Recently I’ve had a lot of requests for more information about this model. My review of the AlkaViva Athena and the quality of alkaline water it produces is long overdue. I’ve had mine for almost three years now. I guess it’s just become such a fixture I just don’t think about it much.
After nearly three years of regular use, my Athena is still working as well today as it did the first day I set it up and ran my initial tests. Overall I’ve been pleased with it. I’ll try to do it justice in this review…
The Athena is a five-plate water ionizer with dual filtration. The five plates are mesh – and though smaller than the plates in many other water ionizers, the Athena’s electrolysis chamber design and the mesh plates – favored among anyone who knows anything about the principles electrical conductivity – allow it to produce alkaline water at levels comparable to brands with larger plate surface area.
From the control panel you have access to 4 alkaline and 4 acidic presets with the standard neutral/purified option for those times when drinking alkaline water isn’t appropriate.
On the front of the unit you also have a flow-control valve. This allows you to speed up or slow down the rate at which water flows through the unit, effectively giving you control over the strength of the water produced at each level. Like many other water ionizers, you have the option to use the faucet diverter standard installation method OR you have the option to plumb the unit directly into the cold water line below the sink. Your Athena will still sit on your countertop, but rather than dealing a hose running from the unit to a clunky faucet diverter, you can connect it to the cold water line below the sink using a $20 accessory.
A small hole, just over 1/4″ in size, will be required for running the line down below the sink but with this installation your AlkaViva Athena is ready with a constant supply of water whenever you want – no turning on the tap and flipping the diverter. Just turn the flow control knob on the front of the unit to allow water to flow through. Once the unit senses water flowing through it “wakes up” and begins producing alkaline or acidic water, depending on the last setting used.
The Athena has two internal filters – the first is a sediment/particle filter which helps pre-filter the water before it reaches the main filter. The second filter is a multi-stage biostone filter that removes lead, chlorine and other common contaminants. The biostone element inside the filter also helps pre-condition the water for ionization. Both filters will last around 6 months – depending on usage and your water quality and can be replaced for $120-$130 for the set of two.
Standard filtration for the Athena includes one internal prefilter and one .1 micron multi-stage biostone filter. There is an option for a .01 micron internal filter. It will cost you a little more – I find most customers sticking with the standard filter when ordering replacements. Your filter life will always be displayed at the bottom of the control panel display area when the unit is on. According to AlkaViva, the dual internal filtration removes 99.9% of contaminants. I’m sure this does NOT include fluoride, which requires a special external filter for effective reduction.
Like all AlkaViva products, the AlkaViva Athena features the DARC (Double Automatic Reverse Cleaning) system for keeping the electrodes free from mineral scale buildup.
During the cleaning cycle on most water ionizers, the polarity is reversed – the pole that usually carries the positive charge will carry a negative charge and the negative pole will have a positive charge. This will either be continuous for the length of the cleaning cycle or alternate back and forth during the cleaning cycle. The negative/positive charge has an attract/repel effect – minerals are either attracted to or repelled from the plates based on the charge of the pole.
The “double automatic reverse cleaning” system in the AlkaViva Athena reverses the polarity every 20 seconds while the unit is in use – which means the unit is actually cleaning itself while it is in use. The constant cleaning significantly reduces scale buildup on the plates and is one reason water ionizers from AlkaViva are rated one of the best choices for hard water.
Among my favorite water ionizers there is usually at least one feature that stands out as as “best in class.” With the Athena it is definitely the control panel display. It’s large, easy to
read, easy to understand. While the voice alert tells you which alkaline or acidic level is selected at the onset of each use, there are multiple visual alerts on the display letting you know exactly what type of water you are producing.
Depending on whether you have selected an alkaline, purified or acidic preset, blue, green or red lights appear across the middle of the screen. Above that the pH level is displayed. Below an image icon appears indicating the suitable use for water – cooking, cleaning, drinking. Each alkaline and acidic preset has a set of four images that display in either red or blue, indicating either alkaline or acidic. There are two additional “alkaline” or “acidic” color and text indicators as well – one just above the colored bars and another just above the icons.
As stated earlier, your filter life will always display at the bottom of the screen whenever your AlkaViva Athena is in use.
There are so many pH level indicators that it’s really hard to not know exactly which level of water you are producing. When the unit is not in use, the display panel goes dark.
To protect your water ionizer from damage there are several safety features built into the AlkaViva Athena.
The flow sensor monitors the level of water flowing through the unit. If water is flowing through at a rate that is too slow, the plates can be damaged. With insufficient water coverage of the plates in the electrolysis chamber, the plates can overheat and begin to degrade. If the water flow is too low an alarm will sound. You can correct the issue easily by increasing the rate at which water is flowing through the unit using the flow control knob on the front of the unit.
There are two temperature sensors in the AlkaViva Athena. One monitors the plates and circuitry, the other monitors water temperature. Running any water ionizer at lower flow rates for an extended period of time can cause overheating. If the sensor detects a rise in temperature, the unit will shut down to prevent damage to the plates or circuitry due to excess heat.
Hot water can cause damage to the filters and also cause overheating inside the unit. The water temperature sensor monitors the water going through the unit. If it detects water that is hot or warmer than what is considered safe for the long-term performance of the unit, the sensor triggers an alarm. If you hear the alarm you should immediately check to make sure you are using only cold water – then allow the unit to run at the purified setting for a few minutes, flushing it with cold water to ensure the filters and other components unit “cools down” before attempting to produce ionized water again. Depending on how long hot water was running through the ionizer, running cold water through the unit for about a minute is usually sufficient. Feel the water coming from the dispenser hose – once it is cool to the touch, or at least room temperature, it should be safe to return to an ionizing function.
The AlkaViva Athena is a countertop water ionizer designed to sit on the counter near the sink. Standard installation uses a diverter that is connected to the faucet with a lever or other mechanism that diverts water to the unit. You can convert your Athena to an under-counter water ionizer using a $200 faucet conversion kit also available through AlkaViva.
Your Athena will sit under the counter and water flow is controlled by a lever on the dual-spout faucet portion of the conversion kit. If you need to change the pH level of the water being produced you will still have to access the control panel on the Athena below the sink. The dual spout faucet will produce acidic water from the smaller spout when the unit is set to produce alkaline water. If you need the stronger acidic levels you will need to adjust the settings on the control panel below the sink – just be sure to reset your Athena to a level considered safe for drinking before turning the unit off. By doing this you’ll know that the next time the unit is used the water coming from the primary spout is suitable for drinking.
The under-counter conversion kit comes in a number of different finishes to help you match your primary kitchen faucet. Installation is relatively easy and can be done in as little as 15 minutes. While no plumber is necessary for the installation, some people will choose to hire one. If you take just a little time to identify all of the parts and how they connect, the installation will go quickly and easily.
One more note on using the under counter conversion kit – you will need to have a power supply below the sink, a place to plug in your Athena. If you have an outlet available that is used for a garbage disposal, check to make sure that the switch above the counter that turns the garbage disposal on and off doesn’t shut off all power to the outlet. Otherwise, you wont’ be able to use your Athena unless the switch is flipped and your garbage disposal is running.
Checking this is easy – just get a lamp from anywhere in your home and plug it into the outlet below the sink. If you can turn the lamp on, you’re all set. If the lamp won’t come on unless you flip the switch to turn on the garbage disposal, you’ll need to have another outlet installed to supply power to your water ionizer. Calls I’ve made around the country asking for quotes on installing an outlet below the sink indicate the cost to run from $150 to $250 average. The cost will depend on your area and how accessible the power lines are behind the wall under your cabinets.
No issues here at all. I’ve used my AlkaViva Athena in both hard and soft water areas and had no trouble getting quality alkaline water. At the highest alkaline setting my AlkaViva Athena has produce water as high as an 11.5 pH. In soft water areas I can still get a 10.7 to 11.0 pH. This level of alkaline water is NOT recommended for drinking, only for cooking and cleaning but it is a testament to the performance ability of this model.
The Athena is a sound performer when it comes to producing acidic water too. Like other water ionizer models I’ve tested, if you are in a hard water area or your source water has an abundance of alkaline minerals, reaching the stronger acidic pH levels can be a challenge. I know of at least one company working on a solution that could be adapted for any water ionizer model. As soon as this product has been tested and is available I’ll announce it on the website.
You should be able to get an acidic pH of at least a 4.5 to 4.0 in most areas. If you have fewer alkaline minerals in your source water you could reach the prized 2.5 pH level but I’ve found this is rare with almost any model unless the source water is just right.
There is NO “perfect” water ionizer. Just like most will have a feature that sets it apart from the rest in one area, most will also have a feature that a user may not care for. With the AlkaViva Athena, for me, this is the unit’s default.
It’s the same with all AlkaViva water ionizers. The unit will always default back to the last setting used. If that’s alkaline water for drinking and that’s primarily what you are using, it’s fine. But if you produce acidic water for cleaning, the next time you use your Athena it’s going to start producing acidic water.
Yes. The display screen and voice alerts do everything possible to alert you to the type of water you are producing, but we don’t always pay attention.
There have been several times when I’ve poured myself a nice tall glass of acidic water, red colors flashing on the screen, voice alerts telling me “acidic level ___,” almost everything on the screen “red” indicating acidic water, but being in such a hurry with so many other things on my mind I didn’t even notice. Until I took that first sip.
If you are using the Athena with the under-counter conversion kit you will want to make sure you reset the control panel to a desired level for drinking before turning the unit off. It’s a good idea to go ahead and reset the unit to a level suitable for drinking regardless of your type of installation. It’s a minor inconvenience. For many it is perfectly acceptable. And if did not use so many different water ionizers on a daily basis I probably wouldn’t even notice it as an inconvenience myself. But personally, I prefer something with a “safe” default feature – that always defaults back to a pH level suitable for drinking – or a “no” default feature – where your pH level selection is actually the on/off mechanism for the unit.
At $2,195, the AlkaViva Athena is a reasonably priced water ionizer capable of producing alkaline and acidic water suitable for almost any use. The warranty is above the industry standard “5 years parts and labor.” Your AlkaViva Athena is covered 100% for parts and labor for the first five years of ownership. After that, AlkaViva stands behind all of the parts in the Athena, including the electrolysis chamber and cells, for as long as you own the product. Should you have a problem with your AlkaViva Athena after the first five years, send it back to AlkaViva. They will repair the unit and replace any parts or components necessary to restore it to proper working order. The customer only pays for the labor on the repairs (currently there is a $150 maximum charge per incident) and shipping.
The AlkaViva Athena is a good investment – especially if you’re in a hard water area where excess mineral scale buildup could be an issue. Straightforward, relatively easy to use with an under-counter conversion option. Solid warranty ensuring a lifetime of use.
If you have questions about the AlkaViva Athena or any other AlkaViva water ionizer products, give me a call. I’d be happy to help.
Water Ionizer Authority