Updated: November 2017

Water Filter Reviews:

Water filters are big business, as is water as a whole. It's used to be that you had Alhambra delivered right to your door, then bottled water started showing up in supermarkets and now you can't go anywhere without being offered bottled water from the menu. Recent studies show that bottled water is no healthier or cleaner than tap water. The EPA regulates public water and the FDA regulates bottled water. The FDA only requires that bottled water be as good as tap water in terms of impurities. So eventhough you may hear claims about "fresh taste" or "great for you", bottled water is not all it's cracked to be. Back to water filters. It's highly recommended to use a water filter system either on your faucets or in your refrigerator. The best pitcher-type water filter is the PUR Ultimate Pitcher ($20-$30) whose dual-filtration system removes lead, chlorine, benzene, off-tastes, copper, sediment and 99.95% of cysts like giardia. Brita is another huge name brand in the water filtration business, and their selection of water pitchers, faucet water filters, and undersink water systems are also popular.

With the PUR Ultimate you get close to 40 gallons of filtered water (lasts for 2 months) before you need to change the filter ($9/each). A drawback to pitchers is that tap water takes about 12-15 minutes to filter through. The best faucet mount water filter is also made by PUR and is called the PUR Vertical 3-Stage Filtration. These are for people who use more filtered water (ice cube, coffee, etc). The PUR faucet mounted filter offers a double layer filter system which removes and eliminates metals, off-tastes, and agricultural and industrial pollutants and cysts. The filters give you roughly 100 gallons of filtered water before a replacement is necessary. Filters are $15/each. There is also a bypass switch that lets you go from filtered to unfiltered water if you so wish. One other solution to getting filtered water into your house is through a whole house water filter that hooks up to the water main and gives you filtered water for drinking, cooking, showering, dishwashing, and laundry. The bypass allows you to switch to unfiltered water if you want. These systems offer fast flow rates and not as much clogging as the other systems. Professional installation is recommend once again and the top model is the Kenmore Whole House Water Filter 38440 ($35) and filters cost $15.

Lotus Water Treatment System (LWT) Filter:

A newer entrant in this market is the Lotus LWT from Tersano (tersano.com), a maker of green home cleaning products. We were sent a free evaluation unit (DISCLAIMER!) of their newest model, the Lotus LWT100. This is a countertop model, about the size of coffee maker. It offers 2-stage water purification -- first is a 5 minute ozone treatment, second is carbon filtration. If you've already got good municipal water, the ozone treatment may be overkill, but it does kill 99.99% of any viruses or bacteria that might be in your water. The filter then removes any other contaminants or chemicals. It's a dual pitcher process -- you get one pitcher (called the processing carafe) that twists on and off the base unit which you fill with water and then resettle into the base unit. Push a button and the ozone process begins, basically making a light buzzing/vibrating sound as bubbles surge up through the water. That takes about 5 minutes. You then place your second pitcher next to the countertop base unit, and the water is forced through the filter mechanism and out into your pitcher (which you can put it your refrigerator). So our review... The one drawback of the Lotus is size -- if you're like most people, you probably don't have a bunch of free counter space in your kitchen where you want to permanently locate another appliance. That's one reason pitcher-style filters or tap filters are popular. In our case, we have a mudroom just off the kitchen, where there is some free counter space and a utility sink - perfect solution. The second drawback is time/planning and noise. If your pitcher is empty, you can't just instantly get a glass of clean water. You have to fill the other carafe, push the ozone start button and wait those 5 minutes, then fill the second pitcher, etc. You can fill and ozonate the first pitcher in advance, but if you let it sit longer than 24 hours, the machine will not pass it through the filter without again doing the ozone process. And it does make some noise - nothing too bad, but it might annoy some people. Which leaves us with water taste and price. The water coming out of this thing tastes as good or better than bottled water according to my family - we've been drinking more water than ever. Some other consumer reviewers mention ozone smells -- I'm not getting any of that, no odor at all, not in the water, not near the machine. Price - about $200-$230 (at Amazon), which includes the machine and the 2 pitchers. Additional pitchers are $20. The replacement filters are $50. Set up was easy, just install the carbon cartridge filter, place the cap over it, and manually cycle and dispose of 4 loads of water through the filter before drinking. The filter is supposed to last for about 700 cycles, which would be a cost of about $50 per year, or 7 cents a day if you drink about a gallon of water per day. Overall, we are very happy with it - just make sure you have the counter space for it. It's not cheap, but the yearly costs are minimal, the water quality is top-rate, and the Lotus Water Treatment System is easy to use. We may look into getting a second pitcher so that we can fill 2 at once and keep one in the other fridge, avoiding the waiting time when it comes to refills. We got ours from Allfilters.com which offers it at the same price as Amazon.

Best Undersink Water Filter:

The Kenmore Dual Undersink Water Filter 38460 ($80) is the top rated in this category. Undersink water filters get better water flow than faucet mounts and the filters are only needed to be changed at 6 month intervals. The one disadvantage is that professional installation is recommended and you will need adequate space under your sink. A smaller faucet is installed for the filtered water. Replacement filters run about $20/each.

Water filters versus Bottled Water:

Bottled water is certainly something that we have become accustomed to at supermarkets, restaurants and coffee shops. People no longer get just a glass of regular tap water for fear of dirty, contaminated water. The truth is that in many studies bottled water has just as many impurities as tap water but we have been marketed to so much that we believe all the claims from bottled water companies. Some sources of tap water probably do taste funny or look mirky (often just air bubbles) so it may be wise to keep bottled water in your home for emergencies. Overall, though, unless you have a reason to support the $35 billion bottled water industry in the US, it's ok to drink tap water in your homes. When you add up the cost of bottled water (say 1 a day for 30 days - that's at least $30/month) versus filtered water, the savings are immense over a year.

Where can I buy water filters online?

If you need to buy a water filter for your refrigerator or kitchen sink, start at Amazon. They carry refrigerator filters, faucet filters, and counter top water filters. A list of some of the brands they carry are below. Other specialty filter stores include FiltersFast.com or Bestfilters.com.
  • PUR Water Filters
  • Brita Water Filters
  • Ge Water Filters
  • Culligan Water Filters
  • Omni Water Filters
  • Whirlpool Water Filters
  • Everpure Water Filters
  • Kitchen Aid Water Filters
  • Kenmore Water Filters
  • Aquasana Water Filters
  • Frigidaire Water Filters
  • Multipure Water Filters

Portable Water Filters - Microfilters:

If you are an outdoorsman who likes to camp or go backpacking, often fresh sources of water are hard to come by and you need a portable water filter system that is small and compact to travel anywhere. We recommend the Katadyn Pocket Filter. The Katadyn is built around a tough, lightweight aluminum shell, which houses the ceramic filter element with 0.2 micron filtration. It can process 1 liter of water per minute, and the element is rated at 13,000 gallons. These are used by International Red Cross workers in some of the least-hygenic areas of the world -- they work at removing giardia, cryptosporidia, parasites, fungi, cholera, typhoid, salmonella and other bacteria and parasites. A full selection of best-selling outdoor water filters here.