The Best Countertop Water Filters of 2021: Reviews & Buying Guide
Written by: Tim Stanley // Last Updated:
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A countertop water filter gives you access to clean water right at your kitchen sink.
Installation is quick and easy without the need for tools and no plumbing involved – perfect for any rental home or temporary living space, but also small apartments where an under sink installation is just not possible.
What’s more, countertop water filters are portable, convenient to use, and provide a good balance between filtration performance and price.
How to find the best countertop water filter? Well, you came to the right place!
1. Our Number One Countertop Water Filter System: AquaTru (Including Coupon Code!)
In our opinion, the best countertop water filter in 2021 is the AquaTru, for 2 reasons:
It has been tested and certified by independent laboratories against 5 NSF/ANSI standards – 42, 53, 58, 401, and protocol P473 – to remove up to 99 percent of 82 different contaminants from water. Simply put, the AquaTru produces drinking water that is clean, safe, and great-tasting.
Setting up the standalone system doesn’t involve plumbing which is perfect if you’re a renter or if you aren’t handy with tools and don’t have the budget to hire a professional installer.
Bottom line: 4.5 stars!
Make sure to use our discount code BOSAquaTru at checkout and get 5% OFF!
AquaTru Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System
Compact system saves space on your kitchen countertop.
Very easy to use.
Combines 4 filter stages:
Stage 1 and 2 is a sediment filter and an coconut shell activated carbon filter at the same time. The cartridge traps large sediments and adsorbs chlorine taste and odor, harmful chemicals, VOCs, and other things.
The third filtration stage is a reverse osmosis membrane. It rejects more or less all impurities still in the water at this point.
Lastly, an activated carbon block post-filter eliminates pesticides, residual tastes, etc.
AquaTru RO water filter system is NSF certified against standards 42, 53, 58, 401, and P473.
Some reduction rates as found in the official lab reports: Chromium 6 (97.2%), fluoride (93.5%), lead (99.1%), chlorine (96.6%), radium 226/228 (96.4%), cyst (99.99%), PFOA & PFOS (97.5%), VOCs (most over >99%), BPA (99.0%), Total Dissolved Solids (87.1%).
4 consecutive filters remove up to 99 percent of contaminants in your water, plus healthy minerals (calcium and magnesium) which were lost during the purification process are added back into the water. The latter not only improves taste, it also balances water pH. What’s more, the ZIP filters 1 gallon in 10 to 20 minutes.
System maintenance? It’s a breeze thanks to smart twist on/off filters and quick-connect fittings. And replacement filters are even more affordable than with the AquaTru: About $75 a year on average.
A 1-year money-back satisfaction guarantee and product warranty round off the package.
Taking into account that we miss thorough NSF testing/certifications, we’ll award 4 stars.
3. The Runner-Up: Big Berkey Countertop Gravity Water Filter
Berkey systems are gravity-based, but they’re countertop water filters nonetheless. And they’re the most popular – and in our opinion best – countertop gravity water filters, too: Reasonably priced, super easy to assemble and use, low maintenance, and most importantly highly effective at removing a wide range of contaminants that might be lurking in your water supply. 4.5 stars!
Berkey filters come in various different sizes. Choose the one that fits you best.
Larger system = Faster filtration and higher storage capacity for less frequent refills.
Big Berkey is the most popular model. Ideal for a family of 4. Large enough to avoid long waiting times while not being too bulky for most kitchens. Storage capacity: Roughly 2.25 gallons. Maximum clean water flow rate: ~7.0 gallons an hour.
Standard Black Berkey filter elements target contaminants down to the submicron level. They remove viruses (>99.999%), bacteria (>99.9999%), cyst, chlorine and chloramine (below detectable levels), heavy metals like aluminum (>99%), cadmium (>99.7%), chromium-6 (>99.85%), lead (>99.9%) and mercury (>99.9%), THMs (below detectable levels), pharmaceuticals like Progestrone and Ibuprofen (>99.9%), pesticides and VOCs (below detectable limits), arsenic (>99.9%), sediments, turbidity, and unpleasant taste and odor, and more.
4. Aquasana AQ-4000 – Regular Countertop Water Filter
Aquasana’s AQ-4000 is our number one “regular” countertop drinking water filter (it’s neither gravity-based nor does it apply reverse osmosis filtration).
It converts plain tap water into clean, delicious drinking water on demand as long as filters are replaced according schedule.
On top of that, the filter system comes at an affordable price and you get a 90-day satisfaction guarantee, so what can really go wrong? Our verdict: One of the best countertop water filters. Four stars!
Uses Claryum filtration which is a mix of activated carbon, ion exchange media, and sub-micron filtration. Removes chlorine/chloramines, heavy metals such as lead and mercury, herbicides, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and PFAS among many other contaminants.
Contaminant removal is tested and certified according to NSF standards 42, 53, 401 and protocol P473.
Essential minerals remain in the water and contribute to your total daily intake.
No permanent installation needed. The AQ-4000 can be connected to any standard-sized kitchen faucet or tap in seconds without using tools.
The package includes two faucet adapters.
Compact size makes countertop water filter highly portable.
Diverter valve allows you to easily switch between filtered and unfiltered water. Extends life of filter cartridge.
5. Review: pH REGENERATE Countertop Alkaline Water Filter by Invigorated Water
Next on our list, the pH REGENERATE alkaline water filter by Invigorated Water which does 2 things:
Remove a bunch of contaminants.
Enrich your water with different minerals.
The result is filtered alkaline water that supposedly enhances your energy levels and mental clarity, slows down ageing, reduces illness and injury, and improves your overall wellbeing among other health benefits, says Invigorated Water. Truth or fiction?
By the way, the company advertises the pH REGENERATE as a faucet water filter; however, we consider it a countertop water filter which is why we’re including it in this list.
Multi-stage filtration process makes use of a coconut shell activated carbon filter block, zeolite, KDF, and stone and ceramic ball blend.
According to Invigorated Water: Reduces harmful heavy metals including lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and mercury, and removes fluoride, chlorine/chloramine, sediment, sand, dust, rust, and turbidity.
Also increases water pH and ORP (oxidation reduction potential) by mineralization with magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, calcium, potassium, sodium, phosphor, silicon, sulfur, lithium, and iodine.
All in all, improves water quality and taste and balances pH.
Sleek stainless steel look.
Food-grade, BPA-free materials rule out recontamination.
Like most countertop water filters, the pH REGENERATE is extremely easy to install. One of the 6 included connectors should fit your faucet or tap as long as it’s standard-sized.
Long-lasting PH007 refill cartridges are good for 9 to 12 months and reasonably priced (~$45).
Filter chances are quick and easy.
Backed by a 60-day money back satisfaction guarantee.
Our main concern is that Invigorated Water does not provide any lab reports or scientific data to support their products and claims. Honestly, we aren’t convinced.
For some users water flow slowed down after a short time.
Another minor flaw is the tubing which is neither very flexible nor attractive.
Seems like overall product quality could do with some improvement.
Ceramic filter requires regular sanding and cleaning. Otherwise, water flow may slow down considerably.
6. Home Master Jr. F2 Elite Countertop Water Filter
Perfect Water Technologies, Inc. markets the Jr. F2 Elite water filter under their well-known Home Master brand. Happy customers reported that the unit makes even the most disgusting water taste fresh and also praised the excellent support. Unfortunately, there’s a lack of NSF testing or certification. Thus, 3.5 stars.
Home Master Jr. F2 Elite Countertop Drinking Water Filter
7. Nutriteam Megahome Countertop Water Distiller MH943SBS
Strictly speaking, water distillers don’t belong to the group of water filters but water purifiers. Still, we chose to include the Nutriteam Megahome MH943SBS countertop water distiller in this review series to give you a broader product range.
That said, Megahome is the most popular brand of water distillers around. Nutriteam, Inc. has 20+ years of experience in the field of air and water purification. The high quality MH943SBS water distiller is the company’s flagship when it comes to distillation and one of the best. 5 stars!
Distills 1 gallon of tap water in 5-and-a-half hours.
580W means electricity cost are between $10 to 15 per month when distilling 1 gallon every day.
Super easy to use. All you need to do is fill the kettle and push start.
Water touches 304 stainless steel and ceramic materials only. No plastic parts avoids recontamination.
Glass water carafe. Not only looks better than cheap plastic, also provides for purest taste.
Sachets filled with activated carbon catch any volatile organic compounds that might have escaped the boiling chamber.
A 6-month supply is part of the package.
UL (Underwriters Laboratories) approved for highest safety standards
Warranted for one year.
Outstanding customer ratings.
The MH943SBS shuts off automatically once all the tap water has boiled out. There is no on/off switch. Meaning that if you want to avoid the headache of dealing with burned deposits which are oftentimes difficult to clean, do yourself a favor and buy a timer switch.
Countertop Water Filtration Systems of 2021 – Comparison List
How do the best countertop water filters compare to one another?
(Hint: Swipe to Scroll)
Countertop Water Filter
AquaTru Reverse Osmosis System
Provides Great-Tasting Water with Higher Than Bottled Water Quality, Uses 2 Carbon Filters, Designed to Remove Contaminants Including Chlorine, Fluoride, Arsenic
ZIP Reverse Osmosis System
Easily Achieves Bottled Water Quality
Big Berkey Countertop Water Filtration System
Better Than Bottled Water Quality, Filter Lasts 3,000 Gallons
Aquasana Countertop Water Filtration System
Filter is the Best in Its Category, For Tap Water, Easy to Install
Invigorated Water pH REGENERATE Countertop Water Filtration System
Removes Chlorine, Fluoride, Arsenic, Easy to Install, Filter Lasts 9-12 Months, Filter Dispenser Has Chrome Finish
Home Master TMJRF2 Countertop Water Filtration System
For Tap Water, Easy to Install, Filter Dispenser Has Chrome Finish
Easy Installation Process
cleanwater4less Countertop Water Filtration System
cleanwater4less Countertop Water Filtration System Filters 10,000 Gallons of Water, Quick and Easy Installation
New Wave Enviro 10-Stage Water Filter System
High-Quality Countertop Water Filtration System is Easy to Install
APEX Countertop Drinking Water Filtration System
Easy to Install on Sink-Top
Buyer’s Guide: Considerations Before Buying a Countertop Water Filtration System
Here are the important things you should know and look out for in order to find the best countertop water filtration system for your needs:
Type of Countertop Water Filter
There are different types of water filters for countertops which we will discuss in more detail below.
In a nutshell, we can differentiate between faucet-fed and standalone systems. What’s more, most sink-top filters fall in one of these 4 categories:
Regular countertop filtration systems – these home water filters use sediment, coconut shell carbon, KDF, and ion exchange media to filter water.
Reverse osmosis systems – filter water by applying RO purification.
Distillers – use distillation to provide highly purified water without impurities.
Gravity filters – Mainly based on ceramic filtration. Use gravity force to push water through filter elements.
Water Contaminants & Filter Testing/Certificates
Your ideal water filter must be able to remove all or at least the majority of harmful contaminants in your water source. There are two ways you can approach this problem:
Conduct a water test. Either order a water test kit online or visit the local hardware store and do the testing yourself (your local health department might offer test kits). Or hire a professional lab to analyze a direct sample of the water in your home, which is what the EPA suggests.
Contact your city administration and ask for the annual water quality report, called Consumer Confidence Report, which every public water utility has to make available for free. Alternatively, you can browse the directory of the Environmental Protection Agency to find the report which is a lot faster. Another option is to use this link to access the EWG Tap Water Database, our favorite tool to assess the quality of water in no time. The only problem is that you can’t tell if contaminants enter your water supply along the way from the utility to your home. Also, this is not an option if you are on private well water.
Once you know about all the contaminants you are facing, look out for water filters that are NSF certified and/or tested to eliminate these. Because filter manufacturers can make claims all day long, but only independent third-party testing provides proof. You should pay particular attention to these NSF certifications:
42 – For water aesthetics
53 – For the reduction of harmful contaminants, for example: Asbestos, cysts, giardia, mercury, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and heavy metals
401 – For emerging contaminants like prescription drugs and pesticides
Some, not all, countertop water filters make use of a remineralization filter restoring all beneficial minerals which have been removed in the filtration process. A remineralizer is only really necessary if a filter system applies reverse osmosis water purification or distillation.
Many countertop water filters connect to the kitchen faucet. This means that a water line will run between the two.
Now, you might not like the sight of this. And it’s entirely possible that your kitchen faucet isn’t compatible with a countertop filter. This is usually the case for pull out/down, handheld, sprayer-type, sensor, and basically any unconventional faucet or spout. Yes, there are exceptions, but if your kitchen faucet falls in one of these categories you want to double check the instructions before you spend any money on a filter system.
The good news is, the vast majority of standardized faucets should be fine and there’s always the option to use an adapter. In fact, most sellers include 2 or 3 with their water filters for convenience.
Water Filtration Speed
Filtration speed depends on A) the water pressure in your home and B) filter design (thorough water filtration takes time). In other words, super fast filtration isn’t always a good thing.
Still, if you live in a large household a really slow filter is probably not an ideal fit.
Design (Size) + Space Requirements
A countertop water filter sits on your, well, countertop every day, all day. The looks of a water system might or might not be important to you, but if it is remember to not pick the ugliest one just to save a few bucks.
Also, you need to have enough space on your countertop near your kitchen sink to accommodate the unit.
Filtration Longevity and Maintenance
In general, countertop filters are easy to maintain. All that’s usually required is regular filter changes. How often depends on two factors:
Filter longevity a.k.a. filter life
Your water usage and overall water quality
Obviously, filters that last a long time means fewer changes required which is convenient.
Budget & Costs
The cost for buying a water filter are only one part of the equation. Even more important are replacement filter cost which largely depend on the filtration capacity per cartridge. Our tip: Check cost and availability of replacement filters before making your final buying decision.
More on Countertop Water Filters
What is a Countertop Water Filter?
First of all, what is a countertop water filter exactly?
Well, as the name suggests, countertop water filters are designed to sit on your kitchen counter and produce clean drinking water from plain tap water or well water.
There are different types of systems that also work differently – think reverse osmosis versus a gravity water filter (more on this in the next section).
The main benefits of a countertop filter are affordability paired with ease of use and filtration effectiveness. On top of that, the vast majority of systems are either completely installation-free or the setup is non-permanent and super simple. As a result, you have a water filter that’s highly portable.
Drawback include is that the filter system is always on display, you only have a single point of use, and water flow can be slow.
Types of Countertop Water Filters and How They Work
Browsing the market, you’ll stumble upon different types of countertop water filters which also work differently. Here’s how we categorize them:
Faucet-Fed vs. Standalone Units
One the one hand, there’re countertop filters that connect to the kitchen faucet or any other standard-sized tap in your home. The connection is needed to feed the filter. Water flows through an inlet hose attached to the faucet, flows through the various stages of the filter system, and comes out a dispenser or outlet tube all nice and clean.
On the other hand, we have standalone units. They don’t have a water connection and require manual filling which you might find less convenient. In return, autarchic systems can be easily moved around without having to worry about sink proximity.
Regular Countertop Filters
We can also group countertop filters into those using common types of filter media and those that apply more specialized water treatment methods (more on the latter in a bit).
Most regular countertop water filters make use of sediment filtration, activated/catalytic carbon, KDF, and/or ion exchange resin. This is usually enough to remove a wide range of common and harmful contaminants from water, depending on the number of filter stages and how sophisticated the filtration overall.
Reverse Osmosis Systems
RO systems combine reverse osmosis filtration with some of the filter media mentioned before to achieve the highest contaminant reduction rates.
Like we said, water distillers are not water filters but water purifiers. We decided to include them in this guide anyway due to their unmatched performance. If you distill your water with the help of a regular home distiller you’ll end up with almost pure H2O.
Gravity Water Filters
Gravity water filters are designed to use gravity to force water through their filter elements. Most filters remove contaminants like fluoride, chlorine, lead, and much more.
(Water Filter Pitchers & Faucet Filters)
For the sake of completeness, we also wanted to mention water filter pitchers and faucet water filters, although strictly speaking we wouldn’t categorize them as countertop water filters – but we know some people do!
Filtration Methods and Filter Media: Mechanical, Carbon, Ceramic, KDF, Ultrafiltration
Apart from RO filtration and water distillation, what are the common filtration methods and filter media used by countertop water filters?
A sediment filter uses mechanical filtration. The filter screen blocks water contaminants through size exclusion.
Activated and catalytic carbon filter media adsorb harmful chemicals and other harmful stuff into their surface pores.
Ceramic filters are mechanical filters.
KDF filter media are based on copper-zinc alloys. They render contaminants harmful via redox reactions.
An ultrafiltration membrane has extremely fine pores and can filter particles with a size much smaller than one micron.
Countertop Water Filter Pros and Cons
The following is a list of advantages associated with countertop water filters sorted in no particular order.
Affordability + Cost Savings
Not all but many countertop filter systems are pretty affordable. And you can save a lot by not having to buy bottled water anymore. Better to spend your hard-earned cash on more fun stuff!
They’re small. After all, what’s the point of having all that space under your kitchen sink if your countertop is clustered?
Simple, Non-Permanent Installation
As mentioned earlier, countertop systems either don’t require any installation at all or they can be hooked up in no time and without the need to make any permanent changes to your plumbing – great for renters and to save money!
Compact and quick to connect and disconnect means high portability.
No, we didn’t forget that the main purpose of any countertop water filter is to provide filtered water without contaminants – think health benefits. This drinking water usually also tastes and smells significantly better.
Easy to Maintain
We’ve already covered the easy-installation aspect. In addition, countertop filters are also super simple to maintain. Most will perform just fine if you replace filters (bi-)annually and do some periodic cleaning.
How about disadvantages?
Always on Display
After a while you might find it annoying that your countertop drinking water filter is always on display. And let’s be honest: They’re not all what we would consider stylish.
Single Point of Use
Compared with whole house water filters, countertop units supply filtered water at a single point of use. So unless you buy more than one system you won’t have access to clean water in your bathroom(s), the garage, the garden…
Chances are that you won’t connect/disconnect your countertop water filter each time you’re thirsty. And even though most systems allow you to switch between filtered and unfiltered water, you might find the faucet connection inconvenient when you’re cleaning or doing the dishes etc.
Slow Filtration Speed
There’s no doubt that a good filter will reduce water pressure from your kitchen faucet.
Slower rate of filtration
How to Install a Countertop Water Filter?
There’re many different types of countertop water filters so there’s not one-size-fits-all approach to installing each system. In fact, your model might not require any sort of installation at all. Thus, you should consider the following step-by-step instructions as a general guideline and consult the product manual before you proceed:
Remove the aerator from your kitchen faucet.
Double check that the rubber washer on the diverter valve sits in place.
Attach the diverter valve. You may need to use an adapter.
Push the inlet tube into the inlet port of the filter unit. Push the outlet tube into the outlet port.
Open the faucet to start the water flow.
Check for leakages.
Pull out the diverter pin.
Flush your new filter system before using the water.
Is a Countertop Water Filter Right for You?
Countertop vs. Under Sink Water Filters
When we compare countertop with under sink water filters, we find
That, generally speaking, under sink water filters are more popular.
High-quality water treatment products capable of removing a wide range of contaminants in either group.
That both filter types can feature their own storage tanks and water dispensers or are designed to be installed inline.
Single as well as multi-stage filtration systems among them.
Systems for every budget, large or small.
That the latter is usually a tad more challenging to install.
That both types have their pros and cons. For example, one requires sufficient sink-top space and the other a large-enough kitchen sink cabinet.
That which type to prefer solely depends on your personal preferences. One isn’t better than the other.
Countertop vs. Whole House Water Filtration Systems
When comparing countertop with whole house water filter systems, we find
That, generally speaking, POE water filters are more popular.
High-quality products capable of removing a wide range of contaminants in both groups.
That many point-of-entry filter systems come with at least one pre-filter and possibly one or more post-filters.
Systems for every budget, believe it or not.
That the latter is more laborious to install which usually always involves plumbing.
That both types have their pros and cons. For example, a whole house filter supplies your entire home with filtered water, but it’s likely that water quality will be better with a point-of-use countertop water filter.
That which type you should buy primarily depends on the condition of your water source.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Do countertop water filters work?
Countertop water filters do work, yes. Some will mainly improve the taste of drinking water, while others also remove harmful contaminants including heavy metals and PFAS providing highly pure water.
Do countertop water filters trap minerals like calcium and magnesium?
Most countertop water filters do not affect minerals. However, reverse osmosis countertop water filters do, which is the reason why you should consider adding those minerals back into the purified water afterwards.
Is there a countertop alkaline water filter?
There is: The pH REGENERATE filter by Invigorated Water provides alkaline filtered water. That said, whether alkaline water really has any health advantages remains to be proven.
Are there countertop water filters that remove fluoride?
Yes, there are. First of all, RO countertop water filters remove fluoride very effectively. There also is the Home Master Elite filter that makes use of activated alumina to eliminate up to 93% of fluoride from water.
Filter pitchers vs. countertop water filters – what’s better?
There is no definite answer here. There have been several filter pitchers that exceeded our expectations. And the same goes for selected counter top water filters. So water filter pitcher or countertop filter really depends on your personal preferences.
How does a countertop filter improve the taste of tap water?
Most importantly, it filters the chlorine and other chemicals and particles that might cause unpleasant taste.
Our hunt for the best countertop water filters on the market ends here. Questions? Ask away!
And make sure to come back to this buying guide since we’re going to add new countertop water filter reviews occasionally.
About the Author Tim Stanley
Tim Stanley is our content creator veteran. His daily tasks involve everything from research to editing. His expertise: Water Softeners. When he is not working, Tim spends most his free time cycling and shaping his body doing calisthenics. To calm down he also likes to watch Netflix (who doesn’t?).
Learn more about Tim and the rest of the BOS Team.