The Best Countertop Water Filters
Reviews & Buying Guides
Countertop water filters can easily get glossed over: they’re simpler than their under-the-sink brethren, they’re not same as reverse osmosis system, and some people might not care for the unit cluttering up their counter space, but read on and you’ll see why picking up the best countertop water filter.
Considerations for Buying a Countertop Water Filter
Countertop water filtration systems are great because they’re easy: you don’t have to get under your sink, you don’t have to do much complicated plumbing, or mount heavy units anywhere. Just put it next to your sink, plug it into the pipeline, and you’ve got a great drink. No muss, no fuss.
A couple things to keep in mind:
All these filters sit on your counter instead of in the cabinet under your sink. They take up space; not a lot, but enough you’ll need to make sure you’re okay with it being where it is.
Most of the inline units here (not the gravity ones like the Berkey and Zen) connect to the nozzle of your kitchen’s faucet. A hose will run from the connector to the filtration unit. If you do not like the aesthetic of this, either take a look at the gravity systems or reevaluate the possibility of a under-the-counter filtration system.
Similar to connection, make sure your faucet has a removable or replaceable aerator on the nozzle. Some kitchen faucet nozzles have huge shower-style heads on them that will not permit the installation of a countertop filter.
You can get most replacement filters without much trouble, but make sure you’re not getting a unit with rare replacement filters. Also, the annual replacement price of the filters should be factored into the operation costs.
Our Picks for the Best Countertop Water Filters in 2018
We took a look at the marketplace and boiled the options down to the following five options. Here are our picks for the best countertop water filters available right now
- Filtration Stages: five
- Filter Lifespan: 500 gallons
- Size: 5 x 5 x 12
The Home Master is a nice, simple design that uses five-stage filtration to get clean water to you and your family. It gets rid of fluoride, so keep that in mind if extra fluoride in your drink is important to you.
The Home Master Jr connects to your faucet with a long, flexible tube, allowing flexibility as to where you place it.
Replacement filters run in the 20 –30 dollar range and need to be replaced every three months or so according to the manufacturer.
- The long-reach tube provides plenty installation options.
- Easily found replacement filters.
- Lightweight and easily moved.
- Cheapest inline option on the list.
- Design doesn’t fit in with many modern kitchens.
- Pretty tall chunk of white plastic.
- Gets rid of fluoride in the water.
Best for: Someone on a budget who wants an inexpensive but effective filter and doesn’t mind the aesthetics of something that looks like a bowling pin on their kitchen sink.
- Filtration Stages: three
- Filter Lifespan: 500 gallons for the two carbon filters, 1000 gallons for the Nanotrap filter
- Size: 13.5 x 4 x 10.5
The Brondell H20+ is a slim, elegant filtration system. It, of course, sits on your countertop, providing 3 stage filtration for as long as you need it. In fact, it is head and shoulders above the rest of the countertop water filter pack in the looks department.
Instead of the bowling pin look of the Home Master or the 70’s coffee dispenser look of the WaterChef, the Brondell with its white, black and chrome would look right at home an any modern and not-so-modern kitchen.
It uses a composite filter for the first stage, removing the bigger chunks. The second stage grabs everything down to the 2 micron level while the third stage, a carbon block filter, gets rid of everything else as well as makes the drink taste as good as the system looks.
There’s a downside to the beauty of the Brondell, however: replacement filters aren’t cheap.
But the most important thing — the Brondell has been awarded gold level certification by the Water Quality Association of America. You Get what you pay for!
- Very cool design: should fit into most kitchens much better than a bowling pin.
- Three-stage filtration is a good baseline for clean drinking water.
- Included faucet adaptors fit most faucets.
- Replacement filters are a bit spendy.
Best for: someone looking for a counter top filter that won’t look out of place in their kitchen. Just be aware of the pricy replacement filters
- Filtration Stages: five Filters
- Filter Lifespan: Varies with the media, but 500 gallons is the lowest number
- Size:12.5 x 12.5 x 22
Zen Water systems make a gravity-based countertop filtration system. That means you put the water in the top part and later it will filter down through the filtration media and come out tasty and clean on the other side.
It takes about two hours to filter one gallon of H20. Seems like a long time, but once you’re up and running, it becomes routine.
Now, about the filter media. According to Zen, this unit “filters, purifies, mineralizes, alkalinizes and magnetizes” the water you put in it.
The h20 goes through each of the five stages: granulated activated carbon, ionic exchange resin, far infrared ceramic balls, silica sand, and mineral stones.I’m no scientist and I have to say I’ve got no idea about why “magnetizing” water is going to make it better.
The ionic exchange resin and the far infrared ceramic balls? I’ve got no clue. But if the mineral stones at the bottom add minerals into water, that’s a good thing: one of the biggest complaints against filtration systems is they take everything out of the water.
But there are drawbacks.
lots of plastic in the construction of the system. BPA free, sure. Although glass would raise the price, it would be nice to see.
One last point: Zen Water filters tout the benefits of alkaline water and the fact that their filtration systems produce more alkaline in the h20. Is that a good thing? Truthfully, the research isn’t definitive. Not trying to start a controversy, but respected doctors and scientists say the jury is still out.
- Gravity filters provide simple use and leave your faucet free.
- Easy to see inside so you’re able to see when to refill.
- Carbon, sand, and mineral stones combine to create a good filtration system.
- Alkalizes water as it filters it, which could be beneficial.
- Available in four, six, and eight gallon sizes.
- Pretty much all plastic construction. BPA free, sure. But might not appeal to some users.
- No certification from any regulatory or evaluating body.
- Health benefits of alkaline water not proven
Best for: the Zen Water filter is best for someone looking for simplicity. It’s easy to see how much water you have and how much to add. No need to connect it to your existing counter top filter system, but it will take up more counter space than filtration systems attached to the faucet.
- Filtration Stages: one
- Filter Lifespan: 100 gallons
- Size: 7 x 4.5 x 10.5
WaterChef’s entry in this list is a combination of advanced features and proven technology that comes in a fairly attractive package.
First up, the proven technology. WaterChef uses a Big Block countertop filter, which is certified by the NSF to get rid of nasties, but lets beneficial minerals through.And the advanced features? A battery-operated monitor checks how many gallons have flown through the filter. It has a green LED light for All Is Well, an orange light that comes on when you’ve gotten up to the 900-gallon mark, and a red light when you surpass the 1000 gallon limit.
The battery is cheap and easily replaceable. Why is that important?
Most countertop filters have been tested for how many gallons (or liters) they are good for. The company looks at the average American household and if they run through X number of gallons in six months, they will say to replace the filter in six months, regardless if your family is over or under that amount.
Kinda sounds like something all filters should do, right? Yeah, I think so, too.
So, are there any drawbacks? Well, the nozzle to the filter is pretty close to the unit’s body. You’ll need to position it pretty close to the edge of your sink. And the design of it seems more utilitarian then anything. It’s no Brondell, but then again, it’s not a big ‘ol bowling pin either.
- Monitors filter usage and notifies when it need to be changed.
- Comes in black and stainless steel or white and stainless steel.
- Design is a little boring.
- Needs to be positioned at the edge of the sink.
Best For: Someone who is looking for a good quality home filter but really hates the idea of paying for replacement filters before the one you have is fully used up.
- Filtration Stages: four
- Filter Lifespan: 6000 gallons
- Size: 8.5 x 8.5 x 13
Ahh, the big stainless steel Berkey. Made in the USA, it’s a big ‘ol gravity filter that does a pretty good job of either getting rid of or reducing all of the regular stuff
.The Big Berkey’s two pieces fit together and sit on your countertop. Once filled, its two black and two fluoride filters inside get to work filtering down the water at a rate of 3.5 gallons per hour. With a storage capacity of 2.25 gallons, it’ll get the work done in less than an hour.
Drawbacks? The nozzle can be a little fiddly to put together just right. And if it’s not just right, it can leak a crapload of mess on your floor. The stainless steel looks great but there’s no way to see how much water is inside without. Which means if you fill up the top compartment and the bottom is already full, it’s still going to filter through and push the excess out of the middle seam.
It is, however, easy to dismantle and take with you, even it if isn’t very small.
And if you want to see the Big Berkey in all its shiny glory, here’s Berkey’s promo video:
- Stainless steel as far as the eye can see.
- Easily dismantled for storage or portability.
- Filters out a whole raft of bad stuff.
- Can leak if not put together exactly right.
- No visual indicator of how much water is inside.
- Portable, but big and bulky to do so
Best for: Someone who needs a gravity filter that can be stored somewhat compactly and really likes the look of stainless steel sitting on their countertop.
What is the best countertop water filter?
Out of the five countertop water filters we have reviewed, you’re probably wondering which one tops them all. Well, we have a separate discussion about that in the next section. In the meantime, we want to point out that at the end of the day, what works for others may not work the same way for you. So, always consider your specific needs before making a choice.
Our Pick for The Best Countertop Water Filter
Well, that time has come. Since we looked at two basic types of countertop filters, we’re going to choose two best, one from each grouping.
First up, for the gravity filter choices, we’re going with the Zen Water filter. We may not know the benefits of magnetized h20, but it does a pretty good job.
Although the Berkey has stainless steel, the plastic used in the Zen is BPA free and lets the user see the h20 levels before filling. And it’s pretty cheap, too.
For the inline types, we’re going with the Brondell.
Although the WaterChef has a decent filter life and the filter monitor is a nice touch, the Brondell wins out in the style department, even though the annual filter costs are almost triple the WaterChef.
And the Home Master Jr, despite being super cheap to buy and run, doesn’t get much past the starting line because of how it looks.
Final Thoughts on the Best Countertop Water Filters
There are a lot of choices if you’re looking for the best countertop water filter for your family. One thing to keep in mind as you look is examine what matters most to you and follow it. Buying something one time, even if it is more expensive, will be better in the long run if it is a better match to you and what you’re looking for.
Read more water softener and filter reviews at the Water Softener Critic