Looking for a quality home drinking water filter system?
- Don’t know which brands/models to buy?
- Don’t know who to trust?
- Want to save money and time on a home water filter?
- Want to help the environment?
I’ve already been through it 3-4 times in the past 10 years and got to see several brands. I’ve already done all the homework so you don’t have to.
Types of home RO water filters (RO = Reverse Osmosis)
I divide it into 2 kinds:
- Generic kind – the same type of system you see everywhere. Big tank, and then a bunch of little canisters next to it.
- Proprietary kind – several companies (Culligan, Puronics, etc) will have their own models each with their own distinct designs. A different shape tank and filter canisters.
Want my advice? BUY THE GENERIC KIND! Because you’re not locked into one company, forced to pay extra for their specific filters and specific parts. Also not forced to use only their distributors. The generic ones IMO are just as good, so much cheaper, and likely better quality and better service in the long run! The convenience of them have interchangeable parts with other generic brands makes them very convenient to maintain over the long run.
Buy Apec 6-stage water filter!
Here, I’ll save you time and just tell you which ones to get.
It’s a trusted quality brand that’s been around forever and has tons of customers. Yes, I’ve read all the reviews. Solid parts with solid construction. Most other brands out there are just copycat brands and take shortcuts.
Get 6-stage filter if you want alkaline (and 5-stage if you don’t)
I recommend the 6-stage models (the pricier one is my pick). Usually, 5-stage is standard and 6-stage has the alkaline option. Alkaline is good since filtering water usually takes out ALL the minerals. Usually, we want the “good” minerals but not the bad ones, like the heavy metals and water-cleaning ones that are bad for your body. Alkaline is one of the “good” minerals. If you don’t believe in alkaline water, then just get one of the 5-filter models.
What about the other fancier systems like 7-stage with the UV filter? I don’t think you need any UV filtering if you live in a city with municipal filtering system. It’s more for if you’re far out somewhere and running off well-water or there’s a possible break in the water lines and you have many contaminants. It’s unnecessary for most city folks and can also be a nuisance as the UV filter makes your water comes out warm/hot.
- Hire a pro – if you’ve never installed an RO water filter before, I recommend you check your local plumber or water filter guys/companies on Yelp. Many will install a new system for $150-200. It’s about 2 hours of labor. Even if you do have plumbing experience and very handy, it’s still good to see how they do it. There are also many guides on Youtube. I think it’s worth it to pay as doing it your first time will take so much longer and you might make typical mistakes that inexperienced guys will make. Better to watch a pro and you learn how they do things and they might also give you other helpful tips about your system.
- Get quality install kit – the included install kits are usually cheap. Cheap pipe connector (hard to drill through it as an accuracy marker), weak shutoff value that’s cumbersome and leaks easy, cheap hoses and attachments. Get a legit install guy and he’ll likely have better parts to use than the cheap kits you get with the system.
- Where to drill on sink – right side vs left side. Think of where your sink items (soap, etc) are placed and pick the side that’s easier to get to.
- Hang the filters up on the wall – hanging it up also saves some space. Most people leave the filters sitting on the cabinet floor as that makes the installation much faster, but this makes it harder to see/detect leaks this way! I recommend putting a dry towel underneath the filters so you can notice leaks faster.
- Cloudy water? – if it’s bubbles, that can be fixed by draining the system with the tank off. If it’s actually cloudy material, it’s probably the alkaline filter.
Where to buy replacement filters?
Easy, get the Apec brand ones! They are the safest bet. And if you want the highest quality alkaline filters, go with Biocera. Replacing water filters are easy-enough to do. Just follow the many guides on Youtube.
My general thoughts on the usual brands out there. Some opinions below are my own and some are what I hear constantly about the brand on the internet.
- Apec Water Filter – it’s what I use. Great, solid, safe choice, excellent pick. Beware of other brands with similar names and marketing (like Apex). I don’t believe any self-respecting company with a superior product would ever want to be confused.
- Culligan – bad product and service, run through a bureaucratic “dealership network”. Many unhappy customers that felt ripped off. They did have a nice option that was direct converter so you don’t have to drill the sink. Not sure if they still have this option.
- Puronics – bad, terrible…I’m also not a fan of proprietary system.
- Costco – crappy RO system. Crappy….leaking right out of the box.
- Biocera – for best alkaline filters, but overpriced.
- Home Master – terrible.
- Local brands – it’s usually your local plumber or small company rebranding generic stuff under their name. Some can also be good (but you won’t know and there’s no Amazon reviews). The system is probably alright if you trust the company behind it to service it.