Refrigerator Water Filters vs. Under Sink Water Filters

Author: Rory Mullan - Published: 2022/08/05 - Updated: 2022/12/22

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.

The choice of water filter system is important, if not easy. These days there are multiple types available, each with its own quirks. Take under sink and refrigerator water filters, for example. Both have become very popular for their ease of use, affordability, and practicality.

But which one works best for you? Read this article to find out.

It will explain how both refrigerator and under sink water filters work, their pros and cons, similarities and differences, and how to choose between them.

So, here is our guide on under sink water filters vs. refrigerator water filters!


Consider this if you want to choose between a refrigerator and under sink water filter:

  • Space – Does the area beneath your sink have enough room to fit a water filter?
  • Contaminants – A refrigerator water filter will not be enough if your water is highly polluted. Tip: Get your water checked!
  • Installation – Compared to an under-the-sink system, a fridge water filter is significantly simpler to install.
  • Costs – Both initially and over time, fridge filters are less expensive.

What is an Under Sink Water Filter?

Usually, an under sink water filter is installed as a plumbing attachment and goes under the sink cabinet. These universal models can be used in almost all households without requiring special conversions. In addition, they are typically faster than refrigerator water filters.

under sink water filter being installed

How Do Under Sink Water Filters Work?

In an under sink water filter, water is filtered directly before it is dispensed or stored in a tank for later use. There are both inline models and under sink systems that use a separate dispenser.

Under sink water filters typically require minimal installation work initially and are relatively low-maintenance in the long run. One major disadvantage to under sink water filters, however, is that you need one for each drinking water source in your home.

Benefits of Under Sink Water Filters

There are three main benefits to using under sink water filters:

1. More Effective Filtration

Under sink water filters, on average, offer better filtration capabilities than refrigerator water filters.

Due to their larger size, most models are also suited for advanced filtration methods, such as multi-stage treatment, which isn’t available with refrigerator filters.

2. Universally Compatible

Under sink water filters can be used almost anywhere. The only thing you need to begin is a sink with some free space underneath it. There may be a few minor changes you need to make to your existing plumbing, but other than that, the filters are very simple to install and use.

3. Still Affordable

Purchase and maintenance of many under sink water filters are very affordable. The fact that they have stronger filtration capabilities makes them a clear winner for budget-conscious consumers.

Drawbacks of Under Sink Water Filters

There are two downsides to under sink water filters:

1. Single Point of Use

Every drinking water faucet in your house will need to have its own separate under sink filter, which means that when you want to filter water from multiple faucets in a large house, it can get quite expensive. Furthermore, depending on how your home is laid out, you may not be able to install it at every faucet.

2. Space

The under sink water filters that come with their own storage tanks, such as reverse osmosis systems, do take up some space in the sink cabinet.

What is a Refrigerator Water Filter?

Filters for refrigerators are designed for models with built-in water dispensers or ice makers. However, they are limited to models that already support the installation of a filter. Thus, before investing in a filter, check to see if your fridge supports filtration.

Installing a refrigerator water filter

How Do Refrigerator Water Filters Work?

Refrigerator water filters are installed inside your refrigerator. Often, it is located close to the point where water is dispensed, making it easy to access for installation and maintenance.

However, refrigerator water filters have a few downsides, including their limited filtration capacity and the fact that you may sometimes need to wait until enough filtered water is available.

Benefits of Refrigerator Water Filters

There are three main advantages to refrigerator water filters:

1. No Extra Space Required

There is already a designated spot for the installation of water filters in refrigerators that support them. Therefore, those filters require no additional space.

2. Easy to Maintain

Maintaining a refrigerator water filter is as simple as changing it every once in a while. Long-term maintenance costs are very low, and they are very easy to operate.

3. Cold Filtered Water

The water that you get isn’t just purified but cooled as well – ideal for hot weather and homes that have trouble keeping cool. Your refrigerator’s ice maker will also benefit from the filtered water.

Drawbacks of Refrigerator Water Filters

There are three downsides to refrigerator water filters:

1. Not the Most Effective Contaminant Removal

In comparison with under sink water filters, refrigerator units offer less effective filtration.[1]

2. Slow Flow

In order for refrigerator water filters to do their job properly, they need time. Adding a filter to your refrigerator’s water dispenser will only make it slower, and the problem will only get worse with time.

3. Only Works in Specific Refrigerators

It is only possible to install a filter if your refrigerator supports it. If not, you’re out of luck.

Under Sink vs. Refrigerator Water Filters – Similarities & Differences

Under Sink Water Filters vs Refrigerator Water Filters Thumbnail

The main similarity between an under sink water filter and a refrigerator water filter is they provide you with clean, filtered water directly from an exit point in your home. You can only install them where you already have a faucet or fridge.

Refrigerator water filters, however, are usually less powerful when it comes to filtration. Additionally, they can only be used in refrigerators that already support them due to their design.

On the other hand, under sink filters require a bit of extra space in your sink cabinet. Fridge filters essentially take no space.

Verdict: Which to Choose?

As far as water filtration is concerned, there is no “one size fits all” solution. You need to consider your own circumstances – such as the amount of space you have and where you want to obtain clean water, plus the level of contamination you are dealing with.

The stronger filtration capabilities of an under sink water filter may be more beneficial if you have a more heavily contaminated water supply.

Unlike refrigerator water filters, which are generally more limited, these multi-stage filters can remove the majority of contaminants without a hitch. Their smaller design may also require more frequent cartridge replacements, although this varies from model to model and should be verified individually.


Refrigerator water filters are a great option when you are looking for a unit that takes minimal space and only needs to filter drinking water. However, the fact that they are only compatible with specific refrigerators might make finding one for you more difficult than using another type of filter.

Under sink water filters can be used in practically any home and offer much more thorough water filtration.

At the end of the day, the right choice for you will boil down to what you need your filter for and what your budget is.

Further Reading


Meet Rory Mullan

Rory Mullan 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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

six + 11 =