APEC Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System RO-CTOP Review (Updated: 2023)

Wondering whether or not you should buy the APEC Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System (otherwise known as the RO-CTOP?) Trying to decide whether it’s worth its cost? You’ll find everything you need to know about this countertop RO system, including features, price, and performance stats, in this review.

🧾 Overview

This small, compact filter system is a plug-and-go solution that can be used with kitchen sink faucets in any location, so you can set it up at home or use it at work, on vacation, or anywhere else with a compatible faucet. There’s no space-consuming water tank – water flows straight out of your faucet once it has been filtered.

📝 System Specifications

System Dimensions14 x 6.5 x 6 inches
System Capacity90 gallons per day (GPD) at 60 PSI, 75 GPD at 50 PSI
Feed Water Pressure40-85 PSI
Max TDS2000 PPM
Filter StagesSediment, coconut shell activated carbon x2, RO membrane
Efficiency Ratio1:3
Warranty1 year limited

💡 Features

Space-Saving Tankless Design

The APEC Countertop Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System is designed to be space-saving and portable, with a tankless design that enables the system to be installed discretely on your countertop. The unit doesn’t have a tank, so water travels straight through the filters and out of the faucet.

Up to 99% TDS Rejection

Like all good reverse osmosis systems, the APEC RO-CTOP produces bottled water quality water by rejecting up to 99% of all total dissolved solids (TDS), including unpleasant chlorine tastes and odors, heavy metals, and microorganisms.

Fits Any Standard Faucet

As a portable countertop reverse osmosis system, the APEC RO-CTOP is designed to fit most existing standard faucet models. The included faucet adapters connect to faucets of different sizes – but unfortunately, designer faucets, sprayer faucets, and pull-out faucets aren’t compatible.

1 Year Limited Warranty

You’re protected by a 1-year warranty when you buy the APEC Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis system, which can be upgraded to 2 years if you register the system online.

🚦 Performance

We measure the performance of any reverse osmosis system based on four factors:

  • The number of contaminants removed (the effectiveness of performance)
  • The system’s daily capacity and water delivery (the speed of performance)
  • The system’s efficiency ratio (the efficiency of performance)
  • The filter lifespans (the longevity of performance)

Let’s start with contaminants removed. According to APEC, the RO-CTOP rejects up to 99% TDS. That includes at least 95% chlorine, fluoride, arsenic, lead, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, bacteria, sediment, TTHMs, and VOCs.

Sounds impressive – but also pretty standard for a reverse osmosis drinking water system. We’d prefer for the RO-CTOP to be WQA Seal Certified to NSF Standard 58, for reverse osmosis performance – like the majority of other APEC RO systems – but sadly, it isn’t. We’d also feel more inclined to buy this system if we could see the official test data that APEC is using to make its contaminant removal claims.

As for the system’s daily capacity, that’s up to 90 gallons per day (or about 2-3 gallons of water per hour), which is about as good as it gets for a point-of-use reverse osmosis system (which typically start at 50 GPD). That means you should get a steady flow of water from the RO system from the moment you turn it on. There’s no tank, so you might have to initially wait a couple of minutes for filtration.

What about efficiency? TheAPEC Countertop Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System has an efficiency ratio of about 1:3, meaning that around 3 gallons of water are wasted for every 1 gallon of purified water produced. If you compare that to the traditional RO system’s efficiency ratio of 1:4, it sounds pretty good. But since there are systems on the market with efficiency ratios of 1:2, 1:1, and even 2:1, we think 1:3 is a bit wasteful nowadays.

As for filter life, the filters last 6 months to 3 years, depending on the filter in question. Again, that’s pretty average for any type of reverse osmosis system.

📌 Our verdict? The APEC Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System meets our expectations for water production, filter life, and TDS rejection, but we think it’s more wasteful than it could be.

Apec ro-ctop installed in home

🔧 Installation & Maintenance

If you’re not a fan of DIY, you’ll be happy to know that the APEC RO-CTOP requires virtually no installation. Just plug it in and get started.

📌 How exactly does the APEC Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System work? You simply attach one end of the system to your faucet (using one of the many faucet adapters if needed) and connect the other end to a jug of normal tap water. Plug it in, and it’ll send water from the jug through the filters and out of your faucet.

You’ll need to flush the filters and membranes before getting started for about 15 minutes. You can’t go wrong if you follow the instructions in the user manual.

Maintenance is refreshingly simple, too, thanks to the quick-connect fittings. To change a filter, you just disconnect and pull out the tubing, then discard the old filter and push the tubing into the new filter until you get a secure connection.

Different filters have different lifespans:

  • The sediment filter lasts 600-800 gallons, or 6-8 months
  • The carbon pre-filter lasts 600-800 gallons, or 6-8 months
  • The RO membrane lasts 2-3 years, as long as you change the pre-filter on time
  • The carbon post-filter has a 2-3 year lifespan
  • If you buy the optional calcite filter, that needs replacing every 6 months

The estimated annual cost for filter replacements is $80-$150, depending on which filters need changing. Because the filters have industry standard sizes, you can choose to swap them for non-branded filters at any point to save money.

Apec ro-ctop filter change process

📝 Filter Info

There are four filters in the APEC Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System:

  • The sediment filter. This initial pre-filter stage reduces large particles like dirt, rust, and sand, down to 5 microns in size.
  • The carbon pre-filter is made from coconut shell granular activated carbon and uses adsorption to reduce chlorine, unpleasant tastes and odors, VOCs, and other chemicals.
  • The RO membrane is the key stage in the system. This DOW chemical membrane rejects 98-99% TDS, but there’s no data on what percentage of each contaminant this membrane can remove.
  • The carbon post-filter traps any contaminants that have somehow been missed in the initial filter stages, ensuring polished, ultra-pure water.

There’s nothing particularly out of the box, here – you’ll find these four filter stages in the majority of reverse osmosis drinking water systems available today. We think it’s a shame that APEC doesn’t offer a datasheet for us to be able to easily compare its contaminant removal abilities to its competitors.

Apec ro-ctop filter stages

🔔 Pros & Cons

👍 What We Like

  • You can use the RO-CTOP to deliver clean, filtered drinking water in any location with a compatible faucet, so it’s not tied down to just your home.
  • No permanent installation, hefty water storage container, or cutting into your waterline required – simply plug the unit in and get started. Maintenance is quick and easy, too.
  • There are plenty of adapters for connecting the unit to your faucet, and you don’t want to disconnect it every time you want non-RO water. Just use the diverter to switch between filtered and unfiltered water.
  • We think this unit is a good value for money, costing about $240 – that’s around $40 more than APEC’s standard under-sink RO unit, the Essence ROES. Considering the extra perk of portability, we think it’s a fair deal.
  • The RO-CTOP is backed by a decent 1-year warranty. You can register the unit online to upgrade to a 2-year warranty.

👎 What We Don’t Like

  • This countertop reverse osmosis system isn’t the most attractive countertop filter we’ve seen. All the filters are on show, rather than being hidden away inside a modern unit.
  • If you have a non-standard faucet, like a spray faucet, a designer faucet, or a pull-out faucet, you won’t be able to use the RO-CTOP in your home.
  • Unlike most of APEC’s other reverse osmosis drinking water system models, the RO-CTOP doesn’t appear to have a WQA Gold Seal Certification to NSF Standard 58, for TDS rejection, which we think is a shame.

❔ Frequently Asked Questions

What does APEC countertop water filter remove?

The APEC Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System rejects up to 99.99% TDS, including around 95% chlorine, pesticides, sediment, fluoride, and possible residual tastes and odors.

What’s the APEC RO-CTOP filter lifespan?

The APEC RO-CTOP has a water filter lifespan of 6 months to 3 years. The sediment and pre-carbon filter cartridges last about 6 months, while the RO membrane lasts 2-3 years, the post-carbon filter cartridge lasts 2-3 years, and the optional calcite filter lasts 6 months.

How fast is the APEC RO-CTOP’s flow rate?

The maximum daily water production from the APEC Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System is 90 GPD. You should get a decent flow of water from this water filter system.

Does the RO-CTOP come with a dedicated faucet?

No, the APEC RO system comes with faucet adapters, allowing you to connect it to your existing faucet.

Is the APEC RO-CTOP countertop water filter NSF certified?

No, we couldn’t find any documentation for any NSF certification for this system.

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