Review: Portable APEC RO-CTOP Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

    APEC Portable Countertop RO-CTOP

    Portable APEC RO-CTOP Countertop RO Filter

    •    Price: $$
    •    Filter Stages: 4
    •    NSF Cert.: 42
    •    Annual Cost: $$$
    •    Warranty: 1 Year

    If you want pure and great-tasting H2O everywhere you go the APEC RO-CTOP reverse osmosis drinking water system might be just what you are looking for.

    The portable countertop unit is compatible with most standard faucets – pull-out, sprayer and special designer faucets won’t work – and makes use of a 4-stage filtration process to reduce up to 99% of arsenic, chromium-3 and 6, copper, fluoride, lead and dozens of other potential water contaminants.

    • Filtration stage 1 uses a sediment pre-filter to remove larger particles, protecting the rest of the system from clogging.
    • At stage 2, a coconut shell granular activated carbon filter adsorbs chlorine, unpleasant tastes and odors, cloudiness and colors. In addition, it reduces VOCs and other common chemicals. By the way, the filter was certified against NSF Standard 42 for an average chlorine reduction of more than 95%.
    • Stage 3 is the most important. Here the semipermeable reverse osmosis membrane comes into play. It’s a Dow FILMTEC high rejection model rated at 90 gallons per day that achieves a TDS rejection rate of up to 98-99%. This does not mean, however, that the countertop system will always provide 90 gallons of purified water on a daily basis. Depending on the feed water pressure, you can probably expect anywhere between 30 and 90 gallons.
    • The fourth stage features another coconut shell granular activated carbon filter (same as stage 2). This is to remove any residual tastes.

    Required water pressure: 35 to 90 psi, although below 40 psi an additional pump is recommended.

    Max TDS: 2000 ppm

    For better looks, the RO-CTOP is available with an aluminum case which makes a lot of sense considering that it will sit on your countertop all day.

    What We Like

    The main reason for buying a countertop RO system instead of a regular under sink unit is that no installation is required. You just plug & play, or drink we should say.

    This makes the RO-CTOP great for renters that can’t make any permanent changes to the plumbing system or where there is not enough space for a large holding tank.

    But like we said, keep in mind that although the system comes with adapters it only works with standard faucets with a removable aerator.

    We also like that the RO-CTOP is compact and lightweight (about 7 lbs) for high portability. Do you like to travel?

    Other than that, the system uses long lasting filters Made in USA and comes with a 1-year limited manufacturer warranty.

    APEC Portable Countertop RO-CTOP


    The APEC RO-CTOP literally hooks up in minutes.

    All you have to do then is flush the membrane and filters for 10-15 minutes before first use and you are good to go.

    Parts List

    • Module
    • 3 pre-/post-filters
    • Dow FILMTEC TFC membrane
    • Faucet adapters
    • Tubing

    Filter/Membrane Replacements

    Quick connect fittings allow for fast filter changes. Here is how:

    1. Disconnect tubing by pushing in and holding down the fitting collet ring against the fitting.
    2. Pull out the tubing.
    3. Discard old filter.
    4. Push the tubing all the way into the fittings of the new cartridge. To test for a secure connection gently pull back on the tubing.

    Tip: Replace one filter at a time to avoid mix-ups.

    How often do filters need to be replaced?

    • Sediment pre-filter – Every 6 to 8 months or 600 to 800 gallons, whichever comes first
    • Carbon pre-filter – Every 6 to 8 months or 600 to 800 gallons, whichever comes first
    • RO membrane – About every 2 to 3 years if pre-filters are changed according to schedule
    • Carbon post-filter – Every 2 to 3 years

    By the way, filters and membrane have the industry standard size of 10”, meaning that they can be replaced by cheaper off-brand models if need be.

    About Membrane Replacements

    The safest method to determine the condition of an RO membrane is by measuring output water TDS a.k.a. total dissolved solids (using a TDS meter).

    If the permeate reads 3 to 10 percent of the feed water TDS, the membrane is working well. As soon as the TDS creeps up to more than 15% replacement is due.


    Are you looking for the manual? It can be found on this page.

    What We Don’t Like

    Our main issue with the APEC RO-CTOP is that the tubing to and from the filters/system is prone to leaking. For some users it simply cracked after weeks of use, while for others it burst open or blew off. An easy fix is to visit your local hardware store and buy a suitable replacement.

    Above that, the system is a bit too pricey for our liking, especially considering that it was only certified against NSF standard 42 and that’s it.

    Lastly, before buying this product you should remember that the filtration is not the fastest. Reverse osmosis purification is very thorough and takes time especially with lower feed water pressure.

    Our Verdict

    If money is not an issue we see no reason not to invest your money in the APEC RO-CTOP portable countertop reverse osmosis system. It’s easy to install and maintain, it’s great for on the go and small apartments, and it provides highly pure water – the majority of users compliment the pristine taste. 5 stars!

    Looking for More APEC Water Filter Reviews?

    You prefer a system thoroughly installed under your kitchen sink over a portable unit? Then check out our other APEC water systems reviews.

    More countertop RO systems? Right here:

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    This completes our APEC RO-CTOP review. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

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