7 Best Home Water Filters in 2021 (Reviewed)
Although you can't taste it, the drinking water that comes from your faucet is probably laced with water contaminants, pollutants, and other organic compounds. Even more concerning, your water source could be filled with pesticides, herbicides, cysts, and more. This is why water treatment systems are so important.
The best water filters remove harmful impurities from your drinking water leaving you with a refreshing, cool drink, minus the impurities. Furthermore, with the best water filters, you'll save loads of money that you would otherwise spend on bottled water.
When it comes to the best water filters, there's no shortage of models. The list includes countertop filters, pitcher filters, water softeners, whole house filtration systems, reverse osmosis filters, faucet filters, and under sink filters, just to name a few.
With so many models available to choose from, finding the water filtration device that's best for your home can be more than a little confusing. That's why we've put together the following buyer's guide complete with the best home water filtration units currently on the market in 2021.
7 Best Water Filters of Each Type - Overview
Here's an overview of the best water filters of each type (keep scrolling for detailed breakdowns with notable features):
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Best Water Filter Pitcher
Similar to a Brita filtration pitcher, the Waterdrop Chubby Water Filter Pitcher is one of the most popular water filter pitchers for filtering water directly from your kitchen faucet.
Don't be fooled by its small size, this drinking water filter utilizes a 7-stage filtration process to remove impurities, including sulfur, from your drinking water at 10 times the rate of other filters. Renowned for its ease of use, a single filter can treat up to 200 gallons of water. Just store it in the door of your fridge and you'll always have cool, clean drinking water, ready at hand.
Before you get started, be sure to give the filter a good soaking to remove any manufacturing impurities. Aside from being able to remove inorganic fluoride, this water filtration unit is not suitable for removing organic fluoride. For this task, you need something a little more heavy-duty.
Best Countertop Water Filter
The Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter is one of the best countertop water filters — meaning it's designed to sit atop your kitchen counter. As it's a gravity filter, no electricity or plumbing is required. In fact, you don't even need to connect it to a water source of any kind. Just add water to the top of the unit and let gravity do the rest!
A single filter has a massive lifespan, being able to filter up to 6000 gallons of tap water. Plus, as it can hold 2.25 gallons of filtered water at a time with zerowater waste — you'll rarely have to worry about adding water. This product can even be used to filter well water.
The Big Berkey is a great countertop water filter for households of four. I love that it comes with two Black Berkey filters for the upper chamber, but if you're really serious about the cleanliness of your water, you can add two more filters.
Best Faucet Mounted Water Filter
The Culligan FM-15A Faucet Mount Filter is one of the best faucet water filters on the market. This highly compact water filter can be easily screwed onto your faucet and is suitable for up to 200 gallons before it's time to change the filter — 200 gallons should last roughly 4-6 months.
The Culligan FM-15A is certified by the American National Standards Institute and is more than capable of removing chlorine, lead, sediment, lindane, and class 1 particulates from your drinking water.
This filter comes with easy-to-use faucet adapters — no need for tools hers. Keep in mind, the Culligan replacement filter cartridges can be a bit pricey. Still, considering you only have to change filters every 200 gallons or so, it's a bargain!
Best Water Softener
The SpringWell, well water filter and salt-based water softener is the best water softener on our list.
Note: if you're looking for a water softener that is not salt-based, then be sure to check out our list of the best salt-free water softeners.
This is one extremely powerful filter. Not only does it remove the usual contaminants typically found in tap water, but it even goes another step further removing iron, magnesium, and hydrogen sulfide as well. Not to mention, SpringWell is even in compliance with the NSF standards.
As its name suggests, this water filtration system doubles as a salt-based water softener by removing hard minerals through an ion exchange process. This is a great way to prolong the lifespan of your pipes as well as your home’s water-based appliances.
This filter uses a regeneration process, meaning it requires much less maintenance than similar filtration systems. It has a flow rate of 20 GPM (gallons per minute) and features a compact and modern design.
SpringWell even offers a 6-month money-back guarantee. If you're not 100% satisfied, simply send it back for a full refund, no questions asked.
Best Whole House Water Filter
The Aquasana 500,000 Gallon Well Water Rhino is the absolute best whole-house well water filter out there. Similar to the SpringWell product above, it's not only a water filter but a water softener as well — although this system doesn't require salt for the water softening process.
The Aquasana Rhino is NSF-certified (National Science Foundation) and boasts a 90-day money-back guarantee.
As its name suggests, this product has a capacity of 500,000 gallons of water. Keep in mind, you will have to purchase additional fittings in order to complete the installation process — tools will be required.
Best Reverse Osmosis Water Filter
The NU Aqua 7 Stage Reverse Osmosis System is the best reverse osmosis (RO filter) that the market has to offer. Complete with a 5-stage filter, this unit boasts three special features: a UV filter light that destroys bacteria and other microorganisms; an alkaline filter that adds beneficial minerals to your water; and a booster pump to ensure zero water waste.
This high-capacity filter can handle up to 100 gallons of water per day without affecting your water pressure.
This product comes with a 5-year manufacturer's warranty as well as lifetime support from NU Aqua. As an additional bonus, this water filter also comes with a free digital PPM meter water tester so you can test the quality of your water yourself.
Best Reverse Osmosis Water Filter
The iSpring CU-A4 4-stage Under Sink Water Filter is, as its name suggests, the best under sink water filter. It has a fantastic price-to-quality ratio thanks to a 4-stage filtration process that eliminates 99 percent of all contaminants typically found in drinking water — it even eliminates any bad smells.
This water filter is incredibly easy to install and can be connected to your fridge via simple snap-on fittings. This under-sink water filter is even both NSF and ANSI-certified (American National Standards Institute).
This water filtration unit comes with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty and access to 24/7 support (which you probably only require every 6 to 12 months when it's time to replace the filters.)
The health and well-being of you and your family are important. Impurities and sediments such as heavy metals, particles, chlorine, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and much more can find their way into your drinking water causing harm to you, your family, and your plumbing. Some impurities can even cause your water to taste and smell bad. The best water filters discussed above have all been proven to be effective when it comes to personal and home use.
There are many different types of water filters available, all designed to eliminate different contaminants from your tap water, including pre-filters, activated carbon filters, carbon filters, coconut shell filters, KDF filters, and more. To be on the safe side, consider a filter that's been certified by the NSF (National Science Foundation), ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), or the WQA (Water Quality Association).
If you're interested in removing bacteria and viruses from your tap water, then consider a filter with a UV light that can kill up to 99% of harmful pathogens. Or, maybe you would prefer an alkaline booster to raise the PH levels of your drinking water. If you're interested in protecting your pipes and water-based appliances such as kettles, washing machines, and dishwashers, then consider a water softener.
Bonus tip: Check out this Youtube video that goes over the inner workings of a water filter:
Water Filter Buying Guide
Everyone knows tap water can be tricky. There are always contaminants that can make you and your family sick, and if you have the ability to, it is never a bad idea to try and take care of it. Water is one of the most important things in your life, so why not try and get the best water for the people that you love?
This is why water filters are important. They can help you take care of your water issues straight through your faucet without any issues with either installation or maintenance. They can be life-saving or they can simply be life-improving.
Think about how much you use water in your home. You use it to wash your clothes, to wash your dishes, to wash your home, to wash yourself. Finally, you use it to drink. You use it for one of the most basic human needs, possibly only second to air and breathing. If you have a chance to make your water the best it can be, then you should definitely take it.
So let’s dive into the world of water purifiers, and why they are important. What do they do? How do they do it? Why would you need one? And finally, out of the gigantic amount of options out there on the market, which should you choose and why? If you want an answer to all these questions, then this is the article for you. We will do a deep dive into this world for you and get you ready to purchase the best water filter for yourself and your family. After you are done with the reading, you can check Amazon with all your new-found knowledge of water treatment systems, or check out Water Filter Authority for more info on this subject.
Why Would I Want A Water Filter?
The most important thing to understand when it comes to water treatment systems is to understand what is actually in your drinking water. There are many things mixed into your tap water, some of which are just inconvenient, others that are downright toxic. So let’s see what it is that could possibly be in there, and explore a little bit of what they could possibly do to you and your body (as well as your family’s bodies). Here is a list of some of the things that could be in your drinking water and could possibly hurt you:
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
- Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
- Inorganic chemicals
- E. coli bacteria
- Coliform bacteria
- Fecal matter
- Microbial pathogens
- Radioactive contamination
- Agricultural and industrial chemicals
Most people are aware that drinking contaminated water could be really bad for you. It is a question people ask often when they travel - is the tap water safe here? Can I drink straight from the tap? In many places, the answer is yes. However, even if the answer is yes, there is still always a possibility that a regular, non-dangerous amount of pollutants could still hurt you, especially if you are immunocompromised, older, or just generally more prone to infections or health problems. If you want to be a responsible, well-informed homeowner, then it is important to know how much drinking contaminated water can harm you. This is the reason why we have compiled this shortlist on some of the issues you can get from drinking contaminated tap water:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Intestinal or stomach cramping
- Intestinal or stomach aches and pains
Another significant benefit of purchasing a water filter is that you would save a considerable amount of money on regular, plastic water bottles. The majority of people in the United States (as well as all over the world) purchase water bottles, whether it is simply for the better water taste, or for actual health-related reasons. Sometimes you get a water bottle just out of pure convenience, but most of the time, people purchase water bottles for the simple reason that they believe it is cleaner, or healthier.
Especially if you have a large family, consistently buying bottled water for all the members of your household can get fairly expensive. For the average family (one that gets through 2 to 3 bottles of water a day), annual costs can easily exceed 500 dollars, which is a high price to pay for clean, pure water. This means that unless you have an extraordinarily large home and you live alone, the cost of getting a water filter delivered and installed in your home turns out to be much less than just buying water bottles all of the time. You can check out this article on The Water Project that talks about this issue and more.
Another great benefit of a water filtration system, which is directly linked to the previous benefit that we mentioned, is that you would also be helping the environment. Most people understand just how awful and just how urgent the threat of climate change is. This issue is always on the news, and it seems that every year the deadline to do something about it gets tighter and tighter. It is often hard to understand what you, as a regular human being, can do about any of it. Purchasing a water filter could be a genuine way of doing something about it, while also doing something for yourself. You will purchase and use fewer water bottles, which discard a ridiculous amount of plastic into the environment. You can get one of those environmentally friendly water bottles and feel good about doing something nice for the world we all share.
On the more practical side, you can also spend less time and less money dealing with plumbing issues. There are several kinds of minerals, heavy metals, and chemicals in your water supply that can cause corrosion and other types of damage to your pipes, as well as to all of your water-using appliances. Getting a water filter can take care of these impurities, and not only further the lifespan of your pipes and appliances, but make sure you need a lot less maintenance throughout their lifespan too.
Another health-related benefit that might be important to you - if you have sensitive skin, if you experience skin irritations, or if you have skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis - then having a water filter installed in your home can lessen and help improve these conditions. Contaminated water can be bad for your skin, so taking care of it could genuinely lower your skincare costs for the year. This article on Healthline delves the harm of cleaning your face with tap water as well if you would like to do some further reading. Another thing is that your soap will work much, much better. Just as contaminated water can make your clothes washing and your showering much less effective, it can also make your dishwashing harder as well. On the other hand, limescale, which is a white, chalky buildup that happens at the bottom of your water-using appliances such as a water kettle, will be very greatly reduced.
How Do Water Filters Work?
There are four different types of water filters. There activated carbon filters, reverse osmosis filters, ion exchange filters, and distillation filters. An activated carbon filter is the most common kind of water filter, and it uses activated carbon granules (sometimes called active carbon or AC) based on charcoal that have tiny nooks and crannies that absorb certain impurities. They do not, however, take care of hard water (water with minerals such as calcium that cause limescale in your pipes), so you would have to get a water softener for this issue. Fortunately, there are plenty of water softeners that can help fix these issues.. They also do not remove heavy metals, sodium, nitrates, fluorine, or microbes.
The next kind of water filter is the reverse osmosis filter. You need a decent level of water pressure for this system. A reverse osmosis system uses a reverse osmosis filter (also known as RO filters) that works by pushing the contaminated water from your water line through a semi-permeable membrane, improving the water quality of the water that comes out the other side. This type of filter, however, does produce a high amount of wastewater. It is also not very effective at removing bacteria, so you might want to complement it with an ultraviolet filter as well.
The ion exchange filter is the best at taking care of hard water. They split apart atoms of a contaminant and make ions, which they then trap and release back into the water as better, less harmful ions. You do, however, have to fill these types of products with salt, which can get expensive and time-consuming. Finally, the last type of water filter is the distillation filter. Distillation filters boil the water at a temperature high enough for the water to boil but not the impurities in it. At this point, the steam is turned back into a liquid while the contaminants stay behind. However, some, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) boil at a lower temperature so they do not get filtered out.
How Do You Choose The Right Water Filter For Your Home?
Getting the proper water filtration system for your home is undeniably important. You will waste money and energy if you get a bigger one than you are supposed to, you will not get enough contaminants (or enough of the specific contaminants you need filtering) filtered, you will have too low a water flow rate. This is why we have created this quick and easy guide that lets you know the perfect water filter to choose from by using these six simple concepts:
- Contaminant Filtration Capability
- System Type and Size
- Water Capacity
- Flow Rate
Contaminant Filtration Capability
As we have discussed further up in this article, there are several kinds of harmful contaminants that can be found in your water. Depending on where you get your water from, you might have more or less of them. Municipal water tends to be more biologically safe than well water, while well water is more likely to have harmful agricultural and industrial chemicals.
There are some ways through which you can figure out what exactly is in your water. Once you have done that, you can specifically tailor the water filter to the type of contaminants you have. If you get your water supply through your city, then all you would need to do is contact your local water treatment authority. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) mandates that every public water supplier publish an annual water quality report, which is known as a Consumer Confidence Report, so you can see exactly what kind of water you have where you live. If you get your water through a well, then you can get a water testing kit (DIY kits) over the counter in most places and you can send the samples to an independent lab that will test them for you and send you the results.
System Type and Size of Water Filters
Now what you would have to figure out is how big you want this filter to be, and what kind of filter you would like. Do you want filtered water in your kitchen only? Are you only concerned about the water you drink and have a small household? Or are you gonna go ahead and get your whole house’s water treated?
Water filter pitchers and faucet mount filters are the smallest on the market. Water filter pitchers are useful since you can put them in the fridge and you can take them to different places if you need to.
Faucet-mounted filters, as the name suggests, are installed within your faucet to give you clean water straight from the tap.
Countertop water filters vary in size and capacity, as do under-sink water filters (sometimes called under counter water filters also). Countertop water filters take up a little more space but take fewer connections and less time installing, while under sink water filters save you space yet have to be connected to your fixtures.
If you are looking for the most powerful stuff on the market, however, you will want to go with a whole house filter. These can take care of every single faucet and dispenser in your home and make sure you never have to deal with contaminated water ever again.
Water Filter Water Capacity
The water capacity of a water filter refers to the number of gallons that it can filter through before you have to change them. As expected, water pitcher cartridges, as well as faucet-mounted filters, have the lowest water capacity and will not last longer than a few months. Countertop and under sink water filter cartridges have a higher water capacity, yet you often have different types of pre-filters for specific contaminants such as sediment and iron that you might also have to take care of more often than the regular filters. Whole house water filter systems are, unsurprisingly, the ones that require the least frequent replacements. The less often you have to replace your filters, the least maintenance you have to do on your product, and the least you spend on it every year.
Flow Rate of Water Filters
The water flow rate of a water filter describes the amount of time that it takes for the water to travel through the filtration system to the tap. It is measured in gallons per minute (often shortened to GPM) and it tells you how fast a filter system is. You will need to know how high of a flow rate you will need. For example, if you want to be able to flush the toilet and take a shower and the flow rate you need for both those activities combined is around 5 gallons per minute, then you will need a product that has that high of a flow rate at least. On the other hand, if you are getting a water filter pitcher or a single faucet-mounted system, then you might not mind even if your cup takes a little bit longer to fill.
Types of Water Filters
While it is difficult to understand at times the exact quality of a specific filter since the amount (as well as the types) of contaminants differ depending on the water supply. Ideally, you will want to look for those that are NSF (National Science Foundation) certified. You will also want to look for multi-layer filters that remove particles starting with the largest ones first (you may also look for a filter with sediment pre-filters) and the smallest ones last, to avoid having the larger particles accidentally clog the smaller holes and lowering your filter life.
Costs of Water Filters
When purchasing a water filter system, it is important to keep in mind that you are not only paying the original price, but you are also going to incur maintenance costs every year by buying replacement filters.
If you are buying smaller, cheaper filter systems such as a pitcher filter or a faucet-mounted filter, then you will have a higher annual maintenance cost since the filters only last a few months. If you decide to buy a larger filtration system, such as the countertop or the under sink types, then you will have a higher cost originally, but spend less money on maintenance at the end of the year.
You can also check out our article that details exactly how much your water filter should cost, and how to offset some unnecessary costs too.
Thanks for reading!