meter immediate control, and meter delayed control. It is preset by the manufacturer that will meet your needs. But you can always customize it the way you want. Moreover, it also calculates the amount of treated water and back washes to save energy. Lets have a look at basic features of Aquasure high efficiency water softener below: Capacity: It can treat up to 64,000 grains of hard water. Also, it is suitable for a home with 4-6 bathrooms and seven people. The flow rate depends on incoming water pressure. However, it can reach up to 11.5 gallons per minute. Technical Support: It comes with a self-installation guide with pictures. Seller also provides technical support over a phone call and email. Compatibility: Gentle on hairs and skin, as it eliminates iron up to 2 parts per million and magnesium up to 6 parts per million from water. Besides, it improves the performance of appliances and makes them energy efficient. It also reduces the amount of detergent required. Warranty: A 5-year warranty is also available for this water softener system Power Usage: This water softener needs 110 volts power outlet. Pros Cons \tEasy to install with some plumbing experience and knowledge of local municipal codes. \tIt works smoothly with an electric water heater. \tOne of the best for well water \tEasy to find replacement parts. \tProvides safe to drink water. \tNot safe with direct sunlight, must protect against freezing. \tNo overflow control in the brine tank. 4. On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT Soft water is a crucial problem for homes and recreational vehicles as well, but not anymore. Because On The Go presents you the largest compact and the best RV water softener, which produces twice the gallons of water than any of the competitors. The leading water softening system for outdoor use includes test strips, handle, storage inlet\/outlet caps, back-flush adapter, inlet hi-flow shut off valve, high pressure 4\u2019 white drinking hose, and a full cradle base for a secure and stable setting. See the picture to know how it looks like. Capacity: 16,000-grain capacity gives 40 percent more softener water. It offers 1600 gallons of water or for up to 40 days with two boxes of table salt. It also provides a high flow rate with low-pressure drops. Maintenance Requirement: Travel-friendly and easy to carry with a handle on the top. It fits easily in tight places. Also, it needs no tools to install and no electricity to function. Compatibility: It removes rust stains and scale buildup, improves the lifespan of appliances and the taste and odor of water. It also brings the hard water level to up to zero parts per million, even in very hard water areas. Technical Support: Seller provides full technical support over a phone call. Pros Cons \tThere is nothing to worry about its installation. \tThe softened water can be drinkable. \tIt doesn\u2019t work when the RV is in the freezing areas. 5. Iron Pro 2 - IRONPRO2 The presence of iron in water causes it to turn reddish-brown. Also, it adds a harsh taste in drinking and is bad for your skin and hair. Iron Pro 2 offers you the water softener for iron removal. Along with iron, it makes the water soft by removing harmful sediment, sand, and rust particles. This single system eradicates the scale buildup by hard water on appliances, faucets, and anything that comes in contact with water. So you don\u2019t need to scrub the whole water contact surfaces now. Also, your appliances will now last longer. The package consists of all that you need, including a brine tank, bypass valve, and instructions manual; just set hard water level, reserve capacity, and regeneration time as per your requirement. The tank is almond-colored, but it may vary. Capacity: The best single tank water softener can treat up to 16 gallons of water per minute. Its high flow and 64,000-grain capacity make it the finest water softener for high iron content. It can also last longer, without the need to regenerate. Warranty: The company offers a 5-year warranty of control head and 10-year warranty of the tank. With that, they offer 30 days of satisfaction guarantee so that you can ensure this is the best performing softener for you. Compatibility: It removes red stains by iron along with some ferric iron up to 6-8 parts per million. Manganese that adds a black texture to the water, is also removed up to 6 parts per million by this best quality water softening system. It can remove sulfur up to 2 parts per million. So the overall hard water level is removed up to 75 grains per gallon. Consumption Measurement: This system measures your water usage. It means that this smart water softener only regenerates the amount of water that is required. So it will regenerate more water during the hours you need it more, say in the day time. And it will regenerate less water when your need is low, say in the night. Technical Support: Free telephone and email tech support are available by the people who really know how it works. Pros Cons \tIt can make the well iron level of around 10 to undetectable. \tIt requires ordinary water softener salt. \tPackaging includes everything you need including brine tank \tNo reduction in water pressure. \tThe regenerated water is safe for drinking. \tFor a smooth installation, plumbing experience is a must. \tIt supplies hard water during regeneration time. \tIt does an excellent job until the power goes out. 6. Fleck 5600 SXT - WS48-56SXT Fleck offers you the best whole house water softener that is enough for the entire home alone. Uses the ion exchange method to remove calcium and magnesium from moderate to very hard water. Iron removal is up to 2 parts per million. As a result, soap efficiency is improved. This water softener technology extends the life of appliances and plumbing network. The whole pack includes resin, brine tank with safety float, control head, and the tank. Consumption Measurement: Best metered water softener measures how much water you use and regenerate as per requirement. Also, it saves water and excess salt consumption. The paddle wheel meter ensures fewer leaks. Display: On the user-friendly interface, you can easily set the desired efficiency values on backlit LCD display through touchpad controls. Power Backup: There is a 48 hours internal power backup that ensures smooth operations in case of a power outage. Warranty: The valve has a 5-year warranty and is tested to run up to 27 years continuously. Also, the tank has a 10-year warranty. Measurement: 14 into 34 inches square brine tank can hold up to 250 pounds of salt. The safety float prevents the overfilling of the tank. But in case it overfills, the overflow drain activates for the system prevention. Capacity: Can treat up to 12 gallons of water per minute with the flow rate of up to 28 gallons per minute. So, it is a perfect choice for a family of up to 6 people with a smooth flow upstairs. Technical Support: Telephone and email support along with an installation manual, specification sheet, and user manual available for customer\u2019s ease. Pros Cons \tInstallation only takes one to two hours with basic plumbing skills. Softened water is safe to drink. Step by step video installation guide helps self-installation even with zero plumbing experience. \tMust buy drainage that is not in the pack. Too heavy needs two people to move around. 7. ScaleWatcher 2 Star Electronic water softeners are suitable to be installed in a small area. Also, it is called as the best water descaler. It is a more suitable option for you if you don\u2019t like the smell of salt. It simply softens water through electromagnetic rays that break up hard water minerals without anything left over. See in the picture what you will get from the ScaleWater. Compatibility: Stops limescale buildup and removes existing scale to ensure the smooth running of water into the faucets. Also, it saves energy and money with the minimum yearly cost. Light Indicator: The green light indicates its smooth operation, and the red light indicates in case if it stops working.18-22 meter pipe is required to install it. Technical Support: An excellent phone call and email support available. The installation manual is also available in the pack. Warranty: Seller provides a money-back guarantee and a ten years warranty. Pros Cons \tRecommended to install on plastic pipe, works well on steel and copper pipes too. \tVery easy installation. \tTakes only one to three weeks to show the effect. \tWill not work in case of a power outage. 8. AFWFilters 80k dual Water supply stops at the time of regeneration while there is a single tank in a softener. Pentair presents you with the best twin tank water softener, which supplies softened water to you 24\/7. When one tank is in the process of regeneration, the other one ensures that you get the ultimate softened water in your faucets. The pack contains Fleck 9100 SXT controller, bypass valve, salt tank, two mineral tanks, and a brine tank with safety float. See the picture for how this best dual tank water softener will look like when you get it delivered at your doorstep. Capacity: This best available water softener has 80,000 grain capacity per tank, 160,000 grain capacity in total. System meters each tank separately. Also, it gives you a flow rate of 25 gallons per minute. Compatibility: It can easily handle 27 grains per million of hard water. Warranty: The supplier offers you a 5-year warranty for the valve and a 10-year warranty for the tanks. Technical Support: Exceptional customer support. Installation and programming support is available by the seller over a phone call. Weather Resistance: A whole-house water softening system is not always weather resistant and safe to place outside but this one is. Pros Cons \tWorks more for the list price. \tThe system is easy to install with a little bit of plumbing experience. \tThe water is so soft that it is safe to drink. \tIt doesn\u2019t filter chlorine. 9. Pro + Aqua FBA-WS-P-16 In case if you want to buy a water softener with no electricity consumption, Pro + Aqua presents you with the best portable water softener on the market. This water softener for travel always solves hard water problems, whether you are on the highway or a boat. Comes in a ready to use pack. See the picture for how it will look like when delivered. Compatibility: Removes skin-damaging hard water materials that cause dryness, itching, dry scalp, and even eczema. It ensures healthy skin and hair from the first use and prevents rust stains and scale buildup. It also improves the taste and odor of the water and leathering of the soap. In return, the performance and lifespan of equipment also improve. It reduces the presence of calcium, magnesium, iron, lead, and radium. Capacity: With 16,000 grain capacity, water softening systems like this provides 2,000 gallons of softened water at 8 grains per gallon of hardness or up to 40 days, depending on the level of hard water and usage. The flow rate is up to 5 gallons per minute. Installation: Fully assembled, with no tool required to get started, it becomes ready to supply water within 5 minutes and gives 40 percent more soft water among the leading water softener brands. Pros Cons \tSuitable to use with the power washer. \tExceptional customer service is available over a phone call for any assistance. \tThe flow rate is not enough for a big household. 10. iSpring RCC7 iSpring presents you with a fantastic water softener for drinking with five stages reverse osmosis filtration system for drinking water. Suitable to use both for the municipal water supply and well water. The transparent body gives a clear vision of how this system removes contaminants from water. Also, you can analyze when it is time to change the filter. With that, the lead-free, solid brass faucet is included in the system to mount on the kitchen counter. It can also be connected directly to a coffee maker or ice maker etc. See the picture to have a look at it. Capacity: With 75 gallons of water supply per day, this system is enough to fulfill the drinking water needs of even large families. Compatibility: Removes 99 percent of 1000+ different kinds of contaminants, including lead, chlorine, fluoride, arsenic, asbestos, calcium and magnesium, sodium, bacteria, giardia, and viruses to provide bottled quality best home drinking water. Technical Support: Instructional videos, instruction manual, and technical support over a phone call makes self-installation easy. Also, technical supports remain with you for your lifetime. Maintenance: Regarded as a low maintenance system with no movement of parts. Filter\u2019s replacement depends on water usage and the hard water levels. Filters are readily available from the supplier. Warranty: The seller offers a one-year money-back guarantee and a one-year manufacturer warranty for the whole system. Pros Cons \tCustomer support is quick and goes beyond expectations. The quality of drinking water is better than most of the bottled water out there. Filters are not expensive and are easy to replace. Works with well water \tPurification wastes a lot of water. The system faces leakage in the filter housings after usage of a few years. Summary In the above table, we have compared top rated water softeners with essential features. Haven't made a choice yet? Select the your water softener now! Have you found the water softener to buy? If not, Buy the best one WECO UXC Water Softener. In case you are short of money, at least go for the basic water softener solution. Still, need assistance? Feel free to submit your query to us, and we will be happy to help you out in finding the top water softener out there. The suggested one will be the best as per the hard water level in your area and your daily water requirements. In case, if you have already found any of these to be the best suitable water softener, share with us to help out others. Water Softeners Buying Guide: With many varieties available in the water softener market, the decision becomes hard. Not anymore. As we are here to make it easier for you. So, before buying a water softener for your needs, consider these points before so you don\u2019t regret after. 1. Budget You have to set a budget that you want to spend on buying a water softener. If you have resources, go for the best available option that has a higher capacity, flow rate. In case you have a limited budget, go for a basic water softener. It will improve the water quality of your home a bit. That is very much necessary. After some time, you can go for expanding your water softening system by adding to its capacity. 2. Preferred type of water softener Water softeners are of many types. They range from salt-based water softener to salt free water softener, and from electronic to magnetic water softeners. Mostly, homeowners go for salt-based water softeners. But in case you don\u2019t like a salty taste in water, or you are facing any kidney or heart disorder, go for a salt free water softener. They both cost you more than the electronic and magnetic water softeners. In case you are low on budget, electronic descalers are best for you compared to salt-based and salt free water softener options. 3. Portable or traditional water softener If you want a portable, easy to install, and no maintenance water softener, electronic and magnetic water softeners are the best options. If you want to expand your home\u2019s water softening systems capacity with time, you can add more units to the system by the time you want. That\u2019s difficult with a salt-based water softener and salt free water softener. 4. Preferred size and weight of water softener Salt-based water softeners are heavy. You can\u2019t move it alone. If you want a small-sized and lightweight water softener, electronic and magnetic water softeners are for you. 5. Single or dual tank water softener If your family is small and soft water requirement is limited, a single tank water softener is enough for you. In case your family has six or more people, and you want soft water flowing all over the home 24\/7, then go for a dual tank water softener. 6. Required water flow rate Again, if you are a couple living in an apartment, your water flow requirement will be lower. In case your family has six or more people and four washrooms and a kitchen, you need a high flow rate of the water softener. Because, if the flow rate of your water softener is low and you are using it at more than 4 points at the same time, it will not be able to tackle it. 7. Required capacity of water softener It doesn\u2019t mean the flow rate capacity of your water softener. It means the hardness removal capacity of your water softener. That is indicated as the grain capacity of 12,000, 48,000, or 64,000. An average household only needs a water softener with a grain capacity of 10,000 to 20,000. However, keep in mind, your water softener will need to regenerate more often. But the good news is that it will be a less burden on your pocket in terms of maintenance and operations. It also depends on the type of hard water in your area. 8. Manual or automatic regeneration water softener In case you opt for a salt-based water softener, you must consider this too. Manual regeneration is that you regenerate your water softener when you want. During this time, there will be no soft water in your home in case you have a single tank water softener. You will add salt to the tank and wait until it gets ready to resupply soft water. In automatic regeneration, you set a time based on your water usage. After that, your water softener will regenerate at that time only. You will only need to add salt when the system indicates that the salt is getting lower than the required level. 9. Water softener with warranty or without warranty Warranty of your water softener system will give you peace of mind. It may not be your priority while you consider many options for buying a softener. But you must. 10. Required expertise for water softener installation The best salt-based water softeners need much plumbing expertise and experience. If you don\u2019t have it, you will need the services of a professional. That will cost you high. If that\u2019s okay, go for it. If you want to keep the installation easy, buy a magnetic or an electronic water softener. 11. Maintenance requirement of a water softener If you can handle the maintenance of your water softener, go for a salt-based water softener. In case you want a no-maintenance water softener, go for an electronic water softener or a magnetic water softener. 12. Preferred grain\/media to use in a water softener For many years, salt is a popular medium to add in a salt-based water softener. Now with the advancement in technology, people are going towards water softeners that use resin. Also, because salt is dangerous for people with kidney and heart diseases. Others opt for salt free softeners, electronic, or magnetic water softeners too. 13. Operating temperature range of a water softener Many water softeners are not safe to install outside. Therefore, people install water softeners in the basement or garage. Before you buy a water softener, you must consider the temperature range during which the chosen water softener can work finely. 14. Display and control Many water softeners have an LCD display along with a touchpad. The LCD provides you all the information regarding the regeneration cycle, salt level, and overall performance. And the touchpad gives you an option to control everything easily. That\u2019s a lot of peace of mind. It may cost you a few extra dollars, but that\u2019s worth it. What Types of Water Softeners are there Salt-Based Water Softeners We have listed this type first because it is the softener of choice for most households and sees far greater results than other options, particularly when considering the cost. The key characteristic of this type is that they use salt to soften the water and so would need refilling with salt from time to time Salt Free Water Softeners These won\u2019t have the performance levels of salt-based options but it is important to consider these because they focus on reducing the build-up of minerals inside the water pipes. This helps reduce any build-up of limescale but won\u2019t actually remove anything from the water. Salt free water softeners also offer health benefits to those who wish to reduce their salt intake. Dual Tank Water Softeners This option is the heavy-duty choice, in both size and price, as well as its impact. As a result, this choice is for high water consumption households and properties. It uses the concept of two tanks working together, whilst one is regenerating and out of action, the other processes the water, providing a 24\/7 solution. Magnetic Water Descalers Our final type of water softener is a very different system to the others and as a result, nowhere near as popular. It\u2019s advantages lie in easy installation and no need to replace the salt. These devices are electrical which are coiled around the intake pipes and generate a magnetic field, altering the makeup of the minerals in the water. Valuable tips for choosing the top water softener 2020 (Infographics included) Info-graphics of tips on choosing top water softener of 2021 Benefits of Having a Water Softener: The following are the benefits that you will enjoy if you decide to buy a water softener \tNourished skin Smooth and silky hair No need for bottled water Long life of clothes Appliances work better and last longer Savings on energy bills Saves time Environmental safety Fine flow in fixtures Long-lasting sewer system Efficient water heaters Healthy pets Evergreen plants Cooking utensils look new Read in detail all the benefits of having a water softener. How Water Softener Works: A water softener removes the hard components of water i.e. calcium and magnesium, that carry a positive charge. All the positive charge components are attracted by the negative charged resin bead. This way, all the hardness of water remains no more when the water leaves the water softener. See the working of each type of water softener below. Read in detail the working of each type of water softener separately. FAQs \tWhat is hard water and what is soft water? \t\t \t\t\tHard water is a result of the presence of calcium and magnesium, as well as iron, and other harmful material in the water. It contaminates everything it comes in contact with, causes scale buildup and rust stains all over, also blockage into water pipelines. Water with zero grains per gallon of hardness is soft water. \t\t \t\t\t \tWhat is the GPM of water softeners? \t\t \t\t\tGPM means gallons per minute. It means that how many gallons a water softener can supply per minute. \t\t \t\t \tWhat is the grain capacity of a water softener? \t\t \t\t\tWater softeners have various capacities to remove the hardness of water. If a water softener has 48,000 grain capacity, it means that it can treat 48,000 grains of hardness without the need to regenerate. \t\t \t\t\t \tWhat is the GPG score of water hardness? \t\t \t\t\tGPG means grains per gallon. It means that how many hard grains are present in one gallon of water. \t\t \t\t\t \tWhat is the PPM score of hard water? \t\t \t\t\tPPM refers to parts per million of hard components that are concentrated in the hard water. It means that how many parts out of the whole water are hard. \t\t \t\t\t \tWhat is upflow water softener? \t\t \t\t\tA water softener in which water flows up from the bottom into the resin tank is upflow water softener. It saves water and salt too. \t\t \t\t\t \tWhat is a downflow water softener? \t\t \t\t\tA water softener in which water flows downwards into the resin tank is said to be the downflow water softener. \t\t \t\t\t \tWhat is backwashing in a water softener? \t\t \t\t\tWith time, the efficiency of the water softener reduces and it needs a backwash. During a backwashing cycle, water flows backward into the resin tank to clean all the hard components from it. It is then drained out. Now the efficiency of the water softener improves. \t\t \t\t \tWhat's are best water softeners to buy? \t\t \t\t\tWECO UXC presents you with the best ever softener in the world. No matter how hard your water is, it will be reduced to minimal. With a 72,000 grain capacity, it is the all in one whole house water softener system for you. \t\t \t \tWhat is the most premium softener for the money? \t\t \t\t\tTurboMag XT6 is the best affordable softener ever. It is a magnetic water softener that reduces water hardness by creating a magnetic field in the water supply line. Also, you can add as many units as you want to increase the area and effectiveness. \t\t \t \tWhat is the leading water softener for home use? \t\t \t\t\tFleck 5600 SXT is the correct water softener for home use. It is enough for a family of 6 or more people as it can provide a flow rate of up to 28 gallons of water per minute. It will reduce water hardness to up to 2 parts per million. \t\t \t\t \tWho makes the prime water softener? \t\t \t\t\tWECO makes the prime softener. The WCO UXC is the best ever water softener in the world. No matter how hard your water is, it will be reduced to minimal. With 72,000 grain capacity, it is the all in one softener system for your whole house. \t\t \t \tWhat are the best softener systems? \t\t \t\t\tThe best softener is the one that reduces the hardness of water to the minimum \u2013 zero grains per gallon. \t\t \t \tHow to choose the water softener that is ideal for you? \t\t \t\t\tTo choose the right-for-you softener, you need to know the water hardness level first. Use water hardness testing kits to measure how hard your water supply is. After that, go for the desired grain capacity water softener as per the number of people in your home and water flow rate.