Table of Contents
- Countertop Water Filter Overview
- Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filters with Electric Installation
- Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filters with Plumbing Installation
- Berkey Water Filters with Zero Installation
- Countertop Water Filter Buyer’s Guide
- How to install a countertop water filter?
Countertop Water Filter Overview
There are many ways to filter contaminants from your tap water but a countertop drinking water filter system is the right choice if you can’t install or don’t want to install a more complicated system.
We’ve researched this list of the best countertop water filter systems so that you can still have the purest tap water no matter where you are.
Why would you want a countertop water filter?
- If you rent your apartment or home, you may not be allowed to install a more complex water filter system like an undersink water filter or whole house water filter.
- If you are living some place temporarily, staying in a hotel, or travelling, a water filter that needs installation is not practical.
- If you want filtered water on demand in your bedroom, bathroom, or office, there may not be plumbing or a faucet available (nearby) to connect a system to.
- In an emergency, you may not have running water or electricity but you will still need lots of clean, filtered water that is free from contaminants.
- You don’t want the cost or waste associated with bottled water.
We have researched all of the options and created this list of countertop water treatment reviews in the following categories:
- Reverse osmosis water filters that only need power to operate
- Reverse osmosis water filters that connect to a faucet and don’t need power
- Berkey gravity water filters that don’t need a faucet or power
Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filters with Electric Installation
The following countertop filtration systems are super easy to install since you only need to plug them in. There is no plumbing connection needed.
You add water by filling a reservoir in the system and then take your drinking water on demand, one glass at a time.
Wastewater containing concentrated contaminants is manually dumped as needed.
While these systems are not cheapest, they provide multiple stages of filtration including reverse osmosis (RO), which is the most effective and complete water filter technology according to the Environmental Working Group.
If you want the cleanest possible drinking water and the least effort to install the system, then these are the top countertop water filter options.
AlcaPure Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter
The AlcaPure is another four-stage countertop water filter system that will remove up to 99% or more of over 1,000 contaminants, including lead, chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, mercury, chloramine, chromium, arsenic, and radium.
The biggest unique benefit of this system is that has an alkaline water remineralization stage. Since reverse osmosis removes all particles of a certain size, that includes natural minerals (such as calcium and magnesium) that some people consider beneficial.
By adding calcium and magnesium back to the filtered water, the pH is raised into the 7-8 range and the water becomes more alkaline. Alkaline mineral water has more of a “mineral water taste” that many people prefer.
This system uses a very low 30W of power and has a 1:1 ratio of filtered to wastewater.
- Alkaline water remineralization stage
- Includes RO filter
- Low power consumption
- 1:1 waste water ratio is good but could be better
AQUA TRU Countertop Water Filtration Purification System
With a good overall rating and great comments about water filter speed, this system is worth checking out.
In fact, this system is endorsed and recommended by Erin Brockovich – the clean water advocate who had a movie made about her landmark lawsuit over hexavalent chromium water contamination.
The AQUA TRU has four stage filtration including the reverse osmosis membrane, capable of removing thousands of contaminants – 15x more than standard pitcher filters.
Quick change twist filters last from 6 months to 2 years and are easy to replace.
An integrated digital display let’s you know when it’s time to change filters.
Aqua Tru Pros
- Filter life indicators
- Certified to NSF standards by IAPMO
- Endorsed by the real Erin Brockovich
Aqua Tru Cons
- Some past reports of reliability issues but the one year warranty covers any issues
SimPure Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System
Since it is fairly new, the SimPure countertop water filter does not have as many reviews as the other systems above, but it does have one very special feature that makes it stand out…
With Instant Heat, you can dispense pure, clean water at any of these temperatures on demand:
- Room temperature
- 113 F / 45 C (Warm milk)
- 185 F/ 85 C (Coffee)
- 198 F / 92 C (Tea)
So instead of just being a countertop water filtration system, the SimPure is also an electric hot water kettle!
Three filter stages including reverse osmosis remove 99% of contaminants and harmful substances from your drinking water.
A 5 Liter (1.3 gallon) holding tank is the largest of our recommended electric systems.
Integrated LED indicators let you know the status of the filters and when they need to be changed. When it is time to change filters, they are easy to remove and replace.
If you want the convenience of a countertop RO drinking water filter and on-demand water heater, then you should definitely check out the SimPure.
- Integrated hot water kettle with selectable drinking water temperature
- Largest holding tank of recommended electric countertop water filters
- Filter life indicators
- Fairly large
Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filters with Plumbing Installation
Our next batch of recommended countertop water filters differ from the systems above in two ways:
- They require no electricity
- They connect to a faucet or to the undersink plumbing
If you want or need more filtered water volume than with the electric systems above, then check out the faucet filters below. They remove just as many contaminants but with much higher gallon per day output.
Also, since they do not require electricity, a faucet filter is less expensive than the electric systems.
Because of their connections, these countertop RO water filters must be placed next to a sink. If installed in the kitchen, they will filter enough water for both cooking and drinking without the hassle of manually filling a reservoir.
For those that attach directly to the faucet, the sink must have a “standard” aerator faucet head that the system can connect to. If you have a “sprayer” style kitchen sink faucet head or anything else that is unique, you won’t be able to connect this type of filtration system.
Fortunately, faucet filters can easily connect to a kitchen faucet or bathroom faucet once you remove the aerator.
Waterdrop M5 Countertop Reverse Osmosis System with Portable Water Pitcher
This countertop system from Waterdrop is unique in that it requires a connection to the undersink plumbing for fresh and wastewater, but it does not interfere with the faucet like the comparable systems here. If you have a designer kitchen faucet, then this may be a good option for you.
With an all-in-one 5-stage filter and a quiet, non-electric pump, you get 12 months or 550 gallons of water between filter replacements, which only take 3 seconds!
The 80oz BPA-free pitcher is removable, so you can keep it in the fridge or move it to wherever you want clean water. When you return the pitcher to the base, the system will automatically filter water until the pitcher is full again.
Consisting of two layers of sediment membrane, a premium carbon block, the RO membrane, and post-activated carbon block layer, the filter can remove over 1,000 harmful contaminants, including but not limited to chlorine, lead, taste and odor, sand, rust, particulates, TDS and other heavy metals.
Note that it is suggested to drill a hole in your counter to run the necessary hoses from this system to the undersink plumbing.
- RO filtered water with an integrated pitcher
- Connects to plumbing under sink so it refills automatically
- Long lasting 12 month filter
- Connects to water line under sink, which may require a new hole in the countertop
APEC RO-CTOP-C Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System
The APEC RO-CTOP countertop water filter has four of the same filters you would find in an undersink RO system, but conveniently connects to your faucet instead.
Because of the faucet connection, this system travels well when you want to bring it with you.
The faucet adapter has a clever design that allows you to switch between sending water to the RO system or normally through the kitchen faucet. It also contains the wastewater tube, so that wastewater containing contaminants can flow down the sink drain as the RO membrane works.
Not only does this system have a surprisingly large maximum output of 90 gallons per day (GPD), it is also highly efficient. For every gallon of clean water produced, only 2 gallons are wasted for flushing the RO membrane. This is lower than the average of 3 gallons of water wasted with other systems.
A clean and sleek metal case covers the filters, which makes it less obvious on the counter.
Read our full review of the APEC CTOP-C.
- RO water filter with only a faucet connection
- Sleek cover hides filters inside
- High 90 gallons of water per day output
- Doesn’t work with all faucet types
- Filter changes are not as fast as other countertop water filters
This system is also available in the RO-CTOP-PH version which adds an alkaline water remineralization stage for water that has a higher pH and more of a “mineral water” taste.Buy or Learn More
Reverse Osmosis Revolution Countertop Reverse Osmosis System
This countertop water filter system from Reverse Osmosis Revolution is like the APEC system above with a few notable differences.
First, it has 5 water filter stages to remove contaminants instead of 4.
Second, there is no case around the filtration system, which makes it a lot less attractive on the counter.
Third, the wastewater ratio is higher at 2.8 gallons of waste per 1 gallon of purified water. Wastewater is normal with a RO filtration system but if you have to pay for your tap water, you may want something more efficient.
The one big benefit is that it is quite a bit cheaper than the APEC filter system and still gets good reviews.
All input and output hoses connect to the faucet adapter making it easy to choose between using filtered water or unfiltered water from a single kitchen sink faucet.
Because of the faucet connection, this system travels well when you want to bring it with you.
Reverse Osmosis Revolution Pros
- Not expensive
- Faucet adapter makes it easy to switch water sources
Reverse Osmosis Revolution Cons
- You may not be a fan of seeing all of the filters without a case
Express Water Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System
Comparable to the two systems above, this countertop water filter system from Express water requires you to connect an adapter to a standard faucet and then select whether water comes out of the faucet normally or goes to the water filters.
Four filters (including the RO membrane) work to remove 99.9% chemicals and contaminants.
The big difference with this machine is that instead of the clean water coming out of a faucet adapter, this system has a dedicated filtered water faucet attached to the countertop filter.
If you don’t want an adapter on your bathroom or kitchen faucet, this may be a good choice for you.
This is the same kind of faucet you would expect to get with an undersink water filtration system you have to install. Depending on your needs, this may make dispensing the water more convenient.
This is another countertop water filtration system without a case around the filtration system, so it is not as attractive as one with a case, such as the APEC system.
Because of the faucet connection, this system travels well when you want to bring it with you.
It still gets good reviews and is an excellent way to get filtered water with very minimal installation.
Express Water Pros
- Integrated faucet keeps drinking water separate from the sink faucet
- A very portable water filter
Express Water Cons
- Partial case around filters makes it rather unattractive
Berkey Water Filters with Zero Installation
If you are looking for the ultimate in convenience of a countertop water filter system that truly needs no installation, then you may be interested in a gravity-fed or Berkey water filter.
Berkey drinking water filters don’t require any power, plumbing, faucet, or installation. You simply set it anywhere you want, pour contaminated water in the top, and then draw clean water from the bottom.
Berkey water filters work by using gravity to pull water down through the filter stages, much like how rain water filters down through the ground into wells.
While not as good at removing contaminants in your water as reverse osmosis, the filters in a Berkey water filter do a good job of removing some of the most common water problems, including: bacteria, viruses, parasites, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, PFOAs, chlorine, herbicides, pesticides, and radiological elements.
Because these countertop filters remove viruses, bacteria, and protozoa found in natural water, Berkey filters are great for travel, outdoor activities, or during unexpected emergencies when tap water and bottled water are not available.
Berkey countertop water filters vary in the volume of water they hold and in the number of filters they contain, making some of them very portable water filters.
Big Berkey Water Filter
The Big Berkey countertop water filter holds 2.25 gallons of purified water and is designed for small and medium sized families (1-4 people).
The housing is made of high grade 304 stainless steel and is easy to clean.
The dimensions are 21″ high and 8.5″ wide and it filters approximately 3.5 gallons of water per hour.
This countertop water filtration system comes with two “black Berkey filters” that remove the bulk of contaminants and two fluoride water filters that remove 95% or more of fluoride. The system can be upgraded to four of each filter if you want to double the filter speed.
A “black Berkey” filter is their version of carbon filters found in most other countertop water filters.
- True “zero installation” makes is very convenient to use anywhere
- Large capacity
- Looks good on the counter
- Water filters and fluoride filters are gravity fed and take some time
Countertop Water Filter Buyer’s Guide
Our countertop water filter reviews above can’t say for sure which system is the right countertop water filter for you, but they do narrow the list of choices down to a few high quality options.
Depending on your water consumption, the contaminants in your water (as shown in a water test), and your preferences, you will find a great countertop water filter here on this page.
If you need more help, here is some information to help you pick the right countertop filtration system for you.
What is a countertop water filter?
A countertop water filter is exactly what it sounds like: a water filtration system that sits on your counter top. Like any other drinking water filtration system, countertop water filters remove the contaminants in your tap water so you end up with clean water.
Countertop filters are generally easy to install since they don’t usually have permanent connections to your water source.
The benefits of clean drinking water
Regardless of whether you have well water or municipal water, you want your tap water to be safe, healthy drinking water.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case and water quality can vary. Even bottled water can have a questionable water source and inadequate filters used to remove harmful contaminants.
Common tap water contaminants
Depending on your water source, the contaminants you should filter from your water can include:
- Arsenic 5
- Heavy metals
- Protozoa such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
… and many more!
Any countertop drinking water filter will remove at least some of these contaminants from your water.
There are many long term health benefits to drinking clean water and avoiding the negative health effects of known harmful chemicals.
Countertop water filters with reverse osmosis or distillation will be the most effective water purification methods for your tap water. Make sure you have your water tested since the most effective countertop water filter for you may be different that someone else with a different water supply.
Other types of countertop water filters
Besides the recommended countertop water filters listed above, what are the other types of countertop water filters out there?
Water filter pitchers
A water filter pitcher is a simple countertop filter device you fill with tap water that is gravity fed through activated carbon filters. Water filter pitchers hold a limited amount of water but can be kept anywhere, including the refrigerator.
The activated carbon filter in a water filter pitcher is effective at removing heavy metals, pesticides/herbicides, volatile organic compounds, chlorine (common in municipal water sources), and other contaminants.
The top-rated countertop filters are a better choice than water pitcher filters because they are usually a multi stage water filter system with other methods of water filtration along with an activated carbon filter.
We don’t recommend a water filter pitcher when there are so many better countertop filters available.
A countertop water distiller is a type of countertop filter that distills water.
Water distillation is the process of boiling water and collecting the steam. When water is boiled into steam, it leaves behind everything else and you are left with pure water and no contaminants.
While a countertop water distiller will clean your water very effectively, there are drawbacks.
A countertop water distiller is much less efficient than other countertop water filters and it can take hours to produce one gallon of pure water. As a drinking water filter, this may be acceptable, but if you plan to cook or use the water for anything else, make sure you consider this.
Other types of water filters
The following water filter types are NOT for the countertop, but are still water filters that will remove contaminants in your water as well or better than a countertop water filtration system.
Undersink water filters
An under sink water filtration system is designed to be installed under a sink – usually the kitchen sink.
This kind of drinking water filter has a permanent connection to your water supply for tap water, and to the drain pipe to dispose of waste water and contaminants.
Our recommended under sink filters will often include reverse osmosis filtration technology, considered to be the ideal mix of features, filtering, and output.
Whole house water filters
If you are a homeowner or renter that can make major upgrades, a whole house water filter works to remove contaminants at the point where your water supply enters your home.
Because of this, ALL of your water is filtered before it goes to any of your fixtures including sinks, showers, tubs, laundry, or toilets.
How to choose countertop water filters
What is reverse osmosis?
When you want the most complete possible filtration, we recommend a RO countertop water filter.
Reverse osmosis water filtration (RO) is a process in which tap water is forced through a very fine filter membrane to remove nearly all contaminants.
RO water filters are designed to remove as much as 99% of all sediment, chemicals, colors, and odors from your tap water.
You can learn much more about RO water filtration and how it works on our full under sink reverse osmosis systems page.
Many of our recommended countertop models include an RO water filter stage.
What is alkaline water remineralization?
You can get alkaline water containing natural calcium and magnesium from systems with an alkaline remineralization stage.
The term “alkaline water” comes from the pH level of the water. Water with a higher pH is considered alkaline water and is considered by many to be better for the human body.
“Acidic water” has a lower pH and because water filters (especially a reverse osmosis filter) remove naturally occurring beneficial minerals like calcium and magnesium along with the contaminants in your water, the pH is lowered.
Remineralization is an uncommon feature for a countertop drinking water filter, but a few of of our recommendations do include it.
Drinking water output
Countertop water filters are often classified by both how they filter drinking water and how many gallons of water they can process in a day.
Some water filters are more efficient at removing contaminants as other.
If you want to install a countertop water filter for a lot of people, cooking, or another activity that requires lots of clean water, make sure you pick a countertop filter that will meet your output needs.
Any countertop water filter is only as good as the water filter cartridges it uses to process your drinking water.
Over time, the water filter(s) in the system collect too many contaminants to be effective anymore. When this happens, the filters will need to be replaced.
Each water filter in a system has a different purpose and often have a different recommended replacement schedule from the manufacturer, based on average water conditions.
If your water supply is very high in any one or more contaminants, you may have to change the water filters more often than recommended. You may also need a multi stage water filter system to ensure your drinking water is clean and the filters last.
Be sure to have your water tested if you are unsure about which countertop filters will work for your situation.
Overall, all of these recommended water filtration systems are require very low maintenance.
NSF International Certification
NSF International provides NSF/ANSI certification for manufacturers that want to prove that their water filtration system complies with the technical requirements of the standard, usually for removal of specific contaminants.
For the water filter manufacturer, this is a long and expensive process (which is why more countertop filter systems are not NSF certified). The system must be initially reviewed, tested to comply with the published standard, and approved. Then, there will be follow up inspections and testing in the future to ensure all compliance items are still met.
Water Quality Association (WQA) Certification
WQA (the Water Quality Association) provides certified listings that prove products have been tested and approved to comply with their stated claims.
Many water filter systems will have this certification to prove that contaminants are removed as claimed by the manufacturer.
Will a countertop drinking water filter remove all contaminants from my drinking water?
Unfortunately, no countertop water filter is 100% effective.
Water distillers come close but they are exceptionally slow and very low output.
Reverse osmosis filters are designed to remove almost all contaminants and are considered by most to be the best water filter technology. In addition, all of our countertop water filter recommendations include RO as one of several water filter stages in the system.
Is a countertop water filter better than bottled water?
Bottled water may come from any source (including a municipal water supplier) but should always be filtered before it is bottled.
Despite this, bottled water can still contain chlorine, fluoride, or other contaminants.
Plus, there is the effort to buy and transport bottled water and dispose of the empty plastic bottles, which is an environmental concern.
While the upfront cost of a countertop water filter may seem high, if you calculate how many water bottles you buy in a year compared to the long term total cost to own and maintain a countertop drinking water filter, you will find that having the filter is cheaper and easier.
What about non-RO countertop drinking water filters?
Most of our recommended counter top water filters include reverse osmosis as one of the filter stages.
This is because RO is the most effective and efficient method to filter contaminants out of water.
There are other countertop water filters that only contain the same, basic activated carbon filter as a water filter pitcher. While this is an improvement over regular tap water, we don’t think it is enough.
If you spend a little more on a system with RO, you will get cleaner, safer drinking water.
How to install a countertop water filter?
Based on the categories of countertop water filters above, the installation process will vary.
The important thing to remember is that most countertop water filters are easy to install.
Since you set these systems out on your kitchen counter or other counter, they have only one of two connection types:
Any countertop water filter you buy will include easy installation instructions to get it up and running.
Make sure you keep the instructions so you know how to change the water filters when it is time. You may also want to set a calendar reminder for when the manufacturer recommends filter replacement.
Systems that connect to the faucet will need to have adequate water pressure to process water efficiently.