Clean water is essential to every living being on the planet, so it’s no wonder that ensuring we have access to the cleanest drinking water available is a priority for all of us. Luckily, there are many ways to make that happen. In fact, there are now so many ways to purify your tap water that it can get a little confusing at times. Should you drink bottled water? Should you get a whole-house filtration system?
One option that has been gaining popularity recently is the countertop water filter. But which one should you get? What should you look for when shopping for one? And are they even right for you? In this post, we’ll give you the information you need to decide whether countertop water filters are the best solution for your home.
A countertop water filter is a water filter and dispenser that sits on your countertop and is fed water from your tap.
An adapter is placed on your tap to run a tube from the faucet to the filter. The water is then fed through the filter. The newly purified water is dispensed through a built-in tap in the countertop unit. This two-faucet system allows you to choose between unfiltered water from your tap or filtered water from the countertop unit.
All countertop water filters are designed to remove some harmful contaminants, but which ones they remove and how effective they are, depend on many factors. The type(s) of technology they use, the order they use them in, and the filtration materials used all make a difference.
There are trade-offs with every design choice made, and that means it's hard to answer which countertop water filter system removes the most contaminants.
If you have specific concerns about your water supply, finding a water filter that fits your unique needs is recommended. For instance, if you have problems with fluoride or heavy metals like lead, a reverse osmosis system like our 4-stage under-sink drinking water filter might work best for you.
Almost all drinking water filters will give you better-tasting water because they usually all filter out some amount of chlorine. This includes countertop water filters. However, there’s a lot more to consider about a water filter than the taste of the water.
To answer whether countertop filters are the best, we need to look at the other options to see the advantages and disadvantages of each one.
There are four main categories of water filters we’ll be looking at to answer whether countertop systems are the best option for you.
A whole-house water filter is a point of entry (POE) system. These filter impurities from your water before they enter your home’s pipes. This means it keeps your pipes clean, and you get high-quality water at every water dispenser in your home.
What Are the Advantages of Whole House Water Filters?
Whole-home water filtration systems cover your entire home and often filter out more harmful contaminants than the others on our list. You can even add attachments for water softeners and sediment filters that can extend your filter life and protect your pipes.
If you want the best water from every tap, shower, and water-using appliance in your home, whole-house filtration systems are the best way to go.
Some of the contaminants filtered out or reduced by NSF-certified, whole-house filtration systems like ours are:
What Are the Disadvantages of Whole-House Water Filters?
While these robust systems are often the best option for most homeowners, they do have some drawbacks.
A high-quality system will usually be more costly to buy than other options, and they require a professional plumber to install it. And because renters don’t have the ability to alter their home’s plumbing in most cases, these are usually only an option for homeowners.
Finally, If your main concern is lead from the pipes in your home, this point-of-entry system won’t filter that out since the filtration process happens before the water enters your pipes.
Like countertop filters, under-counter filter systems are point-of-use (POU) systems. As you can tell by the names though, one is installed under the counter, and the other sits on top of the counter.
While under-counter systems vary in quality, a good under-sink system, like HomeWater’s 4-stage reverse osmosis water filter (RO system), will filter out many of the same contaminants as a quality whole-home unit.
What Are the Pros of Under-Sink Water Filters?
Under-sink filtration systems are smaller and cost less than whole-house water systems. They can also be installed without the help of a professional plumber since there are just a few under-sink adjustments needed to install them.
Under-the-counter filters are also an ideal solution for renters or apartment dwellers who want to filter their drinking water but cannot alter the plumbing in their building. An under-counter option allows you to uninstall it and take it with you when you’re ready to move on.
Finally, if you’re concerned about lead in your home’s pipes, the right under-counter RO system will remove the lead before it ends up in your cup.
What Are the Cons of Under-Sink Water Filters?
Because an under-sink water filter is a point-of-use system, it’ll only remove contaminants at the tap where it's installed. Also, even though it’s a pretty simple install, it’s still not as easy as some countertop water filters. You do have to get under the sink and move some stuff around.
There are many popular water pitcher filters on the market. Just fill them up, put them in the fridge, and you have cold purified water to enjoy that’s much cheaper than bottled water. These filters are basic, but they’ll make your water taste better on a budget since they remove some chlorine.
What Are the Pros of Water Filter Pitchers?
The two most obvious pros for these filters are they are cheap and easy to use. There’s no installation. Just pick it up at the store, wash it, run some water through the replacement filter to remove any loose carbon, fill it up, and refrigerate. Do that, and you’ve removed some bad taste and improved your water quality. It can’t get much simpler than that.
What Are the Cons of Water Filter Pitchers?
There are a few obvious cons here, also.
While they’re pretty cheap overall, you end up buying a lot of filter replacements, and that can add up. The average filter only lasts through about 40 gallons of water, which could be less if you have hard water, like 90% of the U.S. does. For comparison, our whole-house system is rated for 1 million gallons.
The next obvious con is that you have to keep refilling the container. This can be time-consuming because it takes the water a little while to go through the filter, so you have to fill it little by little.
Once you do fill it though, they really aren’t that big. They’re usually only 6-12 cups in size, so you run out quickly, especially if you want to cook with the water. If you compare that to being able to turn on your tap and get all the instant purified water you want, like in a countertop system, you see the problem.
These are just minor inconveniences, though. The real con with water pitcher filters is that they just don’t filter out as much as larger, multi-stage systems like the ones discussed above. Pitcher filters are small, single-stage activated carbon filters with ion exchange resin in the casings. The most popular ones only filter out chlorine, mercury, copper, and cadmium.
Now that we've talked about the other major water filters, we can really zero in on why you might choose a countertop system. Countertop water filters are point-of-use filters like the under-counter systems, but they sit on your countertop instead. They have some clear pros and cons that set them apart from their under-counter cousins.
What Are the Advantages of Countertop Water Filters?
Because a countertop system is inline, it filters water on demand. No running out of filtered water and waiting for pitchers to refill. Just turn on the tap, and you get great-tasting, clean water.
The real selling point for so many countertop system lovers is the easy installation. You can avoid crawling under your sink because all you need to do is unscrew the aerator from the kitchen faucet and attach the diverter valve that diverts the water to the filter.
It can be done in minutes.
Finally, while many countertop units don’t filter out more than a water pitcher filter, our HomeWater countertop water filter has an advanced three-stage filtration system. As a bonus, it also chills your water directly inside the unit.
Ice-cold, pure water on tap? Yes, please!
What Are the Disadvantages of Countertop Water Filters?
They take up space on your countertop. Let’s face it; countertop space is precious for many of us. You also need to like the way they look since they’re always going to be on display in your kitchen.
They also vary in quality. Many countertop models are very cheap and simple single-stage filters that just aren’t any more effective than a pitcher filter.
Finally, since they are point-of-use filters, they’ll only purify your water from the tap where they are installed.
Our HomeWater three-stage countertop water filter is BPA-Free and will give you great-tasting, hot or cold water on demand. While we stand behind this product and believe it’s one of the best countertop water filters on the market, for some people, a countertop system may not be the best solution. If you lack countertop space, an under-counter system might be better for you. Or, if you own your home and want a more comprehensive filtration system, you may want to check out our whole-house filtration system.
No matter which you choose, HomeWater’s made-in-America water filtration systems will have you reaching for another glass.