Best Countertop Water Filter Reviews

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One of the most problematic expenditures that people make is on bottled water. Not only is it awful for the environment, but it's also awful for their bank accounts. The worst part, though, is that these purchases are understandable for anyone who actually wants filtered water. What comes out of your tap isn't always healthy, and it's good to have an alternative.

A Preferable Alternative to Bottled Water

Instead of buying bottled water, you'll be better off buying a filtration system. Though the ones we're going to talk about on this page don't distill water (we'll talk about that later), they do help to remove the harmful minerals and chemicals found in your tap water.

There are many different types of filtration systems, though, ranging from those that have to be installed by a professional to those that can be attached to your faucet quickly and easily. Many use fairly basic filters, but they also run the gamut from those that use pressured membranes (reverse osmosis) to those that use gravity-assistance to separate particles. 

If you're looking to buy a countertop water filter, there are definitely plenty of great choices out there. If you want to simplify your search, though, you'll definitely want to look at those listed below.

Top  Countertop Water Filters

As you scroll down, note that the first three units are Reverse Osmosis (RO) filters, and the remaining models are a more standard type of filter. We discuss the benefits of RO in great detail here, but simply put, these types of system remove pretty much everything from your water. With that said, let's dive in.

Ranking

Product Image

Product Name

Ratings

Read Review

#1

Best Countertop Water Filters - ZIP Zero Installation Purifier Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

Zero Installation Purifier ("ZIP") Portable Reverse Osmosis System

#2

Best Countertop Water Filters - AquaTru Countertop Water Filtration Purification System

AquaTru 4-Stage Portable Reverse Osmosis System

#3

Best Countertop Water Filters - Reverse Osmosis Revolution’s Countertop Portable 5-stage RO System

Reverse Osmosis Revolution’s Countertop 5-stage RO System

#4

Best Countertop Water Filters - APEX MR-1050

APEX MR-1050 Advanced Alkaline Mineral Filter

#5

Best Countertop Water Filters - Aquasana

Aquasana Countertop Drinking Water Filter System

#6

Best Countertop Water Filters - Big Berkey

Big Berkey Water Filter

#7

Best Countertop Water Filters - Royal Berkey

Royal Berkey Water Filter

#8

Best Countertop Water Filters - CleanWater4Less

CleanWater4Less® Countertop System

#9

Best Countertop Water Filters - APEX MR-1030

APEX MR-1030 Countertop Water Filter

#10

Best Countertop Water Filters - iSpring CKC1C

iSpring CKC1C Countertop Model

#11

Best Countertop Water Filters - Home Master HM Mini Sinktop

Home Master HM Mini Sinktop Faucet Filter

1

Zero Installation Purifier (ZIP) Portable Reverse Osmosis System

Best Countertop Water Filters - ZIP Zero Installation Purifier Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

One of the biggest problems with any filtration unit is that it requires some kind of installation. There are plenty of units that might only have a minimal set of requirements, but there are all too many that really seem to need a plumber to get working.


If you're looking for a filtration system that not only works well but that works out of the box, the Zero Installation Purifier (aka "ZIP") by Puricom USA might be the unit for you, and may very well be the best portable reverse osmosis system we've seen to date.

It's hard to explain how nice it is to get a filtration system that just works. Take it out of the box and you can start filtering your water - no intermediate steps required. You don't need to be a plumber or even particularly handy to get it working, and once you do you'll get access to some incredibly high-quality water.


This filter has a remineralizing stage that really helps with taste, while also removing fluoride to increase your water's purity. (NOTE: Because minerals are added, your water will be a bit more alkaline, and your TDS levels will read a touch higher than if you did not add the minerals.) 


The fact that the container is BPA free is an added plus.


The only real problem here (other than the price, which is currently running around $470) is that you're going to spend a lot of time waiting for the unit to filter your water. It only has a half a gallon of capacity, so big families are going to go through it quite quickly.


If you're willing to spend the time waiting, though (and store it as you go), you'll have an unrivaled drinking experience and healthier water than ever before. And for a portable RO unit, this is truly about as easy as it gets. And, even though the price is a little higher than some of the other models, this checks so many boxes for us that it's our #1 pick.


General Features:

Price Range: $$$
Dimensions: 9.5 x 14.25 x 16.25 inches
Tank Capacity: .5 gallons
Certifications: None

Pros

  • No installation required
  • Ready out of the box
  • Has a remineralizing stage
  • Removes fluoride

Cons

  • Very Small Tank (1/2 Gallon)
  • Pricey

2

AquaTru 4-Stage Portable Reverse Osmosis System

Best Countertop Water Filters - AquaTru Countertop Water Filtration Purification System

Coming in a close second to the Zero Installation Purifier (ZIP), the AquaTru 4-Stage model is also a portable reverse osmosis system. While there are many different units on the market today, the easiest way to figure out quality is often looking at the endorsements. If you're looking for a filter that is certified by multiple organizations, the AquaTru may be the one for you. 


There are two primary differences between this model and the ZIP:

  1. The AquaTru has certifications (along with a glowing endorsement by Erin Brockovich, well-known activist and clean water advocate whose story was told in the 2000 movie Erin Brockovich)
  2. You do not get a remineralization stage with this as you do with the ZIP (which may or may not matter to you).

Though till considered pricey (also hovering around $400), this filter will get rid of more particulate matter in your water than almost any other. This, of course, makes your water much safer.

Unlike many of the other units that filter water quite well, this one also includes easy-change filters - something that you'll appreciate when it's time for a new filter.

The biggest downside here is the lack of capacity. At just over half a gallon at best, it's not exactly going to be enough for a large family. You're going to spend a lot of time waiting for the water to filter, but honestly, the wait is worth your time. If you're looking for pure water that's incredibly well-filtered, this might be the unit for you.


General Features:
Price Range: $$$
Dimensions: 18 x 18 x 15 inches
Tank Capacity: .6 gallons
Certifications: CE Certified, ETL Listed, IAPMO Certified

Pros

  • Plenty of certifications
  • Very efficient
  • Easy to change filters

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Minimal Capacity (about .6 gallons)

3

Reverse Osmosis Revolution’s Countertop 5-stage RO System

Best Countertop Water Filters - Reverse Osmosis Revolution’s Countertop Portable 5-stage RO System

As we've seen in the 2 models above - as well as in the section of site dedicated to reverse osmosis - a good RO system is going to help you to get some of the cleanest-tasting and overall purest water that you'll ever get. Finding the right system in a portable package that's friendly to your wallet, though, is tough. That's perhaps why so many people enjoy Reverse Osmosis Revolution's portable 5-stage product and why it's so often recommended to potential buyers.

This unit not only filters water well, but it does so relatively quickly (when compared with the stand-alone options above). It might not be as instant as some models, but it's remarkably quick for the quality that you'll get. And, when it comes to cost, it's hard to say no to an RO option that comes in at just under $120 - which is considerably less expensive than other RO units.


Installation is also a breeze, with a few quick twists being all you need to attach the unit to your faucet. It's easy to use and convenient, which are two of the most important things you can get from a filtration unit. Note that while this does have 5 stages of filtration, it does not come with a remineralization option. Just keep that in mind if you were looking for that.

It'd be nice if the unit looked better, though. While looks certainly aren't everything, you might want to find a way to hide this device on your sink. The best way I can describe the way this looks is that it's kind of like you'd expect a wine or bottle rack to look, only with filter units instead of wine bottles (you'll see for yourself at the product page).


Beyond the issue of looks, though, you really are looking at one of the best portable RO systems available today.


General Features:
Price Range: $$
Dimensions: 14"x6"x6"
Tank Capacity: n/a
Certifications: None

Pros

  • Great tasting water
  • Easy to install
  • Filters fairly rapidly

Cons

  • Honestly very ugly
  • Some customers complain about leakage issues

4

APEX MR-1050 Advanced Alkaline Mineral Filter

Best Countertop Water Filters - APEX MR-1050

It's always a good idea to pick up the type of filter that you're actually more likely to use. While having the biggest and best unit is great, that doesn't help if it stays in the box. As such, you want something that doesn't just work, but that's easy for you to use. This is where the Apex MR-1050 model really stands out.

Installation won't take you more than a few minutes, but once it's installed you'll get a great experience. This means that not only will your water be filtered up to some fairly intense standards, but that it will also taste great due to the alkaline beads that are in the final stage (adding magnesium, calcium and potassium) - after it has passed through the KDF-55 and Granulated Activated Carbon filters.

Though most of what it does seems like it should be par for the course, the truth is that this filtration unit does go above and beyond to provide a good experience.


The Apex MR-1050 is a fantastic option if you need a basic system, and if fluoride is not a concern (since only RO and distillation does an adequate job of removing fluoride).

It'd be nice, though, if the filters were easier to change. There's absolutely a trick to it, but you'll find yourself struggling until you get it done the first time. Luckily, customer service is fantastic and will help you out with your problems no matter what - something that you can't say for most manufacturers. 


General Features:
Price Range: $$
Dimensions: 12 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches
Tank Capacity: n/a
Certifications: BPA Free, Lead Free

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Strict filtration standards
  • Fantastic customer service

Cons

  • Hard to change filter
  • Minor build issues

5

Aquasana Countertop Drinking Water Filter System

Best Countertop Water Filters - Aquasana

A good water filtration system shouldn't just be easy to install - it should also be reliable. Aquasana products frequently make it to our "Top Picks" lists, and the Aquasana countertop model is no exception. 


While some filters are definitely more about providing better tasting water, this unit doesn't stop there. If you're looking for a filter that's going to keep the worst elements out of your water, this is the unit for you.

If you're looking for sheer filtration strength, you really can't beat this model. Not only does it pull out a truly substantial amount of toxins and minerals, but it does so with very a great deal of reliability.

While it's a little slower to dispense than some of the other filters on the market, this is because it really does do more work to ensure that your water is pure.

The real downside here is the cost of replacement filters. You're going to be using proprietary filters in this one, so the replacements don't actually cost much less than the entire unit. Still, those who are willing to spend more to ensure proper filtration will absolutely get their money's worth from this unit.


General Features:
Price Range: $$
Dimensions: 12 x 7 x 4 inches
Tank Capacity: n/a
Certifications: NSF Certified

Pros

  • Easy to attach
  • Great tasting water
  • Does an excellent job of filtration

Cons

  • Replacement filters are expensive
  • Dispenses slowly

6

Big Berkey Water Filter

Best Countertop Water Filters - Big Berkey

If you're looking for a good system that also has a storage tank, you'll definitely want to go big rather than going with something smaller. After all, smaller tanks just mean that you're going to spend more time waiting for the unit to refill and less time actually drinking the water for which you're paying.


And that's where the ever-popular Big Berkey Water Filter comes in.

Honestly, it makes a great deal of sense to go for a filter that's not only going to give you high-quality water, but one that's going to hold enough that you'll very rarely have to wait for it to fill back up.

There are a few things that most consumers are sure to love when it comes to this unit. The big one is capacity - the 2.1 gallon tank stores an awful lot of water, and the filters ensure that every drop tastes great. This unit not only manages to provide water on demand, then, but manages to do so safely and efficiently.

This is certainly one of the best filters that you're going to find on the market today, if not necessarily the best filter that you're going to find from Big Berkey. The only real downside here, beyond the difficulty of installation, is the fact that the company has a bigger and better unit available.

It's very to important to note that this filter is great, but it's definitely something that needs to be bought through an authorized dealer. There have been some very significant issues with shipping and quality control when the item is bought through Amazon, so it's honestly just safe to go ahead ensure that you get this one straight from the source. 


General Features:
Price Range: $$$
Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.5 x 21 inches
Tank Capacity: 2.1 gallons
Certifications: None

Pros

  • Great capacity
  • Price matches competition
  • Good customer support

Cons

  • Issues if buying from other than authorized vendors
  • More popular models available from company
  • Assembly and installation may be complicated

7

Royal Berkey Water Filter

Best Countertop Water Filters - Royal Berkey

Jumping a step up in tank capacity is always a choice that should be made carefully. After all, you're not just looking at having a bigger tank - you're generally looking at a unit that takes up more space, that probably cost more to run in terms of electrical power, and definitely requires a bigger initial investment.

If your primary goal is always to have water on hand, though, you're definitely going to want to go with something bigger. That's where we introduce you to the Royal Berkey Water Filter.

The Royal unit is a lot like its cousin, the Big model. The real difference is, of course, the enhanced tank size. It's almost a full gallon bigger, so you know that you'll definitely have water on hand even if you have a large family. Beyond the tank size, though, you're still getting the same features as in the smaller unit - good water filtration and an excellent warranty from the authorized vendors from whom you buy the device.

The downsides here are the same as you'll find with the smaller model. This is definitely not an easy filter to install, though it doesn't quite require the help of a plumber. You also should avoid buying the device from anyone but an authorized vendor, as there have been significant quality problems reported by Amazon customers. Still, those who buy from the vendor will get a great filtration experience.


General Features:
Price Range: $$$
Dimensions: 9.5 x 9.5 x 24 inches
Tank Capacity: 3.25 gallons
Certifications: None

Pros

  • Great capacity
  • Outstanding warranty
  • Price match from authorized dealers

Cons

  • Can't reliably buy from Amazon
  • List Element
  • Installation takes some work

8

CleanWater4Less® Countertop System

Best Countertop Water Filters - CleanWater4Less

There are plenty of filters with impressive features or that seek to provide a lifetime of clean water. Sometimes, though, you just want something that will work now. If you're looking for the best combination of simplicity and effectiveness, you'll find it in this unit by CleanWater4Less.

There's a lot to like here if you're looking for simplicity. There are no internal filters to replace, so you can pretty much set and forget this model. It also attaches directly to your faucet, so you don't need a plumber for installation. When it comes to ease of use, you're absolutely not going to beat this one - especially if all you really want is clean-tasting water.

The downside about this unit is that it's really a one-and-done proposition. Once you've used up the internal filter, you're going to have to buy another unit. If the filter actually made it to the 10,000 gallon mark that'd be one thing, but the construction makes it obvious that you'll only make it a fraction of that time. If you need something that's exceptionally easy to use, though, this might be a good fit for you - especially given its price point of just around $60 or so. 


General Features:
Price Range: $$
Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 9.5 inches
Tank Capacity: n/a
Certifications: None

Pros

  • Simple installation
  • Great taste
  • No filter to replace

Cons

  • Bulky
  • Looks cheap
  • Some say it doesn't last as long as advertised

9

APEX MR-1030 Countertop Water Filter

Best Countertop Water Filters - APEX MR-1030

There are a number of different things for which people might look in products like this. Some really just want to be able to know that their water is truly pure. Others care more about taste than anything else. Still others prefer something that's useful enough to take as they move from place to place. If your preferences run towards the latter two factors, the Apex MR-1030 might be your best bet.

The good news here is that the filter is incredibly easy to use. It's a quick install that can be done with no plumbing knowledge, and changing out the filtration mechanism is a breeze. It's going to change how your water tastes after just a few minutes, and that's more than enough of a benefit for most people who choose this kind of filtration system.

The trade-off here is that the unit doesn't filter quite as well as some others. You're definitely not going to notice most of the time, but those with home testing kits will see some of the more problematic numbers stay the same after installation. If you're looking more at taste than content, though, this might still be a fantastic purchase, and it comes in at a little lower price point than the Apex MR-1050 that we discussed above.


General Features:
Price Range: $$
Dimensions: 14.5 x 6.5 x 6.3 inches
Tank Capacity: n/a
Certifications: None

Pros

  • Easy install
  • Easy to use
  • Water tastes great

Cons

  • Issues with drippage
  • Doesn't remove all minerals

10

iSpring CKC1C Countertop Model

Best Countertop Water Filters - iSpring CKC1C

It's nice to have a filter that's just easy to use. The iSpring CKC1C really stands out not necessarily because it's the most efficient filter on the block or because it's the least expensive, but rather because it's honestly one of the easiest to use. From installation to actual usage, you're not going to have a lot of trouble with this one.

This unit has a nice, easy installation process that can be undone in a few seconds (once you get past the actual instruction manual). Once you're done, it's easy to pick up and bring along with you. It's also incredibly easy to change the filter - not only is the unit designed so that you can check the filter without having to dismantle the unit, but actually making the change only takes a few seconds. It's about as user-friendly as you could want, albeit with a couple of small issues.

The big one here is the proprietary filter. Simply put, you're going to have to use iSpring's filter if you use this model, so get ready to pay extra (after you've purchased the unit itself at a fairly low cost).


It's not a bad filter at all, though, but some people will have a problem with being told what to use. The instructions for installation and changing the filter aren't great either, but you can figure things out in just a moment. If you're willing to put up with these issues, though, you'll have a very easy-to-use filter. 


General Features:
Price Range: $$
Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 12 inches
Tank Capacity: n/a
Certifications: NSF/ANSI

Pros

  • Easy installation
  • Easy to check filter
  • Portable

Cons

  • Unclear installation instructions
  • Proprietary filter
  • List Element

11

Home Master HM Mini Sinktop Faucet Filter

Best Countertop Water Filters - Home Master HM Mini Sinktop

There's a lot to be said for those who just want a decent filter that's not going to take a up a ton of counter space. If you live in a small apartment, only have a kitchenette available or you're on the road in an RV, you might not have the space to use some of the other units on this list. Fortunately, there are options available for you. If space is your major concern, the Home Master HM Mini Sinktop Faucet Filter may well be the best choice that you'll be able to make.

As you might imagine, the primary selling point here is the size. At just four and a half inches wide and eight inches tall, it's one of the smallest faucet filters that you're likely to find on the market today. Despite the small size, though, it works incredibly well. The water quality will surprise you no matter where you're hooking up, and you'll get a reliable experience even if you haven't used it in some time. It's nice to see that good things really do come in small packages.

The worst part about this filter, though, is the life of the filter itself. You're going to change out the filtration unit far more often than you would with bigger models, and it's hard to tell exactly when the point of failure will be reached. If you're willing to put up with that inconvenience, though, this might be the best small model for your needs.


General Features:
Price Range: $
Dimensions: 4.5 x 4.5 x 8 inches
Tank Capacity: n/a
Certifications: NSF

Pros

  • Great small size
  • Easy install
  • Really good customer service

Cons

  • Fairly short filter life
  • Not ideal for those with larger water needs

Frequently Asked Questions 

Now that you have read the reviews for a few of the best options available, we can get into some of the most common questions that people tend to have when researching these systems for their home or business.

How Do Countertop Water Filters Work?

These are not complicated machines. It doesn’t take very much effort to install them and most models are easy to transport if necessary. There are a few basic types of countertop models: those that are attached at the faucet, those that stand alone, and water pitchers (which we will discuss in a separate article since that's a category all its own! Here is how each type is installed and used.

To install a faucet-mounted device, you simply replace your faucet’s current aerator with the filter’s diverter valve. The aerator should easily screw off so that you can screw on the diverter valve and begin using the filter. (Of course each model has its own differences, so you will need to follow the manufacturer's instructions.)

In order to use your filter, run cold water from your faucet and let the water run down the drain. Then, pull the small lever or button that is located on the diverter valve. This will cause the water to go through the small pipe that leads to the water filter instead of the sink’s normal faucet.

The filter cartridge is located within the housing. The water will go through the cartridge and exit the filter by going through the spout. From there, you’ll be able to collect the water in your cup, bottle or other water-holding container.

It’s very easy to turn the filter off; you just turn off the main faucet’s cold water tap. Once the water is turned off, the diverter valve will pop back into its original position and your faucet will operate normally until you activate the lever/button on the filter again.

To see a very general example of this, have a look at the following video, which depicts the installation of a fairly typical model.

How Do I Determine The Right Type For Me?

As I mentioned earlier, there are two general types of countertop models to choose from: faucet-mounted filters and stand-alone. Going over the pros and cons of each type can help you determine which one is best for you.

• Stand-alone options are not connected to your sink’s faucet. This is a great advantage if you do not have a lot of space near the sink, or if you want something that goes beyond a standard carbon filter (which is the primary media of the faucet mounts). These pitchers can be placed on a different counter, in the refrigerator, or any other location that you prefer. The major downside to these filters is that you have to manually refill them with water as the reservoir of filtered water runs out.
• Faucet-mounted options are directly connected to your sink’s tap. Since they are always connected, they are more readily available for immediate usage. They also easy and quick to install. One of the main downsides of this type of filter as that it is hard to tell how much water has been filtered in order to determine when to change the filter cartridge (unless the model that you are purchasing has some type of indicator or is in a clear housing that makes it easier to see if the cartridge needs changing - like the iSpring above).

In addition to features such as size, and ease of use, other criteria that can help you make a decision on which filter to buy are: filtration capacity, price, contaminants removed, maintenance required and how the water tastes. I will go through each of these criteria in further detail later on.

Different Types of Models

Let’s have a look at what you might find in this category.

Gravity-Fed Systems

These filtration systems use the power of gravity to allow the water to flow through the filter. The process begins when water is poured into the top of the filter container, passes through the filter, and then into a reservoir below. The filter water collects in the reservoir until you are ready to use it. The major advantage of this system is that it usually does not require any effort to install. (See the Big Berkey and Royal Berkey models described above as an example of gravity-fed systems.)

Countertop Reverse Osmosis Systems

Although these are usually found BELOW the counter, you will find some countertop reverse osmosis systems - and we specifically looked at three of them here, above:

This happens to be one of the more complex, yet most thorough methods for water filtration. With this type of system, water pressure forces the unpurified water through a membrane and several other filters in order to purify it. Installation can be a little more complicated and most of the "below counter" reverse osmosis systems come with their own faucets, instead of attaching to your existing faucet. 

Fortunately, as far as the countertop models are concerned, two of them are stand-alone (you fill a compartment with tap water, and the machine forces the water through the membrane and other filters into the compartment reserved for the purified water), and the other does attach to your faucet - but doesn't need a separate tap installed.

Some RO systems also include extra features like re-mineralization and UV filtration. Re-mineralization adds beneficial minerals back to the filtered water that were removed during the reverse osmosis process. This results in better tasting water. UV filtration is good for eliminating viruses, bacteria and other microscopic critters from your water.

Alkaline Systems

Alkaline filters don’t really filter impurities from the water. What they do is change the PH of the water to an alkaline level, which many people believe is better for you.

Since they do not remove contaminants or debris from your water, these types of systems are usually used in addition to one of the other systems listed here, such as reverse osmosis. You should definitely look further into the benefits of drinking alkaline water to determine if this type of system is a feature that you would need. 

In our list of the "Top Picks" above, the Apex MR-1050 model DOES have the Alkaline feature.

Distilled Water Systems

Water distillers use a different process to produce water that is pretty much the same level of purity as de-ionized water (which removes - as the name implies - all ions in the water – aka "dissolved mineral salts"). However, water distillers are not technically water filters, so they will be discussed in a category of their own at another time.

What Contaminants Are In My Water?

Depending on your water source, there can potentially be hundreds of contaminants and pollutants in your water. Here is a general overview of the most common contaminants found in tap water:

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals are substances such as mercury, lead, arsenic, chromium, zinc, copper and much more. Our bodies actually need trace amounts of some of these metals, but some are toxic to us and the beneficial ones can be toxic in high enough doses.

That’s why it’s important to know which heavy metals are in your drinking water and if they are at safe levels. Heavy metals are also dangerous because they can accumulate in your body over time, leading to a buildup of toxicity that could cause trouble for you years later.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

VOCs are toxic chemicals like pesticides, fungicides, insecticides and other chemicals that are used for pest control, farming and lawn care, among other things.

These chemicals are usually sprayed directly onto the ground, which makes it easy for them to find their way into tap water. Studies have shown that many VOC chemicals can cause damage to various organs in your body and may even cause disease.

Hormone-Disrupting Compounds

These contaminants are usually synthetic chemicals that imitate or disrupt the normal function of your body’s hormones and endocrine system when they are consumed.
These endocrine or hormone-disrupting compounds can find their way into our water, air and food via pharmaceutical products, plastics, pesticides, vehicle exhaust, cosmetics and more.

The use of most of these compounds are not regulated by the government at this time, so it is definitely a good idea to know if your water contains them and get a filter that removes as much of them as possible.

Fluoride

Almost everyone has heard the claims that fluoride may be harmful to our health. Virtually every city in America adds fluoride to their tap water with the belief that it is essential for better dental health - and Grand Rapids, MI holds the dubious honor of being the first city in the US (actually, in the world) that added fluoride to its water in 1945 (Source: Harvard Public Health Publication). However, some studies have shown that drinking fluoride does not improve overall dental health.

Instead, studies have shown that ingesting fluoride may cause thyroid disorders. Filtration systems that remove fluoride tend to be on the more expensive side, but if the possible dangers of fluoride are a concern, then you may find them to be worth the extra money.

Getting your Water Tested

It’s usually a fairly simple process to have your water tested. Your water company may provide information on their website on how to request a city water report or schedule an appointment for someone to come test your home’s water on the spot.

You may even be able to find a city-wide water report by doing an internet search for the city name and “water report”. Once you know what is in your water, you can make a more informed decision about which system is best for you.

Of course you can also purchase a water testing kit, or reach out to your local extension service for more information and advice.

Next, I will briefly go over which contaminants each system is able to remove.

Which System Removes The Most Contaminants?

Gravity-Fed Systems

In addition to removing debris from tap, rain, and fresh water, gravity-fed systems are able to remove or reduce some chemicals from your water, such as pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, etc.

Many of these systems are also able to reduce fluoride (additional parts may be needed), heavy metals, chlorine, bacteria and parasites, among other impurities. 

The level of filtration that the cartridge provides will determine how much of these impurities are removed. Filter cartridges with higher filtration levels and several layers of filtration material will be able to remove more impurities.

Gravity-fed systems that use activated charcoal as their main filtration material are typically the cheapest, but are not able to remove as many contaminants as other systems. Additionally, the dirtier the water is, the more often you will need to replace the filter.

Reverse Osmosis Systems

These systems remove even more contaminants than gravity fed systems - in fact RO technology is one of the best methods of filtration on today's consumer market. In addition to removing fluoride, heavy metals and chlorine, reverse osmosis systems can also arsenic, asbestos, and most minerals contained in the water. On the downside, reverse osmosis systems are not very good at removing VOCs or hormone disrupters that may be in your water supply.

Most RO systems include an activated carbon filtration phase to help remove what the RO membrane itself cannot (e.g. VOCs).

Some people don’t like the fact that these systems remove minerals from the water because it negatively affects the taste. In these cases, it is possible to add trace minerals back into your water. This does of course add additional cost to the filtration process, since you would need to purchase a system that includes a phase that reintroduces the trace minerals to the "finished product."

De-ionization (DI) Systems

DI systems remove inorganic compounds from your water at an ionic level. This enables them to remove most chemicals completely or at least reduce them to extremely low levels. On the downside, de-ionization is not able to remove dissolved organic compounds, debris, particulates or bacteria from your water.

Because of this, it is necessary for most filters to use de-ionization in combination with an additional system, such as reverse osmosis. This can make DI systems quite pricey, but if you require water that is pure down to the ionic level, then you may want to look into them.

Pros and Cons of Countertop Filters

Depending on your individual needs, there are likely to be pros as well as cons to using one of these devices. Individual needs depend on the initial quality of the water source, contaminants in the water and health concerns. Therefore, it is important to go over the various attributes of various filtration systems to see what fits your particular needs the best.

I will go over some basic pros and cons now that should make it easier to decide if a countertop system is right for you.

Pros: 

Price: They usually don’t cost as much as other systems, such as under-the-sink filters. They offer a good level of basic activated carbon filtration at the most affordable price (Note however that the countertop RO systems are typically more expensive.).
Space-Savers: Many of us simply don’t have a lot of room in our kitchens for large filtration systems. Countertop systems are usually small, portable and many are designed to be stack-able with other items.
Installation: As we discussed, there are two types of systems--faucet-mounted and stand-alone. Faucet models are simply screwed onto or in place of your existing faucet and the pitcher models only require you to insert the filter, and then pour water into the top reservoir to start the filtration process.
Effectiveness: These filters still work very well despite their smaller size and ease of use. Most countertop filters are able to remove or reduce contaminates at levels that are acceptable to the average consumer.
Easy to Maintain: Aside from general cleaning of the housing, the only other maintenance required is periodic replacement of the filter cartridge. The more water you filter or the dirtier your water is, the more often you should change your filter. Most models have some kind of indication system that helps you determine when your filter needs to be replaced.
Adding Trace Minerals: Some filtration systems remove minerals from the water that are good for us and improve the taste of our water. Due to this, many units also have a built-in feature that will add those beneficial minerals back into your water for optimal taste and health.
Filter Priming: All filter cartridges need to be primed before their first use. For most countertop models, this process can be as simple as rinsing the cartridge under cold water for a certain amount of time. Compared to other filtration systems, countertop filter cartridges are the easiest to prime. Instructions on how to prime your cartridge should be included with your system when you purchase it.

Cons:

Much like any other product, there are some attributes of countertop systems that some consumers may consider to be a disadvantage.

Appearance: These units can sometimes be seen as a bulky eyesore attached to your normal faucet. The cheaper models may not come in a color or style that fits the current theme of your kitchen. Most pitcher systems are designed to look sleek and unassuming, but that too will depend on what kind of look you are going for.
Limited Use: Unlike a whole house system that filters all the water supplying your household, these can only be connected to one faucet at a time. If you would prefer to filter the water from every faucet in your home, you’ll either have to buy a faucet system for each faucet or install a different type of system that connects directly to your home’s water line. Water pitchers can of course only filter water that is manually poured into its filtration chamber.
• Limited filtration capabilities: Unless yours is a Reverse Osmosis model, most of these units are fairly simple in that you are only going to remove what the single carbon filter (in most cases) is designed to treat.
Not as Efficient: Countertop systems are very efficient for the price, but other filtration systems are much more efficient at removing contaminants faster and on a larger scale, although they may cost more.
Speed: Water filter pitchers are known for being notoriously slow. It can take 10 minutes or longer for a pitcher to filter a full reservoir’s worth of water, depending on the size of the reservoir. Faucet models are faster, but may still be too slow if you need to fill many containers quickly.

As you can see, it is very important to consider all aspects of the various filtration systems available in order to decide what will work best for you. What one person considers a con may be a pro for you, and vice versa.

You may go into your decision-making process thinking that a countertop filtration system is best for you, but in the end discover that an under-sink system fits more of your needs.

In Conclusion

Countertop water filter systems are a great way to remove most contaminants from your water without breaking the bank. They are compact, portable, easy to use and install, and come in a variety of models and colors.

If you’re in the market for one of these units, be sure to check out the filters I introduced on this page. Thanks so much for reading our guide! I hope this information helps you make the best decision possible for you and your health.