Over thirteen million US households get their drinking water from a private well.

With no government regulation for wells, owners are solely responsible for protecting their water supply from health hazards like bacteria, sediment, and heavy metals.

Thankfully, the best whole-house water filters for well water are capable of handling all serious types of contamination, providing access to pure water from every faucet in your home.

At a glance? Our favorite whole-house water filter for well water is:

SpringWell ULTRA Whole House Well Water Filter Salt Based System Combo

ULTRA-Salt-Based

We think the SpringWell ULTRA offers:

  • comprehensive protection against health risks
  • a solution for bad tastes, smells, and discoloring,
  • multiple filter stage configurations,
  • competitive pricing, and
  • positive owner reviews.

Head over to SpringWell for more information on their ULTRA system.

Learn more at SpringWell

What should I look for in a whole house water filter for well water?

  • Filter stages. Well water systems contain multiple filter stages, each designed to target specific contaminants. When choosing a system, select a model with filter stages that match the potential risks to your water.
  • Price. Maximize your investment in a whole-house filter by considering all the relevant costs. Add the basic system price to the cost of replacement cartridges, and professional installation if necessary.
  • Reviews. Reports from owners tell us how a system performs under different conditions and reveal issues with long-term reliability. Reviews also give real-world feedback on factors like installation ease, flow rate, and cartridge lifespan.

The winners – our best whole house water filters for well water

Compare – whole house well water filters by brand

ULTRA-Salt-Based
SpringWell Aquasana iSpring Culligan Pentair Pelican APEC 
Sediment / prefilter
Carbon filter
Iron filter option*
UV filter option*
Water softener option*
Warranty Lifetime 10-year limited 30-day 2 years Limited lifetime 1 year

* To include all filter stages in one system, several products may need to be combined.

What contaminants are in my well water?

Well water quality depends upon well depth, the geology of an area, and local environmental features.

  • In shallower wells and areas with lots of industry or agriculture, water can contain pesticides, nitrates, and other chemicals.
  • In areas with high rainfall, surface water can wash into wells, carrying plant matter, waste materials, microorganisms, viruses, cysts, and parasites.
  • Water from wells drilled into porous bedrock, or connected to older pipes, can contain dissolved sediment, minerals, and heavy metals.
E. coli or coliform bacteria isolated and culture

By using the right combination of filter stages, the best whole-house filters are capable of removing all of these health risks

Full review – whole house water filters for well water

ULTRA-Salt-Based#1 Best whole house water filter for well water – SpringWell ULTRA Whole House Well Water Filter Salt-Based System Combo

SpringWell stands alone as the only home filtration brand to offer a whole-house system with every type of filter stage.

When purchased with the optional UV purifier, the ULTRA Whole-House Filter combines 5 filtration stages, giving well owners complete water protection and conditioning—no matter the contamination risk.

The 3-tank, digital-ready system begins with a dedicated iron filter to remove discoloration and poor taste/smells, before sending water through a comprehensive whole-house filter designed to handle hundreds of common pollutants. A 5-micron sediment filter removes any larger particulate (dust, sand, silt, rust, etc), while a UV purifier destroys pathogens, viruses, and bacteria.

Finally, water is conditioned to remove hardness and scale with either a salt-based ion-exchange softener or a catalytic conditioner (depending on owner preference). We’ve gone with the traditional salt-based softener here.

Despite the number of filter stages, the ULTRA system achieves an impressive flow rate. With similar specs to the Aquasana EQ-1000 below, SpringWell gets an extra 2 gallons per minute (GPM) under regular conditions, which should make a big difference to how you experience the system on a daily basis. Even faster flow rates are possible in different configurations.

SpringWell completes the package with some great customer service. There’s secure financing available, a lifetime warranty, free shipping when purchasing directly from the brand, and a 6-month guarantee on parts.

Find out more about the SpringWell ULTRA Well Water Filter System here >

Filter stages
including add-ons
Pre-filter, Carbon filter, Iron filter, UV filter, Water softener
Contaminants reduced Sediments, metals, organic solubles, microorganisms, hard-water minerals
Flow rate ULTRA system: 9 GPM
(Iron-only system: 12 GPM)
(UV-only system: 15 GPM)
Capacity 10 years or 1,000,000 gallons
Reviews 5.0 from 20+ onsite reviews
Price Check the latest price

 

Filter technology

Whole House Well Water Filter System (Iron filter)

SpringWell’s iron filter uses Air Induction Oxidization (AIO) to remove 7 ppm of iron, 8 ppm of hydrogen sulfide, and 1 ppm of manganese from well water. The benefit of an AIO system is that it’s relatively maintenance-free, simply requiring backwashing to clean contaminants and regenerate the filter bed.

In the ULTRA System, backwashing can be auto-set to occur daily, taking any stress out of the operation.

Whole House Water Filter System (Carbon and KDF filter)

The centerpiece of SpringWell’s ULTRA system is their whole-house filter, which itself contains 4 stages. First, 2 layers of activated carbon media capture a wide range of organic compounds, such as chloramine, pesticides, and volatile organic chemicals.

A copper-zinc KDF filter then cleans water of heavy metals before a sediment filter removes undissolved particles larger than 5 microns. This component is very similar to the well-reviewed sediment filter found in the Pentair Pelican PSE1800 system (reviewed below).

Here’s an in-depth installation video for the ULTRA system from SpringWell, which lays out each filter stage, and how they work together:


SpringWell UV (ultraviolet) Water Filter system (UV purifier)

Unlike other filter stages, UV purifiers don’t remove contaminants from the water supply. Instead, they disrupt the cellular structure of potentially harmful pathogens and microorganisms, rendering them safe to drink.

SpringWell doesn’t develop its own UV technology. Instead, they partner with Luminor, a leading Canadian manufacturer of UV disinfectants. Their Blackcomb 5.1 purifier protects drinkers from 99.9% of pathogens, viruses, and bacteria, and comes with a color LCD screen to update owners on filter status.

When installing a UV purifier, it’s really important to place it after a well-functioning sediment filter stage. This will prevent particulate matter from damaging the UV bulb and shortening the device’s lifespan. With the SpringWell ULTRA’s sediment stage filtering down to 5-microns, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Water Softener System

Unusually for a home filtration brand, SpringWell produces both salt-based and no-salt water softening units, giving well owners a choice when it comes to conditioning. Both units fit seamlessly into the ULTRA system, with comparable results and flow rates.

Using the ion exchange water softener will remove the majority of hard minerals in a water supply, replacing them with softer salts from the system’s resin bed. The Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) conditioner, on the other hand, provides 99.6% scale prevention without the use of salt, by changing the structure of the dissolved minerals.

Owner reviews (highlights)

Standard installation (Verified buyer photo)

  • Longer-term feedback on the SpringWell ULTRA is positive, with the vast majority of reviewers mentioning the system’s reliability and consistent performance over 6 months after installation.
  • Christopher from 03/05/21 says: “The installation instructions were easy to follow and it went together without a problem…I’ve called tech support twice and immediately got to talk to a human that knew the system”…Read the full review.

Outside installation (Verified buyer photo)

  • Reviews suggest that the ULTRA is particularly effective at removing discoloration, hardness, and water staining. Many purchasers were able to make significant savings by taking advantage of the easy-install design and fitting the system themselves.
  • Sunny from 03/18/21 says “Water was smelling and very yellow with visible sediment…found SpringWell company and decided to try…Result was amazing. Water is clear, no smell. I can drink from the faucet”…Read the full review.

Comparisons

The SpringWell ULTRA is the only whole-house well water system we reviewed to have an optional Bluetooth tank head and accompanying app, which lets you view settings and performance data, as well as activate backwashing and regeneration.

While not necessary for filter function, we appreciate being able to know how our system is performing when away from the house, or simply without having to trek down to the boiler room. We think this a particular benefit for those using the system in a second home/summer cabin.

SpringWell also beats competing brands when it comes to customer service. They offer free FedEx shipping and financing options through third-party provider Affirm. Purchasers can split their payments over 3, 6, or 12 months with a no-hidden fee commitment.

SpringWell filter systems come with a Lifetime warranty against defects (though it’s worth noting that source water must meet certain basic hygiene requirements for the system to remain under warranty)

Our verdict

SpringWell’s ULTRA well water system boasts many best-in-class features. Its speedy flow rate beats Aquasana, its closest rival, while the dedicated iron filter allows it to remove more well water-specific contaminants than similar systems. The ULTRA’s sediment filter is also a strong contender for being the best around.

It’s true that costs can mount if you invest in all of ULTRA’s optional features. However, the price of each individual filter stage is competitive, and the convenience of running everything as a single system ensures value for money. If you need a whole-house well filter that can handle a serious and varied range of contaminants, we think the SpringWell ULTRA is the system for you.

Filter cartridge replacements

UV replacement bulb (lasts up to 1 year) $112.50
Carbon filter media (after 1,000,000 gallons) $334.95
Learn more at SpringWell

How do I know if my well water contains contaminants?

Drinking water in the test tube for chemical and microbiological analysisMany health risks can’t be detected by taste or smell. This makes it difficult to judge the quality of well water.

One way to identify contamination is to get your water tested. Another way is to take note of the features of your local environment.

 

Here are some common environmental features associated with water contamination:

If environmental conditions include Test and filter for
Gastrointestinal illness Coliform bacteria
Pipe corrosion pH, lead
Nearby intensive agriculture Nitrate, nitrite, pesticides, coliform bacteria
Coal or other mining operations Metals, pH, corrosion
Dump, junkyard, landfill, factory, gas station or dry-cleaning Volatile organic compounds, total dissolved solids, pH, sulfate, chloride, metals
Odor of gas/gasoline Volatile organic compounds
Objectionable taste or smell Hydrogen sulfide, corrosion, metals
Stained plumbing fixtures, laundry Iron, copper, manganese
Scaly residues Hardness (Manganese, iron)

 

Source: epa.gov

Water testing can be carried out by professionals or using a home testing kit (available online). Well water testing may also be completed as part of a home inspection.

#2 Runner up – Aquasana EQ-1000 Rhino

A close contender for the best whole-house filter for well water, with just a few less well water-specific features, is the Aquasana EQ-1000 Rhino.

This system combines all of Aquasana’s whole-house filter and conditioner stages to create a complete barrier against harmful contaminants and threats to water taste, smell, and appearance.

Unlike the SpringWell ULTRA, however, the Aquasana is missing a dedicated iron filter. This may be a downside for many, given how common iron contamination is in private wells.

Thanks to the large tanks and efficient media beds, the Aquasana matches SpringWell’s 1,000,000 gallon lifespan, and while it can’t quite compete on flow rate, it wins on price. When all filter stages are included, the Aquasana EQ-1000 can be purchased for over $1500 less than its rival.

(Though, the SpringWell system includes an extra filter stage, and may be easier to install without paying a professional plumber).

The EQ-1000 makes use of the brand’s unique upflow tank design, which reduces clogging or channeling while simultaneously increasing contact time between water and the filter media to maximize contaminant removal.

There’s no ion exchange option here, but the system does contain a highly efficient Scale Control Media (SCM) conditioner, which removes hardness without reducing beneficial minerals (Total Dissolved Solids).

Find out more about the Aquasana EQ-1000 Rhino here >

Filter stages
including add-ons
Pre-filter, Carbon filter, UV filter, Water softener
Contaminants reduced Sediments, metals, organic solubles, microorganisms, scale
Flow rate Rhino system: 7 GPM
(Conditioner-only system: 7 GPM)
(UV-only system: 7 GPM)
Capacity 10 years or 1,000,000 gallons
Reviews 3.9 from 400+ Amazon reviews
Price Check the latest price

 

Filter technology

RHINO water filter (carbon and KDF filter)

Aqusana’s RHINO filter contains the brand’s standard whole-house filtration stages. It combines a pre-filter to capture sediment, a carbon filter for organic contaminants and bad tastes, and a copper-zinc KDF filter to capture heavy metals.

Thanks to these 3 types of media, the RHINO captures an impressive range of contaminants, removing lead, mercury, trace metals, rust, sediment, chemical solvents, pesticides, VOCs, and other common pollutants.

UV purifier

Like the SpringWell ULTRA, the Aquasana system can be purchased with or without a UV purifier, depending on whether well water is at risk of microorganism contamination. Using high-powered ultraviolet bulbs, the purifier is capable of removing viruses, bacteria, and even chlorine-resistant cysts if a well is chemically treated.

Salt-free water conditioner (water softener)

To condition well water once it’s been filtered, the Aquasana EQ-1000 includes a conditioning tank with a Scale Control Media (SCM). This salt-free technology suspends calcium, magnesium, and other scale-causing minerals as water passes through it, without scrubbing desirable minerals from the water supply.

Comparisons

With similar designs and filtering ability, the Aquasana EQ-1000 draws comparisons to the SpringWell ULTRA. Both are popular systems made by reputable brands with positive long-term reviews, and both are capable of intensive filtration of a wide range of contaminants.

With no dedicated iron filter or ion exchange unit, the Aquasana falls behind the SpringWell when it comes to removing dissolved iron and Total Dissolved Solids, which may or may not be an issue, depending on the makeup of the source water.

What sets the Aquasana EQ-1000 apart are its quick-change filter tanks with their upflow structure. Users report seamless tank and cartridge replacement, and only rare instances of clogging or channel formation in comparison to other brands.

Owner reviews (highlights)

  • Reviewers of the Aquasana EQ-1000 give largely positive feedback. They highlight the system’s impressive ability to remove organic impurities, scale and restore water acidity.

Reviewer home testing results (Verified buyer photos)

  • Real-life testing data by a verified Amazon customer from 03/11/2017: “I purchased a First Alert home water test and conducted the test several months before installation and again a few days after. The results show a significant change from hard to softer water along with a noticeable decrease and near elimination of the hydrogen sulfide smell”…Read the full review.

(Verified buyer photos – doubled up to achieve 15GPM)

  • A significant number of reviewers cited issues with missing parts upon delivery, as well as difficulties when attempting DIY installation. Commenters highlight the importance of checking all parts are present before starting to install a system, and hiring a licensed plumber who knows how to correctly set up and optimize your new filter.
  • SJT10 from 01/30/2019 says: “I called Aquasana directly for a manifold system so that it could flow 15 GPM. Water quality and taste greatly improved.”

Our verdict

We gave the Aquasana RHINO EQ-1000 our runner-up spot thanks to its competitive cost and wide-ranging filtering ability. The brand’s years of experience in home filtration products mean that each stage of this system can stake a claim to being the best in its category.

However, the lack of a dedicated iron filter results in the Aquasana only being able to remove small traces of iron, and no ion-exchange softer option leaves out those customers looking to reduce all Total Dissolved Solids in their water. Installing the Aquasana EQ-1000 may also require hiring a professional.

Filter cartridge replacements

UV replacement bulb (off-brand) $39.95
Sediment pre-filter $28.88
Learn more at Amazon

#3 Best reverse osmosis whole-house water filter – iSpring RCS5T 500

The iSpring RCS5T 500 offers a different solution to contaminated well water. Through reverse osmosis (RO) technology, this system can produce highly-pure water on-demand without using tanks, meaning that those with limited space can still enjoy comprehensive protection.

With built-in pressure gauges and a 5-stage cycle, the RCS5T’s small size hides its filtering power. Water is sent through sediment and carbon filters to remove particulates and organic chemicals, before it’s pushed through micropore membranes capable of capturing the smallest contaminants.

Anytime a filter includes an RO stage, there’s a trade off between filtering power and flow rate—and this iSpring model is no exception. However, we think its innovative dual-flow design helps mitigate the drop in water flow. If you’re looking for a tankless well water system, reviews suggest the iSpring RCS5T 500 won’t let you down.

Filter stages
including add-ons
Pre-filter, Carbon filter, Reverse osmosis filter
Contaminants reduced Sediments, metals, organic solubles, microorganisms, minerals, TDS, flouride, nitrates
Flow rate 0.34 GPM
Capacity 2 years or 2,600 Gallons per membrane filter (500 Gallons per day maximum capacity)
Reviews 4.3 from 190+ Amazon reviews
Price Check the latest price

 

Filter technology

While there are no tanks in the iSpring RCS5T 500, the system still contains multiple filtration stages. Alongside the main RO stage, this model combines three densities of activated carbon with a pre-filter to capture sediment and protect those delicate osmosis membranes.

Stage 1 passes source water through a 5-micron sediment filter to remove rust and particles that can cloud water and damage appliances, as well as other elements in the filter system. 5 microns is a good threshold, and matches the best sediment stages in other filters on this page.

Stages 2 and 3 hold activated carbon media that adsorb organic contaminants which can cause bad tastes and smells. The use of both Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) and a carbon block stage increases the number of organic contaminants that the iSpring is capable of handling.

Stage 4 is the filter’s main RO stage. Here, water is pumped through a membrane with micropores that are just 0.0001-micron wide. These are rated to capture 99.9% of common contaminants, including heavy metals and pesticide residues.

What sets the iSpring’s RO component apart is its ‘Dual-Flow’ design, which speeds up flow rate while saving 70% more water than regular RO systems.

Finally, stage 5 acts as a failsafe, using another carbon media to capture any remaining dissolved pollutants. Here’s how each stage connects:

Filter stages (iSpring)

Comparisons

Comparing the iSpring RCS5T to the SpringWell and Aquasana systems above is a little difficult because they take such a different approach to well water purification.

The iSpring is definitely a better option if space for tanks is limited, and will remove more dissolved solids than any non-RO system. But it may be less effective when it comes to large particulates and soluble iron. Users will therefore need to balance their in-home needs with the specific quality of their source water.

Likewise, it’s unclear how well the iSpring will handle water taste and smell issues in comparison to the SpringWell ULTRA and Aquasana eq-1000. While the iSpring does have multiple carbon stages, it can’t draw on the big carbon blocks used by the other models.

Many RO systems have a significant negative effect on flow rate due to the way they push water through fine screen membranes. In this regard, the iSpring stacks up favorably to other RO systems, thanks to a dual flow design that allows more water to be filtered at once. This increases the daily capacity of the iSpring to 500 gallons.

A built-in booster pump also increases production by raising the water pressure.

Find out more about the iSpring RCS5T 500 here >

Owner reviews (highlights)

(Verified buyer photo)

  • Clark Reid from 04/17/2018 says: “I have been using the RCS5T for over a year…When we started using the system a little over a year ago the TDS was 25. Now it’s running 45. That’s still excellent and I don’t anticipate replacing the RO membrane until TDS is in the 80s”…Read the full review.
  • Thomas Moak from 04/23/2018 says: “This system really works…I added a 300-gallon holding tank and booster pump…My total dissolved solids (TDS) were 640 before installation. Within a few minutes of operation my TDS was, and still is, 7. My bottled water tests about 15!”…Read the full review.

Under-sink installation option (Verified buyer photo)

  • S. F. Gordon from 01/15/2018 says: “This is not my first reverse osmosis water filter system. I had a GE Merlin before this. It had leaky valve problems, low water flow, high waste water rejection and it was noisy. The iSpring has solved all of those issues. The only negative I’ve noticed is that the pump can take a few seconds to kick on when the faucet valve is opened”…Read the full review.

Our verdict

Thanks to its dual flow RO system that produces up to 500 gallons of water per day, the iSpring RCS5T 500 is a tankless system that offers many of the same benefits as its much bigger competitors. If you need a well water filter that can fit into a small space, we think you should consider this one.

That said, there as some inevitable sacrifices that come with any reverse osmosis system. The flow rate can never match non-RO, tanked filters, and the capacity of the whole system will be affected by inlet water pressure and temperature.

Filter cartridge replacements

RO System Replacement Filter (2-year supply) $213.29
Learn more at Amazon

#4 Best whole house water filter on a tight budget – Culligan WH-HD200-C

For the same price as a standard countertop filter, the Culligan WH-HD200-C offers whole-home protection from appliance-damaging sediment and other threats to water taste and appearance.

While there’s no comparison between this simple filter and the more extensive systems on this page, those looking for a first line of defense against particulate matter should definitely consider this device.

Filter stages
including add-ons
Sediment filter (pre-filter)
Contaminants reduced Sediments
Flow rate Depends on cartridge micron size
Capacity Up to 24,000 gallons (depending on cartridge)
Reviews 4.6 from +2700 Amazon reviews
Price Check the latest price

 

Filter technology

Culligan’s WH-HD200-C is made to fit several types of filter cartridge, which means it can be used to tackle a variety of water issues. Cartridges range from a coarse 50-micron media that will remove cloudiness caused by rust or scale, to 1-micron media designed to capture fine sands, silts, and bad tastes.

Depending on source water quality and the cartridge used, the flow rate and lifespan of the Culligan can differ significantly. Users can expect to replace or clean the media every 2 months for fine sediments, and up to 6 months for rust and dirt.

The WH-HD200-C has a clear plastic housing, which allows users to see contaminants building up and judge when it’s time to renew the cartridge. The entire casing has also been certified to NSF standards 372 and 42 for safety and structural integrity.

Culligan filter cartridge options (Culligan)

Comparisons

The Culligan’s WH-HD200-C is a different type of product from the other filters on this list—with a very different price tag.

It offers the same protection from contaminants as the pre-filter/sediment filter in multi-stage systems, but doesn’t provide sufficient defense against dissolved contaminants or microorganisms.

Depending on the cartridge used, the Culligan does have a minimal ability to filter organic contaminants, but its performance ranks well below tanked systems like SpringWell or reverse osmosis filters such as the iSpring. In fact, trying to use the Culligan to filter anything beyond sediments and particulates is unlikely to create noticeably better results than a standard kitchen water filter.

In this sense, the Culligan is designed for water that may be aesthetically unpleasing but is already safe to drink.

Find out more about the Culligan WH-HD200-C here >

Owner reviews (highlights)

  • Long-term reviews of the Culligan filter are mostly positive, with many highlighting the product’s ability to capture large amounts of rust and dirt. Several noted how the low price point allowed them to save a considerable amount of money compared to more intensive filtration products.
  • Two Culligan filters collecting rust (Verified buyer photo)

    SW2 from 02/19/2021 says: “We bought a 130-year-old house on a well. I put 2 of these Culligan filters in a row. 1st one has a Culligan 25 micron string filter to catch a majority of sediment and rust. 2nd has a Pure plus 5-micron carbon block filter for flavor and to catch what the 1st filter misses…Just look at all that rust”…Read the full review.

  • Reviewers seem to be divided on one aspect of the Culligan filter: the plastic threads used to screw the filter together and connect it to the water supply. Some commenters have documented cracked casings and seals after a short period of use—and a minority even report serious flooding due to leaks from their Culligan filter. However, others have responded that cracks and leaks are the results of over-tightening, de-threading, and general improper fitting of the filter head.
  • To avoid cracks or leaks, Gnatsum (a plumber) from 10/17/2018 says: “Use quality Teflon tape and/or pipe dope. Start by screwing the nipple or fitting in backward until you feel the last thread of the male click into the start of the female thread, then turn it clockwise to tighten it. If it feels really tight it may not have started straight or you have too much Teflon wrapped around the male thread”…Read the full review.

Our verdict

Not all well water needs extensive, multi-stage filtration. If you’re confident about the safety of your supply and only need to protect your plumbing and appliances from sediment, we think the Culligan WH-HD200-C offers an effective—and attractively priced—solution.

Filter cartridge replacements

RFC-BBSA (medium sediment) $29.72
R50-BBSA (coarse sediment) $12.71
Learn more at Amazon

Other whole-house water filters for well water to consider

#5 Also consider – Pentair Pelican PSE1800-PUV-7

Pelican tanks and filter stages are a little more expensive than similar models from Aquasana and SpringWell, but they offer equal filter power with premium construction materials like stainless steel-wrapped tanks.

The brand invests in their own proprietary filter tech, including their NaturSoft® conditioning system, which is third-party confirmed to prevent 99.6% of scale. Another thing that sets Pelican’s technology apart is their up-flow tanks, which have no moving parts and don’t require an electronic head—maximizing lifespan and versatility.

Filter stages
including add-ons
Pre-filter, Carbon filter, UV filter, Water softener
Contaminants reduced Sediments, metals, organic solubles, microorganisms, scale
Flow rate 7 GPM
Capacity 1,000,000 Gallons
Reviews 4.9 from 90+ onsite reviews
Price Check the latest price

 

Filter technology

5-Micron Sediment Pre-filter System

The Pelican PSE1800, the brand’s whole house system for well water, uses a standard sediment filter to remove contaminants bigger than 5 microns (20 times smaller than a human hair). This provides a first-pass of the water supply and helps to protect the later filter stages from large particulates.

Carbon Series premium whole house water filtration system

The PSE1800’s main whole-house stage combines Granular Activated Carbon (GAC), made from fine-ground coconut shells, and a copper-zinc KDF filter. It can effectively remove pesticides, herbicides, pharma and industrial chemicals, and dozens of other unwanted compounds.

Stand-out aspects here include stainless steel wrapping, helping to protect and regulate the tanks. Also notable is Pelican’s upflow design, which allows for backwashing without mechanical input, meaning there’s no need to plug the filter head into an outlet.

Trojan UV Max Purifier

Like SpringWell, Pelican uses outsourced technology in their UV purifier, which possesses the same effectiveness as the other UV filters above. It’s able to remove over 99% of pathogens, and according to owner reviews, has no issues with reliability or performance.

Pelican NaturSoft® Water Softener Alternative

To condition tap water, Pelican filters use the brand’s own NaturSoft mechanism, which can treat water up to 75 grains of hardness, with just 3 seconds of contact between the water and media. As a catalytic crystal-based system, it also doesn’t add salt to achieve water softness.

Learn more at Pelican

#6 Also consider – APEC 3-Stage Whole House Water Filter System

Like SpringWell and Culligan, APEC’s 3-stage Whole-House Filter System includes a dedicated iron-removal stage. By using a high-purity manganese dioxide media, it can turn ferrous iron dissolved in the water supply into insoluble iron, which is then picked up by the later carbon filter stage.

While it’s not suitable for well owners with concerns about pathogens and microorgsnaims s the APEC system is a great option for those looking for a mid-priced, tankless filter.

Filter stages
including add-ons
Prefilter, Iron filter, Carbon filter
Contaminants reduced Sediments, metals, organic solubles
Flow rate 15 GPM
Capacity 80,000 gallons
Reviews  4.6 from 50+ Amazon reviews
Price Check the latest price

 

Filter technology

Sediment filter

Like the other multi-stage filters in this list, APEC first sends water through a sediment filter to remove sand, silt, scale, and rust. APEC’s sediment screen is able to catch particles down to a size of 30 microns, which is respectable, but certainly not the best in class. On the upside, the pleated cartridge is washable and reusable, saving on the cost of replacements.

Iron filter

To collect dissolved iron from a water supply, the APEC Whole-House Filter employs a manganese dioxide media, which converts dissolved, soluble iron into insoluble ferric iron. This enables the third filtration stage—a carbon filter—to effectively capture iron pollution.

According to owner reviews, this method of iron filtration is effective at resolving water taste and staining issues resulting from iron contamination, without significantly affecting water pressure.

Granular activated carbon (GAC) filter

Like almost every other multi-stage filter, the APEC finishes its treatment cycle with an activated carbon stage, helping to remove any remaining organic impurities and bad tastes. Here, however, the GAC media is particularly essential, as it’s designed to remove the insoluble iron produced by the previous stage of the system.

While each stage of the APEC filter is relatively basic in terms of technology, it does the job well, without diminishing the mineral content of water. One reviewer, who uses the APEC Whole-House Filter as part of a micro-brewery, was able to confirm that water filtered using the system retains a desirable makeup of salts and minerals, and doesn’t discernably affect water pressure, as compared to a bypass.

Learn more at Amazon

Whole house water filter brands

SpringWell

SpringWell is a Florida-based company that’s been in operation for over 20 years. Over that time, they’ve developed a reputation for competitive pricing and homegrown quality, with each of their products designed, built, and packaged entirely within the US.

In an industry that’s seen its fair share of outsourcing and cost-cutting over the past few years, it’s great to see SpringWell’s commitment to quality control and product oversight.

In terms of their product range, the brand focuses mostly on serious, top-of-the-line filtration products, including purifiers and reverse osmosis filters. They also sell water testing kits.

The brand’s industry-leading warranty is one of the best indicators of their confidence in their products. Customer service is ensured with guarantees on all fittings, tanks, housings, valves, and media for the lifespan of the system.

n all fittings, tanks, housings, valves, and media for the lifespan of the system.

Aquasana

Texas-based Aquasana is one of the most well-known and well-regarded water filter brands. With more than 15,000 positive online reviews across their product range, there’s no doubt that Aquasana knows how to create reliable, accurate filter systems.

Since its conception, Aquasana has invested in pushing filter technology forward, with their own patented innovations that tweak and augment universal filtration methods. For example, the brand’s NSF-certified Claryum Filtration media is able to create purified, conditioned water without stripping the supply of minerals like magnesium and potassium, which are desirable for water taste and feel.

Aquasana also makes an effort to contribute to the public good by developing environmentally-friendly production methods. Their product casings are made from reusable materials, while their filter cartridges are created from recyclable materials.

Read our full review of the Aquasana brand.

Pelican Water

Pelican

Another Florida company (seemingly the mecca of filter development in the US), Pelican has been producing a range of super-highly quality tanks and filtration stages since 2007.

Owned and operated by parent company Pentair, Pelican systems are highly configurable and designed with simply DIY installation in mind.

While much of the brand’s product line retails for slightly more than its competitors, Pelican does make use of premium construction materials, such as their stainless steel tanks and their Trojan UV purifiers.

Read our take on the Pelican brand and its water filters.

What filtering methods do whole-house water filters use?

Activated carbon

Carbon water filterCarbon cartridges are the most common type of media found in home filters. They’re highly effective at capturing organic compounds that affect the taste, smell, and appearance of water.

Thanks to the way that dissolved compounds adhere to the surface of carbon media (thanks to a process known as adsorption), carbon filters can also remove more dissolved chemicals than many other, more complex filtration methods.

The larger, more finely ground, and more densely packed the carbon media, the more contaminants it will be capable of removing.

Reverse Osmosis (RO)

Reverse osmosis filters are often viewed as the ultimate form of home filtration, thanks to their frequent use in commercial and industrial systems. These filters use water pressure and additional pumps to push water through membranes with pores that are fractions of a micron wide. This means RO systems can remove almost all common contaminants excluding dissolved chemicals, including microorganisms, minerals, and heavy metals.

On the downside, the way that RO systems function can cause a noticeable drop in water pressure and flow rate. Popular models, like the iSpring RCS5T 500, contain specially developed tech to mitigate this reduction.

Ultraviolet (UV)

A UV steripen (Wikicommons)

UV purifiers use high-intensity bulbs to shine ultraviolet through water, inactivating any microorganisms living there a water supply. The UV rays disrupt the DNA of viruses and other disease-causing cells, making them safe to drink.

Purification via UV light doesn’t remove contaminants from a water supply, so many consumers choose to pair a UV stage with other forms of filtration.

A UV purification stage is available in both the SpringWell ULTRA and the Aquasana EQ-1000.

Sediment screen

Pre-filters or sediment screens are designed to remove larger contaminants from a water supply, and will usually filter down to the 5, 10, or 30-micron level. This includes rust, dirt, silt, and fine sands.

Removing sediment from a water supply helps reduce cloudiness and bad tastes, as well as increasing the lifespan of other filter stages, as media are less likely to become damaged or clogged.

Many sediment screens are washable and reusable.

What’s the difference between purification and filtration?

The best whole house water filter systems for well water have filtration and purification stages. Both are designed to increase the quality and safety of water, but purification won’t alter water contents (its purity), while filtration will remove certain dissolved substances.

A UV purifier, for example, renders potentially harmful microorganisms safe to drink but doesn’t filter them out of the water supply. Likewise, a catalytic water conditioner reduces scale by reformatting minerals in the water supply without removing them.

Each filtration method is intended to target a specific range of contaminants, and several filtration stages may need to be combined to remove all unwanted substances.

What’s the difference between a whole-house and a regular water filter?

Whole-house filter systems (sometimes called point-of-entry filters) are built to be installed at the earliest possible point in a home’s plumbing, where mains water enters the building. They often have large tanks, require electrical input, include a bypass valve, and can span the length of an entire wall!

If you’re looking for a whole-house filter, but are short on available space, we recommend the iSpring RCS5T 500.

Using a whole-house filter means that every faucet inside a home benefits from filtration treatment. That’s why whole-house filters often include water conditioners, which benefit showers and laundry machines.

Here’s our article on whole-house water filtration systems: the basic need-to-knows.

Do I need a whole-house water filter for well water?

The CDC estimates that around 90% of Americans have access to regularly monitored clean public drinking water. This leaves somewhere under 10% of homes across the country drawing their supply from a private well.

Depending on their location and depth, wells can produce sparkling clean water that requires little-to-no treatment before being consumed. Others produce water that’s perfectly safe to drink but is tainted by the presence of metals and minerals.

In general, however, groundwater wells have a higher chance of unsafe contamination than other water sources. This is due to the risk of runoff from industry, agriculture, and urban areas.

Because of this, the question of whether a whole-house filter for well water is necessary is highly specific, and depends upon the exact risks to your well supply.

The majority of homes using a whole-house water filter have significant concerns about their water quality and/or safety. This may be because of frequent contamination events in the area, extreme iron or mineral deposits, or because a well is particularly shallow.

How much should whole-house water filters for well water cost?

When thinking about how much you should pay for a whole-house filter, try to balance the cost of filter stages against the most pressing risks to your water supply. Investing in the right types of filtration will protect you and your household appliances, even if those filter types initially cost more.

For example, it may cost more to purchase a dedicated iron filter alongside a water softener or UV purifier. But if iron is a significant contaminant in well water, then investing in this component will prolong the lifespan of the rest of the system and keep it performing at a high level.

In general, the costs of a whole-house filter for well water break down as follows (approximate)

A standard whole-house filter, containing a sediment screen, carbon blocks, and a KDF filter $250-750
A water conditioner or softener $500
A reverse osmosis filter or other specialized stages $500-2500
A tanked iron filter $1500-2000
An ultraviolet purifier $500

On top of the base price of a filter system, you should budget between $50-150 annually for replacement cartridges. Some filter types, such as UV purifiers, also need 24/7 mains electricity.

Finally, professional installation may need to be paid for, depending on the filter model and your DIY skills. Labor costs can range between $250-750.

How do I install a whole-house water filter?

With the right tools and experience, it’s possible to install most whole-house filters by yourself.

However, with filter components intersecting the mains water line, the risk of flooding from cracked casings or incorrectly fitted pipes means that most people hire professional help.

The basic steps to installing a whole-house filter include:

  • Choosing the right location. Try to install the filter directly where water enters the home, so that all of your pipes and appliances run on a filtered supply.
  • Cutting pipes and connecting the filter. When the water supply is turned off, the water pipe can be cut to make room for the system and bypass valves, and the filter can be connected using appropriate fittings.
  • Checking for flow rate and leaks. Once the system is fitted and the water supply is turned on, it’s important to closely observe all fittings for leakages.

Brands like SpringWell design their products with DIY installation in mind and provide extensive materials to help consumers properly fit their new systems. Reviews of the SpringWell UTLRA show this effort pays off, with self-setup being relatively easy.

Other brands, like Aquasana, put less focus on home installation, and instead expect most consumers to hire a professional plumber for assistance. This doesn’t mean that DIY setup isn’t possible, but as reviews of the Aquasana EQ-1000 show, it may cause hiccups for some.

How do I get the best flow rate with my whole-house filter?

Choosing the right size system for your home’s needs will have a big effect on flow rate. Filter systems designed for 1-3 bathrooms will not provide adequate GPM if pushed to perform beyond capacity.

On the other hand, doubling up 2 smaller systems in a dual-flow setup may result in a faster flow rate than by using a single larger system.

In general, the more filter stages that a system contains, the more that flow rate will be affected. So try to only install the filter stages relevant to your well supply.

Original water pressure is also a large factor in how a system will perform.

Is iron in my well water dangerous?

Iron is arguably the most common contaminant in well water. It’s present in large amounts in the soil around groundwater, and may also leach into water from corroded pipes. Iron contamination gives water an orange, rust color, and an unpleasant metallic taste.

Iron contamination is not considered a health risk by the EPA, and small amounts may actually impart health benefits. The EPA rates the metal in its ‘nuisance’ category for drinking water contaminants that cause aesthetic, cosmetic, or technical issues.

Used water cartridges in section on a white backgroundNot every well owner needs a comprehensive filter system. For many, the only issue with their water is iron staining.

We reviewed the top iron water filters on the market and developed this list of the iron filters for well water you should consider.

Which NSF standards should a whole-house filter meet?

NSF International is a safety-testing organization that helps create consumer assurance for a range of products. They have the world’s largest water filter testing facility and create certifications that align with other bodies like the ANSI, ISO, and the WQA.

The relevant NSF standards for whole-house filters are:

  • NSF/ANSI Standard 42 – This says that a filter can reduce aesthetic, non-health-related contaminants. The standard also covers material and construction safety
  • NSF/ANSI Standard 53 – Says that filters can reduce health-related contaminants

  • NSF/ANSI Standard 58 – Says that filters contain genuine reverse osmosis technology

  • NSF/ANSI Standard 244 – Says that filters meet minimum requirements for reducing microorganisms
  • NSF/ANSI Standard 55 – Says that filters contain genuine UV purification technology

  • NSF/ANSI Standard 401 – Says that filters are able to reduce up to 15 emerging contaminants in drinking water

Here’s our full piece on Water Filter Certifications: An Explainer

Is groundwater more dangerous than other types of water?

As the USGS points out, the quality and safety of well water are highly dependent on the geography surrounding a well. There’s nothing to say that groundwater is inherently less safe than other water sources, but wells can be severely compromised by features in the local landscape.

Groundwater aquifers and wells (source: Canada.ca.)

It’s important to know your well depth, as the type of groundwater it can access determines how vulnerable your supply is to surface contamination.

Both natural events and human activity can affect the composition of groundwater:

  • Sitting rain and snow-melt can accumulate microorganisms before seeping into wells
  • Leaks from septic tanks and nearby roadways can introduce pathogens and chemicals.
  • Heavy metals and solvents from industrial centers leach into the soil, which are swept into waterways.

While many of these contaminants can be worrying, the good news is that there are filter systems capable of removing every threat to your private well.

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