Review: APEC RO-CTOP Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis System

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APEC’s RO-CTOP is a countertop reverse osmosis system designed to provide healthy and great-tasting drinking water right from your kitchen tap. And because the system is compact, lightweight, and fast to connect/disconnect, it can also be used on the go.

It’s compatible with most standard faucets – pull-out, sprayer, and special designer models won’t work – and makes use of a 4-stage filtration process to reduce up to 99% of chlorine, arsenic, chromium-6, fluoride, lead, radium, and many other harmful water contaminants, says APEC.

But the system also has its cons. Ready to dig a little deeper? Let’s go!

APEC RO-CTOP Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis System

APEC RO-CTOP Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis System

Price: $$
Filter Stages: 4
Water Flow: 0.05 Gallons Per Minute
NSF Certifications:
Annual Cost: ~$115-130

Overall Rating: 3.5/5.0 ⓘRating based on filtration performance, filter life, price and yearly cost, NSF testing/certification, customer support, product warranty, our testing/experience, user feedback, and other factors.

APEC RO-CTOP Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis System – All Specs

  • Model: RO-CTOP
  • Annual Maintenance Cost: ~$115-130
  • Filter Media/Process: Sediment Filtration, Activated Carbon, RO
  • Filter Stages: 4
  • Flow Rate: 0.05 gpm
  • Membrane Rating: 90 gpd
  • Recovery Rate: 15%
  • Filtering Capacity: 6 Months to 3 Years
  • WxHxD: 14.0″x6.5″x6.0″
  • Weight: 7 lb.
  • Water Temperature: 40-100 °F
  • Water Pressure: 35-90 psi
  • Water pH: 2-11
  • Warranty: 1-Year Limited Manufacturer Warranty + 1-Year Extended

APEC RO-CTOP – Key Features

The APEC RO-CTOP Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis System hooks up to a kitchen or bathroom faucet using a diverter valve. The setup is very simple, but you need to have a standard-sized faucet.

Once installed, you can enjoy the 4-stage filtration process:

  1. Filtration stage 1 uses a 5-micron polypropylene sediment pre-filter to remove larger particles like rust, protecting the rest of the system from clogging.
  2. 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 organic chemicals commonly found in our water supplies.
  3. Stage 3 is the most important. Here the semipermeable reverse osmosis membrane comes into play. It’s a Dow FILMTEC model rated at 90 gallons per day that achieves a TDS rejection rate of up to 98-99%. Simply put, it does the bulk of the contaminant removal even blocking bacteria and viruses.
  4. The fourth stage features another coconut shell granular activated carbon filter. This is to remove any residual tastes. If you want, you can substitute this stage with a remineralization filter that automatically adds calcium carbonate to the water for better taste and a more balanced pH (alkaline water). This will turn the APEC RO-CTOP into the APEC RO-CTOP-PH. Or, if you already own the APEC RO-CTOP you could purchase the calcite remineralization filter separately.

All in all, the APEC RO-CTOP Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis System removes all those contaminants typically removed by a home RO system, which will make your water much healthier and safer to consume.

By the way, another optional upgrade is a silver aluminum case for better looks which makes a lot of sense considering that the system sits on your countertop all day. It makes much less of an eye sore.

You can expect about 3 gallons of purified water per hour, depending on feed water condition and pressure.

Filter life is 6 months to 3 years at around $115-130 in annual replacement cost.

Manufacturer warranty: 1 year (limited).

APEC Water Systems RO-CTOP Pros

For us, the main reason to buy a countertop RO system instead of a regular under sink unit is that no installation is required. You just plug and play, or drink we should say. This makes any version of the APEC RO-CTOP great for anyone who cannot make permanent changes to the plumbing system or where there is not enough space for a large holding tank. Just keep in mind that, although the system comes with a bunch of adapters, it only works with standard faucets with a removable aerator.

We also like the compact and lightweight design for high portability. The system weighs only 7 lbs. Do you like to travel?

More pros:

  • Okay pricing. Annual maintenance costs are reasonable, too.
  • Diverter allows you to switch between filtered and unfiltered water without the need to disconnect the system.
  • Only BPA-free materials used.
  • Filters are Made in USA.
  • Quick-connect fittings allow for fast filter replacements.
  • Adapter kit included.

What Contaminants Are Being Removed?

As an RO system with typical pre and post-filtration, the APEC RO-CTOP removes the following:

  • Dust
  • Rust
  • Particles
  • Chlorine
  • VOCs
  • Pesticides
  • PFAS
  • Arsenic
  • Lead
  • Fluoride
  • Chromium-6
  • Radium
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Nitrate
  • Sulfate
  • And more

However, we miss a performance data sheet with specific reduction rates.

APEC RO-CTOP Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis System

The APEC RO-CTOP – learn more on


The APEC RO-CTOP literally hooks up in less than 2 minutes and without making any permanent plumbing changes – easy! Faucet adapters are included in the package.

Then, all you need to do is flush the membrane and filters for 10-15 minutes before first use and you are good to go. Here’s the process in greater detail:

Please consider these instructions as a general guideline. Always make sure to check and follow your user manual before getting started.
  1. Remove the aerator from your faucet, if it has one.
  2. Hook up the right adapter to the faucet if needed.
  3. Turn on the faucet. You should see water coming out of the bottom of the diverter head.
  4. Turn the black knob on the diverter head clockwise to redirect water towards the RO system. Likewise, turn it counterclockwise to shut off water to the unit.
  5. Take the red cap off the end of the pure water output tubing and place it in your water container.
  6. Wastewater will go down the brine outlet on the diverter head.
  7. Turn on the system and keep it running for 10-15 minutes priming the filters.

The Package (Parts)

  • APEC RO-CTOP Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis System
  • Adapter Kit


The quick connect fittings allow for fast filter changes. Here’s 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.

The whole process is also explained in the manual in great detail.

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

How often do filters need to be replaced?

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

Cost? We estimate around $115-130 per year which is okay.

By the way, the filters and membrane have the industry standard size of 10”, meaning you can switch to cheaper off-brand models if need be.


Here is a link to the official manual:

NSF and Other Certifications

There are no NSF or other certifications.

Earlier Product Versions

We couldn’t find any earlier product versions.

APEC Countertop RO Cons

Our main issue with the APEC RO-CTOP is that the tubing to and from the filters/system is prone to leaking. For some people it became brittle after several weeks of use, while for others the tubing burst open or blew off completely.

Above that, we would have preferred testing or certifications against NSF standards. There are no specific contaminant reduction rates either. Granted, this is an RO so filtration of most contaminants will be highly effective, but we still would have appreciated more data.

Also, there’s no dispenser. Water exits the unit via a small tube which is not the most elegant solution.

More cons:

  • Only produces around 3 gallons of water per hour – or 0.05 gpm. This is normal for a system without a pump, but is very slow overall. Also, because there is no storage tank, it’s probably best if you fill a large container for later use.
  • Recovery rate of just 15% according to the manufacturer – this means that 85% of your input water is wasted.
  • Requires a direct faucet connection, but can only fit standard faucets. If you have a special faucet, you’re out of luck.
  • Filters occasionally arrive cracked.

APEC RO-CTOP Review: Our Verdict + Best for

The APEC RO-CTOP countertop reverse osmosis water filter system is easy to install, use, and maintain, it’s great for on the go and small apartments, and it provides great-tasting water – the majority of people compliment the pristine flavor.

For what you get, the price is okay, and the maintenance costs are affordable. You get a good combination of pre and post-filter stages, leading to effective filtration. We would have appreciated specific contaminant reduction rates though. The system is fast to install, but only if you have a standard faucet. Other than that, it’s slow and wastes a lot of water. Given that there are alternatives that have none of these issues, 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The APEC RO-CTOP is best for people looking for a compact RO water filter to put on their countertop at home or use on the go.

Our Rating in Detail:

  • Filtration Performance: 3.5/5.0
  • Filter Capacity (Life): 5.0/5.0
  • Purchase Price: 4.0/5.0
  • Annual Cost: 5.0/5.0
  • Overall: 3.5/5.0

Comparison to Other Reverse Osmosis Systems

Need an alternative? We recommend starting with the AquaTru and SimPure Y7P-BW.

AquaTru Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System


Price: $$$
Filter Stages: 4
Water: 1 Gallon in 10-15 Minutes
NSF: 42, 53, 58, 401, P473
Annually: ~$100-120

Overall Rating: 4.5/5.0 ⓘRating based on filtration performance, filter life, price and yearly cost, NSF testing/certification, customer support, product warranty, our testing/experience, user feedback, and other factors.

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SimPure Y7P-BW Reverse Osmosis Countertop Water Filter

SimPure Y7P-BW

Price: $$
Filter Stages: 4
Flow Rate: 0.1 gpm
NSF: 58
Annually: $120

Overall Rating: 4.5/5.0 ⓘRating based on filtration performance, filter life, price and yearly cost, NSF testing/certification, customer support, product warranty, our testing/experience, user feedback, and other factors.

Get 20% Off! Use Code: SPY7P

APEC RO-CTOP Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis System


Price: $$
Filter Stages: 4
Flow Rate: 0.05 gpm
Annually: ~$115-130

Overall Rating: 3.5/5.0 ⓘRating based on filtration performance, filter life, price and yearly cost, NSF testing/certification, customer support, product warranty, our testing/experience, user feedback, and other factors.

The AquaTru is an especially solid model all around, with 5 NSF/ANSI certifications – more than many other products on the market, and certainly far better than the APEC RO-CTOP. The 4-stage filtration process has been extensively tested by independent parties, and the device carries standards 42, 53, 58, 401, and P473. Some of the nearly 80 contaminants certified for reduction include:

  • Chlorine: 96.6%
  • VOCs: 95% – 99%+
  • Chromium-6: 97.2%
  • TDS: 87.1%
  • Cyst: 99.99%
  • Fluoride: 93.5%
  • Lead: 99.1%
  • Radium 226/228: 96.4%
  • BPA: 99%
  • Several trace pharmaceuticals and pesticides: 86.7% – 96.6%
  • PFOA, PFOS: 97.5%

The system is installation-free and especially great for homeowners with limited space, as its design is easy to fit into small spaces. It also works very fast, and only wastes 20% of the feed water – far better than the APEC – thanks to the internal pump. The entire model is made of BPA and BPS-free Tritan plastic, and it’s very easy to maintain. You don’t even need any special tools to replace a filter cartridge, and you’ll know exactly when it’s time to do that thanks to the built-in indicator light.

The AquaTru will cost you around $120 per year in maintenance, and is covered by a 1-year limited warranty. As long as you don’t mind the occasional leaking issues and the very small chance of your device breaking down a few months after its purchase, this is a solid choice all around.

The SimPure Y7P-BW is another great option, and a better one than the AquaTru for those looking to spend less. You also get a somewhat more aesthetically pleasing visual design. This model uses a 4-stage filtration process as well, but it also includes a UV light which the other models in this article don’t have. It’s been tested against NSF 58, although there are no official certificates. It can target these contaminants, among others:

  • Chlorine: 99.45%
  • Lead: 98.46%
  • Chromium-6: 99.28%
  • Arsenic: 99.65%
  • Nitrate: 96.26%
  • PFOA: 98.75%
  • PFOS: 98.30%
  • TDS: 98.64%
  • Turbidity: 99.47%
  • Total coliforms: 99.99%

It’s also worth noting that the SimPure Y7P-BW works quite fast, and is very efficient – it only wastes 20% of the input water like the AquaTru. It’s pretty simple to set up and use (installation-free), and even comes with special dispensing modes for different cup sizes, including 6 oz, 12 oz, 15 oz, or a continuous flow. No BPA materials have been used in the construction, and filters last for around 6 months (or 528 gallons of water). It will cost you about $120 per year to keep this unit running, so around the same as the AquaTru and APEC RO-CTOP. Your purchase is covered by a 1-year warranty.

Bottom line: The AquaTru is our favorite because it’s thoroughly tested and NSF-certified for contaminant reduction. The SimPure Y7P-BW is better suited for people on a budget, though. We would only go with the APEC RO-CTOP if portability is a priority.

This completes our review of the APEC RO-CTOP Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis System. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

About the Author Alexandra Uta

Alex is a content writer with an affinity for research and a methodical attention to detail. Since 2020, she has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Alex has been using water filters and similar products for years which has gained her lots of hands-on experience.
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