Superior filtration using filters from manufacturer, but other companies make great filters for this, and some can be scrubbed and reused.
Expensive, and the filtration process is slow. It holds 2.1 gallons but filters at the rate of two quarts per hour.
Good price and reliable filtration. With proper care, the simple design will hold up quite well.
Hard to tell when filters need to be changed. Works very slowly and has a limited capacity of 10 cups.
Fantastic filtration, and it dispenses water into sealable bags for storage. Works fast. Filter can last up to three years.
Cleaning this unit can be a real chore.
Attaches to faucet easily and filters very quickly. Affordable, too.
The filtration is only so-so. Filters have to be replaced often.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We all know how important it is to stay hydrated throughout the day, but many areas have tap water that contains contaminants that make it unsafe or just unpleasant to drink. Bottled water is a good alternative, but keeping your fridge stocked can get pretty expensive. That’s why investing in a water purifier can be such a smart decision for your home.
Not all water purifiers are created equal, though, so it’s important to choose the right one for your water supply. That means knowing what type, storage capacity, and other features will work best for you, which can get pretty confusing.
At BestReviews, we’re dedicated to taking the confusion out of shopping. We’ll take care of the product research so you can concentrate on the key features of the items you want. That means you can choose wisely without wasting valuable time.
If you’re in the market for a water purifier, consider our top recommendations in the matrix above. If you want to know what to look for in a water purifier in general, keep reading our shopping guide.
A water purifier removes particles, sediment, chemical contaminants like chlorine and mercury, viruses, and bacteria from water. But while a water purifier can effectively filter contaminants from water, it can also remove minerals that are beneficial to your health like calcium, magnesium, and sodium.
Fortunately, some purifiers are able to restore healthy minerals to the water after the filtering process, so your drinking water is as good for you as possible.
Allen Rathey is a cleaning expert who promotes healthier indoor spaces. He is past-president of the Housekeeping Channel and the Healthy House Institute, and principal of the Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI) culminating more than 30 years of experience in making indoor places cleaner. He has been tapped as an expert by the New York Times, Real Simple, U.S. News & World Report, and other national media.
Using a water purifier for your tap water has a number of benefits that make it a worthwhile purchase.
Safety: The main reason that most homeowners use a water purifier is to remove potentially harmful toxins and contaminants from their tap water. A purifier can remove a variety of chemical contaminants, including arsenic, aluminum, mercury, and pesticides, as well as bacteria and viruses that might make your family sick.
Taste: Removing contaminants and bacteria improves the taste of tap water, so drinking your daily recommended amount will be more pleasant.
Cost: While bottled water can be healthier and better tasting than tap water, it can get very expensive to keep a steady supply in your fridge. By investing in a water purifier, you’ll save money in the long run by providing your own drinkable water out of the tap.
Large, effective, and durable
The Big Berkey can hold up to 2.5 gallons of purified water, making it ideal for serving two to three people. Its compact design fits easily in most kitchens despite the generous capacity. Even better, the ceramic filters remove parasites, pathogens, herbicides, pesticides, volatile organic chemicals, and heavy metals, as well as foul tastes and odors. We also love the Big Berkey’s durable and easy to clean stainless-steel tank.
There are four main types of filters used in water purifiers: carbon, ceramic, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet light.
Carbon: Carbon water purifiers use activated or block carbon to remove impurities through chemical absorption. Carbon filters can usually filter out particles between 0.5 and 50 microns in size. These are the most common filters found in water purifiers. Carbon water purifiers are usually freestanding units, such as pitchers or countertop models, although there are some options that attach directly to the faucet.
A carbon water purifier can improve the taste and odor of your tap water by removing chemical contaminants including chlorine, radon, pesticides, herbicides, benzene, trihalomethane compounds, and other synthetic chemicals. These filters are not as effective in removing heavy metals and inorganic contaminants, such as arsenic, mercury, chromium, cadmium, minerals, and salts.
Ceramic: The porous nature of a ceramic filter removes larger particles, such as dirt, debris, and bacteria, as gravity pulls the water through the filter. Ceramic filters are not as effective at removing chemical contaminants as carbon filters, so they may be paired with other types of filters to completely purify the water. A ceramic water purifier is usually a freestanding unit that sits on a countertop or table.
Reverse osmosis: Reverse osmosis water purifiers are able to filter larger particles and inorganic chemicals like heavy metals, salts, and nitrates from your tap water. These filters are directly connected to the plumbing beneath the sink, so the water is filtered as soon as it emerges from the faucet. Some reverse osmosis water purifiers can store a small amount of purified water for later or emergency use. There is also a line that sends any tainted water straight to the drain.
Some water purifiers use ultraviolet (UV) light to filter contaminants out of tap water. These filters can remove bacteria, viruses, and other illness-causing microorganisms and improve the taste of the water. However, UV filters don’t remove heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, minerals, salts, and other contaminants that carbon and reverse osmosis purifiers can. To be most effective, UV water purifiers are typically used in conjunction with another type of filter. A UV water purifier is attached directly to your home’s plumbing and may require professional installation.
Dirty filters can become a source of water fouling. It might be helpful to use a reminder service on your smartphone to flag you when it’s time to clean or change filters. Purifiers with filter change reminders can be helpful.
Freestanding pitchers or countertop water purifiers obviously allow you to store purified water for future use, but some purifiers attached to the plumbing also have a storage container. When you’re shopping for a purifier, it’s important to consider the storage capacity so you can be sure that you always have plenty of drinking water on hand.
Pitcher-style water purifiers usually hold six to ten cups, while countertop purifiers tend to be larger, as much as two gallons or more of storage capacity. Consider the size of your family and how much water you normally drink to determine the best size purifier for your home.
Flow rate refers to the speed at which water passes through a purifying system, usually measured in gallons per hour. Purifiers with a faster flow rate can provide drinking water for you more quickly. However, Allen, our water treatment expert, cautions against choosing a purifier with too high a flow rate. As he explains, “Generally, the higher the flow, the harder it is to properly clean the water. That is why some of the best filtration methods tend to be slower.” A purifier with a moderate flow rate of approximately one-half gallon per hour is usually a good choice.
Generous size, easy to use
This Brita pitcher makes filtering your tap water simple and quick. Just install the filter, fill the pitcher with tap water, and you’ll have purified drinking water in no time. The ten-cup capacity pitcher fits in most refrigerators to provide plenty of drinking water for your family all day.
If you want to verify the effectiveness of a water purifier, check to see if its ability to remove contaminants has been certified by independent organizations. In particular, keep an eye out for models have been tested and certified by the Water Quality Association (WQA) or NSF International.
A water purifier loses its effectiveness when the filter gets old or dirty. As our expert Allen explains, “Frequent filter cleaning and replacement, according to the manufacturer’s advice, is a healthy move.” But it can be easy to forget when it’s time to change your purifier’s filter, so it’s a good idea to look for a model with some type of filter change indicator.
Some pitchers and other freestanding water filters include stickers that you can mark with the appropriate date for changing the filter and fasten on the filter’s exterior. Others have a dial that you can set with the proper date. For the easiest reminder, look for a model with an electronic indicator that flashes a light to let you know when it’s time to change the filter.
Most water purifiers need to have the filter changed every three to six months.
For reverse osmosis and UV water purifiers that require installation, look for models that offer at least a one- to two-year warranty.
Water purifier prices vary based on the type of filtering system. In general, you can expect to pay between $10 and $685 for a water purifier.
Carbon water purifiers are usually the most budget-friendly option, ranging in price from $10 to $70.
Ceramic water purifiers are slightly more expensive. You can usually expect to pay between $80 and $185.
Reverse osmosis water purifiers are installed on your faucet, so they tend to be more expensive, ranging between $100 and $440.
UV water purifiers are also more expensive, costing between $115 and $685.
Q. How do I know what contaminants are in my water?
A. The contaminants that may be present in your tap water can vary based on where you live. It’s important to determine what contaminants are likely to be found in your particular water system to choose the right purifier. The Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) offers a database that contains water-quality reports from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Enter your ZIP Code to determine what contaminants are a risk in your area.
Q. Is bottled water healthier than water that’s filtered through a purifier?
A. Not only is bottled water expensive and an environmental issue due to the plastic bottles but it also isn’t necessarily any better for you than tap water that’s passed through a purifier. That’s because some bottled water is actually tap water that’s been purified, though you can’t be sure that it’s been filtered to remove all possible contaminants. Some bottled water is natural spring water that hasn’t been filtered at all, so it may contain toxins or contaminants.
Q. How long will a water purifier last?
A. The lifespan of a water purifier depends on the type and how well you maintain it. Changing the filters regularly is key to keeping your purifier in good working condition. Carbon and ceramic water purifiers can last as long as ten years if you care for them properly. Reverse osmosis and UV water purifiers have more working parts, so it’s easier for them to develop problems. However, most systems work well for at least five to seven years.