Best Whole House Water Filters of 2022 - Compare Top Rated Systems

Clean running water is essential to your family’s well-being. The importance of clean water has been amplified by news stories like the water contamination crises in Flint, Michigan and Puerto Rico. Beyond drinking, water is used for household tasks like washing dishes, brushing teeth, and rinsing produce. It’s imperative that you have peace of mind that your family isn’t relying on contaminated water for these essential tasks.

To ensure access to clean, healthy drinking water — many people have started utilizing water filters to remove contaminants that treatment facilities miss.

There are many types of water filters available, from faucet attachments to pitchers and dispensers, but a whole house filter ensures that every single tap in the house delivers healthy water, every day. These systems are a small investment that deliver a huge payoff by saving money, preventing waste from plastic bottles, and ensuring peace of mind. If you’re interested in buying one of these systems for your home, learn everything you need to know in order to choose the best whole house water filter.

Table of Contents
  1. Whole House Water Filters Comparison Chart
  2. Buyer’s Guide for Whole House Water Filters
  3. What is a Whole House Water Filter?
  4. How Does a Whole House Water Filter Work?
  5. When Do You Need a Whole House Water Filter?
  6. How to Choose the Best Whole House Water Filter for your Home
  7. Whole House Water Filter System Installation
  8. Whole House Water Filter System Maintenance
  9. Frequently Asked Questions
  10. Final Considerations

Buyer’s Guide for Whole House Water Filters

Reviews are helpful when comparing systems, but no two households are identical. There’s plenty of additional information to consider when selecting the best whole house water filter for your specific home, such as which contaminants might be present in your area, how much water your household uses, and what additional benefits you might be looking for.

We know this kind of decision can be overwhelming. To help you, we’ve created this buyer’s guide to answer those questions and more. Read on for everything you need to know about selecting the best whole house water filter for your specific lifestyle.

What is a Whole House Water Filter?

A whole house water filter system is installed onto the main water supply pipe, which means that rather than just one faucet, every single tap in your home delivers filtered, great-tasting water. While it comes at a higher cost than under-sink or faucet filters, it also yields a larger benefit, because after the initial installation, all you have to do is change the filter on the recommended schedule and enjoy the peace of mind that all the water in your home is filtered.

How Does a Whole House Water Filter Work?

Whole house water filters work by filtering water through a sediment or carbon filter (or sometimes both) to remove contaminants. It is attached to the main water supply pipe at the point where water enters your home.

Once it’s installed, as water enters your home plumbing system, it will pass through a series of filters. These systems can use up to four systems of filtration, and the higher the number of filters, the cleaner your water will be. The different types of filters can include a sediment filter to trap sand, silt, and other debris; an activated carbon filter to remove organic contaminants; a copper-zinc alloy to remove heavy metals; and finally, a post-filter to catch any remaining sediment or particles.

After the water has passed through the various filters, it re-enters your home plumbing system and comes out of the tap as it always does. Once the system is installed, typically, the only maintenance required is changing the filters. The frequency at which your filters need to be changed depends on which home system you choose.

When Do You Need a Whole House Water Filter?

Before you start shopping, how can you tell if a whole house water filter is right for you? Well, there are a few factors to consider before comparing models. A whole house water filter system is great for many people, especially if you rely on well water, but these systems can be pricey, so it’s important to evaluate your home’s needs first.

First of all, a whole house water filter is beneficial for those who want filtered water coming out of every tap in their home. If you are only concerned with clean water from your kitchen faucet, for example, then the investment may not seem worth it, and you may find that an under sink or countertop system is preferable.

An important factor to consider is the material of the pipes in your home. If you live in an older home, you may have lead pipes for your plumbing system, which means the pipes themselves would contaminate the water even after it goes through the central filtration system. In this case, a point-of-use system is essential because it filters the water after it has traveled through those pesky pipes.

Another situation in which a whole house water filter isn’t the best fit would be if you are renting your home. Installing a whole house water filter is expensive and permanent, so if you don’t plan to live in your home long-term (or don’t have permission from the landlord), you might prefer to opt for a more affordable and transportable system.

How to Choose the Best Whole House Water Filter for your Home

Once you’ve determined that a whole house water filter is right for your home’s needs, you then have a few more factors to consider as you compare models. Below are a few more variables that you will notice as you compare models.

Filter capacity

The size of your home affects the filter capacity that your filter will require. If you live in a large home and your filter capacity is too low, it will affect the efficiency of your system, potentially even lowering your water pressure. A higher-capacity filter can also often come at a higher price tag, as it will usually last much longer before needing to be changed. Filter capacity can range anywhere from 95,000 gallons to 2,000,000.

Contaminants

As you will learn further down, there are different types of filters, and the more stages a whole house water filter has, the more contaminants it can filter out. You can find out what contaminants are present in your city’s water by requesting a local water quality report (available thanks to the 1998 Safe Drinking Water Act).

If your city’s water only contains a few of these contaminants, then a 1- or 2-stage filter may be sufficient. There are many different types of contaminants that can be found, ranging from organic matter like bacteria and parasites to heavy metals to chemicals like pesticides.

Some common contaminants to look for on your report include:
  • Chlorine
  • Chloramines
  • Mercury
  • Lead
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Herbicides
  • Pesticides
  • Chloroform
  • Radium
  • Arsenic
  • PFOA/PFOS
  • VOCs

Filter types

Depending on which contaminants you are trying to remove, you should consider the different types of filters available in whole house water filter systems, and whether you need just one or many stages of filtration. This should be determined after you’ve identified the contaminants present in your city by obtaining the local water quality report.

A sediment filter cartridge is the most basic line of defense. As the name implies, it filters out sediments present in water such as sand, dirt, and rust. Most whole house water filters on the market will include a sediment filter. Aside from not wanting to ingest these particles, they can also disrupt the function of your appliances.

Activated carbon filters are also common in whole house water filter systems, as they reduce chemical contaminants like chlorine, pesticides, radon, and more. This line of defense is essential as these chemicals can have dangerous long-term effects.

Copper and zinc filters help to remove heavy metals such as iron, lead, and mercury from your home’s water. Aside from the health benefits, these filters also improve the taste and smell of your water.

Certifications

Once you’ve identified the present contaminants and have compared filter types, it’s important to check that the system you’re considering has been certified or independently tested to remove those specific contaminants. Look for certification from agencies such as the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) and the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF). These entities have strict standards and if they approve of a product, you can have peace of mind that it truly will filter those pesky contaminants. For example, if you are aware that your area has a higher concentration of heavy metals, you should look specifically for certification or independent testing proof specifically mentioning the metals in question. If a certification or other proof of independent testing is not present, there’s no guarantee that the filter will do what it claims.

Water flow rate

Flow rate is the volume of water passing through your system, measured as gallons per minute (GPM). Flow rates are affected by the size of your plumbing pipes, the amount of water used regularly in your home (which is affected by the size of your family and the efficiency of your appliances), and the physical size of your home.

Adequate flow rate is important when selecting a whole house water filter because if the flow rate is too low, it will restrict the functionality of your appliances. It’s recommended to select a system with a flow rate at least the same as your home’s usage, but the higher the flow rate, the better. The good news is that most homes don’t require a very fast flow rate (for example, the average flow rate of a washing machine is only 3 to 5 GPM and the average shower GPM is 1.5 to 3). So a whole house system that can handle at least 5 GPM will be adequate for most homes. There are many resources to help you calculate your home’s flow rate, but know that you will need to know the diameter of your plumbing pipes.

A typical 3,000-square-foot, three-bathroom house is well served with about 7 gallons per minute (GPM) (showers flow at 2.5 GPM). Bigger houses require bigger systems, but most houses with fewer than 5,000 square feet will only require a 12 GPM system. Custom installs are available to cover larger homes.

Softening/conditioning capability

Another benefit of whole house water filters is that aside from removing contaminants, some models include a water softener. These components reduce the concentration of any remaining heavy metals in your water.

While hard water isn’t necessarily harmful, it can be a real pain. By softening your water, you’ll notice benefits like cleaner dishes, softer clothes from the laundry, and a more pleasant taste and smell. Hard water can cause “scaling,” or a spotty, chalky appearance.

It’s important to note that water softeners do add brines, chlorides, and sodium to your wastewater. In some areas, wastewater is recycled, in which case you may find it more beneficial to use a water conditioner. Rather than adding salt into the water, these systems use a material called template-assisted crystallization. As water passes over the TAC, the minerals turn into crystals and continue to flow through the water. Water conditioners do improve the taste and smell of the water and prevent the scaling you see on your surfaces and dishes, but they do not remove the heavy metals altogether.

Filter replacement frequency

The frequency in which your system needs to be changed depends on what type of system you opt for. A system that includes multiple stages typically needs more replacements than one which uses just one stage, and some systems have multiple filters which may require different replacement frequencies. You should ask yourself what frequency is realistic for your household so that you can find the right balance of cost and maintenance.

Cost

Of course, above all else, you should ensure that you select a whole house water filter system that fits your budget. Aside from the initial cost of the system, also consider the cost of replacement filters and the frequency at which you’ll be buying them.

Whole house systems can range from $400 to $5,000, and the cost depends on the number of stages, the lifetime of the system, and whether it has add-ons like water softeners and UV lamps. While higher-priced systems boast many benefits, again, you should consider the needs of your own home before assuming it’s the best whole house water filter for you.

Whole House Water Filter System Installation

Whole house water filters install where your water source enters your home. Most can be installed either inside or outside, but need to be protected from temperature extremes and direct sunlight. Typically, whole house systems are placed where you would see a hot water heater — garages or basements. They come in many forms, shapes, and sizes, but the key differences in installation are mainly whether or not your system requires additional drainage and/or electricity, and what flow rates are required to service your home.

Some systems require 'back-flushing,' which occurs when the system reverses flow and drains the dirty, used water into your wastewater system. These systems require additional plumbing and electricity, and the installation and ongoing maintenance is costlier and more complicated. Other systems simply install into the water line prior to your water heater. Finally, systems for well users are usually installed where your well water enters your house.

Whole House Water Filter System Maintenance

Once installed, whole house water filters generally require little maintenance, another lasting benefit. The most important thing to remember is that your filters are trapping contaminants, which means they need to be changed on schedule to ensure that you still enjoy the benefits! Your product manual will include details about how often your specific system needs its filters changed. Note that the different filters may have different replacement schedules even within the same system; for example, your carbon filter may not last as long as your sediment filter. Changing the filters shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Use the bypass valve to redirect water away from the system, or turn off your water altogether. Relieve the pressure inside your filter, then unscrew the housing. Remove the used filter (or filters, depending on how many stages your unit has) and replace with the clean filters. Screw the housing back on, turn your water back on, and continue to enjoy your clean water!

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I choose a whole house, countertop, or under sink filter?

A whole house water filter system is the best choice for folks who want to use one system to filter the water coming out of every tap in their home. Quality whole house systems will tackle the contaminants that are a problem for most households, like sediment and chlorine or chloramines.

However, if your home’s water is especially concerning, you may want to consider a countertop or under sink system, or even better – combine a whole house filter with one of these point of use system.

As far as choosing between a countertop and an under sink system are concerned, countertop systems (often in the form of a pitcher or dispenser that can sit in your refrigerator or, as the name implies, on the countertop) are great for people who want a very simple installation. However, countertop systems often have very slow flow rates. Under sink systems require installation, but often have more reliable flow.

Is water from a whole house water filter safe to drink?

A whole house water filter will make your water safer to drink by removing many contaminants including sediments, chlorine or chloramines, VOCs, and more. Depending on the contaminants found in your home's water, you may need additional filtration, such as a UV filter to remove bacteria. The best solution is to review your Water Quality Report and then select a whole house, point of use, or combination of systems to remove the contaminants you worry most about.

Are whole house water filters worth the cost?

A whole house water filter is a great investment for those who want long-term peace of mind. Because it filters all of the water in your home, you can rest easy knowing that the water you drink, wash your clothes and dishes, and bathe in has been improved. Investing in a water filter will save the cost and waste of bottled water, making it environmentally friendly, and by only having one system to maintain, you can spend less time and money on replacement filters.

Final Considerations

By now, you should know whether a whole house water filter is right for you, and from there, make sure to consider all those factors like which contaminants are present in your area, what filter capacity and flow rate your household requires, and what model will fit in your budget. After determining your home’s needs, reading reviews, and comparing models, you should now feel empowered to select the best whole house water filter for your needs. After all that hard work, pour yourself a glass of filtered water and cheers to your health!

continue…

Whole House Water Filters


Grade A+

Aquasana - EQ-600 Rhino Whole House Filter

Full system NSF Certified with published testing data. Excellent chlorine reduction (97%) with a high flow rate; no loss in water pressure. Long lasting system with little maintenance required. Easy installation and replacement.

System Price
$1,498
Certification
NSF 42
Chlorine Reduction
97%
Capacity
600,000 gallons
Per Gallon
< 1¢
Flow Rate
7 GPM
System Features
No Loss in Water Pressure No Electricity Required Dual-Tank Design
No Backwashing Required Published Performance Data Easy Replacement
Other Benefits: 90-day satisfaction guarantee, 6 Year warranty, Eco-friendly cartridges

Grade B-

Pelican Water - PC600 Premium Whole House Water Filter System

System is IAPMO Certifed to NSF Standards 42 and 61 - published system testing data available. Chlorine reduction 97%, and system has a high flow rate listed. Long lasting system, but requires difficult media replacement.

System Price
$1,678
Certification
IAPMO Certified to NSF 42 & 61
Chlorine Reduction
97%
Capacity
650,885 gallons
Per Gallon
< 1¢
Flow Rate
8 Service/12 Peak GPM
System Features
No Loss in Water Pressure No Electricity Required Dual-Tank Design
No Backwashing Required Published Performance Data Easy Replacement
Other Benefits: 90-day satisfaction guarantee, 5 Year Performance, Limited Lifetime warranty

Grade C+

Naturally Filtered - Natural Home MG-10

System is not NSF Certified -- published system testing data not available. Chlorine reduction not listed, but system has a high flow rate listed. Long lasting system, but no replacement tank available. Must buy new system.

System Price
$3,450
Certification
Not NSF Certified
Chlorine Reduction
Not Listed
Capacity
5 years
Per Gallon
< 1¢
Flow Rate
10 GPM
System Features
No Loss in Water Pressure No Electricity Required Dual-Tank Design
No Backwashing Required Published Performance Data Easy Replacement
Other Benefits: 90-day satisfaction guarantee, 3-year limited (mechanical) warranty

Grade D+

Crystal Quest - Triple Big Heavy Duty Whole House Filter

System is not NSF Certified -- published system testing data not available. Chlorine reduction not listed, but system has a high flow rate listed. Low system capacity requires frequent replacement of cartridges with high ongoing costs.

System Price
$599
Certification
Not NSF Certified
Chlorine Reduction
Not Listed
Capacity
160,000 gallons
Per Gallon
< 1¢
Flow Rate
6-8 GPM
System Features
No Loss in Water Pressure No Electricity Required Dual-Tank Design
No Backwashing Required Published Performance Data Easy Replacement
Other Benefits: 30-day less shipping charges satisfaction guarantee, Limited 1-year warranty

Grade D+

Cuzn - WHCC7-35 Wide Spectrum Whole House Water Filter

System is not NSF Certified - published system testing data not available. Chlorine reduction not listed, but system has a high flow rate listed. Long lasting system, but requires difficult media replacement.

System Price
$500
Certification
Not NSF Certified
Chlorine Reduction
Not Listed
Capacity
300,000 Gallons
Per Gallon
< 1¢
Flow Rate
8 GPM
System Features
No Loss in Water Pressure No Electricity Required Dual-Tank Design
No Backwashing Required Published Performance Data Easy Replacement
Other Benefits: 90-day satisfaction guarantee, 10 year on housing warranty

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.

Pricing is subject to change and is accurate as of the date this chart was last updated. Cost per gallon is calculated as system price/capacity. Product grading is based on the following criteria: Published chlorine reduction (%), Full system NSF Certified (Y/N), Published available system testing data (Y/N), Easy of replacement (tank vs. media), Capacity (gallons), and Flow rate (GPM).

Aquasana is a registered trademark of Sun Water Systems, Inc.
GE is a registered trademark of General Electric Company
Culligan is a registered trademark of Culligan®, Inc.
Crystal Quest is a registered trademark of Quest Technologies, Inc.
Cuzn is a registered trademark of CuZn Water Filtration Systems, Inc.
Pelican Water Systems is a registered trademark of Enviro Water Solutions, Inc.
Manufacturer data last updated 03/26/2018.