Countertop reverse osmosis systems provide far better filtration than regular countertop water filters removing up to 99% of all contaminants that your water might contain.
Admittedly, compared to the majority of RO under sink units they feature less filtration stages, however, they also don’t come with the hassles that are involved with their installation, such as making a drain line connection. With countertop filter systems, all you usually have to do is hook them up to a faucet (takes 5 minutes max). This is what makes them perfect for renters that can’t make permanent changes to the plumbing system.
Above that, about 90% of all models on the market are tankless. They deliver healthy and great-tasting water on demand requiring only little space on your countertop – ideal for people living in small homes as well as students and travelers that are always on the move and want a highly portable water filter system to take with them.
Sounds great? Then let’s find you the best countertop reverse osmosis system out there!
On This Page You Will…
|Model||Our Rating||Price||Filter Stages||Gallon Rating||Recovery Rate|
Best Selling System: AquaTru 4-Stage
|$$$||4||¾ Gallon Per Cycle||75%|
Best Rated: APEC Portable RO-CTOP-C
Top Alkaline Filter: Zero Installation Purifier – ZIP
|$$$$||4||½ Gallon Per Cycle||50%|
Smallest RO System: PuroSmart
Lowest Price: POQ-4B-50 By PureWaterClub
No Green Light For: Crystal Quest
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 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.
Apart from number 1 and 2, all systems reviewed on this page work solely based on water pressure. The benefit is that no extra power supply is needed which comes in handy if you like to go camping for example.
The downside is that if the pressure in your home – or wherever you want to use your RO countertop system – is low, you get a slower flow rate resulting in less water output per day.
And in addition to that, the filtered to drain water ratio worsens. Under normal conditions and without applying a booster pump, a reverse osmosis system might waste 2 to 3 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.
As an aside, most systems tend to perform best at around 65 psi. Anything less than 35 psi is considered insufficient.
We like to rely on certifications according to NSF standards that guarantee that a certain filter or system is capable of removing/reducing a considerable amount of potentially harmful contaminants in water and those that alter its taste, smell and looks.
Searching for the best countertop reverse osmosis water filter, you should look out for NSF Standard 42 for water aesthetics, Standard 53 for contaminants with health effects, Standard 58 for further substances and a product’s material safety and structural integrity, and Standard 401 for emerging contaminants.
Filter systems that produce water on demand should have a high enough flow rate to avoid long waiting times.
RO countertop filters are low in maintenance, so there’s no reason to worry about that. What you should pay attention to, however, are maintenance costs.
While some units are more expensive to purchase, they might be cheaper to maintain and vice versa. So don’t forget to check the costs, longevity and availability of replacement filter elements – of course, that’s exactly what we did with each product below. (→ Check the Tables!)
Do yourself a favor and don’t choose the ugliest system of all if it is going to sit on your countertop for the next 5 to 10 years.
Why not start our countertop reverse osmosis system reviews with one of the most popular products on the market – the compact AquaTru 4-stage.
Like most other products in this category, the AquaTru can be set up within a couple of minutes. And as long as the 1-gallon feed water tank isn’t empty, the system works fully automatic for maximum convenience.
The separate 3-quart clean water tank might be a bit small, but fills in about 12-15 minutes to ensure that there always is filtered drinking water ready for dispensing whenever you are thirsty.
Speaking of filtered water, this system was tested and certified against NSF standards 42, 53, 58 and 401 for optimum contaminant removal and to guarantee safety for your health. Some of the reduction rates are:
The filtration process is made up of a combined sediment and carbon pre-filter that traps larger particles like rust and dirt and a bunch of chemicals, most importantly chlorine and chloramine. This not only greatly improves how your water taste and smells, it also helps to protect the RO membrane at the next stage from clogging.
At stage 4, a carbon block post-filter eliminates residual contaminants such as pesticides, industrial pollutants and disinfection byproducts.
Annual maintenance costs: About $75.00 at average usage which is okay. By the way, changing filters is a breeze and can be done with a simple twist.
Last but not least, thanks to the built-in pressure pump (don’t worry it’s quite), the filtered to wasted water ratio with this system is 3:1. In other words, only ¼ of the input water goes down the drain, which is much better than what you get with at least 95% of the other countertop RO purifiers – great to keep your water bill down!
We read about leaks due to a few design flaws.
And there have been issues where units simply quit working after a couple of months use. Troubleshooting according to the manual did not help in most cases.
Mind you, this only happened to a relatively small proportion of users, but if this is something you absolutely don’t want to deal with, we recommend you opt for a different product.
Also, in our opinion there should be a longer return policy, not just the 30 days. And the fact that the customer service can be hard to reach isn’t helpful either.
It’s not a surprise that this is one of the best selling RO countertop systems on Amazon. We have 4 NSF certifications and excellent water usage. Quite pricy, but definitely worthwhile. 4 stars!
The Zero Installation Purifier, short ZIP, sold by PuricomUSA comes in 2 different stylish finishes for you to choose from: Silver White and Space Black.
It’s another standalone countertop reverse osmosis system that fits nicely on a kitchen counter or anywhere else really and does not require any sort of installation/assembling prior to use.
All you have to do is manually fill up the bottom container with water from your tap and push the start button. After a mere 10 to 15 minutes the top container will be filled with .5 gallons of pure H2O (system uses booster pump).
4 stages of filtration remove up to 99% of impurities including heavy metals, microbes, organic contaminants from agricultural runoff, fluoride – you name it.
On a side note: Stage 4 is a bit special. It’s an alkaline post-filter that remineralizes your water with calcium and magnesium for better taste and higher pH. This is also why measuring TDS doesn’t make sense here.
The recovery rate is 50%, so for every gallon of filtered water, 1 gallon goes down the drain as wastewater. This sounds like a lot, but in the realm of reverse osmosis filtration it’s not. Most RO systems perform much worse.
As far as maintenance is concerned, the system is easy to clean and the twist on/off filters can be replaced in no time. The only tool you will need is a screwdriver. If you still have difficulties, make sure to check out the helpful video tutorial on the company’s website.
We couldn’t find any NSF certifications. And again, both water containers are made from plastic (BPA-free).
The ZIP is a bit pricey but good. Our verdict: 4 Stars!
APEC’s RO-CTOP-C is a lightweight countertop reverse osmosis water filter system that directly connects to your kitchen faucet (as long as it’s a standard model and not one of those fancy designer or pull out thingies).
The setup takes a couple of minutes at max. Water is produced on demand. This makes the tankless system highly portable and ideal for renters, travelers and RV enthusiasts.
What about the filtration?
First of all, all filters are standard-sized (10″) and made in the USA.
All in all, the maximum filtration capacity is 90 GPD, which is much more than even a family of 6 requires for regular use.
A handful of customers have complained about issues with leaking hoses. Others had problems with tubing that became brittle and cracked after a few months use.
On top of that, APEC does not provide specific contaminant reduction rates.
Small, super easy to set up and use, and cheaper than the AquaTru and ZIP. These are some of the reasons why we highly recommend the APEC RO-CTOP-C as the best portable reverse osmosis system.
Did we mention the outstanding customer feedback?
For even more details, read our full review here.
You might be wondering where the difference is between APEC’s RO-CTOP-C which we just reviewed above and the alkaline mineral RO-CTOP-PHC. Good question! Here is the answer:
There is none. No, just kidding. There is one minor distinction and that is filter stage 4.
Like we said, with the RO-CTOP-C you get a regular carbon post-filter.
The RO-CTOP-PHC on the other hand features a remineralization stage that adds food-grade calcium carbonate to your water. The goal here is to improve alkalinity and taste – and it works!
But remember that the calcium will show up as added TDS on your water meter.
Please note: In our opinion, measuring TDS is not a good way to determine water quality.
Reverse Osmosis Revolution offers 2 compact and portable countertop RO water filter systems that caught our attention:
Both are U.S. built and fit more or less all standard kitchen taps and even 50% of pull-down faucets.
By the way, if you require a special connector, make sure to contact the seller and he will ship it to you for free. This also goes for bathroom faucets.
What’s more, the setup itself couldn’t be easier – no tools required.
Let’s take a closer look at each system individually. First, we are going to review the Universal 5-stage model:
Most importantly, its priced well below of what you have to pay for other countertop systems.
As you can already tell, it uses 5-stages of filtration to achieve ultra-high purity. How? Apart from the standard sediment and carbon filters that remove dust, rust, chlorine, chloramine and other undesirable substances to improve water aesthetics & quality and increase the system’s overall lifespan, a deionizing filter reduces TDS down to 0-2 ppm.
At stage 3, the RO membrane itself comes into play. Rated at 75 gallons per day, you can easily fill a large pitcher in 15 minutes and thereby avoid long waiting times.
As for the Premium Heavy Duty 6-stage, this system was designed for hard water – okay, let’s rephrase that, hardER water. There is a softening stage built into it that removes different hardness minerals.
Also, a special carbon filter removes heavy metals.
And lastly, we have an alkaline filter to increase water pH. According to Reverse Osmosis Revolution, this is “supposed to aid in the detoxification process of the human body“. However, there is still a lack of scientific evidence to support this claim.
5 vs. 6 stages of filtration, you can probably already imagine that the latter comes at a higher price tag.
Here is what we don’t like:
You get what you pay for. Sometimes that means that you have to make compromises on quality.
Still haven’t found the best countertop reverse osmosis water filter for your needs? Maybe you are looking for something more tiny…
Now this is easily the smallest and most compact RO countertop water filter system we’ve ever seen.
What we also like about the PuroSmart is that it’s so convenient to use and does not require permanent installation. Simply replace your kitchen faucet aerator with the diverter valve that is included in the package. Then mount the unit on the plastic stand and make the tubing connections. Done!
From now on you can enjoy clean and refreshing drinking water right from the tap.
How is the quality? Well, a mini carbon block pre-filter removes sediment, chlorine and taste and odors, while the reverse osmosis membrane does its thing reducing TDS.
We wouldn’t rely on this system to produce drinking water 100 percent safe for consumption though.
The PuroSmart is more expensive that you’d think, both at initial purchase and when replacing the filter elements.
Also, a filtration capacity of 50 gallons per day? The value might represent what the RO membrane is rated at, but we doubt that this small machine can really provide that much water within 24 hours.
Go with the PuroSmart if the number one thing you lack in your kitchen is space or if you are always on the move and want a basic RO purification system wherever you go.
The HydroLogic 31026 might not have the best and most creative name, therefore it shines with a quality build and even more importantly a modest price.
Once hooked up to your kitchen faucet, the compact system uses a special carbon/KDF (Kinetic Degradation Fluxion) pre-filter to reduce iron, hydrogen sulfide and chemicals like chlorine and chloramine.
The reverse osmosis membrane is rated at 75 gpd which is perfectly adequate for everyday use. Filtered to drain water ratio: About 2:1 which is up to standards.
Above that, an integrated pressure gauge that tells you when it’s time to change filters, a metal bracket for stability and wall mounting, and an automatic shut-off valve are included in delivery.
In addition, you also get a free garden hose connector for outdoor use.
The instructions could use some work.
NSF certifications that guarantee water safety? Nope.
The HydroLogic may not be our favorite countertop RO system, but it does its job providing clean drinking water, while not wasting a whole lot of resources doing so. Thus 4 stars!
Our final two contestants competing for the title Best Countertop Reverse Osmosis System are the POQ-4B-50 and the POQ-4B-100 by DM AQUA INC. based in Rowland Heights, CA.
Let’s start by reviewing the POQ-4B-50:
As with all other countertop units on this page, this one too is easy to install with all kinds of adapters being offered by the seller (not free of charge).
The system features a 4-stage filtering process with 2 standard pre-filters, 1 RO membrane and one deionization filter to reduce TDS.
FYI: DI water is mainly used to fill reef/fish tanks or for hydroponic setups. Although it’s safe to drink, not everyone likes the taste of it. Therefore, the seller recommends to add an additional carbon post-filter after the DI stage.
At 65 PSI the system delivers 2 gallons of purified water per hour or 50 gallons a day.
It turns out that the only difference between the POQ-4B-50 and the POQ-4B-100 is the RO membrane that is rated at 100 gpd with the latter.
So basically, if you require more water than the POQ-4B-50 can provide, you want to opt for the POQ-4B-100.
Obviously we keep repeating ourselves, but yet again we miss NSF certifications and exact contaminant reduction rates.
What’s more, DM AQUA INC.’s customer service is unresponsive at times and does not even accept phone calls, which is particularly bad if you are one of the unlucky people that receive a leaking system or that have pieces missing or damaged.
The poor instructions aren’t helping either. And in case you want to return the item, you have to pay a restocking fee.
As for the DI filter, it does not necessarily produce water that reads 0 ppm in TDS. We saw reports saying 3-5 or 7ppm but only in the beginning. The value keeps climbing continuously. In other words, in order to stay close to 0 ppm, the filter must be replaced very frequently, which adds to the costs.
Simply put, the price for the POQ-4B-50 or POQ-4B-100 is unbeatable making it a sound option for folks who want a good price-performance ratio. Just don’t expect a 300$ unit here.
More on Countertop RO Filter Systems
In the introduction we said that you can connect almost any countertop filter system to a standard kitchen faucet within minutes.
Instead of describing the process step-by-step, we thought, why not insert a quick video to show you:
What makes countertop reverse osmosis water purifiers perfect for camping is the fact that they are small, compact and usually tankless a.k.a. easily portable.
Now you might be thinking, why would I have to use a water filter when I’m outdoors? I can either bring bottled water or I drink the water that mother nature provides me with.
Yeah not really, because…
So remember, whenever you go on a camping trip and there is a standard water supply, always take your portable RO filter system with you.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
And don’t forget to come back to this page from time to time, as we are going to add new countertop reverse osmosis water filter reviews occasionally.