portable reverse osmosis system

Best Countertop and Portable RO Water Filter Reviews

Looking for a portable or countertop reverse osmosis water filter?

You’ve come to the right place. 

Countertop RO systems provide the filtration performance of larger systems without taking up a lot of space.

Unlike full-sized under-sink RO systems, countertop RO filters are much easier to install.

In this in-depth buying guide, we review the best countertop and portable RO water filters and give you tips on how to pick the right one for your needs.

If you are looking for an under-sink RO filter instead, read our reverse osmosis filter reviews for top recommendations.

Portable RO Water Filter

Portable RO Water Filter Systems: Comparison Table

AQUA TRU
  • AQUA TRU

  • Filter Stages:
    4

  • Output:
    1 gallon/12-15 mins

  • Reserve Tank:
    2.8L (3 quarts)

  • Recovery Rate (% of pure water):
    70-75%

  • Annual Cost (Filters):
    ~$75

  • Certification:
    IAPMO Certification

  • Warranty:
    1 year

0PPM Portable 50GPD RO Filter
  • 0PPM Portable 50GPD RO Filter

  • Filter Stages:
    4

  • Output:
    50 gallons/day (@65psi)

  • Reserve Tank:
    No tank

  • Recovery Rate (% of pure water):
    25%

  • Annual Cost (Filters):
    ~$50

  • Certification:
    None

  • Warranty:
    1 year

PuroSmart High Flow System
  • PuroSmart High Flow RO System

  • Filter Stages:
    2

  • Output:
    50 gallons/day

  • Reserve Tank:
    No tank

  • Recovery Rate (% of pure water):
    Not specified

  • Annual Cost (Filters):
    ~$80

  • Certification:
    None

  • Warranty:
    1 year

APEC RO-CTOP-PHC RO filter
  • APEC RO-CTOP-PHC

  • Filter Stages:
    4

  • Output:
    90 gallons/day (@60psi)

  • Reserve Tank:
    No tank

  • Recovery Rate (% of pure water):
    33%

  • Annual Cost (Filters):
    ~$90

  • Certification:
    NSF-certified filters

  • Warranty:
    1 year

APEC RO-CTOP-C
  • APEC RO-CTOP-C

  • Filter Stages:
    4

  • Output:
    90 gallons/day (@60psi)

  • Reserve Tank:
    No tank

  • Recovery Rate (% of pure water):
    33%

  • Annual Cost (Filters):
    ~$90

  • Certification:
    NSF-certified filters

  • Warranty:
    1 year

Oceanic Portable RO
  • Oceanic Portable RO

  • Filter Stages:
    4

  • Output:
    100 gallons/day (@55-85psi)

  • Reserve Tank:
    No tank

  • Recovery Rate (% of pure water):
    Not specified

  • Annual Cost (Filters):
    ~$60

  • Certification:
    None

  • Warranty:
    Not specified

AlcaPure
  • AlcaPure

  • Filter Stages:
    4

  • Output:
    0.5 gallons/15 mins

  • Reserve Tank:
    0.5 gallons

  • Recovery Rate (% of pure water):
    50%

  • Annual Cost (Filters):
    ~$90

  • Certification:
    None

  • Warranty:
    1 year

Express Water Countertop RO System
  • Express Water Countertop RO System

  • Filter Stages:
    2

  • Output:
    3-4 gallons/hour

  • Reserve Tank:
    No tank

  • Recovery Rate (% of pure water):
    Not specified

  • Annual Cost (Filters):
    ~$100

  • Certification:
    NSF standard 58

  • Warranty:
    1 year

Frizzlife tankless RO system
  • Frizzlife tankless RO system

  • Filter Stages:
    4

  • Output:
    0.3 gallons/minute

  • Reserve Tank:
    No tank

  • Recovery Rate (% of pure water):
    83%

  • Annual Cost (Filters):
    ~$90

  • Certification:
    NSF standard 58

  • Warranty:
    1 year

Portable RO Water Filters: Reviews

#1

AQUA TRU Countertop Water Filtration Purification System

BEST OVERALL

AQUA TRU Countertop Water Filtration Purification System

The AQUA TRU 4-stage water purification system is the best countertop RO filter for most people. It provides high-performance 4-stage filtration, has a strong flow rate, and requires no plumbing.

PROS

CONS

KEY FEATURES

1. No plumbing

You don’t need to connect the system to your faucet. It comes with a large tank where you add tap water to be filtered.

This design is especially helpful if you live in a home where you cannot do any plumbing modifications.

2. 4-stage Filtration

The Aqua Tru system removes over 90% of impurities in water using four filters.

3. Fast flow rate

Most people associate RO systems with slow-flowing water. Aqua Tru is different. Water flows from the 2.8-liter tank almost as fast as a normal tap.

4. High recovery rate = less water wasted

Compared to under-sink RO systems that waste up to 80% of water, the Aqua Tru system is very efficient. It uses only 25-30% of water to flush the filters, giving it an impressive 70-75% recovery rate.

5. Long-lasting filters

For such a compact system, the filters last surprisingly long.

For an average family using city water, the pre-filter lasts about 6 months, the carbon filters one year, and the RO membrane two years. Yearly costs are lower as compared to other RO water filters.

6. Quick change filters

The system will remind you when it’s time to replace the filters. It takes less than two minutes to remove the old filter cartridges and put new ones in.

ISSUES & LIMITATIONS

1. Pricey

The Aqua True RO filter is one of the most expensive countertop RO systems. It costs about twice as much as other popular portable RO filters.

BOTTOM LINE

3.9/5

Aqua Tru is a great choice for anyone looking for a no-installation countertop RO filter with a high flow rate.

#2

0PPM Portable 50 GPD Reverse Osmosis

BEST DEAL

0PPM Portable 50 GPD Reverse Osmosis

The 0PPM Portable RO system offers 4-stage filtration and high daily output at a very affordable price, making it our top value pick.

The 0PPM seems to be a favorite for Aquarium owners and people who do aquaponics. But it’s also ideal for drinking water, especially in apartments, dorm rooms, boats, and RVs.

PROS

CONS

KEY FEATURES

1. 4-Stage filtration with De-ionized filter

The 0PPM filter has a 4-stage filtration process similar to many other portable RO systems. But it uses a unique filter media at the end to increase filtration performance.

Here are the four filters.

2. Easy Setup

0PPM is a faucet-mounted water filter. It takes about 5-10 minutes to set up.

All you need to do is connect the intake tube to your faucet using the provided adapter. Leave the drain tube to hang over the sink.

Note that the system requires water pressure of at least 35 PSI to work. If your tap water pressure is below that, you’ll need to install a booster pump.

The optimal pressure is 65 PSI. At this pressure, the system produces up to 50 gallons per day.

3. Long-lasting filters

The two pre-filters – the sediment and carbon filters – are good for 6-12 months. The RO membrane lasts 2-3 years.

The only filter you need to replace often (roughly every 3-6 months depending on your water usage) is the DI filter. It lasts for just 300-400 gallons.

ISSUES & LIMITATIONS

1. Low flow rate

Even if you have high water pressure from your faucet, the flow rate from the faucet remains slow.

BOTTOM LINE

4.1/5

The 0PPM portable reverse osmosis system is a great choice for individuals and families looking for an affordable but high-performance countertop RO filter.

#3

PuroSmart High Flow RO System

SMALLEST

PuroSmart High Flow RO System

If you are short on counter space, the PuroSmart RO system is a great choice. It takes up very little space on the counter. It’s perfect for tiny homes, RVs, apartments, and dorm rooms.

PROS

CONS

KEY FEATURES

1. 2-stage filtration

For its price and size, it’s not surprising that the PuroSmart system has only two filtration stages rather than the usual four you get with most countertop RO filters.

But the carbon filter and the RO membrane do a great job removing almost all contaminants, including sediment, chlorine, VOCs, TDS, and microbes.

The only downside is that the filters don’t last long.

2. Easy Setup

The PuroSmart filter comes with a complete installation kit that includes a diverter valve, faucet adapter, tubing, and a countertop stand.

To install it, remove the aerator on your faucet and attach the adapter. Connect the tubing from the adapter to the filter and enjoy great-tasting purified water.

The water comes out faster than in most RO systems, which is likely because there are only two filters for water to pass through.

The exact flow rate will depend on the pressure of water out of your faucet. With good pressure, the system purifies up to 50 gallons of water a day.

3. Small Footprint

PuroSmart is one of the smallest countertop RO filters you’ll find. It comes with a stand that sits right next to the sink.

No matter how small or crowded your countertop is, the PuroSmart filter will fit.

ISSUES & LIMITATIONS

1. Frequent filter changes

The carbon pre-filter lasts only three months. That’s because it has to remove a lot more impurities than filters in a 4-stage system.

The sediment quickly clogs the carbon filter, reducing its effectiveness.

The RO membrane also doesn’t last as long as in other RO filters: just 1-2 years vs. the standard 2-3 years.

Frequent filter changes mean higher maintenance costs. That’s why PuroSmart, a small, low-cost RO system, costs about as much to maintain as the higher-priced and much bigger Aqua Tru system.

BOTTOM LINE

3.7/5

PuroSmart is a great choice for homes with little countertop space, as well as RVs, boats, and dorm rooms.

#4

APEC RO-CTOP-PHC

BEST FOR ALKALINE WATER

If you are looking for an RO system that produces great-tasting mineral alkaline water, we recommend APEC RO-CTOP-PHC.

The RO-CTOP-PHC is a compact RO filter that you can set up on your kitchen countertop or carry with you for use away from home.

PROS

CONS

KEY FEATURES

1. 4-stage filtration (with mineral filter)

The RO-CTOP-PHC system consists of four filters, one of which is a mineral filter.

2. With & Without Case

The last ‘C’ in RO-CTOP-PHC indicates that the filter comes with an aluminum case. The case is mostly for aesthetic reasons – it hides the tubing and cartridges – but it also helps with portability.

If you don’t want to pay extra for the case, get the RO-CTOP-PH model.

3. Easy Installation

The RO-CTOP-PHC is super easy to install. Remove your aerator, attach the included adapter to your faucet, and connect the tubing.

The RO-CTOP-PHC RO system works with all standard faucets.

4. The relatively high recovery rate

For an RO system without a pump, the RO-CTOP-PHC is surprisingly efficient. It has a pure to wastewater ratio of about 1:2, which means it recovers about 33% of pure water.

This is much better than the 1:3 or 1:4 ratio of most RO systems.

ISSUES & LIMITATIONS

1. Slow flow rate

Because there’s no built-in reserve tank, filling a glass directly from the filter takes forever. You are better off storing pure water in a jug or large bottle for easier access.

If you already have low water pressure in your home, the flow rate out of the RO-CTOP-PHC outlet tube is going to be even slower.

BOTTOM LINE

4.4/5

The RO-CTOP-PHC portable RO system is a great choice for anyone looking for a countertop RO filter that produces alkaline mineral water.

#5

APEC RO-CTOP-C

apec ro

The APEC RO-CTOP-C is a cheaper alternative to the APEC RO-CTOP-PHC RO filter. The RO-CTOP-C lacks a mineral filter but contains a carbon post-filter, which is not present in the RO-CTOP-PHC model.

Even without the mineral filter, the water tastes great. The carbon pre-filter and post-filter do a great job eliminating all tastes and odors from the water.

PROS

CONS

KEY FEATURES

1. The compact 4-stage RO system

The only difference between the APEC RO-CTOP-C and RO-CTOP-PHC is the last stage. Instead of a mineral filter, the APEC RO-CTOP-C ends with a coconut shell post-filter.

Here are the four stages.

2. 90 GPD Output

Despite its compact size, the APEC RO-CTOP-C can produce enough water to meet the needs of most families.

It can output up to 90 gallons per day. But your faucet water pressure needs to be adequate to achieve the max daily output. The 90 GPD output is at a pressure of 60 psi.

It’ll still work with lower water pressure (minimum 30 psi), but the daily output will be less. At 50 psi, it will filter up to 75 gallons a day, still plenty of drinking water for a large family.

If your water pressure is very low, consider installing a booster pump.

3. Cased and Uncased Options

Like the APEC RO-CTOP-PHC, you can also get the RO-CTOP-C with and without a case. The slightly cheaper uncased model is labeled as RO-CTOP.

But we think the extra cost is worth it for the cased model. It looks better on your countertop and makes it much easier to carry the filter system with you when traveling.

4. Compatible with Most Faucets

APEC RO-CTOP-C is compatible with most standard faucets apart from the sprayer and pull-out faucets.

To install it, remove the aerator from your faucet and use the included adaptor to attach tubing to the faucet.

ISSUES & LIMITATIONS

1. Low Flow rate

Similar to the other RO-CTOP filters, the RO-CTOP-C produces filtered water at a relatively slow rate.

If your faucet water pressure is high, the flow rate is decent but still not as fast as that of the AQUA TRU countertop filter.

If you have a lower faucet water pressure, it’s better to store the filtered water in a jug or large bottle for easier access when you need drinking water.

BOTTOM LINE

4.6/5

The APEC RO-CTOP-C is a great choice for anyone looking for a high-performance and highly portable RO water filter.

#6

Oceanic Portable RO Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

Oceanic Portable RO Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

For large families that need a lot of drinking water, we recommend the 100 GPD Oceanic portable RO systems.

The Oceanic RO filter connects directly to your faucet and uses a 4-stage system to produce highly purified drinking water.

PROS

CONS

KEY FEATURES

1. 4-stage filtration

The Oceanic RO system has the same 4-stage Filtration used in most portable RO filters.

2. 100 GPD Output

The Oceanic RO system can filter as much as 100 gallons a day or about 4-5 gallons an hour. That’s enough drinking water for most families.

Note, however, that it can only produce this much water if the pressure of water out of the faucet is between 55 and 85 psi.

This is significantly higher than the 30 psi minimum other portable RO filters require.

If your tap water pressure is less than 55 psi, either order a low-pressure RO membrane from the company or installs a booster pump.

3. Faucet-mount Installation

The Oceanic RO system is easy and quick to install. Like most portable RO filters, it connects directly to your faucet using an adaptor.

But we think the extra cost is worth it for the cased model. It looks better on your countertop and makes it much easier to carry the filter system with you when traveling.

ISSUES & LIMITATIONS

1. Slow flow rate

Don’t expect purified water to flow out from the outlet tubing as fast as it does from your faucet. Ro systems, especially non-electric ones without a reserve tank, have a slow flow rate.

The best way to go around the problem is to store the filtered water in a jug, bottle, or portable tank for easier access.

2. Requires high water pressure

Most faucet-mount RO systems require that your water pressure be at least 30 psi. For the Oceanic RO system, the minimum requirement is 55 psi. It operates best at a max of 85 psi.

If you have low water pressure, you may need to buy a booster pump.

BOTTOM LINE

0/5

The Oceanic reverse osmosis filter is a great choice for families looking for a countertop RO water filter with a high daily output.

#7

AlcaPure Zero Installation Purifier RO Countertop Water Filter

If you want a completely standalone RO filter that doesn’t connect to your faucet, the AlcaPure purifier is a great choice.

It’s very similar to Aqua Tru and costs about the same.

The two biggest advantages of standalone systems like AlcaPure and Aqua Tru is the high flow rate (they use an electric booster pump) and the water savings.

PROS

CONS

KEY FEATURES

1. Zero Installation

If you don’t want to modify your faucet in any way, such as adding a diverter valve, the AlcaPure system is a good choice.

Instead of connecting to your faucet, it has a built-in reservoir where you add a gallon of tap water.

The system is ready to use out of the box. No plumbing needed.

2. 4-stage Filtration

The AlcaPure system has 4 filters integrated into it.

3. High Recovery Rate

AlcaPure’s recovery rate of 50% is not as good as Aqua Tru’s 75%. But it’s much better than what you get from non-electric RO systems (25-33%).

Thanks to the built-in booster pump, AlcaPure saves you more water and increases the output flow rate so you can fill a glass of water in seconds.

ISSUES & LIMITATIONS

1. Pricey

The AlcaPure countertop RO system costs about twice as much as a faucet-mounted RO system.

BOTTOM LINE

4.3/5

AlcaPure is a great choice for anyone looking for a zero-installation countertop RO system. AlcaPure is also a good choice for anyone looking for a portable RO system that produces alkaline water.

#8

Express Water Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

Express Water Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

The Express Water countertop RO filter provides high-performance 4-stage filtration. It connects directly to your faucet and comes with a dedicated purified water faucet.

It is one of the cheaper portable RO filters available online, but the cost of replacement filters adds up quickly.

PROS

CONS

KEY FEATURES

1. 4-stage filtration

The Express Water system has a standard 4-stage filtration system.

2. Easy setup

The Express Water RO system comes with everything you need to set it up.

It connects directly to your faucet using one of the included adaptors. Note that it is not compatible with pull-out and sprayer faucets.

One thing we like about the Express Water system is that it produces purified water from a dedicated faucet instead of a tube. It looks neater and more professional. It also makes it easier to fill a cup or jug with water.

ISSUES & LIMITATIONS

1. Slow flow rate

Similar to other non-electric RO systems, the Express Water RO filter produces purified water at a little more than a trickle.

It takes about 10-15 minutes to get a gallon of purified water.

2. Low recovery rate

Again, this is a limitation shared with other non-electric portable RO systems. You’ll notice there’s more drain water than purified water.

Though the manufacturer has not indicated a specific waste to pure water ratio, it’s typically 3:1 for such systems.

But you don’t have to throw out the drain water. It’s safe for watering plants.

3. Higher maintenance costs

Another issue we have with the Express Water system is the frequent filter replacements. Most portable RO filters typically need one filter change a year. Express Water filters need to be changed twice a year and the membrane once a year.

This brings the annual cost to about $100 (the cost of a 1-year filter set from Express Water), the highest among our picks.

BOTTOM LINE

4.3/5

The Express Water RO system is a great choice for anyone looking for an affordable faucet-mounted countertop RO filter.

#9

Frizzlife Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

SMARTEST COUNTERTOP RO FILTER

Frizzlife Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

The Frizzlife RO system is the smartest of our picks. It allows you to select the amount of water to be dispensed and has a screen showing TDS levels and filter life.

It’s also the most efficient RO filter we’ve found. It recovers up to 83% of the water you add to its tank.

PROS

CONS

KEY FEATURES

1. 4-stage filtration

Sediment filter: Removes dust, sand, and rust.

Coconut carbon filterRemoves chlorine and other chemicals that cause odors and tastes. Removing these chemicals also protects the RO membrane from degradation.

0.0001-micron RO membrane: Removes hundreds of contaminants, including heavy metals and microbes.

GAC filter: Removes any remaining flavors and smells from the water. 

2. Space-saving tankless design

Frizzlife is the only standalone countertop RO system we’ve seen without a filtered water tank. Others like Aqua Tru and AlcaPure have two tanks: one for unfiltered tap water and another for purified water.

Frizzlife has just one tank for tap water. It has a powerful internal pump that pushes water through the filters and out of the outlet. It doesn’t need a tank since the pump provides water on demand.

The tankless design makes it smaller than Aqua Tru and AlcaPure. If your counter is small or already crowded with other appliances, get Frizzlife.

3. Digital control panel

To get drinking water from Frizzlife, you select the amount you want from the touch control panel and press a button.

Cup sizes include 150ml, 250ml, 330ml and continuous.

On the left of the unit is a screen that indicates remaining filter life and TDS levels for incoming water and purified water.

Frizzlife is the only RO filter we’ve seen with a built-in TDS meter. You can see in real-time how well the filtration system is working.

4. High recovery rate

Frizzlife has a pure to wastewater ratio of 5:1, a recovery rate of around 83%. It is the highest recovery rate we’ve seen in any RO system, countertop, or under-sink.

ISSUES & LIMITATIONS

1. Pricey

Though slightly cheaper than Aqua True and Alcapure, the Frizzlife RO system is still more expensive than a faucet-mounted RO filter.

Portable RO Water Filter Technology

portable reverse osmosis system camping

Portable RO water filters are miniaturized versions of full-size under-sink RO systems. There’s no major difference between how an under-sink RO filter works and how a countertop system works.

Like an under-sink filter, countertop RO filters have multiple stages consisting of different filter media.

Most consist of 4 stages.

The first stage (pre-filter): Typically, a sediment filter to remove sand, rust, and other particulates.

The second stage (chemical pre-filter): Usually, an activated carbon filter to remove chlorine and other chemicals and condition the water before it passes through the membrane.

Third stage (purification): This is usually the RO membrane where the toughest contaminants like heavy metals and bacteria are removed.

Fourth stage (post-filter): The last stage polishes the water to remove remnant odors and tastes.

Some RO systems also include a mineral filter that adds back some of the stripped minerals to improve the taste of water and increase alkalinity.

Other components of portable RO water filters include:

Portable RO Water Filter Installation

Portable RO Water Filter Installation

Portable RO water filters are easy to set up. There are two types of portable RO systems with different setup processes.

Faucet-mount Reverse Osmosis Filters

Standalone Countertop Reverse Osmosis Filters

Standalone countertop RO systems don’t require any installation. Just assemble the filters, fill the unfiltered water tank, and flush the system 2-3 times.

Please note:

Benefits of Portable RO Water Filters

portable reverse osmosis filter system

Portability: This is obviously the biggest advantage of portable RO water filters. You can use it at home, in your RV, in a hotel room, at a friend’s house or when camping.

Easy or no installation: It takes less than 10 minutes to install a faucet-mounted system. A standalone countertop model requires no installation.

Cheaper than full-size RO systems: Most portable RO systems are cheaper than full-size under-sink filters. Electric standalone systems are the exception. Many cost more than most under-sink RO systems.

Space-savers: Countertop RO filters take up very little space on your counter, making them ideal for small kitchens, RVs, and boats.

No under-sink space needed: Have no space under your sink? No problem. Portable filters sit on the countertop. They are great if your building doesn’t allow any plumbing work. They are also ideal for RVs and dorm rooms.

Portable RO Water Filter Systems: Complaints & Flaws

apec portable countertop reverse osmosis water filter system

Here are the most common issues you are likely to encounter when using a portable RO water filter.

Slow water output: Faucet-mounted RO systems produce water in a weak stream that takes forever to fill your glass. Electric countertop systems have a much stronger flow rate since they have a built-in pump.

Fewer filters = more frequent filter replacements: Most under-sink RO systems have five stages. Five filters handle all the impurities in water. Portable RO systems usually have four stages, meaning there are fewer filters to remove the impurities. The result is that you have to replace the filters more frequently, which increases yearly maintenance costs.

Portable RO Water Filter Replacement

Portable RO Water Filter Replacement

It typically takes less than five minutes to replace filters on a portable RO system. With most models, you twist the cartridge then pull it out. Put in the new cartridge and twist to secure.

Check your manual for exact filter replacement instructions. Also, check how often you should replace the filters.

If you get an electric countertop RO filter, you don’t need to remember to replace the filters. The system will remind you when it’s time.

Portable RO Water Filters: Frequently Asked Questions

reverse osmosis system reviews

What contaminants do portable RO water filters remove?

Portable RO filters remove the same impurities as under-sink RO filters: chlorine, VOCs, pesticides, lead, fluoride, arsenic, hardness minerals, bacteria, and viruses, among others.

How long do portable RO water filters last?

The pre-filter and post-filter typically last 6-12 months while the membrane needs to be replaced every 1-2 years.

Are portable RO water filters easy to install?

Yes, you can install a faucet-mounted RO system in under 10 minutes. If you get an electric countertop RO system, you don’t need to install it. Just add water to the tank and press a button to get purified water.

Can I use a portable RO water filter with well water?

Yes, you can, but it will significantly reduce the filter lifespan. We recommend installing a whole-house water softener before using a portable RO system for drinking water.

Bottom Line

portable reverse osmosis system

A countertop reverse osmosis water filter is a convenient and space-saving alternative to a large under-sink system.

Hopefully, our buying guide has helped you find the right one for your needs.