Best whole house water filter: 6 filters compared
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The SpringWell CF1 is our overall best pick for whole house water filters as it offers several great advantages compared to the other systems. The first one is its extensive filtration process that clears out much more contaminants from the water compared to similarly priced systems.
The second and the biggest one is its large 1,000,000 filtration capacity which is equal to 10 years of service life. The other advantages that make it stand out are the fast filtration rate and the fact that it’s backed by a lifetime warranty and a 6-month money-back guarantee.
The 3M Aqua-Pure AP904 is a great budget filtering system that’s reliable and effective at removing contaminants from the water. It’s particularly effective at clearing out chlorine and sediments. However, its major benefit is the rapid filtration rate of 20 GPM which is the fastest on the list. It also offers a decent filtration capacity of 100,000 gallons and it's relatively easy to set up and use in any home.
A standard whole-house water filter is often the ideal choice when you want to clean all the water entering the house before it’s distributed to various outlets such as faucets and showers.
It can be a single-filter device designed to remove specific contaminants or a combination of different water filters and disinfection methods meant to remove a wide range of contaminants.
In the following reviews below, we’ll take a closer look at some of the top whole house water filters currently available on the market, including their benefits, downsides, and what each of them is best suited for.
1. SpringWell CF1
- Dimensions: 9 x 45 inches
- Weight: N/A
- Filtration capacity: 1,000,000 gallons
- Flow rate: 9 GPM
- Filtration method: KDF filter, coconut shell carbon filter, 5-micron sediment filter
- Connection size: I inch
- Warranty: Lifetime warranty with a 6-month money-back guarantee
Things to Like
- Performs a thorough filtration – the four-stage filtration process of the SpringWell CF1 is the most effective at removing contaminants in municipal water. They filter out chloramine, VOCs, pesticides, herbicides, haloacetic acids, PFOA, PFOS, MTBE, TTHM, and heavy metals like lead.
- Significantly improves the taste and odor of water – it clears out 99.6% of chlorine and other chemicals that cause foul taste and odors like sulfur. Clay, silt, sand, and other sediments are equally removed down to 5 microns, so you get fresh filtered water that’s very clear, and tastes and smells better. The KDF media also helps prevent any growth of bacteria within the unit which ensures the water that comes out is totally safe.
- Has the largest filtration capacity – the main filter housed in the tank has 1,000,000 gallons filtration capacity which is the largest on the list and translates to a service life of 10 years for a house with 3 bedrooms. It’s a long lifespan which means you’ll have very little maintenance to do. The only filter that will require replacement often is the sediment filter. It will need changing every 6 to 9 months.
- There’s no much change in water pressure – the system seems not to cause a noticeable drop in the pressure of the water going in most houses it was installed. It has a relatively fast flow rate ranging between 9 and 17 GPM. Many reported that they haven’t seen much change in the water pressure after using the unit for more than 2 years while others mentioned that it drops by just 10 to 20%.
- Comes as a complete set – you get everything you require for the installation including the mounting bracket and the O-ring. All fittings are equally provided and you also get a bypass valve hence you can change the filters without interrupting the flow of water through your house pipes.
- Robust and long-lasting overall construction – the filter cartridge is wrapped in a solid stainless steel tank that can’t break or get damaged easily. It’s resistant to rust and corrosion too, so it will last a long time. All the fittings are sturdy too and connect tightly. There are hardly any leaks after setting up the unit.
What not to like?
- Installing the unit is a bit challenging – you may have to hire a professional to install this system if you have no plumbing skills and you’re not good with DIY installations. It has to be installed to the main water supply pipe of your house and that requires altering your plumbing system which takes a bit of effort and skill to do.
- Not suitable for use on untreated water – this filter doesn’t remove any bacteria, viruses, cysts, or harmful contaminants like fluoride and iron. It’s not suitable for use on any water that’s microbiologically unsafe like well water and other untreated water from natural sources.
- It’s a bulky and heavy unit – this is one of the larger filter systems on the list, measuring 9 x 45 inches. It will need a bit more installation space with sufficient vertical clearance. It is also very heavy due to the stainless steel tank.
If you have a 3- bedroom house and your water is from a city source, then the SpringWell CF1 would suit you well, especially if you suspect the water is high on chemical contaminants. It performs a thorough filtration and improves the quality of the water significantly. It has the capacity and speed to meet the daily water needs of most families for a long time.
2. 3M Aqua-Pure AP904
- Dimensions: 25.2 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches
- Weight: 10.35 pounds
- Filtration capacity: 100,000
- Flow rate: 20 GPM
- Filtration method: activated carbon filter
- Connection size: I inch
- Warranty: N/A
- Features: 304 stainless steel head with 25 years warranty
Things to Like
- Effective at eliminating bad taste and odor – the 3M Aqua-Pure AP904 activated carbon filter is highly effective at clearing out chlorine taste and odor as well as all the sediments that are bigger than 5 microns. Many attested that water in the entire house is clearer and tastes good, with no chlorine aftertaste or unpleasant odor whatsoever.
- Prevents scale buildup in the plumbing system – this system has a scale inhibition feature that utilizes polyphosphates to bind hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium) hence inhibiting them from precipitating out and forming scale on surfaces, appliances, and utensils. It’s a suitable option for use on hard water. Users reported a lack of scale in most of their appliances after installing the filter.
- The water flow rate is fast – the major benefit of the 3M Aqua-Pure AP904 is its quick filtration speed. Its peak flow rate is 20 GPM which is faster than the rest and doesn’t have a very significant impact on the incoming water pressure. It’s enough to maintain a fast and steady flow of water on every outlet in the house.
- Fairly easy to install – this is a single-cartridge unit with an NPT female fitting type. Many find it simple to set up. It has a stainless steel head that you install on the existing main supply pipe in the home and its threads are stainless steel instead of plastic hence they are not only more durable but also create a tighter connection that won’t round off easily or leak over time.
- Filter replacement is straightforward – it takes just a quarter turn to remove the filter and you don’t need a wrench. You simply turn it 45 degrees to separate it from the head and then attach the new filter. The unit also features a bypass valve, so you can replace the filter without turning off your water supply.
- Solid and durable construction – the filter housing is a thick, sturdy stainless steel tank. The inside part where water flows through is polished to remove the pits in the stainless steel where debris and bacteria can collect and contaminate the water. The head is thick stainless steel that’s resistant to corrosion while the mount is equally sturdy and holds the whole unit pretty well. It’s basically a robust unit that can last for a long time.
What not to like?
- Only good for eliminating chlorine and scale – besides removing chlorine, sediments, and inhibiting scale build-up, you can’t use this filter for anything else. If your municipal water is heavily contaminated with organic chemicals and heavy metals or if your water is from the well and it’s microbiologically unsafe, then this filter won’t be of much help.
- The filter doesn’t last its full-service life – the specified filtration capacity is 100,000 gallons which is supposed to last up to one year before requiring replacement. However, the filter clogs up quickly and the water quality starts to diminish within just a few months of use. If you’re a large household, you may have to replace it every 3 to 8 months. Installing a sediment pre-filter can help extend its service life though.
- The flow rate reduces with time – the quick clogging of the filter causes the flow rate to drop by almost a half, especially if the water is heavy on sediments. Several users reported that they can’t use multiple outlets simultaneously after about 3 months of installing the filter. The pressure becomes significantly restricted such that you can’t take a shower when a toilet is flushed.
- Seems to have shipping problems – there are lots of cases of users receiving incomplete units, some missing several parts while others coming with parts that are defective or already used. Moreover, the bracket that holds the filter housing doesn’t come with the mounting screws and there are no instructions on how to exactly mount it.
This is worth considering if you are after a simple and affordable whole house filter that can effectively remove chlorine taste and odor from the water in your entire house. It’s an ideal option too for dealing with hard water that leaves spots and scales on the plumbing system and appliances.
3. Pentair-Pelican PC600 Whole House Water Filter
- Dimensions: 9 x 49.5 inches
- Weight: n/a
- Filtration capacity: 650,000 gallons
- Flow rate: 8 GPM
- Filtration method: sediment prefilter, granular activated carbon media, KDF 55 media
- Connection size: I inch
- Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty plus a 90-day satisfaction guarantee
Things to Like
- Removes a broad range of contaminants – the four filtration stages get rid of a considerable amount of contaminants including chlorine (97%), chloramines, industrial solvents, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, herbicides, and many other contaminants. Silt, sand, debris, and all other sediments are also removed down to 5 microns. The system as well features a KDF 55 media which helps inhibit any growth of bacteria and algae inside the tank. The filtered water has no chemical taste or odor whatsoever.
- Has a relatively high filtration capacity – the PC600 is capable of processing up to 600,000 gallons of water before it needs replacement. That’s about 5 years of service life for a one to three-bathroom house. It’s the second-longest lifespan on our list and the filter appears to work effectively up to its full capacity. The only thing that might need frequent changing is the sediment prefilter which tends to last around 6 to 9 months.
- A decent flow rate that remains steady throughout – water flows through the system at a rate of 8 GPM at moderate pressure and 12 GPM at peak pressure. It’s not the fastest rate but it’s pretty decent, plus many mentioned that they didn’t notice a large impact in the water pressure of their entire house. The flow is steady on every outlet throughout the filter’s lifespan.
- Very solid and well-made filter system – like the 3M Aqua-Pure AP904, the filtration media of this PC600 system are enclosed in a thick and sturdy steel-wrapped tank. The pre-filter housing is also made of a quality and durable plastic material and both its head and that of the tank (where they connect to) are robust and not likely to break easily.
What not to like?
- Can’t be used to filter well water – heavy metals like arsenic, mercury, and lead are not removed by this filter. It doesn’t also get rid of fluoride, iron, and microorganisms such as bacteria, cysts, and viruses, so you can use it to filter municipal water but not well water or water that’s biologically unsafe.
- Installation requires a professional – although it’s designed for DIY installation, setting up this unit was challenging for most. It requires cutting into an existing plumbing system to accommodate it, so you may have to hire a plumber if you have no plumbing skills to avoid any serious damages and ensure that everything operates properly.
- Takes longer for the filter to be ready for use – you have to soak the tank media for two to three days to prime it and then flush a few gallons of water through it before you can actually start using it. Failure to do so results in the filtered water coming out filled with lots of black carbon specs which can take more than a week to clear out. You can’t install and start using the filter within one day.
- The connection system is not really watertight – the unit utilizes compression fittings that feature plastic thread. They seem not to offer a solid and secure connection like metal threads because there were several reports of water leaking around the threads, particularly between the top and the bottom halves of the housing.
- It’s big in size – the whole system is large and will require significant space to install it. It needs at least 18 x 18 x 49.5 inches of space, so you have to be mindful of where you plan to set it up before getting it.
Many users seemed pleased with the filtration performance and long lifespan of the Pelican PC600 as well as its steady flow rate. They also lauded their customer service for responding and solving customer issues promptly. It’s a great option for removing all the organic chemical contaminants in municipal water including chlorine.
4. iSpring WGB32B Whole House Water Filter
- Protect Your Family and Household Appliance from Sediment, Chlorine, and More: Say goodbye to smelly, bad tasting water! Our system removes up to 99% of chlorine from water as well as up to 95% of sediment, rust, pesticides, herbicides, industrial solvents, VOCs, and various other contaminants. This system is installed at the main water supply line in order to treat all the water in your home.
- DIY Installation and Maintenance: Refer to our manual and our helpful YouTube videos for easy DIY installation. With 1” NPT inlet / outlet and Big Blue 20” x 4.5” filter cartridges, the system has minimum impact on water flow (up to 15 GPM) and requires minimum maintenance.
- Top-Notch Quality: The first stage high capacity polypropylene sediment filter is able to achieve filtration down to 5 microns. The second and third stage CTO Carbon Block filters are made of high quality coconut shell carbon for maximum filtration efficiency and filter life. Both are tested by an independent third-party to meet NSF/ANSI standards. The system has a capacity of 100,000 gallons of water, enough to supply a family of four with clean water for a full year.
- Highly effective at removing chlorine and chemical contaminants
- The filters work well throughout their entire lifespan
- The water flow stays steady all the time
- Comes with a limited lifetime warranty
- Not recommended for use on untreated water
- Installation requires plumbing skills or professional help
- Changing the filters is challenging and messy
- Tends to leak water at the connections
- Several cases of some of the filters arriving damaged
The iSpring WGB32B is a three-stage filter system that does a good job at eliminating different kinds of contaminants. The first stage consists of a polypropylene sediment filter which clears out large sediments and particles down to 5 microns.
The second and third stages are coconut shell carbon filters which work in conjunction to eliminate the remaining contaminants including 99% of chlorine as well as over 95% of chloramine and organic chemical. It’s an ideal option for filtering heavily chlorinated water.
Users reported that the overall quality of their municipal water was much better with the filter. It comes out clear and it has no chlorine or foul chemical tastes and odors. The filter, however, is not able to filter our harmful microorganisms, fluoride and heavy metals like lead and mercury hence you can’t use it on any untreated water.
Filtration Capacity and Flow Rate
The whole system has a filtration capacity of 100,000 gallons which is sufficient enough to go for a full year before the filters require replacement. There were no reports of the filters clogging up or stopping working before exhausting their capacity. They can last the full one year for a family of four with regular daily water usage.
Another advantage is that there’s minimal pressure loss once you install this system. Water passes through it at a moderate pace of 15 GPM which is consistent throughout as the filters don’t clog up with time.
Installation and Maintenance
Basic plumbing skills are required to install this iSpring unit. If you have installed a whole house filter system before, it will be fairly simple to install, otherwise, you’ll need professional help to set it up.
Filter changes also appear to be a bit challenging as several users complained that the filters become heavy and awkward once filled with water such that they are hard and messy to remove. They can’t be changed without a large amount of water spilling on the floor.
The fittings have plastic threads that seem to connect poorly causing water to leak at the connections. It’s a widely spread problem and others even complained that water also leaks from the three red pressure relief valves and the pipes that connect the filters housings together.
There were as well various cases of the system arriving with one or two filters damaged and some claimed too that the carbon filters tend to break easily, particularly during installation or replacement process. The other notable downside is that the whole unit is quite large – it’s a big device that will require sufficient space to set it up.
Overall, this is a suitable whole house filter for homeowners that want to clean up all the chlorine and chemical contaminants in their home municipal water supply. It can work effectively on heavily chlorinated water.
5. Express Water WH300SCGS Whole House Water Filter
- Whole House Water Filter: Reduce harmful contaminants from your entire home’s water with Express Water’s 3 Stage Water Filtration System. Standard Water Filter: Drink the healthiest water on Earth as your home water filter reduces over 52 different contaminants from your water including chlorine, rust, pesticides, and more.
- Express Water’s water filtration systems are ready to install with 1” inch standard connections. Easy to Replace Water Filter Cartridges: All Express Water whole house water filter replacement cartridges are designed for quick and easy replacement to keep your system up and running.
- Durable Whole House Water Filter: Express Water Whole Home Water Filtration Systems are constructed with standing stainless-steel frames for long term durability and quality.
- Clears out all the sediments and chemical contaminants
- The filters work fine up to their full capacity
- The water flow is moderate and steady for the most part
- The overall construction is solid and durable
- Has a pressure gauge to help monitor filters’ performance
- Comes with a 1-year warranty
- Doesn’t filter out heavy metals and microorganisms
- Installation might require hiring a professional
- It’s prone to leaking around the fittings and gauges
Similar to the iSpring WGB32B, the Express Water WH300SCGS utilizes three stages of filtration which removes over 52 different contaminants from the water. Its first stage of filtration is a 5-micron polypropylene sediment filter that catches both coarse and fine sediments and particles including dirt, rust, silt, and sand.
The second stage features a granular activated carbon filter that effectively clears out most of the chemical contaminants from the water. It captures chlorine, VOCs, industrial solvents, herbicides, insecticides, and other chemicals.
The third stage consists of an activated carbon block filter and this further removes the remaining chemical contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, pesticides, total organic carbon (TOC), turbidity, and any residual chlorine.
Many confirmed that the system cleaned up their water very well and although it doesn’t come out crystal clear at the beginning, it tastes great and the chlorine/chemical smell disappears completely.
However, the system is only effective for filtering municipal water as it doesn’t remove any heavy metals like lead or harmful microorganisms that might be present in well water or other untreated water.
Filtration Capacity and Flow Rate
The three filters have a total filtration capacity of 100,000 gallons. There are no clogging issues reported that affect their effectiveness over time, hence on average, a family of four should be able to use the filters for a full year before replacing them.
The water pressure drops quite a bit after installing the filter but when it’s at its peak (above 60+ psi), the flow of water through the filter is fast and steady at around 15 GPM. You might notice only a slight impact on the water flow at all outlets when the pressure is moderate.
Installation and Maintenance
Many found the installation of this unit easy although it requires a bit of plumbing experience to set it up correctly. You might have to get a plumber to do it if you’ve never done a DIY installation or if your plumbing system needs a lot of alteration to accommodate the unit.
Filter changes are quick, easy, and clean. You simply twist off the housings, drop out the old filters, put in the new ones, and twist on the housings. It’s a hassle-free process and each cartridge features an individual pressure-release vent and button to facilitate easy removal of the filters.
Moreover, each filter is equipped with a pressure gauge that shows changes in the water pressure, thereby allowing you to easily determine which filters need replacement and when to replace them. Besides that, the first filter comes with clear housing which equally allows you to see and have an idea of its state and when to change it.
The major downside is that the system uses plastic threaded fittings which seem to round off or crack quickly hence causing leaks at both the inlet and outlet connection points. You have to use lots of Teflon tape to wrap the fittings very well to ensure a snug fit.
There were also several reports of water leaking around the gauges. The housing threads are slightly larger than the gauge threads which causes them to fit loosely causing water to leak out.
However, all the housings and the entire unit itself feel solid and durable. Both the GAC and ACB housings have thermally-bonded caps and sealed silicon rings to enhance their durability. The housings are fitted to a robust stainless steel freestanding frame that serves as a protective buffer and also allows you to install the unit on the ground or mount it.
All in all, this is another reliable whole house water filter for cleaning up municipal water that’s heavily contaminated with chlorine and organic chemicals. It does its job very well up to its full capacity of 100,000 gallons. However, it’s heavy (weighs 62 pounds) and large (measures 23.5 x 8.5 x 30 inches), so you’ll need considerable room to install it.
6. Home Master HMF3SdgFeC Whole House Water Filter
- Great for well water; for city water, consider model #HMF2SmgCC
- Massive filter housings with 1-inch ports for the strongest water pressure possible - up to 15-gallon per minute
- Multi gradient density replaceable sediment filter produces finer filtration and greater dirt holding capacity; filtration down to 1 micron
- Very effective at removing iron, sulfur, and manganese
- Removes also sediments and common chemical contaminants
- Filters last through their full lifespan
- The water flow rate is moderate and steady
- Fairly easy to install and to replace the filters
- Comes with a 2-year limited warranty on parts
- Not suitable for use on municipal or chlorinated well water
- Doesn’t remove heavy metals and microorganisms like viruses
- The plastic fittings are prone to damage and can leak
- Doesn’t come with a built-in bypass valve
This Home Master filter works in three stages where the first stage consists of a multi-gradient depth sediment filter that provides 4 layers of filtration; 25, 10, 5, and 1 micron. It’s a highly effective sediment filter that does a great job of clearing out all the sediments including very fine particles that are as small as 1 micron and even some large bacteria and cysts.
The second stage is a specialized iron filter that eliminates up to 3 ppm of ferrous and ferric iron. It basically clears out 95% of iron content in the water making it ideal for use on any water that’s heavily contaminated with iron, especially well water. The filter also effectively removes manganese (down to less than 1 ppm ) and all the hydrogen sulfide present in water.
The third stage involves a granular activated coconut shell carbon filter which gives the water a final polish by removing most of the chemical contaminants including VOCs, pesticides, and herbicides.
Many attested that they noticed an immediate change in their water taste, smell, and clarity. They as well mentioned that the clothes, sinks, dishwashers, and toilets are no longer stained after installing the system.
However, it does fail to remove heavy metals and you can’t use it either on municipal or chlorinated well water – it’s not very effective at removing chlorine and chloramines.
Filtration Capacity and Flow Rate
All three filters seem to work effectively until they reach their full capacity. The carbon filter is capable of processing 95,000 gallons of water before requiring replacement which is roughly one-year service life for a family of three.
The sediment filter has a lifespan of 6 to 12 months while the iron filter can last around 3 to 12 months for a family of 3 or 4 people. You might have to change these two filters often if your water is heavily contaminated with sediments and iron.
The filtration speed of the system is 15 GPM which is pretty decent for homes with 3 bathrooms and have strong incoming water pressure. You’ll get a fairly fast flow of water from all outlets and the filters don’t get clogged quickly, hence the flow rate can remain stable to the end of their service life.
Installation and Maintenance
The system is relatively simple to install compared to the rest if you have basic DIY skills or any prior plumbing experience. It comes fully assembled, so you just need to fit it within your plumbing system.
Replacing the filters is not that difficult either. However, the unit doesn’t come with a built-in bypass valve. You have to add one or you’ll have to turn off the water supply and drain off the water in the system before removing the filters to avoid making a mess while replacing them.
Like the other two filters above, this too has a leaking problem. It uses plastic threaded fittings that are prone to damage and fail to fit in tightly. Water tends to leak out continuously through the top threaded parts of all the three filter housings – you have to wrap a thick Teflon tape around the threads to stop the leaking.
The overall build quality of the unit is great though. The filter housing and the bracket that holds them in place are solid and durable.
In short, this is a filter worth considering if the water supply to your home is from a well and is higher in iron and fine sediments. It does a great job eliminating iron, sulfur, manganese, and sediments. You can also use it to improve the taste of your well water if it has a chemical taste provided though that it’s free from heavy metals, microorganisms, and not chlorinated.
- 1. SpringWell CF1
- 2. 3M Aqua-Pure AP904
- 3. Pentair-Pelican PC600 Whole House Water Filter
- 4. iSpring WGB32B Whole House Water Filter
- 5. Express Water WH300SCGS Whole House Water Filter
- 6. Home Master HMF3SdgFeC Whole House Water Filter