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 faucet 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
Stainless steel style pur faucet filter

PUR Water Filter

TAPP 2 Water Filter Comparison

TAPP 2 Water Filter

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 Filter 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

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. 

Summary Water Filter Comparison

CriteriaPUR Faucet FilterBrita Faucet FilterCulligan Faucet FilterZeroWater PitcherTAPP 2 Faucet Filter
1. DesignStainless Steel Look PlasticPlasticPlasticWhite Scandinavian Design
2. Filtering capability70+ Contaminants incl Lead60+ Contaminants including leadCryptosporidium, giardia cysts, lead, chlorine, atrazine and other bad tastes and odorsReduce total dissolved substances (TDS) to zero70+ contaminants incl microplastics and lead
3. Water flow0.5 gallon/min0.5 gallon/min0.5 gallon/min0.25 gallon/min1 gallon/min
4. Ease to installEasy for standard faucetsEasy for standard faucetsEasy for standard faucetsNo installationEasy for standard faucets with free adapeters
5. Cartridge materialABS plasticABS plasticABS plasticABS plasticBiodegradable plastics
6. Filter replacement Every 2-3 months LED indicatorEvery 2-3 months LED indicatorEvery 2 monthsEvery monthEvery 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
Note: To simplify the summary we’ve only included the faucet filters from PUR and Brita.
Also check out Best Water Filters 2018.