In A Nutshell: Best Budget Water Filters
Faucet-mounted and pitcher-style filters do not filter water particularly well. Based on our research, we recommend a countertop water filter like the New Wave Enviro 10 Stage Water Filter System, or if your budget can afford it, there the Multi-Pure Countertop Filter, which was rated by Consumer Reports as the best countertop filter.
If you prefer a filter that doesn’t require installation, you can get a countertop drip filter, and we recommend the British Berkeley brand (see full review here). Drip filters are used all across the world to filter water from questionable sources.
In A Nutshell: The Best Under-Sink Water Filter
We recommend the Multi-Pure MP750SB under-sink water filter. It is Consumer Reports’ top rated under-sink filter, with a rating of 90 out of 100. It has a wide range of NSF Standard 53 contaminant reduction (NSF is an industry-standard filter certifier). The yearly maintenance costs are also low, making it good value for money in terms of the Cost Per Contaminant (CPC) Ratio. Another excellent filter is the Aqua-Pure by Cuno AP-DWS1000, scoring 88 out of 100 from Consumer Reports, also certified by NSF. It sells for around $100 less than the Multi-Pure filter.
Why Filter Your Water?
Bottled water is expensive, wasteful, and less regulated than tap water. In fact, most bottled water is simply filtered tap water. Filtering your water at home is the most effective and least expensive option overall. However, you will need a good quality water filter, because tap water commonly contains contaminants such as lead, chloroform, arsenic, nitrate, nitrite, radon, and E. coli. The good news is that the filters featured here will remove most of these impurities.
Experts recommend that you should find out which pollutants are in your local water supply. You can then customize your filtration by selecting filters that target those specific pollutants. One way to find out is to check your consumer confidence report, or CCR. The EPA requires utilities to provide a CCR to their customers every year, and they are often available on government websites. Consumer Reports had this to say about CCRs:
Our recent analysis of CCRs from the 13 largest U.S. cities revealed that few claimed to have no federal water-quality violations. Though none of the other water systems were consistently unhealthful, all had some samples containing significant quantities of contaminants. In New York City, for example, some samples had lead levels several times the federal limit.
Here’s the list of the types of contaminants you want to remove from tap water:
- Organic compounds (Pesticides, Herbicides, Pharmaceuticals, Fuels, etc.)
- Toxic metals (Lead, Mercury, Aluminum, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, etc.)
- Bacterial and viruses (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, etc.)
- Radioactive substances (Radon and Uranium, etc.)
- Additives (Chlorine and Chloramines, Fluoride, etc.)
Why Choose An Under-Sink Water Filter?
Under-sink water filters are the most convenient and less expensive type of water filter. Pitcher-based filters and faucet-mounted filters are not as effective as under-sink filters. In The Drinking Water Book, water filter expert Colin Ingram rates all pitcher filters and and faucet mounted filters as “Acceptable” (the lowest rating). Good under-sink water filters get a rating of “Very Good” from him. Water distillers get a rating of “Excellent” but distillers are slow, expensive and time-consuming to operate. Reverse Osmosis filters work well and they are the only type certified to remove arsenic. But you must sanitize them with bleach periodically. Eventually the membrane must be replaced. They can also be extremely slow, rob cabinet space, and create 3 to 5 gallons of waste water for every gallon filtered.
Top Rated: The Multi-Pure MP750SB Water Filter
The Multi-Pure MP750SB is a three-stage carbon filter, certified to remove a range of important water contaminants — herbicides, heavy metals, industrial chemicals and volatile organic compounds.
This filter is certified by NSF International, which means it has been tested that it does in fact remove contaminants, and does not re-contaminate the water with bacteria. Many commonly available filters will let quite a few contaminants through. For example, in-fridge or faucet-mount filters may not filter VOCs and chlorination by-products like Trihalomethanes (THMs).
Besides the NSF certification, several states such as California, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts have certified this filter. The Multi-Pure MP750SB was also Consumer Reports’ top rated under-sink filter, with a rating of 90 out of 100.
The filter life is approximately 750 gallons, which translates into a year worth of filtration for most households. Replacement filters cost about $120 per year, making this filter inexpensive solution in the long-term.
See also the MP750SB filter’s home page.
Aqua-Pure by Cuno AP-DWS1000
The Aqua-Pure by Cuno AP-DWS1000 is another under-sink carbon filter that filters lead, sediment, rust, cysts, VOCs and other contaminants. Consumer Reports rated the filter 88 out of 100, the second highest score for an under-sink unit. It is also certified by the NSF, and sells for around $100 less than the Multi-Pure filter. The filter housing is constructed with plastic rather than the stainless steel housing on the Multi-Pure unit.
The AP-DWS1000 is rated to filter a total of 625 gallons, which equates to about 6 months of average usage. Note that the filter shuts off after this limit is reached!
Here’s the AP-DWS1000′s home page.
Gravity-Fed Drip Filters
Countertop distillers are effective water purifiers, but they take some time to distill water (for example 5 hours to distill 1 gallon). They also give off some heat and the integrated fans make some noise.
Countertop distiller that get a rating of “Excellent” from Colin Ingram in the The Drinking Water Book are: Megahome Countertop Distiller, Waterwise 4000 and Waterwise 8800, Kenmore 34480 and Pure Water Mini-Classic.
Megahome Countertop Water Distiller
This distiller is sold under many brand names — it’s the most widely distributed distiller in the world. It has many quality components despite being inexpensive. It produces 1 gallon of water in 5 hours. The water is passed through a small granular carbon filter. There’s a sealed connections from the distiller to the water collection container, so there is minimal risk of contamination by air. The unit has a stainless steel boiling chamber that is easily accessible for cleaning.
The Megahome Countertop Distiller is available from Amazon for about $150.
Waterwise 4000 Countertop Distiller
This is a more powerful version of the distiller listed above. It has the same features but produces 1 gallon of distilled water in 4 hours. Also received an “Excellent” rating from Colin Ingram in the The Drinking Water Book.
The Waterwise 4000 is available from Amazon for about $280.