If you’re looking for a water filter comparison of the top brands such as PUR, Brita, TAPP, Culligan and Zerowater then look no further.
We’ve tested and reviewed the top water pitchers and tap water filters based on 7 criteria such as design, filtering capabilities, water flow, ease to install, cartridge material and yearly cost. First we look at each of these attributes and rate them and then summarize all at the end.
So let’s get started with the water filter comparison.
1. Design and quality
Shape and colours are subjective to measure. However, industrial design can be assessed in terms of functionality, robustness and simplicity.
Based on this measure two of the filters stand out including
PUR ultimate horizontal water filter designed to look like stainless steel is overall slick and robust
TAPP 2 Scandinavian design is white with beautiful rounded lines making it look good on almost any faucet
All the other products in the test felt like they were made of cheap plastic materials.
2. Filtering capabilities
This is potentially the most complicated water filter comparison metric. Generally all the filters do a good job removing chlorine to improve taste. Therefore the most important thing is to look for the specific contaminants that you are concerned about such as microplastics or lead.
Here’s what each of the filters claim to remove:
BRITA complete faucet system removes 60 contaminants including 99% of Lead
PUR Ultimate Horizontal Water Filer removes 70 contaminants including 99% of lead
Culligan FM-15A reduces cryptosporidium, giardia cysts, lead, chlorine, atrazine and other items that produce bad tastes and odors
Zerowater water pitchers claim to reduce total dissolved substances (TDS) to zero including chlorine and lead. This means that it removes all minerals including a the healthy ones from the water.
TAPP 2 removes 80+ contaminants including microplastics, chlorine, chloramine and 99% of lead
Read more about why TDS is a poor measure of water quality.
Read more about microplastics in tap and bottles water.
3. Water flow water filter comparison
One of the main complaints about faucet and pitcher water filters is slow water flow. The flow makes a big difference when filling up a glass, water pitcher or washing fruits and vegetables. Here’s an overview of the specified and tested flow per product
Brita, PUR and ZeroWater pitchers 0.25 gallon / min
PUR Ultimate Horizontal Water Filter – 0.5 gallon / min
Brita Complete Faucet System – 0.5 gallon / min
Culligan FM-15A – 0.5 gallon / min
TAPP 2 – 1 gallon / min
4. Ease to install and faucet fit
The advantage of water pitchers and faucet filters is generally that they can be installed and used without any tools or need for a plumber. Here the water pitchers clearly win the test as all you need to do is to rinse the filter before using it the first time. In our water filter comparison we therefore only put the faucet filters through the test.
PUR Ultimate Horizontal Water Filter – clear manual and easy to install on standard faucets with an extra adapter kit that can be ordered by paying for the shipping cost. Our experience was that it leaked on most faucets due to the plastic faucet attachment.
Brita Complete Faucet System – easy to install on standard faucets but our experience was that the filter leaked almost every time due to the plastic faucet attachment.
Culligan FM-15A – easy to install on all standard faucets with a robust stainless steel faucet attachment adapter causing minimal leakage
TAPP 2 – easy to install on all standard faucets and many others thanks to a large set of extra adapters. We experienced no leakage thanks to the stainless steel faucet connector.
One of the conclusions is that if you choose a faucet water filter then make sure the faucet connector is not made of plastic.
5. Cartridge material and disposal
All the filters in the water filter comparison except one used cartridges made of ABS plastic and activated carbon. In addition to this here’s what stood out from the test:
Brita pitchers as they use activated carbon and ion exchange as well as have a filter recycling program
Zerowater pitchers that also include ion exchange
TAPP 2 that uses cartridges made of biodegradable materials and organic coconut activated carbon resulting in zero plastic residue and no plastic in the water
Note: The disadvantage of the ion exchange filters is typically that they don’t last as long and therefore need to be replaced monthly.
6. Filter cartridge / refill replacement
How often does the filter cartridges need to be replaced and how do you know that it’s the right time? This is really important as you want to know when the filter is really due to be changed based on your consumption.
In our comparison we found 4 types:
PUR, Brita and Zerowater pitchers – All of these had a LED light measuring the time from the last replacement with a light indicating that it needs to be replaced. The replacement time is 1 month no matter how much or little you use it.
PUR and Brita Faucet Filters with light indicators measuring time with a replacement rate every 2-4 months independent of usage
Culligan faucet filter has no light indicator. Instead the cartridges are recommended to be replaced every 100 gallons of use.
TAPP 2 offers two alternatives including a smart monitoring solution based on usage and time and a manual calendar to set the replacement date. It’s recommended to change the cartridges at least every 3 months even though the capacity is 250 gallons.
7. Yearly cost Water Filter Comparison
PUR pitcher: $7.99 per filter lasting 1-2 months = $96 per year
PUR faucet filter: $18.99 per filter lasting 2-3 months or 100 gallons = $114 per year
Brita pitcher: $7,99 per filter lasting 1-2 months = $96 per year
Brita faucet filter: $18.99 per filter lasting 4 months = $76 per year
Culligan: $15 per filter lasting 2 months = $90 per year
Zerowater: $15 per filter lasting 1 month = $180 per year
TAPP 2: $60 per year for subscribers
Note: The prices are list prices on each companies website for single units or 2-packs as of 20 November 2018.
Read more about TAPP vs Brita Water Filters.
Summary Water Filter Comparison
To simplify the summary we’ve only included the faucet filters from PUR and Brita.
|Criteria||PUR Faucet Filter||Brita Faucet Filter||Culligan Faucet Filter||ZeroWater Pitcher||TAPP 2 Faucet Filter|
|1. Design||Stainless Steel Look||Plastic||Plastic||Plastic||White Scandinavian Design|
|2. Filtering capability||70+ Contaminants incl Lead||60+ Contaminants including lead||Cryptosporidium, giardia cysts, lead, chlorine, atrazine and other bad tastes and odors||Reduce total dissolved substances (TDS) to zero||70+ contaminants incl microplastics and lead|
|3. Water flow||0.5 gallon/min||0.5 gallon/min||0.5 gallon/min||0.25 gallon/min||1 gallon/min|
|4. Ease to install||Easy for standard faucets||Easy for standard faucets||Easy for standard faucets||No installation||Easy for standard faucets with free adapeters|
|5. Cartridge material||ABS plastic||ABS plastic||ABS plastic||ABS plastic||Biodegradable plastics|
|6. Filter replacement||Every 2-3 months LED indicator||Every 2-3 months LED indicator||Every 2 months||Every month||Every 2-3 months with MyTAPP monitoring and notifications|
|7. Annual cost estimate||$114 per year||$76 per year||$90 per year||$180 per year||$60 per year|
Also check out Best Water Filters 2019.