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The best whole house water filter in 2020 will set you back a few hundred dollars or even over a grand depending on the technologies in play. But this is a worthy investment in that it guarantees you clean and safe water everywhere around the house.
This is unlike a point-of-use system that only filters water at one point, for instance, in the kitchen while leaving the water from other outlets unsafe for you and impure for your appliances (water heaters and washing machines).
There are a few key things that you need to keep in mind when buying these systems including the type, flow rate, and installation requirements. We’ll talk more about these considerations in depth later in the buying guide section.
Meanwhile, here are our picks for the top 5 best whole house water filtration systems for this year.
Are you in a hurry? If you don’t have time to read our article, then please use the links below to quickly find the best whole house water filter for you on Amazon.
- 1. Aquasana EQ-1000 – Best Whole House Water Filter and Softener System
- 2. 3M Aqua-Pure Whole House Water Filtration System (AP903) – Best For Affordability
- 3. Watts WH-LD Premier Whole House Water Filter
- 4. Home Master HMF3SDGFEC – Best Whole House Water Filter For Iron, Lead, And Sulfur
- 5. iSpring WGB32B Whole House Water Filtration System – Best For Well Water
- Comparison Chart
- Why Should You Install A Whole House Water Filter?
- Key Considerations When Buying A Whole House Water Filter
- Bottom Line
1. Aquasana EQ-1000 – Best Whole House Water Filter and Softener System
The Aquasana Rhino might be a good bet if you are looking for the best whole house water filter for chlorine.
Its manufacturer states that it has been tested to remove up to 97% of chlorine which is above NSF standards for chlorine removal. Actually, this is the best performance among other models that major in chlorine removal in this list.
On this note, it’s worth mentioning that this water filtration system is completely customizable depending on where you get your water supply. For instance, there is another model that specializes with well water and yet another one that is meant for water with high levels of chloramine.
If you live in areas with a high abundance of viruses, bacteria, and chlorine-resistant cysts, there is an option to add a UV Sterilight Filtration kit that kills 99.99% of these contaminants.
The Rhino EQ-1000 that we are reviewing here is a 4-stage system that has garnered a lot of praise in terms of effectiveness. Here is a simple breakdown of what each stage does:
- Stage 1: this is a 5-micron pre-filter that traps microscopic particles, dust, and sediment that would otherwise cause damage to the copper-zinc oxidation media that makes stage 2.
- Stage 2: this stage features a copper-zinc oxidation media and crushed minerals that together remove up to 97% of the chlorine in the water. They also make the water a little bit alkaline.
- Stage 3 is a high-quality activated carbon filter that absorbs any remaining chlorine and other contaminants.
- Stage 4: the last stage is made up of a 0.35-micron post-filter that traps and removes microscopic cysts that made it through the pre-filter stage.
This model also has a water softening unit that removes hard water components (calcium and magnesium) to prevent your plumbing and fitting from limescale buildup.
It’s undeniable that this water filter’s initial cost is going to leave a dent on your account. But what you’ll really like its 1 million gallon or 10-year water filtration capacity. In addition, its filters are much cheaper compared to its competitors.
Perhaps its only slight drawback is its 7-GPM flow rate which is notably lower than our recommended 10 GPM minimum for medium-to-large homes. However, this shouldn’t be an issue if you don’t have a couple of bathrooms, washing machines, and dishwashers that run together regularly.
- 1 million-gallon/10-year filter
- 4-stage water filtration
- Professional-grade installation kit included
- Water softener
- Flow rate: 7 GPM
- Maximum pressure: 100 PSI
2. 3M Aqua-Pure Whole House Water Filtration System (AP903) – Best For Affordability
The Aqua-Pure AP903 has an initial outlay that is almost 4 times less than that of the Aquasana Rhino EQ-1000. And besides being one of the best inexpensive whole house water filtration systems, this is also one of the lowest maintenance models in these reviews.
This is a one-stage water filtration system that offers protection down to 5 microns. While this filter does remove most contaminants, pollutants that are smaller than 5 microns will still find their way through the filtration system and into your cup.
That being said, we’d only recommend it to people who are supplied with municipal water but not those living in the countryside where the water is polluted with pesticides.
Again, homeowners who rely on private well water require a unit with a higher level of protection against tiny microorganisms (check out the iSpring WGB32B reviewed later in this article).
We also don’t recommend this unit if your water supply is high in sediments and/or heavy metals. This is because the filter will clog up really fast since it does not have any form of protection and therefore necessitates regular replacements.
In the right circumstances, the 3M Aqua-Pure AP903 does really well in removing chlorine, rust, turbidity, and odor.
It also has a really impressive water flow rate – 20 GPM which is almost 3 times higher than that of the Aquasana EQ-1000. This is made possible by its single-stage operations and its 1’’ fittings that are equal to your water inlet.
The fact that the 3M Aqua-Pure uses only 1 filter that you actually replace after one year (or after 100,000 gallons) makes it almost maintenance-free.
Another important feature that might make a lot of sense to homeowners with little room to spare is its size. Measuring approximately 6’’ by 6’’ by 27’’, this is a really compact system compared to other complex units here and it’s a guarantee that it won’t grab a lot of space in your garage.
- One-stage filtration
- Size: 6’’ by 6’’ by 27’’
- Flow rate: 20 GPM
- 1’’ fittings
- Filter replacement cycle: 1 year or 100, 000 gallons
- 5-micron filtration
- Filter cost: 60% of the system’s cost
- Limited warranty: stainless steel head 25 years, filter cartridge 1 year
3. Watts WH-LD Premier Whole House Water Filter
Our next contender in these best whole house water filter reviews is among the cheapest models currently in the market at way below 50-60 bucks.
This is a one-stage whole house filtration system with a see-through housing. This design allows you to monitor the condition of the filter to determine when it’s time for a replacement.
Speaking of the filter, the Watts WH-LD Premier comes with 2 additional filters out of the box. These filters cost anywhere between 15 and 20 dollars each and this means that you are getting a really good deal here.
But what’s more interesting is that this water purification system is designed to use standard 10’’ by 2.5’’ filters. That’s to say that you have a very wide range of replacement filters to choose from.
Something that you need to keep in mind before falling for this system’s low price tag and ease of maintenance, though, is that its filter is rated at 50 microns. Such a filter is meant for water supplies with dirt, sediments, and rust but it won’t be able to filter out smaller contaminants.
At its rating, the Watts WH-LD Premier Whole House Water filter will be worth considering if you are supplied with municipal water.
Considering its low price tag, you might also want to use it as a pre-filter for another water filter that is capable of trapping much smaller contaminants, for instance, the Aqua-Pure AP903.
- NSF tested and certified
- Metal threaded ¾-inch ports
- Stainless steel inserts
- Built-in bypass valve
- Single-stage filtration system
- 50-micron filter
- Filters used: 10’’ by 2.5’’ (any brand)
- Ships with 3 filters
- Max operating pressure: 100 psi
- Max operating temperature: 100 degrees F
- Contaminants removed: sediments, rust, and dirt
4. Home Master HMF3SDGFEC – Best Whole House Water Filter For Iron, Lead, And Sulfur
The Home Master HMF3SDGFEC is another interesting system purposely meant for homeowners in need of the best whole house water filter for iron, lead, sulfur and a few other contaminants.
Unlike the Watts WH-LD Premier above, this is a slightly advanced system with a 3-stage water purification design. As such, we expect it to cater to a wider market (people who rely on municipal water and those with private wells).
Stage 1 of this system has several layers of filters that remove rust, dirt, sand, and salt among other contaminants between 25 microns and 1 micron in size.
The second filter has been tweaked to remove up to 95% of all iron, manganese, and sulfur lurking in your water supply.
You might find the third filter very important if you have a problem with water that contains high levels of chlorine. This stage consists of granular activated coconut shell carbon fiber and it’s tested to remove up to 90% of all chlorine. In addition, the Home Master water system removes all the odor and also boosts the taste of the water at this stage.
A unique feature of the Home Master HMF3SDGFEC is its high-quality filters that are meant to last 6-12 months. The lifespan depends on your water status. All in all, 6 months are still a great performance compared to pre-filters that need to be replaced after every 3 months. But keep in mind that they are also priced proportionately.
This water filter isn’t the smallest but it isn’t the largest also at 24’’ by 9’’ by 25’’. Installation isn’t complicated too. However, while you won’t necessarily need an expert plumber, you’ll still need some basic plumbing and pipe-cutting skills.
- Size: 24’’ by 9’’ by 25’’
- 3-stage water filtration
- Contaminants removed: iron, lead, manganese, sulfur, dirt, sand, salt, and rust, and foul tastes and odors among others
- Gallon capacity before filter replacement: 100,000
- 1’’ ports
- 15 GPM flow rate
5. iSpring WGB32B Whole House Water Filtration System – Best For Well Water
We are huge fans of iSpring water filtration systems, first because they work as expected (at least most of the time). Second, we believe that this company has one of the best customer care services. You really need the latter, especially when shelling out a few hundred dollars for these units.
There a lot of things to love about the iSpring WGB32B. But the most impressive bit is the level of customization that it offers with its cartridge filters.
This model is fitted with a 3-stage filtration system engineered to remove sediment, rust, and dust in Stage 1, and herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, chlorine, chloramine in Stage 2. In Stage 3, a carbon block filter targets the remaining chlorine, chloramines, herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, and bad odors.
It’s this double protection against chlorine and chloramines that make it a suitable model for municipal water.
The good news, however, is that its housing is designed to accommodate a variety of filter cartridges that measure 20’’ by 4.5’’. As such, it is possible to swap the existing filters with other models (even from other brands) to meet your water composition needs.
In regard to water pressure, the iSpring WGB32B is fitted with a 1’’ pipe fitting that complements the large filters to maintain a flow rate of up to 15 GPMs. This means that you probably won’t detect any drop in pressure.
- Size: 21’’ by 8’’ by 28’’
- 3-stage water filtration
- 1-inch pipe fitting
- 15 GPM flow rate
- Gallon capacity 100,000 or 1 year
- Effectiveness: 5 micron
|Model||Brand||Our Rating||Weight||Price||Dimensions||Flow Rate|
|Aquasana EQ-1000||Aquasana||7.2||12 pounds||$$$$$||9 x 46 x 54 inches||7 GPM|
|3M Aqua-Pure Whole House||3M AquaPure||8.0||9.8 pounds||$$||6 x 6 x 27 inches||20 GPM|
|Watts WH-LD Premier Whole House||Watts Premier||8.4||4 pounds||$||7.5 x 5.5 x 14 inches||-|
|Home Master HMF3SDGFEC||Home Master||8.4||48 pounds||$$$||24 x 9 x 25 inches||15 GPM|
|iSpring WGB32B||iSpring||8.0||2.88 pounds||$$$||21 x 8 x 28 inches||15 GPM|
Why Should You Install A Whole House Water Filter?
Whether you get your water from the municipal water supply or from a well, one thing is certain: it is never perfectly pure and 100% safe for drinking.
Regardless of where you get your water from, there is a very high chance that it will have a certain level of contamination. Contamination may be from naturally-occurring minerals and biohazards to man-made chemicals that make it to the water sources.
Here are some of the most common contaminants:
- Disease – causing pathogens- viruses, parasites, and bacteria
- Limescale – these are deposits from hard water components of which calcium and magnesium are the most abundant
- Organics – trihalomethanes (byproducts of chlorine), VOCs, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides
- Inorganics – these consist of heavy and toxic metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, barium, etc.
Now, there are a lot of options when it comes to filtering water for home use. For instance, you could simply get a point-of-use unit such as a countertop or under sink water filter, or even a water filter pitcher which is several folds cheaper than all other options.
Although these are cheaper alternatives, their chief drawback is that they filter the water for a single point of use. This means that all other water points in your house will have unfiltered water.
Of course, a point-of-use water filter might interest you for instance, if you live in a cabin with a single water point. It might also be your go-to system if you live in a rented apartment where you are not allowed to do major changes in the plumbing system.
So, why should you install a POC water filtration system?
Whole house water filters are installed at the point of entry (that’s why they are also commonly referred to as POE systems, by the way). The best part about these systems is that you only need to install one unit to meet the filtered water demands for all water outlets in the entire house.
Yes, this means that if you have several water heaters in your house, you won’t need to install an individual filter for each.
Key Considerations When Buying A Whole House Water Filter
Know The Contaminants In Your Water First
Water filters are designed to remove contaminants from water. But the type of contaminants that they remove successfully vary from one model to the other.
Basically, this means that not any other system that is marketed as the best whole house water filter for home will suit everyone. Put in other words, you want a model that will remove the specific contaminants that are lurking in your water supply.
That being said, the first step towards the best whole house water filter is understanding your water. If you are supplied with water from the municipal, EWG’s tap water database and EPA website have everything that you need to know about water contaminants in your state and county.
If you get your water from a well, though, the best idea might be to test the water yourself using a commercially-available water test kit (see our recommendation). You might also consider sending a sample of your well water to a laboratory for thorough analysis.
A thorough water analysis will give you a good idea of the contaminants in your water. Thus, you will be able to get a water filtration system that is meant for just those components.
Common water contaminants include:
- Water treatment chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride
- Metals – mercury, lead, magnesium, and calcium
- Fecal contaminants and disease-causing pathogens
- Turbidity – cloudiness caused by particles suspended in water
Types Of Whole House Water Filter Systems
Water filtration systems come in different types depending on the type of technology that they employ. The type of technology used also determines each model’s ability to filter particular contaminants. It also determines other factors such as the ease of maintenance and the initial cost of the system.
Here are the 4 major types of whole house water filtration systems in the market and their strengths and drawbacks:
a) Activated carbon Filter Water Filtration Systems
These water purification systems are the oldest and the most popular. They are also what you are likely to come across in most lists of the best whole house water filter reviews.
Activated carbon refers to carbon that has been treated to increase its surface area. This leads to increased absorptive power. For the record, it is estimated that 1 pound of AC has a surface area of around 125 acres.
This is what makes it an ideal filter for most hazardous organic chemicals and lots of man-made water contaminants.
Just as a proof of activated carbon filter’s incredible performance, it is the only recommended treatment for 14 familiar pesticides and 12 herbicides listed by EPA.
These filters are also effective at trapping and removing microbiological contaminants such as turbidity and cysts and heavy metals, hydrogen sulfide, and chloramine.
However, they are not so good at removing inorganic impurities and metals including minerals, copper, salts, and copper. Thus, if these contaminants are the most abundant in your water supply, you’ll want to consider other alternatives such as reverse osmosis and distillation.
b) Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Systems
What is a reverse osmosis water filtration system? This a type of technology that involves using pressure to force water through a semi-permeable membrane.
This membrane traps impurities (ions, molecules, and large particles) on the pressurized side while the treated water is collected on a collection tank on the other side.
The contaminants that don’t go through the membrane are collected and flushed through a pipe that connects to your drain system.
Reverse osmosis water filters are known to make the best quality whole house water filters in that they can remove lead, pesticides, nitrates, sulfates, fluoride, detergents, and more.
What is not removed by reverse osmosis?
Although reverse osmosis technology is highly regarded as the ultimate solution in water purification technology, there are several contaminants that it won’t remove including chlorine from your city water.
On the upside, most reverse osmosis whole house water filters employ other water filtration technologies into the system (including activated carbon) to remove most of the impurities that would otherwise go through the membrane.
What drawbacks do reverse osmosis water filtration systems present?
The first thing that makes this system a little bit complicated for most homeowners is that it needs a drain through which the collected impurities are flushed.
Secondly, chlorine from municipal water is known to fasten the degradation of the semi-permeable membranes. While the system will come with a set of Activated Charcoal filters to take care of the chlorine, you’ll need to replace them religiously to prevent damaging the RO membranes.
There’s yet another downside that you need to be prepared for; wasted water. As I have just hinted, the impurities collected by the membranes need to be flushed down the drain. A typical reverse osmosis whole house water filter will generate approximately 5 gallons of ‘waste water’ for every gallon of clean drinking water produced. ‘’what!’’ Yeah, this is where RO water filters lose marks.
Is reverse osmosis water safe?
Yes. Reverse osmosis filtered water is perfectly fine to drink in that it has most of the contaminants stripped off.
However, it has recently attracted a lot of negativity in the public eye with most people arguing that it removes a lot of important minerals in the process.
While this is true, the minerals lost are easily made up for in the foods you eat even without your knowledge.
c) UV Filters
Ultraviolet water purification systems are the latest entrants in this industry and are becoming increasingly popular by the day.
If you feel that reverse osmosis purified water isn’t the best for your family credit to all the nutrients removed, then a UV filtration system might interest you.
UV filters have a bulb that emits ultraviolet rays/light of a particular wavelength. When contaminated water passes through this system, the light penetrates the body of the living organisms and rearranges their DNA/RNA.
With their DNA/RNA disarranged, the microorganisms are unable to function and therefore can’t harm you.
It’s that simple. But believe it or not, this technology has been found to kill 99.99% of harmful microorganisms in water. And the good thing is that it does not add or remove anything from the water. So, the water retains its natural taste only that it is much safer.
What are the advantages of UV whole house water filters?
- It kills 99.99% of the microorganisms in water including those that chlorine doesn’t
- It’s environmentally friendly compared to chlorination and has no byproducts
- Very easy to maintain- you only need to change the bulb annually
- It’s completely chemical-free
- It does not remove important nutrients from the water
- It’s among the only 4 disinfection methods that have been approved by the Food and Drugs Administration
Disadvantages of UV water filters
- They only kill microorganisms lurking in the water but won’t remove common contaminants such as chlorine, heavy metals, salts, and man-made water impurities. One way of going around this, though, is to get a system that incorporates other filtration technologies such as activated carbon fiber filter
- UV light only kills organisms in clear water. The rays aren’t effective in reaching microorganisms that are blocked by floaties and murky water
- It requires electricity to operate. Thus, it might not be so reliable in rural areas and during emergencies
d) Alkaline water ionizers
Alkaline water ionizers work by separating water clusters into 2: alkaline and acidic. The acidic component is sent down the drain through a hose at the bottom of the unit while the alkaline water comes out through a spout at the top.
How do alkaline water ionizers work?
These models have electrified plates that changes the charge of the ions of the tap water as it passes through them. This kills most of the living organisms in the water.
However, since these electrified plates don’t actually purify the water, alkaline water ionizers also involve other water purification technologies (mostly carbon or ceramic) to filter out other harmful contaminants. Actually, water purification is usually the first step before ionization.
Alkaline water has, in the recent past, been highly praised for its health benefits. While these claims are yet to be scientifically proven, slightly alkaline water from water ionizers is thought to help prevent and even deal with most of America’s common ailments including colds, allergies, diabetes, indigestion, obesity, headaches, and even cancer.
Why are alkaline water ionizers so expensive?
The main reason why these units are so expensive is the platinum metal used to coat the titanium plates that act as the heart of these systems. Platinum costs an average of $900 per troy ounce (approximately 1096 ounces). Most water ionizers have 5-7 plates coated with this metal.
The reason why platinum is preferred to coat the titanium electrodes of all metals is that unlike other metals, it won’t break down and eventually leach into your water. This means that with proper maintenance (timely cleaning cycles and filter replacements), the best alkaline water ionizer can last you upwards of 20 years.
Size Of The Water Filtration System Vs Your Family Size
After identifying the best type of whole house water filtration system, the next big consideration will be determining the right size.
Water filtration systems are sized up depending on the number of gallons that the filters can purify before the need for a replacement. For instance, a 100,000-gallon filter system will purify 100,000 gallons of tap water with each cycle.
The ideal filter size for you depends on your household’s water needs. A small filter means that you’ll need to replace it sooner while a large filter will take you a long time before the need for filter replacement.
But as I have just told you, it all runs down to your family’s water usage. The largest whole house water filter isn’t always the best especially if you have a small family with low water demand. This is because while the filter may last you several years, it might clog up down the road and fail to work as expected.
As a side note, the size of the filter also tends to correlate with the physical size of the entire unit. As such, you also need to mind the overall size of the entire unit to ensure that it will fit where you want it to install it.
Flow rate (GPM)
This is another important aspect that you can’t afford to ignore. Flow rate in whole house water filtration systems is measured in gallons per minute (GPM) and determines the amount of water that it can filter effectively in one minute.
Ideally, you want a unit with enough water pressure to meet the flow rate of all your household water appliances during rush hour. That being said, it’s important that you calculate the total flow rate of all appliances around your house (bathroom and kitchen faucets, showers, washing machine, dishwasher, etc) beforehand, then get a water filtration system that meets or exceeds the demand.
Generally, most American households tend to do just fine with water filtration systems with 10-15 GPM flow rates.
So, what’s the best whole house water filter? Well, I bet the answer to this question is subjective. If you’ve gone through our best whole house water filter buying guide, you must have realized that your ideal model boils down to 2 major things:
- your water source (municipal or private well) and
- major contaminants lurking in the water.
And this means that the most expensive systems aren’t always the best for everyone. We believe that our collection of the best whole house water filter reviews for 2020 has a great pick for any household’s needs.
- If you use well water and fear that there might be contamination from the surface, the iSpring WGB32B (buy on Amazon) is worth checking out.
- If you are struggling with iron, lead, and sulfur among other contaminants, the Home Master HMF3SDGFEC (buy on Amazon) might be what you need.
- Lastly, if what you want is the best whole house water filter and water softener in one unit, add the Aquasana EQ-1000 (buy on Amazon) to the cart.