6 Best Countertop & Portable Reverse Osmosis Systems (2021)

Kenny
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Last Updated Nov 30, 2021
Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

One of the main drawbacks to choosing an under-sink RO system is its static nature. Once you install it beneath your sink, it’s there for good. Systems with many stages also require more filter changes which can be a nuisance if you don’t like crawling beneath your sink. A good solution is a countertop or portable reverse osmosis water filter. In this article, I share my top picks for the best countertop reverse osmosis system.

In this guide, you’ll learn which systems give you the most value, check out reviews of each system, and hear what current owners have to say. This type of portable RO system is great for RVs, people who prefer the convenience of countertop systems, renters, and vacation rentals.

Let’s start with an overview below that features all the most important specs.

Product Description
#1) AlcaPure Zero Installation Purifier

  • #1 Best Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter
  • Stages: 4
  • Capacity: 75 GPD
  • Model: ZIP2WHT
  • Dimensions: 14.5″ x 9.5″ x 16.2″ (LxWxH)
  • Weight: 23 lbs
  • Warranty: 1-Year Limited
  • Price: $$$
#2) APEC Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis

  • #1 Best Portable Reverse Osmosis Water Filter
  • Stages: 4
  • Capacity: 90 GPD
  • Model: RO-CTOP-PHC
  • Dimensions: 15.5″ x 6.5″ x 6.5″ (LxWxH)
  • Weight: 12.8 lbs
  • Warranty: 1-Year Limited
  • Price: $$
#3) Frizzlife Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System
  • Stages: 4
  • Capacity: 50 GPD
  • Model: WA99
  • Dimensions: 12″ x 10.2″ x 13.4″ (LxWxH)
  • Weight: 18.35 lbs
  • Warranty: 1-Year Limited
  • Price: $$
#4) AquaTru Water Purifier

  • Stages: 4
  • Capacity: 54 GPD
  • Model: 90AT02AT01
  • Dimensions: 18″ x 18″ x 15″ (LxWxH)
  • Weight: 22.9 lbs
  • Warranty: 1-Year
  • Price: $$$
#5) Express Water Countertop RO System

  • #1 Cheap Portable Reverse Osmosis System
  • Stages: 4
  • Capacity: 100 GPD
  • Model: EZRO5
  • Dimensions: 8.9″ x 14″ x 6.5″ (LxWxH)
  • Weight: 7.75 lbs
  • Warranty: 1-Year Limited
  • Price: $

#6) SimPure Y6 UV Sterilization RO Water Filtration System

  • #1 for Well Water
  • Stages: 3
  • Capacity: 2 Gallons per Hour
  • Model: Y6
  • Dimensions: 17.9″ x 7.87″ x 14.96″ (LxWxH)
  • Weight: 17.4 lbs
  • Warranty: 1-Year Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Price: $$$

Best Countertop Reverse Osmosis System Reviews

There are two primary types of countertop RO systems, with the first being the heavier units that look more attractive in your kitchen. These include the Frizzlife, AquaTru, AlcaPure, and SimPure systems above. One key reason these units cost more and are as popular as they are is the reduction in wastewater. Compared to a traditional under-sink RO system, these systems waste a lot less water. Additionally, as you already know, they’re much easier to maintain and require almost zero installation.

The second type of system is the APEC-style unit you see above. This type of system is excellent for RV owners, vacation rentals, motor homes, and even homeowners who want to save money. While these systems do create more wastewater, they’re the most portable and very easy to use and maintain. Personally, I prefer this type of system for countertop usage since I use an under-sink system. However, depending on your preferences and home setup, you may find a countertop system advantageous compared to an under-sink system.

Now that you know about the two types of countertop systems, let’s explore the reviews of each system below. I also include the pros & cons of owning each.

#1) AlcaPure ZIP2WHT Zero Installation Purifier

AlcaPure and AquaTru are undoubtedly in direct competition with each other, and overall, the AlcaPure system is a more reliable unit. This version produces slightly alkaline RO water with a pH between 7 and 8. If you’re someone who finds the taste of plain RO water to be a bit flat or lifeless, this system is the better choice for you compared to the AlcaPure OnliPure that makes 0 TDS RO water.

Of the 5 systems in this guide, the AlcaPure is the most pleasing to look at. If you want to maintain the aesthetic quality of your kitchen, this system or AquaTru is your best bet. Renters, condo owners, and even RV owners love this system.

After taking a look at the guts of this system, I found a CE-certified booster pump. This explains why the system has a 50% rejection rate. This simply means that for every gallon of RO water you make, there is one gallon of wastewater. This may sound like a lot, but it’s important to keep in mind that standard systems can waste as much as 4 to 5 gallons or more to make a single gallon of RO water.

I noticed that all the quality countertop systems on the market feature 4-stage filtration. With each system, you get sediment and carbon pre-filters (stages 1 & 2), an RO membrane, and a post-carbon filter that removes any residual taste and odor.

Other Highlights of the AlcaPure System

  • BPA-Free
  • Removes up to 99% of all contaminants, including fluoride, chloramines, and heavy metals
  • 15 minutes to get 1/2 gallon of purified drinking water in the top holding tank
  • Easy to clean tanks and parts
  • Zero installation
  • High 75 GPD capacity
  • Incredibly energy-efficient
  • Filter life indicator
Pros
  • The automatic addition of alkaline minerals makes the water more delicious
  • 100% portable
  • Perfect for apartment dwellers
  • Super easy to use and maintain
  • Very quiet operation
  • Save money compared to buying bottled water
  • Helps you drink more water because of the convenience and quality of the water
  • Much better than an alkaline water filter pitcher or ZeroWater pitcher
Cons
  • Better for 1-3 people than for a large family
  • Replacing the filters may be harder than it looks in the product video
  • The holding tank could be bigger
  • A handful of leak reports

#2) APEC RO-CTOP-PHC Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis

As I hinted at already, this system is my personal favorite of the five. APEC is a no-nonsense top-tier water filtration company located in California. The company has been in business for decades, and it assembles all of its systems in the US. APEC reverse osmosis membranes are some of the most impressive on the market and built to deliver the finest quality RO water with the lowest TDS. Similar to the AlcaPure system above, the APEC RO-CTOP-PHC adds minerals to your tap water after it passes through the RO membrane to improve taste and boost pH.

If you don’t want to remineralize your RO water, APEC also manufactures the RO-CTOP that skips the remineralization stage. There are also options to purchase the system with or without the cover. If you’re unconcerned about the cover, you’ll save some bucks by choosing the bare-bones unit. The RO-CTOP-PHC uses US food-grade calcium carbonate to remineralize your water, and in my experience, the water tastes excellent.

Of the 5 units, the RO-CTOP-PHC is the best portable reverse osmosis system. This system is ideal for RV owners, travelers, students, renters, seniors, and motor homes. The key difference to consider with this type of system is that it will produce more wastewater than the AlcaPure and AquaTru systems. Once you experiment with your incoming water temp and psi, you’ll find that it’s possible to reduce wastewater, though, you may get a 3:1 ratio. This equals 3 gallons of wastewater for every 1 gallon of purified RO water.

Other than that, this system is awesome. APEC offers free lifetime support to all of its customers, and you know that all the components are of top-notch quality. All in all, this system is the most portable and gives you great bang for your buck.

Pros
  • APEC customer service is awesome
  • The system is very easy to install and comes with everything you need to get running out of the box
  • Superb-tasting RO water
  • Excellent resulting ppm and pH readings (500+ppm down to ~30-40 ppm even with remineralization)
  • Removes everything, including fluoride
  • No electricity required
  • The most portable and lightweight system
  • Approved by renters and anyone who doesn’t want to fiddle with existing plumbing
  • More affordable than AlcaPure and AquaTru systems
Cons
  • It requires several gallons to flush the air out of the system after installation
  • Some slow flow rate reports
  • The water tubing isn’t the most attractive thing to add to a kitchen around the sink

#3) Frizzlife WA99 Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

Frizzlife is a lesser-known water filtration company that I like a lot. The company is most well-known for its budget alternatives to Woder and CuZn under-sink water filters, and I’m impressed by the new Frizzlife countertop RO filter. If you value efficiency above other features and want to reduce wastewater, the WA99 is the most efficient system in this guide with its cutting-edge drain water recycling technology.

It actually amazes me that this system has a ratio as low as 1:5. That means for every 5 gallons of RO water you make, there’s only 1 gallon of wastewater. Compared to the AlcaPure system, the WA99 is five times more efficient. The advantage is you extend the time between emptying the drainage tank.

Another feature I’m really fond of is the smart screen that displays incoming and outgoing TDS. If you’re someone who likes to know the exact TDS at all times, this is a must-have feature. There’s certainly no guesswork here. On top of that, the screen has a filter life indicator to make it easy to know when it’s time to replace. You’ll also be happy to hear that Frizzlife replacement filters are more affordable than competitors.

In case you’ve never heard of Frizzlife and wonder whether you should trust the name, it’s important to know that this system is WQA certified against NSF/ANSI 58 for reverse osmosis systems. A final highlight is the easy twist-and-replace filter design that’s more convenient than changing filters in the APEC and Express Water systems.

Pros
  • Accurate TDS readings on the smart screen when tested against a TDS meter
  • Zero installation required
  • No water lines equals no possible leaks
  • Portable design
  • Crisp-tasting purified water
  • An attractive design to match most kitchens
  • Low ppm readings down to 2
  • Good customer service marks
Cons
  • Noisier than APEC and Express Water countertop systems
  • The drain tank handle may feel a bit flimsy to you

#4) AquaTru Countertop RO Water Purifier

The AquaTru water purifier is the most controversial unit in this guide, although I do think it’s a solid countertop system. What irks me is the marketing has a slightly gimmicky feel to it, and there’s mixed feedback. However, the feedback does point mostly in a positive direction. Overall, this unit is very similar to the AlcaPure filter, and you may find it more aesthetically pleasing.

An immediate advantage I notice compared to the Frizzlife WA99 unit is no need to rely on a touchscreen button to dispense water. I noticed that a couple of people reported overflowing glasses due to the reliability of the button. The problem was fixed by changing the settings to 330ml per pour, but that’s still annoying nevertheless. With the AquaTru purifier, you don’t have to worry about that problem.

As far as filtration goes, this system is 4-stage, the same as the others. One key difference to note between the AquaTru and AlcaPure ZIP is no automatic remineralization in the AquaTru. Other than that, there’s not a whole lot going on with this system that’s different from the others.

One feature I like is the easy filter change design similar to the Frizzlife twist-and-change system. You may also like the removable dispenser tank that’s possible to store in your fridge for cold RO water on tap. Plus, there’s the option to purchase additional storage tanks, which I think is pretty cool.

Pros
  • Very quiet operation (quieter than the Frizzlife system)
  • Super easy to use
  • Positive reports after multiple years of use (stands the test of time)
  • Portable design
  • Consistently great-tasting RO water
  • Completely eliminates strong chlorine taste & odor
Cons
  • Some broken unit reports to consider before you buy it
  • Not the easiest system to clean
  • Pricier than APEC and Express Water systems

#5) Express Water EZRO5 Countertop RO System

Last but certainly not least is my top budget pick. The EZRO5 is essentially a budget alternative to the APEC unit, and it’s the best affordable portable RO system currently on the market. When I shop for budget RO gear, I prefer to stick with Express Water. The company is trustworthy, it manufactures reliable systems, and the customer service/support is excellent.

The one feature I really like that sets this unit apart from competing systems is the built-in faucet that connects directly to the post-carbon filter. If you’re not a fan of pouring your RO water from the tubing in the APEC system, this Express system presents an excellent alternative that will definitely look better in your kitchen. Plus, it’s still just as portable as the APEC unit.

One key difference to consider between the EZRO5 and RO-CTOP-PHC systems is no remineralization in the EZRO5. Depending on how important that feature is to you, you may find that the EZRO5 gives you more bang for your buck, especially when you consider the convenience of the integrated auxiliary faucet.

Pros
  • An excellent RO filter for apartment use
  • A very small footprint
  • Reliable customer service
  • Clean, great-tasting RO water
  • An unbeatable price for RO water on tap
  • Includes a mounting bracket to avoid eating up counter space
Cons
  • Slower flow rate than the other systems
  • No remineralization

#6) SimPure Y6 UV Sterilization RO Water Filtration System

The first countertop reverse osmosis system with integrated UV sterilization has officially landed. For people on well water who are concerned about harmful bacteria in their water, this feature is the ultimate convenience. By choosing this system, you save yourself space and the purchase price of a designated large UV filter.

Outside of the UV filter feature, this system operates similarly to AlcaPure and AquaTru systems. There’s an onboard 1.3-gallon holding tank and dispenser for filling glasses and pots. One difference between AlcaPure, AquaTru, and this system that I do like is the design of the SimPure. If you want a countertop and portable reverse osmosis system in one, the SimPure is more portable than AlcaPure and Aquatru.

A couple of final highlights are the instant pour water dispenser feature with 8.5 oz & 35 oz options, the impressive 5:1 drain ratio to match Frizzlife’s WA99, and the replacement filters are affordable.

Pros
  • The UV filter gives you extra peace of mind knowing that any potentially harmful bacteria in your water is being eliminated
  • More portable than AquaTrua and OnliPure systems
  • Very easy to refill and empty when needed
  • Positive taste reports
  • Almost zero chance of leaks
  • The small footprint won’t eat up much counter space
Cons
  • The fill tank is 5L while the holding tank is 4L, so you may end up dumping out the remaining water in the fill tank from time to time
  • It’s not possible to remove the spout for a deep clean
  • The resulting water might be acidic depending on the pH of your tap water

Bottom Line

I’m confident that you’ve found what you were looking for when you arrived here today and learned a thing or two along the way. Of the units currently on the market, these are the best countertop and portable reverse osmosis systems. Keep in mind, the AquaTrua and AlcaPure systems are heavier than the Express Water and APEC systems, which makes them less portable.

When I look at the APEC and Express Water systems, I see the perfect units for RVs, motor homes, vacation rentals, and apartments. Homeowners and renters who don’t plan to move the system will benefit the most from the convenience of the Frizzlife, AlcaPure, and AquaTru models.

Lastly, be sure to consider the pros & cons of each system in the reviews above before you buy one. It’s the quickest way to find dealbreakers and dealmakers. Enjoy your new countertop RO filter!

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