Best Countertop Reverse Osmosis Systems of 2020 + Buyer’s Guide


best countertop reverse osmosis

Countertop reverse osmosis systems are a popular and simple solution to get superb quality drinking water. Usually, there’s no installation needed or it’s minimal. The maintenance is very low and Reverse Osmosis removes up to 99% of water contaminants.

Tabletop reverse osmosis systems are perfect for people renting a house or staying somewhere on a temporary basis. Also for businesses wanting to delight people with great quality drinking water (both cold and hot!). This allows you to have great and pure water without the need to install a regular RO system where you need to drill holes and set mounts.

Today we’re taking a look at the most popular options for countertop RO systems and looking for the right one for you.

RO systemAmazon ratingFilter StagesCapacityPrices
APEC Water Systems RO-CTOP Portable Countertop RO System4.543 Gallons / 11.4 Liter per HourCheck it on Amazon
SimPure Y5 Instant Heat RO System4.340.4 Gallon / 1.5 Litre tankCheck it on Amazon
Frizzlife RO Water Filtration System4.440.8 Gallon / 3 Liter tankCheck it on Amazon
AQUA TRU Countertop Water Filtration Purification System4.441 Gallons / 3.8 Liter tankCheck it on Amazon
Express Water Countertop RO System4.443.5 Gallons /  13.2 Liter per HourCheck it on Amazon
AlcaPure Zero Installation Purifier RO Countertop Water Filter4.2475 Gallons / 284 Litres per dayCheck it on Amazon
Home Master TMJRF2 Jr F2 Counter Top Water Filtration System4.33Instant on demandCheck it on Amazon
Countertop Portable Universal 5-stage RO Purification Water System4.2575 Gallons / 284 Litre per dayCheck it on Amazon

Countertop RO system reviews

1. Best one: APEC Water Systems RO-CTOP Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System

Amazon rating: 4.5

APEC Water Systems RO-CTOP Portable Countertop RO System

Why is it the best one? Because it’s simple, affordable, and does the job great. APEC Water Systems are well known for making excellent RO systems. With RO-CTOP you’re getting the best functionality of the RO system, that you can simply unpack and start using. Also, it’s easily portable because you can connect it to the most standard faucets in a few minutes. The faucet adapter is designed in a way to let you switch between water flowing to the RO system or coming out of the tap as usual.

It has a large maximum output of 90 gallons per day. This is considered quite an amount, in the context of countertop RO and water purification systems. As usual, the RO membrane produces some wastewater. Conveniently, this system has a drain pipe attached to the faucet adapter so it won’t get displaced. As for wasted water. the ratio is 1:2 which is way lower than the accepted averages of other RO systems.

It’s made of BPA free plastics. As for maintenance, APEC is known for its durable filter design. The filters on this model will last for a year which is twice as long as most other systems. And the RO membrane will be working for 3-5 years. That makes the filters and membranes a bit more expensive than average, but you save yourself maintenance time. So the average annual cost will be between $90 and $130.

PROs

• Tankless and easily portable with no installation needed

• Completely BPA Free materials

• Well known and established USA manufacturer

CONs

• More expensive filters than direct competition

Find this RO system on Amazon

2. SimPure Y5 Instant Heat Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

Amazon rating: 4.3

SimPure Y5 Instant Heat Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

It’s a modern gadget that brings the future to your home. Besides purifying water, this RO system also works as an electric hot water kettle on demand. What’s more, it can produce hot water in four different increments.

• Room temperature (the temperature of tap water)

• 113 F / 45 C (Warm milk)

• 185 F/ 85 C (Coffee)

• 198 F / 92 C (Tea)

So you’re actually saving space since you have two items (RO system and a kettle) in the same device.

This system has a 5 Liter (1.3 gallons) holding tank which makes it different from most of the countertop RO systems. This gives you a water reserve, so the water is always there, ready to drink. Naturally, it can produce water at a faster rate than most on-demand RO systems, because it has a pump. You just need to keep up with topping up the tank. Beneath the control panel is a dispenser, with a removable drip tray. It has space even for most water bottles, so you can fill cups and containers with ease. The LED indicators that show the filter status and when they need to be changed. Filters themselves are easy to remove and replace with new ones.

PROs

• 5:1 water ratio You save up to 1500% water

• No installation no tools required

• Fast filter replacement

• Water quality and filter state monitor

• Can be used at home, office, bar, or even RV

CONs

• Requires electricity to work

• Can be a bit noisy

Find this RO system on Amazon

3. Frizzlife Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

Amazon rating: 4.4

Frizzlife RO Water Filtration System

It looks great both at home and office. In fact, it can complement your workplace or office space. Present the owner as health-conscious and caring about people who drink water while visiting. You need to drink a lot of water, no doubt it’s much more convenient than carrying a big water bottle filled at home. You get four-stage Ultra Reverse Osmosis Technology that removes up to 99.99% of all contaminants. Including lead, chlorine, fluoride, and heavy metals. All that without the need for installation or plumbing.

What’s more, the Frizzlife RO system is using advanced drain water recycle technology. Meaning that the water to waste ratio is 5:1.

You need to take the water tank out from the system, empty the wastewater, for example by watering plants and fill it up with tap water. The built-in smart screen displays in and out TDS levels as well as the remaining lifespan of each filter.

Also, there’s an indicator when it’s time to refill the tank. So it pretty much tells you everything you need to know and takes away all the guesswork. Filter replacement is really easy. You just need to open the back cover and unscrew them with the included handle. Filters are numbered so there’s no way to get lost in the process.

PROs

• 2 minutes cartridge replacement

• Compact and professional design

• Wastewater is recycled and water output is increased by up to 1500%

• Three cup sizes of 150ml, 250ml, 330ml, or continuous pour

CONs

• Three-liter tank will be too small for more than two people to use over a day

• In order to refill the water, you need to remove the tank from the top. Meaning the system should be kept at waist height or a bit higher. It makes no sense to put in on a shelf or a cabinet. This leaves you with options to keep it on the counter or table

Find this RO system on Amazon

4. AQUA TRU Countertop Water Filtration Purification System

Amazon rating: 4.4

AQUA TRU Countertop Water Filtration Purification System

AQUA TRU is a straight forward RO system that looks like out of a retro sci-fi movie. It’s a four-stage filtration and water purification system that does the job very well.

It’s unique in a few ways. You can remove the water tank with purified water and put it in a fridge or any other location. Since there are no electronics involved, the tank has a manual lever that dispense water.

Second is patented filter technology. It has four filtering stages although just three filter casing. First, pre-filtering and second carbon filtering happen in the same caregiver. That makes this system quite small. Filters last up to a year and RO membrane up to two years. The annual cost should be around $100 or $120.

The main disadvantage I would say is that his unit is mostly meant for home use. You can refill it in two ways. By bringing in a water pitcher or carrying the whole tank to the sink. But the main tank needs to be removed from the back of the device. So you either need to be able to go behind the unit or be strong enough to lift it from the side or front.

Also, the tap water container is clear. This might look nice in pictures, but if your tap water is dirty, the residual dust can accumulate. Together with hard water stains, it might not look appealing. Aside from that, it’s a cool system to own, and it works great.

PROs

• Easy to use and understand

• Comes with extra filters so you’re set for a while

• Comes with mineral drops included

• Material is BPA and BPS-free Tritan plastic

CONs

• Have to estimate when it’s time to change filters by the taste of water

• See-through tank can accumulate water dirt and will need a thorough cleaning

• Limited placing options

Find this RO system on Amazon

5. Express Water Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

Amazon rating: 4.4

Express Water Countertop RO System

What’s unique is that this system has its own separate tap with no need to drill one through the countertop. You’re getting a well known and invested brand such as Express Water. They have been in the water purification industry for over 20 years and developed a well-deserved reputation.

Basically it’s a four-stage water purification unit that connects to your tap. It removes the most difficult contaminants that other filtration methods might miss like Pesticides, Lead, Chlorine, Fluoride, Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Herbicides, Hydrocarbons, Turbidity, Hardness, Phosphate, Pyrogens, Giardia, Heavy Metals, Sulfate, Viruses, Rust, Sand, Dirt, Dust, Cyanide and more.

With this system, you’re not bound to the amount of water that is in a water tank. You will get continuous water flow. Although it tends to take a bit longer to fill the glass. The filter change is quick, however, you’ll need to do it quite often. It’s recommended to change filters every six months and RO membrane every twelve months.

The system itself looks like something out of a science lab. And in you like the looks and the vibe, it might suit you just well. Otherwise, If you’re handy and creative you can indulge yourself in a DIY project to create a shell for this unit. For example, place it in a bread box or such.

PROs

• A well-known manufacturer

• Really affordable because it’s bare-bones

CONs

• Is not designed to look pretty

• Slow flow rate

Find this RO system on Amazon

6. AlcaPure Zero Installation Purifier Reverse Osmosis Countertop Water Filter

Amazon rating: 4.2

AlcaPure Zero Installation Purifier RO Countertop Water Filter

ZIP (Zero Installation Purifier) comes two colors that are a nice addition giving it more refined and premium product quality.

Apart from others, ZIP dispenses water that is higher pH than any other regular countertop reverse osmosis system. Post Filter returns beneficial minerals – Calcium and Magnesium to Reverse Osmosis purified water and increases the pH to a perfectly balanced alkaline level of 7-8pH.

The water tank is removed from the front. This is handy because you can put this system into a shelf and access the water tank easily. You would only need to remove the whole reverse osmosis countertop unit once a year for a filter change. There’s no need to have top or side clearance to refill the tank. You can put it alongside other kitchen appliances or in the office. Also, the tank itself slides into the front so you don’t need to lift it high.

The manufacturer states that all filters should be changed at the same time, once a year based on average usage of 75GPD.

In about 15 minutes the top container will be filled with 0.5 gallons of purified water and the unit will turn itself off. The annual cost of maintenance should be less than $80 which is quite low.

PROs

• Easy to set up, comes all build up just need to plug in and flush a few times

• Color options to choose

• Designed to look really good

• BPA free containers

• A faucet that works as a button or can dispense water freely

CONs

• It takes 15-20 min to run a filtering cycle

• Some people claim that it might start leaking water after a time

• No official certification

Find this RO system on Amazon

7. Home Master TMJRF2 Jr F2 Counter Top Water Filtration System

Amazon rating: 4.3

Home Master TMJRF2 Jr F2 Counter Top Water Filtration System

Perfect Water is another well-known brand in the field of water purification. What separates this unit is a unique granular filter design. The Home Master Jr. F2 solves the problem of water not flowing evenly through a filter. It’s achieved by installing compression disks at the inlet, outlet, and between the layers of filters to ensure even and better filtration.

Keep in mind, that this is not a reverse osmosis unit. The system removes up to 93% of fluoride, chlorine, and other volatile contaminants. The three-stage filtration process is all packed up in a single filter case together with a dedicated water faucet. It’s easy to take it with you when traveling or changing the apartment.

PROs

• After switching off, the switch pin automatically returns to default

• Very affordable and easy to use

• Light so it can be moved around when cleaning and such

• The filter change needs no tools at all

CONs

• After turning off, the water will drip a little, so you can’t place it too far away from the sink

• Rather a short filter lifespan of three months or 500 gallons

Find this RO system on Amazon

8. Countertop Portable Universal 5-stage Reverse Osmosis RO Purification Water System

Amazon rating: 4.2

Countertop Portable Universal 5-stage RO Purification Water System

This is a full, five-stage RO system that can be placed on a countertop.

What’s unique is that this system has adapters. Meaning you can quickly disconnect it and the adapter stays on the faucet. This might be handy if you need to free some space quickly.

It’s relatively inexpensive for what you are getting. It appears to be not an original product, but an assembled collection from other manufacturers’ parts. Although it’s claimed the unit is made in the USA.

It’s light and easy to transport if you’re moving often. Since it has five stages this system is more robust than some other countertop RO systems. It might suit those who have a well or are really unsure about the water quality and don’t have a high demand for a quick water flow rate.

The waste to water ratio is close to 1:3 as would be expected from a five-stage RO system.

PROs

• Impressive five-stage filter arrangement for the price

CONs

• It’s not pretty. Basically it’s a standard under the counter RO system, without a water tank

• It’s slow and the manufacturer does not hide that. It produces  1 gallon of water every 20-24 min.

Find this RO system on Amazon

Alternative: Oasis Countertop Bottleless Water Cooler Dispenser

Oasis Countertop Bottleless Water Cooler Dispenser

In essence, this is a water cooler with three filters. It sort of combines what we have seen in this review before. It looks like something you would expect to find at an expensive hotel lobby or big company kitchen area. The water filters will work for 2500 gallons or (6-8 Months).

Oh, and it’s not just a water cooler. It also dispenses hot water too. So the Oasis is probably made for people looking for clean water solutions for busy offices. Or other places where you would need to get cold or hot water fast.

It holds 1 gallon of water in a cold water reservoir and can chill up to 20 normal cups of cold water per hour. The hot water capacity for coffee or tea is about 40 cups per hour.

PROs

• Mean for the office. Simple to understand and use

CONs

• It’s expensive. For the price, you can get an RO unit

• Doesn’t have many great reviews

• It’s unclear how convenient it is to maintain

Find this product on Amazon

Buyer‘s Guide: things to know before even considering buying countertop RO water filter

Water Pressure & Wastewater

Some countertop reverse osmosis systems are built without a pressure pump. They rely entirely on the water pressure in the water system, to create enough pressure to force water through the filters and RO membrane. The benefits are that there’s no need for electricity and there’s no additional sound from the working pump.

However, there might be downsides. If the water pressure is not high enough, then it will take longer for the RO system to produce water. It takes a certain amount of pressure for RO systems without the pump to work. Generally, anything below 35 psi is insufficient and most systems work best at around 65 psi. Water pressure not only affects how quick or slow the RO system works. It also affects how much wastewater the system will produce to purify water. The greater the pressure, the less water will be wasted.

Flow Rate

When and if you’re sure that the water pressure will be enough, then Flow Rate directs how fast the water will be delivered to your glass. Some systems filter water into a storage tank from which you can pour your drinking water. But the tank is limited. Other systems produce on-demand RO filtered water. But generally this takes longer.

Faucet Connection

Most standard kitchen faucets have the same size threads. Most tabletop reverse osmosis water filters will be made to fit these standard faucets. But that’s not a rule. If you own a designer faucet or one that is a pull-down then, it’s probably not going to work. There are more considerations as pull-down faucets are not meant to stay static, so in this case, an under-sink RO system would be a better choice.

Most countertop RO systems come with a set of adapters and it’s usually possible to figure something out. As sometimes people manage to connect Countertop RO systems to bathroom faucets and even garden hoses.

Maintenance time and Maintenance Cost

Countertop and other tankless RO systems are designed to be low in maintenance.  The only thing you need to do is to change the filters when the time comes. Maintenance cost does vary so it’s best to estimate how much the system will be used and where it will be used.

Space and design

When you approach a particular RO system or style, make sure you’ll have the required space to place it. My advice is to take a similar size object or a collection of objects and place them where you intend to put the RO system. Leave it there for some time and see if it gets in the way or not. Do you mind seeing something of such size and shape on the counter always? One way or another, you will get used to seeing it after a while. But if you’re buying the system for a public space or business keep in mind that the design and ease of use will be important.

Certificates

It’s good to keep in mind certifications and NSF standards. NSF International is an American product testing, inspection, and certification organization. Certificates show that the manufacturer cared enough to produce a system that was rigorous enough to pass the certification process. It’s worthwhile to look for:

• NSF Standard 42 for water aesthetics,

• NSF Standard 53 for contaminants with health effects.

• NSF Standard 58 for other substances.

• NSF Standard 401 for emerging contaminants

• NSF Protocol P473 for the reduction of PFOA and PFOS.

The absence of standards doesn’t automatically mean that the product is incapable of doing what in claims. But, the presence of them is a good sign.

Is a countertop RO filter better than an under sink RO filter?

It really depends on what are your personal needs and what expectations you have. The under-sink system is better if you have space to put it there. The Countertop system is equally good if you don’t mind keeping it on the counter.

Now, knowing all I know about RO systems I would pick a countertop system for my household and office because of ease of installation.

Easy installation steps

Usually, installation is easy or nonexistent. However, there is some consideration.

• Inspect your faucet is it suitable? Is it male or female corresponding to the tip where the cap screws into?

• Most often there’s no need to use tools. However, if you need to unscrew something that is locked tight you can always use pliers. In case of that, put some cloth or paper towel in between things in order to scratch anything. And don’t use too much force when tightening things back.

• It might sound silly, for me to mention this but still. In order to unscrew a faucet cap, you need to turn it counter-clockwise. And in order to tighten in clockwise. You would be surprised at the number of times this gets mixed up.

• Usually, plumbing bits have “O” rings. Don’t lose them and put them back. If they are old you can replace them with new ones bought in advance.

• When adding an RO adapter on to the faucet don’t throw away the old tip. You might still need it in the future.

• Finally, you can apply some Teflon tape, that never hurts. If a thread is too small, then simply fold the tape so it would not hang loose.

• When you finish installing or unpacking your RO system don’t forget to allow a few filtrations to go. If it’s a countertop with a tank, then, generally two filtrations are recommended. If it’s a direct connection to your tap, then 10 minutes should be perfect.

That’s it. Countertop RO filter is among the most convenient ways to get crystal clear water to your office, house, or take it with you on your travels.

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