Water Filter Shopping Tips
If you plan on investing in a water filter system in 2018, our water filter shopping guide brings you the best tips to identify your needs and to buy the best filter to clean your tap water.
Water filters are the safest and easiest way to enjoy tap water as your primary source of drinking water. Finding a water filter is easy; however, finding the one filter that’s best suited for you may be a bit more difficult, especially if you’re not familiar with water filter systems.
Bottled water may seem like the best option when it comes to quenching your thirst, but after reading our comprehensive water filter buying guide, you’re sure to change your mind on the matter.
Why Do You Need a Water Filter?
Not everyone needs a water filter, but many will prefer it.
Despite how you may feel about it, tap water isn’t inherently bad. On the contrary: tap water in the United Kingdom is one of the safest in the world.
Then why get a water filter, you may ask? There are at least 4 reasons why you should consider installing a water filter in your home.
#1 For starters, not everyone likes how tap water tastes, so installing a water filter will make your tap water more appealing to your taste buds by eliminating strange tastes and odours.
#2 A second reason why a water filter may be necessary is because some individuals may be adversely affected by some of the substances added to tap water during its treatment process.
For example, chlorine can adversely affect those with asthma, psoriasis or eczema, but it can also be detrimental to infants and pregnant women.
#3 Old plumbing is a third reason why tap water must undergo filtration before consumption. Rust, lead, and other undesirable elements may end up in your tap water due to corrosion.
#4 Treatment by water companies is not fail-safe. While water undergoes a lot of treatment and filtering before it’s distributed to homes, water can pick up sand, rust, and other sediments while travelling to your home. Likewise, chlorine resistant bacteria can also appear in tap water. While sediments may not affect your health, certain categories (e.g. infants, immunocompromised individuals), may be affected by pathogenic bacteria.
At this point you may wonder if it’s best to stick to bottled water. While bottled water is convenient and accessible, it’s neither safer nor healthier than tap water.
What’s the Problem with Bottled Water?
Bottled water has long been put on a pedestal as the safest and healthiest drinking water option, yet bottled water doesn’t undergo as many tests as tap water.
Here’s why bottled water is not better than filtered tap water:
- Bottled water is more expensive
Bottled water is more expensive than filtered tap water by a significant margin. Bottling, labelling, transport and advertising costs will drive up the costs of bottled water.
- Bottled water is a huge pollutant
Plastic waste produced by the bottled water industry is among the top pollutants of oceans and rivers. Only a small fraction of plastic bottles are being recycled, the rest end up in landfills, oceans, and rivers.
- Bottled water is less regulated than tap water
Tap water is tested against hundreds of parameters throughout the year to ensure that it’s safe for all domestic purposes including drinking and cooking. Bottled water is tested less frequently, and recalls because of various contamination issues are not unheard of in the bottled water industry.
- Bottled water is sometimes just filtered tap water with an extremely high price tag
Despite being marketed as spring water, many bottled water brands are simply selling filtered tap water. So why pay a higher price for something you can make at home at a significantly lower price?
What Type Of Water Filters Are There?
If you do decide that you want to install a water filter in your home, you have plenty of options available. Here are the water filters most commonly used for residential purposes:
Countertop Water Filters
As their name suggests, countertop water filters are installed on top of your kitchen counter, next to your kitchen sink.
These filters usually contain activated carbon, and target chlorine, sediments, taste and odour issues. Advanced countertop water filters will also remove bacteria and other harmful contaminants like heavy metals.
Countertop water filters are preferred by many for their ease of installation, easy maintenance, compact size, and affordable pricing.
Their drawback? Countertop water filters are mostly single-stage filters, which means they are unable to compete with robust multi-stage water filters.
Another drawback is that they sit next to your kitchen sink, because they are installed directly on your kitchen faucet.
Gravity water filters are a special type of countertop filter that operate independently of any water pressure. These filters are efficient at removing a wide range of water impurities, and they are used with great success by emergency relief organisations.
Undersink Water Filters
Just like countertop water filters, undersink water filters are installed at a single point of use, which is usually the kitchen tap.
Undersink water filters usually have multiple stages, offering a more in-depth filtration. These filters combine two or more filtration technologies resulting in 6 and sometimes even 7 stages of filtration.
Thanks to their complexity, they offer a multitude of options when it comes to customizing the level and type of filtration you need.
Despite being more complex than countertop filters, undersink water filters remain user-friendly filters that can be maintained by anyone.
Undersink filters are installed under your kitchen sink, which means they stay out of sight. The only indication that you’re using a water filter will be the extra filter tap on your kitchen sink.
If you decide to replace your existing kitchen tap with a 3-way kitchen tap, you can use a single tap for all types of water – filtered, non-filtered hot and cold water.
Except for the extra tap that they may require, the other disadvantage of undersink water filters is that they filter water only at the kitchen tap they are installed at.
If you don’t want to invest in a 3-way tap, and you don’t want an extra filter tap on your kitchen sink, you can install an inline water filter, which will filter all the cold water that goes through to your kitchen tap. Inline water filters are preferred in low pressure environments like boats, motor homes, caravans, etc.
Other Point-Of-Use Filters
Point-of-use filters are useful when you want to customize the level of filtration you want to get at a water outlet.
For example, let’s say that you want to remove water hardness, chlorine, and bacteria from your bath water. To this end, you can install a shower filter that will soften the water you shower with, and will eliminate chlorine and bacteria.
Same goes for fridge filters and inline filters used to filter water supplied to coffee makers, water heaters, water coolers, coffee machines, etc.
It may be costly to install a separate filter at every point of use in your home, which brings us to the next type of water filter we are going to discuss in this article:
Whole House Water Filters
As opposed to point of use filters, whole house water filters filter water before it gets distributed to water outlets in your home, thus, delivering filtered water to every water outlet. For this reason, whole house water filters are also referred to as point-of-entry filters.
Whole house water filters are usually larger units than undersink water filters, but just like undersink filters, they can have multiple stages of filtration.
It may be economically more feasible to install a whole house water filter rather than getting a filter for every point of use. Whole house water filters will also make maintenance a lot easier, and keep maintenance costs down.
What Type of Water Filtration Technologies Are There?
Both undersink water filters and whole house water filters combine the filtration efficiency of more than one water filtration technology. The most commonly used filter technologies in residential settings include:
Reverse Osmosis Filtration
Reverse osmosis filters are multi-stage water filters that push water through a semipermeable membrane, offering a thorough filtration.
Reverse osmosis filters remove a vast number of contaminants, but not through the mere reverse osmosis membrane, but through the combined efforts of sediment filters, carbon block filters, granular activated carbon filters, and other post-filters added to the reverse osmosis membrane.
The combination of all these filters transform reverse osmosis filters into robust systems that can tackle bacterial contamination, chemical disinfectants, fluoride, chemical by-products, heavy metals, VOCs, herbicides, pesticides, and other dangerous or undesirable contaminants.
Carbon filters are used almost in any type of water filter system thanks to their large surface area and efficiency in removing chemical contaminants (disinfectants, by-products, VOCs, etc.) and their ability to improve the taste and odour of tap water.
Carbon filters are used in reverse osmosis systems, whole house water filters, undersink and countertop filters, shower filters, and many other filters.
Carbon filters are available in two models – carbon block filters and granular activated carbon filters. Carbon block filters have a larger surface area offering a more in-depth filtration, while granular activated carbon filters offer better flow rates, and are predominantly used in shower filters or as polishing filters in multi-stage water filter systems.
Ultraviolet water filters are designed to solve microbiological issues with water. Unlike chlorination, ultraviolet light is completely safe and an environmentally friendly way to purify water.
Ultraviolet filters can destroy any type of bacteria or pathogens, without adding anything to water or altering its taste in any way.
UV filters are easy to maintain, usually a yearly UV bulb replacement is all that’s needed. Water that is treated with UV lights should be pre-filtered to get rid of any sediments that may block the UV lights from reaching bacteria. This is why a sediment pre-filter is an absolute must for any UV water filter.
UV water filters are predominantly used to filter water sourced from a private well.
Which Water Filter Should I Get?
With so many filter options available, it may be difficult to choose a water filter system for your home.
The absolute first step you should take before you decide on any filter system is to get your tap water tested against common tap water contaminants. Based on the results of the water testing, you can start looking for a water filter.
The next step you should take is to decide whether you want a point-of-entry water filter or a point-of-use water filter.
When to buy a whole house water filter:
- If you live in a large household with a high demand for filtered water;
- If you need filtered water from every water outlet in your home;
- If the quality of your tap water would require a water filter installed at almost every water outlet in your home;
- If your filtered water needs extend beyond that of drinking and cooking.
When to install a undersink or countertop water filter:
- If you live in a small household, where installing a whole house water filter would not be feasible;
- If you only need filtered water for drinking or cooking purposes;
- If you want to customize the level of filtration at a certain water outlet in your home.
After you decide which type of water filter to get, here are some other aspects you should consider when choosing a water filter:
- How much filtered water do you need per day? This will help you choose a filter with a filtered water output that can meet this demand;
- How many stages of filtration do you need? You can decide this based on the type and level of contaminants that are in your water;
- How easy is it to maintain your system? Do you want a high-maintenance or low-maintenance system?
- How often do you need to replace your filters, and what are the costs associated with their replacement?
To make sure you don’t overspend on water filters, follow these tips on how to save money on water filters.
5 Quick Tips To Save Money On Water Filters
You may be inclined to buy the most expensive water filter thinking that a higher price tag may be a good indicator of a higher quality product. While sometimes this may be the case, pricing is not always a good indicator of quality.
Follow these 5 quick tips to save money on water filters:
- Buy filters from reliable vendors
Whether you’re buying a filter in a brick-and-mortar water filter shop or you’re ordering it online, make sure you’re getting a filter from a reliable vendor.
A reliable vendor will offer advice on which filter to get, what type of replacement filter cartridges to buy, and how to care for your water filter system. And if you ever experience any issues with your system, a reliable vendor offers post-purchase servicing.
- Choose products with a longer warranty period
Your filter may be in top shape right now, but you may experience issues down the line. Choose filters that come with at least a 2-year warranty, and if available, purchase extra warranty for your system.
- Don’t skip periodic maintenance
All filters come with certain maintenance requirements that you should observe in order to have your filter system operating at peak performance, and to prevent any damage to your filter.
Replace filters regularly to avoid clogging, contamination, or bacterial grow-through.
- Buy replacements in bulk
When buying or ordering replacement filters online, take advantage of bundle deals to save more money on individual filters.
- Take advantage of free perks
Some systems include free shipping or free installation, so you may want to take these aspects into account when purchasing filters.
Other freebies that you should look out for are free filter taps included with the filter kit, or extra filter replacements.
Sometimes it’s not a good idea to save money on certain essential features. For example, if you need to install a reverse osmosis system in a low pressure environment, consider investing in a pumped reverse osmosis system (i.e. one that comes with a booster pump).
If you install a non-pumped reverse osmosis system in a low-pressure environment, you will experience clogging, breakdowns and bad quality filtered water, which may all lead to having to replace your entire system, or having to add a booster pump to your system.
Hopefully, this article answered some of the most common questions related to choosing a water filter for your home, and you’re now better prepared to choose a water filter tailor-made for your needs.
Regardless of your reason for installing a filter, there are filters available for all sorts of filtration needs, be it for residential or commercial needs.
By switching to filtered tap water, you’ll be doing a great favor to the environment, and you’ll also save money in the process.
If you decide to buy a filter online, we’d be happy to help you choose a high-performance water filter at an affordable price.