What Kind of Water Filter Do I Need?

We make the process of choosing a water filter more straight forward. Read our guide on the different kinds of water filters. It can help making a big decision, a little bit easier.

what-filter-do-i-needChoosing a water filter can be a confusing experience, because of all the different types of water filters available. There are many types of water filter for home, and they all offer something different. Some are easy to look after and to install, while some require a bit more maintenance and care.

We created this page to make the process of choosing a water filter a bit easier. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the options available, but with our guide we hope the choice is much more simple.

We will help you choose from the different types of water filters used at home, by asking some simple questions. We can then point you in the direction of some more information on the type of water filter that best fits your home.

So, what water filter do I need?

Well, there are two ways that you can base your decision. You can choose the best water filtration method for your home according to:

A) The type of water filtration that will fit your lifestyle & budget.

If for example, you need to filter ALL of the household water, then you need a whole house water filter.

If money is tight then a faucet filter would be a good choice.


B) The specific contaminants that you are worried about.

If you are particularly worried about lead contamination (for example), then you can choose a filter that specializes in this problem.

We recommend always going with option B unless circumstances force you otherwise.

Ok, let’s deal with each of these methods of choosing from the different kinds of water filters in a bit more detail.

Method A – Choosing based on lifestyle & budget

There are a few important questions that need to be answered here. Rather than ramble on, we’ve put together an infographic below that should help you arrive at a decision. You can click on the links in the image to learn more about each method of filtration, or read on for a brief introduction into each type of water filter.

Designed by Freepik

best-whole-house-water-filter-reviews-2Whole House Water Filter

Installation: Medium to Hard

Price: $ to $$$$$

Effectiveness: Medium to Very

A whole house filtration system is installed where the main water line enters the home. Therefore, it filters ALL of the household water (drinking and bathing). However, this means installation is a bit more complicated, and basic DIY skills are needed.

These systems can be very cheap for a simple 1-stage of filtration, and the price increases with each extra stage of water filtration (usually up to 3-filtration stages).

They can filter particles down to 0.35 microns in size, but more commonly 1-5 microns. This is a very good level of water filtration that is only beaten by reverse osmosis.

Read our guide to whole house water filters to learn all about them. We have reviews of the top systems, an installation guide, and buyer’s guide.

Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

Installation: Medium

Price: $$ to $$$$

Effectiveness: Extremely

A reverse osmosis system offers the most effective form of home water filtration available. It is usually installed under the kitchen sink, and will filter the water at the kitchen faucet. Installation is not difficult and usually takes a couple of hours.

These units offer incredible water filtration of around 0.0001 microns. That means your drinking water is as pure as possible. This is achieved using the multiple filtration stages (usually 5 or 6), which include the reverse osmosis membrane.

Read our guide to reverse osmosis filters to find out more.

best-faucet-water-filter-reviews-2017-newFaucet Water Filter

Installation: Easy

Price: $

Effectiveness: Medium

A faucet filter attaches directly onto your kitchen faucet. No tools are usually required for installation, and replacing a filter is really simple.

They are not as effective as reverse osmosis systems, but they are cheap in comparison. The filters are also very well priced.

Read our guide to faucet filters to learn more.

countertop-water-filter-review-compilation-smallerCountertop Water Filter

Installation: Easy

Price: $ to $$

Effectiveness: Medium to Good

These attach to your faucet head. No tools are required for the installation, which will just take a few minutes. These can offer more thorough filtration than the faucet and pitcher filters.

Some models have multiple filter stages, and pH balancing to make the water more alkaline. They offer a pretty good balance of value, effectiveness, and ease of use.

Read our guide to countertop systems to get all the details.

best-water-water-filter-pitcher-reviews-of-the-yearWater Filter Pitcher

Installation: None

Price: $

Effectiveness: Medium

These are the ultimate in convenience as there is no installation required. Pitcher filters are probably the cheapest method of water filtration (though faucet systems can be cheap too). The more advanced models make alkaline mineral water that tastes really good.

Check out our guide to pitcher filters for more information.

Method B – Choosing based on the water contaminants

If you know exactly what is hiding in your water, then choosing a water filter that actively targets these pollutants is a great idea.

If you’re not sure what contaminants are in your water, then you should check out our guide to water testing. We highly recommend testing your water before choosing a water filter.

The most common water contaminants that we get asked about are:

  • Lead
  • Chlorine
  • Fluoride

Luckily, there are various types of water filter that target exactly these things. We’ve put together some resources that recommend the best filters to deal with these particular contaminants. We cover a range of filtration methods that should suit every home, budget, and lifestyle. We also delve into the backgrounds of these pollutants to see where they come from, and how they come to be present in our water. Click on the links below to find out more.

A guide to lead removal

A guide to chlorine removal

A guide to fluoride removal

We hope that you’ve found our guide useful. If you still have any questions then please get in contact with us. We promise to reply promptly.

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  1. What kind of whole house system would you recommend for treating well water that has elevated levels of arsenic and uranium?

    • Hi Mike,

      Activated alumina is one of the best materials for removing arsenic from water, so I would recommend the APEX MR-3020 that we discuss in this post. Activated alumina will also reduce levels of uranium.

      Other very good well water systems are the 3-stage Home Master (HMF3SDGFEC) and 3-stage iSpring (WGB32B-PB) models. They also offer the chance to customize your filter configuration, as they use the common 4.5″ x 20″ filter sizes. This means you could easily integrate activated alumina filters into your set-up.

      Hope that helps,


  2. What is the best showerhead filter? Thanks

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