7 Best Countertop Water Filters for 2021

the best countertop water filters in 2021!

If you are sick and tired of constantly buying bottled water to use for drinking and cooking, you’ve come to the right place. 

By now you’ve probably realized how inconvenient the giant pile of plastic bottles can become, in addition to the hundreds of dollars you can end up spending in just one year. I KNOW this because up until recently, that was my reality.

I researched online (and YouTube) for hours, trying to find the best countertop water filter that can become my primary water filter. The reason I decided to go with a countertop style VS other types is because it would have ended up costing me a lot less. Not to mention the ease of connecting and disconnecting if I had to go anywhere.

What I’ve done below is list down7 countertop water filter reviews and rank them from the most recommended (#1) to least recommended (#7).

If you are new to countertop water filters, it’s important to remember that you get what you pay for. Those cheap Brita filters you can buy at Wal-Mart are junk. They don’t produce enough filtration to make any measurable difference in your water, not only will you taste it… but you may even get the false sense of it actually doing something good.

Best countertop water filters
[top 3 narrowed down]

Water Filter: Water Filter: Details: Rank:
Best Overall
#1
Most Premium
#2
Budget Friendly
#3

Table of Contents:

[1] Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter

Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter ​

Before I started researching countertop water filters, I have heard rumors about the Big Berkey being the “Rolls Royce” of water filters. After finishing my digging, I’ve come to realize that the Big Berkey is the best countertop water filter you can buy, especially for the money. I ended up buying one, I know from personal experience as well.

Big Berkey comes in many sizes and price ranges. This one in particular is able to filter up to 2.25 gallons. While it takes a little longer for the system to fully filter the water, once you get your first batch of water through the filter, you can do that up to 2,600 times before needing to replace the filter cartridges.

Unlike traditional water filtering systems that hook directly to your faucet, this unit is a standalone filter that only requires you to manually add water to it.

According to an independent lab test done back in 2014, the Big Berkey with the PF-2 filter was able to filter out:

  • Uranium: 100%
  • Lead: 100%
  • Mercury: 99.8%
  • Cesium: 98.6%
  • Aluminum: 86.6%
  • Copper: 100%
  • Arsenic: 100%
  • Strontium: 100%
  • Cadmium: 100%

Talk about impressive!

Most of the unit is made of stainless-steel, meaning it will NOT rust on you and won’t leave you worrying of harmful plastic leeching into the water.

While its not cheap, it’s worth every penny according to me and thousands up thousands of other users. If you want reliability and effectiveness, Big Berkey is where its at.

Things I LIKE about it:
Things I DON’T LIKE about it:

[2] AQUA Tru Countertop Water Filter

AQUA Tru Countertop Water Filter​

Coming in as my number 2 choice is the AQUA Tru countertop water filtering system. At first glance, it looks like a coffee maker (similar to Kureg), however it’s obviously far from it. Similar to the Big Berkey unit mentioned above, the AQUA Tru requires NO plumbing or installation of any kind, nice right?

Let me be clear before you go any further, this unit is not cheap (more than the Berkey), however with that you get ease of use and even better speed of filtering than the Berkey.

The AQUA Tru filter can sit on the countertop and filter out up to a gallon of water in about 20 minutes… that’s right, it’s fast!

The method filtration they go through is 4-stage reverse osmosis. IAPMO did an independent test on this unit and found it can remove Lead 99.1%, Chromium 97.2%, Copper 95.2%, Fluoride 93.5%, Radium 96.4%, and Chlorine 96.6% (just to name a few). Because it is reverse osmosis, it can reach a removal rate of 99.9% of total dissolved solids from drinking water.

One of the biggest concerns I had with this unit was the plastic. Since the containers that store water are both made of plastic, however my concerns were laid to rest when I learned it was BPA free.

The last thing I want to point out is the ease of dispensing water. Like a water cooler found in a corner of an office, AQUA Tru dispenses water at a push of a button. If you have kids, they will won’t be fumbling around trying to get water into their cups.

Things I LIKE about it:
Things I DON’T LIKE about it:

[3] APEX Alkaline Countertop Filter

APEX Alkaline Countertop Filter​

If you want to find a budget-friendly countertop water filter, look no further than the APEX Alkaline filtering system. Don’t let its small size fool you, it has a lot in one package.

First of all, this is a cartridge-style filter, meaning it requires no electricity to operate and only a single line coming from your sink to get its water. It is important that you have the appropriate style of faucet threads to ensure the included adapter will fit properly.

APEX offers a few different models, but the one that stood out to me was the clear one where you can see all the filtering elements.

I noticed after dozens of tests between the water filtered through this unit and “high quality” bottled water sold in the store (think Fiji), APEX managed to put out higher pH water. In some cases, the pH levels of the “premium” water was 2x lower… yikes!

Note, because this is an alkalizing water filter, it will not remove partially dissolved solids.

If you wanted a cheap yet effective water filter, APEX is worth looking at.

EXTRA NOTE: If you get the see-through model, make sure to place it in an area where there is very little or no sunlight. This is how you can avoid algae growth inside the filter housing.

Things I LIKE about it:
Things I DON’T LIKE about it:

[4] Aquasana AQ-4000W

Aquasana AQ-4000W

The Aquasana AQ-4000W is yet another countertop filter that is plug and use, nothing more. The reason this unit stood out to me, was its price tag. By far this is the cheapest option on the list so far, making it an excellent choice if you need to stick to a budget.

In this category of filters, you get what you pay for. While it’s cheap and will not filter out nearly as well as the Big Berkey or the AQUA Tru, you can count on at a bare minimum, significantly reducing the levels of lead, arsenic, chlorine, pesticides, mercury, and much more.

Installation takes next to no time, similar to the APEX model mentioned earlier. You will run a small hose from the filter to the faucet using Aquasana’s included adapter that lets you switch from regular tap water or filtered water.

The AQ-4000W is mostly made of plastic, but you won’t have to worry about that. When the unit is operating, the water flows directly from the faucet, through the dual filters, then out the other end. There’s no electricity requires, which makes it a great addition for not just homes, but RV’s as well.

According to Aquasana, the filters should last 6 months, or approximately 450 gallons worth. Since it filters out 0.5 gallons per minute, you’d have to leave it running for 900 minutes straight for it to be time to replace the filters.

All in all, its good value filter. Its definitely better than those pitcher-style filters you can buy for 30 bucks.

Things I LIKE about it:
Things I DON’T LIKE about it:

[5] Waterdrop W-CTF-01

Waterdrop WD-CTF-01

Coming in as my number 5 filter is the Waterdrop W-CTR-01. Very similar to the unit mentioned earlier (clear one), this one does not pose any risk of algae growth if placed in direct sunlight.

That part aside, what makes the WD-CTF-01 a worthy filter to buy?

Let’s start off by first mentioning that its mostly stainless steel. It has a single activated carbon filter inside that can give you up to 8,000 gallons of filtered water, or about 12 months of use. Not bad for something that costs less than one Benjamin.

Just like some others, the Waterdrop requires no electricity and no plumbing. Once you install a diverter valve, you can send water to the filter on demand, or simply use tap water by flipping the diverter valve switch.

It has an impressive flow rate of 1.5 gallons per minute. The interesting thing about this model is that it will NOT remove TDS’s (total-dissolved-solids) because the filter itself remineralizes the water as it passes through. If you want to remove dissolved solids, Waterdrop has a reverse-osmosis model that does just that.

In closing with this unit, it’s no Berkey. I’ll keep saying that for anyone who wants 300 dollar filtration in a 100-dollar filter, in almost all cases, it’s not going to happen. If it does, I’ll include it in the top 3 of this list for sure!

[6] Cleanwater4Less Countertop Filter

clearwater4less

You gotta hand it to them, they did a great job with their packaging. On the front, it says “10,000 gallons of clean, fresh, great tasting water”. The company that is responsible for this is named Cleanwater4less.

At first glance, you may mistake this filter for either a very big thermos or a hot water dispenser… don’t be confused, this is definitely a stainless steel water-filtering system.

Connecting this unit is as easy as mentioned earlier with the other similar models, simply connect the hose to the faucet, and that’s it. From there, the diverter valve can run water directly through the bottom of this unit and come out on top as clean and drinkable water.

Because this unit is so big, you’ll have approximately 10,000 gallons of filtering available before needing to replace the filter. With such an impressive number, it may take at least 1 whole year before its time for replacing.

Because it uses activated carbon to clean out water, it is good at honing in on chlorine, lead, copper, and other minerals (especially ones that can be tasted).

There’s not much not to like about Cleanwater4less, however in some cases I noticed some of the carbon sediments showed up in the water. That’s not to say all are like that, but it has happened before. Fortunately, this seems to be the only issue users seem to to have every now and then.

[7] Brondell H2O+

Bronell H2O+

Brondell took a slightly different approach to the identical design of Apex and Aquasana models. Some might say it has an elegant look that blends in much more in the kitchen. I am one of those who agrees.

Setup as always with these is simple, no electricity or tools required. Replacing the filter is required after 3,200 gallons of use or after 6 months if you use about 500 gallons per month.

While most of the thing is plastic, it has surprisingly good feedback from users. It does not have nearly as much popularity (yet) as others, but it’s just a matter of time before it gets to that point.

For the price point, you’ll be getting above basic water filtration. It’s not as ineffective as the pitcher styled filters but don’t expect to remove fluoride, chlorine, lead, arsenic and other more difficulty to remove elements.

Things I LIKE about it:
Things I DON’T LIKE about it:

A Guide to Buying the RIGHT Way

Now that you saw all the recommended countertop water filters, it’s now time to learn some of the basic and not so basic things in order for you to narrow down to picking the right filter.

I completely understand that it can be tedious and sometimes pointless in comparing many (especially similarly looking ones). I created a buyers guide that will answer some of the most common questions and concerns that can lead you towards a more satisfactory purchase.

What are the BENEFITS of using a countertop styled filter?

There’s a ton of different filters out there, that’s obvious the moment you type the phrase “water filters” in Amazons search. There’s a few important things that stand out with the countertop styled ones. They are:

  1. Portability is a big factor when it comes to these. Every single countertop water filter review I mentioned above can either be picked up, unplugged, and carried into a different location with minimal effort. OR, you easily unscrew the diverter valve from your faucet and screw it back on some other faucet.
  2. They can connect directly to your faucet via a diverter valve and allow you to switch between TAP and FILTERED water in seconds.
  3. They price point in many cases is nowhere near as much as entire home water filtering systems. A few can come close to effectiveness (Berkey and AQUA Tru).
  4. Most filters require replacing after at least a few months of use. Some can filter out partially dissolved solids while others can add more dissolved solids in forms of minerals.
  5. In many cases, they don’t occupy too much space. With the exception of Berkey (again), most of these filters are small and can easily be mounted next to your sink.

What are some of the DISADVANTAGES of using a countertop styled filter?

When you go with water filters that aren’t too expensive, it’s important to set your expectations in the right place. While some products can be downright defective simply due to a manufacturing error, that’s just a quality control issue and not the effectiveness of the product. It’s still an issue, but it doesn’t quite determine the effectiveness.

Countertop water filters for the most part do not filter out as much as other types of systems can. When you look at how much you’re paying (on average), you simply won’t get the same filtering power as something that costs upwards of $1,000.

That is the biggest disadvantage of getting a portable countertop styled unit. It’s better than your tap water, in most cases MUCH better. 

If you want most, if not all of the fluoride, lead, arsenic, and anything else that can be difficulty to filter out gone… you need to bump up your price range. An in-home water system that operates using multiple filters can do the job.

Something to keep in mind before you move forward.

In the world of water filters, how much you spend will dictate how well your filter will work. While there are some exceptions to this rule, the majority of water filters you buy today will have either poor, mediocre, good, or even great-filtering abilities. 

At some point, when you spend thousands of dollars on a filter, it might not do THAT much better than one that cost a thousand bucks, or even in the upper hundreds.

A good example of this is the Big Berkey, the gold standard (or silver in this case) of countertop water filters that can go anywhere you do. Their filters are legendary and the smaller units are reasonably priced.

ANSWERING some of the most frequently asked questions

Sometimes, even after all that can be said about things has been said, some questions don’t get answered. Below I’ve included things that didn’t quite make it earlier, but I wanted to cover them anywhere due to their importance in some way or another.

How do they work?

You can probably imagine how a filter works, no matter what the filter is for. What’s important to remember is that with filters that specialize in removing various commonly found elements from the water, the complexity gets REAL.

It all starts with the filter and many of its layers.

When you get a more in-depth and complex system, you may encounter 2+ filters that work simultaneously to remove bad elements from water.

Water is fed from either a large reservoir (usually 2-3 gallons) or from a pressurized water source like the faucet. When water begins to go through the filter(s), you’ll begin to see water coming out on the other end. Don’t be surprised that (in a pressurized system), water comes out slower than when coming in.

The higher quality product you have, the longer it takes to thoroughly process water. Usually gravity fed filters take the longer, because there’s NO pressure.

Which ones can remove arsenic, fluoride and chromium?

Today more than ever before, people are searching for how to remove certain elements from their drinking water. With studies coming out left and right showing not only short term but long term effective on some elements, it makes to take action immediately.

To remove arsenic, the most effective method is using RO (reverse osmosis). This method of purifying water can remove over 95% of arsenic. Reverse Osmosis as a system requires very little up-keep to ensure proper function.

Activated charcoal can slightly reduce hexavalent chromium from drinking water, but the most effective method of removing this element is going to be reverse osmosis.

When it comes down to removing fluoride, there’s no single best way. From my research, the following methods are great at significantly reducing fluoride levels in your water:

Activated charcoal (can help to some degree)
Reverse osmosis (helps in a big way, a lot of times 95% or more)
Distillation (jut like RO, distillation is very effective in removing fluoride)

The down sides of removing fluoride is that it won’t be nearly as great with portable filtering systems. The closest unit that does it VERY well is by AQUA Tru.

Would it be cost effective to make my own water filter, at home?

To be honest, this was a great question. As a handyman myself, I always think I can do better than what could be bought in the store (to some extent at least).

I researched on how to make my own homemade water filter and it turns out, it’s not too difficult. I wrote an article on how to make a homemade water filter, be sure to check it out.

The effectiveness of one will depend on how well you build one, as well as many layers water has to pass through.

What does an NSF certification mean?

The NSF sounds like a government agency identical to the NSA, but of course it’s very different. The NSF is the National Sanitation Foundation. The organization tests different products and gives them a seal of approval after strict standards have been met.

Any product with their stamp should be double checked to verify legitimacy, as well as receive bonus points toward the claims the company is making about their water filter.

Can harvesting rainwater and filtering it be the safest bet?

Undoubtably, in my mind (unless you live in a highly polluted area), one of the best ways to get clean drinking water is to harvest it from the sky. That’s right, collecting rainwater in a big container and then running it through a filter to get rid of any harmful chemicals or minerals.

This may be an extreme overreach for some, especially if you live in an apartment or town home. To learn more, I wrote a dedicated guide on how you can harvest rain water here.