10 Best Countertop & Portable Reverse Osmosis Systems in 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks

Last Updated on November 20, 2020

Domestic reverse osmosis filter_tetiana_u_shutterstock

With a history dating back to the mid-1700s, reverse osmosis water filters have had an exceptionally long time to evolve and develop into the products we know and love today. Well regarded for their ability to remove nearly 100% of common water contaminants, reverse osmosis systems also have the profound benefit of being user-friendly and easier to install than other countertop water filters.

We’ve tested dozens of home water filtration systems to bring you this: our comprehensive guide to the best countertop (and portable) reverse osmosis systems available on the market today, complete with reviews and an in-depth buyer’s guide. Follow along as we explore the benefits and features that you should expect from a reverse osmosis system, and by the end, you’ll be able to decide on which of the models in our review is perfect for your home.


A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
APEC Water Systems RO-CTOP-C Water Filter System APEC Water Systems RO-CTOP-C Water Filter System
  • Incredibly easy to set up
  • Takes up very little countertop space
  • Compatible with all standard faucets
  • Best Value
    Second place
    LiquaGen 703610776425 RO Portable Water Filter System LiquaGen 703610776425 RO Portable Water Filter System
  • Fast and easy 5-minute installation
  • Comprehensive 4-stage filtration system
  • Exceptionally affordable
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    RKIN ZIP2BLK AlcaPure RO Countertop Water Filter RKIN ZIP2BLK AlcaPure RO Countertop Water Filter
  • 4-stage filtration system
  • Easiest setup
  • Attractive countertop design
  • AQUA TRU 90AT02AT01 Countertop Water Filtration System AQUA TRU 90AT02AT01 Countertop Water Filtration System
  • Ultra-simple setup and installation
  • Large water reservoir
  • Simple one-touch water dispensing
  • Express Water EZRO5 Countertop RO Water Filtration System Express Water EZRO5 Countertop RO Water Filtration System
  • Robust 4-stage filtering system
  • Compact space-saving design
  • Unique water faucet design

  • The 10 Best Countertop & Portable Reverse Osmosis System – Reviews 2020

    1. APEC Water Systems RO-CTOP-C Water Filter System – Best Overall

    APEC Water Systems RO-CTOP Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System

    Having tested somewhere near 100 different water filter systems in our lifetimes, one of your authors’ biggest pet peeves is having a lengthy, cumbersome installation process. In an ideal world, going from tap water to delicious and healthy filtered water should be as easy as placing an order, waiting for your filter system to arrive, taking it out of the box, and screwing it into your faucet.

    Amazingly, the APEC Water Systems RO-CTOP-C Water Filter System does almost exactly that. As long as you have a standard-sized faucet (not a pull-out or sprayer style), getting started with this countertop reverse osmosis system is as easy as screwing in the included adapter and letting the water run for about 10 minutes.

    A 4-stage filter system makes for better-than-bottled-water taste, and the high capacity filters last for up to a year on average. It’s equally suitable for homes, apartments, dorm rooms, and RVs – anywhere that you have at least 40 PSI of water pressure. The price is just a bit on the high side, but it’s well worth the complete lack of hassles that this filter system offers.

    Pros
    • Incredibly easy to set up
    • Takes up very little countertop space
    • Compatible with all standard faucets
    • Intense 4-stage filtration system makes for great tasting water
    • Long-lasting high capacity filters
    Cons
    • On the expensive side

    2. LiquaGen 703610776425 RO Portable Water Filter System – Best Value

    LiquaGen - 4-Stage Reverse Osmosis and Deionization

    In searching for the best countertop and portable reverse osmosis system for the money, we were spoiled for options. There are plenty of 3-stage countertop filter systems available at extraordinarily low prices, but only the LiquaGen RO Portable Water Filter System offers 4-stage filtration at such an amazing price.

    Designed for supporting saltwater or freshwater aquariums where an ultra-pure water source is a necessity, the LiquaGen is conspicuously absent of an easy way to transform it into a drinking water supply. To do so, you’ll have to fill a container using the included tubing, then decant from that container into your drinking glass.

    Given how easy the LiquaGen is to install – and how inexpensive it is to purchase and maintain – we can firmly recommend it for anyone whose purified water needs trend more towards hobbyist uses, as well as anyone who is okay with filling their own pitchers to pour from.

    Pros
    • Fast and easy 5-minute installation
    • Comprehensive 4-stage filtration system
    • Exceptionally affordable
    • Comes with a garden hose adapter for use in any environment
    Cons
    • No direct ability for drinking water dispensing

    3. RKIN ZIP2BLK AlcaPure RO Countertop Water Filter – Premium Choice

    3AlcaPure Zero Installation

    The veritable Rolls Royce of countertop reverse osmosis water filters, RKIN’s AlcaPure Zero Installation Countertop Purifier take healthy hydration habits to a new level. A sleek and compact design might give the impression of being all show and no go, but this couldn’t be further from the truth: equipped with a 4-stage filter system and regulating reverse osmosis booster pump, it’s the most fully outfitted filter in our review.

    A much higher price tag reflects the abundance of thoughtful features that comprise the ZIP2BLK, but its ridiculously easy setup really puts it head and shoulders above the competition. Once your filter system arrives, all you need to do is unbox it, plug it in, run two filter cycles, and then pour yourself a glass of perfectly filtered water.

    Pros
    • Great-tasting water thanks to a 4-stage filtration system
    • Easiest setup of any reverse osmosis filter in our review
    • Compact and attractive countertop design
    • Incredibly easy to use
    • Notifies you when the filter needs changing
    Cons
    • Expensive

    4. AQUA TRU 90AT02AT01 Countertop Water Filtration System

    4AQUA TRU Countertop Water Filtration

    If you liked the countertop looks of our premium choice filter system listed above, consider the AQUA TRU as well before deciding which is right for you. As another reservoir-style system, it requires essentially no setup and features the same push-button convenience of other countertop models.

    While it features a larger water reservoir that requires less frequent refills than similar models, the AQUA TRU suffers from fewer filters and shorter filter lifespans. The 3-stage system still produces exceptionally clean-tasting water, though, so long as you’re willing to change the filters every 6 months.

    Overall, this reverse osmosis system from AQUA TRU is likely to appeal most to anyone who wants a countertop solution that requires no installation setup.

    Pros
    • Ultra-simple setup and installation
    • Large water reservoir
    • Simple one-touch water dispensing
    • Compact countertop-friendly design
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Filters need to be replaced every 6 months

    5. Express Water EZRO5 Countertop RO Water Filtration System

    5Express Water

    The only reverse osmosis filter in our review to feature a built-in water faucet, Express Water’s EZRO5 Countertop RO Water Filtration System offers an excellent combination of the benefits of 4-stage filtration and countertop dispensing. Its 4-point setup is slightly more laborious than similar models, but the included faucet adapters make it a sure bet for installation in any home.

    Billed as removing up to 99.99% of major contaminants, the EZRO5 certainly produced some of the best-tasting water of any filter we tested. And with its long-lasting filters working for a year or more, maintenance costs are minimal. Overall, it’s a great option for anyone looking for a versatile and comprehensive reverse osmosis system.

    Pros
    • Robust 4-stage filtering system for excellent water purity
    • Compact space-saving design
    • Unique water faucet design
    • Comes with adapters for 3 most common faucet setups
    Cons
    • Slightly tougher setup than most other systems in our list

    6. SimPure Y5 Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

    SimPure Y5 Instant Hot Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

    UV light filtration is a much rarer find in any filter system, let alone a countertop water dispenser. That’s why we were curious to know whether the SimPure Y5’s taste and purity would stand up to the more conventional options available on the market today.

    The good news is it most certainly does. Combining a 3-stage reverse osmosis system with a final UV purifying stage, it produces water that tastes as good and tests as clean as any other system out there. Even with side-by-side tastings of non-UV systems and the SimPure, though, we’re not sure that we could taste any appreciable difference in the water quality.

    The bad news: it’s fairly bulky for a countertop machine, quite expensive, and relatively slow at purifying water. Overall, it’s an excellent idea, but we’re not sure where it would be of greater benefit than similarly priced machines that take up less counter space.

    Pros
    • Unique UV and reverse osmosis filtration system
    • Thorough and complete water sterilization
    • Easy no-plumbing installation
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Takes quite a while to purify water
    • Bulky

    7. KFLOW Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System7KFLOW Countertop RO Water Filter

    Resembling nothing so much as a countertop coffee maker, the KFLOW Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System’s unique appearance helps it to stand out from the water filter crowd. Another of the tank-style countertop units, it requires no plumbing installation to get it up and running, though this comes with a significantly increased price tag.

    While we were impressed with the 2-year lifespan of the KFLOW’s 4-stage filter system, it made us wonder: Why do these filters last longer than most of their competitors?

    Unfortunately, the answer has to do with the filter components. They’re significantly less powerful than many other filters on the market today and left us wanting for a slightly better-quality system. Overall, this is a serious detriment to an otherwise well-made reverse osmosis filter system.

    Pros
    • Plumbing-free installation
    • Compact design fits well on any countertop
    • Impressive 2-year filter lifespan
    Cons
    • Filters are not very high quality
    • Expensive for what it does

    8. Geekpure RO3–100G Portable Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System

    8 3-Stage Portable Aquarium-Countertop

    Though reverse osmosis water systems have been around for quite a while, it’s only in the past decade or so that 4-stage filtration systems have come to be the industry standard. This leaves filters systems like the Geekpure RO3-100G in an odd position: affordable and well-made, but somewhat outdated.

    If you’re looking for a simple way to purify water for your aquarium or watering plants, the Geekpure might be the most affordable option on this list. But with a more difficult setup, no attachment for drinking water, and only 3 stages of filtration, we will usually recommend stepping up to one of our other recommendations first.

    Pros
    • Inexpensive
    • Compact and space-saving
    • Great for aquariums
    Cons
    • Lacks a 4th filtration stage
    • No attachment for drinking water
    • Difficult to install compared to other filter systems

    9. Hydro-Logic 741627 Portable Reverse Osmosis System

    9Hydro-Logic micRO-75

    Some reverse osmosis water filter systems fall into a unique category: those intended almost exclusively for aquarium and reef keeping. Sparsely equipped, sometimes difficult to install, and always lacking in any sort of drinking water attachment, they have a clear and narrow range of purposes.

    The Hydro-Logic Portable Reverse Osmosis System fits almost entirely into this category. It is, however, the smallest reverse osmosis system of any we could find. If space is at an absolute premium in your RV or camper van, it may be the only suitable option and is included here for that reason.

    Pros
    • Incredibly small and compact
    • Comes with all hoses and attachments necessary for setup
    Cons
    • Not suitable for use as a home countertop unit
    • Does not come with a drinking water attachment
    • Extremely narrow range of uses

    10. Omnipure Countertop Portable RO Purification Water System

    10Countertop Portable Universal

    Last in our review, the Omnipure: A Countertop Portable RO Purification Water System that, at first glance, looks to be incredibly impressive. As the only reverse osmosis system in our testing to feature a 5-stage filtration system, we had high hopes for the Omnipure – hopes that would prove to be almost completely unfounded.

    Designed specifically for traveling, the Omnipure is only capable of producing 3 gallons of purified water per hour, already making it less than suitable as a countertop unit in the home. Most alarmingly, upon testing the water that was produced, we found that it still contained notable levels of impurities – and that the Omnipure had failed to live up to its filtering claims.

    Pros
    • Only 5-stage filtration system in our reviews
    Cons
    • Does not live up to its filtering claims
    • Slow and inefficient production of filtered water
    • Not suitable for in-home countertop use

    Buyer’s Guide

    Reverse osmosis technology has come a long way since its first proof of concept in France, using a pig’s bladder. Today’s countertop and portable systems feature finely tuned water filtration technologies and can be found at prices ranging from the surprisingly low to the shockingly high. In the sections that follow, we’ll be introducing you to the principles of reverse osmosis, as well as how those can inform your decision on which reverse osmosis system is right for your needs.

    How Does Reverse Osmosis Work?

    At its simplest, reverse osmosis works through the coordination of water, a semi-solid barrier, and pressure. Because the impurities and undesirable chemicals in water are larger than the molecules of water itself, they can be trapped by passing the water through a fine filter.

    Attempting to pass the water through a filter this fine, however, will take far too long – unless you apply enough pressure to force the water through, speeding up the process and leaving all of the undesirable solids behind.

    While a single barrier is enough to remove a large portion of contaminants in water, modern reverse osmosis systems tend to feature multiple chambers of increasingly fine filters. This ensures that the final water will be as pure as possible and prevent the unnecessary clogging that can occur with a single filter.

    How to Choose the Best Countertop and Portable Reverse Osmosis Water Filters

    Since most reverse osmosis water filter systems are based on similar design principles, it’s useful to compare them based on the following five qualities:

    • Size and shape will determine whether the reverse osmosis system fits in your kitchen, which is why we strongly recommend taking measurements before purchasing a filter system.
    • Setup can range from under-10-minutes easy to requiring expert plumbing installation. We strongly prefer easier setup and installation, and the product choices in this review reflect that.
    • Filtration style and comprehensiveness is largely a matter of personal preference and budget. More filter stages will yield a cleaner, purer water, but the cost of the system can increase quickly with greater filter requirements.
    • Water Pressure Requirements are another area you should check for before buying, as an improper matchup between water pressure in your home and what’s required by the system can lead to diminished results or complete incompatibility.
    • Maintenance Costs have mainly to do with how often the filters will need to be replaced, including how many filters and whether they are of a standard or proprietary design.

    Conclusion

    Of all the countertop and portable reverse osmosis water systems in our reviews, only the APEC Water Systems RO-CTOP-C Water Filter System receives our highest recommendation. Easy to install, extremely efficient in its filtration capacities, and requiring the least maintenance of any product that we tested, we’re confident in recommending it to any homeowner. And with its streamlined design, it’s equally well suited to be taken on the road in your RV or camper van.

    For the most cost-effective option available on the market today, consider the LiquaGen 703610776425 RO Portable Water Filter System as an excellent alternative to our top pick. While it’s not as well suited for setting up a faucet or drinking water station, its rock-bottom price for a 4-stage filtration system is impossible to match in any other setting. Equip yourself with a glass jug, and you can easily decant the best tasting purified water you’ve ever had into this vessel for drinking whenever you want.


    Featured Image Credit: tetiana_u, Shutterstock