Popular for their simple setup and affordable prices, countertop water filters are one of the easiest solutions to tap water improvement. No one should have to settle for bad-tasting tap water, and better-tasting tap water doesn’t need to drain your bank account or require an exhausting installation. Countertop water filters deliver delicious, clean water to you in your kitchen, hotel room, RV, or even on the go. Best of all, they come in a variety of styles and offer a range of remarkable filtration options, from eliminating bacteria to fluoride reduction. We’ve gathered five countertop filters based on their design, efficiency, and application to help you decide which filter is the best fit for you.
What is a countertop water filter?
A countertop water filter is a point-of-use water filtration system. This means they can be installed exactly where you need access to water. As the name implies, many attach directly to your faucet and dispense clean water right in your kitchen. Others are portable, gravity-fed designs that can be taken from a kitchen countertop to a camping excursion with ease. Countertop filters are designed to take up minimal space and do not require extensive plumbing connections to operate. Countertop filters use various filtration media, like activated carbon or ceramic, to eliminate contaminants and restore the crystal clear taste to your water when you want it. They can filter water quickly even with only moderate water pressure in the house.
OUR TOP FIVE COUNTERTOP FILTERS:
- AquaCera Pioneer SS4: Best gravity-fed countertop water filter
- AquaCera HCP: Best countertop water filter for fluoride
- APEX MR-1050: Best countertop water filter for alkalinity
- Nautilus Countertop Water Distiller: Best countertop water distiller
- Royal Berkey: Best countertop water filter for the family
Types of Countertop Water Filters
If you’ve determined that a countertop water filter is right for your home, you now need to decide which method of filtration you want to invest in.
A countertop carbon filter is best if you want to improve taste and odor by removing chlorine and chloramine
Carbon filtration is heralded for its ability to improve the taste of water. Chlorine and chloramine are used by municipal water plants to treat water and are the most common sources of bad-tasting tap water. Carbon is also effective at removing VOCs (volatile organic compounds) as well as pesticides and herbicides. Carbon filters reduce contaminants in water by a process of adsorption. When organic compounds come into contact with the carbon, they will bond to it. As the water passes through the filter, the contaminant particles adhere to the surface of the carbon. This strips the water of its foul odors and aftertastes.
Explore carbon filtration: Activated Carbon 101
A countertop ceramic filter is best if you want to remove microbiological organisms like bacteria and cysts
Ceramic filtration uses millions of microscopic pores to filter out sediment, debris, and bacteria from water. The porous surface of ceramic has an extremely fine micron rating, usually between 0.7-0.5 microns. Most bacteria are around one micron in size and are unable to penetrate the ceramic casing. The ceramic is impregnated with silver, which is bacteriostatic and prevents algae and living organisms from growing on the filter’s exterior. Ceramic is a natural media filter, and unlike many other filters, it can be cleaned and reused multiple times. The longevity of ceramic is another quality that makes it a desirable filtration method. Ceramic filters are often combined with activated carbon cores to enhance their filtration properties. They may also have ion exchange resin, which reduces heavy metals.
Explore ceramic filtration: What is Ceramic Filtration and How Does it Work?
A countertop ultrafiltration system is best if you want to remove the majority of dissolved solids from your water without eliminating minerals
Ultrafiltration is one of the highest purity filtration methods the water filter market offers. Ultrafiltration filters water inside out, by allowing it into the filter then pushing it through a chemical-resistant hollow fiber membrane. This membrane has an extremely fine micron rating and reduces almost all water contaminants. All particles too large to permeate the fiber membrane are trapped, allowing only water and dissolved minerals to pass through the barrier. Next to reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration is one of the most rigorous means of water filtration. Ultrafiltration is able to do all this under normal household water pressure and without producing any wastewater.
A countertop water distiller is the best fit if you want to produce mineral-free water of the highest purity
Water distillation imitates a process that occurs perpetually in nature. Heat causes water to evaporate from oceans and lakes. It condenses in the atmosphere, and returns to the earth in the form of precipitation, like rain or dew. Water distillers boil water until it is converted entirely to steam before condensing, cooling it, and producing it in a liquid state. This imitation of the hydrologic cycle is also a powerful method of water purification. Chemicals, viruses, and heavy metals cannot transform into steam and therefore are purged from the water during the evaporation process.
How to choose a countertop water filter
Countertop water filters use a variety of filtration methods to deliver fresh water to your glass. The filtration removes a different set of contaminants and by different processes. They can have varying price points, and come in a range of styles. Here are some important considerations to make when electing which countertop filter is best for you.
1. Understand what’s in your water
Before you can pick out a countertop filter best tailored to your needs, you need to know what exactly you want to be filtered out of your water. If your municipal water has a chemical taste and strong odor to it, chlorine is likely the culprit. If your water has an earthy taste to it, you’re probably dealing with algae. Different filtration media will eliminate different contaminants, and not every problem can be solved by a countertop water filter. A home water test kit can quickly tell you what contaminants are present in your drinking water. From there, you’ll know how to proceed.
2. Examine the product design
Keep in mind that countertop water filters are going to become part of your kitchen’s decor. Unlike under-sink filters, countertop filters will be on display, so you’ll want to choose one you won’t mind seeing daily. Fortunately, many manufacturers take this into consideration when designing countertop filters. They are often sleek and unobtrusive fixtures that blend in well with the rest of your kitchen appliances.
3. Determine the intended application
How you intend to use your countertop filter will dictate the style of filter you should buy.
Sink-top filter: The most common type of countertop water filter is a sink-top filter (or faucet-style filter). This system is integrated into your faucet and diverts the water into a filter before it can come out of the filter's tap. These usually consist of filter housings made from plastic or metal that hold various filtration media like ceramic or carbon. The water is processed through these filters, eliminating the contaminants the filter is rated to remove. The clean water then pours out of a specially designated spout. These are ideal for kitchens, either in your home or apartment or in an RV. They are also ideal for those with limited amounts of space, as they sit directly adjacent to the faucet while leaving plenty of counter space for dishes and cooking preparation.
Before purchasing a sink-top style filter, it is important to verify that your faucet is compatible with the faucet connection. If your faucet pulls out and down or has a sprayer option, odds are it will need an adapter. Fortunately, these are usually included with the filter or can be easily purchased from the manufacturer
Gravity-fed filter: Another popular countertop model is a gravity-fed filter. Gravity-fed filters are compact, transportable, and very simple to operate. They consist of two chambers. The upper chamber is manually fed unfiltered water which trickles through the filtration media into the lower chamber. You then fill your glass from the spout feeding into the lower chamber. Because of their portability, these are ideal for travelers, campers, or anyone wanting to filter water at multiple locations.
Water distillers: Countertop filters can also be water distillers. These offer the highest degree of purity out of all the countertop options. They are also the most expensive. Water distillers boil water until it vaporizes. After it evaporates, it condenses and cools. When returned to a liquid state, distilled water is free from microorganisms, minerals, chemicals, and heavy metals. In addition to providing clean drinking water, distilled water can be used for medical applications like CPAP machines and humidifiers and in aquariums. This type of countertop filter is targeted toward those who want the highest degree of purity and range of use out of their filter.
4. Consider the maintenance of the filter
Different filters are going to demand different degrees of maintenance. Ceramic filters require regular cleaning to make sure that their casings stay bacteriostatic. But, they also have a longer lifespan than carbon filters or sediment filters. The quality of your pre-filtered water also will dictate how long your filter cartridges will last. The more dirt and debris in your water, the more is demanded of the filters to purify it. You will need to pay regular attention to your filter’s flow to ensure it is operating correctly and replace cartridges whenever you suspect the filter’s performance isn’t optimal. Some filters alleviate this demand altogether by coming with digital monitors that record filter usage and indicate when it is time to buy a replacement cartridge.
5. Evaluate the cost over time
When budgeting your water filter system, you should consider the cost and frequency of filter replacements in addition to the initial cost of the system. Countertop filters are one of the most economical filtration options available, but their efficacy is reliant on regular filter changes.
|Filter||Filtration type||Filter Replacement||Cost of maintenance||Price|
|AquaCera Pioneer SS4||Gravity-fed ceramic composite||6 months||$39-49 per candle (holds up to four)||$279.99 (Filter plus four CeraMetix Imperial candles)|
|AquaCera HCP||Ceramic||6 months||$59 per candle (holds one)||$131.89 (Filter with CeraMetix candle)|
|APEX MR-1050||Activated carbon + KDF||6 to 8 months (or 750 gallons)||$42.75 per cartridge||$84.50 (plastic) - $114.95 (chrome)|
|Nautilus Countertop Distiller||Distillation + carbon post-filter||2 months||$28.25 for a pack of six (one year supply)||$379.00 (includes six filters)|
|Royal Berkey||Gravity-fed carbon composite||6,000 gallons (2+ years)||$120 per pair (holds up to four)||$305.00 (two filters) - $415.00 (four filters)|
Countertop Water Filter Product Reviews
AquaCera Pioneer SS4 - Best Countertop Gravity-Fed Water Filter
- Holds up to four ceramic candles for enhanced filtering
- Simple, fast assembly
- Provides filtered drinkable water within minutes
- Emergency preparedness
- Impressive contaminant reduction
- Only holds 2 gallons of filtered water at a time
Contaminants reduced (using the CeraMetix Imperial filters):
- Heavy Metals
Why the AquaCera Pioneer SS4 is the best gravity-fed countertop water filter:
Gravity-fed water filters are increasingly popular because they are easily transportable filtration systems. It is a simple and portable filter but boasts notable contaminant reduction properties.
Better price point with equal filtration strength
The AquaCera Pioneer SS4 is a commanding stainless steel filter. The market is flooded with variations of this 5-gallon gravity-fed design, but the Pioneer is over a hundred dollars cheaper than its biggest competitors. Despite its affordability, the Pioneer is certified to remove a long list of contaminants that rival any gravity-fed filter on the market.
Perfect for wilderness excursions
The Pioneer SS4 comes with four cartridge options, but we recommend the CeraMetix candle. These are rated to remove >99.99% of both pathogenic bacteria like E. coli and salmonella, as well as parasites like Giardia. Additionally, they remove sediment and turbidity from water. This countertop model not only sits nicely in your kitchen or RV, but it can also be taken with you on camping trips, as it is designed to filter water from natural water sources. Its remarkable filtration properties have been used by the likes of UNICEF, the International Red Cross, and Oxfam.
Fast filtration with a four candle design
The Pioneer SS4 holds up to four ceramic filter candles at once. With each ceramic candle added, the filtration flows faster. Water filter pitchers can take up to 10 minutes to filter a few cups, but the Pioneer SS4 provides clean water in mere minutes. If you are concerned that is 2.5-gallon limit is not enough for your family, consider the superior speed will allow you to continuously add water once the filtering starts
How often do you need to replace the filters?: Every 6 months.
AquaCera HCP - Best Countertop Water Filter for Fluoride
- Affordable yet powerful filtration
- Discrete, ergonomic design
- Minimal counter space required
- Easily connect to existing kitchen faucet
- Reduces fluoride without any permanent modifications
- Ceramic filter does require periodic cleaning to lengthen filter life
Contaminants reduced (using the CeraMetix filter):
- Heavy Metals
Why the AquaCera HCP is the best countertop water filter for fluoride reduction:
The AquaCera HCP is the perfect countertop filter for anybody looking to reduce fluoride without costly or permanent installation. It is an inexpensive and user-friendly introduction to water filtration for anybody interested in improving their drinking water.
Designed for affordability and ease
If you’re looking for an inexpensive yet effective investment in your water quality, the HCP is the perfect countertop water filter. It is compatible with the same powerful CeraMetix filters as the Pioneer, but in a simple sink-top, single cartridge design. It is small and unobtrusive and fits comfortably in any kitchen, be it your home, apartment, dorm, or RV. The installation is merely a matter of attaching the diverter valve to the sink nozzle you wish to filter. The initial cost is just over $130. This is quite a reasonable price point, especially given the array of contaminants the HCP reduces.
Countertop fluoride reduction
If you’ve been relying on bottled water to avoid drinking fluoride, a countertop water filter is a far cheaper and more environmentally-friendly choice. Most water pitcher filters that claim to reduce fluoride are expensive and can only hold 6-10 cups of filtered water at a time. The HCP brings fluoride reduction straight to your kitchen sink. It is a smarter and quicker way to limit your fluoride intake than popular alternatives and does so without a massive installation process.
How often do you need to replace the filter?: Every 6 months.
APEX RF-1050 - Best Countertop Water Filter for Alkalinity
- Alkaline beads mineralize the water
- Calcite layer adds calcium to the water
- Range of filter house colors to choose from
- Lowers acidity of water
- Affordable price point
- Less comprehensive contaminant reduction
- Many buyers note the extreme difficulty of changing the filter
- Heavy Metals
Why the APEX MR-1050 is the best countertop water filter for alkalinity:
The APEX MR-1050 is the perfect countertop model for those interested in increasing the mineral content of their drinking water. It’s modern design and range of color options allow you to further personalize your alkaline water filter to your individual kitchen aesthetic.
Alkaline tap water
Alkaline water is water with less acidity than standard tap water. Alkalinity is measured by the pH of the water on a scale from 0-14. While most drinking water falls in the 7 pH range, alkaline drinking water aims to be 8-9 pH. The APEX MR-1050 uses alkaline beads and calcite to add potassium, magnesium, and calcium to your water. This increases the mineral content of your drinking water, which thereby raises the alkalinity. Alkaline water is increasingly popular among some consumers. If you prefer bottled mineral water for your hydration, the APEX MR-1050 is an alternative that could easily save you hundreds of dollars a year. Furthermore, it would eliminate the plastic waste created by relying on bottled water.
In addition to enhancing the alkalinity, the MR-1050 reduces contaminants that ruin taste and odor. Using granular activated carbon, the filter eliminates chlorine and chloramines from fouling your water's purity. It’s also equipped with a layer of KDF, a filtration media that assists in removing heavy metals. KDF also prolongs the life of the carbon filter element by insulating it against bacterial and algal growth.
Custom color selection
Very few countertop filters allow you to select the color of your filter, much less provide you with eight options. From a discrete chrome to an electric yellow, you can match this filter to your kitchen’s decor. While the color of a water filter may seem a secondary concern, remember, countertop filters will be out in the open. The option to select your filter’s color is a unique feature of the MR-1050.
How often do you need to replace the filter?: Every 6-8 months (or 750 gallons)
Nautilus Countertop Water Distiller - Best Countertop Water Distiller
- 99.99% of all bacteria and dissolved solids removed
- Distilled water can be used for a multitude of applications
- Prevents build-up of scale on appliances
- Simplicity of operation
- Ease of maintenance and cleaning
- Four hours to produce one gallon of water
- Requires energy to boil and distill the water
- Water can taste “flat” (low oxygen)
- Heavy Metals
(*with the carbon post-filter)
Why the Nautilus is the best countertop water distiller:
Water distillation is one of the most effective methods of water purification on the market. The Nautilus combines the power of distillation with a carbon post-filter. It brings unparalleled purity to your home or office, all within a single unit.
The Nautilus takes the complex process of water distillation and condenses into one, easy-to-operate machine. All you have to do is press a button and walk away. When you return several hours later, pristine distilled water will await you. While many water distillers are large and awkwardly shaped, the Nautilus is compact and fits easily into any kitchen. It also comes with a detachable water jug, meaning after the distillation process is complete, you can store your water in the refrigerator and dispense it into your glass from the spigot. The starter kit will provide you with a year’s worth of replacement carbon filters, as well as cleaning materials for your distiller.
Versatility of use
Many manufacturers recommend using distilled water to prolong the life of their products. Distilled water contains no trace metals or dissolved salts, so it impedes scale from building on appliances. From your humidifier to your CPAP machine, utilizing distilled water will eclipse potential bacteria growth within the appliance. The Nautilus can also be used for many other household needs. Chlorine is toxic to fish, so distilled water works wonders in an aquarium (as long as you’re sure to balance the water’s pH to meet your fish’s needs). It’s also recommended for indoor fountains and waterfalls, as tap water can corrode their fixtures. You can even use it when adjusting the fluid levels in a lead-acid car battery.
How often do the filters need to be replaced? Every two months.
Royal Berkey - Best Countertop Water Filter for the Family
- Fast filtration speed
- Able to hold up to 3.25 gallons of filtered water
- Filters have a remarkable 6,000-gallon lifespan
- Holds up to four filters
- Portable gravity-fed design
- High price tag
- Heavy Metals
Why the Royal Berkey is the best countertop water filter for families:
The Royal Berkey is a stylish gravity-fed filter with a large filtered water holding capacity and long filter lifespans. It’s perfect for the family on-the-go or at home in the kitchen.
The bigger the better
The Royal Berkey holds 3.5 gallons of filtered water at a time. This model actually filters 14% faster than The Big Berkey, its smaller and more well-known counterpart. If you have a family, it’s important to have enough water to keep everyone hydrated. The Royal Berkey water filter is designed to hold four filters at once. This not only increases the filtration speed but allows you to supplement the proprietary carbon blend filter element with fluoride filters as well.
Perfect on the go
If you’ve got a family trip planned to the beach and you’re looking to make sure you’ll be able to provide your loved ones with clean water, fear not with the Royal Berkey. If the family is going on a hiking excursion or camping trip, clean water can come along for the ride. The portable design fits any off-the-grid family adventure. In the event of an emergency, you can rest knowing you have a safe method to produce clean water for your family.
Long-lasting filter Media
The Berkey water filters use their own blend of filter media in their “Black Berkey” filters, so they are naturally withholding about the filter’s composition. What is apparent is that their proprietary blend has been tested to effectively remove many contaminants, including pathogenic bacteria, microorganisms, and pharmaceuticals. What’s even more striking is the life of Royal Berkey filters. While most filter media needs changing every 6 months to a year, each Black Berkey filter lasts 6,000 gallons of water. Depending on your water usage, this could last your family several years before needing replacement. Furthermore, additional filters can be added to the ends of the Black Berkeys to filter out fluoride (although they will cost you an extra $100).
How often do the filters need to be replaced?: Every 6,000 gallons.
What are the advantages of a countertop water filter?
- Impermanence: Installing a countertop filter is not a lifetime commitment and will not alter your existing plumbing in any fashion. Some of them don’t even need to be connected to a faucet. Countertop water filters bring comprehensive filtration to you without demanding exhaustive installation.
- Portability: You can take your countertop filter anywhere. Be it a gravity-fed model or a sink-top, they’re all designed to be easily disassembled and reattached to whatever location you desire. For those who love to travel, or own multiple properties, this is a perfect solution to ensuring you have clean water regardless of where you go.
- Affordability: Countertop water filters are less expensive than most other filtration methods. Furthermore, since they don’t require any alteration, they save you a costly call to a plumber.
- Low Maintenance: The most work you’ll have to put into maintaining your countertop filter is dropping a new filter cartridge into the housing. If you’re using ceramic filters, you’ll occasionally need to gently wash them to keep their exteriors bacteria-free.
- Clean Water: Despite their ease and simplicity, these filters deliver excellent results. They can eliminate a wide range of contaminants from your water, improving taste and keeping you and your family safe.
Should you install a countertop water filter?
Countertop Water Filters vs. Under-Sink Water Filters
Under-sink water filters are also point-of-use filters. Unlike countertop filters, under-sink filters are installed directly on your waterline and require a dedicated faucet above the sink. If you are living in an apartment or a rented space, these are unlikely to be viable options. They cannot be disassembled and relocated, so they also lack the portability and impermanence of countertop models. However, under-sink filters do provide a more lasting filtration solution for those seeking a long-term investment.
Under-sink filters also offer more comprehensive filtration options, like reverse osmosis. Using a semipermeable membrane, reverse osmosis separates water on a molecular level, eliminating salts, sediments, and dissolved solids. Reverse osmosis removes an exhaustive list of contaminants, but it can be a little more expensive and slightly more complex endeavor. If you are eyeing a countertop filter for its convenience and efficiency, a reverse osmosis system is likely unnecessary. If you are drawn to a more thorough filtration of your water, under-sink systems may be more appropriate for your home.
Countertop Water Filters vs. Whole House Filters
A whole house water filter treats your water supply the moment it enters your home. From your kitchen tap to your showerhead, whole house systems remove target contaminants entirety of your water fixtures. Their primary function is to make the water in your home usable. If you’re in the market for a countertop water filter, a whole-house application is probably a broader scope than you are seeking. Countertop filters improve the quality of your drinking water, as well as provide you with purified water to cook and prepare beverages like coffee. They have sufficient mechanical filtration to dramatically improve municipal water. Whole house carbon filtration will remove the chlorine taste and odor throughout your home, enhancing the water your shower in and brush your teeth with. Other whole filters are designed to remove a specific contaminant from the home’s water supply rather than just improve taste.
For example, if you rely on well water, a whole house UV system can help you keep you safe from microbiologically unsafe water. Ultraviolet light emits germicidal wavelengths that deactivate bacteria and viruses, rendering them unable to reproduce. This prevents them from infecting your drinking water. If you have hard water (water with high concentrations of minerals like calcium and magnesium) you need to invest in a whole house water softener to mitigate the damage hard water can cause your health and plumbing fixtures. A whole house water softener will add sodium to the water to decrease total hardness. Depending on your whole house filter it could still be worthwhile to invest in a countertop filter to restore your water’s naturally refreshing taste.
If you are interested in learning more about whole house filtration systems, explore our whole house buyer’s guide: 5 of the Best Whole House Water Filters | What is a Water Softener and How Does it Work? | What is a UV Purifier and How Does it Work?
Countertop Water Filters vs. Water Pitchers
Water pitchers are popular alternatives to more involved water filtration installations. Recent innovations in the industry have produced water pitchers with significant contaminant reduction capacities. It is perhaps the closest competitor to countertop filters in terms of appeal and target audience. But though they are more common, they are not necessarily more practical. For example, with pitchers, you have to wait for the water to process through the pitcher’s filter. One of the benefits of many countertop filters is they filter your water supply with the assistance of your home water pressure, meaning you can produce the amount of filtered water you desire at any given moment. This is not true of gravity-fed models or countertop distillers, but gravity-fed filters hold far more water than a pitcher, and no water pitcher can approximate the purity of the distillation process. Water pitchers provide you with a limited amount of filtered water. As for the quality of filtration, most of them are not going to match the filtration properties offered by a ceramic filter or hollow fiber membrane. The ones that do usually are no cheaper than a countertop system.
However, a water pitcher filter may be right for you. They’re great for college students in dorms or take with you to the beach for a weekend. They fit comfortably in a refrigerator and require zero installation beyond assembly, and many of them come at low price points. For those unwilling to make a full commitment to a water filtration system, water pitchers can be a suitable alternative.
If you're interested in learning more about water pitchers, explore our water pitcher's buyer's guide: 5 of the Best Water Pitcher Filters
Reviews for best countertop water filters
This is a great product. Our water now tastes great and we feel great knowing that our water is now filtered of many harmful chemicals. The customer service was very good too. Juan was very helpful in making sure I ordered the exact filters I was looking for! -- Ann P.
The product is very good and affordable for improving the quality of water in my area. It eliminates 99%+ chloramines, pesticides, PCBs and 70%+ of fluoride. Other filters do not perform as well. -- Amy C.
Been using water distillers for 30 years due to wife's kidney problems. This is the best unit we have owned. -- Gerald F.