Drinking Water Purification Systems

Chris Tice
clean drinking water

Whether from a well or the city, clean drinking water is one of the most important factors to a healthy and happy lifestyle. Water purification and filtration systems can help you keep your water safe.

Water Filtration and Purification Considerations

While the convenience of a refrigerator water and ice dispenser is obvious, the cost, quality, and limitations of replacement filters and parts makes the in-door dispenser more of a hinderance to total fridge maintenance. A separate filter attached to a refrigerator water system allows you to control the water quality instead of the manufacturer, and with a growing family or an elderly person, you may need to reduce impurities to a point that the refrigerator manufacturer could never meet.

  • Pitcher, faucet, and countertop filters are slow to filter and have limited capacity filters, but they are portable and user friendly.
  • Under sink and whole house filters are expensive to install but have filters that last the longest and provide the most filtration because they are not hindered by size.

Most under sink and whole house manufacturers will help you decide which purification and filtration will work best for you by visiting their website but when choosing smaller filter systems, it's helpful to consider features and consumer reviews, too.

Pitcher Filters

Gravity filtered pitchers are good for the traveler who wants to reduce odors from the local water but aren't very efficient for a household filtering choice because of their limited filtering capacity and oversized footprint in your fridge. Water is poured into the top reservoir of the pitcher and drips through to the bottom reservoir through the filter much like a coffee maker.

  • Aquasana Dispenser Powered Water Filtration System - With a filtration capacity of 320 gallons per filter and powered filtration of under a minute, Aquasana's 16-cup pitcher is one of the largest and fastest filtering on the market. The powered filter removes up to 66 contaminants compared to 13 from leading manufacturers with noisy filtration being a major complaint, customers mentioned they were happy with the quick, great tasting water.
  • Aquagear Water Filter Pitcher - Aquagear's gravity fed filter far surpasses filtration capacities of the competition with a 150 gallon filter life compared to their meager 40 gallons. A five stage environmentally friendly filter reduces up to 89 pollutants, but could take a long time to do so according to consumers.

Faucet Mounted Systems

Faucet mounts are a great way to get higher quality pressurized water filtration to reduce impurities, but added bulk on the spigot and plastic attachments to reduce weight creates some issues with installation and dexterity of these filters. Faucet purification assemblies attach directly to the spigot head and a small lever directs water through the filter when needed.

  • Pur Water Filtration System - With easy installation and removal, this $20 faucet mount filter reduces up to six harmful chemicals from 100 gallons of water before a $15 filter change. Consumers had issues with the filter replacement light coming on too soon but had less leakage at the tap than similar plastic brands. It's priced reasonably for initial purchase and filter refills.
  • Culligan FM-15A or -25 - With metal joining parts, this $20 to $30 filter has good ratings for reliable attachment to your faucet. A 200 gallon filter with $13 replacements earn this faucet high praise from consumers. No visual indications of filter replacement and seriously reduced flow as use reaches 200 gallons were major complaints.

Countertop Filters

Composing a larger footprint for the filtration mechanism around the sink while conveniently attaching to the faucet, countertop filters offer more filtered gallons and better filtration methods than pitchers and smaller faucet mounts. A small hose attaches to the faucet head and directs water through the counter top filter by means of water hoses that either emit filtered water from the faucet or the filter mechanism.

  • Aquasana Premium Counter Top Water Filter System - With water flow at ½ gallon per minute and over 99 percent lead and chlorine reduction, the $80 Aquasana's filteration system removes impurities from 450 gallons of water before a two-stage $50 filter change. Some consumers were disappointed by the high cost of filter replacement cartridges but pleased with the ease of installation and filter replacement.
  • Brondell H2O+ Cypress Countertop Water Filtration System - A three stage filter reduces 99.9 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from 150 gallons of water for the initial price of $130. Quick connects make for easy removal and installation of fixture and filters with replacement filter costs between $30 and $50 each. Consumers were happy with the sleek design and consistent flow rate throughout filter use.

Under Sink Filters

Under sink filters sport the largest selection of permanently installed filtration methods with a hidden design to minimize counter footprint, but a plumber may be required for installation and even media changes in some brands. A bulky filter mechanism is mounted under the sink with a dedicated water line that produces filtered water to a stand-alone faucet mounted in the sink.

  • Pelican Six Stage Reverse Osmosis System - Expensive at $600, this reverse osmosis (RO) filter system wastes 50 percent less water than other RO systems while producing 18 gallons per minute of purified water. With positive reviews at Consumer Affairs, Pelican's six stage RO also sports a post filter which adds essential minerals that the first five stages filter out.
  • GE Single Stage Water Filtration System - for a cheap small family single filter system, the $70 GE has consumers posting positive reviews. The carbon spun filter lasts 6 months with a replacement cost of $35 and reduces lead and chlorine at a rate of ¾ gallons per minute. Most consumer complaints revolved about the longevity of the filter manifold after several filter changes.

Whole House Systems

These systems filter the input water to the entire house reducing impurities in drinking, washing, and laundry from well or city water. Costing a great deal more than other systems with most systems installed and serviced by the manufacturer, whole house filtration can even reduce airborne water impurities and hard water stains from showers, baths, and dishwashers. The whole house filter attaches to the main water line coming into the residence and can be mounted inside or outside the house for ease of access.

  • Pelican's Premium Whole House Water Filter System - Pelican's premium filtration system delivers 600k to 1 million gallons of filtered water without water waste or need for electricity. With water filtration systems rating well at Consumer Affairs, consumers only complaint was somewhat reduced water pressure from the four-stage, $800 filtration system.
  • Aquasana 1,000,000 Gallon Rhino - With many easily adaptable features and huge capacity filters, the Rhino seems to be the most versatile DIY water filtration system around. Starting at a little over $800, this highly rated system has some consumer issues with installation but otherwise received high marks for water quality and taste.

Concerns Regarding Reverse Osmosis (RO) Purification

Reverse osmosis filters use a membrane filtration method to almost completely remove dissolved minerals from drinking water. This process usually wastes a third of the water filtered as it drains the dissolved minerals leaving a practically distilled product for consumption.

The World Health Organization has shown adverse effects of health on drinking sterilized water and even possible plumbing problems stemming from the affected water leaching necessary minerals from the pipes. Water companies producing this filtration model have added mineral filters which put the minerals back into RO filtered water, but the choice is yours whether the health and household risk is worth the gamble and expense.

Whole House Non-RO System

A whole home system has many advantages over time that a single point water filter isn't able to match.

  • Pitcher and faucet filters are easy and inexpensive to begin with but replacement filter costs could have you spending up to $2000 over a five year period, where a single whole home main filter lasts a minimum of five years and provides clean, drinkable water at each spigot for a starting cost of less than $1,000.
  • Well and city water have many impurities before they come into your house and a burst local sewer line could add to these problems. Filtering the incoming water helps prevent these contaminants from entering your home.
  • Distilled and reverse osmosis filtered water may leach the minerals from your pipes but water with high mineral content may deposit it as well. Calcification can make metal pipes rust and PVC brittle. Filtered water can reduce this effect.
  • Water with high mineral and chemical content also prevents the ionic action of soaps and may leave deposits on clothes. Purified water doesn't remove all minerals but helps reduce the chemical and mineral content of your water to a noticeable softening of water and reduction of Ph levels that reduces soap and cleaning costs.
  • Whole home water filtration systems can be installed outside increasing the security and safety of your home. This prevents leaks, bursts, or simple filter replacements from becoming a large problem inside the home and keeps any third party care and maintenance personnel from entering your home for checkups to the system.

Taste Is a Major Factor

No matter which filtration method is purchased, nobody will drink the expensive water if it doesn't taste good. Don't forget to factor this into your final decision when selecting your water purifier.

Drinking Water Purification Systems