APEC Countertop Reverse Osmosis Filter Review

The APEC RO-CTOP is a portable, counter top reverse osmosis (RO) 4 stage filtration system. The RO-CTOP provides a good solution for situations where want RO filtered water but circumstances don’t allow for a permanent installation – such as rental apartments, condos or for use when travelling. Although the unit is compact and light weight, measuring only 14 inch x 6 inch x 6 ½ inch and weighing 7 lbs., it still performs as well as similar permanently installed systems.

The unit will remove up to 99% of all harmful contaminants from tap water, and will produce, a maximum of 90 gallons per day of pure drinking water. The actual output is highly dependent on the water pressure at the faucet where it is connected as well as the ambient temperature.

1st stage filter sediment filter —removes dust, particles, and rust. This also helps protect and extend the life of the membrane.

2nd Stage coconut shell activated carbon filter —gets rid of unpleasant chlorine, odors, cloudiness, & colors. This filter also removes VOCs and many other common chemicals from the water.

3rd Stage High Rejection TFC reverse osmosis membrane. Removes up to 99% of total dissolved solids (TDS) and contaminants such as arsenic, lead, fluoride, chromium, radium, bacteria, and viruses along with many more contaminants.

4th Stage coconut shell activated carbon filter this final filter removes any possible residual tastes.

The main difference between this counter top RO system and a fully installed under counter system is that this model does not have a storage tank. With low water pressure, for example 30 psi, this means that it can take as long as 32 minutes to fill a gallon jug with pure water. With a higher pressure water system, 60 psi for example, the same gallon jug can be filled in 16 minutes.

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Filtration System Design

The APEC RO-CTOP system is very compact with all the filters, including the RO membrane, clipped to a back plate. There is a single pipe that dispenses the pure water and a double pipe that is attached to a tap. This tap connects to the feed water faucet.

The stage 1 and 2 filters, which need changing about every 6 months depending on the quality of the feed water, are self-contained. All that needs to be done is to remove the pipes via the push fit connectors, clip out the old filter and clip in the new filter. Then reattach the pipes and the filter change is complete.

The 4th stage filter, which needs changing between 2 and 5 years of use is replaced in exactly the same way as the 1st and 2nd stage filters except that the push fit connector has a locking clip which needs to be removed first.

Replacing the RO membrane after 2 to 5 years of use is a little more involved. Firstly remove the tubing from the membrane housing cap, then remove the housing cap. Using a pair of pliers, pull out the old membrane. Insert the new membrane, making sure that the end with the 2 black ‘O’ rings is inserted first. Replace the end cap and the tubing. Run water through the system for about 15 minutes to flush the membrane. The system is now ready for use.

Water Efficiency

Surprisingly this system is actually more efficient is its use of water than many larger systems. To produce a gallon of pure water only wastes 2 gallons of flushing water. This compares quite favorably with the 4 gallons of waste water on many fixed installation systems.

Ease of Installation 4.9/5

This system is can be very quick and easy to install. A full copy of the manufacturer’s installation and user manual can be found here. Note in this installation manual, the feed connector from the faucet is shown as pull on and push off the connector. The current connector has a turn lever to turn the water on and off.

The RO-CTOP system can be installed onto a faucet with an aerator type end within minutes. The system comes with a selection of adaptors to make it suitable to fit onto a variety of faucets. See this drawing for details. The aerator should unscrew by hand, but if it has been there for some time or overtightened when it was originally installed you may need to use some pipe pliers to loosen it.

When the aerator has been removed, if necessary, screw in the adapter, then attach the feed connector to the faucet. Turn the faucet to maximum and open the feed valve.

After a few moments, water will start to come out of the system outlet pipe. Allow water to run through for about 15 minutes to flush the system. The water is then ready to drink.

If the water is very cold, a little hot water can be added to make it warmer (but NOT hot). The warmer water will increase the system output.


Water output per day – up to 90 gallons depending on water pressure and temperature

Stage 1 and 2 filter life – about 6 months depending on quality of feed water

Membrane life – between 2 and 5 years depending on quality of feed water

Stage 4 filter life – between 2 and 5 years depending on quality of feed water

Portable system that is quick to install and easy to move

Weighs only 7 lbs.

Made in the US

US based technical support

1 year manufacturer’s limited warranty


With low pressure input water and no storage tank, it can take a while to fill your container.

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Conclusion 4.8/5

The APEC RO-CTOP system is a very good solution to a problem area for many people who live in rented accommodation, are students or travelers – that of being able to have pure filtered water wherever they are. The system can be set up and producing pure clean water in minutes, and when it is time to move it, just replace the original aerator and there is no sign that the system was ever there. 

You can mount the unit under this sink, close to your garbage disposal.

The only drawback with this system is that there is no storage tank, but if a jug is filled and sealed, there should be water available when you need it. Read more on our homepage.

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