On this page you will learn:
Why should you choose a countertop water filter over let’s say an under sink RO system? For one, maybe you are renting an apartment or house and cannot make permanent changes to the plumbing system, so installing a whole house water filter or reverse osmosis system is not an option. Or maybe you simply lack the space under your kitchen sink. Other good reasons are:
First of all and most importantly, countertop filter systems are, in most cases, much more convenient than any kind of under sink unit that requires proper installation and periodic maintenance. Sure, a countertop system has to be cleaned on a regular basis, too, and the filter(s) might need replacement once or twice a year, but these tasks usually require less time and are more straightforward.
Also, as most over the counter systems get attached to a faucet, installation is a breath and can be done within minutes without the need for tools or pro plumbing skills. In our opinion, the only type of water filter that is even more convenient than a countertop system are filter pitchers.
Water filter systems can turn out to be extremely expensive. Did you know that a whole house unit can cost you as much as $2,000 and more not taking into account the costs for installation that such a beast requires?
Point-of-use RO systems and water distillers both provide exceptionally pure water – the purest you will find – but you still have to invest between $200 and $400 for a decent system. Countertop systems are much more affordable, which is great.
However, be prepared to lower your expectations in terms of filtration capacities, speed, and water purity level.
Most of the time over the counter systems come with different filtration stages and therefore are more effective at removing a wider range of harmful contaminants than faucet mounted filters and filter pitchers.
Before you spend any money, here are some of the important things you need to know and/or should look out for in a high-quality countertop water filter system:
Most filters are very efficient at removing one kind or a couple of different water contaminants like heavy metals, but won’t even touch others like bacteria and viruses. Of course, your ideal water filter has to be capable of removing all or at least the majority of harmful contaminants that can be found in your tap water.
There are three ways you can approach this problem.
Fluoride and Lead Removal
Fluoride and lead are both toxic substances that can be found in our public water supply systems – fluoride, because about 66% of all tap water in the U.S. is fluoridated by local municipalities to ‘prevent tooth decay’, and lead, because in the past lead pipes and lead solder were used to build our water infrastructure. To the present day, large parts of this outdated infrastructure haven’t been replaced and are still in use.
The actual problem with that is that most countertop filters aren’t capable of removing fluoride from water. Others won’t remove lead. Therefore, in our reviews further down below we will make sure to point out whether or not a particular product is capable of protecting you from these toxins. For Berkey gravity filters, buying an additional fluoride removal element is the best option.
A manufacturer might claim that his countertop water filter removes 100% of lead, fluoride, bacteria, and nitrates from water, but only independent third party certificates can provide proof. Pay particular attention to these three NSF certificates:
Apart from gravity water filters, most countertop systems are inline filters which get connected to your kitchen faucet. This means that a hose will run between the two. You might not like the sight of it, and it’s also possible that the head of your faucet doesn’t feature a removable aerator, so there’s no way of connecting a hose. What to do? Check your faucet first. Make sure that it allows for a hose connection.
If you live in a larger household and you use a lot of water for cooking, or the drinking water demand your family has is far above average for any other reason, a over the counter filter system might soon hit its filtration limits. So, when purchasing a new one, make a quick check that it can actually provide as much water as you need on a daily basis.
Most of the time an inline system that gets attached to your kitchen faucet can provide more water in a shorter period of time than a gravity system.
Some filters have higher initial costs, but their (replacement) filters will not only last much longer, they are also much more affordable. Keep that in mind and don’t forget to check the costs and the availability for replacement filters before you spend your money.
Again, in our reviews below we’ve also listed filter duration and replacement costs for each different countertop model.
A countertop water filter sits on your countertop – everyday, all day. The looks of a system might or might not be important to you. If it is, remember to not pick the ugliest of all just to save a few bucks.
Some but not all countertop filter systems will remineralize your tap water by adding bits of calcium and magnesium to it. This benefits your health as those minerals are essential for your well-being, and it will also make your water less acidic.
Remineralization is especially important in case your feed water is already deprived of those minerals, or when your countertop filter system removes the majority of calcium and magnesium from the water in the filtration process.
To measure the pH-value of your tap water, simply use a pH test stripe. Everything below seven means that your water is too acidic. A value above 7 means that your water is alkaline.
You can choose from a variety of different types of water filters to put on your countertop. There are:
Please Note That We Do Not Count Filter Pitchers As Countertop Water Filters!
In this guide we are going to compare one system out of each filter type group to one another and also review each of them in more detail. Hopefully, when you have reached the end of this page, you have found your favorite system that perfectly suits your needs and fits your budget.
#1 Countertop RO System: APEC RO-CTOP
Home Master TMJRF2 Jr F2 Filter System
Reverse osmosis systems are a little more complex. They are paired with carbon and sediment pre-filters and at the heart of each system lies a semipermeable membrane where water is pushed through. Almost all contaminants are held back and later flushed out of the system.
In general, RO systems are highly effective at providing purified water, but they also waste a couple of gallons in the filtration process. If you want to learn more about reverse osmosis and how reverse osmosis systems work, you can do so in our Reverse Osmosis 101 Guide.
The APEC Portable RO-CTOP is the best countertop reverse osmosis system for people who want to enjoy the taste and the health benefits of pure H2O.
As the name suggests, the RO-CTOP is a portable unit that is lightweight and very easy to connect to almost any standard faucet within a couple of minutes. All you have to do is to attach the head adapter first.
By using the latest and most advanced RO technology available – learn more here – this countertop filter has a maximum water output of 90 gallons per day, which is absolutely sufficient even for a family of ten.
This unit is capable of removing up to 99 percent of chemical and bacterial contaminants including lead, however, you have to remember to replace the disposable filters once or twice a year to keep up the output water quality.
There are two minor flaws that this device has. The first is that it doesn’t come with a storage tank, and also no extra tank can be attached to it. This is great for renters with small kitchens, but it also means that you either have to store the filtered water somewhere separate or not store it at all. Both options are a bit inconvenient, if you need a couple gallons of water right now.
The second flaw is that the filter system, as every other RO system, wastes 2-3 times the amount of water than what you can later actually use. Of course, you could still use the water for your garden for example.
The AquaTru Countertop 4-stage RO system is NSF certified to remove more than 90 percent of lead, chromium, copper, fluoride, and chlorine among many other contaminants. It is very convenient to use and a real time saver. It can be set up in less than three minutes, and works fully automatic.
And thank god that this unit is quiet and doesn’t make all those annoying noises!
A high water flow rate and a storage tank ensure that there will always be filtered water in store for you, so you will never have to wait for it being produced.
Yes, the storage tank is partially made of plastic, but it’s guaranteed BPA and BPS-free. By the way, the same plastic is used by manufacturers of best selling food blenders like the Nutri Bullet.
To top it off, only ¼ of the input water is wasted in the purification process.
Drawbacks? Some customers have reported that their AquaTru system stopped working for no apparent reason after using it for a couple of months. Customer support was responsive and helpful, but in the end wasn’t able to solve the problem. Mind you, this only happened to a small fraction of users, but if this is something you absolutely don’t want to deal with, we recommend you to opt for a different product.
Perfect Water Technologies, Inc. markets the TMJRF2 Jr F2 Sinktop Water Filtration System under their very well-known and popular ‘Home Master’ brand. The filter is available with a black or white housing and comes at under $100, making it one of the most affordable countertop units we know of.
Again, we have a very compact design, which is perfect for renters, plus the installation is super convenient and barely takes more than five minutes.
Happy customers have reported that the device makes even the most disgusting tap water taste fresh and also praised the excellent customer support the seller provides.
Here are two aspects that we don’t like:
Believe it or not, this tiny device features a 10-stage filtration process that removes all kinds of chemicals, tastes, and bad smells, but at the same time leaves magnesium, potassium, and other essential minerals in your water.
The New Wave Enviro attaches to a standard kitchen faucet within mere seconds, and above that you can also easily convert it to a fully functioning under sink system with the help of the Enviro installation kit, which can be purchased on Amazon separately.
As you remember, we’ve talked about tap water fluoridation in the U.S. If you, too, suffer from fluoride in tap water and you are trying to have it removed, this countertop filter is not the right choice as it won’t reduce the amount of dissolved fluoride at all. Nevertheless, the New Wave Enviro uses an ion exchange resin to remove lead (NSF Standard 53 certified).
Finally, what’s great about this system is the affordable price and the low maintenance costs for filter replacements. Expect to pay somewhere between $50 and $100 per year depending on how much water you consume.
Four words: Slim and compact design!
The Apex Alkaline countertop drinking water filter takes up only a tiny space on your kitchen counter, and because it’s so simple to attach to and remove from any standard kitchen faucet, it’s the ideal portable filter for renters and single-person households – not so much for larger families, though, with a high demand for purified water.
The filter removes all impurities that cause your water to look, taste, and smell strange. Furthermore, it balances your water’s pH-level by adding bits of minerals, which according to the WHO is beneficial for your health.
Unfortunately, the unit won’t reduce the amount of dissolved fluoride, so if that’s something you are looking for, this is not your optimum choice.
What we also like about the Apex Alkaline is that it’s ‘made in the USA’ according to NSF safety standards and requirements to ensure that your family has access to 100 percent safe and healthy drinking water.
And we really appreciate the US-based phone support, which these days cannot be taken for granted.
By the way, if you don’t like the chrome look of the system, there are five other colorful designs available, so feel free to choose whichever you like most and which best fits to your interior design.
Unlike all other countertop systems we have reviewed up to this point, the CleanWater4Less® does not need a filter cartridge. This, of course, also means that you won’t have to pay for any replacement costs, and that the system requires no sort of maintenance at all.
The filter is rated at 10,000 gallons filtration capacity and 1 gallon per minute water flow rate. After about two to five years of use, you simply dispose of the whole system and buy a new one.
Does this countertop filter remove fluoride? No. Does it remove lead? You bet, at least according to the seller. We couldn’t find any third party certificates that support this claim…
In terms of costs, the system can currently be purchased for less than 80 bucks. And when we take into account that you have zero running costs and that the system lasts for an astounding 10,000 gallons, the CleanWater4Less® simply cannot be topped as far as price-performance ratio goes.
What bothers us, though, is that it’s not helping our environment to throw the whole system into the trash bin each time it has worn out.
Gravity fed water filters are a great option if permanent systems are not up for debate. We find the best ceramic and best activated charcoal filters among them, and they don’t require electricity or water pressure to operate.
With most systems, all you have to do is pour water into the top reservoir. Due to gravity it flows downwards passing through the filter elements. You can use the spigot at the bottom to draw water from the storage tank.
Generally speaking, gravity fed water filters are excellent at removing chlorine and chlorination by-products, as well as fluoride, lead, pesticides, and VOCs.
A gravity based water filter system remain autarchic. There is no plumbing involved, which has both advantages and disadvantages:
Last but not least, a brief comment on maintenance: Every once in a while, you will have to take out all filter elements and give them a good scrubbing. That also goes for the entire housing and the tank. Be prepared to buy replacement filters about annually. The good thing here is that while gravity filter systems can be more expensive up front, the more favorable they become in the long run.
Remember that the water may remain in the storage tank for hours or even days at times. Therefore it’s all the more important to make sure that the system you purchase is made of stainless steel. If not stainless steel, choose a material that doesn’t corrode and avoid all kinds of plastic in particular. After all, you don’t want any contaminants to be added back to your freshly filtered water, do you?
Gravity fed water filters allow you to filter thousands of gallons of water from almost any fresh water source, like rivers, ponds, and wells. This makes them ideal in emergency situations – think about hurricane season – and maybe one day your gravity filter will become a lifesaver.
Berkey is certainly one of the most popular brand when it comes to home water filtration. We believe that Berkey offers the best gravity filters on the market. Their product line includes systems of different sizes, which allows you to choose the one that best suits your needs (→ click to find out more).
The Big Berkey BK4X comes with two Black Berkey and two fluoride filter elements. The four elements combined can turn almost any feed water source into fresh drinking water. They provide the highest purity levels among all gravity fed filters removing at least 99.0% of all lead and 99.9% of fluoride from water (according to lab results published on Berkey’s official website).
The storage tank can hold up to 2.25 gallons, which should be absolutely sufficient for larger families, too. If, however, the tank happens to be empty, the BK4X2 can provide 3.5 gallons of filtered water per hour, which eliminates long waiting times.
Annual filter replacement costs are surprisingly low, as the two Black Berkey elements have a filtration capacity of 3,000 gallons each and 1,000 gallons per fluoride element. There’s no easier way to save money in the long run. By the way, the whole system is made of high-quality stainless steel.
What are the drawbacks? First of all the Big Berkey BK4X costs almost $300. But considering that we have a really powerful filtration mechanism that leaves all the healthy minerals in the water plus the low filter replacement costs, the pricing actually seems reasonable to us.
Secondly, a small group of customers have reported that their Berkey filter added a metal or rusty taste to the water, which definitely is a no-go. Also, regular cleaning of the filter elements is required to prevent the build-up of scale.
Just like the Big Berkey BK4X, the IMP6X2-BB Imperial also comes with four different filter elements which are ideal for home water filtration – two Black Berkey and two fluoride filters. Placing it on your countertop, you get access to an unlimited supply of delicious drinking water.
However, the IMP6X2-BB is a tad more expensive as it varies in size. It can hold up to 4.5 gallons of purified water opposed to the 2.25 gallons the Big Berkey BK4X2 can store, hence, the small increase in price.
If you have extremely high demand for water, you can up the flow rate to more than 7 gallons per minute by applying a total of 6 Black Berkey filter elements at the same time.
We’ve already mentioned that one element lasts for up to 3,000 gallons and possibly even longer, if well maintained.
The Alexapure Pro countertop gravity filter system is much more affordable than both Berkey systems and not too far behind in terms of filtration performance. It is made of stainless steel, which is great to store and conserve filtered water, plus it gives the system the sturdiness that it needs.
Furthermore, chances are that the built-in filter elements will actually outlive you. Each element is rated at 5,000 gallons, which should last for roughly five years.
Let’s take a closer look at how well the Alexapure Pro is able to remove those nasty contaminants:
According to the manufacturer the system removes up to 99.9999% of more than 200 different impurities found in water including bacteria, chlorine, cysts, fluoride, lead, and viruses – which is great!
Comparing lab tests provided by Berkey and Alexapure, we can tell that the difference between the systems is almost negligible. However, the Alexapure Pro is ‘only’ capable of removing 96.4 percent of lead.
Now, we know that if in a test someone reaches 96 out of 100 points, you would usually say ‘well done, buddy’, but not so in this case. We have to consider that the EPA has clearly stated that there is no safe level of lead in drinking water. Therefore it’s important to eradicate it as good as we can, and the Berkey filters are simply doing a better job here.
All in all, we believe that the Alexapure Pro countertop gravity filter makes a great bargain and is suited for people who live in an area where tap water contamination with lead is not an issue.
This Zen Water Systems gravity filter is extremely attractive for people on a tight budget that are looking for a low-cost solution for their water contamination problem. The system comes in three different sizes with a four, six, or eight gallons tank.
What we like about it is the multi-stage filtration process which not only purifies but also remineralizes your tap water and alkalizes pH-levels. Numerous studies have shown that alkaline infused water can benefit your health, e.g. by increasing the amount of oxygen in our blood resulting in more energy throughout the day.
Another positive aspect, and definitely an advantage over the Berkey filter, is that you can actually see inside the system so you can tell how much water is left in the holding tank. This makes it a lot easier to manage.
What we don’t like is that for the most part the system is made of plastic. Granted, the manufacturer made sure to only use BPA-free material, but we would have preferred stainless steel – at least for the storage tank. Also, qualitywise the build of this product doesn’t look as good as any of the Berkey systems. Keep in mind though that the Zen system costs less than one third of what the Berkey system costs.
According to Zen Water Systems all common contaminants get removed in the filtration process except for fluoride. However, we’ve checked the seller’s website and the product manual, but couldn’t find any hint about independent lab tests or third-party certificates.
Last but not least, two more minor points of criticism:
Our verdict: The Zen Water Systems countertop filter will improve the taste of your water – that’s for sure. And although performance-wise it can’t compete with a Berkey filter, it’s much more affordable and comes with the added health benefits. In our opinion, at such a low price it makes a reasonable choice.