Countertop reverse osmosis systems are undeniably superior to the majority of other water filter options; be it in relation to the ease of installation or degree of purification. A countertop RO water filter essentially requires no permanent modifications to the plumbing system making it one of the most convenient options for renters and frugal homeowners. Further, most countertop RO system models are highly portable and have a really small footprint making them ideal for small kitchens, student condominiums and RV homes.
Despite lesser filtration stages, a portable reverse osmosis system more or less matches the filtration standards of under sink RO units. Most of these countertop filter systems work solely based on water pressure and require no external power source to fill the tank (in case they have one). Above all, you spend lesser on a portable RO system as compared to their under-sink counterparts (considering both, initial investment and maintenance costs).
If all sounds like a good fit for your next valued investment, here’s everything you need to know to be able to find the best portable reverse osmosis system on the market in 2020.
Factors to Consider before Buying a Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter
Before anything, you or your guests would notice the design and external appearance of this new addition in your kitchen. Given that this piece of technology is meant to sit on your countertop and be very visible, it becomes all the more important for you to choose a countertop RO system that looks good besides working meticulously.
Remember, too many pipes would make your countertop look dirty and old fashioned.
2. Tank vs Tankless
Countertop reverse osmosis systems can be found in two basic configurations: one with feed water tanks and others that connect directly to your faucet and deliver purified water on demand. The former variants may take a teeny bit of your counter space but in turn give you the liberty of choosing a luxury kitchen faucet independent of other considerations. Also, countertop RO filters with feed tanks require an external power supply to work as opposed to tankless portable RO systems that work on water pressure alone.
A tankless portable RO unit, on the other hand, has a smaller footprint but also requires you to have a standard kitchen faucet. These units won’t fit with pull-down and sprinkler faucets limiting their utility for some households. However, you may find adapters that help these filters fit some unconventional faucets, bathroom taps and garden hoses.
3. Water Pressure
Adequate water pressure in your kitchen faucet is one of the primary requisites for installing a tankless RO system on your countertop. Some models as discussed earlier work solely based on water pressure. So, if your household or locality struggles with maintaining a decent water pressure, you may be looking at a reduced flow rate and in turn a poor recovery rate.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll be fine with a water pressure of 70 psi or more. As we go down the count, the flow rate starts to reduce taking down the filtered to drain water ratio.
4. Flow Rate
Flow rate of a countertop reverse osmosis system refers to the rate at which it can deliver purified water. You can get away with a low flow rate if you’ve got a unit with a feed tank but a high flow rate should be an absolute necessity for filter systems that deliver purified water on demand to avoid excess waiting times.
5. Recovery Rate
Standard portable reverse osmosis filters produce a significant amount of waste water per gallon of purified water. The ratio of filtered water to overall feed water is expressed as recovery rate of that RO system and is majorly governed by the system’s filter mechanism and is further affected by factors like water pressure and seasonal variation in hardness of water.
For instance, if a countertop RO filtration system is advertised with a recovery rate of 75%, it corresponds that the filter recovers 75 gallons of water as usable/purified water for every 100 gallons of feed water.
The remaining 25 gallons of water is wasted during the process as concentrate. RO Systems with higher recovery rates tend to be pricier but often prove to be economical in the long run.
If you prioritize least water wastage and are looking for a countertop RO filter with high recovery rate, the units with feed tank do it better than the ones that directly attach to your faucet. Our number 1 and 2 recommendations are both systems with feed tank and have recovery rates of 75% and 50% respectively.
6. NSF Certified Purification
The NSF or National Sanitation Foundation certification is an elite standard for food safety and sanitation that ensures all products conforming to it leave no scope of improvement in safety and sanitation assurance. To ensure that you land on the best countertop reverse osmosis water filter, check if the purification claims of the manufacturer comply with that of corresponding NSF standards for different class of contaminants.
As of specifics, lookout for NSF standard 58 for TDS and other contaminant reduction, NSF 244 for bacteria, virus and cyst elimination and NSF 401 for incidental contaminant reduction that could otherwise alter the perception of smell and taste of water for some people.
7. Recurring Costs
It goes without saying that a filter-based countertop reverse osmosis system includes recurring costs after your initial investment. You must be thoughtful of filter replacement costs, recommended filter change frequency and ease of availability of replacement components to keep your running costs at the minimum.
Best Countertop Reverse Osmosis System Reviews
- Looks pleasingly good for a countertop installation
- BPA free construction
- Comes pre-assembled, no installation hassles
- Small footprint, takes up less space on your countertop
- 75 gallon of clean water tank gets full in 12-15 minutes
- NSF standard compliant impurity removal
- Durable filters, low maintenance costs
- Built-in pressure pump keeps water wastage on the minimum
- Commendable recovery rate of 75%
- Plastic tanks are prone to scratches
AquaTru is hands down one of the most popular countertop reverse osmosis water filters on the market. The model has gained its rightful vogue owing to multiple unprecedented features that it sports at a commendably affordable price point. Below we break down why we think this is the best portable reverse osmosis system that you can find.
Starting from its appearance, the model is pleasing to look at and sits pretty with a small footprint of 14” x 12” on both; granite and laminate countertops. Apart from looks, the feed tank RO model is diligent at removing suspended and dissolved impurities with precision complying to NSF standards.
The 4-stage filtration system is highly efficient at filtering out some the most dreaded contaminants namely Lead and Fluoride beside arsenic, hexavalent chromium, chlorine, nitrates and some VOCs. In a nutshell, that’s an exemplary display of reverse osmosis in action.
The 1st and 2nd stage of filtration are merged as a combined sedimentation and carbon pre-filter that collectively trap larger contaminants ahead of the RO filter. The 4-stage filter is a yet another carbon-based filter that ensures removal of secondary chemical remains like industrial impurities and pesticides.
Contrary to most portable RO water purifiers, this one doesn’t directly attach to your faucet. Rather, it features a 1-gallon feed water tank that is to be manually filled and attached back to the unit. Tap water from the feed tank makes its transit through the 4-stage RO system and heads into a separate 3-quart clean water tank with an astounding recovery rate of 75%. In other words, the system has an outstanding filtered to wasted water ratio of 3:1 (for every gallon of tap water, the unit purifies 3/4th of while 1/4th is wasted as concentrate).
Depending on the hardness and TDS of your tap water, you may be replacing filters every six months to two years. AquaTrue filters are readily available and replacing them is a as simple as twisting and securing them in place. Considering the long filter lives and low water wastage, the running costs for this countertop RO water filter are pretty manageable making it a fair investment in the long run.
- Modern design, two finishes to choose from
- Removes heavy metals, microbes, industrial and agricultural chemicals
- Reintroduces calcium and magnesium at the 4th stage of filtration
- Produces alkaline water with a pH count of 7-8
- Units tells you if it’s time to replace filters
- Filters are cheap, easily found and easily replaced
- Uses booster pump to create water pressure; but still quiet
- Wastes equal amount of water as that it purifies
- No NSF standard impurity reduction
With a contemporary design, modern appearance and flawless functionality, the Alcapure range of portable RO water filters are close rivals of our top pick. The Alcapure edition is essentially another set of independent countertop reverse osmosis systems that come in two finishes namely Silver White and Space Black.
True to its name, the AlcaPure zero installation edition is ready to use right out of the box. Place it on your countertop, plug in the AC adapter and you’re good to go! As evident, this unit, too, is equipped with a feed tank and clean water tank implying that you need to manually fill it with tap water.
To start using the RO system, you need to fill the bottom tank container with tap water and hit the start button. Water pressure is created using a built-in booster pump and the tap water is forced through all the 4-stages of filtration. Purified water subsequently fills up in the top 0.5-gallon container, ready to be consumed, treated to the absolute state of purity. The 4-stage RO filtration system removes all potential pollutants from your tap water. These include industrial and agricultural chemical, microbial pathogens and other inorganic compounds.
What’s different here is the 4th stage of filtration. Essential minerals like calcium and magnesium that had been filtered out of the tap water through the RO membrane is reintroduced to the purified water at this stage. This results in a higher pH that’s close to 7-8 on the pH scale.
Maintenance is not an issue with this one. As the tanks are attached on the front of the unit, cleaning them is relatively easy. Further the system keeps you updated in relation to the status of your current filters and id it is time to replace them yet. If it is, filter replacements are easily found, don’t cost a fortune and are easily changed. Everything’s like what a frugal homeowner would like it to be.
On the downside, the recovery rate for this one isn’t as impressive as out top pick; but it’s still better than others down the list. The model purifies produces half a gallon of alkaline purified water per gallon of untreated tap water. In other words, for every gallon of purified water, the system wastes another gallon.
- Cheaper and more compact than feed water tank counterparts
- Easily connects to most standard kitchen faucets
- Highly effective 4-stage filtration mechanism
- Adequate flow rate of 90 gallons per day
- Valve adapters included
- Poor recovery rate of 33%
- APEC doesn’t specify if their contaminant reduction rates are NSF complaint
Defining portability, APEC’s RO-CTOP is in true sense the best portable reverse osmosis water filter – deal to be attached to standard faucets in a small kitchen, a condominium or a motorhome. Note that this unit would not fit unconventional faucet types including pull-down and sprinkler faucets. If you’ve got one of those standard kitchen faucets, setting it up merely takes minutes.
Coming to the filtration mechanism, the unit does it in 4 stages. Stage-1 and 2 represent a regular sediment filter and an activated carbon filter respectively. Tap water, having passed through both these stages is free from heavy suspended impurities and certain chemicals. Following these, the RO membrane eliminates 99% of the potentially harmful contaminants that make it to your tap water. Subsequently, the water goes through a coconut shell activated carbon cartridge to be get corrected for foul odor and taste.
As there’s no feed tank or clean water tank, purified water is produced on demand with a purification capacity of 90 gallons per day. The GPD rating is evidently sufficient for a family of 6 adults or less.
Now, these tankless portable RO filters aren’t the prettiest to look at although they diligently do the purification work. If that concerns you but you’d still like to go for the tankless configuration, you have the option of choosing between the standard model and the one with an aluminium casing covering the filters. You’d not be paying much more for the sealed variant.
With an extra deionizing stage of filtration, this 5-stage portable RO system maybe more effective for people living in regions with a higher tap water TDS count. To start, the unit fits almost all standard kitchen faucets with ease. If not, the seller provides for a free connector if you contact and communicate your requirements to them.
There are a couple of reasons as to why this RO system could be a better match for you. First, it’s fairly cheap as compared to our other picks. Secondly, the extra stage of filtration helps you achieve a really low TDS ranging between 0-2 ppm. Next, despite a rather rigorous filtration mechanism, with this one, you get a decent ‘gallons per day’ rating. To be specific, the unit allows for 75 gallons of purified water per day.
For a family for more than 5 adults, it might become challenging for the RO filter to serve on demand. Hence, you may fill a large pitcher beforehand to keep the filtration system unoccupied at peak hours.
Finally, filters last for 8-12 months depending on usage and quality of water being treated. In any case, filtration systems and RO membrane; both are readily available on Amazon and can be conveniently replaced without much hassle and professional help.
This is presented for peeps that are a bit too tight on their budget and are looking for something that’s minimalistic but still does the job. If I described your needs correctly, may you resonate with the recommendation as well! The PuroSmart High Flow is arguably the best countertop reverse osmosis water filter for frugal renters and/students.
To start off, this one is hands down one of the most compact RO systems that we’ve encountered whole surfing through model to put together this list. We only included it because despite the small size of this unit, it doesn’t skimp on the most essential feature that we’re all here for. Effective RO filtration!
The 2-stage miniature RO model fits most kitchen faucets. You simply need to replace the aerator of your faucet with the diverter included in your package. Mount the filter on the plastic stand and complete the pipe connections. That’s it, you’re ready to go! This tiny RO water filter takes portability up a notch and might suit you best if you’re always on the move.
The initial stage out of the two stage filtration system is a carbon block pre-filter that removes suspended particles and some inorganic impurities like chlorine and chloramine. The subsequent RO membrane accounts for TDS reduction and elimination of most prominent pollutants found in tap water. However, we wouldn’t recommend you to rely on this unit for a sustained supply of clean and purified water if you’ve a household of more than 2 people.
As far as their utility is concerned, countertop reverse osmosis systems do not seem to underperform against under-sink variants. Furthermore, installing a portable reverse osmosis system is quick, hassle-free and often requires no professional assistance. Owing to their multiple benefits and limited cons, they are increasingly getting popular among modern households. Above is our effort at helping you find the best countertop reverse osmosis water filter for your home.