Note: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
There are so many water filtration systems available today that it’s almost impossible to know which one is the best. So where do you start? With the title of this review, I’m suggesting you’ve already started by looking at your money. Budget water filtration systems, by default, don’t cost a lot of money.
In a way, you may have also already decided that you don’t need a large number of contaminants removed from your water. Most of these budget systems simply don’t remove as much as some of the larger and more expensive setups. If you actually haven’t decided that this is what you want, don’t worry. I’ll have a few suggestions below to help you figure out which type of water filtration system you need.
If you’re in a hurry and just want to check the pricing and availability of these filtration systems at Amazon, you can click (tap) the links in the list below.
- 3M Filtrete Maximum Under Sink Water Filtration System
- APEX Countertop Drinking Water Filter
- PUR Horizontal Water Filtration Faucet Mount
If you want to skip ahead to a specific section of this review, you can click (tap) a link in the box below. Otherwise, you can keep scrolling (swiping) and reading as usual.
How Do I Know Which Type of Water Filtration System to Buy?
There are four basic guidelines to follow to determine whether or not a certain filtration system will do what you need it to.
First, find out what’s in your water. Then you’ll know what you want to filter out.
Calculate how much water you use, so you get the right size system that can handle the capacity you need.
Find the pH of your water. Many filters adjust the pH, and you would want it changed (or not) properly.
See how much physical space you have. You want to get a unit that fits in the space available.
With those thoughts in mind, let’s see if any of these three budget filtration systems work for you. One of these gets installed under your counter; one is a countertop model; and the other simply attaches to your faucet.
3M Filtrete Maximum Under Sink Water Filtration System
The first thing you might wonder about with an under sink system is how hard it’s going to be to install. Filtrete claims that this unit is easy to install. Based on the fact that there are only a few parts involved, this is true.
The video below makes installation look extremely easy, but note that the installer isn’t working in the tight cabinet space under a sink. He’s in a wide open area where it’s easy to get at everything.
Fortunately, the only real tools you’ll need are a drill and a screwdriver for mounting a bracket. If you’re at all familiar with them (or know someone who is), you shouldn’t have too much problem putting this system together.
Watch this installation video to see which parts go where.
As noted in the video, this system reduces (but may not totally eliminate) the following items in your water.
- Microbial cysts
- Chlorine taste and color
Granted, there isn’t much difference between sand, sediment, and soil, so you could shorten that list to five items.
Microbial cysts sound really bad. The “cyst” stage is simply when the microbes (such as bacteria) are dormant. If you have them in your water, you still probably would prefer to have them filtered out.
The Filtrete filter has a flow rate of 1.5 gallons per minute. By itself, that probably doesn’t tell you much. Try to compare it with the flow rate of other systems you’re considering to see if it’s higher or lower than most.
The filter itself should last 6 months, at which time you would want to buy a replacement. You need to figure that into the cost of this “budget” system to see if it still fits within your personal budget.
This system is intended to be used with your cold water only. Filtrete doesn’t say what will happen if you run hot water through it, but my guess (based on what other companies say about similar conditions) is that it will decrease the effectiveness of the filter. It may shorten the life of the filter too.
Especially starting in 2018, some users have reported problems with defective filters causing leaks. Hopefully the company is looking into this and may have already solved the problem, if there was a defect in the filter and not just user error. This would be something for you to check on before making your purchase, to see if anything has changed for better or worse.
APEX MR-1050 Countertop Drinking Water Filter
Here is a system that sits on your countertop. If you don’t care for that look, move on. The advantage here over an under sink system, like the one above, is that there’s no bracket to install and no cramped work space to get into.
This is a filtration system that helps balance the pH in your water. APEX says, “As a result, every sip of water you take provides you with antioxidant protection and offers purifying, detoxifying benefits that are a perfect fit for your healthy lifestyle.” You get to be the judge of whether or not they are overstating their case here, depending on how much stock you put into antioxidants.
The filter cartridge in this system is supposed to be changed “on a regular basis”. APEX doesn’t specify the frequency, but I do see that it has an expected lifetime of 750 gallons. That’s half of the life of the Filtrete unit above, which you are supposed to change every 6 months. Does that mean you should change this cartridge every 3 months? I think your mileage may vary, but it’s something to plan for budget-wise.
Here’s the list of items the APEX MR-1050 removes.
- Chlorine odors
- Escherichia coli (a bacterium commonly referred to as E.coli)
On the flip side, it adds calcium, magnesium, and potassium that your body can use.
The video below doesn’t show how to install this system, but it gives you a decent idea of how easy it is, as it shows how to replace a spent filter cartridge.
PUR PFM400H Horizontal Water Filtration Faucet Mount
The PUR filtration system is the most compact of these three. You don’t have to go under your counter or have a large unit sitting on your countertop. This system is small enough to attach to the faucet itself.
You really should watch the following video as it is really well-done. It explains in detail (yet briefly) how to install and use this system.
You may have noticed that there appear to be more than just green lights on the side of the filter. There are also yellow and red lights, much like a traffic signal.
The green light, as you would expect, means all systems are “go”. Everything is working fine. The yellow light will shine as a warning that you should soon change the filter. The red light means stop using the filter immediately and replace it now. PUR suggests that you’ll need to replace the filter every 100 gallons or every 3 months.
Although many budget systems won’t clean much from your water, the PUR filter is certified by NSF International to reduce 72 contaminants. That’s a lot! PUR claims this is more than any other brand. This may mean within this class of filters. The question is whether you have all, or most, of those bad guys in your water to start with. (I couldn’t find a list of all the contaminants that PUR says are removed.)
Some of the main items this system reduces are these.
- Some pesticides
- Chlorine taste and odor
Need a larger system? Take a look at these multi-stage filters.