Have you decided to give up bottled water and make the most of the tap water you are consuming with the best countertop water filter to fit your needs? Or are you replacing your old water filter with a new model? There are reasons you may choose to stick to tap water and not spend your hard-earned money on plastic bottles. Additionally, the price tag of a whole house water filter or reverse osmosis system might overwhelm your budget. With so many water filter systems on the market, at various prices and with different characteristics, choosing the right one requires planning. We’ve filtered through the options and reviewed the nine top-rated countertop water filters on the market, as well as one you may want to avoid.
Reviews of the 9 Best Countertop Water Filter, Plus the Worst 1 to Avoid
1. Apec Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System Review
If you’d prefer a reverse osmosis system, but you don’t have enough space to install one under the counter, this Apec countertop water filter should do the trick. It is compact, portable, and easy to set up. You just hook it up and start using it.
It uses a 4-stage purification system, works at water pressures between 40 and 80psi, ultra-pure system provides refreshing crisp taste superior to bottled water, and has a filtering capacity of up to 90 gallons per day.
It removes 99% of contaminants, from chlorine to arsenic, lead, chromium, and fluoride. All its filters bear the NSF mark and are made in the U.S. The only weakness would be that the system does not have an alkaline filter, but its 4th stage filter can be replaced with one.
The filters don’t need frequent replacing. The manufacturer recommends replacing stage 1 and stage 2 filters annually and the stage 3 and stage 4 filters every 3 to 5 years. Replacement parts are widely available, and customer service is very responsive.
2. Big Berkey BK4X2 Countertop Water Filter System Review
The Big Berkey is one of the few countertop filters on the market that are safe to use with any water source, including raw, untreated ones. It is perfect for large families and shared spaces, due to its impressive capacity.
It holds 2.25 water gallons. It has stainless steel housing and includes 2 filters and 2 fluoride elements. Each filter can process 3,000 gallons, so replacements are necessary only after 6,000 gallons.
The unit can accommodate up to four filters of each type. The fluoride filters require attachment to the main filters, hanging in the lower chamber, and acting as post filters. They can process 1,000 gallons each, and will remove up to 95% of fluoride.
This system eliminates pathogens, cysts, and parasites, and removes pesticides, herbicides, volatile organic compounds, solvents, trihalomethanes, radon 222, nitrites, nitrates, lead, mercury, and other harmful chemicals. With four filters installed, it can purify up to 7 gallons of water per hour.
The only problem with this filter seems to be that the reservoir needs cleaning every two weeks or monthly, depending on how heavily used it is, to avoid stale water and residue buildup. Other than that, it should work great and fit most needs and expectations.
3. New Wave Enviro 10 Stage Water Filter System Review
Three times cheaper and more compact than its predecessor, New Wave Enviro is another attractive option for any home. It is easy to connect to the faucet, it looks great on any counter, and it fits under any sink, this type of installation requiring a conversion kit.
Its ten stage filters efficiently remove contaminants, ensuring levels below the ones accepted by EPA. Besides magnesium, chlorides, potassium, and fluoride, it also filters out trihalomethanes, hydrogen sulfide, herbicides, pesticides, PCB’s, heavy metals, and especially dangerous microorganisms like giardia and cryptosporidium.
The manufacturer recommends replacing the filter every 1500 gallons, approximately once a year for a family of four. All materials have NSF and/or Gold Seal Association Certification and are Bacteriostatic.
The only weakness this water filter has is the lack of an alkaline filter. However, its low price, its certifications, and the excellent user feedback should definitely compensate for that and make it a safe, worthy acquisition.
4. Apex Countertop Drinking Water Filter Alkaline Review
Mid-priced, compact, and stylish, this countertop water filter promises to remove chlorine, heavy metals, and microorganisms from tap water, and add healthy minerals to it: calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium. It has a transparent casing that reveals the filtering layers, ensuring an interesting, stylish look that matches any decor.
Besides removing harmful components and adding beneficial ones, it also balances water pH. To accomplish all these, it uses a five-stage filter. The first stage removes chloramines and heavy metals, and uses KDF -85 to control microorganisms. The second and fourth stages remove chlorine and odors. The third stage removes impurities and adds minerals, and the fifth stage uses calcite to neutralize water and increase its alkalinity.
The entire system is made in the U.S., and it holds NSF certification for both components and media. The filter needs replacing every 750 gallons, but replacements are affordable and easy to find. Unfortunately, it does not remove fluoride, and it is not possible to install a separate filter for this function.
However, many other filters do not, and, judging by the Apex’s price and excellent rating, this inconvenience should be easy to live with.
5. Aquasana Countertop Drinking Water Filter System Review
The most affordable water filter system so far, Aquasana is compact and easy to install as well. It has a modern design that lets it match any interior décor. Health Magazine included it on their list of Healthiest Gadgets in 2011. The system ensures a flow rate of 0.4 GPM, which makes it an excellent choice for condos, apartments, and vacation homes.
AQ-4000B uses a twin cartridge filtration system and relies on the three-stage Claryum filtration technology that combines carbon filtration with ion exchange and sub-micron filtration.
It holds NSF certification for its ability to filter no less than 60 contaminants, including chlorine, mercury, lead, cryptosporidium & giardia, 81.8% of methyl tertiary butyl ether, volatile organic compounds, and asbestos.
Unfortunately, just like most products in its price range, it does not include fluoride and alkaline filters, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to add any. The filter cartridge needs replacing every 450 gallons or 6 months, but the low price of the replacements and all the features presented above make it worth the trouble.
6. Zen Water Systems Countertop Filtration Purification System Review
If you’re looking for an affordable and convenient solution to filter tap or well water and improve its qualities, this system could be the solution to your needs. It has a total capacity of 4 gallons, divided between the top tank (1.5 gallons) and the bottom tank (2.5 gallons) and works in five stages: filtering, purification, mineralization, alkalinization, and magnetization.
It removes harmful bacteria, contaminants, chemicals, and impurities, enriches the resulting water with essential minerals, and gives it bio-energy properties. The components are BPA-Free, and the system uses gravity to filter water, requiring no connections to the electricity or plumbing systems.
The five-stage filter relies on activated carbon, silica sand, far-infrared ceramic balls, and Mafia stones. The ceramic filter needs replacing annually or every 1,000 gallons. The five-stage filter needs replacing every 6 months or 500 gallons. The Mafia mineral stones are safe to use for 3, even 5 years.
The only weaknesses this filter seems to have are the fact that it needs frequent cleaning, boiling of the Mafia stones, does not remove fluoride, and is not fit for microbiologically unsafe water. However, it is still one of the best deals in its price range and one of the best countertop water filters overall.
7. Cleanwater4less Countertop Water Filtration System Review
If you want a cheap and compact countertop water filter that doesn’t require replacing filters regularly, CleanWater4Less® should be the perfect solution to your needs. You just take it out of the box, connect its diverter valve to the faucet, and use it.
It can filter up to 10,000 gallons of water, using a granular activated carbon filter of high capacity, able to remove most contaminants. It removes 97% of chlorine, sediments, and odor and taste organic contaminants. It also eliminates fine carbon releases, radon, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and hydrogen sulfide.
It leaves water clean and free of unpleasant tastes and odors. One condition to have it performing at maximum capacity is to use it only with treated, municipality line water. Unfortunately, it will not remove fluoride and pathogens, but these should not be an issue with treated water. Also, we couldn’t find any mentions of NSF certification. However, hundreds of buyers promote this system as practical and reliable.
8. Aquaspree 7 Stage Alkaline Water Filter Review
If you prefer a tank countertop water filter to systems that require a faucet connection, AQUASPREE is an affordable and good-looking appliance. It fits nicely on any countertop, and has a considerable capacity of over 5 gallons, 2.1 gallons in the top tank, and 3.2 gallons in the lower tank.
According to the manufacturer, the system delivers clean fresh water that meets EPA Quality Standards. These results are obtained using a seven-stage filter that purifies, mineralizes, and alkalinizes water. The filter relies on a four-stage main filter, a ceramic filter, a Maifanite filter, and a magnetized device.
The system removes sediments, rust, bacteria, germs, parasites, toxins, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, chlorine, herbicides, pesticides, and disinfectants. Its ceramic filter will need replacing after 1000 gallons or 1 year. The four-stage filter lasts 500 gallons or 6 months. The Maifanite filter will not need replacing for 3 years.
The only weaknesses this system seems to have are the lack of a fluoride filter and the lack of NSF certification. However, given its price, its excellent customer feedback, and the amount of contaminants it removes, it should be worth a chance.
9. Home Master TMJRF2 JF F2 Counter Top Water Filtration System Review
More compact and affordable than its predecessor, the Home Master TMJRF2 is just as easy to install and use. It has a three-stage filter that removes 93% of chlorine, fluoride, arsenic, and other water chemicals.
Its top feature seems to be the granular filter with inlet, outlet and in-between layers compression disks meant to ensure even water filtration. It is delivered fully assembled, the package containing the Tap Master Jr. F2, the filter, the faucet diverter valve, the 15/16 x 13/16 faucet adapter, the flexible connection tubing, the long-reach chrome faucet, and the instructions for setting it up.
It runs at water pressures between 20 and 90psi, and temperatures between 40 and 100 degrees F. Its weakness could be that it needs a water pH lower than 7.5 and a maximum level of total dissolved solids of 2000 ppm in order to provide optimum results. Also, it does not have an alkaline filter and does not mineralize water.
The water filter needs replacing every 3 months or 500 gallons, which could be quite frequent. Luckily, replacement filters are affordable and widely available, so this should not be an issue. Compared to other water filters that only offer 1-year warranty this one comes with 3 year limited warranty on the parts.
Avoid – Basily Countertop Water Purifier Basily 12 Stage Purification Process Review
It is difficult to believe an affordable, compact, and stylish countertop water filter like this one can disappoint buyers, yet it’s happening. At first sight, you have a great product: twelve-stage filter, able to remove most contaminants, balance the water pH, improve taste and odor, five replacements for the sediment filters, 1500 gallons life span for each filter cartridge, etc.
In practice, the filter was a huge disappointment for many users. The filter layers seem to be mixed, the water obtained tastes and smells bad, and the system is cheaply, poorly built. It makes sense, when you take into account the lack of certifications, the lack of fluoride and alkaline filters, and even the misleading presentation, focusing more on potential benefits than on actual product features.
Why risk your hard-earned money on doubtful products like this one, when you have similarly priced but much better rated alternatives like some of the ones presented above? Of course, the final decision is all yours.
Three Top-Rated Countertop Water Filter Brands
Perhaps the water filters models presented above do not fit your needs to perfection. Perhaps you’ve already set eyes on a different model, but you are not sure if the respective brand is reliable and the manufacturer stands by their product.
We want to help you make the best choice possible, and in order to do so, you need to know which water filter brands are more reliable and popular among users. We’ll take a closer look at the top three in the following lines.
It is a brand of New Millennium Concepts, Ltd., reputed manufacturer of gravity water filtration and purification systems and Master Distributor of the famous British brand of ceramic water filters, Berkefeld®.
The Berkey line includes several models with an impressive efficiency in removing waterborne contaminants. They are so powerful that they qualify as purifiers and can be used for any type of water, no matter its source.
Whether you want a water filtration system for home use, travelling, preparedness for natural disasters or any other purpose, one of the Berkey models will surely match your needs. You can choose between Big, Travel, Royal, Light, Imperial, and Crown.
No matter which system you choose, you won’t need electricity or plumbing to use it, and you can adjust its capacity by adding additional filters. Depending on model, the Berkey water systems can accommodate from 2 to 8 filters, and also fluoride elements.
The filters have a long lifespan, up to 3000 gallons each. They are able to remove viruses, bacteria, parasites, and cysts, as well as chemicals and heavy metals. They are also affordable and easy to replace.
Advanced Purification Engineering Corp is one of the top U.S. manufacturers of reverse-osmosis water filtration systems for residential use. They are based in California, and they have over 2 decades of experience in the business, and a huge portfolio of worldwide customers.
All their systems are built in the U.S., and undergo thorough testing and inspections. They are one of the few manufacturers to have obtained the Std 58 Gold Seal of the Water Quality Association. This certification attests that APEC water filters meet the public health standards and have passed strict tests for structural integrity, parts and material safety, and contaminant removal performance.
Besides reverse-osmosis water filtration systems for residential and commercial use, the company also produces water softeners, shower and bath filters, air purifiers, car wash systems, UV disinfection systems, food service filtration systems, pitchers and water bottles, water quality test kits, pressure boosters, and filter housings.
Just like APEC, Apex Water Filters Inc has been on the market for approximately 2 decades. The company is family-owned and has headquarters in Gardena, California. They manufacture countertop and undercounter water filters, whole-house and commercial-grade systems, shower, pumps, and aquarium water filters, as well as replacement parts.
Since they manufacture 99% of their products in house, they can ensure compliance with the highest quality and safety standards. As a result, their systems only use NSF and/or FDA approved materials, and comply with the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act in force in the State of California.
All Apex products use carbon filters certified by the National Safety Foundation. The company even customizes systems on demand, to meet specific customer needs. They claim to ship products the same day, they have excellent customer reputation, and responsive customer service.
2018 Buyers Guide: Finding the Best Countertop Water Filter for Your Home
There are various types of water filters on the market, with different features and specifications. Choosing the best one for your home will not be easy. Before you go out shopping, it is important to take a step back, assess your needs, and learn as much as possible about the various options available.
What to Consider Before Buying a Countertop Water Filter?
Your needs and priorities will influence the benefits you rip with a particular water filter. If you want to rip the most benefits, it is important to consider a few aspects. They will help you determine what system meets your needs best and provides the most value for its price. Here are the aspects you should consider:
1. Available Space vs. Dimensions
Although countertop filters are usually smaller than their undercounter alternatives, some models take up more space than others. For example, reverse osmosis systems like APEC use several different filters and require more space than multi-stage filters like New Wave Enviro or Apex, even though both types of water filters require attachment to the faucet and use water pressure to function.
Gravity water filters like Big Berkey and Zen Water System use tanks to store water and will take up more space. They will also require more free space around them, to allow easy refills. Before settling for one type of water filter or the other, you need to measure the available space, check out the dimensions of various systems, and make sure your countertop can accommodate the device you choose.
2. Contaminant Removal Needs vs. System Ability
Some water filters can only be used on treated water, from the municipality supply. Others can filter well water as well, but only few, with the Berkey line among the most efficient, can filter water from almost any source, no matter its contaminant levels. It is therefore important to know exactly what type of water you want your new filter to process and make sure the model you choose can do so.
Assuming you just want to filter tap water, keep in mind that contaminants defer from region to region and from one supply system to another. In some areas, the water contains heavy metals. In others, the high chlorine levels make it unbearable. There are also regions where the risk of contamination with harmful bacteria and parasites is high. Some water sources have high levels of pesticides, herbicides, or volatile organic compounds. Fluoride may be an issue in some areas as well.
Unfortunately, not all water filter systems can remove all these contaminants. Before you go out shopping, you need to know what contaminants may be present in the water flowing on your tap and find a water filter able to remove those specific contaminants. If the respective system is NSF certified for the respective contaminants, your investment is a safe bet.
3. Freestanding vs. Attached Installation
Depending on the method used to pass water through the filters (gravity vs. pressure), some water filters are freestanding, while others need a connection to the faucet or water line. Each model comes with its pros and cons.
Freestanding systems are portable and can be placed anywhere, in the kitchen or in any other corner of the house. However, they are bulkier, they require refilling, and they have limited capacity.
Attached systems are more pretentious from the point of view of their installation, but they take less space, provide a continuous water flow, and do not require refilling. Some models are compact, lightweight, and very easy to install, which makes them portable as well.
Since attached systems usually need a certain water pressure level to function, they cannot be used for well, stream, or river water. In fact, most attached models don’t even have the ability to filter water from these sources.
4. Unit Price vs. Replacements Costs
If you check the prices of the above models, you will see they range between $50 and $300. While it is natural to look for the most affordable solution, you should keep in mind that the price usually reflects a product’s performance and abilities.
If you pay attention to the details, you will notice the filters in some models will need replacing every few months or hundreds of gallons, while other systems can filter thousands of gallons without any further investments.
Also, some systems only filter tap water and remove a limited number of contaminants, while others can process any type of water and have certifications to prove their ability of filtering pathogens and less common but dangerous contaminants.
When you compare various products, you should pay attention to the long-term costs, not just to the upfront prices. This way, you will avoid nasty surprises, like having to pay the same price all over again within 3 or 6 months.
Different Types of Water Filters: Countertop vs. Undercounter
There are two main types of water filters for residential use: countertop, and undercounter. As their name suggest, the main difference between them is their place of installation. However, other details are just as important. Let’s review them in the following lines:
1. Undercounter Water Filters:
They are bigger, more expensive, and more difficult to install than their countertop alternative, often requiring interventions on the plumbing systems. Instead of occupying space on the counter, they occupy the space in the cabinet under the sink. However, they are usually worth the effort, as under sink water filters provide higher water filtering capacity and excellent contaminant-removal performance.
They need a pressure water source, to push the water through the filters. The most popular undercounter systems rely on reverse-osmosis technology. They force water through a semi-permeable membrane, and then through replaceable filters. They create some wastewater, and they need periodic sanitization.
Freestanding water filters start at lower prices than undercounter models. Some of them use gravity to push the water through the filters, while others require attachment to the faucet and use the pressure of the water supply.
The models that attach to the faucet usually allow undercounter and refrigerator installation as well, but require special installation kits. Before buying a countertop filter, you should always make sure it is compatible with your faucet, as some models have special requirements, while others only fit standard size faucets.
Countertop water filters that use gravity are perfect for regions where the water pressure does not match the requirements of attached countertop or undercounter systems. Many of them can also filter well, spring, river, and lake water.
They usually ensure a lower water flow rate, and they are more demanding in terms of maintenance. Besides needing regular refilling, they also need frequent filter replacement, and regular and thorough cleaning of the water tank.
Tips to Install a Countertop Water Filter
Countertop filters that use gravity usually come fully assembled, or with specific assembly instructions. Once they are complete, you just need to add water to the top tank and let them filter and store it in the lower tank.
Countertop filters that use pressure are easy to install as well. They all come with a diverter valve you need to attach to the faucet. You should place the filter next to the faucet. Some systems have a separate faucet for the water to flow through (New Wave Enviro), while others have a second diverter opening (Aquasana).
Once the new filter is out of the box and in position, installing it is a simple 3-step process:
- Removing the faucet aerator
- Choosing the adapter (for inside threads only, as outside threads don’t normally need an adapter) and washer, screwing them into the faucet and tightening them by hand
- Attaching the diverter valve to the faucet, turning the swivel collar to tighten it, and making sure the gasket inside the diverter is secured between the valve and the faucet.
Most attached countertop water filters have a diverter handle or knob that lets you guide tap water through the filter or allow it to flow freely.
How to Replace a Water Filter:
If you look at the water filters presented above, you will see that most of them need periodical filter replacements (every 3 or 6 months, annually, or every 3 to 5 years). The replacement interval varies from one system to another, according to the type of filter used and the system’s water filtration capacity.
There are carbon filters, sediment filters, fluoride filters, reverse-osmosis membranes, etc., in different models and sizes. To make sure the new filter matches your system, it is best to order the corresponding brand and model, from the same supplier, double-checking its size and compatibility with your exact water filtering system.
You may be able to find matching filter cartridges from other brands at lower prices, but using them could void the system’s warranty and compromise its contaminant removal capacity. Such filters will most likely end up costing you more than the original parts.
As for the actual filter replacement, it will depend from one system to another, according to configuration, size, and type of filters used. The replacements will always have accompanying installation instructions, so the wisest strategy is to read those instructions carefully and follow them to the letter. If you find no instructions, the system’s user manual will surely provide them.
How to Install a Countertop Water Filter (Video Instructions):
Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Countertop Water Filter:
Choosing the right filter for your home may seem overwhelming with so many types and models available. However, in the end, it all comes down to assessing your needs and identifying the system that meets them.
You already know what factors to consider, what to expect from each type of water system, which brands are more reliable, and which water filter models have the best qualities and highest user ratings.
Do your math, follow your instincts, and choose the system that promises to meet all your needs and expectations. To make sure you enjoy it for as long as possible, don’t forget to read its user manual, and follow the manufacturer’s use and maintenance instructions to the letter.
You can also save money, time and effort, by not having to buy and carry water bottles from the supermarket all the time. At the same time, you will protect the environment and yourself, by not contributing to the millions of water bottles ending up in the landfills, and by not encouraging the waste of valuable resources on plastic bottles production.
In order to enjoy all these benefits, such as the improved quality of water available to make your favorite food and drinks, healthier and better tasting, you need the best countertop water filter in your kitchen. Since there are hundreds of models on the market, it’s important to learn more about the differences between various types of water filters, their main features, and their installation and maintenance requirements, before making a purchase decision.