2020’s Best Home Drinking Water Filter System Reviews
Written by: Gene Fitzgerald // Last Updated:
Please note: This page may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more about our product review process or check our FTC affiliate disclosure.
Drinking water filters come in all shapes and sizes. There’re water filter pitchers, countertop and under sink reverse osmosis systems, whole house water filters, faucet filters – you name it.
Each type has its pros and cons, and your ideal product depends on your personal circumstances and preferences.
This guide shall provide you with the best drinking water filter system in each category. We’ll also answer a few common questions people have about how to filter water for drinking at home. Let’s go!
1. Our Number One Drinking Water Filter Pitcher: Clearly Filtered
Water filter pitchers are small enough to be carried around and stored in the refrigerator for cooling, they’re handy, and they’re affordable. What’s more, they’re installation-free and can be assembled in a matter of minutes. All this makes water filter pitchers the most popular type of home drinking water filters money can buy.
In our opinion, the best drinking water filter as far as pitchers are concerned is the Clearly Filtered. It removes more water contaminants than any other model on the market and it’s suited for both tap water and disinfected well water. Filtered water taste? One word: Superb.
Bottom line: The Clearly Filtered is our go-to water filter pitcher. 5 stars!
Uses Affinity Filtration Technology (combination of granular activated carbon and other proprietary filter media) to remove more than 230 potential contaminants from water, including: Chlorine/chloramine, fluoride, bacteria, arsenic, lead, chromium-6, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, chemicals like BPA, PFAS, VOCs.
Highest drinking water quality and clean taste is guaranteed.
Healthy minerals are kept in the water.
Only water filter pitcher tested to 5 NSF standards: 42, 53, 244, 401, P473.
Pitcher holds 10 cups of water, enough for a whole family.
Lid can be removed for easy refilling.
Built in USA.
Material is medical-grade Tritan plastic, 100% BPA-free.
Quick to put together before first use.
One filter cartridge lasts 100 or 4 months on average. Cost: ~$150 per year.
Buy in bulk or subscribe for discounts.
No need to worry about frequent replacements.
Manufacturer provides 30-day satisfaction guarantee. You get your money back if you’re unhappy with the product.
Covered by lifetime warranty.
One of the higher priced water filter pitchers.
A few complaints about slow filtration speed and filters not lasting as long as advertised. Personally, we haven’t had any issues with this.
We wanted to provide you with one water filter pitcher alternative in case you don’t like the Clearly Filtered for whatever reason.
Our number two is the Aquagear. It hasn’t been tested nowhere near as thoroughly as the Clearly Filtered, however, it’s still one of the best units out there removing fluoride (98.6%), volatile organic compounds, lead (99.9%) and other heavy metals, nitrate (97.6%), TTHMs (99.0%), and more. NSF testing standards 42 + 53 are met.
Another feature to point out is the long-lasting replacement filters. 150 gallons of water should last you up to 6 months. And they, too, are made in the USA. The pitcher itself is warranted for lifetime.
Disadvantages? Not exactly cheap compared to some of the most popular water filter pitchers. Also, filtration can be slow.
2. Our Favorite Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System: Aquatru
Reverse osmosis filtration removes almost all water impurities. Plus, RO systems provide enough water for an entire family and they’re cost effective.
When it comes to reverse osmosis drinking water systems in 2020 the AquaTru is our first choice. That’s because it has earned NSF certifications for the removal of more than 80 different contaminants commonly found in our water supplies. That’s better than any other RO system we know of, and guarantees healthy, safe, and great tasting drinking water for you and your family.
But what we love most about the AquaTru is the fact that it’s a countertop unit which doesn’t require installation. The plug ‘n’ play functionality allows you to set up and use the system right away without any drilling, drain line connection, etc. – perfect for renters and to save money. 4.5 stars.
Make sure to use our discount code BOSAquaTru at checkout and get 5% OFF!
3. Top Under Sink RO Drinking Water System with Remineralization: Aquasana OptimH2O
In case you prefer under sink over countertop you should check out the Aquasana OptimH2O reverse osmosis drinking water filtration system.
Just like the AquaTru, it has earned several NSF certifications for the removal of 80+ water contaminants like chlorine, chloramine, lead, VOCs, arsenic 5, chromium 6, BPA, PFOA & PFOS – you name it. In other words, highly effective filtration is guaranteed for pure drinking water.
However, that’s not all. The Aquasana OptimH2O also remineralizes your water with calcium, magnesium, and potassium. This improves taste and balances pH. 4.5 stars!
4. Reverse Osmosis System for Well Water (Optional UV): Crystal Quest 1000C & 1000CP
If you like reverse osmosis but you’re on well water and have no pre-treatment in place expect for disinfection, your best choice is the Crystal Quest 1000C or the 1000CP (the 1000CP comes with a pressure pump).
Both systems will take care of the vast majority of contaminants found in well water and make it ready for drinking. By the way, you can add a UV light stage for 99.99% reduction of microorganisms.
Please note: According to Crystal Quest, up to 15 grains per gallon water hardness can be handled. Iron shouldn’t exceed 2 ppm. Higher levels may lead to clogging.
12 stages of filtration remove sediment, taste & odor, volatile organic compounds, chlorine, chemicals, and most importantly for well water iron and other metals, hydrogen sulfide a.k.a. rotten egg smell, hardness minerals, herbicides, pesticides, industrial solvents.
Stage 1 is an activated carbon block.
Next comes an ultrafiltration membrane for the reduction of microorganisms and other organic/inorganic molecules.
Filter stage 4 uses granular activated carbon media which removes chlorine, all kinds of chemicals, and bad taste and odor.
At stage 5, an ion exchange resin reduces water hardness and also traps heavy metals like lead.
For the following 2 filter stages, water gets in contact with a copper-zinc blend. The media adsorbs some contaminants while rendering others harmless. Also prevents bacteria from growing inside the RO system.
At the heart of the system lies the reverse osmosis membrane, rejecting all particulates larger than 0.0001 microns.
Filter stage 11 is another granular activated carbon filter which takes care of residual tastes.
All other stages are plain filter pads (1 micron).
Optional: UV light stage. Kills any bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.
Optional: Nitrate filter for wells near agricultural lands and animal feedlots.
Optional: Fluoride filter for elevated levels of organic fluoride.
About as difficult to install as any other under sink RO systems.
Basic maintenance needs. Cost: $100-155 per year which is okay.
One year limited warranty.
We’re missing NSF certifications.
Seems like installations instructions need more detail.
5. Best Regular (Non-RO) Under Sink Water Filter: Clearly Filtered 3-Stage
Non-RO under sink water filters, too, can be highly effective at removing a wide range of contaminants providing large volumes of crystal clean and delicious drinking water. And they do so saving precious space on your kitchen counter. You just have to find the right system, one that’s affordable, easy to install, easy to use, and easy to maintain!
Our top choice: The Clearly Filtered under sink drinking water filter system. As the Clearly Filtered pitcher, this system has been tested to remove 230+ different and potentially harmful water pollutants. People couldn’t be any happier with their purchase, especially with the fast and easy installation. All in all, it’s our favorite under sink water filter. 5 stars!
NSF tested against standards 42, 53, and 401 for chlorine (98.6%), chloramines (95.3%), sodium fluoride (99.5%), total arsenic (94.3%), chromium 6 (99.4%), lead (99.9%), Glyphosate (99.9%) and other chemicals, radiologicals, dozens of VOCs and semi volatile compounds (99.9%).
Some of the most thorough testing we’ve seen and this is only an excerpt.
3 filter stages:
Filter 1 – Granular activated carbon. Made in USA.
Filter 2 – Proprietary filter media blend. Made in USA.
6. Whole House System Best for Tap Drinking Water: SpringWell CF4
Whole house water filters have the benefit of processing all the incoming water before it’s distributed throughout your home. Thus you have filtered water at every outlet. However, they’re seldom sophisticated enough to be capable of removing a wide range of contaminants.
That said, your best option when on tap water is certainly the SpringWell CF4. Making use of catalytic carbon mixed with KDF as well as a small pre-filter, the system removes sediments, chlorine + chloramine, any disinfection byproducts, VOCs, pesticides, and several heavy metals. In addition, microorganisms have no chance of accumulating in the large tank, leaching into your water.
All in all, your drinking water will be much safe(r) for consumption and, of course, its taste and smell will improve greatly, too. 5 stars!
7. Whole House System Best for Well Drinking Water: SpringWell WS4 (+ SpringWell CF4)
In our opinion, the most promising whole home drinking water filter system for well water in 2020 is the SpringWell WS4, combined with the SpringWell CF4 as reviewed above if need be.
As far as the WS4 is concerned, it’s the perfect solution for well water high in iron, manganese, and/or hydrogen sulfide. The CF4 would take care of chlorine, chloramine, chemicals, organics, heavy metals, and taste/odor issues. 5 stars!
Whole house well water filter system uses both air injection oxidation and greensand filtration to filter ferric iron and ferrous iron (up to 7 ppm), manganese (up to 1 ppm), and sulfur (up to 8 ppm). Greensand also partially reduces arsenic and radium.
Eliminates rotten egg smell, bitter taste, and iron staining.
Water pH must be between 6.5 and 10 to ensure effectiveness.
Air pocket in the top of the tank resets daily. Media bed has to backwash periodically. Everything is controlled by electronic head valve. No work required from your end except for initial configuration.
Programmable via mobile device.
20 gpm water flow for 4+ bathroom homes.
Also smaller version available rated at 12 gpm service flow – 1 to 4 bathrooms.
No need to hire a professional for installation as long as you’re handy with tools.
Bypass valve included.
Virtually maintenance-free for 18 to 25 years (lifetime of Greensand media).
Backed by 6-month satisfaction guarantee and lifetime warranty like all SpringWell whole house water filters.
Gravity filters require neither electricity nor external pressure to operate. This makes them ideal in emergency situations. But we also find the best ceramic filters among them which is why they’re great for everyday home use.
Berkey is one of the, if not the most popular gravity water filter brand – and rightly so! Easy to set up and use, simple to maintain, and yet highly effective at providing water that easily meets drinking standards. 4.5 stars!
9. Best Drinking Water Filtration System for Faucet: Brita Complete FF-100
Lastly, faucet water filters. They give you access to filtered drinking water right at your kitchen sink or bathroom tap. Their greatest benefits are affordability and simplicity of use without the need of a proper installation.
Our recommendation: The Brita Complete FF-100. It’s by far the best in terms of contaminant removal rates. 4 stars.
When it comes to home drinking water filtration, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. With literally hundreds of different contaminants that you could be facing, you need to have your water thoroughly tested if you want to be 100 percent sure to not miss anything. Once you have a list of contaminants present in your water supply you can choose the best treatment method accordingly.
Of course we understand that doing one’s own testing is just not feasible in all cases, for example if you don’t have the budget. In this case, we recommend you take a look at your annual water quality report which your utility has to provide for free. Testing for the report might not show the full picture, but it’s still better than a shot in the dark. You can browse for your report here.
If that isn’t possible either, your best bet is to get a water filter (system) that removes a broad range of pollutants: Heavy metals, VOCs, disinfectants and their byproducts, perfluorinated chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, herbicides, semi-volatile compounds, radiological elements, and microorganisms (not really necessary when you’re on municipal water). Personally, we would opt for either the Clearly Filtered pitcher or the under sink filter, or the AquaTru countertop RO system. All 3 have been tested for the removal of dozens upon dozens of contaminants with solid results.
Best Way to Filter Tap/Well Water for Drinking
The following is a list of common tap/well water contaminants and what you can do about them (no claim for completeness):
The most common contaminants in municipal drinking water are chlorine/chloramine and their disinfection byproducts. Catalytic carbon is the best filter media for chloramines. For chlorinated waters, activated carbon does the trick. Both activated and catalytic carbon will also eliminate most VOCs.
In case there’s lead in your water – the heavy metal was used as a building material for pipes before its ban in 1986 – you should opt for reverse osmosis drinking water purification or activated/catalytic carbon combined with KDF-55.
Furthermore, many municipalities add fluoride to their water. Now, water fluoridation is a controversial topic. We leave it up to you to decide if you want to do anything about it. Just know that if you want to remove fluoride from your water you can use reverse osmosis, anion exchange or activated alumina adsorption media, and distillation.
Arsenic: More than 100 million Americans received water with arsenic exceeding California’s public health goal between 2015 and 2017 (source). The best treatment option for arsenic is reverse osmosis or ion exchange technologies.
PFAS, or per- and polyfluorinated substances, include more than 3,000 synthetic chemicals that can have serious health effects even in low dosages. The Environmental Working Group estimates that “up to 110 million Americans could have PFAS-contaminated drinking water”. What can you do about it? Filter with reverse osmosis and/or carbon.
If you have radioactive elements in your water you might need to install a whole house water filter as some of them volatilize from shower or bath water.
And lastly: Nitrate. The highest concentrations can be found in tap water or private wells in agricultural areas. RO is the most effective treatment method.
Systems with NSF Testing & Certifications
Manufacturers can make contamination reduction claims about their products all day long. But only NSF or EPA standardized testing and certification provide proof. Thus when you’re shopping for a drinking water filtration system look out for performance data sheets or other lab testing data.
Most important are the following NSF standards: 42, 53, 244, 401, P473, and 58 (RO systems only).
Filtering Speed + Filtered Water Storage Capacity
Depending on the size of your family, a smaller filter might not be able to meet your drinking water demand. The result: Long waiting times. If you want to avoid such a scenario double-check that the product you’re eying filters water fast enough or comes with an adequately-sized storage tank.
Cost: Initial vs Long-Term
Some drinking water filter systems seem surprisingly affordable at first. But they turn out all the more expensive in the long run – think replacement filter cost. Replacement filter capacity and cost is definitely something you should consider.
Installation and Maintenance
All filter systems on this page are quite easy to maintain. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about their installation. For example: While filter pitchers can be assembled in a matter of minutes, whole house units require proper inlet and outlet connections which may involve plumbing. So if you’re not exactly handy around the house and you’re unwilling to pay a plumber to do the work for you, a whole house water filter might not be ideal.
Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.