APEC Water Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System RO-CTOP

APEC Water Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System RO-CTOP
The APEC Water countertop RO-CTOP filter system is a decent choice for those who want purified drinking water at their kitchen sink. I purchased the RO-CTOP and tested it to see how well it performs. This is a bare bones unit that can provided filtered water for drinking. It can produce 90 gallons of purified per day – which will fill an 8-ounce glass in slightly more than a minute. You may find this flow rate is too slow to use for cooking, although most people fill a jug of water so they don’t have to wait on the filter. It has enough water treatment capacity for about two people. The APEC countertop RO filter ha a very high contaminant removal efficiency – it removed 99.66% in my testing.  It was very easy to install – it took just minutes and required no tools. It is also very quiet when it’s treating water. However, this unit came up short in several key areas – the water had an unpleasant taste, it has a low water production rate, it wastes a lot of water, and is poorly made. Continue reading to see how I evaluated this filter and what the results are.

Express Water Countertop RO Filter Features and Options

The APEC Water countertop reverse osmosis system is a low-cost reverse osmosis filter for people who want purified drinking water. It is a basic unit with no options. If you’re just looking for clean drinking water, this filter system will meet your needs. Get more information on Amazon.
APEC Countertop RO filter (RO-CTOP)
The APEC Water (RO-CTOP) countertop RO water filter is a simple, no-frills unit. It arrived as shown in this photograph, ready to be used.
The RO-CTOP RO filter has no options. It does not include a faucet for dispensing treated water – it has a 1/4-inch tube that you place in your cup or pitcher. I found this to be very disappointing because the clean water is discharged through a hose that sits on the counter where it can get dirty or contaminated with bacteria from my kitchen. Key Properties
  • Dimensions:  18″L x 12″W x 8 “H
  • Color: White
  • Capacity: 3.75 gallons per hour (90 gallons per day)
  • Treatment Methods: Sediment filter, activated carbon filter, reverse osmosis, post activated carbon filter
  • Warranty: 1 year (limited)
According to APEC Water, this filter removes 99.99% of the following contaminants:
  • Lead
  • Chlorine
  • Fluoride
  • Arsenic
  • Chromium 6
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Sulfate
  • Cyanide
  • Bacteria and viruses
  • Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)

Installation of the Express Water Countertop RO Filter

Installation steps

The APEC Water (RO-CTOP) filter is a countertop model with a single installation step. The installation guide says that the filter should be placed on a flat surface, such as the kitchen counter, adjacent to the sink. They suggest placing it near enough to the sink so that it can be attached to the faucet. I was able to connect the RO-CTOP to my kitchen faucet without using any tools. You may find you need a wrench to loosen the aerator on your faucet.
Connecting APEC RO-CTOP RO filter hose to faucet
The APEC Water countertop RO unit connects to your faucet with a single fitting. I was able to install it without tools.
The filter connects to the faucet with the diverter valve and hose assembly. The diverter valve fits most standard kitchen faucets (7/8″), except those with a detachable hose assembly. The unit came with two faucet adapters (13/16″ and 15/16″) to accommodate other sizes.
APEC RC-CTOP RO Countertop filter faucet adapters
The filter system comes with several faucet adapters to allow it to connect to most standard fixtures.
The connection and setup process took about 10 minutes. On whole, it was very simple and easy to do. No tools were required.
APEC RC-CTOP hose adapter connected to faucet
The APEC Water countertop RO filter has a small footprint, but the hose assembly must remain connected to the faucet. The hose makes it awkward to move the faucet from one sink to the other and creates clutter around the sink.

Supply water pressure

The APEC RO filter requires a supply pressure between 35 PSI and 90 psi. If your water pressure is less than 35 psi, you will have to purchase a booster pump for the filter to work properly. Water pressure greater than 90 psi is unusual, but, if this applies to you, you can install a pressure regulator to reduce the pressure. You can’t run hot water through this filter. The acceptable temperature range is 40 to 100 degrees F. Although reverse osmosis is a good filtration method to remove pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and cysts, the Installation Manual warns that this unit should not be used with water that is “microbiologically unsafe or of unknown quality without adequate disinfection”.

APEC Water Countertop RO Filter Options

The APEC Water countertop filter does not have any options or features you can add. It is a utilitarian unit that is designed to filter water for point-of-use drinking. If you want a no-frills unit that delivers purified water, the RO-CTOP will do the job. If you want a beautiful appliance that will enhance the look of your kitchen, this is not for you.

Pros and Cons of the APEC Water Countertop RO Filter

I used the APEC Water countertop reverse osmosis filter for 6 months and compiled this list of its pros and cons.

Pros of the APEC Water RO filter

The APEC Water RO filter has a lot of good attributes.
  1. The RO-CTOP arrived fully assembled. If you’re not mechanically inclined, this unit might be for you. I was able to hook it up without any tools. I simply removed the aerator from my ktchen faucet and threaded on the diverter valve by hand. That’s all it takes to “install” this filter!
  2. The APEC countertop filter makes very good quality water. I measured the TDS of the treated water, and it’s the lowest value I’ve seen. Low levels of TDS are desirable – this means that all of the impurities have been removed.
  3. The unit makes no noise when it’s operating.
  4. The filter system is small and doesn’t take up a lot of room on my countertop.

Cons of the APEC Water RO filter

The APEC Water RO filter has a lot of problems that I didn’t like.
  1. Very unattractive, especially for an appliance that is on your kitchen counter.
  2. Has no faucet to dispense treated water. The hose sits on the counter where it can get dirty or contaminated.
  3. Low flow rate – it takes more than a minute to fill a glass with water.
  4. You have to monitor the unit when it’s operating. This is typical for all countertop units, but since this one doesn’t have a faucet, it’s even more of an issue.
  5. Has an off-taste, similar to plastic.

Unique Features of the APEC Water RO-CTOP Countertop RO Filter

The APEC Water RO filter includes four modes of water treatment. These include:
  1. Pre-treatment sediment filter. Sediment filtration is the initial treatment provided by the APEC Water countertop unit. Before they can foul the RO membrane, this filter removes turbidity, suspended solids, rust, and particles.
  2. Granular activated carbon adsorption filter. The AEPC unit includes a coconut shell activated carbon filter to remove chlorine and other impurities. This protects the RO membrane from degradation and damage.
  3. Reverse osmosis filter. The APEC Water counter RO system has a reverse osmosis cartridge immediately downstream to the carbon filter. The RO membrane is the heart of the system and is where the contaminants of concern are removed.
  4. Post-treatment activated carbon filter. APEC provides a post-filter activated carbon cartridge to remove any suspended solids or bad tasting substances from the water. This is a nice level of treatment to have in a home RO filter.
All of the filter cartridges listed above can be removed and replaced using quick-disconnect fittings. These connectors can be opened and closed by hand, without the need for tools. This is a very convenient way to replace spent cartridges.

The Unboxing

The APEC Water RO-CTOP filter was packed very professionally and arrived in good condition. I bought this filter from Walmart, and I wasn’t sure how well their shipping compares to Amazon. As you can see from the photo below, Walmart did a fine job shipping this filter to me.

What’s Included

The APEC Water countertop RO filter includes the reverse osmosis filter system as shown below. It has 4 filters, including a sediment filter, activated carbon filter, RO membrane, and poste-treatment carbon filter. The unit connects to your faucet with an integral hose assembly. The hose assembly has a diverter valve that threads onto your faucet. APEC provides two additional adapters in case our faucet isn’t a standard size. In addition to the filter assembly and faucet adapters, I received an installation manual, warranty card, and service decal. The service decal is a convenient way to keep track of when you put the filters into service so you know when to replace them.

Test Results for the APEC Water Reverse Osmosis (RO-CTOP) Filter

I did a series of test on my APEC Water reverse osmosis countertop filter to measure its performance. In the following section I present the tests I performed and the results.

1 – Treated water output

The APEC Water countertop RO filter is rated for 90 gallons per day. If you’ve never used a countertop filter, you might assume you’ll have this much water available to use every day. Technically, this is true, but from a practical level, you’ll only get a fraction of this water. It takes an average of 62 seconds to produce 8-ounces of filtered water. That’s a full minute for a glass of water to drink. Since the unit only operates while you’re monitoring it, this slow production rate means you’re only going to get drinking water from this. I tried placing a jug in my sink and allowing the filter to fill it up while I did other things. I discovered that anything bigger than a 1-gallon container took too long to fill. One gallon took almost 10 minutes. The APEC Water filter earned a 2 out of 5 in this category.
RO filter producing purified water
The APEC Water countertop RO filter took an average of 62 seconds to fill an 8-ounce glass.

Slow production.

The APEC Water countertop RO filter took a long time (1 minute) to produce a glassful of water. This is very slow. The only way to use this unit is to fill jugs of water and have them available for drinking and cooking.

2 – Water quality

The typical reverse osmosis filter can remove 99.99% of the dissolved solids and other impurities from water, which is especially important with contaminants like lead or PFAS that have very low limits for drinking-water quality standards. One way to evaluate how well your RO unit purifies the water is to measure TDS levels. Total Dissolved Solids is a measure of everything that is in the water – the good minerals as well as the contaminants. By measuring how much TDS the RO filter removes, you get a good sense of how well it is purifying your water. To evaluate the APEC RO filter, I switched it on and allowed the water to flow for a full minute – I wanted to collect a representative sample without water that might have been sitting in the filter. I collected a sample of the filtered water in a clean glass and measured the TDS value using my meter. I also collected a sample of untreated tap water (I get my water from the town’s public water system) and measured the TDS value. I repeated this over a 5-day period so I could see how the unit performed over time. The average TDS value of treated water from my APEC Water RO filter was 2 parts per million (ppm). The TDS concentration in my untreated tap water was 592 ppm. The removal efficiency of my filter is 99.66%. Check out the meter I use on Amazon.
Tap Water TDS Measurement
The TDS value of my Tap Water is 592 ppm.

99.66% Removal Efficiency

The APEC Water countertop RO filter removed 99.66% of the dissolved solids from my tap water. This is exceptional. Most high-end, commercial RO filters have a TDS value of 1 to 5 in the treated water. For a budget countertop unit to produce water this pure is great. I awarded the filter a 5 out of 5 in this test.

3 – Waste water volume

All reverse osmosis filters waste some amount of water. A typical RO filter might waste 1 or 2 gallons of water for every gallon of clean water it makes. This is expressed as a ratio (wasted water to clean water). The water reject ratio for RO filters varies from 2:1 to as high as 4:1. The APEC Water RO filter wasted 4 gallons of water while producing 1 gallon of drinking water; this is a water reject ratio of 4:1, which is very poor. I awarded this filter a score of 1 out of 5.

4 – Taste and odor

The taste and odor of drinking water is very important to all of us. We want the best quality, which means no foul odors or bad tastes. To conduct this taste test, I asked five different individuals if they would sample some treated tap water made by my APEC Water RO filter. I filtered the water using my reverse osmosis system and chilled it overnight. Each person was given a sample of treated water followed by tap water to taste. I had them complete a brief survey with 5 questions. Survey questions
  1. How would you describe the taste (excellent, good, no taste, bad, other)?
  2. Does the water have any flavors?
  3. Does the water have an aftertaste?
  4. Smell the water sample and describe the odor.
  5. Describe the appearance of the water.
I examined the survey results against those from other RO filter tests I’d conducted previously. The APEC Water RO treated water performed poorly in the taste test. Every participant rated the taste as fair. Several people complained about the water having no flavor, and others noted it had a plastic aftertaste. In my experience with RO filtration, this plastic aftertaste is often due to the absence of minerals like calcium and manganese. These elements impart a pleasant taste to water, and most of us expect it in the water we drink. When we don’t “taste” these minerals, something seems wrong to us. If you are one of these people, I recommend using an alkaline filter, also known as a remineralizer. This adds back the missing minerals and makes your RO treated water taste great. I awarded this filter a 2 out of 5 in the taste and odor category.

5 – Warranty

APEC Water offers a limited 1-year warranty for their countertop reverse osmosis filter. Their warranty only covers defects in the parts or manufacturing of the product. The remedy they provide replacing the defective part with a new one. The warranty doesn’t apply to filters or membranes which are considered consumables. They require you to provide proof of purchase as part of their warranty service. If you complete their registration card, APEC Water will extend the warranty to 2 years. In my opinion, this is not a good warranty. It will likely cost more for shipping than the unit costs. Unfortunately, this type of limited warranty is about all you can expect from a budget filter like this one. The APEC Water countertop RO filter received a 3 out of 5 in this category.

6 – Noise

The APEC Water RO filter makes virtually no sound when it’s treating water. The only noise is the waste water flowing into the sink. Since it has no moving parts, and is driven by the supply pressure, it’s no surprise that this system is so quiet. I measured the sound levels that the APEC filter made using the NIOSH noise meter app on my iPhone. This app measures the sound in decibels and is extremely accurate. The maximum sound levels were only 1.5 db above background readings. That’s very quiet! I give the APEC system a 5 out of 5 for noise.

7 – Workmanship

When the APEC Water filter arrived, I thoroughly inspected it to see how well it was made. As part of this inspection, I checked the following:
  1. Tube size. Larger tubes allow more water to pass through with less pressure loss. The larger diameter has more capacity so that fouling or scale buildup in the tubes takes longer to reduce the flow rate the system can handle.
  2. Tube connector materials. High quality filters use metal tube connectors rather than plastic because they are more rugged and last longer.
  3. Thickness of metal frame and housing. Units that are made of thicker (heavy gauge) metal can stand up to bumps and drops and are and less likely to bend or become dented over time.
APEC Water RO filter end view of cartridges and hoses
The APEC Water RO filter is made with small diameter tubes (1/4″) that are connected with plastic fittings. The frame is made of light gauge steel and the filters are held in place with plastic tie wraps.
The APEC Water countertop system is made with small diameter tubing (1/4″) which is the smallest size you for a filter of this size. APEC uses plastic connectors rather than metal connectors, which is the lowest quality in this category. The metal frame is 0.0149 inches thick epoxy coated steel (28 gauge). This thickness is acceptable for a small filter, but higher cost countertop filters use 24 gauge steel which is thicker and less likely to become dented over time. I awarded the APEC RO filter a 2 out of 5 for workmanship.
Back side of RO filter system
Back side of filter system housing.
Bottom of RO filter
Bottom of filter system housing.

8 – Price

I purchased the APEC Water Countertop RO filter (RO-CTOP) from Walmart for $249.99. Shipping was free. This is a good price for a countertop filter. It’s not the cheapest unit, but it’s still very reasonable. I awarded the RO-CTOP a 4 out of 5 for price.

9 – Installation

The APEC Water countertop filter was very simple and easy to install. I was able to set it up and connect it to my faucet with no tools in about 5 minutes. Everything came pre-assembled and was ready to go right out of the box. The Installation Manual was very well written in plain language, and it had plenty of photographs to demonstrate how the filter should be connected. This countertop unit earned a 5 out of 5 for its ease of installation.

My Rating of the APEC Water Countertop Reverse Osmosis Filter

The APEC Water (RO-CTOP) countertop RO filter system is a no-frills appliance that can produce very pure water (99.66% contaminant removal). It has no options, so it’s a very Spartan filter system.  I was somewhat disappointed by its low water production rate (a full minute to fill a glass of water). Despite the high water purity, it had a bad taste (actually no taste), which a lot of people find disagreeable. If you buy this unit, you’ll probably want to add an alkaline filter to restore the minerals and improve the taste. For the price, this is a reasonably good value reverse osmosis filter system. Overall, it earns a score of 27 out of 45. This is a 3 out of 5 star rating. Here are the test results.
Criteria Score Significance
Clean water production rate 2 Low. Filtering 8-ounces took 62 seconds.
Water quality 5 Excellent. TDS removal efficiency was 99.66%.
Volume of water wasted 1 Poor. Waste volume ratio is 4:1.
Taste and odor 2 Fair. Water had an aftertaste of plastic.
Warranty 3 Good. 1 year warranty, with limitations.
Noise 5 Very little noise once water is flowing.
Workmanship 2 Fair. Small tubes with plastic fittings.
Price 4 Low price within countertop filter category.
Installation 5 Very easy and quick. No tools required.
Total Score 27 This budget filter provides good value for the price.

Using the APEC Water Countertop RO Filter

This reverse osmosis filtration system is fairly simple to operate and maintain. A diverter valve on the hose assembly allows you to control the flow of water so that it either bypasses the filter or passes through it for treatment.

Using the vales on the Express Water countertop RO filter

The APEC Water RO filter is easy to use and comes with a diverter valve that allows you the choice of operating it in two modes: Bypass Mode (if your water needs don’t require purification), or Filtration mode. When set for filtration, simply position the divertor valve in the filtration mode setting and you have clean drinking water.

Maintenance requirement for the Express Water countertop RO filter

The APEC countertop RO system must be maintained properly to keep it operating withing specifications. Regularly replacing the filters is the most important part of maintenance. Clean filters will ensure the unit is working properly and will last a long time.
APEC Water replacement filters
AEPC Water sells replacement filters to keep your RO system functioning properly.
APEC Water recommends changing the filters on the following schedule.
  1. Sediment filter: replace every 6 months.
  2. Activated carbon filter: replace every 6 months.
  3. Reverse osmosis membrane: replace every 12 months.
  4. Post activated carbon filter: replace every 6 months.
If you use your filter frequently or if the water is highly hard, you should change all of the filters more frequently than recommended. The simplest method to determine if your filter needs to be replaced is to test the water quality on a regular basis. Read my article on how to test the treatment efficiency your RO filter.

Final Thoughts on the APEC Water Countertop Reverse Osmosis Filter (RO-CTOP)

The APEC Water countertop reverse osmosis filter is a decent countertop water filtration unit. I can remove many of the most common contaminants and is reasonably priced. It is a no-frills unit that can meet your basic drinking water needs. It doesn’t have the capacity for more than 2 people, and I wouldn’t get this unit if you need a lot of water for cooking or making coffee. If you want a low-cost reverse osmosis filter, this unit will suffice. However, I suggest you look at other units if you want more than an entry level treatment unit.

Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children. You can also follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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