More than 100 trace contaminants are found in the average US water supply. This includes lead, arsenic, and radionuclides. Some of these contaminants are regulated under the EPA, meaning that water suppliers must remove them to comply with specific guidelines. However, others are not.
I will venture a guess that you are concerned about the quality of your water. You know that reverse osmosis can make your water safe and clean.
One quick Google search will bring up hundreds of countertop reverse-osmosis systems available on the market today. How do you choose the best one?
Which one is most efficient?
Which is the best long-term investment?
You’ve found the right place if you are looking for expert advice. I have over a decade of experience researching, testing, and reviewing residential water filters.
These are the best countertop reverse osmosis system in this guide. They’re here because I’ve tested them thoroughly, and they deserve to be mentioned. I recommend only products I am extremely satisfied with in terms of performance, features, and capabilities.
This guide will share:
- These are my 5 top countertop reverse osmosis filter picks in 2021
- How countertop RO works and how it compares to other RO systems
- Here are 9 things to keep in mind when you choose a countertop reverse-osmosis system
Let’s get started.
- 1 1. Waterdrop RO Filter System – Best Design & Eco-Friendly
- 2 2. Ready Hot Instant Heating Countertop RO System – Best for Temperature Control
- 3 3. APEC RO/CTOP Countertop RO System – Portable & Pocket-Friendly
- 4 4. Crystal Quest Portable Osmosis Systems
- 5 5. PuroSmart – The Smallest RO System
- 6 Buyer’s Guide for Countertop RO Systems
- 6.1 What is a Countertop Reverse Osmosis System (COS)?
- 6.2 What is a Countertop RO System?
- 6.3 Advantages
- 6.4 Disadvantages
- 6.5 There are some things to consider when buying a countertop RO filter
- 6.6 Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water filter maintenance
- 7 FAQ
- 7.1 What contaminants can RO countertop systems eliminate?
- 7.2 What water pressure is required to run a RO system
- 7.3 Which is better: the faucet filter or the filter pitcher?
- 7.4 What pressure should my water supply be if I install an RO system and connect it to my faucet?
- 7.5 Do you prefer a counter-top filter that is dispenser-style or one that can be connected to a faucet?
- 7.6 About Author
1. Waterdrop RO Filter System – Best Design & Eco-Friendly
Because of the water waste, some may not like a traditional reverse osmosis system. KFLOW Water Filter System is an innovative multi-filtration system that recycles water so no water is wasted. It is instead recycled for the next round, saving 300%. This eco-friendly technology increases efficiency and reduces costs.
This filter has many benefits:
- Four-stage, 0.0001 micron filtration removes more than 1000 contaminants
- Double RO cartridge = Tripled water production
- Intelligent TDS detector monitors
- Multi-filtration recycling technology
- No installation required
- Filters that last a lifetime
KFLOW RO systems feature a 4-stage filtration process that includes an enhanced double RO filter. This allows for more water production and blocks more than 1000 contaminants. This system can remove carcinogens and heavy metals as well as improve taste and odor.
- 𝐑𝐞𝐯𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐟𝐢𝐥𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞: Technology has improved from complexity to simpleness. Waterdrop D4 RO reverse osmosis water filtration system adopt an innovative technology and design to integrate different filtration materials into a 5-in-1 composite filter, after a full research on the properties of various materials. The filter uses the least space to achieve an optimized filtration effect, reducing TDS, chlorine, heavy metals, and more.
- 𝐆𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐮𝐩𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐝𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐬𝐦𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐬𝐢𝐳𝐞: The elegant machine is only 12.44-inch in height. The tankless design makes its size even smaller, which helps save more space under the sink. The system can fit in most kitchen sinks.
- 𝐒𝐭𝐲𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐟𝐚𝐮𝐜𝐞𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐡: The Waterdrop reverse osmosis water filtration system comes with a stylish faucet with metal finish, providing you a fast and extensive flow.
- 𝐒𝐚𝐟𝐞𝐫 & 𝐜𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐞𝐫: The integral waterway design eliminates connectors in the internal water tubing. The completely enclosed RO system significantly lowers the risks of water leakage and harmful substances growth, compared to traditional water filter systems with a tank.
- 𝐄𝐟𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭: The D4 RO water filter system only requires replacement once a year. You don’t have to estimate when to replace your filters. Changing filers is a piece of cake, and you can complete the replacement by opening the front panel and removing the old filter.
Recycling multi-filtration technology can save up to 30% more water than traditional RO units. Instead of disposing of the wastewater, you just add water to the tank after each cycle, which saves time and water.
This system does not require installation. Simply fill the water tank with water and then press the button. Although the default water volume is 1.7L, this unit can be programmed to produce 0.5, 1, and 1.5 L at once. The cartridge replacements are easy to change because of their spiral design.
There are no tools needed! The TDS monitor is an intelligent display that monitors water quality in real-time. The RO filter lasts two years, while the RO filters will last for one year.
This system does not require a water supply and is portable, so it can be carried wherever there is a power source. Its elegant design blends well with the surroundings, be it a living room or kitchen, an office, or an RV.
2. Ready Hot Instant Heating Countertop RO System – Best for Temperature Control
This compact RO countertop filter removes 99 percent of contaminants from your water. It also features temperature control so that you can quickly heat and filter your water. For those who need to heat water for tea, coffee, and baby formula, the SlimPure 75 is the perfect portable reverse osmosis water filters.
This Filter System has many benefits:
- Tested against NSF Standards
- Eliminates 99.9% of 1000+ pollutants
- Four-stage reverse osmosis filtration
- Ultraviolet purification with SlimPure
- Four temperature settings and instant heat
- 5L removable water tank with 1.5 storage
- 5:1 drain ratio
- No installation required
- LED water quality indicator
A 2-in-1 CF composite and the 0.0001 micron filter are part of the four-stage reverse osmosis filtration process. A post-filter with activated carbon will remove 1000+ contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, and even fluoride as well as limescale.
The only RO system that we reviewed has a temperature setting. You can choose from tea, coffee, low-temperature milk, or normal water temperature. This ensures the perfect amount of heat, no matter whether you’re heating baby formula or making a cup of perfect coffee.
- INSTANT HOT WATER DISPENSER & FAUCET: The Ready Hot instant hot water dispenser with open vent dual lever hot/cold faucet can dispense 60+ cups of near boiling water per hour with an adjustable temperature range from 140F to 200F
- OPEN VENTED FAUCET: Ready Hot water dispensers are designed to work with open vent faucets only. Use of any other type of faucet will void the warranty
- MANUAL TEMPERATURE DIAL: The fingertip adjustment manual dial lets you select a temperature between 140F to 200F maximum, making it ideal for cooking or making instant coffee, tea, soup, oatmeal, or other household tasks
- CONSISTENT HEATING PERFORMANCE: The 2.5-quart stainless steel under sink hot water tank comes with an energy efficient 110-volt 1300-watt stainless steel heating element that allows for fast recovery time, ensuring hot water when you need it
- AUTOMATED TANK PROTECTION: The water heater includes a self-resetting thermal fuse that prevents tank burnout in case of accidental dry startup, helping protect and extend the longevity of the hot water dispenser
You can easily take the 5-liter removable tank with you wherever you go. This makes it ideal for outdoor events, restaurants, and offices. The 5:1 drain ratio can save water up to 1500%, compared to traditional RO systems. After the system filters a tank of water, any wastewater left behind is removed and you’ll need to dispose it before refilling.
SlimPure Y5’s great advantage is its simplicity of installation and lack of plumbing. It’s as easy as plugging it in, and it will start working. The LED display will show you the water quality and the life expectancy of your filters. The filter’s lifespan is expected to be between 3 and 6 months, depending on how often they are used.
3. APEC RO/CTOP Countertop RO System – Portable & Pocket-Friendly
The RO-CTOP countertop RO filter system from APEC is lightweight and compact. It’s also one of our most affordable picks. Even with filter changes, it will pay for itself within 3-6 months.
This System has many benefits:
- Made with food-grade certified materials of high quality
- Four-stage filtration process
- Compatible with all standard faucets
- No installation required
- Maximum 90 GPD
- 40-80 PSI
- Conceived, engineered, and assembled in the USA
- Perfect for apartments, condos, motor homes
The portable system is compatible with most faucets. However, it won’t work with pull-out faucets or special-sized designer faucets. This filter is ideal for apartment dwellers, car homeowners, and people who travel frequently. This filter doesn’t require installation. You can bring it with you to get as much as 90 gallons of great tasting, pure water per day.
- Supreme quality - designed, engineered, and assembled in USA to guarantee water safety & your health. WQA certified to provide unlimited clean, refreshing crisp tasting water superior to bottled water
- Premium long-lasting filters remove up to 99% of contaminants such as chlorine, taste, odor, VOCs, as well as toxic fluoride, arsenic, lead, nitrates, heavy metals and 1000+ contaminants. Max Total Dissolved Solids - 2000 ppm. Feed Water Pressure 40-85 psi
- America's No.1 rated water filter brand with 20 years of success guaranteeing trouble free, noise-free system for long lasting, dependable, pure drinking water. 2 year extended manufacturer warranty is available upon registration
- System comes with 100% lead-free designer faucet, plus certified JG food grade tubing and parts to provide safe, contamination-free pure water. Pipe Size: 1/4 inches.
- High quality leak-free quick connect fittings require no extra lock clips to seal leak - not relying on water leak detector to protect your home like other brands. Comes with all parts and industry's best instructions and videos for an easy DIY experience.
APEC’s RO/CTOP uses a 4-stage reverse osmosis system that removes 99% water contaminants. The 5-micron sediment filter removes debris and dust. Water then flows to stage two, the coconut shell activated charcoal filter. This removes chlorine, VOCs, and odors as well as cloudiness.
The TFC RO membrane works really well. It removes as much as 99% of dissolved liquids as well as contaminants like arsenic and lead, fluoride, and chromium. To remove residual flavors, the water passes through another coconut shell activated charcoal filter. This will give you safe and pure drinking water.
The portable RO filter from APEC is easy to use, with the simple connection fittings and a lightweight filter system. It doesn’t require any tools to install. It’s as easy as connecting it to your faucet. This countertop reverse osmosis filter system comes with a 1-year limited warranty from APEC. If you have any questions, our customer service team is available to assist you.
4. Crystal Quest Portable Osmosis Systems
The Crystal Quest is the portable reverse osmosis device you should consider if you are looking for the most decent reverse osmosis filters. The Crystal Quest, like all countertop models of reverse osmosis, does not require installation. It also has a number of useful features that make it easier to transport than other options. The Crystal Quest doesn’t require electricity so you can take it anywhere you want.
The Crystal Quest can produce approximately 50 gallons per day. This is a good average, considering that most RO purification systems can produce between 10 to 90 gallons of water per day. The average family consumes 80 gallons of water daily at home. This includes all water-based appliances. 50 gallons is enough water to provide drinking water for a large family.
- Effectively removes lead and arsenic
- The cartridge can be cleaned up to 30 times, once a month
- Has a diverter valve to switch between filtered and unfiltered water
This high-performance system costs approximately $70-$90 annually and is the most affordable to operate and maintain. It boasts 10 stages of filtration and is easy to set up. The Crystal Quest is lightweight and compact so you can take it with you everywhere.
With its multiple filtration stages, the Crystal Quest system can remove a wide range of contaminants. The VOC and chlorine removal are done by the Granular Activated Carbon filter. The reverse osmosis membrane removes most of the TDS.
A unique copper-zinc oxide media removes lead, chrome, arsenic, and stops the growth of bacteria. The ion exchange resin deals with hard water minerals. Finally, the GAC post-filter removes any unpleasant lingering flavors or odors.
The Crystal Quest produces approximately 2 gallons per hour of filtered water, which is slightly slower than other countertop reverse osmosis water filter systems models. However, with long-lasting filters, maintenance can be minimal.
5. PuroSmart – The Smallest RO System
Are you still looking for the perfect countertop reverse osmosis system filter? Perhaps you’re looking for something smaller…
The PuroSmart is the smallest RO system.
- Clean, Fresh, Safer and Healthier Drinking Water from Your Kitchen Sink
- Easy to Use - No Permanent Installation Required - Quickly Snaps Directly to the Faucet with Quick Release to Easily Remove When Not in Use. Great for Apartments and Rentals.
- Reverse Osmosis Membrane removes total dissolved solids while Carbon Block Filter Removes Sediment, Chlorine, and Bad Taste
- Experience clean, safe, great-tasting water straight from your faucet. Use purified water for crystal clear ice cubes, better tasting tea and coffee, cleaner home cooked foods, healthier pet water and baby formula – better than most bottled water.
- Made in the USA in our ISO 9001:2015 Quality Certified Facilities. 100% Quality and Performance Tested. Backed by Applied Membranes' technical expertise and satisfaction guarantee.
It might be useful if space is a problem in your home, kitchen, or you are constantly on the go and need a water purifier wherever you are.
Buyer’s Guide for Countertop RO Systems
This guide will help you choose the best countertop RO filter.
What is a Countertop Reverse Osmosis System (COS)?
Countertop reverse-osmosis systems combine multiple stages of reverse Osmosis into a compact unit that can be stored on a kitchen counter. These systems can remove as much as 99% of total dissolved solids (TDS), giving the water a cleaner, purer taste and odor.
While almost every reverse osmosis system is intended to be installed under a kitchen sink or in a basement, countertop reverse osmosis is becoming more popular. This RO filter is perfect for homeowners who don’t want the hassle of cutting their waterline to install an RO filter. It’s also great for renters who still want to enjoy filtered water.
RO systems are unique because of the RO semi-permeable membrane. This membrane is composed of tiny pores that allow water molecules to pass through. This allows for more thorough filtration than any other system.
The majority of countertop RO filters can be used as standalone. However, some can be connected to your kitchen sink just like an under-sink filter. A countertop filter does not require any invasive installation.
What is a Countertop RO System?
RO countertop water filters can either draw water from a tap or have a tank that requires filling and replenishment. Water is introduced to the RO countertop water filter through several filtration stages before it is finally filtered out as clean water.
Although the process of filtration is different for each RO water filter system, these are the main stages:
Water flows first through a sediment prefilter. This stage is essential in any water filter system. It removes sediment like sand and dust from the water.
- The next filter is usually an activated carbon filter or granular carbon filter. This filter draws chlorine, chemicals, and bad taste from the water through a process called adsorption.
- Water can then be forced through the membrane by reverse osmosis, which removes 99.9% of total dissolved solids.
- A second carbon filter is usually added to the system, which removes any remaining sediment. This is commonly known as a “post-filter”.
- Some reverse osmosis water filter system models include an alkaline mineralization filter. This reintroduces minerals to the water before it is ready for consumption, giving it an appealing alkaline taste.
- Reverse Osmosis is one the most reliable and tried-and-true methods to produce clean water. It is so efficient that it removes almost every contaminant from tap water.
- A countertop RO water filter can filtration speed is very good.
- A countertop water filter is easy to install. All you have to do is place it on your counter. It takes only minutes. You won’t have to call a plumber and there’s very little chance of it going wrong.
- Countertop reverse osmosis water filter system models are easy to install at home. An RO water filter is easier to maintain than an under-sink water filter.
- RO countertop water filter systems can be easily transported because they are small. You don’t need to connect to water or have access to water to fill them. This allows you to take great-tasting water with you wherever you go.
- The majority of reverse osmosis water filters systems under-sink have a water storage tank. RO countertop water filters eliminate the need for one and send water directly from your faucet to your glass.
No matter which RO countertop water filter system is purchased, it will only work with kitchen faucets.
- Reverse osmosis water is high-quality and clean. However, RO strips water from all minerals so some people find the water tasted very flat.
- All RO water filtration systems that are not countertop reverse osmosis water filters waste water during the RO process. This is a normal part of reverse osmosis water production.
There are some things to consider when buying a countertop RO filter
When looking for an RO water filter system, it is important to consider your water source.
RO generally removes most contaminants from water. However, there are some contaminants such as hydrogen sulfuride, pesticides, and herbicides that may get through the RO membrane, even the best countertop RO system.
If you have a reverse-osmosis system, it is important to maintain high water pressure. Water flow must be strong enough for the membrane to pass at a rapid rate. This will limit water waste.
Your water pressure doesn’t matter if you use an RO water filter system that requires electricity to be connected. This is because electricity will drive the water through the system at the desired speed.
Produced water vs. waste water
Reverse osmosis is a process where water is emitted and water is discarded. The RO membrane must allow water to flow through it. They are continuously flushed down a drain to avoid them building up in the RO membrane chamber. This naturally causes water to be wasted while contaminants are being removed.
The majority of systems use a ratio of 4:1, meaning that for every 4 Gallons of water wasted, 1 Gallon of purified water can be produced. We are seeing more efficient systems on the market, and some of these systems waste less water.
The flow rate of your home’s water will be affected by the pressure in your water tank. The flow rate will be faster if the water pressure is higher. If you are using a reverse-osmosis water filter system, the flow rate is not an issue.
Fast flow rates will allow for rapid system movement and faster access to clean water. Slow flow rates will result in more wastewater because water isn’t flowing through the RO membrane fast enough.
You need Remineralization
Alkaline remineralization filters can be found in some countertop reverse osmosis water filter systems. These filters reintroduce minerals to your water after it has been filtered. You may prefer mineral water’s taste or the health benefits it offers, so you will want to choose a filter with an optional remineralization stage.
These filters can be purchased separately as an under-sink filter. However, it is more difficult to use a reverse osmosis system which has the capacity for a remineralization step.
If you are looking for an RO filter that does not connect to a faucet, this consideration should be taken into account. This filter will come with a water tank. Once the water is gone, it will be your responsibility to refill it. To reduce the amount of work you have to do, it is obvious that you want the best storage capacity. The storage capacity of most RO filters systems is at least 1 gallon. This should be your benchmark.
Before you purchase an RO system, it is important to know the expected lifespan of its water filters. A shorter lifespan means a higher cost system. You should aim to find a prefilter and a postfilter that lasts at least 6 months and at minimum 2 years for the reverse-osmosis membrane.
Counter Space Available
You need space to install any reverse osmosis countertop systems. Look at systems that are smaller in footprint and don’t take up as much space width-wise if your countertop space is limited.
You can avoid purchasing a system that is too large and have to return it. Measure your space and compare it with the dimensions of any reverse osmosis water filters. So the under-sink space required for installation is not an issue anymore. However, you don’t want to make your side space look cluttered.
This certification will give you an assurance that your countertop reverse osmosis device has been tested and approved by third parties for its claims of contaminant removal.
NSF 58 for material safety and NSF 372 for lead-free components are two certifications that you will see often when looking for reverse osmosis filters. There may be systems that have been certified for NSF 42 for chlorine removal and 53 for lead removal.
Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water filter maintenance
Countertop water filters are easier to maintain than reverse osmosis systems. The exterior of the filter can be cleaned with a damp cloth. You should also change the filters according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
This maintenance is necessary to maintain your RO filter’s performance. However, it’s easy to do, since some systems have reminder lights that will let you know when a filter needs to be replaced.
What contaminants can RO countertop systems eliminate?
RO water filtration systems employ multiple filters to remove almost any chemical from your water. This includes fluoride and lead, chromium and copper, as well as bacteria, viruses, and heavy metals. Make sure you check out the full list of contaminants each system can remove before buying.
What water pressure is required to run a RO system
RO systems work with water pressures ranging between 40 and 100 psi. The reverse osmosis filter will reduce your psi by between 50 and 75%. This is why higher psi ratings are better.
Which is better: the faucet filter or the filter pitcher?
Reverse osmosis filters pitchers are portable so they can be taken with you when you travel.
However, you will need to refill the reverse osmosis pitcher. Because it is connected to water, a faucet filter system can be convenient. These systems are not portable and require countertop space.
These reverse osmosis filter systems can remove the same contaminants that under-sink reversed osmosis filters.
They are identical but smaller. Counter RO filters can remove lead, chlorine, and bacteria. RO systems can remove viruses and fluoride.
What pressure should my water supply be if I install an RO system and connect it to my faucet?
These RO systems should run at maximum performance with a pressure between 40 and 100 PSI. These systems are almost all equipped with a pressure booster so that even low pressure from the faucet won’t be an issue.
Do you prefer a counter-top filter that is dispenser-style or one that can be connected to a faucet?
Both systems are easy to use, but both are great for apartments. It really comes down to personal preferences. The more portable dispenser-style filters are better if you plan to bring yours to work.