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Water is unique everywhere, with unique challenges presented to overcome. Almost everyone can benefit from some kind of filter, but the question is what kind? I’m going to go over a few of the common reasons why someone might need one, as well as the different filtration system types and budget considerations to think over when purchasing, before diving into a comprehensive list of the best water filter products that the market has to offer.
Read our in-depth water filter reviews. But if you’re in a hurry, here’s my top water filters without much context:
How we conducted the test:
We got a team of evaluators and tried a number of products from different brands to see which will give peak performances according to specific purposes. We also logged in the number of hours that we spent in testing the models.
21 PRODUCTS TESTED
Top Choices on the Market
Best Water Filter Reviews – (Updated List 2020)
1. Aquasana Water Filter System + Pro Install Kit - Learn More
Unique upflow, dual tank design and capacity of 1,000,000 gallons
Great for Whole Home
It is actually surprisingly difficult to find a water filter that cleans the entire water flow into a home, to every tap. The Aquasana ‘Rhino’ (as it is referred to in some of the descriptions) Filtration System doubles down on that by being a very thorough, high quality, and quality assured water filter in that circumstance.
The Rhino is rated for 1 million gallons, or about 10 years of continuous use on average. This makes it quite an incredible value for the price. While there is a cheaper option for 6 years (600, 000 gallons), I do not recommend it as the price gap is small enough that you are losing quite a lot of value in the long term, unless you know for whatever reason that you are only sticking around a home for exactly 6 years.
Thorough removal of contaminants
Design makes the chamber quite thorough at removing contaminants, particular chemical ones and especially chlorine. This removes 97% of chlorine and is particularly proud of its ability to reduce the amount of airborne chlorine that is often released with steam from hot showers, improving overall air quality in your home.
The Rhino filtration system has a number of upgrade options that are quite worth it, in particular the descaler system and UV filtration unit (which increases bacterial filtration). These add ons are quite expensive however (the descaler alone more than doubles the price), and not strictly necessary based on your natural drinking water quality without processing.
If you do not have the basic skills of plumbing and installation of drinking water filters like these, you would need to hire a professional to do it.
For Home and Well Water
2. Express Water Heavy 3 Stage - Whole house Water Filter
3 stage: sediment, KDF, Activated Carbon block
Clear 1st Stage Housing: Easy way to see when you need a change and capacity of 100,000 gallons or 6-12 months
As mentioned above, whole home water filters are hard to come by, and especially at this price range. While not as good as the Rhino, it is also nearly half the price, which makes it a tempting option in its own right, even though they are not as long lasting.
They are easy to find, get to, remove, and replace, which is an excellent feature for water filters to look for in any large filtration system, which often have to sacrifice their accessibility for the limitations of something that needs such complex installation.
If the Rhino specialized in reducing chemical contaminants, the Express Water Whole House specializes in reducing heavy metals. If your drinking water source is lightly chemically treated but has a lot of heavy metals and sediment in it (based on common with well water quality), this filtration system is the perfect model, and may even beat the Rhino out for that circumstance.
While not as impressive as a 10 year unit, a 6 months to 1 year (100, 000 gallon) life is nothing to sneeze at for something which cleans your entire home and has to deal with filtered water hogs like showers.
The Express Water filtration system is designed to clean water quickly, thoroughly, and reduce waste. It produces about a quarter of a gallon of filtered water per second at between 40 and 80 psi, or about 15 gallons per minute. While a bit lower than the drinking water faucet average of 20 GPM, it is still impressive for a 3 stage filtration system to produce that much filtered water that quickly.
A noticeable pressure drop is experienced in the line. Line should also be checked to see if there are some leaks in the pipes. Check the sizes to see if you need to buy additional fittings.
For Drinking Water
3. Aquagear - Water Filter Pitcher
This filtration system is pretty much the ideal size for unit of this type. It is large enough to avoid constant refilling, holding 1/2 gallons (18 cups of filtered water). This is enough for one person for a day which is about perfect. If you need more than that per day it is probably better to get a fixed unit. While it has a satisfyingly large tank size, it is also small enough to fit in most standard refrigerators, keeping cool drinking water on tap any time.
Overall design is sleek and trim, which is easy to use for quick filling of drinking water glasses at the flip of the nozzle
The primary issue is the size. There are mixed testimonies about whether the longer lasting ones also fit this model but the company claims that the triple capacity will last longer than the competition. Its filters produce 150 gallons of water each, lasting 3 times longer than Brita filters and 4 times longer than ZeroWater.
4. Big Berkey BK4X2
- Countertop Water Filtration
2 Black Berkey Elements and 2 Fluoride Filters
The Berkey Gravity fed filtration system has a range of tank sizes, up to 6 gallons. It’s meant to be able to store enough water for a few days in case of emergencies, long term stays in areas with no clean water (some 3rd world countries, remote cabins, and so on).
They are rated to remove everything from bacteria and cysts to chemicals to parasites, VOCs, and radons, completely purifying the water. Note that this does remove all minerals, both good and bad, including fluoride, and the system does not reintroduce minerals at any point.
Entire filtration system is made of stainless steel and is very durable, making it great for long term storage in pretty much any conditions and can stand up to even somewhat rough transport on backroads and off road situations.
This filtration system does not filter water to a tasteless, odorless pure water as described. But compared to other water filters, it is still one of those on top of my list.
Water Filter for Contaminants or lead
5. iSpring RCC7AK 6-Stage- Under sink
Reverse Osmosis with Alkaline Remineralization
Multi-stage filtration technology
The 6 stage filtration system is the standout feature of this water filter. The 5 stages is roughly equivalent to a reverse osmosis system in terms of how thorough it is. Perfect for extremely contaminated water from any source, and guaranteed to remove 99% of all dissolved solids.
Reintroduction of minerals
The remineralization of calcium and Magnesium (Ca+ and Mg+) are reintroduced and provides you the water that you are seeking when you go for a clenching glass.
This product has passed rigorous tests before being launched to consumers. It is our recommendation for under sink use.
The iSpring unit is relatively heavy. It can be harder for some who will do their installation themselves.
Affects flow slightly
Because of the processes involved in filtering water, the flow is affected slightly.
Portable Purifer and Bottled Water Filter
6. Brita Premium - Filtered Bottle
Hollow fiber membrane system, activated carbon
Removal of small contaminants
This bottled water filter is perfect for removing even the most elusive bacteria. It can replace up to 1800 single plastic bottles each year. It can ideally last for up to 40 gallons or every two months. This product filters water thoroughly, is compact, and easy to change.
The bottle is extraordinarily cheap (no more expensive than any other high quality sport bottle), and so it is easy to replace or buy extras.
A must on hikes and other treks, the bottle is leak proof and spill proof so you don’t need to worry about unintentionally wasting precious water.
Clean and Dishwasher safe
Cleaning the bottle can be done on the dishwasher.
Need to be constantly cleaned
Some users say that after some use, mold starts to grow on mouth piece. Frankly, this can be prevented with constant use and cleaning. But for those who want a simple get-and-go bottle, this can be a hassle for you.
7. JTTVO Filtered - Backpacking Filter
Hollow Fiber Membrane
Medical-grade filtration makes JTTVO’s bottle combination the top choice for backpacking available. The filtered bottle removes chlorine in tap water, but it can also reduce chemicals, metals, and even protozoa.
The .01-micron membrane should definitely remove nearly everything. As an add-on , there’s medical-grade cotton, antibacterial beads, and coconut shell activated carbon can really contain unwanted contaminants in the water. .Its multi-layer filtration makes the water safe for drinking.
Each filter lasts around six months (about 396 gallons’ worth), and the filtration straw is easily replaceable.
Drinking through the straw can take a bit of effort, but it’s necessary since the filter is in the straw. If you have trouble with straws in general, this bottle might not be ideal.
Prone to leak
Also, a vent hole that prevents pressure buildup may make the bottle prone to leaks. Keeping it mostly upright—and the cap on—can help avoid leakage.
8. CLEARSOURCE Premium RV System - For RV
5 micron 2.5 x 10 inch first stage; .5 micron 2.5 x 10 inch second stage
Easy setup between your water source and connection to RV and capacity of 1500 L (396 Gallons) or 6 months of continuous use
RVs are one of the living arrangements with the biggest need for a water filter like this. You never know what you’ll find next or how contaminated wherever you set up is. However, finding RV compatible is fairly difficult, or at least there aren’t a lot of options. Existing at all is a reason to praise the Clearsource.
The Clearsource filtration system hooks up via two simple connectors for water in and water out, which is perfect for the get up and go lifestyle of RVing, where getting set up or dismantling any hook ups you have quickly is important to get to the next destination or avoid having to pay extra parking fees.
Two stage first gets anything below 5 microns (most heavy metals and sediment) and then removes everything below .5 microns (most bacteria and anything larger, like chemical contaminants). This makes water from any source taste good and be assured safe.
It is incredibly cheap for what it is and how relatively niche of a product it represents. Affordable on pretty much any budget, and a great investment for both beginner and veteran RVers.
The gallons of water per minute (or GPM) this produces is only 6.5, making it very low flow. In most cases it might be recommended to disconnect it or hold off on connecting it before you shower (the main reason you want a slightly higher GPM) and then hooking it up after, but that makes it a bit of a pain to use, since you essentially have to choose between a very unsatisfying shower or getting dirty again hooking up an external unit afterward.
Economical Water Purifier
9. Brita Tap Water System - Faucet
Brita faucet cartridge
Attaches to your standard faucet and capacity of every 4 months
It is good and screens out most chemical and mineral contaminants, including lead, benzene, and more up to 60 different contaminants. It also leaves a healthy level of fluoride intact, which means it doesn’t over clean your water. Finally, it is easy to change with a single click and there is a handy light indicator for when it needs changing.
The Brita Tap Water unit screws on quickly and easily, with no tools required. You can get it hooked up in mere seconds by hand.
A lot of Options
The system also provides three options for standard faucets. This lets you increase water flow and take strain off of the system when using it for purpose that don’t require cleaning.
Severe Model Disparity
This water filter has received a redesign of the course of its life. The original was subpar in most respects; there were severe quality control issues. This included leaking that was impossible to fix, not screwing on properly, indicator lights that failed to function, and more. The original also did not have the different spray modes. While the new version fixes these issues, the old models are still purchasable, and it is a particular risk if buying the product used or from 3rd party sellers.
10. Aquasana Filtration System AQ-4105CHR
- For Shower
AquaSorb HX Coconut shell carbon and copper zinc mix
Easy setup between your water source and connection to RV and capacity of 10,000 gallons of water or six months
The Aquasana Deluxe Shower system is rated for the units to last about six months or 10, 000 gallons. As a bonus they are easy to replace, coming off with a single twist and replacing the new one just as easily.
Chrome plated stainless steel and a flexible, 5 foot hose make this shower head good at its base job, if a bit basic.
Shower head’s primary purpose is to reduce chlorine, which is bad for your skin and hair, and could help reduce symptoms of eczema or similar skin problems as well as improving the quality of your hair. It does a good job at this, and as an extension of that removes most other contaminants as well, though if you’re worried about bacteria it’s probably better not to drink the water.
Shower head is a good quality shower wand with 5 settings for various uses. Most of these are massage settings, allowing you to have your own home spa treatment with cleaner water than you normally shower with.
They cost a little over half the price of the entire system, so replacement get very expensive over the life of the product.
Some point to some being defective or not properly removes chlorine, though this may be user error; testing pH and similar factors with strips is notoriously finicky for filtered water.
11. ZeroWater ZR-0810-4 Water Filter Pitcher
activated carbon infused micron cloth, oxidation reduction alloy, ion exchange array, non-woven membrane
5 Stage System
The 5 stage unit is the standout feature of this pitcher style water filter. The 5 stages is roughly equivalent to a reverse osmosis system in terms of how thorough it is. Perfect for extremely contaminated water from any source, and guaranteed to remove 99.6% of all dissolved solids. As a bonus it is compatible with most other water filters, so can easily be swapped to a pitcher of your choice at a whim.
Included TDS Reader
Easily see for yourself the before and after of purifying the water of all contaminants. Especially good with lead and other heavy metals.
Included pitcher is small and easy to carry, but holds 10 cups of water (enough for one person for a day on a single fill). It’s the perfect travel companion for dodgy hotel stays or traveling to some foreign countries where the water really isn’t up to snuff.
These water filters are extremely short lived, with some reporting a slow as a 10 gallon threshold before needing to be replaced. That’s as little as a week of function before replacement, which adds up fast. This makes it a literal life saver in certain circumstances where the water is clearly hazardous to drink, but not very well suited to most domestic purposes. You’re better off getting a fixed unit for home if your water is dirty enough to need cleaning of this quality on a day to day basis.
12. PUR DS1811Z Ultimate
40 gallons of filtration (1-2 months of normal use)
It removes 99% of heavy contaminants, including lead. While not rated for a wide range of contaminants (removing only 22 things, most heavy metals or other sediments), it is perfect for water that is mostly fine or has a narrow range of issues that need to be solved by a water pitcher.
Pitcher is sleek and has a slim profile, taking up about as much horizontal space as a jug of orange juice. While it obviously extends further backward into a fridge than that, it makes it easy to work around when arranging your fridge, and fits pretty much anywhere outside of it. Sturdy design makes it easy to place things on top as well, though that makes the top loading of the water a little more difficult.
It is only rated to last for 40 gallons, or 1-2 months of use depending on your usage. This is significantly less than the average for this kind of pitcher (which usually rates between about 4 and 6 months per unit), and makes it far more expensive than it would appear on paper.
Unlike most water filters of this type, you have to fully remove the lid to fill this model instead of flipping back a hinged lid and pouring the water in the top. This make sit more of a hassle to fill, especially if stored in a fridge.
Aquasana 10-Year, 1,000,000-Gallon
There are a few standout models on this best water filter list, depending on your needs. The Aquasana Rhino and Express Water are the water filters for whole home use and are both excellent. Of the pitcher style models, I’d have to favor the Brita model, and same for the point of use fixed unit.
All other water filters are good in specific niches, but between the above three they should cover the majority of customers who don’t need something very specific (like an RV model or travel bottle).
What is Filtered Water?
Filtered water refers to any water that has passed through a form of filtration.
So, what does that mean?
In general, filtered water undergoes at least one stage of filtration, but more likely multiple. Filters catch particles and hold them back as water passes through.
The result is cleaner water that has fewer contaminants, including elements that affect the flavor of your H2O.
Filtered water may still contain some minerals, chlorine, fluoride, and other elements. It all depends on the type of filtration and the size of particle that can pass through.
How Do I Pick the Right One?
There’s a few things you need to keep in mind. First and foremost is what kind you need, and there are several types to choose from. Once you’ve figured that out, you need to judge them based on the quality of their parts, and finally how much you’re willing or able to spend.
There are three basic types of water filters: pitcher, portable, and fixed units.
Pitcher is a catch all for any type that is set to be mostly stationary and cleans water a batch at a time. These can range from smaller ones that cleans a certain amount at a time, be it a few cups or multiple gallons, and they need to be filled regularly as the water is used out of it.
Pitchers are great for a simple, cheap option in places where the water is mostly clean, but you want something a bit more cleaner for drinking to improve the taste of the water. They’re also nice because they can be kept in the fridge for cold water on demand.
Portable units are a lot like water filter pitchers in that they are made to clean water a batch at a time, but in this case the ‘batch’ is only a bottle’s worth of water. These are mostly intended for hikers, backpackers, and similar people who are traveling around without a guaranteed source of clean water, be it dubious free running water from a natural stream or staying in towns in parts of the world where drinking the water is dangerous.
Fixed units are anything you install in your home, from simple ones that just fit over your faucet and clean water as it runs through, to larger whole home units that clean your entire house’s water supply any time you turn the water on. These are the excellent option for people living somewhere the water is contaminated enough to make them worried about drinking it, with pollutants like chemical runoff, lead from the pipes, or even bacteria floating around in the water. They provide a lot of extra peace of mind, and even though they can be the most expensive option, will often pay for themselves in the long run when factoring in the cutting of the cost of buying bottled water to drink regularly.
There are water filters for every budget consideration out there, depending on what kind and how effective you need it to be. Prices of some products are low and in most cases you get what you pay for: more expense means more thorough, longer lasting, and better constructed models.
You want your system, like anything, to be made of durable, rugged materials. This goes doubly for portable models and fixed units. The former will be traveling a lot and can be expected to be subjected to a lot of abuse; dropping, banging, being flipped weird directions, etc.
The latter will be subject to less abuse, but can cause greater issues if broken. Anything form interrupting the flow of your plumbing or simply the hassle to replace the filter makes durable materials a huge plus with these units.
While nice for pitchers, their cheap expense makes it less of a consideration, especially since in some cases replacement units can cost almost as much as just buying a new pitcher outright.
In addition to basic construction, you want to pay attention to the product itself. They should be large (the larger the better) and thorough.
The larger a unit is, the longer it lasts before needing to replace the filter.
Thoroughness indicates both how many stages of filtration there are (different products are needed to catch different kinds of contaminants, so be sure it takes out the specific issues with your water) and how small of a particle it allows to pass through. In general it that screens out anything above 1 micron is a good baseline, as that is enough to catch even the smallest common bacteria.
Advantages of Using a Water Filter
When you use a water filter, you can expect a lot of benefits.
But the biggest benefit?
The fact that the water tastes better!
If the flavor is a priority for you, whether you like drinking water or not, then filtration could help improve your hydration experience every day.
Another advantage of filtering your water is that you won’t see a lot of buildup or limescale in your sink, shower, cup, or hair and skin.
With a whole-house system or at least an under-sink one, you can run fresher water that doesn’t leave mineral deposits or make your skin feel chalky.
Drinking cleaner water can also support your health. After all, drinking bacteria and chlorine isn’t healthy for anyone.
Of course, if you’re on a hiking trail or camping in the woods, safe water is clearly the goal. But even if you’re a city dweller who’s just not sure about water quality, water filters give you peace of mind.
Filtration can make water smell better, taste better, look better, and even hydrate your body better.
That’s right: water without a ton of junk in it is healthier for you.
You can avoid too much fluoride, excess lead, and potentially toxic chlorine by filtering your water.
So, depending on the type of filtration you select, you could be:
- Improving the flavor of your water
- Balancing the pH of your H2O
- Removing pathogens and viruses
- Lowering VOCs
- Preventing your body from working too hard to filter its hydration
- Lessening your impact on your local wastewater treatment facility
- Saving money on staying hydrated
- Avoiding the ingestion of plastic particles via water packaging
All these benefits are great, right?
But isn’t dealing with water filtration hard? Isn’t it easier to buy bottled water?
Not so! In fact, changing your water filter is simple—and there’s often little to no maintenance with more comprehensive whole-home systems.
Types of Water Filters
No matter what your needs, there’s a water filter to fit! Here are the different types and what each one offers.
a. Whole House
If you’re looking for a water filter for home, a whole-house option might be the perfect fit. Whole-house filters tie into your plumbing, usually in the basement (or wherever you can cut the pipes to fit it).
These are permanent filtration setups that usually require very little maintenance. You might need to change a filter every six months or so, but some can go as long as two years.
b. Under Sink
Under sink water filter systems are convenient because they install quickly. You can find different types of filtration in these units, from reverse osmosis to a simple activated carbon filter to improve the taste of your tap water.
Under-sink units can have water storage reservoirs, but they’re not included with every unit. Some have their own faucets to install, too.
A countertop water filtration system is an excellent solution if you’re renting a house or want to travel with clean water.
These systems are often gravity-fed, but they can use power, too. Many require a specific type of faucet because you must attach the hoses to your existing sink. Others are pour-and-filter, where you fill an urn and gravity does the filtering.
Pitcher filters are popular for people who don’t drink a lot of water—or those who want it cold. Some people also use pitchers to pre-filter their water before running it through a more intense filtration process.
Pitchers are portable and handy, but you can expect to change the filters often—and you’ll need to refill each day at least.
Faucet filters take a bit of time to install, but then you have conveniently filtered water any time you turn on the tap. Of course, you can switch it off, too, for filling the sink to wash dishes or for watering the plants.
Sink compatibility is key here, so you’ll want to make sure you have the right faucet if you’re choosing an adaptor to filter your water.
Water filter bottles are popular with travelers and really anyone who drinks a lot of water while they’re away from home.
You can fill your bottle at any tap (and sometimes even in nature) and know that you’re sipping safe water. These types don’t usually have higher-level filtration, though. Read labels carefully if you plan to hike or save these bottles for emergencies.
Backpacking water filters are often heavier duty than bottle filter options. These packable water purification systems take filtration seriously, and that means protection against protozoa, viruses, bacteria, and all kinds of contaminants.
Backpacking filters can come in handheld versions, pump types, and even straws.
Filtered Water vs. Tap Water
Tap water is what comes from your pipes, of course. But what’s in tap water—and how is it different than filtered water?
Tap water can contain things like fluoride, minerals, sediment, and chlorine. In fact, many municipalities treat the community water supply with chlorine to “clean” it—and fluoride for the purported health benefits.
Many tap water sources involve hard water that doesn’t taste good to drink. Calcium and magnesium are often the heavy elements that make water “hard.”
Filtered water, however, removes many of those things: fluoride, minerals, soil, chlorine, and more.
Why You Need a Water Filter at Home
People can drink tap water. They can also buy bottled water at the store.
So, why do you need a water filter system at home?
In short, because it’s healthier for you and it saves money!
If you read water filter reviews to find the right product, you’ll notice consumers saying how affordable their systems are.
No matter what type of filtration equipment you buy, it will probably be cheaper than buying plastic bottles of water each week or month.
If you aren’t buying water now, you’re probably drinking tap water. But why?
Tap water usually tastes terrible. It can also contain harmful particles and even bacteria and viruses. Most of the time, municipal water is downright gross—even if it’s within specs for what your city or county says is safe.
If nothing else, you’ve probably noticed that your tap water smells like chlorine. That’s because the city treats it—to neutralize the contaminants and help make it “healthier.” Right.
We’ve already established that water filters at home are cheaper than bottled water. And your resulting H2O will probably taste better than the tap.
But by filtering your water at home, you can also skip drinking out of plastic bottles—which is better for the environment and your health.
How Often Should You Change/Replace Your Water Filter?
Most drinking water filtration systems have filters that require changing pretty often. But by often, we mean about every six months.
Some products—like pitcher filters—will need to be changed more often. Their smaller capacity means you run through a lot of water—and thus, need clean filters sooner.
But some systems—like reverse osmosis equipment—can go two years without needing a filter change.
In general, though?
You won’t have to put much effort into replacing your water filters. A quick check-in once every two or three months is usually enough.
How Do Water Filters Work?
Water filters claim to remove all types of contaminants and particles, even down to .0001 microns—and that’s super small!
But how do filters work?
Well, it depends on the type of filter. But in general, filters are physical ‘screens’ that block larger particles from passing through.
A semi-permeable membrane lets water go through—and particles of contaminants stay behind.
Filters can contain things like:
- Activated carbon granules/activated carbon—these filter toxins out and attract heavy metals, and they can also contain wood or coconut shells
- Reverse osmosis filtration uses filters with small pores to get the most particles out
- Ultraviolet light (UV) filters kill microorganisms through light rather than physical filtration
- Ion exchange (IX) filters remove particles from the water based on their ionization
- Physical filters have small holes, but they resemble fabric material and can appear visibly dirty when clogged
Some filters rely on gravity to pass the water through each membrane. But some—like reverse osmosis filters—apply pressure to complete the process.
If you choose a gravity-fed filtration system, the water will trickle through the unit accordingly. But with a reverse osmosis unit, it will pump water through the system.