In the filtration market, whole house water filter systems stand apart for a reason. Chances are that anyone who’s ever thought seriously about water filtration and cleaner drinking water has considered cleaning up their entire domestic supply. This is what a whole house system achieves. The added advantages with such systems include the fact that it stops the same things you don’t want in your drinking water from coming out of the shower, getting into water-intensive appliances – expensive ones like the washing machine, dishwasher and so on – and inhibiting cleaning, staining clothes and otherwise reducing the lifetime of these machines. These systems are also not luxury items, tucked away on the top shelf in some unattainable price range. Whole house systems often cost no more than their corresponding, exclusively under-the-sink cousins.
Foremost among the advantages for whole house systems specifically is that they do a lot of heavy filtration in their lifetimes. Among the disadvantages, depending on the customer’s needs, is that, if you opt for dechlorinating, you can develop microbial problems; chlorinated water curbs the proliferation of microbes in the water supply and, as dechlorinated water has been stripped of this helpful quality, your plumbing can potentially become a breeding ground for a variety of harmful and unpleasant micro-organisms. Dechlorination tends to be more useful (and less harmful) if saved for point-of-use filters or under-the-sink systems, but again, it differs case by case. For example, any microbes present in water used for cooking will be made harmless by boiling anyway. It all depends on the customer’s needs needs.
All sorts of considerations come with purchasing these systems. These might be price, extent or volume of filtration, basic convenience of use, the flow-rate, longevity and so on. They may all have comparable performance and have comparable prices within their respective price ranges, but not all systems are created equal. How they rank, of course, is largely in the eye of the beholder. For that reason, it’s worth surveying the marketplace closely before buying one filter over another.
Best Whole House Water Filter Under $100
Caveat emptor! Remember that in this lower price range, most filtration systems don’t include filter cartridges or filtration media of any kind. The amount paid will basically just be for the empty unit, unless otherwise stated. Often these water filters, despite being whole house systems, also don’t come with enough fittings to plumb into every system. So, it’s smart to put aside some of the budget, not just for cartridges, but for a possible trip to the hardware store to source additional fittings, O-rings and silicone sealant. Moreover, the expense of pre- and post-filtering, if either/both are desired, are another consideration besides.
The upside is that small industry-standard cartridges are interchangeable, so most of these brands of filtration system can be mixed and matched with most of the other brands’ filter cartridges as per customer preference.
The systems in this price range are as follows:
- DuPont WFPF13003B Universal Whole House 15,000-Gallon Water Filtration System
- Filtrete 4WH-QCTO-S01 High Performance Whole House Quick-Change Filter System, Large Capacity
- Culligan HF-360A Whole House Sediment Filter Clear Housing with P5, 5 Micron Poly Spun Sediment Filter Cartridge Included
- Pentek 150237 #10 Big Blue Filter Housing, 1” Female NPT Inlet/Outlet
- Watts WH-LD Premier Whole House Filter System
- Pentek 150233 Big Blue, 1″ In/Out, #20 Blue/Black, HFPP, w/ PR
Now that we’ve listed the systems in this range, let’s start with the cheapest system.
DuPont WFPF13003B Universal Whole House 15,000-Gallon Water Filtration System
Measurements: 12.3” x 3.9” x 3.4”
Recommended Filters: DuPont WFPFC5002 Universal Whole House Poly Block Cartridge or DuPont WFPFC8002 Universal Whole House Carbon Wrap 2-Phase Cartridge
Filters Included: No
Warranty: 3-year (manufacturer’s) limited warranty
The DuPont WFPF13003B is a handy little filter, weighing just over two pounds. Remarkably, the system itself costs little more than the average system’s replacement filters. For less than twenty dollars, what are you going to get from this water filter system? The simple answer is a lot more than you might think.
The possibility of cost/quality trade-offs will raise alarms as a rule of thumb, but that needn’t be worrying in this specific case. On the one hand, DuPont is one of the world’s premier chemical companies; and the fact that DuPont’s 15,000-Gallon sump water filter is the cheapest of those featured here might be surprising to say the least. On the other hand, it does does the job as well as most of its much more expensive competitors. Their world-wide brand recognition means you can expect high-quality production. So, cost-versus-quality anxieties are easily allayed.
This system operates anywhere in the 30-90psi range, so it’s easily adaptable for households on a wide range of supplies, except from higher pressure water mains. Its only real downside is a rather dismal 5gpm flow-rate. This is sort of inevitable given the size of the system and its narrow apertures. Adapted easily to under-sink use, the 5gpm becomes inoffensive.
DuPont’s basic polypropylene block filter cartridges filter down to 10microns, but the system’s easily upgraded with better cartridges from DuPont or, of course, any of the competitors. The brand’s own cartridges last about 15,000gallons or roughly two months, varying according to usage and water quality.
A two-pack of basic polypropylene block filter cartridges from Amazon costs less than $4 and a two-pack of the Carbon Wrap 2-Phase Cartridges costs less than $14. Given that the cartridges last about two months and have fairly extensive filtration, they’re more than reasonably priced.
For added reassurance, DuPont’s 15,000-Gallon Water Filter also comes with a three-year limited warranty from manufacturer.
For the frugal customer, this is almost guaranteed to be a no-brainer.
Filtrete 4WH-QCTO-S01 High Performance Whole House Quick-Change Filter System, Large Capacity
Measurements: 10.6” x 8.6” x 15½”
Recommended Filters: Filtrete Basic for 4HW (solids-only) or Filtrete Standard for 4HW (solids, chlorine, etc.)
Filters Included: Yes (x1 Filtrete Basic for 4HW)
The Filtrete Quick-Change Filter System has a unique and interesting design. Unlike its immediate rivals in low-budget, whole-house water filtration, it’s not a sump-based system with standard filter cartridges. Where an unusual design might normally discourage some customers, in this case that design’s simplicity can win them over. This is system for those who like to minimize hassle.
The Quick-Change Filter System does exactly what it says on the box. It’s made for quick, infrequent, hassle-free switching out of filter cartridges. Replacing one seems more like switching out the CO2 tank in a drinks carbonator than replacing filtration media! It’s simple, it only takes about a minute and it’s completely hassle-free. You don’t even have to open or remove a filter housing to get to the cartridge.
Installation is quick and Filtrete have included the necessary fittings to install the Quick-Change Water Filter.
Filters for the Quick-Change system are the heftiest part of the system at just over two pounds for the basic filter or just under three-and-a-half pounds for standard. Basic filters are focused on removing substantial solids – sand, sediment, scale, rust and the like – but the larger Standard filters are all-in-one and remove chemicals like chlorine as well, in addition to these solids. Each replacement filter boasts a twelve-month lifetime, a big selling point for whole-house filtration on a small budget. This lifetime is claimed by Filtrete for a household of up to four people with three bathrooms.
Your choice between Basic and Standard filters will definitely depend on chlorine desirability. Supposing you want to cut down chlorine intake, Standard is the way to go; but if inhibiting microbial growth in your system is more important, stick to Basic and the chlorine will stay to do its job. The key, as with any purchase of a water filtration system or its filters, is to think about your needs very carefully and do your homework. Make an informed decision and you’ll save yourself regrets in the long run.
A lot of customer reviews cite the unexpected difficulty of installation. Customers disagree on this to extremes, which suggests that the variability is due to the customer’s level of skill and experience with domestic plumbing, not to mention personal preferences. In any case, there are a lot more fittings than the on-box pictures would suggest, so this is something should be kept in mind when setting up expectations and buying the system. Brace for a bit more hassle the first time around.
Even so, the possibility of a challenging installation, not as convenient as might be hoped or implied, is sharply and quickly offset from the first time one has to change the filter. It’s still among the best performance, quickest to switch and lowest maintenance in its price range. Customers who like water filtration but dislike the hassling around attending it will benefit from the Filtrete Quick-Change Water Filter.
Culligan HF-360A Whole House Sediment Filter Clear Housing with P5, 5 Micron Poly Spun Sediment Filter Cartridge Included
The HF-360A is a filtration system for those conscious of cost, space and convenience. It’s a cheap, small (measuring only 14” tall by 6” diameter), light (weighing slightly more than three-and-a-half pounds), easily mounted sump water filter and it can be plumbed in a number of different ways – inline, under the sink or at the water main for whole home use. This flexibility of installation, in addition to its operable pressure range of 30 all the way up to 125psi, makes it suitable for most domestic requirements. The system uses five-micron polypropylene (P5) filter cartridges which remove sand, sediment, scale, rust and other solids. For chlorine removal by adsorption, over and above the P5’s normal TDS filtration, Culligan offers the carbon-coated SCHWH-5 filter cartridge as an adsorbing alternative and upgrade.
As with other systems, the choice of filter depends on requirements. SCHWH-5 works if you dislike stepping out of the shower smelling (and feeling) like you’ve taken a dip in a swimming pool; or, again, if you want relatively pure H20 and prefer as little of any other chemical as possible in your drinking water or. P5s are for the customers who want to keep the water chlorinated.
The HF-360A water filter system also has a transparent filter housing, so you can monitor the filter cartridges over their lifetime without having to open up the sump. Cartridge replacement is quick and easy: the HF-360A’s patented Valve-in-Head technology shutoff valve is right in the cap, so you can close off the supply immediately with a half-turn and replace the filter cartridge as required.
Culligan’s versatile whole house filtration system can be ordered from Amazon for less than forty dollars. Plus, a five-year warranty sweetens the deal. Two-packs of Culligan’s own-brand replacement P5 cartridges are available on Amazon for less than $11 (contrast with just under $10 for a single-pack of their SCHWH-5 carbon-coated filter), practically a steal. It’s also worth considering that the HF-360A comes with a P5 filter cartridge included. So, the costs of using the HF-360A are small to begin with and they remain small over the long-term, even if higher-end cartridges are used and even without considering another brand for filter cartridges.
The last point to consider is the mount itself. Supposing an additional bracket is needed to place the system, Culligan sells their own inexpensive metal brackets in the correct size. These work with other whole house systems as well. All in all, the HF-360A whole house filter is a must-have for the convenience-minded customer buying on a budget.
Pentek 150237 #10 Big Blue Filter Housing, 1” Female NPT Inlet/Outlet
Measurements: 10 x 4-1/2 inches
Weight: 4.6 pounds
Recommended Filters: Pentek DGD-5005 Spun Polypropylene 10” Filter Cartridge
Filters Included: No
Pentair’s Pentek Big Blue #10 whole house water filter has a number of applications. It can be used to filter a high-pressure, high-flow source of water for domestic use or even irrigation, up to and including small-scale agricultural use. The Big Blue is a slightly beefier sump at a little over five pounds and fits filter cartridges in a 10” x 4½” size, matching the same ten-inch industry standard for small interchangeable filters that we’ve seen already.
The Big Blue also foregoes concerns about quality versus pressure and/or flow. The manufacturer takes enormous pride in the minimal reduction in both water flow and system pressure post-filtration. In fact, the Big Blue #10 only loses about one pound-per-square-inch or less from the source pressure and the reduction to water-flow is barely noticeable. The fact that it can achieve this from full-pressure 100psi sources is reassuring, strong selling point.
It might be a good idea to get Pentek’s purpose-made wrench for use with Big Blue systems. Unlike the Watts Premier below, the Big Blue doesn’t include a wrench, so the Pentek wrench is an additional cost (the best part of ten dollars). It’s a fairly good wrench for the job, though, and will work across different lines of Pentek filter housing, as well as on other brands, without cracking them.
Among consumers, the Pentek brand is known for modest marketing. It’s certified up to NSF/ANSI Standard 42 and Pentair seem content to just let their product’s reliability do the talking. In any case, taking a chance on the Big Blue’s performance promises is a safe bet.
Watts WH-LD Premier Whole House Filter System
Measurements: 7.5 x 5.2 x 14
Recommended Filters: Premier 560035 5-Micron Sediment Filter Cartridges
Filters Included: Yes (x3)
Warranty: 1-year (manufacturer’s) limited warranty
The WH-LD Premier is another serious contender in the budget whole house category. It’ll appeal to the same convenience-minded customers who like the Filtrete Quick-Change and the Culligan HF-360A. The system has many of the same beneficial features as the latter but the cartridges switch almost as quickly as the former.
Monitoring and changing the filters is relatively hassle free. It has a transparent housing, like Culligan’s HF-360A above, so that the customer can easily check the state of the current filter. For added convenience, the cartridge can be changed without switching the mains, because it has a bypass valve to divert the water from the filter housing. This is another attractive little touch in the ‘pro’ column for the Premier, against some of the other featured water filters.
Unlike some of the other systems in this budget range, the WH-LD Premier comes with extras: namely, three filter cartridges and a handy, purpose-made, plastic wrench. This means you have everything you need in one package for three separate filter cartridge installations. When the time comes to replace the last of these, you’ll still have the right tool to conveniently switch in the next purchased cartridge.
Once you’re done with your three complimentary filter cartridges, though, you’ll notice the ongoing costs. For something so basic, the own-brand filters are steep at $15. However, as with any of the 10” cartridges here, they can be switched out for another brand like the DuPont poly block filters for $4 or Culligan’s carbon-wrapped filters for less than $10. Here, as with all the choices between cartridges we’ve seen so far, it mainly comes down to one question: dechlorination or not?
This Watts water filter is a solid contender in the budget category for whole house systems. Again, it will compete with the Filtrete’s Quick-Change Water Filter and Culligan’s HF-360A for the same customers, any of which will satisfy their requirements. Whether they go with Watts’ WH-LD Premier Whole House Filter System will be highly subjective, but they won’t be disappointed.
Pentek 150233 Big Blue, 1″ In/Out, #20 Blue/Black, HFPP, w/ PR
Measurements: 7.2” width x 7.2” depth x 23.4” height
Filters: Pentek DGD Polypropylene filter cartridges 20” x 4½”
Having already looked at the Big Blue #10 (150237), we’ll immediately notice the similarities between these two products. Differences are also immediately apparent, indicated right away by their very names; whereas the Big Blue #10 is ten inches deep (as are its cartridges), the #20 at twenty is twice as deep and uses filter cartridges twice as long. This sets it apart from the rest of the filtration systems in this price range.
We’ve already seen above that the #10 has a post-filter pressure drop of a single pound-per-square inch or less. The #20 is no less efficient in this regard. It has the same drop of 1psi or less, which is basically negligible as efficient filters go. Exactly like its smaller sibling, the #20 loses nothing in filtration for its trouble.
Now, as with the Big Blue #10, it might be a good idea to get the Pentek wrench. Again, like the #10 unlike the Watts Premier above, Big Blue #20 water doesn’t come with it, so it’s a small added cost. However, it’s one which will quickly pay for itself in speed, simplicity and general convenience of use for its intended purpose.
Over and above the #10, the Big Blue #20 has one clear advantage: a larger sump means a larger filter cartridge, as mentioned above, and a larger cartridge lasts longer, meaning the #20’s cartridges need to be replaced less often, up to almost (but not quite) twice as long without switching if subjected to the same kind of use. Of course, this also ramifies for the customer in reduced replacement costs over time, as the 20” cartridges cost only a few dollars more. So, the additional cost of the Big Blue #20 – around ten dollars more than the #10 – is quickly recouped in costs-over-time. The difference could potentially be paid in as little as two cartridge switches.
This, of course, assumes that the Pentek brand DGD series polypropylene filters are used. Carbon-wrapped filters do more filtering of different kinds and therefore the filter media are used up more quickly. So, if you opt for a carbon filter with additional chemical removal (e.g. dechlorinating), make sure you’re well aware that you’ll have to change the filter more often and adjust your budget accordingly.
The Big Blue #20 is NSF/ANSI standard 42, like its smaller sibling, and will do everything the manufacturer claims. For the customer who commits to it, the #20 is well worth the money and won’t disappoint.
Best Whole House Water Filter Under $100 Overview
Filtration in this price-range is decent across the board. Given that this is the case, it’s more helpful to look at other factors – price, longevity and so on – for what really sets each of these filters apart from the rest of the field.
Frugality is a possible consideration, especially in this segment of the market. Supposing the customer’s looking for a bargain – that is, comparable filtration at a fraction of the cost – the DuPont Universal 15,000-Gallon is the pack leader of cheap deals. Even without considering its competitive performance, it’s hard to imagine anyone being disappointed in this system for the bargain basement price alone. Overall, DuPont, long a world leader among chemical companies, really does their brand proud with this foray into filtration products.
On the other hand, as far as filtration lifetime goes, the Filtrete Quick-Change water filter is simply unrivalled at 100,000gallons or one year per cartridge. Budget-wise, lifetime costs are a saving of their own and might appeal to be frugal customer who wants to save money (not to mention hassle) over time as well.
Convenience-wise, the strongest candidates in the field are the Filtrete Quick-Change, Culligan’s HF-360A and the Watts WH-LD Premier filtration system. Being realistic, that’s probably going to come down to the first and last of the three, though; the Quick-Change if you lean towards how quickly and infrequently you want to switch cartridges – and with less spillage – or the Watts if you want general convenience and easy, uninvasive monitoring of your cartridges. Of course, the WH-LD Premier has the added convenience of a complimentary cartridge wrench. The Filtrete is more expensive, but not so expensive as to go completely in the WH-LD Premier’s favor. Also, this doesn’t rule out the HF-360A altogether, of course. The Premier’s edge between the two comes down to extras. So, customers are left with a highly subjective choice for convenience. There’s no right answer other than what’s right for each customer.
What about the ‘big boys’ in this price range – for those charmed by the larger sump housings – the two Pentek Water Filter systems from Pentair? Between the 10” and 20” Pentek models – the Big Blue #10 and Big Blue #20 – the clear winner is the latter, the larger #20. It’s barely more expensive than the 10” equivalent and the same goes for the cartridges, which are also twice as long. So, the loser in this field is the Big Blue #10 by default, but only because its bulkier, immediate relative is in competition as well.
Chlorine considerations might lead one to budget for perhaps a combination of different systems in the same household. For example, you could combine the use of Culligan’s HF-360A (covered by warranty for five years) as your whole house filtration system, using the P5 poly block filters so as to leave the chlorine in the plumbing generally; with a Filtrete Quick-Change system adapted to under-sink use with carbon filters to dechlorinate your drinking water just before it leaves the faucet. This way, you get the best of both worlds.
The Best Whole House Water Filter of 2016 for Over $200
Now we’ll look at the more expensive offerings.
The jump from smaller, budget filtration systems to bigger, more substantial ones is also big jump in price. In fact, it’s probably the most noticeable difference at first sight. In this price range, the first and cheapest (the 3M Aqua-Pure AP903) is over three times the price of the Filtrete Quick-Change system, the most expensive in the cheaper category. However, these filtration systems are built to last and they come with a range of features. The systems themselves are built to last up to ten years – a long-term investment by any definition – and, if well-maintained, they can even last a little longer than the manufacturer’s claims. They’re the ‘go large or go home’ products. For this reason and similar ones, there are a lot of customers out there who are reassured by shopping with a bigger budget – consumers guided by the mantra that ‘if you want to fly, you’ve got to pay’.
The systems in this price range are as follows:
- 3M Aqua-Pure Whole House Water Filtration System – Model AP903
- iSpring WGB22B 2-Stage 20-inch Big Blue Whole House Water Filter 1-inch NPT Carbon
- Home Master HMF2SDGC Filtration Sediment
- Home Master HMF2SMGCC Whole House 2-Stage Water Filter
- iSpring WGB32B Three Stage 20-Inch Big Blue Whole House Water Filtration System
- Home Master HMF3SDGFEC Whole House 3-Stage Water Filter with Fine Sediment, Iron, and Carbon
3M Aqua-Pure Whole House Water Filtration System – Model AP903
Measurements: 6” x 6” x 27”
Recommended Filters: Model AP917HD Replacement Water Filter or Model AP917HD-S Replacement Water Filter
Filter(s) Included: Yes (x1 Model AP917HD Replacement Water Filter)
Warranty: 25-year-warranty (covering filter head)
The first filter we’ll look at in this price range is the 3M Aqua-Pure Whole House Water Filtration System (Model AP903). It’s the cheapest in this range by about fifty dollars. It’s also the lightest, by far, at just under ten pounds and the smallest in volume at twenty-seven inches tall and six inches diameter. So, the AP903 hits the ground running, as the most financially attainable and the easiest to install.
Moreover, the edges keep coming. The AP903 is an overwhelmingly convenient system. It’s small enough to be tucked away with the mains pipes without tight fits and also to be installed unobtrusively as an under-sink unit. Since it has a similar filter-head design to the Filtrete Quick-Change featured above in the lower price range, changing filter cartridges is also quick and convenient, with little in the way of splashing or spillage.
The manufacturer’s filter cartridges themselves come in two kinds for this system, namely the Model Replacement Water Filter and the Model AP917HD-S Replacement Water Filter. The regular AP917HD filter cartridge filters most typical solids – sand, sediment, dirt, rust and chlorine – and the AP917HD-S filter cartridge does the same and additionally softens the water by removing scale as well.
The system’s diminutive size belies the efficiency and versatility of its filtration. It has the highest flow-rate of the systems featured at twenty gallons per minute and it functions optimally across a wide range of supply pressures, running the gamut from lower pressures at 25psi all the way up to the high pressure threshold of 125psi. Both the lowest and highest ends of its range exceed those of the competition.
It has by far the best warranty of any system featured, at an incredible twenty-five years.
A glaring disadvantage over time is operating costs. The AP917HD filters cost around $150 each on Amazon, while the AP917HD-S will set you back about $170 a pop. The first free filter softens the blow a little, but doesn’t help over time.
Additionally, filtration purists (no pun intended) may dislike that the AP903, unlike the rest of its high-price peers, only filters down to five microns – possibly smaller, but Aqua-Pure don’t guarantee this.
Nevertheless, the AP903 really ticks all the big boxes:
- Installation, quick and convenient
- Ease of switching filters
- Filter lifetime
Overall, this probably makes the AP903 the best filtration system in the range; it’s a good all-rounder and it has by far the best warranty. Still, it’s smart to shop around – especially if you have specific requirements of your Whole House Water Filter system.
iSpring WGB22B 2-Stage 20-inch Big Blue Whole House Water Filter 1-inch NPT Carbon
Measurements: 15½” x 8½” x 26”
Recommended Filters: iSpring 2S-20BB-5M Big Blue Whole House Water Filters or iSpring FC25B NSF Certified High Capacity Big Blue Whole House CTO Carbon Block Water Filters
Filter(s) Included: Yes (x1) 2S-20BB-5M filter cartridge and (x1) FC25B CTO Carbon Block filter cartridge
Warranty: One-year limited warranty
The second in this range is the WGB22B 2-Stage 20-inch Big Blue Whole House Water Filter 1-inch NPT Carbon. This system has two ‘Big Blue’ style sumps, each of which holds an iSpring (or compatible) filter cartridge of your choice.
Filtration the WGB22B is definitely effective. In the first stage, sediment filtration uses dual gradient density to filter down to 1micron without sacrificing the cartridge’s lifetime of 100,000gallons or one year. Second, the carbon filter reduces levels of chemicals like chlorine for improved taste and odor. This is right where you want a filtration system to be in this price range.
iSpring filter cartridges for this model are the 2S-20BB-5M and FC25B CTO Carbon Block filter. Both the iSpring models of filtration system come with all the fittings required for installation. The iSpring Two-Stage (WGB22B) also comes with one (x1) sediment filter cartridge and one (x1) carbon filter cartridge.
The former can be ordered on Amazon for $40 a pair, while the latter (currently unavailable) costs just under seventy dollars for a single filter. The system itself comes with one of each kind of filter cartridge, as well as a plastic housing wrench for easy replacement of cartridges.
Additionally, the WGB22B Water Filter comes with all the brackets and screws needed to mount the whole filtration system.
Home Master HMF2SDGC Whole House 2-Stage Water Filter with Fine Sediment and Carbon
Measurements: 22½” x 14.2” x 12.9”
Recommended Filters: CFDGD2501-20BB Multi Gradient 25/10/5/1 Micron Sediment Replacement Water Filters and CFRFGAC20-20BB Radial Flow GAC 20 Micron Replacement Water Filters
Filter(s) Included: Yes, includes (x1) CFDGD2501-20BB Multi Gradient 25/10/5/1 Micron Sediment Replacement Water Filter cartridge and (x1) CFRFGAC20-20BB Radial Flow GAC 20 Micron Replacement Water Filter cartridge
Warranty: 2-year limited warranty (parts only)
Within this part of the market, Home Master offer some of the best multi-stage filtration Whole House systems available. Compared with the rest of their multi-stage line, the HMF2SDGC is among the cheapest and most basic. However, ‘basic’ doesn’t necessarily mean bad – especially when it’s by comparison to Home Master’s more advanced products. In any case,
Home Master’s HMF2SDGC Water Filter uses a two-step process to filter the water supply. Water from the source meets the Multi-Gradient Depth Sediment Filter first, which removes silt, scale and other large solids through four layers which get progressively finer the deeper the water goes (from 25microns to 10 then 5 and, finally, 1micron), distributing solids throughout the medium in such a way that the filter lasts longer than a non-gradient one would while also maintaining good through-flow. In the second and final filter, the Granular Activated Coconut Shell Carbon Filter removes chemicals like chlorine and chloramines for safer, cleaner, better-tasting water.
A twenty-gallon-per-minute flow-rate puts this at peak flow for the price-range.
For installation, there’s the mounting bracket (patent-pending). The system as purchased also includes the bolts needed for mounting. Home Master filtration systems excel in secure mounting, which is a must, as their systems are generally heavier than the competition. No matter what kind of difficult setting is chosen for this system, so long as there’s enough space and the 16-inch studs to mount it, this 2-stage filter will go up and stay up.
This system focuses on sediment removal. Any customer looking for more than this will have to pay more, but the price ramps up from here. Its one inherent advantage over its 2-Stage sibling is flow-rate, as we’ll see in the review immediately below. Depending on the customer’s priorities and supposing the CTO carbon block filtration of the latter model is negotiable, this could be the better choice of the two.
Home Master HMF2SMGCC Whole House 2-Stage Water Filter
Measurements: 9” x 18” x 25”
Recommended Filters: CFDGD2501-20BB Multi Gradient 25/10/5/1 Micron Sediment Replacement Water Filters and CFKDF85GCC-20BB Granular Catalytic Carbon KDF85 Filters or other compatible Home Master cartridges.
Filter(s) Included: Yes (x1) CFDGD2501-20BB Multi Gradient 25/10/5/1 Micron Sediment Replacement Water Filter and (x1) CFKDF85GCC-20BB Granular Catalytic Carbon KDF85 Filter
Warranty: 2- year limited warranty (parts only)
Also from Home Master, the HMF2SMGCC Whole House 2-Stage Water Filter with Multi Gradient Sediment and KDF85/Catalytic Carbon filtration shares many of the same features as the immediately foregoing HMF2SDGC.
Physically, the double-housing unit is the same in both systems. So, like the HMF2SDGC above (and like the physically-different HMF3SDGFEC below), the HMF2SDGCC Water Filter (KDF-85/GAC filtration) system is installed using Home Master’s patent-pending mounting bracket and secured with the 16-inch studs which are included.
Compared with the other Home Masters featured, the filtration advantages of the HMF2SMGCC Whole House 2-Stage Water Filter are quickly apparent. Besides the basic CFDGD2501-20BB Multi Gradient 25/10/5/1 Micron Sediment Replacement Water Filter, the system comes with a CFKDF85GCC-20BB Granular Catalytic Carbon KDF85 Filter cartridge – a special GAC filter which also contains kinetic degradation fluxion (KDF) filtration media, unlike the other Home Masters featured. Because of its sorptive (that is, chemically bonding) qualities, the KDF-85 filtration medium blocks a wide range of hard-to-remove solids and chemicals, like chlorine, various metals (including iron and heavy metals), ionic contaminants and even micro-organisms (albeit Home Master doesn’t market the product as anti-microbial, nor recommend depending on it for such purposes). Overall, combined KDF-GAC filtration is among the best customers can apply, post-sediment. It guarantees an effective and microbe-free GAC filter for its entire year-long lifetime. This makes it an outstanding choice for Whole House water filtration.
This system’s biggest downside versus the rest of the field is its 10gpm flow-rate, which puts it in last place, as the rest provide an output of at least 15gpm and, in the cases of the HMF2SDGC or Aqua-Pure’s AP903, this is doubled at 20gpm. Of course, this flow-rate is reflective of the system’s extreme filtration, which removes iron and manganese solids, as well as sulfur odors, down to 1ppm (versus 1ppm for manganese only and iron at 3ppm for Home Master’s 3-Stage Water Filter below).
iSpring WGB32B Three Stage 20-Inch Big Blue Whole House Water Filtration System
Measurements: 24” x 12” x 36”
Filter(s) Included: No.
Warranty: One-year limited warranty
The second iSpring in this range is the WGB32B Three Stage 20-Inch Big Blue Whole House Water Filtration System. WGB32B is a competitive Water Filter. It has perhaps the second most effective and extensive filtration in this segment of the market, next to the foregoing Home Master HMF2SMGCC Whole House 2-Stage Water Filter with Multi Gradient Sediment and KDF85/Catalytic Carbon.
Included with the WGB32B are one (x1) 2S-20BB-5M Big Blue Whole House Water Filter cartridge and (x2) CTO Carbon Block Filter cartridges. This system offers the same advantages as the other iSpring, the WGB22B:
- filtration down to 1micron,
- a maximum flow-rate of 15gpm
- the same filter cartridge lifetime of 100,000gallons or one year
Over and above these, it has its own advantages: by default, the WGB32B Big Blue Whole House Water Filter has probably the best chemical filtration (specifically dechlorination) in this price range.
The WGB32B’s three stages of filtration are as follows: a 5micron polypropylene block multi-gradient depth sediment filter is followed by two CTO carbon block filters in series. The polyprop sediment filter removes solids, then the first CTO carbon block filter reduces chemicals like chlorine and chloramines, and finally the second carbon filter does the same again to remove leftover chemicals and their unpleasant flavors/odors.
The WGB32B Big Blue Whole House Water Filter, like the WGB22B, includes a housing wrench and all the manufacturer’s brackets and screws the customer needs to mount the system.
Bear in mind, the iSpring Three-Stage (WGB32B) comes with one (x1) sediment filter cartridge and two (x2) carbon, which is one more than the two-stage (WGB22B) or both of the CTO carbon cartridges needed to run in series.
Home Master HMF3SDGFEC Whole House 3-Stage Water Filter with Fine Sediment, Iron, and Carbon
Measurements: 24 x 9 x 25
Filters: 3-Stage (Multi-Gradient Depth Sediment Filter, Iron Reduction & Carbon)
Warranty: 2-year manufacturer’s limited warranty (parts only)
Home Master’s Whole House 3-Stage Water Filter is a heavy duty system. Luckily, it comes with all the features a customer needs to get started with such a heavy duty system.
The three-stage filtration amounts to not just three different filtering media, but three separate filters connected in series. Water from the source meets the Multi-Gradient Depth Sediment Filter first, which removes silt, scale and other large solids through four layers which get progressively finer the deeper the water goes (from 25microns to 10 then 5 and, finally, 1micron), distributing solids throughout the medium in such a way that the filter lasts longer than a non-gradient one would while also maintaining good through-flow. Next, the Iron Reduction filter extracts up to 95% of iron content from the source, bringing concentrations down to as low as 3ppm and manganese down to 1ppm. Finally, the Granular Activated Coconut Shell Carbon Filter
Even after passing through all those filtration media in series, the system still maintains a high flow of up to fifteen gallons per minute.
The filters have moderately good lifetimes. First, the Multi-Gradient Sediment Filter lasts on average between six months and a year. Second, the Iron Reduction Filter varies widely depending on iron content at the source. Last of all, the GAC filter lasts for 100,000 gallons or a year, whichever comes first.
For installation, there’s the mounting bracket (patent-pending). No matter what kind of difficult setting is chosen for this system, so long as there’s enough space and the studs to mount it, this 3-stage filter will go up and stay up.
Clearly, this Whole House 3-Stage Water Filter has specific advantages and specific drawbacks. These are reflective of the very specific needs for which it is built. The 3-Stage system is made primarily for well water sources. So long as water pumped from the source reaches the system at a high enough flow-rate and water pressure (low-end 20psi and high-end 90psi), reliable, filtered, flowing water is guaranteed.
It should be noted, however, that the 3-Stage Water Filter isn’t recommended for use with chlorinated or more acidic water, nor should it be used on sources containing iron-oxidizing bacteria, like T. ferrooxidans, as these microbes and their byproducts can seriously damage the system. Before buying and installing the 3-Stage Water Filter, Home Master strongly recommend that these conditions be met and that a thorough water report be done on the water source to confirm this.
The Whole House 3-Stage Water Filter from Home Master is the most expensive of the filters listed here. It also has a precise range of strengths and, conversely, a wide range of applications for which its use is inappropriate. Nevertheless, if used correctly, the difference it can make to otherwise undrinkable well water is night and day. The customer with that specific set of requirements should give this system serious consideration. Even with its hefty price tag, it’s worth the cost. It’ll do an outstanding job and, over time, save customers a small fortune on expensive bottled drinking water.
The Best Whole House Water Filter of 2016 for Over $200 Overview
These filters are in a fairly tight market, so an edge can mean everything. In this price range, customers are paying big, so they’re looking for a big return on that investment. The stakes are higher, but so are the gains. Additionally, there’s a lot less ‘movement’ or variety in this segment of the market than in the lower price range, so choosing with confidence here requires closer attention to small differences.
What is it exactly that customers are buying in this price range? What are they looking to get for their money? Filtration is the first thing which comes to mind. All the systems except Aqua-Pure’s AP903 filter down to 1micron; the AP903 filters down to a nominal 5microns – but, in its defence, probably smaller, down to perhaps as small a span as 3microns.
All the systems in this range filter out chlorine, except for the three-stage Home Master, which isn’t even recommended for use with chlorinated water anyway. So, if you don’t need dechlorination because your supply is already chlorine-free, congratulations, your choice just made itself: the Home Master Whole House 3-Stage Water Filter is going to be your only go-to option. It’s the natural choice for well-sourced water supplies.
Beyond filtration itself, there’s the effective longevity of the filters.
Unlike the lower price range where cartridge lifetimes vary widely, this range has a much more consistent cartridge longevity. Reflective of the stiff competition in this area of the market, these systems have extremely competitive filter cartridge lifetimes. The AP903 filtration system houses AP917HD filter cartridges which are good for a lifetime of 100,00gallons or one year. Both of the iSpring filtration systems have cartridges with the same lifetime. Lastly, again, all of the Home Master filters last the exact same amount of time, except the 2-Stage Multi-Gradient and Carbon filtration system, which does slightly less at 95,000gallons (also roughly one year, depending on use). They’re all the same lifetime, except one, which is different by only 5%. So, to reiterate, this is an extremely tight and consistent field.
Both the iSpring models of filtration system come with all the fittings required for installation. The iSpring Two-Stage (WGB22B) also comes with one (x1) sediment filter cartridge and one (x1) carbon filter cartridge, while the iSpring Three-Stage (WGB32B) comes with one (x1) sediment filter and two (x2) carbon. Both come with wrenches for switching filter cartridges in and out easily. The additional cartridges, offering a combined year’s concurrent use in each case, effectively mean that you’ve saved money just by purchasing either of the iSprings. This saving gives each a competitive advantage in this price range.
For these prices, though, a few extras might not be enough. When you’re paying more money to get a bigger, more substantial system, you also expect performance to be noticeably better. Flow-rate is one area in which we see this demand for performance realized in the higher price range – especially for whole house systems. This is especially important as customers are investing in a system for a long time – ten years or so, with top-notch regular maintenance and timely filter cartridge switches. A lag in flow is felt throughout the household and, if it’s a problem, it’s an irremediable one, unless you’re willing to replace one expensive system with another. That’s not an option for most customers. So, it’s good to compare the flow-rates across brands and models, because unlike different kinds of filtration which can be swapped, you’re stuck with the flow-rate you buy.
Options like the iSpring WGB22B Two-Stage 20-Inch Big Blue Whole House Water Filter, the iSpring WGB32B Three-Stage Water Filtration System, the Home Master 2-Stage Fine Sediment Water Filter (HMF2SDGC), and the Home Master 3-Stage Water Filter (HMF3SDGFEC) operate at no less (but also no more) than 15gpm across the household. Really, manufacturers can’t afford to give customers less at this level. On the other hand, the 3M Aqua-Pure AP903 can maintain 20gpm, despite its impressive advanced filtering. The Home Master 2-Stage Multi-Gradient Water Filter (HMF2SDGCC) trails the pack at 10gpm – respectable at this extent of filtration, but less so for the price. That five gallon-per-minute gap up or down (ten gallon-per-minute gap from fastest to slowest flow-rate) can make all the difference in a competition this stiff. The jump from a 2-Stage Multi-Gradient to a 3-Stage (with multi-gradient) filtration system from Home Master is less than $200 and to get the 15gpm, it might be worth it, if you’re going for a Home Master Water Filter. Supposing you want the best flow-rate possible, though, the 3M Aqua-Pure AP903 is the winner here.
Moreover, it’s worth noting at this juncture that the AP903 has a similar design to the Filtrete Quick-Change in the lower price range. This makes it unique in its own range, as a system with cartridges which can be conveniently, speedily removed with a minimum of spillage or hassle. So, if our convenience-minded customer has a bigger budget this time around, the AP903’s really a no-brainer. It’s manufactured by a reputable company with good brand recognition in the marketplace and it’s certified as constructed of materials compliant with FDA standard CFR-21. Greatly strengthening its appeal, this system is covered by a 25-year-warranty – another edge in a marketplace where each edge makes a marked difference.
Compared closely with its competitors, the Home Master 2-Stage Water Filter system with Multi-Gradient and Carbon filtration suffers death by a thousand cuts. It has the slowest flow-rate, the shortest lifetime for filters, and its price is less justifiable relative specifically to the other Home Masters reviewed and generally to the rest of the field in this price range.
For a final remark, it’s worth briefly comparing the two ranges. There are basic advantages which the higher price range has to offer – such as longevity, for example – which the cheaper range generally lacks (the exception in this specific example being Filtrete’s Quick-Change Water Filter). However, there’s a lot of leeway and variation in the lower price range, which – in a way – gives it an advantage over the systems in the higher price range. Price, convenience and flexibility mean that the best systems in this range, like the Filtrete Quick-Change, are still contenders. The DuPont, as the cheapest, starts at an advantage as well, especially given its competitive performance.
We get a generally sunny picture when we compare systems both within ranges and between them. They all have something to offer – the Home Master 3-Stage Water Filter fills a niche in rural filtration, for example – and the likelihood is that none of them will disappoint. The AP903 almost certainly comes out on top overall, but most of these filtration systems deserve at least a second look.
Please leave comments below. I look forward to finding out whatever experiences with these products you have to share, as well as reading your responses to their reviews.