If you have concerns about your water quality, a water filter should be considered essential. Fortunately, you don’t need a massive system, as you can have an inline water filter fitted.
Our team of researchers reviewed 38 inline water filters to assess how they operate in a typical home. We’ve created a list of top picks and our editor’s choice, the Woder WD-10K offers a fantastic balance of great value and superb performance. However, we’ve also ranked other inline water filters at other price points to ensure a pick for everyone.
12 Best Inline Water Filters Review 2020
Our researchers deliberated for hours to find the best inline water filter. We’ve assessed the functionality and performance of each device, to provide complete confidence in your new purchase. First and foremost, we looked at what contaminants each filter can remove, which is crucial when you have specific water quality issues in your area. We also looked at the ease of installation and dimensions, which will impact how simple it is to use in your home. However, we’ve also looked at the flow rates and filter life that will determine the long-term functionality of the unit. We’ve presented our findings in a simple overview table and a list of detailed reviews. We’ve also included a buying guide to help you to make your final purchase decision.
If you want to enjoy high quality water, a water filter should be considered essential. Unfortunately, with so many filters on the market, it can be overwhelming to make a purchase decision. Here we’ve compiled a buying guide with the things to consider and answers to common questions to help you to find the best model.
How does an inline filter work?
An inline water filter is designed to be placed directly into a water supply line or in an appliance to filter the water that passes through it before it reaches the faucet or appliance. These types of filters are typically smaller than larger units and this makes it easy to install them in a wide variety of locations. Once an inline water filter is installed it will reduce the levels of chlorine, remove bad tastes and foul odors from the water supply. More elaborate models such as our premium pick the Culligan IC-EZ-4 EZ can remove other types of contaminants too.
As you can see from our list, there are many makes and models of inline water filters available. Many of these models use different filtration methods to filter the water and make it taste cleaner and fresher. However, broadly speaking they all work by following the same basic principles to clean the drinking water.
The first stage is usually some type of pre-sediment filter to remove those larger particles of sand, dirt and grit. This stage is important for two main reasons, firstly it prevents those particles from damaging more sensitive later filter stages and secondly it removes the sediment that lowers the water quality.
The next stage is typically a carbon filter stage that removes most of the contaminants. The use of charcoal or carbon to clean water goes back to the earliest stages of civilization. These materials have a porous structure and a very large surface area in relation to their actual size. This makes the surface of these materials an ideal area to trap very small contaminants in a process known as adsorption. Modern water filters may use Granular Activated Carbon or GAC to make this process even more effective and efficient. In some filters a small quantity of silver can be added to give the water filter anti-bacterial properties.
Many inline water filters have a copper-zinc and/or mineral filter to remove any remaining chlorine deposits or heavy metal particulates. This is also a good stage to remove any bacteria, cysts, viruses and microorganisms that may be remaining. A mineral filter stage will also perform some scale removal but not to the same standard as a dedicated descaler stage.
An optional stage on many types of inline water filters is a descaler or a water softener. This will use an ion exchange process using a bed of resin beads that are imbued with sodium ions. As the water passes through the water softener the calcium and magnesium ions that cause water hardness are exchanged for benign sodium ions. This does add trace quantities of sodium or salt to the drinking water but unless you are on a strict no salt diet this is a negligible amount.
The most expensive inline water filters may have a final stage to give the drinking water a final cleaning and polishing. This could be a mesh like post filter that can remove particulates down to a single micron in size. Another possible option is an ultraviolet light or UV filter that can kill any remaining bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms.
Once the water has passed through one or more of these filtration stages it will be cleaner. The level of purity and cleanliness will depend on the number of stages and the quality of the filtration systems. The resulting water will be cleaner, more pleasant to drink and healthier for everyday use.
Benefits of inline water filters
There are five main reasons why people choose to use an inline water filter over some of the other options available, they are:
- They are an affordable option for both residential and commercial use.
- They are easy to install and replacing them is quick.
- These are durable products and they are a worthwhile long-term investment.
- They are a great way to get great water filtration in a wide variety of locations.
- They are a versatile option that you can install in multiple appliances or under the sink for cleaner water at the kitchen faucet.
An inline water filter is a worthwhile investment, they are efficient and robust products. Many of these products such as the Camco 40045 on our list are well suited to outdoor use with RVs, boats and campers. They will last an entire season and improve campground water that can be terrible for drinking, cooking and showering.
Features to consider when choosing an inline water filter
With so many inline water filters on the market, it can be difficult to choose the best one for your requirements. So, here we’ll explore the key features that should be considered to narrow down your options.
Where it is going to be installed
The first thing that you need to consider before purchasing an inline water filter is where it will be installed. It’s important to have sufficient space for the water filter and that it doesn’t affect your existing plumbing pipes. This isn’t a huge problem, most modern inline water filters are compact at just over 10”-12” in length but they can be heavier than they first appear. Some filters come with all the mountings that you need and it’s a good idea to check what the package includes. The area you choose needs to have enough space for the filter unit and few inches around it to accommodate the connectors and water lines. The more space you leave the easier it will be to install the inline filter and to replace the filter later.
Contaminants it removes
The next aspect of your prospective inline water filter is probably the most important one. Every water filter removes some contaminants, but some remove far more than others and this may need careful consideration. Water filters such as our editor’s choice the Woder WD-10K that remove a wider variety of contaminants cost more than basic models. A cheaper inline water filter that you install under your kitchen sink will remove the chlorine, certain bacteria and improve the overall taste and smell of your drinking water. But, if you need to remove contaminants, such as: pesticides, cysts, trihalomethanes (THMs) and heavy metals, it’s likely that you will spend more. An inline water filter with GAC or carbon block filter media will offer multi-stage filtering that will be sufficient for most users.
Each inline water filter has a loosely predicted lifespan that is measured in gallons. This is the number of gallons of water that the filter can process before it needs to be changed. However, this can only be a guideline, every location receives water from different sources and the quality of that water is a factor. There are four main factors that will determine the real useful lifespan of your water filter system, they are:
- If the water quality in your area is very poor the inline water filter may not last as long and the quality will degrade sooner.
- Hard water causes a buildup of scale inside your inline water filter and eventually it will become clogged.
- If you use larger volumes of water the filter will wear out faster.
- If your water has been pre-filtered it will be cleaner and the inline water filter will not need to work as hard so it will last longer than expected.
Eventually every inline water filter will become clogged, it will not be able to filter correctly and it will need to be replaced. There may be a number of signs that the water filter is not working as efficiently as it should. If you notice a strange taste, bad odors or a reduction in the water pressure it’s probably time to fit a new filter. The best way to check if your water is dirty is to collect some water in a clear container and leave it a short while. When you return you may notice that the water is turbid, dirty or there are large quantities of sediment at the bottom of the container.
Changing the water filter is important if you want to keep your system working efficiently. An inline water filter is affordable and it’s always a great idea to have at least one on hand for a convenient change. A replacement filter should always be the same part shown in the owner’s manual or on the manufacturer’s website. Many people simply replace their water filter at the same time each year to ensure that it’s always working efficiently.
The flow rate is measured in Gallons per Minute or GPM and this will determine the volume of water available to run your water using appliances. When you think about an inline water filter you need to calculate your water requirements before you make a final purchase. As a rough guideline: a toilet uses 5 gpm, a showerhead is 2-5-5 gpm and a dishwasher is 3 gpm. Adding up these rough figures will give you a general water requirement range for your home or other location where you want to install your inline water filter. If you need an inline water filter such as the EcoPure EPINL30 for your RV your needs are likely to be less than a home. There will be no “peak periods’ ‘ when multiple bathrooms are in use and you will have fewer water using appliances installed. However, generally speaking you need a flow rate above 10 gpm for a reasonable level of comfort.
With every inline water filter choice there is a tradeoff that needs to be carefully considered. Larger water filters tend to have more apertures and this increases the water flow for better water pressure. If you go with a smaller water filter the water flow may be restricted and it might be necessary to buy a larger canister to correct this issue. A water filter will become gradually clogged with sediment and other particles over time. This will usually take longer if you have a larger water filter system but eventually it will also succumb to water flow problems. At this point a filter change is necessary as we discussed earlier in this guide.
A typical inline water filter would be just over 10” or perhaps 12” long and 2.5” in diameter. However, they are packed with dense filtration media inside surrounded by a solid case of aluminum or more commonly polypropylene. When you lift this type of water filter you may be surprised by their weight and this could be an important factor for some people. If you have health or mobility issues you may want to choose a lighter model that is easier to lift. The inline water filtration installation and replacement for every product on our list is simple. But, the filter does need to be placed into position and this can be trickier for some users.
An inline water filter works hard to supply you with clean and filtered water and eventually it will need to be replaced. We’ve covered this in detail above, but one thing that we need to mention here is the cost of the replacement. Some filter models may seem to be very affordable, but the replacements may be more expensive. The inline filter may be used as a kind of loss leader to draw a buyer in and get them to buy into a filtration system. So, before you commit to making a final purchase take a look at the cost of the replacements. Many users will want an inline water filter for their RV, boat or camper and it needs to last an entire season. Most of the models on our list can easily last this long and many will last for a much longer period of time. It’s always a better idea to invest in a high-quality water filter that may seem more expensive but it might have lower filter replacement costs for the medium to long term.
How easy it is to install it
Every inline water filter on our list is easy to install with a screwdriver, a pipe cutter and an adjustable wrench. Most modern water filter systems come with a manual that gives useful advice and detailed installation instructions. However, the installation process generally follows four simple steps.
Step 1: Location
The best location for an inline water filter for your kitchen is under that sink. If you want to filter incoming water for your coffee maker, refrigerator, ice maker and other appliances it should be installed behind those devices. If you’re installing an inline water filter in your RV, boat or camper, you need it at the point where the water supply enters.
Step 2: Moving Pipes
Turn off the cold water supply to the location and remove the section of cold water pipe. Then remove the section of plumbing pipe that connects the tap to the water supply valve with your pipe cutter. Then gather your supplied connectors and the inline water filter system.
Step 3: Making Connections
Connect the water filter inlet to the water supply line gap, the inlet is clearly marked with an arrow or the word “in” for easy reference. Then connect the outlet to the section of pipe leading into your location which may be marked “out” or with another arrow. The filter may contain a mounting kit to screw in place that supports the filter in place.
Step 4: Installing the Filter
Drill holes on the walls to fix the filter in place with a bracket and screw the filter into position. Leave enough space around the screws so that you can change the filter later and replace it as required. Then test the system by running a through gallons of water through it and checking for water leaks. This process also flushes loose pieces of filtration media out of the filter and makes it ready to use.
Most manufacturers recommend running three to five gallons of water through the filter before you consume any treated water, but it is best to check specific manufacturer recommendations.
You may notice that your water has an odor, particularly if you had specific water quality issues before installation. However, in most cases, there is a gradual decrease in water pressure which indicates that the filter is becoming clogged and is restricting water flow.
NSF or the National Sanitation Foundation is a nonprofit that creates food safety and sanitation standards to promote public health. NSF certification means that the manufacturer has met the stringent NSF guidelines for its product.
As we’ve demonstrated, there are some fantastic inline water filters on the market. From the easy to set up Omnipure K2533JJ to the Culligan IC-EZ-4 EZ, which has a quick connect fitting system that makes it quick and easy to change cartridges. However, the stand out as the best inline water filter has to be our editor’s choice, the Woder WD-10K. This impressive water filter is an ultra-high capacity device that can remove up to 99% of many common contaminants. It can also be installed in less than 15 minutes with no special tools, experience or training. The filter can operate for up to three years or 10,000 gallons, making it a cost-effective solution for even busy households.