6 Best Countertop Reverse Osmosis Systems (*Update 2023)
Written by: Alexandra Uta // Last Updated: Aug 4, 2023
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The best countertop reverse osmosis system in 2023 is the AquaTru, that’s because it is NSF-certified to remove 80+ water contaminants, installation-free, fast, water-saving, easy and affordable to maintain, and it has a long filter life of up to 1,200 gallons.
Finding the perfect countertop reverse osmosis system for your needs can be a daunting task, considering the multitude of good and bad options available.
That’s why our team has invested countless hours in researching and reviewing over 26 of the leading countertop RO systems since our buying guide’s initial publication on August 24, 2018.
Through rigorous evaluation, testing, comparison, and ranking of these products, as well as continuous updates and edits to our guide, our aim is to provide you with the necessary information to make an informed purchasing decision.
Currently, our evaluation process for countertop reverse osmosis systems is mostly based on these key factors: NSF-based contamination removal rates (30%), affordability (includes maintenance cost) (25%), direct testing and third-party user ratings (20%), filter capacity (15%), product warranty and support (10%).
1. Best Countertop Reverse Osmosis System: AquaTru (Including Coupon Code!)
In our opinion, the best countertop reverse osmosis system in 2023 is the AquaTru. It’s independently tested and NSF certified against 5 standards (42, 53, 58, 401, P473) to remove up to 99.99% of 82 different water contaminants. In other words, it provides highly pure, safe, and great-tasting drinking water.
But the best thing about the AquaTru countertop RO system is that it’s a plug & play model that doesn’t require any kind of installation/plumbing – ideal for renters and to save money. On top of that, maintenance is a breeze and super low-cost. 4.5 stars!
The 3-part filtration system is quite impressive. It really removes everything out of the water. As far as water filtration systems go this will be a very high quality option for you. (…) Overall my review of this system is going to be a 4.5 out of 5.
Alexa Gibbons – BOS Video Content Creator
Last Price: $449.00
Filter Process: Sediment/Carbon, RO, Carbon Block
Recovery Rate: 80%
Filtering Capacity: 600-1,200 Gallons
Water Temperature: 39-100 °F
Operating Pressure: 40-85 psi
Warranty: 1 Year
Key Features & Pros
Countertop reverse osmosis water filtration system can be set up in less than 10 minutes without plumbing or drilling for maximum convenience.
It’s very easy to use and space-saving.
NSF certification standards 42, 53, 58, 401 and protocol P473 guarantee the most effective contaminant removal for healthy and clean drinking water, e.g. chromium-6 (97.2%), cyst (99.99%), fluoride (93.5%), lead (99.1%), chlorine (96.6%), Ibuprofen (95.1%), Bisphenol A (99.0%), PFOA & PFOS (97.5%), VOCs (most >99%).
4 stage filtration process:
Stage 1 + 2: Mechanical + activated coconut shell carbon pre-filter traps sediment like dust and other large particles, and adsorbs chemicals and bad taste & odor among other things.
Stage 3: RO membrane rejects impurities like fluoride, heavy metals, and overall TDS.
2. The Runner-Up: SimPure Y7P-BW Reverse Osmosis Countertop Water Filter
Our second most favorite countertop reverse osmosis system is the SimPure Y7P-BW. It’s arguably the best looking unit that is part of this guide, which isn’t to be neglected when talking about RO systems designed for countertops.
Besides, the SimPure Y7P-BW is installation-free, it features built-in UV disinfection, and thanks to its circular multi-filtration process, it has one of the best pure-to-drain-water ratios (4:1). Comprehensive NSF 58 testing is the cherry on top. Highly recommended!
SimPure Y7P-BW Reverse Osmosis Countertop Water Filter
Compact and stylish design makes the Y7P-BW great for home and office use.
System has 3 filters:
Sediment and carbon composite filter catches floating particles like sand, silt, and other dirt. Plus, it reduces chlorine and other chemicals. This improves water taste and also protects the RO membrane.
Reverse osmosis membrane filters more than 1,000 different water impurities, most importantly lead (98.46%), arsenic (99.65%), parasites, chromium 6 (99.28%), PFOA (98.75%), PFOS (98.3%) …
UV post-filter eliminates any harmful microorganisms.
Water recycling technology lowers wastewater production. Only 1 gallon goes down the drain per 4 gallons of pure water.
Together with the AquaTru, this is the best ratio of all the systems directly compared.
Keeps your utility bill low.
NSF 58 testing.
Countertop RO system features cup size selection: Select 6 oz, 12 oz, 15 oz, or continuous flow.
No installation required. Just plug it in.
Easy to use: Simply fill the 1.3-gallon feed water tank and wait a bit.
Twist-in filter system. It makes filter replacements a breeze.
Filter replacement alerts. No need to remember date of last filter change.
Sediment + carbon block pre-filter and RO membrane last 528 gallons or 6 months.
A bit noisy when motor starts for few minutes.
Rather short filter life.
Filtration Performance: 4.5/5.0
Filter Life: 4.0/5.0
Annual Filter Replacement Cost: 5.0/5.0
The SimPure Y7P-BW is best for people who care about pure-to-drain-water ratios and a stylish design of their home water filter.
3. Best for Remineralization: Zero Installation Purifier Countertop RO Water Filtration System – AlcaPure Edition
The Zero Installation Purifier is another standalone reverse osmosis water filter that doesn’t require installation. Overall customer feedback is positive with people being most happy about the ease of use and great looks. 4 stars!
Alkaline RO Water Filtration System: Zero Installation Purifier
4. Best Portable Reverse Osmosis System: Crystal Quest Thunder
In our opinion, the best portable reverse osmosis system in 2023 is the Crystal Quest Thunder. It’s not the only countertop model that’s installation-free but it’s probably the one with the highest portability. Plus, it doesn’t require electricity so it can be a great reverse osmosis water filter system for camping if you have access to a standard-sized faucet. 4.5 stars!
Please note: The Crystal Quest Thunder misses NSF certifications with specific contaminant reduction rates which is why we prefer the AquaTru when portability is not a must!
Crystal Quest Thunder
Around 50 Gallons Per Day
Overall Rating: 4.5/5.0 ⓘRatings based on effectiveness of filtration, filter life, cost, NSF/ANSI standards, our testing, 3rd party user ratings, product support, warranty, and other factors.
Filter Process: GAC, RO, KDF, Ion Exchange, 1-Micron Filter Pads
Membrane Rating: 50 gpd
Filtering Capacity: 1-3 Years
Water Temperature: 40-85 °F
Operating Pressure: 45 psi Minimum
Warranty: 1 Year
Key Features & Pros
Made in the USA.
The Crystal Quest Thunder portable 10-stage countertop reverse osmosis water filter system is easy to install in no time – all hardware included.
Measuring 16x7x7 inches, it’s very compact and might even fit in your trunk when travelling – size is similar to the APEC Water Systems RO-CTOP (a.k.a. APEC RO-CTOP).
Produces great-tasting water.
Uses granular activated carbon (stage 2) to trap chlorine, pesticides, VOCs, bad tastes and odor, and more.
Uses RO membrane (stage 4) to reject most organic and inorganic contaminants.
Uses copper-zinc oxidation media (Eagle Redox Alloy, stage 6 + 7) to primarily reduce water-soluble heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and chromium. The blend also prevents bacterial growth inside the system.
Uses ion exchange resin (stage 8) to lower heavy metal content even further and also addresses water hardness.
Uses granular carbon post-filter (stage 9) to eliminate residual tastes.
A 1-micron filter pad before and after each filter stage blocks suspended solids and cyst.
Additional filter cartridges can be added to the countertop RO system.
Production is around 2 gallons of purified water per hour so the system is probably best used in combination with a large container to eliminate long waiting times.
The high-capacity filters keeps maintenance at a minimum.
Replacement is fast and easy thanks to quick-connect fittings.
Cost: $65-100 per year, so not much!
Customer service is great.
No data on performance or NSF certifications is provided.
Not that important with reverse osmosis systems unless you want to remove one or more specific contaminants.
Filtration Performance: 4.0/5.0
Filter Life: 5.0/5.0
Annual Filter Replacement Cost: 5.0/5.0
The Thunder is best for people who want a highly portable reverse osmosis system.
5. Best for Tankless Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment: Waterdrop G3 System
Our #1 tankless reverse osmosis system in 2023 is the Waterdrop G3. Sleek design, straightforward install, effortless filter replacements, and great water taste – people love this water filter which is not a countertop but an under sink unit. 4 stars!
My overall rating for this water filter is going to be a 3.5 out of 5. I hate to give it below of a 4, because I think that this is a great filter (…). I just had a very difficult time setting it up (…). If you have someone else do this who is very good at plumbing then you won’t even have to worry about that.
Internal pump increases pressure for 0.42 gallons per minute clean water flow.
One cup of water fills in about 8 seconds. No long waiting times!
Higher pressure also lowers the amount of waste water going down the drain to two-third of a gallon for every gallon of filtered water.
Stage 1: Composite filter (polypropylene cotton + coconut shell activated carbon block) eliminates chlorine and large solids (sediment).
Stage 2: 0.0001-micron reverse osmosis membrane rejects heavy metals, bacteria among other microorganisms, fluoride, and common contaminants such as arsenic.
Stage 3: Another activated carbon block filter removes residual chemicals and tastes.
System was designed for easy installation to save money.
Make sure to follow the provided instructions and helpful explainer videos found on YouTube.
All plastic is BPA-free to prevent contamination of the water.
Smart faucet uses built-in LED light to indicate filter status so no need to remember when to replace. White: Everything is good. Yellow: Less than 40 gallons or 15 days filtration capacity remaining. Red: Filter change required immediately.
Same indicator can be found on the system’s front panel.
TDS monitor also tells you about the condition of the filter elements.
Filters can be changed with a simple twist, no need for tools. Takes less than 10 seconds. Cost: About $145 per year.
30 days satisfaction guarantee.
1-year manufacturer warranty (only when countertop water filter is used with tap water).
Only NSF certification proving filtration effectiveness is Standard 58 for total dissolved solids. We would have preferred more thorough testing.
Some people have to drain about one gallon of water before the system reads TDS <30 ppm. We assume this to be TDS creep.
Filtration Performance: 4.0/5.0
Filter Life: 5.0/5.0
Annual Filter Replacement Cost: 4.5/5.0
The Waterdrop G3 is best for people who want a tankless RO system that doesn’t occupy much space and that’s quick to install, easy to use, and fast.
Still haven’t found the ideal countertop reverse osmosis filter for your needs? Maybe you are looking for something a bit more tiny…
The PuroSmart is probably the smallest RO system of all. You might find it useful if the number one thing you lack in your home or kitchen is space, or if you’re constantly on the move and want a basic water purification system wherever you go.
Smallest Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System: PuroSmart
Up to 50 Gallons a Day
Overall Rating: 3.0/5.0 ⓘRatings based on effectiveness of filtration, filter life, cost, NSF/ANSI standards, our testing, 3rd party user ratings, product support, warranty, and other factors.
The PuroSmart is easily the most compact countertop reverse osmosis water filter system we’ve ever seen. Length: 8.25 inches.
It’s convenient to use and there’s no permanent installation required. Simply replace your kitchen faucet aerator with the diverter valve included in the package. Then mount the unit on the plastic stand and make the tubing connections. From now on you can enjoy clean and refreshing reverse osmosis drinking water straight from the tap!
A mini carbon block pre-filter removes chlorine. Capacity: 400 gallons or 3 months filter life.
The RO membrane does its thing reducing TDS.
Produces up to 50 gallons of purified water per day at 60 psi feed pressure, according to manufacturer.
Comes with a limited warranty (one year).
We wouldn’t rely on this reverse osmosis water filtration system to produce water 100 percent safe for consumption.
The PuroSmart is more expensive that you’d think, both at initial purchase and when replacing the filter elements. Annual cost: About $80.
We doubt that you’ll get 50 gallons of RO water out of this unit per day.
Filtration Performance: 3.0/5.0
Filter Life: 3.5/5.0
Annual Filter Replacement Cost: 3.5/5.0
The PuroSmart is best if you want a reverse osmosis filter system that’s incredibly small.
One of the Top Reverse Osmosis Water Filters, No Installation Required
Crystal Quest Thunder RO Filter
Granular Activated Carbon, RO, KDF, Ion Exchange, 1-Micron Filter Pads
Up to 50 Gallons of Drinking Water Per Day
5-Stage RO Water System Removes Up to 99 of Contaminants Including Lead, Long-Lasting Filter Life
Waterdrop WD-G3-W Reverse Osmosis Filter
Sediment + Carbon Composite, RO, Carbon Block
High Quality, for Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Reduction from Tap Water, Easy Installation
PuroSmart RO Filter
Carbon Block, RO
Up to 50 Gallons of Drinking Water Per Day
Buying Guide: How We Picked the Best Countertop RO Systems + What You Need to Consider
The following are things worth considering before you go out and buy a countertop reverse osmosis water filter. These are also the very same criteria we focused on when picking our top products for this guide.
As a general rule, countertop water filters fit standard kitchen faucets only. Yes, there are adapters for bathroom taps and garden hoses etc., but if you are using a designer, pull-down, or sprinkler faucet that’s bad luck!
In any case, double-check that the faucet in question allows for a standard hose connection. If not, try to find a compatible adapter. By the way, most reverse osmosis countertop systems are shipped with a few adapters to try out.
We like to rely on certifications according to NSF standards. They guarantee that a certain water filter model or system is capable of removing/reducing a considerable amount of potentially harmful contaminants in water in addition to those affecting aesthetics.
Searching for the best countertop reverse osmosis water filter system, you should look out for NSF Standard 42 for water aesthetics, Standard 53 for contaminants with health effects, Standard 58 for further substances, Standard 401 for emerging contaminants, and NSF Protocol P473 specifically for the reduction of PFOA and PFOS.
Some of the standards also cover a product’s material safety and structural integrity.
Water Pressure & Wastewater
Reverse osmosis water filters without a built-in pressure pump rely entirely on the water pressure in your home’s pipes to force water through their different filter stages. This has the benefit that no extra power supply is needed.
What might come in handy on a camping trip can be an issue if the water pressure in your home is too low. Because low water pressure not only results in a slow flow rate, it also increases the amount of wastewater going down the drain.
To be more precise, the filtered to drain water ratio declines: Under normal conditions and without applying a pump, reverse osmosis systems waste 2 to 4 gallons of water for every gallon that you can drink or use otherwise. In cases of extremely low pressure, this ratio can increase to 1:6 or even 1:8.
Most RO systems tend to perform best at around 65 psi. Anything less than 35 psi is considered insufficient.
Simply put, RO systems producing water on demand should have a high enough flow rate to avoid long waiting times.
Countertop/portable reverse osmosis water filters are low in maintenance, so no need to worry about that. What you should pay attention to, however, is maintenance cost.
While some units are more expensive to purchase, they might be cheaper to maintain, and vice versa. So don’t forget to check the cost, capacity & longevity, and availability of replacement filter elements. (Of course, that’s exactly what we did with each product reviewed above!)
Do yourself a favor and don’t choose the ugliest system if it’s going to sit on the top of your counter for the next 5 to 10 years.
Methodology: Why Trust Us?
Our methodology for reviewing countertop reverse osmosis systems involved several steps:
We created a list of 19 criteria to evaluate all products against, based on our experience and research.
We compiled a list of over 26 countertop RO models available online.
We thoroughly examined product manuals, descriptions, third-party certifications (NSF and other), and warranties. We also conducted interviews with several brands (like Waterdrop, NU Aqua, Aquasana, Home Master, AquaTru) to assess their support level. Through this process, we narrowed down our list to 16 systems.
To ensure we included only the best, we checked for feedback and ratings from real users on various platforms, while rejecting any fake reviews.
After these steps, we were left with 8 products, which we ordered and installed to gain hands-on experience. We evaluated each filter from multiple angles, including ease of installation/maintenance and water taste and odor, and allowed them to operate for at least 2 weeks.
We conducted our own lab testing using a service called Tap Score to measure real-life contaminant reduction rates.
Finally, we analyzed all the gathered information, converting technical specifications into easy-to-understand insights, and presented everything in a pros vs cons format.
It is important to note that all the information and ratings presented in our review are independent and unbiased. We also have professionals fact-checking our content for accuracy.
More on Countertop and Portable Reverse Osmosis Systems
Simply put, a countertop (counter-top) reverse osmosis system is a device for filtering water, making it ready for drinking. As the name suggests, countertop RO systems rely on reverse osmosis treatment technology to remove up to 99% water contaminants including lead, chlorine, fluoride, chromium, microorganisms, chemicals, and much more. In other words, they are highly, highly effective.
Apart from reverse osmosis filters that sit on the countertop, there’re under sink units and whole house systems.
Countertop models are either standalone or they connect to a faucet. Furthermore, we can differentiate between systems producing water on demand and those featuring a tank to store the purified water in.
Pure water flow: Anywhere between 2 to 6 gallons per hour.
How Does a Countertop RO Water Filter Work?
Countertop reverse osmosis water filtration systems are either fed through a faucet connection or they have a feed water tank that requires manual refilling. Once in the system, the water goes through several filtration stages – the specific setup varies from model to model – before it’s ready for dispensing. Here’s what a typical reverse osmosis process looks like:
The first filter stage is usually a sediment pre-filter. It protects the rest of the system from clogging.
Next comes an activated carbon filter, either granular or block. The carbon adsorbs chlorine, bad taste and odor, VOCs as well as other chemicals, and discoloration.
At the heart of the countertop water filter is the reverse osmosis membrane which rejects 98-99% of all total dissolved solids. It does the bulk of the contaminant removal.
A second coconut shell GAC stage filters residual tastes.
Some water filtration systems make use of remineralization. It releases calcium and magnesium and possibly other minerals into the water which improves overall water quality.
Reasons to Invest in a Water Filtration System: Advantages (& Limitations)
Reverse osmosis water filtration is a tried and tested technology. It removes up to 99.99% of hundreds of different contaminants that could be present in your water supply giving you access to safe and healthy reverse osmosis drinking water.
Filtration speed is solid.
Setting up a countertop RO unit takes no more than a few minutes and doesn’t involve plumbing or drilling. The non-permanent installation is great if you’re a renter.
RO filter system maintenance is nice and easy, and affordable!
All countertop reverse osmosis water filter systems are compact. And some are even suited for travelling.
Reverse osmosis doesn’t rely on electricity. All you need is a standard-sized faucet with enough water pressure.
Units fit standard kitchen faucets only.
Some people don’t like the taste of RO water.
Reverse osmosis produces wastewater.
RO water lacks minerals. You can use a remineralization filter to solve this!
Small, Compact & Portable – Perfect for Camping?
In our opinion, portable countertop reverse osmosis water purifiers are perfect for camping, since they’re small and compact.
Now you might be thinking, why would I use a water filter when I’m in the great outdoors? I can either bring bottled water or drink the water Mother Nature provides. Yeah, well…
Natural and man-made water contamination does not stop at creeks, ponds, lakes or any other surface or groundwater source.
So remember: Whenever you go on a camping trip and there’s a standard-sized faucet, always bring your portable RO filter system.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is reverse osmosis worth it?
Definitely. Reverse osmosis water filtration provides exceptionally pure water.
Do I need reverse osmosis if I have a whole house filter?
Most whole house water filters aren’t effective enough to provide water that’s safe to drink. A reverse osmosis water filter system makes a great addition.
And keep in mind: We’ll add new countertop reverse osmosis water filter reviews occasionally. So come back for more!
About the Author Alexandra Uta
Alex is a content writer with an affinity for research and a methodical attention to detail. Her writing interests have included many different topics, water treatment among them, which have encompassed varying writing styles.
Learn more about Alex and the rest of the BOS Team.