No one wants to drink contaminated water, so how do you make sure that what you put in your body is healthy? Our municipalities work hard to give us sanitized water, but there’s always a risk that some pollutants will slip through the cracks.
Your faucet water might contain toxins that will affect your health and home over time. These include chemicals, heavy metals, minerals, and pathogens. The easiest way to purify your water is to invest in a filter.
Which one will do the job for you? Read on to find out how to choose the best water filter, and to see our top seven picks.
Types of Water Filters
Basic water filters have their advantages, and large, complicated systems will also have a drawback or two. That’s why before you settle on a filter for yourself, you should determine which kind you need. We’ve broken it down for you so that you can weigh up the pros and cons of each.
This is a small device that you connect directly to your faucet. Typically, all this entails is removing your faucet’s diffuser and replacing it with the filter. Some users install a whole extra faucet, and so can choose between filtered and unfiltered water.
Faucet filters are excellent for purifying drinking, cooking, and hand-washing water, but they are a bit limited. There’s a chance they may not fit your faucets and aren’t designed for other taps like showerheads. Regular maintenance is necessary, and they could cause a drop in water pressure.
- Easy installation.
- Relatively inexpensive.
- Excellent for cooking and drinking.
- Choice between filtered and unfiltered.
- Decreases water pressure.
- May not be compatible.
- Frequent maintenance required.
Under the Sink Filter
If a faucet filter is too small for your liking, consider an under sink model. As the name implies, these systems are connected to your plumbing beneath your sink, often out of sight. Because of their size, they tend to have larger filtration capacity, and sometimes use sophisticated filtration (like reverse osmosis), to purify your water.
Size may work against you, though. Under the sink systems cost more than faucet filters, and they take up a fair amount of room below your sink. Maintenance is low, so this may be a fair exchange for you.
- Infrequent maintenance.
- Option for advanced filtration technology.
- Great for cooking and drinking water.
- Costs more.
- Large, so takes up space.
Fridge filters dispense filtered cold water and ice from your refrigerator. They’re sophisticated and convenient, adding an extra touch of class to your kitchen. All you need to do is connect them to your fridge’s dispenser.
If you have an ice or water dispenser in your fridge, these filters are a must-have. Fridges are often overlooked for filtration, but these devices offer all the same benefits as other kinds of filters.
A drawback is that they’re high maintenance. They’ll also take up more space in your fridge, and will cost extra to install.
- Can filter ice water.
- Added convenience.
- Simple installation.
- Costs extra.
- High maintenance.
Water Filter Pitchers
If you’re not interested in full-scale water filtration, a water filter pitcher may be the choice for you. They look and function almost exactly like standard pitchers, only with the added benefit of safer drinking water.
The advantages of investing in a water filter pitcher are that there’s no installation necessary, and they’re compact and easy to use. Drawbacks are that they’re sometimes slow, and frequent maintenance may be required.
- Ease of use.
- Compact and portable.
- Limited to drinking water.
- Regular maintenance needed.
These aren’t that different from faucet filters in their functionality, though they are larger, and so a bit more efficient. Instead of connecting to your faucet’s head, they divert water from your sink to the filter first, before dispensing clean water.
Though countertop filters are generally compact, they will take up more room. Installation is simple, and they give you the same choice of filtered or unfiltered water. Some designs are more complex than others, so there is potential for higher initial costs.
- Easy installation.
- Choice of unfiltered water.
- Compact and efficient.
- Costs more than faucet filters.
- Installation required.
Whole House Filters
One of these systems is your best bet if you’re looking for comprehensive filtration throughout your home. Comprised of multiple components, they’re installed directly to your main water line. It’s the most effective and useful filtration method you could use, as all the water in your house will be purified.
A whole house filtration system is a powerful thing to have, but initial costs are much higher than other filters. Professional installation is recommended, and you won’t have the option of unfiltered water.
- Comprehensive filtration.
- Filters all water in your home.
- Durable, will last for years.
- Highest initial cost.
- Professional installation is recommended.
Compared to whole house filters, portable ones may not be as useful as others unless you have a specific need for them. They’re designed with travelers and hobbyists in mind so you’ll always have filtered water on the go.
Portable filters come in many shapes, sizes and designs, and their functionality will vary. Common denominators are that they’re all lightweight, easy to pack and carry, and easy to use.
Some cons are that they won’t give you a set or constant supply of filtered water. Maintenance may be higher, depending on the type, and some are slow to work.
- Filtered water on the go.
- No installation necessary.
- Effective and easy to use.
- Best reserved for emergencies.
- High maintenance.
The Best Water Filter Reviews of 2021
We’ve chosen seven of the best filters you just might fall in love with. Our recommendations are based not just on efficiency and specs, but on customer satisfaction.
1. CuZn UC-200 Under Counter Water Filter
It’s no surprise that this is a top choice for many buyers. This is compact, portable, and durable — built to last for at least five years and 50 000 gallons of water. You’ll get comprehensive filtration, since there’s little that this device can’t manage.
Making use of 3-stage filtration, this under the sink filter will take care of contaminants without softening your water. Included is a Micro Sediment membrane, a KDF filter for chlorine and heavy metals, and a coconut shell carbon filter.
One of the best aspects of this filter is that it’s bacteriostatic. This means that it won’t grow mold or collect and harbor unseen germs over time (1).
Why We Love It
Three-stage filtration works like a charm in this device, and consumers are extremely satisfied with the result. We recommend this one if chlorine and heavy metal contamination are concerns. It’s a bonus that the filter resists mold and bacteria, preventing deterioration and the need for replacements.
Another great feature is that it filters your water without altering its mineral content. You’ll get all the health benefits that you should get from tap water, but without the pollution.
Though installation is required, it’s hassle-free and easy to grasp. This unit connects straight to your cold water line, and you don’t need any plumbing skills to set it up. The simplicity of installing and dismantling makes this a great option for those on the move.
You don’t have to worry about mucking up the installation either. Upon purchase, you’ll receive an easy-to-understand instruction manual, and there are instructional videos available to guide every step.
Keep In Mind
For City Dwellers
Unfortunately, this unit isn’t made for well water, and won’t safeguard you against an untreated supply. We don’t recommend it if you’re off the grid or are unsure if your water has gone through a treatment plant.
It functions well as an extra step to remove the chemical sanitization of treatment plants, but it won’t purify excessively polluted water. Stay safe, and opt for a heavy-duty filter, like the Express Whole House Filter, if you are outside of larger cities or towns.
|Type||Under the Sink|
|Filter||3-Stage: Micro Sediment Membrane, KDF filter, coconut shell carbon filter|
|Dimensions||4.5 inches by 4.5 inches by 15 inches|
|Features||Five-year warranty, bacteriostatic filter|
|Included||All components, instruction manual, video instruction guide available|
2. Platypus GravityWorks Filter
Adventurers are spoiled for choice in portable options, but this one from Platypus is a customer favorite. It’s a gravity system, so set-up is required, but it’s fast-working and has a high capacity to compensate.
This filter can take four liters of water and runs at a filtration rate of 1.75 liters per minute. It’s faster than almost all other filters of its kind and gives you a full bag of water in less than five minutes.
Don’t let its portability fool you — this is an extremely efficient filter. Almost 100 percent of pathogens are cleared from your supply. The product is tested to NSF and EPA standards.
Why We Love It
Great in Emergencies
Set up is necessary since this is a gravity system, but it filters water faster than any other we could find. If you’re stranded, traveling or in a situation where clean water isn’t at hand, this product could be a lifesaver.
Filtered water in less than five minutes is almost unheard of in portable filters. It’s made more impressive when you consider the amount of water you get out of it.
This system’s total capacity is 8 liters — it holds 4 liters of dirty water and gives you 4 liters of filtered water. It’s no wonder, then, that this product is a firm favorite of outdoor enthusiasts who also appreciate value for money.
Regardless of its large capacity, it’s still compact and lightweight to carry. It will fit into your backpack or luggage easily and can be set up almost anywhere.
Keep In Mind
Handle With Care
Be gentle with this filter. A few buyers say that it breaks easily, and has a design flaw that works against the dirty water filter. Try not to drop it or treat it too harshly to preserve its condition.
Users also say that its somewhat sloppy design gets in the way of filling it up. Most customers are happy with this filter regardless, though it might be a hassle to use sometimes.
|Installation||Basic setup; easy|
|Dimensions||3.25 inches by 9.5 inches|
|Features||Meets NSF standard, 1.75 liters per minute filtration rate, 4-liter capacity.|
|Included||Storage bag, shutoff clamp, all components|
3. Express Water Whole House Heavy Metal Water Filter
Express Water pays extra attention to heavy metal filtration with this system, but that’s not all it can help you with. It’s built with food-grade plastic and meets NSF regulation for guaranteed safety.
Three-stage filtration includes a sediment filter, a KDF filter, and a carbon filter. It removes heavy metals, pathogens, and chemicals from your supply. Because of these extra steps, your water will taste, look, and smell better.
The filter itself comes with some fantastic features. A clear case makes monitoring your filter simple, while a handy stainless steel frame assists with placement and storage.
Why We Love It
It goes the extra mile in purifying heavy metal contamination, but this system removes chemicals, pathogens, and organic pollution as well. We think that the design is excellent, and well thought out by its engineers.
The filter is tested and regulated independently, but it meets both NSF and ANSI standards. It’s built from food-grade plastic, so you know your filter is a healthy choice. You won’t run the risk of cheap materials dampening the filter’s effect, or releasing toxic chemicals that will contaminate your filtered water (2).
Keep In Mind
Users report drops in water pressure once the KDF filter gets to work. Though buyers praise the addition of a KDF filter, there are complaints that it’s difficult to work around. We’re not sure if this is a design flaw or a fault in installation.
|Filter||3-Stage: sediment, KDF, carbon|
|Installation||Required; difficult; professional installation recommended|
|Dimensions||23.5 inches by 8.5 inches by 30 inches|
|Features||Filters heavy metals, pathogens, chemicals and organic pollution; clear sediment filter|
|Included||All components, stainless steel frame|
4. AquaBliss Water Filter Pitcher
We recommend this pitcher if you’re not feeling up to any installation or set up. The quality of the water you get from this pitcher is excellent, and customers praise this filter’s efficiency.
It works fast, giving you purified water in less than three minutes. The pitcher is durable too, with AquaBliss stating that it will last twice as long as other brands. Maintenance is easy and only required every four months.
This pitcher will tackle chlorine, heavy metals, and organic contaminants. It also removes odors and will improve the taste of your drinking water.
Why We Love It
There are many pitchers that do a good job but take longer to work. AquaBliss goes above and beyond in convenience, with this model filtering to capacity in under three minutes. It doesn’t compromise on quality — customers say it produces some of the best water they’ve tasted.
Beyond working fast, you’ll save time in maintenance, too. AquaBliss recommends replacing your filters every four months. You’ll save money with this durable and long-lasting product.
Keep In Mind
Handle this pitcher with care. Users say that the bottom seal comes loose easily, which could lead to spills and messes. Another complaint is that the lid is flimsy and doesn’t fit as well as expected.
Even so, the filter is made of strong BPA-free plastic and is likely to survive drops, bumps, and damage for a long time.
|Dimensions||10.25 inches by 10.5 inches|
|Features||Rapid gravity filtering system, BPA-free, 10-cup capacity|
5. APEC Countertop System
Do you live in a smaller home, or don’t have permission to install large systems? This countertop reverse osmosis system from APEC might be the answer. No installation is necessary, and it’s both lightweight and compact.
All you have to do is attach it to your faucet. APEC took care to make this one stylish, so you don’t have to worry about it cramping your space. Considering its size and portable status, it’s highly efficient and will remove a whole host of contaminants from your water.
Why We Love It
Reverse osmosis filtration is a sought after method because it softens water as well as filters it (3). Four-stage filtration manages an impressive list of contaminants, but what we like is that stage three softens your water.
If you’re looking to remove minerals from your supply, this product is a great choice. There’s very little effort on your part, and you’ll have gentler water literally on tap.
Not all filters, regardless of type, can tackle fluoride. It’s a powerful feature that’s surprising in a compact model, but that’s not where it ends. This little guy can also filter arsenic, chromium, copper, lead, and much more.
You’ll get comprehensive filtration at your fingertips with this model. It holds up against bigger systems, and in this regard, outshines most of them.
Keep In Mind
Decreased Flow Rate
Customers report significant drops in the flow rate or pressure of their faucet water. Most users are satisfied regardless, but you should have water handy in case you need it in a fix. This product might be frustrating if you don’t have a backup faucet.
|Dimensions||115 inches by 6.5 inches by 6.5 inches|
|Features||Filters lead and fluoride, softens water|
|Included||All components, protective case|
6. Aquacrest Refrigerator Water Filter
What’s great about this filter is that it takes older fridges into account, and isn’t just for more modern dispensers. It uses a coconut and carbon filter and can purify more than 700 liters of water in its lifetime. Durability is impressive too — this model will last six months.
This fridge filter tackles chlorine to improve the taste and odor of your water. You’ll get crisp, clean, cold water. We recommend it if instant, refreshing hydration is what you’re after, as it demands little maintenance after set-up.
Why We Love It
Some fridge filters are made with brand-specific models in mind. This one fits a variety of models, some of which are older and otherwise might not have compatible filters. It won’t fit every single fridge, but it’s worth looking into you if you’re struggling to find an exact filter your fridge.
Chlorine won’t make it through the coconut and carbon filter included in this system. Your water will taste and smell better, and your health could improve too. We recommend this for healthier hydration, especially in the warmer months when cold water will hit the spot.
Keep In Mind
Won’t Connect to Every Fridge
It’s considered a universal model, but there’s still a list of compatible fridges, so check this before you buy. Even if it fits unlisted models, it might not work as effectively as it should.
|Filter||Coconut and carbon|
|Dimensions||1.4 inches by 1.4 inches by 9.4 inches|
|Features||Universal, filters chlorine|
7. Engdenton Stainless Steel Water Filter
Here’s our recommendation if you’re looking for style and power. This stainless steel faucet filter does a great job and looks beautiful, plus it won’t cost you much money or trouble to install.
With a food-grade build, this filter resists damage and cracks and will last you ages. Activated carbon clears a number of impurities including chemicals, VOCs, and pollution that may impair your water’s taste or appearance (source).
This filter can swivel a full 360 degrees and will work through more than a whopping 1211 liters before it needs replacing. Maintenance will only be required every six months, so this filter saves you time and money too.
Why We Love It
A downside to faucet filters is that they can be high maintenance, which can also end up being expensive. This model breaks the mould and will take up very little of your time. You only have to maintain it every six months.
Since installation is easy, you won’t have to spend extra money or energy to keep it in tip-top condition. The stainless steel casing is built to last and is high-quality, food-grade material.
Don’t worry about drops in water pressure. Compared to some other faucet filters, this one wastes no time and has a high flow rate. You can expect 0.5 gallons per minute from this filter, so it works well in a fix.
Keep In Mind
Check Your Specs
Customers report leakages and frustrating drips because this filter, unlike the AquaCrest fridge filter, is not universal. There’s a chance that it won’t fit your faucet properly, so have your dimensions in order before you give this one a go.
|Dimensions||Fits: 21.5mm outside threaded faucets; 23.5mm inner threaded faucets; 15-21mm unthreaded faucets.|
|Features||Crack-proof, food-grade0.5 gpm flow rate|
Detailed Comparison Chart
|CuZn UC-200 Under Counter||Handiest Water Filter||Under the Sink||3-Stage: Micro Sediment Membrane, KDF filter, coconut shell carbon filter||Necessary; easy.||4.5″ x 4.5″ x 15″|
|Platypus GravityWorks Filter||For Travellers||Portable||Hollow fiber||Basic setup; easy||3.25″ x 9.5″|
|Express Water Whole House Heavy Metal||Comprehensive||Whole House||3-Stage: sediment, KDF, carbon||Required; difficult; professional installation recommended||23.5″ x 8.5″ x 30″|
|AquaBliss Water Filter Pitcher||Easiest to Use||Pitcher||Not specified||none||10.25″ x 10.5″|
|APEC Countertop System||Water Conditioner||Countertop||Reverse Osmosis||Required; easy||115″ x 6.5″ x 6.5″|
|Aquacrest Refrigerator||For Cold Water||Fridge filter||Coconut and carbon||Required; easy||1.4″ x 1.4″ x 9.4″|
|Engdenton Stainless Steel||For Faucets||Faucet filter||Activated carbon||Required; easy||Fits: 21.5mm outside threaded faucets; 23.5mm inner threaded faucets; 15-21mm unthreaded faucets.|
Tips for Buying the Best Water Filter
The type of filter you need isn’t the only consideration you should take into account. We’ve got a few tips for you to make choosing one so much easier.
- Pay attention to the filter: Have a look at the kind of filter the product you buy includes. Activated carbon is a popular choice, as it filters out most chemicals and impurities (4). Make sure that the filter you select will manage the contamination concerns you have.
- Consider maintenance: If you’re going to buy a smaller or cheaper filter, factor in the cost of maintenance. Compact filters generally demand more frequent replacements, which adds to the overall cost. Do your research to make sure that the included filters are easy to clean, and cost effective to re-stock.
- Can your home accommodate it? With larger filtration systems, you don’t want to waste cash on something you can’t install. Before you invest, plan the layout of the filter. Make sure that you’ll have enough space, and that your plumbing won’t be disrupted or damaged.
Which Brand Should You Buy?
The brand is another factor to keep in mind. There are many popular brands that make effective and affordable products, but keep in mind that hype shouldn’t be the decider. Brita and Pur appear to be the top sellers in filtration, but we noticed that they don’t weigh up against others as far as customer satisfaction goes.
There are seven brands that stand out to us, and you’ll find them in our recommendations. While we don’t mean to claim that they’re the ultimate or superior to all other brands, we stand by the customers who regard them highly.
This top brand specializes in both water and air filtration, with patented unique filtration technology. Its filters are larger and more efficient than that of competitors, with tests backing this claim up (5).
Cuzn’s FilterFoam tackles everything from chemicals and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) to heavy metals and algae. A Cuzn filter will protect your water from bacteria and viruses and is made of natural materials. Consumers praise the effect of these filters, and feedback is better than most other filters we’ve seen.
Standing strong for more than 20 years, Platypus is the brand of choice when it comes to portable filtration.
Many non-profit organizations are supported by Platypus, including the Pacific Crest Trail Association (6).
Platypus says its personnel are avid adventurers. It’s great that these portable filters are produced by those who understand what’s needed from them. Expertise and high quality keep Platypus on top, and it’s one of our favorites to recommend.
Based in California, APEC is the leader of reverse osmosis water filtration systems in the USA. Still going strong after twenty years, APEC prides itself on custom-built filtration systems which are manufactured and designed locally. There’s an impressive list of organizations that choose APEC, including the US army and coast guard, and Yale University (7).
This customer-favorite has a simple and charming history. Three friends, tired of watching their loved ones struggle for purified water, started the brand, which now has 27 years of experience behind it.
Its mission and focus is to bring clean, chemical-free water into your home. Express Water systems are designed to be as simple and convenient as possible. Customer service is key to this brand, with a full refund within thirty days and free support (8).
Engdenton is everywhere, serving as the manufacturer and designer of many popular brands. Based in China, and standing strong for more than a decade, its customer base spans continents.
It offers a wide variety of filtration systems including RO (reverse osmosis) systems, faucet mounts, countertop filters, and cartridges.
Though Aquacrest’s history isn’t quite as colorful as APEC’s, it’s got the upper hand with customer satisfaction. This brand boasts many a happy and loyal customer thanks to its wide range of carefully selected and regulated products. Each filter produced by Aquacrest is NSF certified and places emphasis on convenience.
It may be a smaller company than the others we’ve recommended, but it’s climbing the ranks in the world of filtration. These products stand out because of both their form and function. AquaBliss puts effort and emphasis on filters that look good, and customers are pleased with what it has to offer.
In fact, one of the nicest things about AquaBliss is that it offers a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee (9).
Quench Your Thirst
You don’t need a phD in plumbing to understand water filtration or incorporate it into your home and lifestyle. There’s something for everyone, from portable purification, to comprehensive whole-house systems, and the best part is that setting them up is easy.