Compare Drinking Water Filters

There are several options available in the market when it comes to filtering your drinking water. Options include under counter water filtration systems, countertop water filtration, pitcher water filtration and faucet attachments. Below, we have compiled important information for you to consider when choosing a drinking water filter including a product by product comparison, filter contaminant reduction capabilities, installation requirements, and ongoing costs per gallon.

Reducing Contaminants in Drinking Water


When understanding a drinking water filter’s contaminant reduction capabilities, there are two important criteria to consider: NSF Certification and chlorine & chloramine reduction capability. First, make sure the filter you are considering is NSF Certified to Standards 42 and 53. The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) is the most credible third-party testing organization and “NSF Certification” is considered the Gold Standard for third-party certification in the industry. NSF Standard 42 addresses chlorine, chloramines, taste, odor and particulates. Most filters that have a NSF Standard 42 certification pass chlorine tests, but not chloramines. Given that chloramines are used in 30% of municipalities it is important that you look for a chloramines certification in addition to chlorine. NSF Standard 53 addresses specific health-related contaminants, such as cysts (ex. Cryptosporidium and Giardia), lead, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether) that may be present in public or private drinking water. NSF Certification ensures the filter has been rigorously tested and confirmed by NSF to fulfill the manufacturer’s claims for these standards. Second, check the filter manufacturer’s product data sheet to get the full story of contaminants they actually reduce or remove. Chances are good that if a filter reduces chlorine, chloramines, lead, mercury, VOCs and MTBE, it most likely reduces more as well. VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), which include a large number of known carcinogens, like chloroform and benzene, are difficult to reduce through most purification processes, which make it hard to pass the NSF 53 Certification test.

Installing a
Drinking
Water Filter

Most drinking water filter systems are easy to install and pitchers require no installation at all. Filters that attach to or mount on your faucet are easy to install and are compatible with most standard faucet fixtures. Under counter and reverse osmosis systems require an extra hole in your sink for an additional drinking water faucet. Luckily, the holes made for drinking water faucets and soap dispensers are standard in size. If you have a sprayer or soap dispenser you don't use, you can remove them and use the existing holes for the drinking water faucet. If you don’t have any additional sink holes on your counter, you can have a plumber create a hole, which will typically cost around $100-$200. Most people will opt for the convenience of an under counter water filter if possible. Countertop water filters are an excellent alternative if the under counter water filter is not an option.

Cost of Drinking Water Filters

A quality drinking water filter should last for years. To ensure ongoing performance and efficiency, you will need to replace the filter cartridges on a regular basis. How often, depends on the drinking water filter system and the amount of water you use through the system. Once you determine the cost and frequency of filter replacement, you can use this information to calculate the cost of owning a drinking water filter and your cost per gallon of clean, filtered drinking water. You should take into account the initial price of the system and how often you need to change the filter (filter capacity) to calculate your first year and ongoing cost of ownership.

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PROS
Pro
Under Counter Filters
  • Always available filtered water — best long-term solution for in-home water filtration
  • Typically the most robust and effective filtration technology — reduces about 10x more contaminants than the leading pitcher filter
  • Convenient and sophisticated — dedicated on-sink faucet for filtered water on demand; system is hidden under the counter
  • Typically the longest lasting filters compared to countertop or pitcher options
Countertop Filters
  • Always available filtered water from the tap
  • Superior filtration technology compared to gravity-based pitcher filters — uses water pressure instead of relying on gravity
  • Longer lasting filters compared to pitcher filters
Pitcher Filters
  • Widely available and easy to buy
  • Initial purchase price is low
  • Typically removes chlorine taste and odor for better tasting water
  • Portable — pitcher can be put in the fridge

CONS
Cons
Under Counter Filters
  • Initial purchase price is typically more expensive
  • Installation is more involved — most require a hole to mount a dedicated faucet on your sink counter
Countertop Filters
  • Most can only be attached to simple faucets — will not work with sprayer faucets, etc.
  • Can be bulky on sink faucet or on countertop
Pitcher Filters
  • Short filter life — frequent replacements necessary
  • Higher ongoing cost — expensive option based on cost per gallon
  • Gravity-based filtration is slow and inconvenient
  • Comparatively ineffective filtration technology compared to countertop and under counter options

Pitcher Water Filters


Grade A+

Aquasana - Powered Water Filtration System (AQ-PWFS)

Reduces 60 contaminants - 10x more than other pitchers. Long filter life of 320 gallons. Fewer filter replacements; cheaper to maintain over time. Powered system filters water in seconds. Comparable filtration to a pro grade under counter filter.

Cost Performance
Gallon
Certified
NSF in progress
Replacement
$25.49
Capacity
320
System
$129.99
Contaminants
60
Other Benefits: 90 day satisfaction guarantee, 1 year limited warranty, Eco-friendly cartridges

Grade D+

Brita - Grand 80 oz Water Filter Pitcher

Only reduces 5 contaminants. Very short filter life only lasts 40 gallons. Frequent filter changes drive up ongoing cost. Very slow drip filtration compared to countertop or under counter systems.

Cost Performance
Gallon
20¢
Certified
NSF 42/53
Replacement
$7.99
Capacity
40
System
$32.99
Contaminants
5
Other Benefits: 30-day satisfaction guarantee, 90 Days warranty

Grade D+

Culligan - Pitcher Filter (CUL PIT-1)

Only reduces 5 contaminants. Very short filter life only lasts 50 gallons. Frequent filter changes drive up ongoing cost. Very slow drip filtration compared to countertop or under counter systems. cheapest filter on the market.

Cost Performance
Gallon
14¢
Certified
WQA to NSF 42/53
Replacement
$6.99
Capacity
50
System
$14.99
Contaminants
5
Other Benefits: 2-year limited warranty

Grade D+

Mavea - Elmaris XL Pitcher

Only reduces 8 contaminants. Very short filter life only lasts 40 gallons. Frequent filter changes drive up ongoing cost. Very slow drip filtration compared to countertop or under counter systems. Attractive looking pitcher.

Cost Performance
Gallon
25¢
Certified
WQA to NSF 42/53
Replacement
$9.99
Capacity
40
System
$34.99
Contaminants
8
Other Benefits: 60 Day satisfaction guarantee, N/A warranty

Grade D+

PUR - 7 Cup Pitcher (CR-6000C)

Only reduces 13 contaminants. Very short filter life only lasts 40 gallons. Frequent filter changes drive up ongoing cost. Very slow drip filtration compared to countertop or under counter systems. Best performing pitcher on the market.

Cost Performance
Gallon
27¢
Certified
NSF 42/53
Replacement
$10.99
Capacity
40
System
$27.99
Contaminants
13
Other Benefits: 90 Days warranty

Grade D+

Zero Water - 8-Cup Pitcher

Only reduces 8 contaminants and removes healthy minerals in water as well. Short filter life only lasts 25-40 gallons. Frequent filter changes drive up ongoing cost. Very slow drip filtration compared to countertop or under counter systems.

Cost Performance
Gallon
60¢
Certified
NSF 42/53
Replacement
$15.00
Capacity
25-40
System
$33.99
Contaminants
8
Other Benefits: 90 days warranty

Please note that VOCs include: 2,4,5-TP (Silvex); 2,4-D; Alachor; Atrazine; Benzene; Bromodichloromethane; Bromoform; Carbofuran; Carbon Tetrachloride; Chlorobenzene; Chlorodibromomethane; Chloroform; Chloropicrin; dibromochloropropane(DBCP); O Dichlorobenzene; P Dichlorobenzene; 1, 2 Dichloroethane; 1,1 Dichloroethylene; cis-1,2 Dichloroethylene; trans 1,2 Dichloroethylene; Dichloropropane; Dichloropropylene; cis-1,2-dichloropropylene; Dinoseb; EDB; Endrin; Ethylbenzene; bromochloroacetonitrile; dibromoacetonitrile; dichloroacetonitrile; trichloroacetonitrile; 1,1 dichloro-2-propanone; 1,1,1 trichloro-2-propanone; Haloacetonitriles; Haloketones; Heptachlor; Heptachlor Epoxide; Hexachlorobutadiene; Hexachlorocyclopentadiene; Lindane; Methoxychlor; Pentachloropheno; Simazine; Styrene; Tetrachlorethylene; Tetrachloroethane; THMs/TTHMs; Toluene; Tribromoacetic acid; Trichlorobenzene; 1,1,1 Trichloroethane; 1,1,2; Trichloroethane; Trichloroethylene; Xylenes.

All performance claims and pricing were taken from publicly available information. If you find information that is inaccurate, please send the correct info with supporting documentation to info@waterfiltercomparisons.com, and we will address any errors.
1. Pricing is subject to change and is accurate as of the date this chart was last updated. Cost per gallon is calculated as replacement filter price/capacity.
2. Not all contaminants will be listed in chart
Manufacturer data last updated April 4, 2014.