Best countertop water filter: 6 filters compared
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The Big Berkey BK4X2 is amongst the top countertop water filters in the market, and one of the key features that make it stand out is that it’s far more effective at filtering water. It clears out tons of contaminants with a removal efficiency rate of up to 99.9%. It’s one of the few countertop filters that also effectively filters out fluoride from the water. Its filters are highly durable, lasting around six times longer than the standard countertop filters. No installation is required with this Big Berkey either - it’s a gravity-fed water filter hence no need to connect it to a faucet or other water source.
When it comes to water filters, cheaper is not always better, but iSpring has done well in combining affordability and performance with this CKC1C countertop system. Despite being priced lower than the other units on the list, it features an effective filtration media that manages to eliminate a good number of common contaminants in the water, including chlorine, sediments, and organic and industrial chemicals. It’s also an excellent option for kitchens short on counter space since it’s compact enough to fit in almost any space.
Countertop water filters are great alternatives to the bulkier under sink water filters. They are usually compact in design and can be either attached to a faucet or stand-alone. They offer a simple way of getting filtered water on-demand.
In this post, we’ll share our reviews for the best water filters available on the market based on the feedback from consumers and the reviews of other experts. Read on and find out more.
1. Big Berkey BK4X2 System
- Includes Big Berkey stainless steel housing (Upper, Lower, Lid and spigot etc.), 2 Black Berkey Filters, and 2 Fluoride Elements.
- Holds 2.25 gallons of purified water. Designed for home use for 4 to 16 people
- The Big Berkey is made with High Grade 304 Stainless Steel and measures 8.5"D x 21"H when assembled
- Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.5 x 21 inches
- Weight: 9 pounds
- Filtration capacity: black elements (3,000 gallons), fluoride filters (1,000 gallons)
- Holding capacity: 2.25 gallons
- Flow rate: 7 GPH
- Filtration method: purification elements, fluoride filters
- Warranty: 1 year on parts and 2 years on purification elements
Things to Like
- Robust and efficient filtering system – the Big Berkey purification elements eliminate a wide array of contaminants, and it can filter both treated and untreated water. They effectively remove 99% of viruses, pathogenic bacteria, parasites, and cysts. They equally remove over 95% of heavy metals (lead and mercury) and harmful chemicals such as VOCs, herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, radon 222, trihalomethane, nitrites, nitrates, and MTBE. Users did attest that you always get clear, odorless water.
- Removes fluoride – the included fluoride elements reduce a significant amount of fluoride in the water. Their specified removal rate is over 95%. However, the actual rate is about 60 to 70%, which is still a decent range considering that most standard countertop water filters cannot remove fluoride.
- Strong, long-lasting filters – each of the purification elements has a filtration capacity of 3,000 gallons, which is quite huge and translates to multiple years of use before requiring replacement. The fluoride filters’ filtration capacity is 1,000 gallons each, so they’re also durable – they can last about two years before they need a change.
- Ideal for families – the clean water tank has a holding capacity of 2.25 gallons. The filters take up significant space once installed, but they still leave sufficient capacity (around 1.5 gallons) to meet the water needs of a small to medium-sized family (1 to 4 people).
- Easy installation – setting up this unit is not challenging at all. No connectors, adapters, or tools are required. You just install the black filters in the top chamber and attach the fluoride filters to their bottom part. After that, you simply pour water into the upper chamber and flush the filters 3 to 4 times before using the water.
- Durable overall construction – the housing of the Big Berkey is a robust 304 stainless steel. It’s very sturdy and likely to last many years.
- Suitable for camping trips and emergencies – this unit doesn’t rely on a faucet water supply, and it virtually requires no installation. That makes it ideal for camping trips, long travels on the road, or off-grid living. It’s also perfect for filtering water during emergencies like a water cut-off or if the tap water fails to flow.
What not to like?
- Water sometimes has an unpleasant taste – several users claimed that the water occasionally has a rusty taste of metal after using the unit for about 2 to 3 months. Others mentioned that it initially tastes rubbery/bitter and looks cloudy. You have to repeat the priming process at least four times to remove the bad taste and cloudiness.
- The filtration process is slow – this unit doesn’t filter water instantly like the faucet-fed filters. The flow of water through the filters is slow since it relies on gravity, and some even mentioned that it slows down much more over time, such that it takes a couple of hours for the lower reservoir to get filled with clean water.
- Requires significant maintenance – the Big Berkey requires thorough cleaning regularly, which might be a hassle at times since it’s susceptible to rust, and the outer surface of the housing tends to catch dirt quite easily. Moreover, if left unmaintained and unused for a while, bacteria and mold can grow in the dry filters.
- Some plastic parts get damaged easily – the filters are held together by a thin plastic material, which a few users mentioned can snap very easily when filling the top tank.
- The spigot tends to leak – there were many complaints about occasional leakage around the spout area on the lower chamber. The beveled rubber washer sometimes doesn’t sit flush as required, thereby causing water to leak out. You have to line it up correctly and overtighten the internal nut for it not to leak.
- You can’t tell the water level in the tanks – the tanks are not transparent, so you can’t see the water level in both of them, which is an inconvenience, especially when refilling the upper tank. Moreover, the spigot doesn’t sit at the very bottom. There’s always some water left in the bottom of the lower tank, which you can’t get out.
The Big Berkey BK4X2 water filter is an option you can consider if you suspect your water is heavily contaminated. It’s also a good option if you want a portable water filter that you can use anywhere or take with you for camping trips.
Overall score: 17.5/20
2. iSpring CKC1C Filtration System
- CLEAR HOUSING - See-through housing allows you to visually inspect the filter and know when it's time for a filter change
- ULTRA SAFE - Includes a standard 5 micron Carbon Block Cartridge that removes 95% of chlorine, odors, sand, silt, sediment and rust from your drinking water. Highly effective on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like pesticides, herbicides, and industrial chemicals. Tested by independent third-party to meet NSF/ANSI Standards.
- EASY INSTALLATION - No drilling required. Portable and easy to install. Sleek and efficient design offers a natural look on any counter. Perfect for small spaces.
- Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 12 inches
- Weight: 3.69 pounds
- Filtration capacity: 500 gallons
- Flow rate: n/a
- Filtration method: 5-micron carbon block filter media
- Warranty: 1 year
Things to Like
- Removes a reasonable amount of contaminants – the 5-micron carbon block media clears out 95% of chlorine (taste and odor) and sediments like dust, rust, silt, and sand. It’s particularly highly effective at removing VOCs like herbicides, pesticides, and industrial chemicals. The filtered water has a much better taste than the tap water and has no unpleasant odor.
- The filter lasts as specified – the filtration capacity of the iSpring CKC1C is 500 gallons, which should last for around six months. Users reported that it does work effectively throughout the six months. There’s no clogging, and the quality and taste of the water produced are great even during the 6th month.
- The water flow is fast and steady – you don’t wait long to get filtered water with this unit. It’s a pressure-fed system that connects to the faucet; hence, it generates the filtered water quickly and conveniently. It takes just a few seconds to fill a glass of water, unlike gravity filters, which can take up to 5 minutes.
- It has a transparent plastic housing – the clear filter housing is unique, and many liked it because you visually see the filter, making it easier to note when it needs changing. It also allows you to keep watch over any possible mold/mildew build-up inside the housing.
- Easy to install – no drilling required to set up this unit. The installation process is a simple screw-off/screw-on process, and it connects to a standard kitchen faucet. It comes with two adapters that allow it to work with either a ⅞” or 13/6” faucet, plus you also get a dedicated chrome tap and faucet beside the filter system.
- It has a compact profile – the whole unit is around 10-inches tall and 5-inches wide, so it’s small and doesn’t take up much counter space, making it ideal for cramped kitchens short on counter space.
- Easy to operate – using it is equally simple as it features a lever switch rather than a pull-on switch often found on other countertop units. This system is also compatible with any 10-inch cartridge – it can work with any filter cartridge of a similar size, irrespective of the brand.
What not to like?
- Prone to leaks and drips – the intake and output pipes, as well as the filter housing, tend to leak a bit if the water pressure is high. Even when you stop the leaking, water sometimes still drips from the outlet on the filter for around a half to one minute.
- Water often sputters when coming out – there’s no flow restrictor inside the diverter, which is a problem, especially if the water pressure is too high. Water sprays out with great force, which causes a mess and can probably damage the filter. Moreover, air bubbles collect within the housing and the waterline, hence causing the water to sputter even more as it comes out.
- Instructions are not clear – the installation instructions appear to be lousy too. They’re not detailed and clear about the right direction to put in the filter – there’s hardly any difference between its two ends. Many users reported having trouble with leakage due to placing the filter in the wrong direction.
The iSpring CKC1C is a good value for the price if you want a basic countertop water filter that comes at a competitive price. It’s simple to install and use, and more importantly, it efficiently removes the most common contaminants found in municipal water. It’s an option you can look at if your water is not heavily contaminated, but you just want to improve its taste and quality.
Final score: 17/20
3. Cleanwater4less countertop water Filtration System
- No Replacement Filters! Saves Money! Easy to install and comes with instructions and pre-filter included!
- Granulated Activated Carbon - 97% Chlorine reduction, effectively filters sediment, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), taste and odor from water.
- Stylish diverter valve attaches right to most standard faucets, NO TOOLS NECESSARY!
- Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 9.5 inches
- Weight: 3.41 pounds
- Filtration capacity: 10,000 gallons
- Flow rate: 1 GPM
- Filtration method: granulated activated carbon
- Warranty: n/a
Things to Like
- Suitable for removing chlorine and organic chemicals – the Cleanwater4less utilizes an effective 5-step filtration process that clears out 97% of chlorine (taste and odor). The unit also has two pre-filter stages that effectively remove sediments from the water. VOCs and several other contaminants like radon and hydrogen sulfide are removed too.
- Large filtration capacity – this system offers a 10,000 gallons filtration capacity, which is by far the largest on our list. It’s a perfect option for large families with high water demand because it can last much longer than the other filters – it can last about seven years for a family of 5 people who drink around 1500 gallons per year. However, it may last less than that if used for other things like cooking and cleaning.
- Fast water flow rate – the flow of water through the filter is quick, and it doesn’t slow down over time. The system can filter up to 1 gallon of water each minute, which is almost the same flow rate as a bathroom tap – you can fill a glass in a matter of seconds.
- Simple to install – no tools or plumbing required for the installation. It’s a straightforward process that needs just attaching an adaptor/diverter directly to a kitchen faucet. The installation instructions are clear, and you get two faucet adapters to allow you to attach it to any existing standard faucet. It comes with a small integrated faucet that you can also use, and it has a rubber endcap to prevent bacteria build-up.
- Durable and requires less maintenance – the housing unit of this system is made from stainless steel. It’s quite sturdy and feels hefty. It can last just as long as the filter. The system also needs less maintenance due to the long lifespan of the filter.
- It has a simple, minimalist design – the whole unit is very compact, measuring 5 x 9.5 inches, so it can fit next to most sinks without sticking out or getting in the way. The other advantage is that the water line from the diverter to the unit is long, making it easier to place the system anywhere you would like on the countertop.
What not to like?
- Not for use with untreated/well water – this system is suitable for only homes supplied by municipal water. You can’t use it on well or untreated water since it can’t remove waterborne pathogens (bacteria, viruses, and protozoa) and heavy metals. It’s only useful for improving the taste of water and removing organic chemicals.
- No filter-change indicator – there’s no warning to alert you know when the 10,000-gallon filtration capacity is almost reached. It’s difficult even to keep track of it with such a long lifespan because each house’s daily water consumption varies, so you can’t tell if you’ve already crossed the 10,000-gallon limit.
- The filter is not replaceable – although the 10,000-gallon capacity is a lot, there’s no replacing the filter once you reach that. You have to dispose of the whole unit and get an entirely new system as the entire container is concealed.
- Leakage problems – there are reports of water leaking from around the faucet where the clean water comes out and at the bottom part where the inflow tubing goes into the tank. Others noted that the faucet tends to drip a little after being turned off, ending up soaking the counter if the spout is not hung over the sink.
- It has several weak components – the water diverter seems not durable as it tends to wear out over time. The inflow tubing is not sturdy either. It can get easily damaged if tugged on frequently. The little lever for controlling the water feels flimsy too. Yanking it can cause it to break easily. The spout is equally on the shorter side. It doesn’t provide a long reach, so filling something like a pot while it sits inside the sink is a little tricky.
The Cleanwater4less countertop water filter is another best choice when it comes to value for money. It’s efficient at removing chlorine (taste and odor), has a long filter life, and comes at a great price. It’s suitable for use on chlorine-treated municipal water, and it’s also an option you can consider if replacing filters is a problem for you.
Overall score: 16/20
4. New Wave Enviro 10-Stage Plus Countertop Water Filter
- DRINK SAFE WATER: Remove contaminants found in tap water such as chlorine, lead, trihalomethanes, organic and inorganic arsenic, mercury, pesticides, and herbicides for up to 800 gallons. The only complete All-In-One filter available.
- VERSATILE: Odorless, great-tasting water at your kitchen sink. All the water you want anytime you want it. A must-have for making coffee, tea, water for pets and plants, and washing produce to keep your cooking as clean as your water.
- SUSTAINABLE: Filtering water at home is great for the environment. Your 10 Stage Plus System filters up to 800 gallons, equal to 6,000 single-use bottles! Replace your filter cartridge annually to save an additional 6,000 bottles per year.
- Removes the broadest range of contaminants on the list
- Improves the taste and adds back essential minerals
- The filter has a decent lifespan
- The filtration process takes place fast
- Simple to set up, and it doesn’t leak
- Backed by a 1-year warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee
- Replacing the cartridge is a little difficult
- The faucet is prone to dripping after it’s turned off
- Many cases of defective filters shipped to customers
About the Product
The New Wave Enviro 10-stage Plus is a robust countertop water filter system. It utilizes 10 different filtration stages that together remove an incredible amount of water contaminants, more than any other unit on this list.
The 10-stage process features two 30-micron sponge filters, and two 10-micron felt pads, which virtually clear out all the sediments in the water, both large and small, including dirt, rust, silt, and sand.
The system also features a KDF-55 filter media, a granular activated carbon media, and another media that combines fine mesh, coconut shell carbon, and granular activated carbon.
These three filtration media/stages do an excellent job at clearing out chemicals and heavy metals. They clear all the chlorine, chloramine, hydrogen sulfide, pesticides, herbicides, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, trihalomethanes, asbestos, PCBs, and other organic contaminants.
There’s also an ion exchange resin stage that eliminates lead and a micron filter stage that eliminates micro-organisms like cysts, bacteria, and protozoa. Once the contaminants are removed, the water goes through a remineralization phase where a calcite media adds calcium back into the water, improving its taste and raising its pH to a more alkaline level.
It’s generally a more thorough filtration process like almost an RO system, and users attested that the quality of the filtered water is impressive. It’s clear and tastes fresh with no bad smell. However, not all total dissolved solids are reduced. Fluoride is not removed too during the process.
Capacity and Flow Rate
The filtration capacity is 800 gallons, which is decent for a countertop water filter. It can last for a year or less, depending on the quality of your source water. The filtration process is pretty quick as the filter can process one gallon of water within one and a half minutes, which is reasonably faster than most standard countertop filters.
It was a breeze to set up this New Wave Enviro filter system. Many users didn’t find much difficulty installing it, and the water diverter it comes with seems stable – there were no reports of leaks coming from it, plus it attaches to almost any standard faucet. There are conversion kits that are provided too for even more attachment options.
The unit also features a dedicated faucet that has a rubber end cap, so you have multiple dispensing options to use. In terms of size, it’s pretty compact (measures 4.6 x 5.4 x 12.2 inches) – it can fit on a small countertop.
The biggest drawback is that it faces a lot of shipment problems. There were too many reports of people getting defective products upon arrival. They either come with the housing broken or have faulty valves that make them not work.
The other setback is that changing the filter when it reaches the end of its service life is difficult. Users mentioned that the unit is tightly sealed, and taking it apart takes much effort and time. There were also claims that the faucet sometimes drips when turned off, which causes a lot of water to go to waste.
All in all, the New Wave Enviro 10-stage Plus is worth considering if you want a countertop filter system that’s almost as effective as an RO water filter system. It gets rid of an impressive number of contaminants – you can use it to filter even well water.
Overall score: 16.5/20
5. Aquasana AQ-4000W Countertop Water Filter System
- Removes over 97% of chlorine and reduces 76 other contaminants - NSF certified to remove lead, pharmaceuticals and more
- No waste water or harmful contaminants added to your drinking water during the filtration process
- Retains the healthy minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium for the healthiest water
- It’s able to remove 77 different contaminants
- Improves the taste and quality of the water
- Water flow is quick
- Compact and simple to install
- It doesn’t require permanent fixtures
- It comes with a 1-year warranty
- Short filter life
- It sometimes leaks a little bit
- The filter is hard to unscrew
About the Product
Aquasana is another countertop water filter on the list that comes with a highly effective filtration system. It utilizes a 3-stage filtration process that clears out 77 different contaminants.
The filtration system of the Aquasana AQ-4000W is known as the Claryum water filtration technology, and it’s a combination of a carbon filter, an ion exchange resin, and sub-micron filtration.
The activated carbon media removes 99.4% of VOCs/organic chemicals and pharmaceuticals. It also clears out 97% of chlorine and chloramines and the bad smells and tastes that result from all the chemicals in the water.
The ion exchange resin takes care of heavy metals. It can remove lead (96.6%), mercury (96.6%), and other harmful metals. The sub-micron stage uses mechanical filtration, and it effectively traps 99.9% of cysts (cryptosporidium and giardia). The other contaminants removed by the filter are asbestos (99%) and MTBE (81.8%).
Capacity and Flow Rate
The filtration capacity is on the lower end. You can process only a maximum of 450 gallons with the filter, which translates to a service life of about 4 to 6 months, depending on your water quality. The flow of water is fast, and it remains consistent throughout. You don’t wait long to get the filtered water.
This unit is straightforward to install. It’s just a simple twist of the diverter to screw it on the faucet, and it doesn’t require any permanent fixtures.
The diverter takes water from your existing faucet, runs it through the waterline, then into the filtration system, and back again into your existing faucet. There’s no need to set up another dedicated faucet. You get to keep your sink configuration and save countertop space.
The challenge is replacing the filter. It gets stuck tightly on the housing after a couple of months of use. Unscrewing it becomes difficult and takes a lot of strength. There were complaints too that the unit sometimes leaks when the water pressure is high.
Overall, the Aquasana AQ-4000W is a good choice if your water is from the municipal supply, and you want to clean it further to remove organic chemicals and foul taste. It doesn’t need any permanent fixtures, and it’s pretty compact, so it’s something you carry too if you like to travel.
Overall score: 15.5/20
6. Home Master TMJRF2 Jr F2 Countertop Water Filter System
- Highly pure water - three-stage filter removes up to 93 percent of fluoride, chlorine, and other chemicals
- Efficient, space-saving design - compact design takes up minimal space and easily fits on any sinktop
- Simple and easy installation takes only minutes
- Effective at removing fluoride
- Removes also chlorine, heavy metals, and sediments
- Water flow is fast
- Easy to step-up
- A compact design ideal for offices and small kitchens
- It comes with a 3-year limited warranty on parts
- Short filter life requiring frequent replacement
- Removing the filter is a bit difficult
- Diverter strips easily and loses its threading
About the Product
The Home Master TMJRF2 Jr F2 utilizes a 3-stage filtration process that consists of activated alumina, coconut shell carbon, and a 5-micron compression disk. They together remove most of the contaminants commonly found in city water.
The first stage features the activated alumina, and it does an excellent job of removing arsenic and fluoride. It clears out up to 93% of fluoride, which is the highest rate on the list.
The second stage is the coconut shell carbon media, and it effectively removes all the chlorine (tastes and odor) and chloramines. It also clears out pesticides, herbicides, hydrogen sulfide, iron, THMs, and pharmaceuticals. There were no cases of unpleasant water tastes reported. Many mentioned that filtered water is clean and tastes great.
The compression disk takes up the third stage, and it equally does its job effectively as it filters out 100% of all the sediments that are larger than 5 microns, including sand, dirt, dust, and rust. Capacity and Flow Rate
The filter doesn’t last long. You’ll have to replace it frequently. Although it has a filtration capacity of 500 gallons, it works fine for only 3 months or even less if it’s a large family. It lasts around 2 months for a household of 4 and less if they’re more than 4.
However, the flow is relatively fast. Users reported that the filtered water comes out with a strong force that you get to fill a big glass of water within a minute.
It’s easy to install the system – it has a waterline with a diverter that’s simple to attach to any standard kitchen faucet that has a removable aerator tip.
The unit measures 12.3 x 9.4 x 7.6 inches. It’s not the smallest on the list, but it has a slim and short profile, and the footprint is compact – it can fit next to almost any sink. It’s ideal for small kitchens and even for traveling.
Replacing the filter is a hassle, though. Like the Aquasana AQ-4000W, it gets tight with time making it difficult to unscrew it off.
The diverter is also made of a cheap plastic material that strips easily and loses the threading over time. This causes the diverter to keep blasting off the faucet when the water pressure is high. Water also tends to drip a little when the pressure is moderate.
Despite these setbacks, the Home Master TMJRF2 Jr F2 model is a reliable countertop filter with regard to removing fluoride from the water. It’s able to clear out all the chlorine taste and odor too, plus several other chemicals and heavy metals. It’s the right choice if you’re concerned more about removing fluoride.
Overall score: 15/20
- 1. Big Berkey BK4X2 System
- 2. iSpring CKC1C Filtration System
- 3. Cleanwater4less countertop water Filtration System
- 4. New Wave Enviro 10-Stage Plus Countertop Water Filter
- 5. Aquasana AQ-4000W Countertop Water Filter System
- 6. Home Master TMJRF2 Jr F2 Countertop Water Filter System