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Looking to upgrade your home’s water filtration? Two popular options are under-sink and countertop water filters. But how do you choose which is right for your household?

In this guide, we’ll compare the pros and cons of under-sink and countertop systems to help you decide. You’ll learn the key differences in how they’re installed, convenience of use, filtration effectiveness, ongoing costs, aesthetics, and more.

Let’s dive into the under-sink vs countertop filtration comparison!

How Do They Work? A Quick Overview

Under-sink filtration systems are installed directly under the kitchen sink and connected to the cold water supply line. They work by filtering all water on demand before it exits the faucet.

As water enters from the main line, it passes through multiple filtration stages to remove contaminants before flowing through the dedicated tap. This allows owners to instantly obtain filtered water with a simple tap turn without any wait time or refilling required. The systems operate seamlessly in the background to purify all drinking and cooking water used in the kitchen.

Undersink Filter

In contrast, countertop water filters are self-contained units that sit conveniently on the kitchen counter or in the fridge. They require users to manually fill a pitcher or reservoir that is part of the system. The water then filters slowly through the unit into the container, with typical systems holding 3-5 litres.

Homeowners must plan ahead to filter sufficient water for their needs and refill as required. The filtered water is then dispensed from a tap attached to the unit. While less automated than under-sink systems, countertops provide an affordable and mobile option to obtain filtered water with minimal installation required.

Installation Considerations

Installing an under-sink water filtration system typically requires professional help as it involves connecting to the main water supply line under the kitchen sink. Additional parts may be needed, and the process can be complicated compared to a simple countertop setup. However, the upfront cost is higher for under-sink systems.

Countertop water filters provide a much easier DIY installation. They simply need to be placed on the kitchen counter or in the fridge and plugged in. No tools or professional assistance is required. This also makes the starting cost more affordable. Renters can easily take countertop filters with them to new homes.

Filtration Effectiveness

Under-sink systems use multi-stage filtration combining sediment filters, activated carbon blocks, reverse osmosis membranes, UV lights, and more. This allows them to remove a very wide range of contaminants from water. Filter capacities usually exceed 500 litres before needing replacement.

Countertop filters are typically limited to standard carbon block filtration. While effective for chlorine and VOCs, they cannot match the contaminant removal of under-sink models. Countertop filters often need replacing after just 60-120 litres.

How Are The Convenient?

A major advantage of under-sink filters is providing filtered water instantly through a dedicated tap. The fast flow rate quickly fills multiple glasses without needing to refill pitchers. Some systems can even be connected to the fridge for chilled water access.

Countertop units take up permanent counter space and are slower, requiring manually filling pitchers that must be changed frequently. The filtered water dispenses from a tap on the system itself.


Ongoing Costs

While more expensive initially, under-sink systems have lower long-term costs. The filters only need inexpensive replacement every 6-12 months. Countertop filters have a lower starting cost, but the regular filter changes every 2-3 months, making them pricier over time.

Visual Appeal

Under-sink filters are hidden away under the sink, and only the tap is visible. This prevents any countertop clutter. Countertop models take up permanent visual space on counters; some units could be more decorative.

Key Comparison Chart





Difficult – may need a pro

Simple – DIY


Multi-stage - broader removal

Typically, carbon blocks only


On-demand, fast-flow

Slower into pitchers


Bigger initial cost, lower long-term

Cheap starting, ongoing replacements


Hidden away

Permanent counter clutter

Household Size

Good for larger families

Best for 1-3 people

Which is Right for You?

Under-sink filters are ideal if you want:

  • Maximum filtration to remove a wide range of contaminants
  • Convenient filtered water on demand through tap
  • Understated, clutter-free look
  • Large capacity and fewer filter changes
  • Enough filtered water for bigger families

Countertop models are better if you:

  • Are on a budget or renting
  • Prefer a simple setup with no installation
  • Don’t mind slower flow rates into a pitcher
  • Have a smaller household of 1-3 people
  • Want portable filtration you can move

Which Water Filtration System is Right for Your Home?

After comparing the critical differences between under-sink and countertop filters, you should now understand which system best suits your home and family’s needs.

Both options can provide cleaner, contaminant-free water - it just comes down to your priorities in terms of installation, filtration power, convenience, costs, and aesthetics.

Carefully consider the most important features for choosing the best household water filtration. For larger families or maximum filtration, under-sink is likely the better choice. For smaller households on a budget, a countertop system may meet your needs.

Once you decide on the right system, the experts at WP Plumbing in Melbourne can help with professional installation and any ongoing maintenance. Investing in quality water filtration improves your family’s health and makes water tastier for drinking and cooking. Contact our team today to discuss the optimal under-sink or countertop filtration system for your home!

FAQs - Comparing Water Filtration Systems

Do I need a professional to install an under-sink water filter?

Yes, having a plumbing professional install an under-sink system is highly recommended. This ensures proper attachment to your water supply lines and avoids any leaks or other issues from a DIY job.

How often do countertop and under-sink filters need replacing?

Countertop filters need replacement more frequently, about every 2-3 months or 60-120 litres used. Under-sink filters have a larger capacity and only need simple filter changes around every 6-12 months.

What contaminants do countertop water filters remove?

Most countertop filters use basic carbon block filtration, which is effective for chlorine and VOCs. However, they generally cannot match the contaminant removal of under-sink systems with multi-stage filtration.

Is filtered water from a countertop unit safe for babies?

If certified and replaced on schedule, countertop filters can make tap water safer for babies by reducing certain contaminants. Under-sink may be a better choice for maximum purification. Consult your pediatrician as well.

Do under-sink and countertop filters improve water taste and odour?

Yes, by reducing chlorine and other compounds, both filter types will significantly improve the taste, smell, and clarity of your tap water.

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