Ultimate Water Filter Guide 2018

Choosing the right water filter isn’t easy. There are so many varieties available and so much technical jargon thrown around. We’re sure we can make the process much easier with our comprehensive buyer’s guide.

best-water-filter reviewsWith regards to purchasing a water filter, we believe this is the best resource on the internet. For starters, we review the top reverse osmosis, whole house, countertop, pitcher, under sink, and faucet water filters available.

We also have detailed buyer’s guides for each type of filter that explain exactly what features you should be looking for before you buy.

This is a BIG guide so we recommend using the quick navigation menu below to quickly jump to the part that interests you. Just choose the type of water filter that you’re looking for, and you’ll be taken straight to the reviews and guide.


reverse-osmosis-reviewsReverse Osmosis: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Reverse osmosis water filtration is probably the most powerful and effective method available to us in our homes. It’s actually not that expensive either with some quality models available for well under $200.

The 3 Best Reverse Osmosis Systems

We’ll start by getting straight to the point. In our opinion, these are three of the very best reverse osmosis water filtration systems on the market. We’ve been careful to cover each price point available, so there’s something for every budget here.

Begin by taking a look at the comparison table before reading about each model in more detail below. In our reverse osmosis reviews we cover all the specs, pros and cons, and tell you exactly what we think and why.

 ModelFiltration StagesPricePositivesNegatives

Home Master HydroPerfection7$$$$$-UV Filter
-pH Filter
-Permeate Pump
-Iron Filter
-Excellent Water Efficiency
-Long Life Filters

iSpring RCC7-AK6$$$-Large Capacity
-Great Value
-pH Filter Adds Minerals
-Well Priced Filters
-WQA Gold Seal
-No UV filter
-Filter Lifespan Doesn't Match Home Master

APEC Essence5$$-Amazing Value
-Impressive Customer Support
-Low Maintenance
-Not For Larger Houses
-No pH or UV Filters

Reverse Osmosis System Reviews

1. Home Master HydroPerfection          Our Top Pick

It’s important to mention straight away that this is the most expensive RO system of our recommendations, and one of the most expensive on the market. However, it comes with the kind of features and level of performance you would expect of something in this price bracket.

All in, this system from Home Master has the ability to remove up to 99% of microorganisms and 98% of heavy metals, dissolved solids, and hazardous chemicals like chlorine and its by-products (like chloramine).

The HydroPerfection uses 7 stages of water filtration. This is about as good as it gets for reverse osmosis systems, and make this one of the most refined RO units that we have encountered. Besides the regular carbon filters and reverse osmosis membrane, the HydroPerfection has a powerful UV filter to sterilize the water, a remineralization filter that adds healthy minerals, and the ability to remove iron.

The filters at a glance:

  • 10″ sediment pre-filter – this 5-micron filter serves to protect the subsequent filters by removing the larger particles like dirt, rust, sand, and sediment. Lifespan: 1 year
  • 10″ catalytic carbon/KDF85 filter – KDF85 filter media is excellent at reducing iron, lead, chlorine, and hydrogen sulfide from water. Catalytic carbon is well suited to removing chlorine and its harmful by-products like chloramines and Trihalomethanes (THMs). Lifespan: 1 year or 3000 gallons
  • 10″ granular activated carbon (GAC) filter – GAC removes chlorine, hydrogen sulfides, and organic chemicals.
  • RO membrane – this removes pretty much anything else that the other stages couldn’t handle. RO membranes offer incredible levels of filtration filtration. Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • UV filter – UV is one of the best forms of water sterilization as nothing is added to the water and the composition of the water is not changed. Ultraviolet light kills any dangerous viruses or bacteria like E.coli, giardia, or cryptosporidium. Lifespan: 1 year
  • Remineralization filter – This adds healthy minerals like calcium and magnesium back to the water. These minerals are removed by the RO membrane during the filtration process so its important to add them back again. This ensures the water tastes great and increases the pH to healthier levels. Lifespan: 1 year

You may wonder why we label this as having 7 stages of filtration yet only 6 can be counted above. Well, the HydroPerfection uses Home Master’s Full Contact technology that passes the water through the remineralization filter twice. This ensures that the water is more mineral rich than with other RO systems.

Aside from the RO membrane that should be replaced every 3-5 years, the other filters will need replace yearly. This is among the longest filter lifespans in RO systems and means that the HydroPerfection has very reasonable running costs. The filters are actually combined into just 3 modular units plus the UV lamp.

Home Master Hydroperfection filters

The inclusion of the iron filter and UV lamp mean this system is perfectly at home filtering city water or well water. The UV lamp performs the sterilization process that chlorine does in city water treatment, while the iron filter helps protect the reverse osmosis membrane.

Home Master installed

But, it isn’t just the extra filtration that makes this system stand out in a crowded market place. The HydroPerfection comes with a permeate pump. This non-electric pump reduces waste water, and increases the water flow rate and pressure. Reverse osmosis is by nature quite a wasteful process. Regular systems can waste as much as 4 gallons of water for every gallon of clean drinking water they produce. The Home Master HydroPerfection has one of the best efficiencies of any system of 1:1.

Besides increasing efficiency and productivity the pump also eliminates ‘TDS creep’. This is a problem common to many RO systems where TDS (total dissolved solids) that sit in the membrane housing for long periods can pass through the membrane when the water pressure drops.

The 4 benefits of a permeate pump:

  • Increased clean water production
  • Better quality water
  • Wastes around 80% less water
  • Delivers higher pressure at the faucet

The HydroPerfection comes with a 5 year limited warranty and all the necessary components for a straight-forward installation. The trickiest part of installation is installing the new faucet (included) and will require a drill. Installation is very similar for every reverse osmosis water filtration system. You can take a look at the installation video for an APEC system here.

Key Features

– Permeate Pump
– UV Filter
– Remineralization Filter
– Iron Filter
– Long Life Filters
– 5 Year Warranty

Bottom Line: The Home Master HydroPerfection is more expensive than most, but it comes with extra features that in our opinion make it a worthwhile investment. The UV, iron, and remineralization filters give it an extra level of filtration power. Then there’s the pump that makes this one of the most efficient RO units out there. It’s initially expensive but long life filters mean that long term running costs are pretty good. In our opinion, this is the best reverse osmosis system available, but it comes at a price.

2. iSpring RCC7-AK         The Well Priced Alternative

iSpring are a big name in the water filter world. They’re known for offering high quality water filters at great value prices. The RCC7AK is no different and offers high level water filtration at an affordable price.

It is a 6-stage system that offers all the perks of the previously mentioned Home Master HydroPerfection minus the UV filter and pump. For me, the standout feature of this model is the Water Quality Association (WQA) Gold Seal. This is a certificate from one of the most prestigious water treatment programs in the world that ensures that “…the product is constructed or formulated from safe materials, the claims listed on the packaging are backed by test data, and the product will hold up under normal usage conditions.” A water filter with WQA backing can be trusted to filter your water effectively.

The filters at a glance:

  • Sediment pre-filter – the pre-filter rejects the large particles like dirt, sediment, and sand that can damage the subsequent filters. Lifespan: 6-12 months
  • Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) filter – this targets chlorine as well as improving the taste, odor, and color of the water. Lifespan: 6-12 months
  • Carbon block filter – this removes chloramine, VOCs, and other organic contaminants. Lifespan: 6-12 months
  • RO membrane – filters up to 75 gallons of clean drinking water each day. Filters to 0.0001 microns (a human hair is about 50 microns). Lifespan: 2-3 years
  • Carbon post-filter – refines the taste, color, and odor of the water. Lifespan: 6-12 months
  • pH filter – this adds healthy minerals back to the water and balances the pH. Lifespan: 6-12 months

To be on the safe side the 10 inch filters should be replaced closer to every 6 months than 12. However, it really depends on the amount of usage the system gets and also how “dirty” your water is in the first place. Replacing filters every 6 months may seem expensive when compared to the Home Master that needs replacements only every year, but these filters are incredibly well priced. A full years set of filters (2 of each) is available on Amazon at well less than a years supply of Home Master filters. The downside of more frequent filter changes is the extra work that you’ll have to do in physically changing them. However, this is a pretty simple task for most.

The RCC7AK is capable of providing 75 gallons per day (GPD) of clean drinking water. This figure is larger than the average rate of 50 GPD and makes it suitable for medium to large households. The water is stored in a 3.2 gallon tank that feeds water through a lead-free brushed nickel faucet.

iSpring also offer some awesome customer care and support. The RCC7AK actually comes with a 1-year satisfaction guarantee and warranty. Should you wish, you can get a full refund within the 1st year if you’re unhappy with the performance offered.

The system is ready to be installed with a some basic DIY. You can watch iSpring’s official installation video here.

Key Features

– WQA Gold Seal
– Amazing Value
– Remineralization Filter
– Low Running Costs
– 1 Year Satisfaction Guarantee

Bottom Line: The iSpring RCC7AK is really hard to beat on value. The WQA certification and remineralization filter are top features that you would expect to pay a lot more for. The filters might need changing a bit more frequently, but they’re high quality and are incredibly well priced too. The running costs of the iSpring RO systems are some of the lowest you can find.

3. APEC Essence        The Budget Choice

APEC Water are another big name in reverse osmosis water systems. Their Essence model is the cheapest of our three recommendations. However, that isn’t to say it’s not a quality system, and it earns rave reviews on sites like Amazon.

The APEC Essence is a 5-stage, 50 gallons per day system. Having five stages means it lacks the sophistication of our other two recommendations and is without a remineralization filter or UV filter.

The filters at a glance:

  • Sediment filter – a 5 micron filter that removes rust, dust, and dirt. Filter Lifespan: 6 months
  • Carbon block filter – the 2nd and 3rd stages use the same carbon filter to treat the water taste, color, and odor. They also remove chlorine, VOCs, and other chemicals. Filter Lifespan: 6 months
  • Reverse osmosis membrane – removes hazardous contaminants like lead, arsenic, fluoride, and chromium. Filter Lifespan: 2-4 years
  • Coconut shell carbon filter – refines the taste ready to drink. Filter Lifespan: 2-4 years

As this system has 5-stages (less than our other two recommendations) and the final coconut shell filter lasts at least 2 years, the running costs of this system are really low. Despite most of the filters having a shorter lifespan (6 months to the Home Master’s 1 year) a years supply of APEC filters is the lowest of our three reverse osmosis reviews. Being able to run a reverse osmosis water filtration system at such low prices is very impressive, and hats off to APEC for designing a system like this. RO filtration is the most effective form of water filtration available to us in our homes, and with running costs like these it’s even cheaper than some inferior methods of water filtration.

APEC also offer the best customer support in the business. They have a support team of WQA certified water filtration specialists that are on-hand to give you lifetime customer support. This kind of expertise is a real comfort if you’re new to reverse osmosis filtration or aren’t the most practical of people.

Key Features

– Amazing Value
– Very Low Running Costs
– WQA Certified Lifetime Support

Bottom Line: The APEC Essence is our budget choice due to the exceptional running costs. Running an RO system is one of the more expensive types of water filter to use, but APEC make it much more affordable to many with the Essence. This is also a great choice if you’re a bit worried about the whole installation and maintenance of an RO unit. APEC’s customer support is second to none.

How does it work?

To put it in the simplest of terms, a reverse osmosis (RO) system prevents any particles over a certain size from passing through. It works just like a coffee filter but in a much more delicate way.

The actual reverse osmosis membrane is the most important component of one of many filtration stages in one of these devices. The membrane can have a pore size as small as 0.0001 microns. To put that into perspective, 1 micron = 0.001 millimeters. Anything larger than this is rejected by the membrane and filtered from the drinking water.

The membrane works in combination with up to 8 other filtration stages, each with a specialist filtration method. Five stage reverse osmosis water filters are the most common type available. Let’s take a look at what each stage of the average 5-stage system does.

Stage 1: This is always a sediment filter that catches the larger particles like dirt, sand, and rust.

Stages 2 & 3: These are usually carbon media filters. Carbon does a fine job at absorbing contaminants from water. It also has the function of improving the taste, color, and odor of the water.

Stage 4: In a 5-stage system, this will be the reverse osmosis membrane. The membrane catches the smallest of contaminants, and this is what makes RO systems some of the best available.

Stage 5: This is usually a coconut shell based carbon filter. This refines the taste of the water, ready for you to drink.

Optional Extra Stages:

The best reverse osmosis systems commonly have 6 or 7 stages of filtration. They are a bit more expensive but have some impressive extra features.

Stage 6: A 6-stage reverse osmosis system usually has a remineralization or pH filter. During the water filtration process, reverse osmosis systems strip away the healthy alkaline minerals like calcium and magnesium. These minerals are good for us and make the water more alkaline (pH above 7). By removing them, the pH can decrease slightly and the water is no longer mineral water.

A remineralization filter adds these healthy minerals back to the water. This has the effect of increasing pH, improving the taste, and making the water healthier for us to drink.

Stage 7: The seventh stage is usually an ultraviolet (UV) light filter. These filters kill bacteria and viruses and “disinfect” the water. They work much like chlorine does in treated water supplies. However, they lack the negative effects that water chlorination can have on our health. A UV filter is particularly important if you are served by a private water supply where the water isn’t treated for bacteria or viruses like Escherichia coli (E.coli), cryptosporidium, and giardia.

Check out our reverse osmosis system reviews to see exactly what each of our recommendations can do.

Is reverse osmosis right for me?

Reverse osmosis is the most effective form of water filtration available. If you have particularly bad water then RO has to be considered. The only exception here is if you need clean bathing water as well as clean drinking water. RO systems are typically installed under the kitchen sink and provide clean water only at this one point. For clean water for the whole house, you would require a system that filters the water at its point of entry into the house. We’ll discuss these whole house systems in the next section.

Reverse osmosis might not be the ideal option for very large homes either. They can be quite slow at filtering water, and generally store water in tanks of around 3 gallons in size. Larger water tanks and systems with higher GPD (gallons per day) output are available, but they require space that sometimes just isn’t available under the sink.

We always recommend basing your water filter selection on the contaminants present in your water. That means getting your water tested before making any decisions. However, if you seek a high level of filtration of a wide range of common contaminants then RO might be the answer. Reverse osmosis can remove thousands of harmful chemicals with rejection rates as high as 99%.

Some common contaminants targeted by RO:

  • Arsenic
  • Chlorine
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Fluoride
  • Heavy metals
  • VOCs
  • Trihalomethanes
  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses

Check out this results sheet of the tests done on an Aquasana RO system. It gives a great illustration of the type of protection RO systems offer.

Installation & Maintenance

RO systems are usually installed under the kitchen sink and provide clean drinking water from the faucet. The hardest part of the installation process is drilling a hole for the new faucet to fit.

Installation can be achieved without the need for a plumber and should take a couple of hours at the most.

Maintenance-wise they are pretty easy to look after too. Filter changes are easy to make and involve using a special wrench (supplied with the unit) to unscrew the filter housings. The filters themselves are easily pushed in place.

Knowing the optimum time to change filters isn’t always easy. Manufacturers always give recommended lifespans and I recommend following their guidelines. However, they are based on average use and you my find you get a bit more life out of them than what is recommended. You can test your water to see what state the filters are in. Using a TDS meter you can tell if the quality of your water is decreasing. If standards are slipping then it’s definitely time to change.

Pros and Cons

The Pros

  • Incredibly effective water filtration
  • Reduces a wide range of contaminants
  • Filters are relatively long life
  • Easy to maintain

The Cons

  • Only filters water at one faucet point
  • Wastes water during the filtration process
  • Strips healthy minerals from the water too (fixed with a pH/remineralization filter)
  • Can be slow

Before You Buy

RO water systems come with a variety of features. Make sure you get the perfect system for your home as we discuss the key features that you should be looking for. We’ve been careful to mention all these key points in our reverse osmosis water filter reviews.

1. Consider the number of filtration stages.

Reverse osmosis water filtration systems typically come with 5-7 stages of filtration. A standard 5-stage system is an effective device, but it lacks the finesse of the larger models. Systems with 6-stages usually have remineralization filters that can improve the taste of the water by adding healthy minerals to it. A 7-stage system might have a UV filter that can kill bacteria and viruses. If you are served by a private water supply then I’d highly recommend a UV filter. A private supply will not be disinfected by way of chlorination, like city supplies are.

2. Check the water production rate.

The water production rate is a very important fact to consider. It is measured in gallons per day (GPD) and tells you how much clean drinking water a unit can produce over the course of a full day. Basically, the larger the GPD value, the faster it can produce clean water. The standard amount is 50 GPD with most systems giving 75 GPD. Higher volume systems are also available. For medium to large homes I’d recommend going with at least 75 GPD.

It’s also worth noting the size of the water tank. The standard tank size is around 3 gallons but tanks of up to 20 gallons in size are available. If you have a particularly large family then a bigger tank might be worth considering.

3. How efficient is it?

Reverse osmosis is one of the most powerful forms of water filtration, but it is also one of the more wasteful. Cheaper systems might waste as much as 3 or 4 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of clean water. One way to increase the system efficiency is by getting a model that uses a pump. Permeate pumps increase the efficiency and also the water production rate. A pump is actually necessary if you have particularly low water pressure.

4. Don’t overlook the running costs.

This fact is often overlooked in favor of the initial cost of the water filter. But, it’s the running costs that will cost more over the lifetime of a water filtration system. Therefore, it’s vitally important that you know how much the replacement filters cost and how long they are likely to last for. Work out the yearly cost of replacing filters to give a true comparison between models. We’ve included this information in our reverse osmosis system reviews.

5. Consider the installation process.

While the installation isn’t a very difficult process, be aware that you’re going to have to drill a hole in your kitchen worktop or sink for the new faucet. Space under the kitchen sink can be pretty tight too, so make sure you have enough room for an RO system.

whole-house-water-filter-reviewsWhole House Water Filter: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

If you need both the drinking water and the bathing water in your home to be filtered then there’s only one solution: a whole house water filter.

Whole house systems come in quite a variety of styles, so we’ve been extra careful to represent the full range of what’s available.

Our top recommendations include:

  • A 3-stage whole house filter that is perfect for private well water supplies.
  • A carbon tank system that is great at removing chlorine from city water supplies.
  • A jack of all trades that can “soften” hard water too.

Whole house systems aren’t “all-rounders” like reverse osmosis systems and don’t have the power to cleanse absolutely everything from the water. This means they are more specific in what contaminants they target, and require a bit more thought before purchasing. We thoroughly recommend getting your water tested before purchasing one. This is especially important if you are served by a private well.

The 3 Best Whole House Water Filters

In our opinion, these are three of the top whole house water filtration systems on the market. Each shines in a different way and has it’s own speciality.

Compare them at a glance in the table below, before reading about them in more detail in our reviews that follow.

 ModelPricePrivate Well/Public Water SupplyKey Features
Home Master 3-Stage$$Private Well-Long Life Filters
-Reduces Iron & Heavy Metals
-Removes up to 95% Contaminants
-Doesn't Throttle Water Pressure
Aquasana Rhino$$$Both Available-Reduces Wide Range of Contaminants
-Easy to Maintain
-Can Soften Water
3M Aqua-Pure AP903$Public-Great Water Pressure
-Excellent at Removing Chlorine
-Easily Maintained

Whole House Water Filter Reviews

1. Home Master 3-Stage        Our Top Pick

The Home Master HMF3SDGFEC is a 3-stage whole house water filter that is designed for the “rough” water that private well water supplies can produce. It’s our recommended filter for private water supplies high in iron due to its effectiveness in this area. It’s also great at reducing common private water contaminants like iron and manganese.

The 3 filtration stages each offer a different level of protection. Let’s run through them to give a better picture of what this system does.

The filters at a glance:

  1. Stage 1 – this is a sediment filter that removes the larger particles like sand, dirt, rust, and sediment. This Home Master sediment filter is more refined than most. It features multi-gradient density layers that make it last longer than others. The outside layer starts at 25 microns with subsequent layers of 10, 5, and 1 micron on the inside. The multiple layers trap more dirt and ensure that the water pressure doesn’t drop like with some others. Lifespan: 6-12 months
  2. Stage 2 – this is the iron and manganese reduction filter. It targets common well water contaminants including hydrogen sulfide. Heavy metals found in well water can harm household appliances and this filter does a great job at stopping them. Lifespan: Dependent on iron content
  3. Stage 3 – a granular activated carbon (GAC) filter. This removes further contaminants and refines the taste, odor, and color of the water. Contaminants GAC can remove include pesticides, herbicides, chlorine, VOCs, and trihalomethanes. Lifespan: 1 year

Home Master actually offer two other whole house systems in this range. These are both 2-stage systems that are great for chlorinated water supplies. One is a bit more powerful and reduces chloramines and heavy metals like lead too. The 3-stage system is the focus of this review but here’s a brief low-down on the other two units which are equally impressive at what they do.

  • 2-Stage System for Chlorinated Water
    • Targets chlorine, sediment, and dirt.
    • Perfect for public water supplies.
    • Long life filters.
    • High water pressure.
  • 2-Stage System for Chloramines & Heavy Metals
    • Targets heavy metals like lead, mercury, and copper.
    • Also targets chlorine and chloramines.
    • Long life filters.

One of the best features of this Home Master range is that they use 20″ x 4.5″ filter housings. This is a standardized size called Big Blue. This means you are free to mix and match filters from different manufacturers. This allows you to completely customize your water filter to match your specific water. Should you not want to use the iron filter then simply swap it our for something else that best fits your water problem.

We love how you’re not “locked” into the Home Master brand and have the freedom to spend less money on your filters should you wish.

The Home Master 3-stage allows a water flow rate of up to 15 gallons per minute (GPM). This is among the highest available in whole house systems and ensures it will keep up with the water usages demands of large homes. Check out our ‘Before You Buy’ section to see how you can estimate the peak water usage in your home. This water flow level is achieved using one inch ports that don’t throttle the water pressure.

The Home Master models come with a 2-year warranty.

Key Features

– Great for Wells
– Long Life Filters
– High Water Flow Rate
– 2 Year Warranty
– Allows Filter Customization

Bottom Line: The Home Master HMF3SDGFEC is built to handle well water high in iron. We love its heavy duty nature as the long life filters can cope with water plagued with sediment and dirt. Also, fact the filters can be changed out for other brands with different specialities at different prices is a real selling point. The Home Master range are our top picks for private well water supplies.

2. Aquasana Rhino          Perfect for Public Water Supplies

The Aquasana Rhino is a premium water filter that costs a bit more than most. However, the Rhino range offer options to combat a whole variety of problems. There’s a model that is excellent at removing chlorine, one that is great for wells, one that targets chloramines, and also those that include UV filters and water softeners. In this review we focus on the 10-year Pro Kit.

The Aquasana Rhino 10-year Pro Kit is built to treat chlorinated public water supplies. Aquasana state that it will remove up to 97% of harmful chlorine from household water. This is an impressive rejection rate for a whole house unit, and makes this one of the best whole house water filters at treating chlorinated water. However, it doesn’t just target chlorine and it will also reduce:

  • Heavy metals (like lead and mercury)
  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • VOCs
  • Industrial solvents
  • Sediment

The Rhino Pro Kit contains a few extras that the standard model doesn’t have. Let’s take a look at just what the 10-year Pro Kit offers.

The filters at a glance:

  • 20″ pre-filter – this filters larger particles like sediment, dirt, sand, and rust from the water. Lifespan: 3-6 months (water quality dependent)
  • Activated carbon tank – activated carbon is ideal for reducing chlorine as well as pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals. Lifespan: 10 years
  • Zinc/copper/mineral tank – this also targets chlorine, but also reduces heavy metals and inhibits bacteria. Lifespan: 10 years
  • 0.35 micron post-filter – whole house filters don’t typically offer sub-micron filtration so this is a real bonus. This filter removes very fine organic particles and microscopic cysts. Lifespan: 9-12 months

Optional Extras:

  • UV filter – ultraviolet light sterilizes the water and kills any bacteria or viruses. It’s the best way to prevent things like Giardia, E.coli, or Cryptosporidium making an appearance.
  • Water softener – a salt free descaler that prevents hard water from causing damaging limescale build-up in pipes and appliances.

In summary, the main component of the Aquasana Rhino (the carbon and zinc/copper tanks) lasts for around 10 years (or 1,000,000 gallons of use) before needing replaced. The pre-filter and post-filter need replaced more frequently.

The Pro Kit also comes with high quality brass fittings, bend supports, and shut-off valves. The brass fittings are a big upgrade on the standard plastic fittings, while the shut-off valves make the process of changing filters much easier. The fittings are for 3/4″ inch pipes, so you’ll need an adaptor if you have 1″ pipes.

The post and pre filters are exclusive to the Pro Kit too. The 0.35 micron post filter offers some of the finest filtration we’ve seen in a whole house system. Whole house units don’t typically go below 1 micron, so this system goes above and beyond what most others are doing.

A big attraction of this system is its all-in-one nature. Installing a water filter plus a water softener can take up a huge amount of space. While this system isn’t exactly small, it’s pretty compact considering it can include a water softener, filter, and UV lamp. Furthermore, since it comes as one complete unit it doesn’t require all the extra plumbing that joining separate units would require.

Key Features

– Feature Rich
– Removes up to 97% of chlorine
– 0.35 Micron Post Filter
– Low Maintenance
– Option for UV Filter & Softener

Bottom Line: While it’s not exactly cheap, it does offer very effective and low maintenance performance. It’s a very refined system that offers some of the best water filtration for chlorinated water supplies (there’s actually a well water version too). If money isn’t an issue then you won’t do much better. If it is then check out the Aqua-Pure model coming next…

3. 3M Aqua-Pure AP903         Budget Choice

The Aqua-Pure AP903 is a chlorine specialist water filter that is well suited to public water supplies. It has one of the highest water flow rates of any whole house system, and it’s also probably the easiest to look after.

The AP903 is a single carbon tank system. The carbon media is excellent at removing high levels of chlorine, and will also treat the taste and odor of the water.

Being just one single tank, the AP903 is very easy to look after. It’s designed to last for 100,000 gallons of use, which should be about 1 year. This means just one annual filter change is all that is required. The filter change itself is very easy to do, and doesn’t require any tools.

It should be noted that the AP903 isn’t designed for water that is high in sediment or dirt. It might be worth running a cheap sediment pre-filter before the tank for this reason. The pre-filter would trap the large particles and prolong the lifespan of the carbon tank.

One of the big benefits of being a single tank is the high water flow rate that is available. This system allows water flow of up to 20 gallons per minute. This is one of the strongest rates that we have seen and mean this model will keep up with the water usage demands of even the largest of homes.

The tank is actually interchangeable with a couple of other options. The stainless steel head also accepts a tank that inhibits scale, which is an option for those with particularly hard water. However, this tank (the AP904) costs a bit more and won’t give you quite as strong a water flow rate as the AP903.

Key Features

– Excellent Chlorine Rejection
– 20 GPM Water Flow Rate
– Only 1 Annual Filter Change

Bottom Line: The 3M Aqua-Pure AP903 is a great option for chlorinated public water supplies. It offers a high level of chlorine filtration through its single carbon tank. Besides this it also allows an excellent water flow rate and is very low maintenance with just one annual filter change.

Is a whole house system right for me?

If you require both clean drinking water and bathing water then there’s only one way to do it.

Water chlorination is the main reason people go with one of these systems. Chlorine is added to water to kill of harmful viruses and bacteria, but chlorine itself can be dangerous to our health. Chlorine also reacts with other chemicals to form harmful by-products called trihalomethanes. These include the commonly known drug called chloroform. Chlorinated water can dry out skin and damage hair, but we also inhale chlorine (and its by-products) from steam in the bathroom and absorb it through our skin.

By filtering our bathing water we can expect our skin to be softer and more moisturized. We can also expect to absorb less chemicals through evaporated water.

Chlorinated water isn’t a problem for those with private well water supplies. However, the presence of contaminants like lead, arsenic (arsenic occurs naturally in the ground), and pesticides is more likely. These aren’t things you want to be bathing in.

An important point to make about whole house systems is that they aren’t as effective as reverse osmosis systems (though nothing is). Fluoride for example, isn’t easily removed using a whole house system and is better tackled with an RO system. By filtering such large quantities of water, whole house models lose out to the filtration power of RO. However, RO is limited to filtering only the kitchen faucet water.

We keep saying this, but get your water tested so that you can protect your home in the most effective way. Only by knowing which contaminants are present can you get the best whole house water filter for your home.

Installation & Maintenance

Whole house filters are the hardest of the lot to install, but that’s not to say you can’t do it yourself. You’ll need to be handy with a pipe cutter, drill, and wrench. The whole process is made much easier if you use push fittings.

Check out this great 5 minute video that explains the process for a basic one stage system.

Whole house units are some of the easiest to maintain because the filters can last a really long time. Some carbon tank models can last for up to 10 years. Filters are usually very easy to change and simply involve unscrewing the housing with a special wrench (this is always provided). Just rememember to shut off the water supply before you do so, or things will get very messy!

Pros and Cons

The Pros

  • Filters the water at every point in your home. Clean bathing and drinking water.
  • Relatively low maintenance.
  • High water pressure.
  • Doesn’t waste water (though some carbon tank systems may).

The Cons

  • Requires a lot of space.
  • Hardest of the water filter types to install.
  • May need a professional to install to engage the warranty.
  • Filtration is not as refined as a reverse osmosis system.

Before You Buy

Whole house systems can be expensive so don’t miss our 5 top tips to make sure you get the perfect one for your home. We’ve made special mention of these points in our whole house water filter reviews.

1. Estimate your peak water flow rate.

Whole house water filters (like any water filter) are limited by how much clean water they can produce in a period of time. Whole home systems are rated according to how much water they can produce each minute. This is called the gallons per minute (GPM) value.

You need to make sure that a system can keep up with your household water demands. The best way to do that is by estimating your peak water usage. Then you can check a water filter to ensure it is capable of producing this kind of water flow. You can use these estimates to guide you (new appliances will be labeled).

  • Kitchen Faucet = max 2.2 GPM (according to Federal Energy Policy Act of 1992)
  • Showerhead = max 2.5 GPM
  • Bathtub = 4 – 7 GPM
  • Dishwasher = 2 – 3 GPM
  • Washing Machine = 3 – 5 GPM
  • Toilet = 2 – 5 GPM

Newer appliances tend to be more efficient than older ones, and would likely be on the lower end of the estimates. You can accurately work out the water flow rate of your faucets, showers, and bathtub using a container, stopwatch, and measuring jug. Just remember to convert everything to gallons and minutes. Also, note that you want the peak usage for your household. This is the time when the maximum fixtures and appliances will be running at once. An example would be in the morning when everyone is getting ready for work and school and you may have multiple showers and faucets running simultaneously. You need a whole house water filter that can match this water output.

2. Which contaminants do you need to target?

Before forking out on an expensive water filtration device it’s really important that you get your water tested. Only by knowing exactly what’s in your water can you form effective measures to protect your home.

This is an especially important step for those who are served by a private well water supply. Private wells are not regulated like public supplies and lack chlorination to kill off bacteria and viruses.

You can get your water tested by an independent laboratory or test it yourself using a simple kit. We plan to write a guide to water testing in the coming weeks, so join our mailing list to stay notified.

For those that are served by public water authorities, you can view the annual test data for your local area here.

3. Private well or public water supply?

Leading on from the last point, where your water comes from makes a big difference to the type of filtration system you will need.

Public water is chlorinated and affected less by sediment, dirt, and iron. Carbon filters are best suited to removing chorine from water.

Private wells are more likely to be affected by heavy metals (like iron, arsenic, copper, manganese, lead…), viruses, bacteria, and sediment. They typically require more stages of filtration because of this. UV filters are also recommended to kill the bacteria and viruses that could be present due to the lack of chlorine.

4. Don’t overlook the running costs.

Most water filters require regular filter changes. Make sure you check out how often filters need to be changed and just how much they cost. To truly compare the overall cost of a water filter system it’s best to compare the running costs (plus initial cost) over a 5 or 10 year period. A system that is initially cheap might cost a lot more in filters over the course of its life.

Manufacturers always provide estimated lifespans for their filters, but you won’t know exactly ho long they will last until you try them with your water. Water that is particularly bad will reduce the lifespan of the filters. Conversely, if you don’t use much water then you might find that you can extend their life.

5. Consider the installation & maintenance.

Some of these units are deceptively large so make sure you have ample room in the garage (or wherever your cold water supply enters the house) to install one. Remember you’ll need enough ground clearance to remove the filter housings (in most cases) at filter changing time.

You can install a whole house water filtration system with some basic DIY skills, but don’t forget to check the warranty first. Some systems need to be installed by a professional in order for the warranty to be engaged.

Maintenance-wise they are pretty easy to look after. Carbon tank models are the easiest to look after and might not need filter changes for years at a time.

countertop-water-filtersCountertop Water Filter: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Countertop water filters are one of the more affordable types of filtration available for the home. Systems tend to cost well under $100 and offer great value for money. They tend to be best suited to removing chlorine, but systems that tackle heavy metals and even fluoride are available too.

The 3 Best Countertop Water Filter Systems

In our opinion, these are the 3 top countertop filters on the market right now. Each is effective at removing harmful contaminants from drinking water and is very easy to maintain. Each model also stands out in it’s own right, and they are quite different in what they achieve.

Take a look at the comparison table to see how the key features compare. Following this, we review them all in more detail. Find out exactly why we chose these water filters over all others.

 ModelPriceKey Features 
APEX Countertop$$-5 filtration stages
-Reduces multiple contaminants
-Adds healthy minerals
-Easy maintenance
-Improves pH
Aquasana AQ-4000W$-NSF certification
-High contaminant rejection
-Amazing value
Home Master Jr. F2$$-Low running costs
-Removes fluoride
-Chloramine filter available

Countertop Water Filter Reviews

1. APEX Countertop

This APEX water filter is one of our favorite countertop units due to the exceptional filter it uses. It uses an amazing five different types of filtration to deliver clean and great tasting drinking water at the kitchen faucet. Let’s start by taking a look at exactly what the APEX filter does and what contaminants it removes.

The filter at a glance:

  • 1st Stage – KDF-55 material that is excellent at removing chlorine and water soluble heavy metals like lead.
  • 2nd Stage – Microfelt pad that removes larger particles like dirt, sediment, and rust.
  • 3rd Stage – Coconut shell activated carbon media that targets chlorine and improves the taste and odor.
  • 4th Stage – Adds healthy minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium to the water.
  • 5th Stage – Calcite mineral that increases pH to healthier alkaline levels

The filter is rated to last for around 6 months depending on water quality. Cost-wise the filter is reasonably priced. While there are numerous systems with cheaper filters, they don’t offer the quality and refinement that this APEX unit gives. The two mineral stages are a real bonus and mean this system puts out some of the best tasting filtered water around.

How about installation?

One of the most appealing things about countertop water filters is their convenience. This system is designed to sit next to the kitchen sink and connect to your existing faucet. It should fit most faucets and the installation should take a matter of minutes. The process simply involves unscrewing the aerator and attaching the APEX diverter valve.

The filter changes are equally easily done. Every 6 months just unscrew the clear filter housing and twist off the old filter. Just remember to drain the housing first to prevent getting wet.

Key Features

– 5 filtration stages
– Reduces multiple contaminants
– Adds healthy minerals
– Improves pH
– Easy maintenance

Bottom Line: The APEX Countertop uses one of the most refined filters around. If the taste of your water is just as important as the quality of it then this system deserves your attention.

2. Aquasana AQ-4000W

Aquasana make some great water filters and the AQ-4000W is no different. It’s one of the very best countertop water filters due to it’s effective filter and attractive price tag.

One of the great things about Aquasana water filters is that they usually come with NSF certification. NSF International are an independent organization that test, audit, and certify consumer products like water filters. If an NSF certified product says it does something then it has been proven to do so. The AQ-4000W is certified by NSF International according to NSF/ANSI standards 42 , 53 and 401. Standards 42 and 53 establish minimum requirements for the removal of contaminants like lead, chlorine, and VOCs. While standard 401 relates to emerging contaminants like pharmaceutical drugs, herbicides, and pesticides. NSF certification also means that a water filter has been built to a high standard, using quality components.

You can see the exact performance data for this water filter here. Otherwise, here’s a quick run through of the most common contaminants you can expect to remove and to what degree. It will actually remove a whole load more too.

  • Chlorine >97.4%
  • Chloramines >97.4%
  • Bacteria/Cysts (including Giardia & Cryptosporidium) >99.9%
  • Lead >99.3%
  • Mercury >95.8%
  • VOCs >99.4%
  • THMs >95%
  • Benzene >99%

These are some impressive rejection rates, especially so when you consider how much it costs.

The filters themselves are reasonably priced and cost around the same as the APEX model. They too are rated for around 6 months of use. The filters use a combination of filtration methods to achieve their goal.

The filter at a glance:

  • Sub-micron layer – this removes any particle larger than the sub-micron holes. This layer prevents chlorine resistant viruses like Giardia and Cryptosporidium from causing harm.
  • Ion exchange – this layer absorbs dangerous heavy metals like lead and mercury.
  • Catalytic carbon – this part targets chlorine and chloramines. It will also remove pesticides and THMs.
  • Activated carbon – the final layer removes organic chemicals. These include herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, and MTBE.

Unlike some water filters, the AQ-400W doesn’t remove healthy minerals from the water either. You can expect minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium to remain in your water.

Like most countertop models it’s very easy to install. It should attach to most kitchen faucets with ease. It actually comes with a couple of adapters too.

Key Features

– NSF Certification
– Reduces multiple contaminants
– Doesn’t remove healthy minerals
– Easy maintenance
– Very effective

Bottom Line: The Aquasana AQ-4000W might just be the most effective countertop water filter. We’re certainly not aware of another one that comes with certification for 3 different NSF/ANSI standards. It can be trusted to protect your water to a high degree and it doesn’t cost the world either.

3. Home Master Jr. F2

Home Master make some of our favorite whole house and reverse osmosis water filters, and the Jr. F2 is a standout model in the countertop range.

The main reason we have chosen the Jr. F2 is its specialization in removing fluoride from drinking water. Removing fluoride is a difficult thing to do and few water filters have this capacity. But, fluoride isn’t the only contaminant targeted by the Home Master countertop filter. Let’s take a look at the filter and what it achieves.

The filter at a glance:

  • Activated alumina layer – this compound is extremely porous which means it has a huge surface area. It is very effective at adsorbing selective chemicals. It is especially good at removing fluoride and arsenic from water.
  • Coconut shell carbon – carbon media is perfect for removing chlorine from water. It will also tackle VOCs, herbicides, and pesticides.
  • 5 micron compression disk – this gets rid of the bigger particles like dirt and sediment.

If you’re more concerned with chloramines and lead then the Jr. F2E model is available too. This contains KDF-85 and catalytic carbon filtration media to target water soluble heavy metals and chloramines.

A nice feature of the filter is that it doesn’t remove healthy minerals from the water either. This means calcium and magnesium content remains in the drinking water.

Home Master state that the filter should last for around 3 months of use. The filter is cheaper than our other two recommendations so the running costs are comparable. However, you’ll have to change the filter more often.

The installation and maintenance for this filter is very simple and stress-free. Installation should take just a few minutes and in most cases doesn’t involve any tools. It comes with a couple of adapters for 15/16 and 13/16 faucet heads. Changing filters is really easy too and just involves twisting the housing off and pulling the old filter out.

Key Features

– Targets Fluoride
– Reduces multiple contaminants
– Doesn’t remove healthy minerals
– Easy maintenance

Bottom Line: The Home Master Jr. F2 is one of the few countertop systems that is able to reduce fluoride in drinking water. If fluoride is a concern of yours then this water filter is definitely worth considering.

Is a Countertop Water Filter Right for Me?

Countertop systems are much cheaper than reverse osmosis and whole house water filter systems. They are much cheaper to run too, as they use only one filter. Filtration-wise they are more effective than whole house systems (which have to deal with much larger volumes of water), but aren’t as effective as reverse osmosis. However, systems like the Aquasana AQ-400W come with multiple NSF certificates proving that they are certainly very capable water filters.

One of the big draws of countertop systems is how low maintenance they are. Installation is a breeze and the filter changes are very simple too. As the installation doesn’t require any drilling or screwing, they are also portable. This means you can take it with you on vacation or use one in your RV.

We always recommend reverse osmosis systems since they are so powerful, but if you’re looking for something a bit cheaper or don’t require such powerful water filtration, then countertop systems are a great way to go. The best countertop water filters can be effective tools.

Pros & Cons

The Pros

  • Much cheaper that RO & whole house systems
  • Great value for money
  • Easy to install & maintain
  • Portable

The Cons

  • Uses valuable countertop space
  • Not as effective as RO
  • Might not be suitable for unusual/awkward faucet shapes

Before You Buy

Make sure you get a water filter that meets all of your needs with our buyer’s guide. These are the key features that you should pay special attention to.

1. Make sure you know which contaminants are in your water.

This is the key stage before buying any water filter. Only by knowing exactly what is in your water can you form an effective strategy to protect it. Get your water tested or take a look at your local Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) on the EPA website. This information should be the main factor in deciding which water filter to buy.

2. Estimate the running costs.

The main cost in using a water filter is replacing the filter every few months. Take a look at the replacement filter to see how much it costs and how often it needs replaced. Be aware that the lifespan is an estimate and will vary according to water quality and usage.

3. Check to see your faucet is suitable.

Countertop systems are generally very easy to install and will simply screw on to your existing faucet. However, if you have an old faucet or it is not a traditional size then you might have difficulty. Systems usually come with an adapter for 15/16 and 13/16 faucets. Modern faucets should be fine, but it won’t hurt to check first.

water-filter-pitcher-reviewsWater Filter Pitchers: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Water filter pitchers are an attractive option because they are one of the cheapest forms of water filtration. They are also completely portable, which gives them a much greater scope for use. We’ve all probably used pitcher filter at some point, but just how good are they? Read on to find out…

The 3 Best Water Filter Pitchers

In our opinion, these are 3 of the very finest pitchers available. We’ve chosen models that represent three different price brackets, but are each well built and effective pitcher filters. We’re confident that one of these pitcher filters will suit your home perfectly.

Start by looking at the comparison table where you can compare the basic features. Then read our detailed reviews that follow. Find out what’s so great about each of these models and why they deserve a place on our list.

-Improves pH
-Long life filter
-Choice of filters
-Filter life indicator
Aquagear Pitcher$$$-BPA free
-Long life filter
-Removes wide range of contaminants
-Lifetime guarantee
-Keeps healthy minerals
Nakii Pitcher$-WQA certified
-Great value
-BPA free
-Long life filter

Water Filter Pitcher Reviews


The pH RESTORE pitcher is made by Invigorated Living and has earned itself quite a reputation. Besides filtering drinking water it also adds healthy minerals. This mineral rich water is healthier and great tasting too.

The filter at a glance:

  • Micro nets – two of these layers serve to remove large organic particles like sediment and dirt.
  • Coconut shell activated carbon – this layer specializes in removing chlorine but also targets pesticides and herbicides.
  • KDF 55 – a material that removes water soluble heavy metals like lead, arsenic, and mercury.
  • Ceramic balls – a mixture of materials that include tormaline and maifan stones serve to increase the pH to more alkaline levels. Invigorated Living also suggest that this layer can reduce -ORP to make the water more rich in antioxidants.

This filter is rated as lasting for 96 gallons (360 liters) of use. This works out at roughly 3 months for a family of three. Assuming the average water intake of 2 liters per person per day.

Optional extra:

  • Ultrafiltration membrane – removes contaminants down to 0.01 micron in size. It works just like a reverse osmosis membrane and is incredibly effective. It can remove bacteria and viruses including giardia and cryptosporidium.

The ultrafiltration membrane costs roughly the same as the original filter. It attaches to the regular filter and works in the same way. It will slow down the filtration process so that it takes longer to produce clean water. However, this increases the water’s contact time with the ceramic balls, which means they can have more of an impact on the -ORP and pH of the water. This membrane is rated as lasting for 1000 liters (264 gallons) of use. With the average person consuming about 2 liters of water each day, this means it should last for around 5 months in a household of three.

The pH RESTORE jug was recently refined and this most recent model has a few nice new touches. The jug is made from 100% BPA-free plastic that won’t leach into your water. It’s easily filled from the top and holds 0.5 gallons (2 liters) of clean drinking water. It is slim in design and should fit in the door of your refrigerator.

The lid also features a digital filter life indicator. This has 4 presets of 70, 60, 35, and 30 days. Simply set your preferred lifespan and then replace the filter when the countdown is complete.

Key Features

– BPA free
– Reduces multiple contaminants
– Increases pH
– Ultrafiltration membrane available

Bottom Line: The pH RESTORE pitcher from Invigorated Living is one of the finest around. If you can afford the optional ultrafiltration membrane then you have an extremely powerful pitcher filter. Pitchers aren’t renowned for their filtration power, but then most don’t have membranes like this one.

2. Aquagear Pitcher

This pitcher from Aquagear uses one of the most refined filters we’ve seen used in a pitcher model. It removes a huge range of harmful water contaminants with rejection rates as high as 99.9% in some cases. However, this does make it the most expensive model of our recommendations and the replacement filters aren’t cheap either.

The filter at a glance:

  • Activated carbon – the coconut shell carbon removes organic compounds and treats disinfectant chemicals like chlorine and solvents. It will also treat the taste and odor of the water.
  • Ion exchange media – this removes heavy metals like lead and mercury and also agricultural and industrial pollutants. It does this using a variety of techniques including absorption, adsorption, chelation, chemical bonding, and depth filtration.

The filter is rated as lasting for 150 gallons of use, which is more than the standard lifespan. This helps offset the more expensive cost. The filters exceed NSF standards 42 and 53 for reduction of chlorine, lead, and VOCs (among other things). They actually target as many as 70 contaminants and reduce them to a very high degree. Here’s an idea of what strength of filtration it offers:

  • Chlorine reduction 99.9%
  • Lead reduction 99.9%
  • Arsenic reduction 99.8%
  • Fluoride reduction 90%
  • Chromium reduction 99.8%
  • Nitrate reduction 97.6%

These are just a few of the figures available. You can view the complete test data for the Aquagear pitcher here. This level of filtration in a pitcher is very rare and the reason why you pay what you do for this jug and its filters.

The pitcher itself is made from BPA-free plastic and is effortlessly filled from the top. There is one thing missing here and that is a filter life indicator. If you’re an organized person then this shouldn’t be an issue. Just make a mark on your calendar or set a reminder on your phone. However, for a pitcher that costs what this does, it is a bit of a design oversight.

If you’re on the fence about forking out for this pitcher then perhaps this will make your decision for you. Aquagear offer a lifetime guarantee on the pitcher. They even go as far as to say that if you break it, they will replace it for free.

Key Features

– BPA free
– Reduces multiple contaminants
– Doesn’t remove minerals
– High rejection rates
– Lifetime guarantee

Bottom Line: The Aquagear pitcher is definitely not our budget buy. However, it offers some of the most refined water filtration available to a pitcher. If you’re looking for a water filter pitcher to be your primary water filter at home then you won’t do much better than this one.

3. Nakii Pitcher

This water filter pitcher from Nakii is our budget choice. It retails at a very attractive price and has low running costs too.

The filter at a glance:

  • Nylon pre-sediment filter – removes large rust, sediment, and dirt particles.
  • Ion exchange resin – reduces water soluble heavy metals like lead and mercury.
  • ACF filter – this activated carbon filter media reduces up to 97% of chlorine as well as organic compounds.
  • Nylon post-filter – catches any particles that may have been missed by the sediment filter

The filter lasts for 150 gallons (567 liters) of use before needing replaced. This is one of the longer lifespans of pitcher filters. This figure is all the more impressive when you consider how much one of these filters costs. The running costs of this Nakii pitcher really are low, especially in comparison to our other two recommendations.

The filter is WQA certified for NSF/ANSI standards 42 and 372. These standards concern the reduction of chlorine and lead. This certification means that the filter has met minimum standards in the reduction of these contaminants. The Water Quality Association (WQA) is one of the leading independent authorities offering certification like this.

The jug holds 7½ cups of filtered water which is produced faster than most pitcher models. However, more contact time with the filter media increases the amount of filtration, so there’s a pay-off here. The jug can be filled in little more than a minute, which is far quicker than any jug I’ve ever used.

The jug is made from BPA-free plastic and is slim enough to fit in a refrigerator door. It can also be filled without removing the lid.

Key Features

– BPA free
– Reduces multiple contaminants
– Amazing value
– WQA certified

Bottom Line: The Nakii pitcher offers amazing value for money. The long life filter is WQA certified and is very well priced. WQA certification usually comes at a much higher price.

Is a Water Filter Pitcher Right For Me?

Water filter pitchers are one of the cheapest methods of filtration available in the home. They are unique in that they are self contained and completely portable. They don’t require any installation and can even fit in the refrigerator door for instant cool, clean drinking water.

But, they aren’t without their flaws either. Pitcher filters are by no means the most effective of filtration methods. If you have water that is particularly high in contaminants then give pitchers a miss and take a look at RO (see the top of the page). I’d recommend a pitcher for municipal water supplies where you want to remove some chlorine and want to improve the taste of your water. I wouldn’t recommend a pitcher filter for private water supplies.

Pitchers don’t tend to hold a lot of water either (usually around 7 or 8 cups) and can be quite slow to fill. If you have a large family then a pitcher just won’t be very practical.

Pros and Cons

The Pros

  • Relatively cheap
  • Portable
  • No installation
  • Easy maintenance

The Cons

  • Not as effective as some other methods
  • Need multiple units for large homes
  • Needs to be filled

Before You Buy

Take a quick look at our key points to consider before you buy a water filter pitcher. Our water filter pitcher reviews make special mention of things like the filter costs.

1. Test your water first.

This step is crucial before buying a water filter. Test your water yourself with a kit, get it tested by a lab, or check your local Consumer Confidence Report available on the EPA website. With the knowledge of exactly what contaminants are in your water, you can choose the water filter that is best for your situation.

2. Check out the running costs.

The initial cost of a water filter pitcher is just a fraction of what you’ll pay in running costs over its lifetime. By running costs we mean filter costs. Take a look at the expected lifespan of the filter and how much it costs. The lifespan is usually measured in gallons of use, so it would help to estimate how much clean drinking water you use on a daily basis.

3. Is a pitcher practical for your home?

As we mentioned in the last section, pitchers aren’t a great fit for large homes or water that is heavily polluted. However, their portability and ease of use make them unique among water filters. The best pitcher water filters can be very useful devices.

undersink-water-filter-reviewsUnder Sink Water Filters: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Undersink water filters make great use of that forgotten space under the kitchen sink. They are compact, low maintenance, and can be extremely effective too. They fall into the low to mid-price range of water filters. They’re much cheaper than reverse osmosis (RO) and whole house systems, but they cost more than countertop, faucet, and pitcher filters.

RO water filters are undersink by definition but we have given them their own section in this guide. If you’re interested in RO then we deal with them at the top of the page.

The 3 Best Under Sink Water Filters

We’ve put together a list of the top 3 undersink water filters on the market. We’ve chosen each model for a different reason and they represent different price points too.

Compare them in the table below, then read our more comprehensive reviews that follow. We’re fairly sure you’ll find a great undersink water filter that suits your home here.

 ModelPriceKey Features

WaterChef U9000$$$-NSF Certified
-Long Life Filter
-Filter Monitor
-Lifetime Warranty

Woder 10K- Gen II$$-Easy Maintenance
-High Rejection Rates
-Keeps Healthy Minerals

CuZn UC-200$$-Removes Wide Range of Contaminants
-Low Maintenance
-Long Life
-Great Value

Under Sink Water Filter Reviews

1. WaterChef U9000

The WaterChef U9000 is our top pick for an undersink water filter. It’s a well built system that comes with NSF International certification that proves how effective it is.

The U9000 is designed to sit under the kitchen sink and feed clean drinking water through a special faucet. A dealbreaker for some might be the fact that you have to install a new faucet (included), but the installation can be carried out by anyone with basic DIY skills.

The system uses one specialist filter that lasts for about one year before needing replaced (or 1000 gallons of use). The filter is reasonably priced for something that lasts as long as it does. However, you’ll find that this system is more expensive to run than our other two choices. Filters with NSF certification tend to cost more as this is one of the highest regarded marks of accreditation in the water filtration world.

The filter is NSF certified against NSF/ANSI standards 42 and 53. These standards set the benchmark for safety and integrity of water filters. They also set minimum requirements for the removal of contaminants like chlorine and lead. A water filter with this kind of certification can be relied upon to produce excellent results day after day.

Some contaminants this water filter will reduce:

  • Lead
  • Chlorine
  • Chloramine
  • Benzene
  • Trihalomethanes
  • VOCs
  • Herbicides
  • Pesticides
  • MTBE
  • Cysts

You can see the actual test data results for the U9000 here.

The system comes with its own designer faucet. These are available in a variety of finishes and actually look pretty good. The faucet features a three light LED monitor. This is a filter life monitor and it will tell you exactly when you need to change the filter. Unlike most filter life monitors, this one isn’t based on time and it actually monitors the water usage in your kitchen. This means it can accurately tell you the state of the filter.

The monitor has three light stages:

Green light: the system is operating normally.

Yellow light: less than 10% of the filter’s life remains (under 100 gallons left). Time to think about getting a replacement.

Red light: the filter has reached capacity and should be changed.

This monitor system ensures that there is no guess work and that you get the optimum value from each filter. I’m amazed that so few models employ this system.

We mentioned in the introduction to undersink systems that RO is essentially an undersink system too. However, the big difference is that these undersink systems won’t strip away healthy minerals like RO does. The U9000 ensures the mineral content remains the same and the water is great tasting as well as healthy.

There’s one last thing to mention about the U9000 and that’s the lifetime warranty. This is a very rare thing in the water filter world and something that makes this one stand out in a crowded market place.

Key Features

– NSF certification
– Reduces multiple contaminants
– Filter life monitor
– Low maintenance

Bottom Line: The WaterChef U9000 is one of the more expensive undersink models, but it’s the only one we are aware of that offers a lifetime warranty and NSF certification. The intelligent filter life monitor is a really nice touch too. It’s not cheap but the certification ensures a high standard of quality.

2. Woder 10K-Gen II

The Woder 10K-Generation 2 is an ideal choice for those seeking an undersink solution to chlorine in water. It’s so easy to use that is can be left to function for itself for up to 3 years at a time.

The Woder 10K is an in-line filter that screws in place into the existing cold water line. Installation is really straightforward and you should be good to go in less than 20 minutes. With the system in place, there are no filter changes needing to be done for 10,000 gallons of use (around 3 years). This lifespan is huge and make this a water filter that offers amazing value for money.

The Woder 10K is suited to municipal water (chlorinated) supplies. The filter removes high levels of chlorine, chromium 6, lead, and other heavy metals. Like most other undersink filters it allows the healthy mineral content to remain in the water too.

It allows a water flow rate of up to 5 gallons per minute (GPM). This is one of the strongest water flows available in undersink units. If you’re worried about any drop in water pressure at the kitchen faucet then this system might be worth consideration. It should certainly keep up with the kitchen water demands of even the largest of families.

Woder actually offer a full money back guarantee with the 10K. You can receive a full refund if you’re not happy with the unit.

Key Features

– Amazing value
– Great for chlorinated water
– Strong water flow
– Very low maintenance

Bottom Line: The Woder 10K gives really good value for money. With one filter lasting 3 years, it can be forgotten about to run in the background for long periods of time. The impressive water flow rate means you don’t have to worry about a drop in pressure either.

3. CuZn UC-200

The CuZn UC-200 is another that offers a low maintenance, value for money solution to drinking water contamination in the home.

Like the previous Woder model, this too is an in-line water filter. It attaches directly to the cold water line under the kitchen sink. It too lasts an amazingly long time, and can be left to work away for a whole 5 years! That means 5 years of water filtration with no filter replacements for this one, relatively low initial cost. That’s quite a feat and the CuZn UC-200 really is hard to beat when it comes to bang for your buck. Also, what this means is that the system needs to be replaced in its entirety every 5 years. Though this isn’t a big job, and installation of a CuZn UC-200 can be achieved in just a few minutes. You’ll only need a wrench and a bit of muscle. You can take a look at a brief installation video here.

The filter uses 3 stages to remove common contaminants like chlorine, lead, herbicides, and pesticides (among others). It’s best suited to chlorinated water supplies and private water supplies that have higher levels of sediment in them would impact the lifespan of the filter. Let’s take a quick look at the filtration stages.

The filter at a glance:

  • Micro sediment membrane – this gets rid of large particles like sediment, dirt, sand, and rust.
  • Coconut shell activated carbon – activated carbon media is excellent at removing chlorine, pesticides, herbicides, and THMs.
  • KDF-55 media – this mixture of zinc and copper is effective at removing chlorine and water soluble heavy metals like lead and mercury. It can also inhibit scale and bacteria growth.

Importantly, none of these filtration stages removes healthy minerals. That means potassium, calcium, and sodium remain so that your water tastes great too.

The UC-200 also comes with a 90-day money back guarantee and 5 year warranty.

Key Features

– Great for municipal water
– Extra long life
– Very low maintenance
– Amazing value for money

Bottom Line: The CuZn UC-200 offers unbeatable value for money. If you compare the cost of this filter to the buying and running costs of any other undersink model over a 5 year period, then there’s simply no competition.

Is an Undersink Water Filter Right For Me?

Under sink water filtration systems are really low maintenance and can be left to function on their own for years at a time in some cases. They are also perfect for smaller kitchens where counter space is at a premium. Being installed under the kitchen sink means that they don’t use any of that valuable cooking space.

Undersink systems are generally best suited to municipal (chlorinated) water supplies as they mainly use carbon filtration media. This means they also provide great tasting water. This is the big difference between one of these systems and a reverse osmosis system, which is also installed under the sink. While RO strips away healthy minerals like potassium and calcium (they can be added back with a remineralization filter), a traditional undersink system won’t remove them.

The installation of one of these systems is typically very straightforward and won’t take more than a few minutes. They usually just screw into the existing cold water line using a wrench and a bit of muscle.

Cost-wise they can be very cheap to run. The CuZn model that we review is one of the cheapest water filters of any kind to run over its 5 year lifespan.

These systems aren’t as effective as RO, but they are among the most cost effective and lowest maintenance of all water filters. An under sink water filter could be a great option for those with a chlorinated water supply.

Pros and Cons

The Pros

  • Low running costs
  • Doesn’t remove healthy minerals
  • Easy installation
  • Very low maintenance

The Cons

  • Not as effective as RO
  • Only for chlorinated water supplies

Before You Buy

Buying a water filter is a big deal so make sure you get the perfect one for your home. Here are a few things to consider before you buy. Our undersink water filter reviews make special mention of these points.

1. Get your water tested or look at your local CCR.

You want the most effective water filter for your specific water supply. That means you need to know exactly what contaminants might be in it. You can find this out by testing it yourself with a kit or by an independent laboratory. If you are served by a municipal supply then you can view the annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) for your local area on the EPA website. This is the results of water testing at your local treatment plant.

2. Plan for the running costs.

The cost of changing filters will usually dwarf the initial cost of a water filter system. Check the price of the filters and their lifespan so you can get a good idea of what you’re likely to pay each year.

3. Is it installed in-line or do you need an extra faucet?

Undersink systems typically come in two varieties. There are those that are installed in-line and use the existing faucet, and those that come with a special faucet that you will have to install. In-line water filters are very easy to install, but the other kind will require a hole to be drilled for the new faucet. This requires some basic DIY skills that not everyone has.

That brings us to the end of our ultimate guide to the best water filters. We’ll add to this when we discover new models that we believe are worthy of a place. We’d love to hear from you if you have any suggestions too.

We’d really appreciate it if you’d ‘Like’ us on Facebook or share this guide with any friends that are looking for a water filter. It would really help us a lot and justify our work here at Tiny House, Huge Ideas. Until next time!

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