The Best Whole House Water Filters
Reviews & Buying Guides
We get it — you want cleaner water. But not just in the kitchen — you want clean water when you shower, when you brush your teeth in the bathroom — everywhere.
We don’t blame you. Bottled water is so overrated. It’s high time that you do something more practical to produce clean water for your home. And if you stay tuned, we’re gonna lay out some whole house water filter reviews to help guide you on your way.
Considerations for Choosing the Best Whole House Water Filter
1. Your Water Issues
The first step is to determine the water issues you’re facing. Is your water sourced from the city or from a well? Is sediment your biggest issue or rust from old pipes? Are you concerned about the smell and taste of chlorine, or herbicide and pesticide runoff?
Answering these questions and knowing what you’re trying to filter out is going to serve you better than just grabbing the most expensive or cheapest filtration system.
2. Level of Filtration
Once you’ve got your water situation scoped out a bit, you’ll need to figure out what level of filtration you’ll be happy with. Filtration is measured in microns, and house water filters differ in their micron rating.
Portable water filters for use in backwoods situations will often filter down to the 0.1 micron level. Why? Because the liquid is raw and there are often nasty things in it that can make you seriously sick, like Giardia, Cryptosporidium, mercury, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
Whole house system filters will generally filter down to the five micron level. Why not lower? Two reasons — first, the liquid has likely already been through a treatment facility. Second — filtering down to the sub-micron level is going to slow down water flow. Ten gallons per minute is about standard for the filters we review here while half a gallon a minute is considered high speed for 0.1 micron whole house filters.
All that means this — if you’re looking to get rid of absolutely everything, you may need to run more than one filter — a whole house system to get most of the stuff out, then additional filters at each faucet to finish the work. Remember, your whole house filter will be filtering the supply for your water heater, toilet, washing machine, and other stuff. You may not need to get that liquid super clean. But for your drinking water? Might wanna tighten that up a bit.
One final note about stages of filtration: generally the more stages you have, the better it is going to be. However, a lot of that will depend on how each stage functions and what it does exactly. Multiple stages will usually filter out progressively smaller particulates as the supply flows from filter to filter. In theory, that is a more effective plan, but sometimes a single stage filter can do a better job than multiple stages. It all depends on the makeup of the filters themselves. The main point – don’t get bogged down in searching for the highest number of stages. Instead, focus on what they do and what they get rid of.
3. Other Costs
A great price on a system does you no good if you’ve got to replace the filter every month. Keep in mind the annual costs of filter replacement when evaluating a unit.Also, most of these would be best installed by a plumber. While they can be done by the end user, unless you’ve done something similar before or are willing to pony up for emergency plumber costs, you might want to just have your friendly neighborhood plumber take care of it.
Our Top Picks for the Best Whole House Water Filters of 2018
Alright, enough beatin’ around the bush. Let’s get to the nitty gritty (get it? gritty? Har har har, right? Sorry). Here are the reviews for the four best whole house water filter systems we found.
- Filters: Sediment, manganese, sulfur, chlorine, heavy metals, micro-contaminants down to 1 micron
- Filter Lifespan: Varies, up to 95,000 gallons in carbon filter
- Stages: two
- Rate: twenty gallons per minute
- Large filter housings and ports allow for full-strength pressure.
- Filtration down to one micron.
- Oversize filters allow for lower frequency of replacement and maintenance.
The Home Master is only a two-stage unit, but it’s got some nice features. First up is the main filter — it filters in varying levels, starting from 20 microns down to 1 micron. Why is that nice? It helps keep the liquid flowing and at the same time gets all the stuff out of your water that it should.
The second stage is a coconut shell carbon filter and gets rid of what most carbon filters do: lead, mercury, copper, and bad tastes and odors.
The two-stage Home Master system is for chlorinated city liquids only. If your city uses chloramines, you’ll need a different system. And if you’re using well supply, you’ll need an entirely different system.
The only drawback? The large filters that allow greater liquid flow are pretty dang heavy. You’ll need to mount them on wall studs or something equally secure. If you’ve got upper-arm strength issues, you’ll need help changing filters or a different system.
- Flow rate of twenty gallons per minute means you get good supply pressure in your house.
- Long lifespan so you’re not changing filters every month.
- Filters out pretty much everything you need to worry about, but keeps the beneficial minerals.
- Large filters hold a lot of liquid and require to be installed on wall studs.
- Fairly pricy unit. Replacement filters aren’t cheap, either.
- Only for city supply. If you have well supply, you’ll need this one (which costs more).
Best for: The family that’s got a solid place to mount this big boy, is looking to filter out the greatest number of contaminants and knows what kind of water they’ve got so they can pick up the right system.
- Filters: rust, sediment, microscopic particulates, chlorine
- Filter Lifespan: Main filter — 1,000,000 gallons, pre- and post-filter vary
- Stages: three
- Rate: seven gallons per minute
- Removes 97% of chlorine, exceeding NSF standards.
- Main filter lasts for a million gallons.
- No salt, electricity, or back flushing required.
A million gallons. 1,000,000 gallons of water. That’s how much Aquasana’s main filter will go through before it needs changing. How long is that? Oh, just 10 years, that’s all. So, there you have it. That is the reason why Aquasana Rhino EQ-1000 is one of the our favorites on here.
Now, since this is a three stage filtration unit, there are two other filters to think about, and those won’t last a million gallons. Not anywhere close. The pre-filter cuts out everything down to the five-micron level, including rust, dirt, and microscopic particulates. Aquasana says it should be good for three to six months of city supply or one to three months of well supply.
The main filter, the big blue one, contains copper-zinc oxidation media (yeah, I’ve got no idea what that actually is either) and crushed mineral stones. Why? To reduce chlorine and balance the pH of the water, bringing it to a more alkaline state.
The post-filter is carbon. Cuts the chlorine even more and other baddies in the liquid, and makes it taste fantastic. The carbon filter should last 6–12 months in the city and 2–6 months with well supply.
This is the heaviest unit we recommend here. It’s so heavy you’re likely going to want to rest that big blue bottle on the floor. Don’t worry — you won’t have to change it for the next 10 freakin’ years. Another thing to note — the filter changes can add up. The pre filters cost about 10 bucks a pop and the post filters run around 30 bucks. Which means about 100 bucks a year in the city and about 300 a year with a well.
Wanna see what Aquasana thinks? Here’s their promotional video for the Rhino:
- One. Million. Gallons.
- Balances the pH of your supply, getting closer to soft water without a liquid softener.
- Removes 97% of chlorine in your system.
- Frequent replacement of pre- and post-filters.
- Weight of unit requires installation on floor, and likely a plumber.
- Not great for people who dislike the soft water feel.
Best for: someone who is looking for a robust unit that will get them close to alkaline supply without the need for adding salt or using electricity. Also good for anyone looking for unchlorinated liquid.
- Filters: Sediment, dirt, rust, chlorine taste and odor
- Filter Lifespan: 100,000 gallons
- Stages: one
- Rate: twenty gallons per minute
- Stainless steel head with 25-year warranty.
- Filters out chlorine taste and odor, rust, and sediments down to 5 microns.
- Twist-off filter replacement.
Looking for a simple and clean solution to get rid of chlorine, sediment, and rust in your water? The 3M Aqua-Pure might be right for you. Its stainless steel head is warrantied trouble-free for 25 years and its twist-off filter mount promises easy filter replacement every 100,000 gallons or so.
Now, is it perfect? Nope. Might be a good idea to install a shutoff valve before the filter, just in case the neat-and-easy promises aren’t true. Also, 3M claims this filter can last up to 12 months. Problem is, it’s a single-stage carbon filter and if your supply isn’t already clean, that single stage is going to get clogged up pretty quickly. A pre-filter in place before this unit would help extend the life of the 3M Aqua-Pure.
And replacement filters? Well, it’s more of a replacement unit, which is kinda nice, but it’s 150 bucks a pop to replace. Simple, but kinda spendy.
And for the curious, here’s a video showing an installation of the 3M, even though it seems to be a bit of overkill:
- Single stage carbon filter simplicity.
- Replacing the entire unit means no messy liquids everywhere, in theory.
- Could last up to a year.
- Five micron filter is going to clog up if your supply is too full of sediment, requiring a pre-filter or more frequent filter unit replacements.
- Entire unit needs to be replaced, no cheaper options.
- Doesn’t get rid of smaller stuff like giardia, VOCs, or heavy metals.
Best for: someone with fairly clean h2o that is looking to get rid of chlorine smell and taste along with bigger chunky stuff but isn’t worried about VOC’s, heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides, etc.
- Filters: Reduces sediment, dirt and rust
- Filter Lifespan: varies
- Stages: one
- Rate: ten gallons per minute
- NSF tested and certified.
- Clear housing to easily identify when to change the filter.
- 3 filters included with unit.
The Watts WH-LD filter system is a straightforward whole house filter. The unit has a bypass switch so you can easily change the filter without making a big mess on the floor, although a physical shutoff switch before the filter might be a good idea.
Here’s where the simplicity of the unit comes into play. As the absolute cheapest option on our list, you might want to get more than one. Why? Because you can set them up in series with different filters to create your own multi-stage filtration system for less than the costs of the other units on our list.
See, the Watts comes with a 50 micron filter, which will cut down on rust, dirt, and sediment. But add in another unit with a carbon filter to get rid of even more and make your drink taste better. Or go for three stages — the 50 micron stage, a 10 micron stage, and a 5 micron carbon filter stage. The choices are limitless because the unit cost on this is low. The filters use a standard 10-inch fit that run around five bucks or less.
If you’re looking for visuals about how to put together your own multi-unit system, watch the following video. The guy doesn’t use the Watts, but the concepts are similar.
- Low cost unit and replacement filter price.
- Uses widely available and easily replaceable filters.
- Bypass switch allows for easy filter switch.
- Filters only down to 50 microns, letting through a fair amount of other stuff.
- Should install a shutoff valve before unit in case bypass fails.
- Unit comes with three filters, but they are 50 micron filters.
Best for: someone looking for an effective, low-cost whole house filtration and likes to tinker a bit.
Which Whole House Water Filter is Our Favorite?
Honestly, this was a hard choice, but we’re going to pick the Home Master 2-stage filter.
Three reasons. First, the one-micron filter level is nice. It gets rid of a lot of nasty stuff that may be in your water. Second, the simplicity of it is pretty sweet: evaluate your drinking situation (chlorine, chloramines, or well H2o) and choose the right one. And third, the fast flow (with a flow rate of 10 gallons per minute) and long filter life are good enough.
Not to say the other options aren’t good. We like the expandability and low price of the Watts, but the average consumer might not want to tinker with it. The Aquasana Rhino is a beast, but unless you’re hankering for soft water without an actual liquid softener, the million gallon filter seems like overkill. And the 3M is good as well, but in it needs a pre-filter to let the unit perform at its best.
So that’s it: four whole house filter reviews for your perusal, covering a range of approaches to the same goal — good clean h2o. Take a look at them and pick one up to get your drink as clean as it can be.
FAQs on Whole House Water Filters
How do whole house water filters work?
Although whole house water filtration systems may differ in the types of filter they use or the number of stages involved in the filtration process, they still share the same fundamental principle.
Typically, your water supply passes through a sediment pre-filter first, then an activated carbon filter, followed by a copper-zinc and mineral filter. The whole process will produce filtered water straight from your tap.
What do whole house water filters remove?
The sediment pre-filter is meant to remove large particles from your water before it passes through the activated carbon filter. The latter is capable of filtering out different types of contaminants. It can remove volatile organic compounds, a significant amount of chlorine, and everything else that is not eliminated by the sediment filter.
At times, the activated carbon filter is treated with specific substances for it to acquire other properties. Also, at this stage, your water supply will pretty much lose its putrid smell and taste.
The copper-zinc and mineral filter, on the other hand, can remove what’s left of the contaminants in your water like the rest of its chlorine content, and water-borne bacteria and microorganisms.
There are specific types of house water filtration systems that may include a water softener, post-filter, and UV filter.
The water softener will naturally soften the already filtered water by using the typical ion-exchange filter that is filled with sodium ions. If you don’t want that slightly salty taste in your water, you can opt for a salt-free water softener.
The post-filter is meant to get rid of small particles left in the water. Lastly, the UV filter will be able to remove any residual virus, bacteria, and microorganism that have made its way through the first few stages of the filtration system.
Where are whole house water filters installed?
In general, these types of filtration systems are secured into the main water supply line to ensure that the entire household is only using filtered water.
The installation of a house water filtration system is not entirely complicated. However, if you’re not confident that you can do it, professionals who can do it for you.
Final Thoughts on The Best Whole House Water Filters
So that’s it: four whole house filter reviews for your perusal, covering a range of approaches to the same goal — good clean h2o. Take a look at them and pick one up to assure that your drinking water is as clean as it can be. Who needs bottled water when you got a clean and great tasting water at home?
Go to our main water filters page and check out more options for you : https://www.watersoftenercritic.com/water-filter-reviews/