Disclaimer: This page may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through an affiliate link, we may earn a commission but at no additional cost to you. You can view our full affiliate disclosure here.
This product review features the APEC RO-CTOP countertop portable reverse osmosis drinking water system.
Sick of foul-smelling water laden with unwanted contaminants? No worries! The powerful 4-stage RO system, APEC CTOP, is designed to filter your water so it tastes exactly how it’s supposed to be: clean and fresh.
According to the manufacturer, the portable countertop unit removes up to 99% of various harmful contaminants, including arsenic, chlorine, fluoride, lead and chromium-6.
Today, we review the system based on our professional knowledge and experience. Stay tuned!
APEC RO-CTOP Review – Main Specs
- Filter stages: 4
- Flow rate: 0.3-0.5 gallons of water per minute
- Recovery rate: 25%
- Estimated filter replacement cost per year: $120
- NSF: 42
- System dimensions: 14x6x6.5 inches, 7 lbs.
- Water pressure: 40-100 psi
At the beginning of our APEC RO-CTOP countertop system review, a few highlights:
4 Stage Filtration
Sediment pre-filter: As a first barrier, filter stage 1 removes large particles like dust and rusts down to 5 microns.
Granular activated carbon: The second stage filters out chlorine, VOCs, and other contaminants that alter the taste, smell and look of the water. It uses granular activated carbon based on coconut shells.
RO membrane: This is where the magic happens. This stage removes hundreds of unwanted contaminants, including viruses. Technically speaking, the DOW FILMTEC membrane features a TDS rejection rate of up to 98-99%.
Granular activated carbon post-filter: At this stage, your water is purified from any lingering contaminants and receives a polishing touch.
Note that if you chose to install a calcite remineralization filter, it would replace the GAC post filter.
Installation-Free (& Portable)
The fact that the countertop system is installation-free and therefore highly portable is one of the main advantages.
Filtered or Unfiltered?
Using the diverter you can choose between using filtered water and unfiltered water without disconnect the filter system.
Made in USA
For highest quality.
- To begin with, the APEC RO-CTOP is an excellent option for those who don’t want to bother with installations or altering the plumbing. So, whether you switch places frequently, live in a rental/dorm, or have limited space: just plug it in, and you’re good to go.
- Not to mention since the unit is compact, lightweight and highly portable. You can tug it around with you while you go places.
- The unit is capable of filtering 2 to 3 gallons of water per hour. That’s reasonable enough for all your drinking and cooking water needs.
- If you are worried that the equipment will bring down the look of your sleek and tidy kitchen, you have the option of encapsulating it in a modern aluminum case. It would pass as an accessory any day. The diverter on the system makes switching between filtered and unfiltered water straightforward. It’s as simple as pressing a button, literally.
- RO systems usually waste a lot of water; thus, aren’t considered eco-friendly. Nevertheless, the unit wastes 3 gallons per 1 gallon filtered, which is slightly better than the standard ratio of 1:4. Moreover, you can collect the water in a tank and use it for gardening, dishwashing or cleaning.
- Similarly, RO systems are notorious for filtering out good minerals, too, leaving your water slightly acidic. To get rid of this issue, APEC has an optional additional upgrade, a remineralization filter, that replenishes lost minerals and balances the pH level of the filtered water. Note that the calcite filter will replace the fourth post carbon filter.
- Moreover, the entire unit uses food-grade BPA-free materials that are entirely non-toxic.
- Did we mention that maintaining the unit is a breeze, owing to quick-connect fittings?
- Not only that, the made in USA filters sport optimum quality.
- The cherry on top, APEC provides a 1-year limited warranty. Thus, no need to worry about costly repairs, at least for a year.
- For starters, the unit only works with standard faucets with removable aerators. So if you have a pull-out model, a sprayer or any designer faucet installed, chalk this unit right off the list.
- While the manufacturer makes many claims about the filtration capability, there are not many testings or certifications to back the claim. Other than NSF 42 for chlorine removal, the APEC RO-CTOP has no third-party certifications.
- This brings us to question whether the price is fair? This is because there are no certifications to ensure the water is pure from the contaminants as advertised. Moreover, it’s pricier, upfront and maintenance-wise, than many similar alternatives on the market.
- We aren’t fans of the thin tube connecting the unit and the faucet. It looks tacky and brings the look down by a notch.
- While the filters are sturdy and do the job well, the same can’t be said for the quality of the tubing. Many consumers have pointed out that it’s inadequate and leaks. As a result, it brings down the effectiveness of the whole system.
There is no installation required to start the unit. Simply remove the aerator from your faucet and fix the APEC RO-CTOP countertop reverse osmosis system (possibly using one the faucet adapters). Another tube for wastewater drainage should be attached to the sink.
The manual states to turn on the tap for 10-15 minutes to let the system flush out and enjoy clean, pure water.
The installation is very similar to this:
As mentioned above, the system is relatively easy to maintain. Thanks to quick connect fittings, replacing the cartridges doesn’t take long.
The user manual includes a comprehensive and detailed explanation.
Moving on to how often to replace the unit and the annual running cost. Let’s break it down individually.
- Sediment pre-filter: The first filter needs to be replaced in six to eight months or a maximum of 800 gallons.
- Carbon pre-filter: It lasts the same as the first one.
- RO membrane: The RO membrane lasts 2 to 3 years. Note that timely replacement of the first two filters will prolong the life of the RO membrane.
- Carbon post filter: This filter lasts 2-3 years.
- Optional calcite filter: Needs to be replaced twice a year.
The APEC RO-CTOP filter replacements will set you back about $120. If you find the filter elements too costly, you can substitute them with others measuring the standard 10 inches.
But, you should not compromise on the quality and get the best your budget allows.
- Base plate
- Filter elements
- Filter brackets
- Faucet adapters
APEC RO-CTOP System Review – Conclusion & Best For
While we love that the APEC RO-CTOP countertop and portable reverse osmosis drinking water system is user-friendly and does the job quite well, we won’t be giving it a glowing recommendation. This is because the unit lacks third-party certifications and specific percentages of contaminant removal.
Moreover, it’s costlier than comparable systems on the market.
To sum up, it’s a good option for those who need something quick and easy to maintain.
If you have questions about our APEC RO-CTOP review please leave a comment below!
- APEC Ultimate RO-90 Drinking Water System Review
- What’s the Best Reverse Osmosis System?
- 2023 List with the Best Portable/Countertop RO Filter Systems
- Comparison: Best Countertop Water Filters on the Market
Rory has joined the Water Masterz team as a contributing writer. He has covered all sorts of topics in the last several years.
Outside of his writing work, Rory enjoys photographing the Irish landscape and making music!