Faucet Filter vs. Under-sink Filter vs. Countertop Filter – Which to Choose?

Faucet, under-sink and countertop filters offer several benefits, so choosing between these three can get tricky.

Should you splurge a little and commit to a more thorough under-sink filtration system, or pick a smaller, handier faucet filter? What about a countertop filter, which are portable and easy to use?

If you’ve got these, and many more, questions about these three filtration systems, we’re going to make it a little easier for you. Let’s break down the pros and cons by comparing faucet, under-sink and countertop filters.

What’s a Faucet Filter?

faucet filter close up

The Culligan FM-25 Faucet Filter. Check Price Here.

Faucet filters are point-of-use (POU) filters, because they filter water at a specific point of use. They only filter the water coming out of a single faucet. Unlike most other filtration systems, faucet filters are small, affordable and very easy to install. They are mounted onto your kitchen tap and uses the same water.

Most models have reasonably long filter life and do a good job of giving you clean and tasty water. Note that faucet filters are not purifiers, and can’t remove biological contaminants in water like viruses, bacteria and spores. If your water supply is very dubious, it’s best to use a more comprehensive filtration method.

Depending on the model, a faucet filter can consist of 2 to 6 or more stages. The most important layers are the sediment filter and the activated carbon filter.

Three-stage water filter inside

How the PUR 3-Stage Filter Works. See it here.

Overall, a faucet filter can significantly improve your water, making it taste and smell better. They’re also perfect at getting rid of most chlorine in the water, with some models certified to remove 96% or more.

With all this said, it’s clear that faucet filters are perfect for enhancing the taste of your drinking water effectively with minimal investment and effort.

Read about the best faucet mount filters and comprehensive buying guide here.

What’s an Under-Sink Filter?

Under sink filter

The APEC Super Capacity 3-Stage Under-Sink System. Check Price Here.

An under-sink water filter is exactly what it sounds like – a water filter that fits in the cabinet under your sink. This type of filter connects to the cold water supply under your sink, and is attached to a faucet.

Under-sink filters are extremely versatile and offer many filtration styles depending on your needs. Most systems consist of at least 2 stages of filtration with some going upwards of 10 and even 15. Remember that just because a filter has more stages doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better, though.

You will also find highly effective reverse osmosis under-sink systems, like the iSpring RCC7AK which strips your water off all its contaminants (including minerals) and then remineralizes the water in the final stage.

iSpring Reverse Osmosis Under-Sink Filter. Check Price Here.

As a consumable product, under-sink water filters need to be replaced over time to ensure that they’re doing what they’re meant to be doing. This is an ongoing cost which needs to be factored but they tend to have longer filter life.

These systems are also point of use filters, only providing filtered water out of a single faucet. This is ideal if you want clean drinking water and purified water for cooking and doing the dishes. If you want clean water out of every faucet in your home, then you should be looking for a whole-house filtration system.

Read about the best under-sink filters and comprehensive buying guide here.

What’s a Countertop Filter?

Countertop filter

iSpring CKC1 Carbon Countertop Filter. Check Price Here.

Unlike the other two filter types mentioned above, this filter style comes with an attached spout. All you have to do is to install the countertop filter next to your sink and use it for your drinking water. This doesn’t affect your regular tap water, which you can continue to use for other tasks.

Countertop filters are extremely compact and portable. You can take them with you on holiday, if you’re worried about not having access to clean water. What’s more, they’re a renter’s dream because it solves the problem of having to install complex filtration systems.

These systems can connect to your faucet water or are standalone units to be filled, like a water filter pitcher.

Countertop filter system explanation

How a countertop filter works. This is the APEX 5-Stage Model.

Although they look small, countertop filters are highly efficient and can effectively remove sediment, dust, rust, debris, foul smells and tastes, heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride and pharmaceuticals, to name just a few.

On the flip side, countertop filters take up a fair amount of counter space and can be intrusive in a small kitchen, where every square inch counts. Also, they may not work with your kitchen décor so if you’re worried about the filter impacting the aesthetics of your kitchen, maybe an under-sink filter might suit better.

Read about the best countertop filters and comprehensive buying guide here.

Pros and Cons of the Three Types of Filters

Now that we’ve had a look what these types of filters are, let’s break down their pros and cons when compared to each other.

Faucet Filter vs. Under-sink Filter vs. Countertop Filter pros and cons

What’s the Difference Between Faucet Mount Filters, Under-sink Filters and Countertop Filters?

All three of these filtration systems are relatively small, affordable and work effectively in their own ways to clean drinking water. All three devices are point of use systems, meaning that they can be installed exactly where you need the filtered water.

The main differences between these three models is that faucet and countertop filters are easier to install and less permanent than under-sink filter systems. They only remove the most obvious contaminants from the water. Choose either of these two models if you have a restricted budget, if you want an easy solution and if your water supply is relatively good. These filters aren’t typically recommended for well water, which is prone to having biological contaminants.

Faucet Filter vs Under-sink Filter vs. Countertop Filter comparison table

The under-sink filter is the more comprehensive option of the three. Choose this option if you want a more comprehensive and intense filtration process. This is also perfect if your drinking water is suspect and you want to target all the impurities in it. A more comprehensive under-sink filter is perfect if you have well-water.

Wrapping Up

It’s clear that each of these systems have their own pros and cons, suiting different requirements. While under-sink water filters are the most comprehensive and effective of the three (depending on the model, of course), countertop and faucet filters are easier to install, affordable and effective.

The model you choose depends on your specific preferences, the type of water you have and the contaminants in them.

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