Once upon a time, human beings hydrated themselves with wine and thought that bathing was something you did reluctantly once a year, mostly because everyone knew that water carried the plague. Gone are those days, and while during a stressful work week we sometimes might wish that it was still considered appropriate to wake up with a healthy swig of the good stuff, I think we can all agree that it’s probably better we have the option of water... hopefully mixed with lots of coffee.
Jokes aside, in today's world we have the necessary ability to filter our water and make it safe for our consumption and use - a game-changer - not the least, because it makes the roads much safer and our doctors more precise with the scalpel. Luckily for us, the EPA set the standard for national water sanitation standards back in 1974, meaning that anyone living in the US has his or her water mostly taken care of by the city government.
A city’s usual method of treating water for microorganisms is to add chlorine and/or ammonia to our water, killing off the bacteria - mostly. Cryptosporidium and other small spores can survive extended exposure to chlorine and can only be neutralized through UV radiation. Sediment and hard minerals, as well as the chlorine and ammonia themselves, are all reasons that the responsible homeowner needs a personal water filtration system to get that perfectly clear, tasty water.
Additionally, while cities are held to a high standard, the open reservoirs are not equipped to deal with sudden whims of nature like floods, meaning that your water may arrive at your home untreated due to severe weather.
A whole house filter is not just a recommended purchase but a necessary purchase for homeowners who source their water from local wells, as this water supply is entirely untreated and carries a whole host of bacteria and sediment. As it is difficult to sift through the options available, this article tackles the flood (pun intended) for you, filtering out the distracting information to get to the real good stuff, when it comes to water filtration systems and the one that's best for you.
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The Winner: Aquasana Whole House Filter & Conditioner
A relatively affordable whole house filtration system that you can easily customize to the water in your area, the Aquasana is the best value-for-money option on the market right now. The long warranty - between 5 and 10 years depending on your customizations, and even covering self installations - is a huge bonus.
If you're looking for something smaller and cheaper, your best bet is the BUDGET PICK: Express Whole House Water Filter:
To see why it landed in our top spot, and which filtration systems it beat, carry on reading below.
Ranking the Best Whole House Water Filters
In my hunt for the best whole house water filter, I looked up water filtration systems and went through them one by one, entering the data I found into a chart so that I could more effectively compare the pros and cons. I studied the warranties as outlined by the companies, searched for competitive pricing on other websites, read through the specs of each product, and also read through the best and worst reviews to see what consumers had to say.
Finally, when my research was complete, I studied the data and scored each product per category. Each product got a score of 1-5 on cost, and then each product scored 1-5 on warranty, and so on until finally I added up each product's score and isolated my top five.
One caveat before we move on to the list. Some are arranged not from highest to lowest, but simply organized to highlight the needs of different customers. While one might need an entire military of filtration, the other might need just a small battalion to keep his water safe. So let's begin.
#1: Aquasana Whole House Filter & Conditioner (Best Value - All-Purpose)
The Aquasana Well Water Rhino is a machine designed to meet the demands of every consumer - and it does. This model is available in multiple configurations so that you only pay for what you need, and your needs are met with an efficient, well-designed filtering system.
This model does it all. If you need simple filtration for city water, you pay for a pre-filter for sediment, a media tank of activated carbon to remove your pesticides as well as a copper and zinc compound to prevent algae growth and remove chlorine, and a post-filter to take care of any additional small particles. If you want to add the works such as UV radiation (if you do, then you require electricity) and/or water conditioning, you can too, preventing your faucets from getting that awful calcium and magnesium build-up in hard water areas and killing off cysts that are resistant to chlorine and ammonia treatments used by the city to protect your water.
If you drink well water, you purchase an amazing Rhino package that includes the pre-filter for sediment, dirt, and sand, a water conditioner with a unique up-flow, dual-tank design (which increases effectivity, preventing scalage and calcium deposits), a media tank with an activated carbon filter (also specially designed as an up-flow dual-tank system to heighten effectivity in removing microorganisms, lead, chlorine, and pesticides), a post filter for any remaining small particles, and finally a UV filter killing of Cryptosporidium and any other organisms resistant to chlorine.
Truly, the Rhino is an all-purpose buy. No matter the requirement, it delivers and delivers well, which is why it is NSF (National Sanitation Federation) certified. The warranty for this product differs, depending on which type of system you purchase, but essentially it is between 5 and 10 years and now covers self-installations, as long as the product is not used in conjunction with products from other companies (like filter replacements or bypass valves). The company does not cover fire or freezing under its warranty, but as long as the machine is taken care of and treated well, any technological malfunction is covered by the company, which cares about its products and its buyers.
As mentioned above the cost of the machine is very affordable, giving you the most bang for your buck, and since the machine requires no draining or backflushing, there is no water waste and no hike in your water bills.
Consumers voiced high satisfaction in their whole house water filter reviews, giving it over four stars and saying that their water tasted clean, looked clear, and that their water pressure stayed good with proper maintenance of the machine. (Maintenance is minimal, only requiring a pre-filter change every 3-6 months depending on your water usage.)
Some customers noted that they saw a marked improvement in their hair and skin. For the DIYers, the general consensus on the Rhino was that you can handle it, if you have some basic plumbing knowledge, but any beginners should really hire a plumber for installation. On the whole, this machine is the best of the best for any consumer. City-slickers and well water owners need look no further than the Well Water Rhino.
#2: Springwell Whole Home Water Filter (Best for Hard Water Areas)
Only slightly more expensive than the priciest system offered by the Aquasana Rhino, the Springwell is a stainless steel streamlined setup, and similarly to the Rhino has a variety of options. If you live in an area with treated water and want a personal filtration system to get out sediment and additional contaminants like bacteria and pesticides, as well as to remove the chemical taste of chlorine, then Springwell offers a pre-filter and filtration system that beats even the Rhino in affordability.
However, if you live in a very hard water area or draw your water from a well, making it rich in hard elements, then - hands down - the Springwell whole house filtration and water softening system are worth the slight additional expense. While the Rhino will only prevent the scalage and build-up due to calcium and magnesium deposits, the Springwell will remove these from your water altogether, protecting and extending the longevity of your water-run household appliances. Springwell uses innovative technology like ActivFlo, a four-stage design that maximizes contact between the water and the filtering media, so your water emerges in the cleanest form possible.
Springwell also uses innovative technology to allow you to access and control your water system remotely, connecting to it through your phone and giving it commands (like regeneration), and just checking up on its status. With its coconut shell carbon and its KDF media, this machine spares no expense in purifying your water and making it safe to drink for you and your family.
While the Rhino filters out 97% of chlorine as well as other harmful contaminants, the Springwell filters out up to 99.7% of chlorine, providing you with the best filtration and a difference that is detectable in food. With the additional benefit of adding on UV technology to kill off any hardy bacteria and with very high user satisfaction, the Springwell is a machine that lets you rest easy with no concerns about your water.
This company takes its water pressure very seriously and promises no change in quality. They claim a pre-filter life of 6-9 months, before the necessary switch, which is comparable to the Rhino with its 3-6 month pre-filter lifespan. The machine comes in a variety of sizes - 3 bathrooms, up to 6 bathrooms, or 7 and above - allowing you to pay for a machine that meets your needs and nothing more.
One thing to note is that the Springwell has no certifications but uses materials and media certified by the NSF. So, while not having paid for its own certification stamp, it officially meets the requirements for one. Additionally, this machine should only be installed by those familiar with plumbing - not the newbies just starting out. Offering a lifetime warranty on all parts (except in case of fire or freeze), Springwell grants the added benefit of a first 6 months money-back guarantee, so that if - for whatever reason - it's not the time for you to switch, there is plenty of wiggle-room.
Finally, although this product is relatively new on Amazon, it received glowing reviews on other sites. If you live in a hard water area and need the best, when it comes to purifying and refining your water, the Springwell Whole House Water Filter System is the right one for you.
#3: Pelican Whole House Water Filtration and NaturSoft Water Softener (Best for City Living with Moderate Hard Water)
The Pelican Whole House and NaturSoft Filtration system is a purchase similar to the Springwell, except that, while the Springwell provides high performance, it is designed for harder water areas. So, while very effective in purging your water of hard minerals, it causes your water to feel slightly slippery, due to the swap over from calcium to sodium.
By comparison, the Pelican is perfectly suited to those softer water areas, because, while the water is moderate enough that a salt-based softener is obsolete, the NaturSoft provides that necessary protection against scalage forming in the pipes and build-up around the faucets.
While the sodium in a salt-based water softener is not dangerous, for someone watching their sodium intake, the NaturSoft salt-free conditioner is an added bonus to a great filtration system. Coming with a pre-filter, the main carbon series media tank, and the NaturSoft tank to finish, the system purifies your water, leaving it free of sediment, chlorine, and pesticides and is safe for your plumbing.
The Pelican delivers a startling 15 gallons of water per minute. To put that into perspective, the average shower uses 2.1 gallons per minute, and if you wanted to, you could comfortably have 5 showers running at the same time with plenty of water to spare for appliances.
The machine comes with its own NFC technology, allowing your phone to connect automatically when in range and access the specs of your machine. The Pelican comes in two sizes, one for up to a three-bathroom home and the other up to six.
Unique to the Pelican, this contraption can be stored outside unlike other filtration and water softener systems available on the market. As long as there is no danger of freezing, this system is safe outdoors. Users said self-installation was possible with this filter system. Obviously, this depends on the person, but while with other machines the reviewers agreed that it was better not to make the attempt, people posted positively about their experience self-installing the Pelican.
Certified with the IAPMO (International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials) as well as the DVGW (a German group that third-party tests and certifies products on the market to confirm their authenticity and effectiveness), this machine has high recommendations and also offers a 3-month, money-back guarantee with a limited lifetime warranty on tanks and parts.
While this is a wonderful machine, it seems to be ultimately more suited for city slickers than the rugged among us, as it does not offer the option of UV radiation. This means that the machine uses no electricity, saving you money both in your electric bill and in your water bill, as it requires no backflushing. With its high rating and great user satisfaction, as well as excellent customer service, this machine is guaranteeing you a long, happy life with clean, clear water.
#4: Whole House Filter System OPTIMH2O® (Best for Precision Water Filtration)
When narrowing down my list of whole home filtration systems, it happened naturally that Aquasana's not only was my top pick for my all-around best machine, but also fourth place with their OPTIMH2O filtration system. I'm going to run some comparisons, so you understand the difference between the two machines and what should go into your decision of choosing one over the other.
For starters, the OPTIMH2O is a great deal more expensive than the Rhino; the OPTIMH2O is the most expensive machine on this list. However, when it comes to filtration, no machine is as exact in removing all your water's impurities. While the other water filters on this list are exemplary and remove 96% or 97%, or even the Springwell which removes 99% of chlorine, the OTIMH2O removes 99% of all impurities, including but not limited to lead, cysts, chlorine, and chloramine.
Like the Rhino, it can be purchased as a stand-alone filter, as a filter and water conditioning system, or as a filter, conditioner, and UV system, making it adaptable to any climate.
If you're going for the full package, the OPTIMH2O is built with a pre-filter for sifting out sediment, dust, and dirt (that can be picked up in the pipes and can clog your faucets over extended use), a filter tank (which contains a giant, ultra-dense carbon block, filtering your water with amazing ability, while at the same time in no way compromising the flow rate of your water), an up-flow descaler (which maximizes the interaction between the media and the water for most effectivity in treating your water against scalage and build-up), and finally, UV radiation (requiring electricity) to kill off any cysts, or cryptosporidium hardy enough to make it through the rest of the system.
Finally, when your water arrives at your home, it is the cleanest, clearest it could ever possibly be.
With small and thoughtful measures, like an LED light indicating when the filter cartridge needs to be changed (after every 100,000 gallons of water processed), it's small wonder that this filtration system scored highly. While this is an amazing filtering system, those seeking really soft water should opt for a salt-based softener and not for the milder water conditioners. Additionally, personal accounts of self-installation were scarce. One user did comment and said that it only took him a couple of minutes. Like the Well Water Rhino, this model comes with a self-installation kit. However, just as with most models, it is likely better to hire a professional to install your filter.
Certified by IAPMO and offering a 5-year warranty on parts and mechanics, it's impossible not to be super impressed by this machine. Suited to any area and providing the attached benefit of not adding sodium to your diet or a slippery feeling to your showers, nothing beats this machine for exactitude and excellence.
#5: Whirlpool Central Water Filtration System (Best Price)
Unlike all the products listed above, Whirlpool does not offer fancy gadgetry, light systems, water softening, or any additional equipment. It is also the cheapest by far, compared to all the high-performing filters available on the market today. What it offers for an extremely reasonable price is whole house filtration, pure and simple.
While the other designs are in a two-piece (or more) setup, the Whirlpool is a single tank with an internal filter. The filter is a two-part blend between a screen and granular media, to maximize the purity of your water and sift out sediment, particles, chlorine, and odor.
The Whirlpool whole house filter is NSF certified and sure to deliver detectably cleaner water from any tap in your home. The filter utilizes FilterSense technology, which allows it to self-regulate and to backflush when necessary so that you never need to change the filter and never have to worry about the purity of your water.
Known for its easy install, the Whirlpool is built to satisfy the needs of any household size, and while more generally suited for a city lifestyle, one customer commented that it was effective in delivering clean water to his home from a well in upstate New York.
This machine is ideal for someone looking for a simple, no fuss, but very effective, filtration system to further purify water regulated by the city. Of all the water filters discussed here, it seemed that this one had the most user satisfaction when it came to self-installation.
The warranty is 1 year for full parts, 3 for electronics, and 5 years on the tank, but customers commented that they have happily used this filtration system for 10+ years with no problems. Just so you're aware, many people advised buying directly from the company, as the service was so excellent, but user satisfaction over at Amazon was also very positive, so it's really up to your discretion.
If you thought Whirlpool filters were only for fridges, we've got good news. Their whole house system is cheap, no fuss, and it gets the job done. For city-dwellers, this is the perfect machine.
On a Tight Budget? Try These
Need pure water but can't afford it? These are some budgeting options you should consider.
#1 Under $300: Alexapure Pro Stainless Steel Water Filtration System
Alexapure is an over-the-counter, stainless steel receptacle that filters your water with no electricity, no backflushing, and no water wasted. Instead, Alexapure uses gravity to pull the water through its gravity block filter with a hybrid ceramic shell, giving you clean water with no energy cost. Being NSF certified, this is a great way to get pure water for any budgeting families.
#2 Under $200: Bluonics UV Sterilizer Drinking Water Filter System Ultraviolet Light Under Sink Purifier
An under-the-counter design, the Bluonics UV Sterilizer is a 3-piece system that ensures clean, clear water from your tap. In case a whole house filter system isn't in the cards, this has a high user satisfaction rating and is the perfect compromise for you and your family.
A surprising find, the Culligan is a whole house filtration system that removes rust, sediment, chlorine, scale, dirt, and coarse sand from your water. Amazingly affordable, this has been tested and approved against NSF regulations and has a very positive user experience rating. While not as hardcore as those in our top five, I highly recommend it for users who need cleaner water for less.
Do I Need a Whole House Water Filter?
The short answer is if your water quality is particularly low and if you can afford it is, yes. Both people living in the city and people living on the fringe can benefit from a whole house water filter system. Let's discount the obvious of wanting filtered water in your kitchen for food and drink. Even the city-treated water carries sediment, dust, dirt, and other particles, as well as pesticides, chemicals, heavy metals, and dissolved substances. When these contaminants reach your home, they clog your pipes, wear down your clothes in the wash, affect your sinks, toilets, and even your shower.
At best, in mild water areas. your skin is not itchy or lank due to calcium and magnesium, but you're still bathing in water contaminated with pesticides and chlorine. My well-water readers need whole home water filtration even more so if only to get rid of the sulfur smell produced by bacteria, in addition to all the other issues mentioned above. At the end of the day, the choice is yours. Test your water, think carefully about your priorities, and if you decide against a whole house water filter system, don't tell the rest of your family!
What Should I Look For When Buying Whole House Water Filtration?
While the variety of goods available on the market today can be overwhelming with all the bright, flashy signs promising you the world for just $2.99, buying a whole house water filtration system is further complicated by not necessarily knowing what to look for. For instance, a homeowner within city limits will not require the same water filter as a recluse in the woods. The rules (more like guidelines than actual rules) of buying a whole house water filtration system dumb down to 5 basic principles - cost, warranty, function, certification, and ratings.
#1. Cost: While we all wish that money was no obstacle or that the world could wake up and realize there are things more important than the dollar until our utopia arrives, the pragmatic among us will continue to budget and continue to show a healthy respect for a price tag. Cost delineates what we can afford from what we cannot, and I include it as a key consideration when finding the 5 best whole house water filter systems.
#2. Warranty: Warranty is important not because of buyer's remorse, but as an insurance policy. Warranty is to shopping what a prenup is to marriage - not super romantic but a sensible step! If anything goes wrong, you need to make sure your interests are protected. Noting the different warranty policies available to you is an important move.
#3. Function: What filters are included? Is there a water softener? UV radiation? All these questions are important and tie into the individual needs of the buyer. All that you require may be a straightforward carbon filter to get rid of sediment and trace minerals. On the other hand, the water might be very hard and come from a well, requiring a water softener to solve hard mineral problems and UV radiation to kill off unwelcome bacteria.
#4. Certification: Since 1974, companies like the NSF or the IAPMO have monitored the quality of water-testing and certifying filtration systems that meet the sanitation standard. A certified whole house water filter has been tested by professionals in the field to ensure it meets your needs, and conversely, it is important to notice when no certification has been supplied.
#5. Ratings: A company always has a vested interest in your buying their product, but our fellow consumers are more honest. Approval ratings go a very long way to differentiate between the really good whole home water filter and the dud, or even the cheap scam, as well as which water filter is closest to what you're looking for.
Verdict: The Best Whole House Water Filtration for You
If you're looking to get the most bang for your buck, buy the Well Water Rhino, to get tasty, clear, safe water for a very affordable price.
If the expense is no issue and you live in a hard water area, get the Springwell Whole House Filter, sure to deliver chlorine-free safe water and to permanently get rid of your myriad hard water issues.
And finally, if all you want is a simple, straightforward, filter to get rid of sediment and chlorine, go with the Whirlpool, trusted and true.
Well folks that's a wrap, and as always, happy shopping.