When it comes to determining the best filtration system for your household, one of the first things you will need to determine is whether you want the water supply for your entire home to be treated, or are you primarily looking for something to treat the supply that you drink and cook with.
And if you give this serious thought, almost nothing matters as much as the quality of water that we drink. Because of that, it can be vital to ensure that we're drinking water that's as pure and toxin-free as possible. For some people, that may be relatively easy as they have access to a high-quality water source that isn't affected by many pollutants. For the rest of us, however, that may be easier said than done as there can be a variety of different chemicals in what comes out of our taps.
However, that doesn't have to be the case, as there's quite a broad range of different water filters and purifiers that can reduce or remove these pollutants. That being said, though, many of us mightn't know where to start looking when it comes to these choices.
This is chiefly because of the many different options, as well as the different benefits and features that these models offer. However, there are a few different features that you should look for when it comes to buying a water filter; furthermore, there are a few prominent brands and models that stick out from the crowd.
Drinking and Cooking Water: Basic Kitchen Options
If you only use a couple of gallons per day, and all you are really concerned about is your kitchen water supply for drinking and cooking, then your most economical and logical option is likely to be either an under sink unit or a countertop product (such as a pitcher like the well-known AquaGear, Brita, Seychelles, etc or gravity model like the Big Berkey, Zen Water, etc).
Because these are categories all their own, we have dedicated an entire section of the site for countertop products and pitchers.
A lot of households use much more than just 2 or 3 gallons per day, and would like to ensure that all the water they use to drink, cook, and rinse produce with is filtered - this writer included! Hence the growing popularity of the under sink (or below counter) options, which is what we will zoom in on in this article.
Note that depending on the size of your bathroom counter, some of these might be appropriate for the bathroom tap as well!
You are here to see the highest rated, best-performing models, so let’s begin with a quick overview of our top picks (including the inline one my family just purchased after doing all this research!).
First up: Our Top 3 Direct Connect (Simple) Water Filters
Over the past decade or so, under models have been steadily improving in efficiency; furthermore, there's also been a significant reduction in the overall price of these filters. Because of that, they've also become more popular in recent years, with their overall quality also playing a considerable factor in this. Having said that, there are still a few noteworthy filters that stick out from the rest. Click on any of these to go to the review, lower on this page.
Woder 10K-Gen3 In-Line
Frizzlife Direct Connect
3M Aqua-Pure - Model 3MFF100
Next Up: Our Top 9 Picks for "Conventional" Below the Sink Models (with Faucets)
Compared to more simple under sink water filters, these can be somewhat more expensive, and time-consuming, to install in your home. However, this is chiefly because they've often been the more effective models when it comes to filtering out all of the toxins that may be in your water. As such, they can often be worth the extra expense when it comes to your overall health.
Below we show both 3-stage and 2-stage units. You can look at the reviews further down the page by clicking the "Read the Review Below" buttons.
SURVIVOR FILTER Max, 2-Stage Fluoride and Chlorine In-Line Home Filter
Aquasana 3-Stage Max Flow
Aquasana (AQ 5300) Claryum 3-Stage
Brondell H2O+ Coral UC300 Three-Stage
Aquasana Claryum 2-Stage (AQ 5200)
While the majority of the water filters that we've mentioned so far have been high-quality, they also happen to be some of the most popular. However, there can still be quite a few different purifiers that may have fallen under the radar for some time, despite how well they might perform. However, that doesn't mean you should miss out on what may otherwise be a quality purchase. To learn more about these options, click on "Read the Review Below" to go directly to the review.
Filtrete 4US-MAXL-S01 System with Dedicated Faucet
Three Main Categories of Under Sink Filters
As you may have noticed in the brief overview above, these products are designed to remove bad or foul tastes/odors, chlorine, and certain other particulates and metals, they don’t use electricity, and do not create any waste water.
There are actually three different types of below the counter water filtration systems:
Also called "direct connect," the simple set up hooks up to the cold water line coming into your kitchen, flows through 2-3 various phases to remove basic contaminants, and then reconnects directly to the existing faucet above. This does not use electricity, has almost no impact on your water flow, and does not create waste water.
The conventional set up is almost identical to the simple type in every way except for one: instead of flowing directly to your existing faucet, once the water passes through the phases, it is then dispensed from a separate, dedicated faucet that is installed specifically for this purpose. This is the most common set up.
Arguably the most effective method for ensuring that everything disagreeable is removed from the water supply (due to the reverse osmosis semi-permeable membrane that traps what the other filtration stages cannot remove), this system is in a class by itself, which we address in great depth on our Reverse Osmosis page here.
Reverse Osmosis vs Under Sink Water Filter Systems
A question we have been asked is, “What is the difference between ‘Reverse Osmosis’ and other units that go below the counter? They are all installed in a similar spot, so why not lump them all together?”
There is a reason why we usually refer to “Reverse Osmosis” on its own, and “Under Sink” on its own. The most obvious differences between the two – and why we have them separated into their own distinct categories and pages here – are as follows:
In-Depth Look at Each Model
So, it becomes a bit like comparing apples and oranges; yes, they are both fruits, but there are so many differences between them, that it just makes sense to give them each their own space when discussing them!
Let’s look at each of the models we’ve introduced in a bit more depth.
This is definitely one of the more popular water filtration systems on offer, and it's easy to see why as it offers quite a few benefits compared to many others. Chief among these is the fact that it offers quite a few filtration features as standard with one of the most prominent being its bacteriostatic system which removes the likes of mold and other bacteria.
Furthermore, it also offers an easy installation process that can be done by almost anyone. On top of this, it's a lot more durable and long-lasting than many others, so you won't need to replace it anytime soon. However, it does have a few noticeable drawbacks.
Perhaps the most prominent of these is that is can be somewhat larger than other filters, so it may not be suitable for smaller kitchens. On top of this, it can also leave somewhat of a bitter aftertaste, although this may not be too noticeable, depending on the quality of water in your area.
For its price, the Woder 10K-Gen3 is perhaps one of the more powerful water purifiers on offer. On top of being quick and easy to install, with no plumbing required, it also offers extremely long-lasting filters. Whereas many filters need to be changed every six months or so, this can easily last up to three years per filter.
That doesn't mean it compromises on efficiency, however, as it can still remove up to 99.9% of harmful chemicals that may be in your water. Having said that, this does come at the price of having a noticeable impact on your overall water pressure, which can be significantly reduced. However, this is definitely one of the more budget friendly alternatives.
Frizzlife Direct Connect Filtration System
Many of us want a simple under sink water filter that doesn't have much of an impact on your water's flow rate, which is where this product shines. On top of this minimal impact, it also includes a somewhat unique shut-off design, so you won't need to worry about usage. It also features an easy to turn on/off switch. Lastly, it also offers quite an easy installation process.
However, it should also be noted that, despite removing the majority of unwanted chemicals, it can still leave somewhat of an unpleasant aftertaste. With that in mind, it may not be suitable if you drink water without any additives.
3M Aqua-Pure - Model 3MFF100
None of us want to have water that tastes somewhat foul, regardless of how pure and clean it may be. However, this water purifier is definitely one of the leaders when it comes to simple water filters that produce clean-tasting, and healthy water. On top of this, an innovative design makes switching filters a breeze.
Having said that, there is one notable drawback in the fact that it's not very durable. As a result, you may end up needing to replace the entire system not long after you originally buy it, which can quickly become expensive despite it being a relatively affordable model.
Spoiler Alert! This is the filter we chose for our own home! After testing several inline filters, it’s safe to say that the Survivor Filter Max 2-Stage Fluoride and Chlorine Inline Filter is one of our all-time favorites. Here's why:
First and foremost, this filter uses proprietary activated alumina to extract excess fluoride from water. Until we learned this, we had been strongly leaning towards getting a Reverse Osmosis (RO) unit because we wanted to remove as much fluoride as possible. But, as we also know, RO systems create quite a bit of waste water, which we are trying to avoid since we are on a municipal supply (if you saw our monthly water bill, you would understand).
On top of this, it meets all of the Water Quality Association and NSF/ANSI Standards for chlorine taste and lead-free compliance. Not to mention, it is capable of extracting a long list of additional contaminants, including arsenic, lead, and VOCs.
And even better, the Max’s installation is quick and easy - it took my husband less than an hour (from opening the box to tasting the resulting water). It may have taken less time, but he decided to strengthen the wall mount (the unit comes with some screws, but they aren't terribly robust).
The two-filter system can be connected directly to any existing cold water outlet. The unit is perfectly suitable for small spaces, including camper vans and tiny houses. There’s absolutely no need for a plumber or experienced handyman.
The Max Home filter also boasts an incredible lifespan. The fluoride filter is suitable for up to 1.5 years or 5,000 gallons of filtration, and the chlorine filter is good for up to 2 years (8,000 gallons). According to our calculations, you could net hundreds of dollars of savings by simply switching from conventional water refills to this inline filtration system. We've done the math on this!
It is also one of the few inline filtration systems that was actually capable of upstaging reverse osmosis (RO) filters. Unlike RO filters, the Max does not waste water or extract essential minerals. Moreover, the water tastes and smells better than that filtered by many other models.
While the Survivor Max has very few drawbacks, we’d like to see the company offer an independent faucet. This way, users would have the option to conserve the filter’s life for drinking water.
With a durable design and high-quality materials, this is something that will last you quite a while. This is even further enhanced by the fact that the filters used in the system don't need to be changed too regularly without affecting its efficiency. On top of this, the effect on your water flow is minimal and mightn't even be noticed.
However, this may leave a noticeable aftertaste once it's purified your water. Also of note is that it's only available in a stainless steel finish; while this can be great for durability, if you're looking for a filter than fits well with your decor, then it may not be suitable.
Aquasana 3-Stage Max Flow (Claryum)
A lot of conventional under sink water filters can leave somewhat of an aftertaste in the water; however, this isn't the case here, as the water tastes clean and fresh. Furthermore, there's very little impact on your sink's flow rate, so there's no need to wait to fill your glass.
However, one of the more interesting features is the fact that it's Bluetooth enabled, so you'll know when you need to change a filter without having to keep checking under the sink. Having said that, this may not always be accurate.
On top of that, it isn't as durable or long-lasting as many other models; as such, you may end up needing to replace it after only a few months use. While one system may be affordable, this can quickly add up.
Aquasana (AQ 5300) Claryum 3-Stage
While you might assume that this is the same model as above, there are quite a few notable differences, with the majority of these being based around the types of filtration methods. Having said that, it does offer quite a few benefits.
Perhaps the most notable of these is that it's fully NSF certified, so it won't leach any chemicals into your water. On top of this, it's filters are quite long-lasting and it has a quick and easy installation process. However, despite how long-lasting the filters are, the system itself may need to be replaced after about a year, as it's not very durable.
A lot of us may want a water purifier that's been certified for its performance, which is certainly the case here, as this Pelican purifier has a variety of IAPMO certificates for quality. Furthermore, it also has almost no impact on your water pressure. Couple with a simple installation process and you'll be enjoying clean water relatively quickly.
However, this isn't very long-lasting, and it may eventually start making your water discolored. Because of that, it may not be a great long-term investment and may need to be replaced within a few months. Coupled with how expensive it is, then it may not be the wisest purchase.
Many people may think that this offers the same features as above, but you'd be mistaken in assuming so. Instead of actively purifying your water, it simply filters out many of the chemicals in your water. Despite this, however, it still has a few core benefits.
Perhaps one of the most notable of these is that it's a lot easier to install and maintain over time. On top of this, its compact design means it can fit under almost any sink. Furthermore, the materials it's made from are more environmentally friendly than many of its competitors.
Similar to the Purification model, however, it does suffer from a lack of durability, so you may end up needing to replace it faster than you had planned.
Brondell H2O+ Coral UC300 Three-Stage
Not many of us have the space for a medium to large water filter or purifier, while many of the smaller versions don't tend to be too powerful. However, this is where this Brondell shines as, despite its small size, it's an effective and powerful filtration system.
Furthermore, it's been certified by both the Water Quality Association and Gold Seal for its quality, so there's no need to worry about efficacy. Its small design also means that it can fit in almost any kitchen. However, there are two notable drawbacks to this Brondell.
The most prominent being its pre-installed faucet. While this mightn't be an issue for many, it can be for those who already have a faucet installed as this will have to be removed. Secondly is the fact that it's not long-lasting and may need replacement after only six months.
Aquasana Claryum 2-Stage (AQ 5200)
While changing a filter doesn't take too long, it can often be an irritating task, especially if they're powerful. However, this Aquasana outperforms many of its competitors when it comes to ease of use when changing filters, without affecting their overall quality.
On top of this, the filters can last considerably longer than many other models, so you won't need to change them too regularly. Furthermore, a smart-tech system alerts you before your filter needs to be changed, so there's no need to keep checking.
However, like many other models, this efficiency can affect your water flow rate significantly, resulting in a slower pour. Filtered water can also have somewhat of an aftertaste, which many might find unappealing.
While there are many filters and purifiers that remove the majority of harmful chemicals in your water, not many can do so as well as this Pelican model; as such, it's been certified by a number of different independent labs for its efficacy getting rid of the likes of chlorine, lead and much more.
Furthermore, the filtered water that's produced tastes much better than many other models. Add in a long-lasting system, as well as filters, and you can rest easy knowing that you've made a solid investment. However, there is one notable drawback in that installation can be quite tricky. As such, it may need a notable amount of work from a professional to install.
Many people may overlook this Crystal Quest water filter because they've taken less of a one-size fits all approach that many competitors do. Instead, they offer a variety of different specialty filters depending on your needs; as such, you'll only need to purchase what you're looking for.
Furthermore, unlike many other competitors, it's made with Polypropylene, which is BPA-free; as a result, there are fewer chemicals to worry about. Add in an easy installation process, and you'll have an easy to use water filtration system within an hour.
However, there is one notable drawback here in the fact that it can develop a leak over time, which can result in some minor damage to where you're storing it.
Filtrete 4US-MAXL-S01 System with Dedicated Faucet
There are very few water filtration systems that are small but still do what you need them to do. However, this Filtrete is definitely one of them. This is chiefly because it was designed with space in mind, without compromising on quality. As a result, it's been certified by NSF International for its performance, while still fitting in any kitchen.
On top of this, like many other smaller systems, there's a minimal, if any, effect on water flow. However, the filters don't last long and will need regular changing. Having said that, the biggest issue is that it may not seal properly when installed, resulting in some minor leaking.
What To Look For In A Water Filter
There can be a few different things that you should look for when you're buying a water filter, regardless of which type it may be. The first of these is its maximum filtration rate, which is something that many people may forget about. This is the amount of filtered water that will be produced on a daily basis, and which can vary wildly from model to model. While how much filtered water you need is something that changes from household to household, it's something that you'll need to compare to what a purifier can produce; should you need more than a filter is capable of creating, then it may not be the right one for you.
Furthermore, you'll need to look at the overall quality of the water that it releases; while the majority of filters will get rid of most toxins, you'll also need to worry about the likes of taste and smell, as well as a few other factors. This is chiefly because some filters will remove minerals and chemicals regardless of whether they're good or bad for you, which can also affect the overall taste. With that in mind, it's something that you'll need to spend some time looking at.
Maintenance is also a key factor in water purifiers, as is the case with the majority of other appliances that you may use regularly. While some water filters will seem like a great financial purchase at first, they may be liable to break regularly and result in a significant cost down the line, or total replacement. Because of that, you may need to think about how durable and long-lasting a filter is before you buy it.
So based on everything you've read, let's run down our top picks.
Our Top Picks
#1 - Survivor Filter Max 2-Stage
As you read earlier, we personally chose was the Survivor Filter Max 2-Stage unit. BTW: In the interest of transparency, we purchased this with our own funds - the company did NOT give it to us, nor did they give us any special consideration other than allowing us to save 10% with the Survivor Filter coupon code, which you can use as well.
Because it was important to us to reduce the chlorine and fluoride from our drinking water, this was our best bet over a Reverse Osmosis system. We've tested the water, and were content that the overall quality provided by our town is as good as we can expect, other than that icky chlorine smell and the fact that they add fluoride to the supply.
NOW...If we were on a well, we'd still likely get an RO system due to several other unknowns (e.g. up north we KNOW there is a lot of radon in the water, and possibly other naturally-occurring radionuclides), but this is the best option for us in our current home. I have to say we are very, very happy with our purchase, and feel confident that you would be pleased with it as well.
#2 - CuZn UC 200
When it comes to the best simple under sink water filter, the CuZn UC 200 manages to outperform many of its competitors, especially within the same price range. This is chiefly because it can last significantly longer than many others in its class while still being relatively affordable and minimizing the number of harmful chemicals in your drinking water.
#3 - APEC WFS-1000
With more conventional 3-stage water filters, the APEC WFS-1000 Super Capacity Premium Quality 3 Stage water filter outshines many other models. This is primarily because of its longevity and overall efficiency; as such, it's one of the more durable 3-stage water filters that you can buy without breaking the bank. With that in mind, if you're looking for a purifier with a bit of power, then you shouldn't go wrong with this one.
#4 - Pelican 2-Stage
However, if you happen to live in an area that doesn't need too much water purification, and only need a 2-stage filter, the Pelican 2-stage can be a perfect choice. While it's naturally not as powerful as some of the 3-stage counterparts, it is a more affordable purchase for those who don't need the extra filtration.
With all of that in mind, what's stopping you from getting healthy, pollutant-free water at an affordable price? With the variety of high-quality options that are on offer, and knowing what you need to look for when buying, then you should have no problem getting the perfect filter for you.