AquaTru vs ZeroWater: Objective Testing & Analysis

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AquaTru and ZeroWater are both manufacturers of countertop water filtration systems, but they achieve different outcomes with their own unique water treatment processes. AquaTru’s most popular product is the Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Purifier, while ZeroWater is best known for its water filter pitchers and dispensers. 

For this review, we tested AquaTru vs ZeroWater in our home and compared them across a range of performance categories.

Although the concept of AquaTru’s reverse osmosis filtration system and the ZeroWater pitcher is similar – to reduce dissolved solids – the AquaTru purifies water in a true sense, while ZeroWater predominantly targets contaminants that contribute to TDS. 

Both systems did a great job of reducing contaminants in our water, but we prefer that the AquaTru can be used with a remineralization filter to reintroduce healthy minerals, while ZeroWater is more affordable upfront.

Note: The AquaTru Countertop RO System comes in 4 different configurations. We went for the AquaTru Classic, AquaTru’s base model without the add-ons.

📊 Our Testing Data

We compared the AquaTru and ZeroWater systems using 6 main scoring criteria. Check out the scores for both units in the table below. 

Contaminant Reduction9.918.34
Filtration Rate7.5010.00

Here’s the data we combined to come to our overall scores for the testing criteria. 

Overall Score9.598.62Aquatru
Health Related Contaminants9983Aquatru
Aesthetic Related Contaminants9999Tie
Performance CertificationNSF/ANSI 42, 53, 58 & 401NSF/ANSI 42, 53Aquatru
Filtration Rate0.08 GPM2.62 GPHAquatru
Component QualityOutstandingGoodAquatru
Component CertificationCertifiedCertifiedtie
Servicing RequirementsOutstandingOutstandingtie
Costs$0.11/ gallon$0.70/ gallonAquatru
Warranty Length1 year90 days vessels, 30 days filtersAquatru
ShippingFree$60 order threshold, continental USAquatru
Returns30 daysNoneAquatru

🚰 Contaminant Reduction

We conducted water quality tests to compare AquaTru and ZeroWater for their contaminant reduction abilities. We combined our data with evidence of certifications from the NSF, IAMPO, or WQA databases to obtain their overall scores for contaminant reduction.

Our Lab Test Results

We did two water tests for each filter: an unfiltered water test and a post-filtration test. 

Good to Know: We tested the filters on separate occasions using the same unfiltered water supply, which contained fluctuating levels of similar contaminants. We’ve discussed these contaminants later. 

We compared our test results to see how the systems performed, which contaminants they reduced, and which (if any) were retained.

We’ve highlighted all the contaminants that were detected in our source water, and how effectively the AquaTru and ZeroWater filters reduced them, in the next table.

ContaminantMeasurementUnfilteredAquaru% ChangeUnfilteredZeroWater% Change
Nitrate (as N)PPM2.10-100.00%3.50-100.00%
Total Dissolved SolidsPPM11212-89.29%1378-94.16%

Both systems reduced the majority of contaminants detected in our water, but ZeroWater’s score was pulled down slightly in the certification category, so AquaTru was the winner here. 

Health-Related Contaminants

In the test water that we used for the AquaTru, 11 contaminants with health effects were detected. Lead and uranium were the two contaminants we were the keenest to remove because they were present above the laboratory’s own Health Guidance Levels (HGLs).

The AquaTru did an excellent job of removing all 11 contaminants from our water. Our post-filtered test didn’t detect even very low trace concentrations of these contaminants, telling us that the AquaTru had eliminated 100% of them. 

A slightly different range of contaminants was detected in the test water we used for the ZeroWater pitcher. This was because we took the samples for this test at a different date (it’s normal for the types and concentrations of contaminants to change slightly over time). Again, we were the most concerned about fluoride and uranium because they were detected at levels exceeding the Tap Score HGL.

Like AquaTru, the ZeroWater filter completely removed fluoride, uranium, molybdenum, nitrate, sulfate, strontium, and barium from our water. It also reduced 97% copper (just shy of AquaTru’s 100% copper removal). 

There was one surprising bit of data in our filtered water test results: 3.4 PPB of a disinfection byproduct, chloroform, was detected when it hadn’t been present in our unfiltered water.

We believe the chloroform had already dissipated from our unfiltered water before we filled the collection vials. But its presence in our filtered water told us that the ZeroWater filter doesn’t effectively reduce disinfection byproducts. 

Aesthetic Contaminants

Chlorine is commonly used to disinfect municipal water supplies, and while it’s considered safe to drink at low levels, it’s classed as an aesthetic contaminant because it affects the taste and smell of water. 

In our unfiltered AquaTru test water, 0.5 PPM of chlorine was detected. For the ZeroWater test, our water contained 1 PPM of chlorine. 

Both systems reduced chlorine down to 0 PPM – an outcome that we’d expected given that they both use activated carbon, which is the most widely used filtration media for this purpose. 

Minerals, Salts, TDS, & Other Water Parameters

We also wanted to compare how the AquaTru and ZeroWater systems affected TDS, minerals, salts, and other water parameters. 

Starting with AquaTru, our unfiltered tap water contained trace concentrations of calcium, magnesium, sodium, and chloride. The AquaTru removed 97% calcium (to 0.7 PPM) and 94% magnesium (to 0.36 PPM).

It also reduced 87.1% TDS. This result was unsurprising to us as we used AquaTru’s base model, which doesn’t remineralize water. We plan to retest the system using the remineralizing VOC filter to see how effectively it reintroduces minerals to our water. 

The same minerals and salts were detected when we tested the ZeroWater filter. 

The ZeroWater pitcher reduced calcium by 99%, and magnesium and sodium by 100%.

Our water’s TDS concentration was reduced by 94% to 8 PPM – a greater TDS reduction than the AquaTru.

Although both the AquaTru and ZeroWater reduce TDS, AquaTru’s TDS reduction is merely an incidental outcome of RO purification, while the ZeroWater pitcher has deliberately been designed to reduce TDS. 

We don’t like this about ZeroWater. Its marketing suggests that a filter is only effective if it reduces TDS – and that TDS should be reduced and is bad. Actually, there are numerous minerals and salts that contribute to TDS and aren’t bad or dangerous in water. 

The fact that the AquaTru can be bought with a remineralization filter tells us that the manufacturer understands something important: the reduction of certain dissolved solids is actually a negative outcome, and not a positive. We don’t like the fact that the ZeroWater pitcher is intentionally designed to reduce TDS down to 0 so that ZeroWater can give the false impression that TDS reduction is the ultimate end goal. 

You Might Also Like: ZeroWater vs Brita data-driven comparison

Performance Certifications

If a filter has an official performance certification, you know that it has been tested and deemed capable of removing select contaminants by a trusted organization. 

The AquaTru got the best score in this category because it has been certified by IAPMO to NSF/ANSI Standards 42, 53, 58, 401, and P473, for its ability to reduce an extensive list of 83 contaminants. The manufacturer only claims to reduce contaminants that the AquaTru has actually been certified to reduce. 

ZeroWater also has performance certifications – it’s NSF certified to Standard 42 and Standard 53 for the reduction of 6 contaminants – but it doesn’t match up to the AquaTru because ZeroWater’s manufacturer claims to reduce another 24 contaminants, but has no certifications to support these claims. 

🚦Filtration Rate

The AquaTru and ZeroWater systems use different processes to filter water, and we wanted to know how this affected their filtration rate. 

The AquaTru uses an electric pump to provide the water pressure needed for the RO purification process. The filtered water gets stored in a tank, and it’s dispensed via gravity. We measured its filtration rate in gallons per minute (GPM). 

The ZeroWater filter uses gravity filtration. The filtered water can be dispensed by pouring from the spout. We measured its filtration rate in gallons per hour (GPH).

While ZeroWater appears to have a higher filtration rate score, it’s important to note this score reflects gravity-fed systems, unlike AquaTru’s pressurized approach. A direct comparison isn’t possible. AquaTru actually filters water faster*

Take a look at our recorded filtration rates for both systems in the table below.

ProductFiltration Rate ScoreFiltration Rate
Aquatru7.500.08 GPM
ZeroWater10.002.62 GPH

The AquaTru RO system purified 1 gallon of water in around 12 minutes, giving it a flow rate of 0.08 GPM. 

ZeroWater had a super quick filtration rate for a gravity-fed system: 2.62 GPH. 

*ZeroWater filters at 0.043 gallons per minute (GPM), which is slower than AquaTru’s 0.08 GPM filtration rate. (Conversion from 2.62 GPH to GPM is omitted for brevity).

💲 Upfront Cost

When we got the AquaTru to review, the base model (the AquaTru Classic) was priced at $449.00. We could pay a bit more for one of AquaTru’s upgrades: 

  • The AquaTru Alkaline Classic, which has a remineralization media in the VOC filter that adds healthy alkaline minerals to water (costs $469.00)
  • The AquaTru Connect, which connects to a smart app so you can monitor the system from your phone (costs $499.00)
  • The AquaTru Alkaline Connect, which has a remineralization VOC media and connects to a smart app (costs $519.00)

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The ZeroWater pitcher is much cheaper than the AquaTru because it’s smaller and has a simpler design. When we got it for this review, the 12-Cup Ready-Pour Pitcher, including the initial filter, was priced at $39.99. There are a few different shapes and sizes it’s available in, including larger dispensers. The price depends on what you buy: 

Which do we think is better value for money? It depends on what you’re going for.

While AquaTru is more expensive, it makes water safer to drink by guaranteeing the reduction of many impurities, while ZeroWater just focuses on TDS reduction. But if your budget is small and you don’t necessarily want to purify your water, ZeroWater is likely going to be your better option.

📐 Design

We consolidated two separate testing data when comparing AquaTru and ZeroWater for their design. 

First, we looked at component quality in general, using our own notes on what we thought about the systems’ materials and parts in terms of sturdiness and quality of build.

Next, we looked to see if any of the systems had obtained materials safety certifications from official testing organizations. 

Our scoring data for design can be found in the table below.

ProductDesign ScoreComponent QualityMaterials Safety

The AquaTru got the best score for design because we were more impressed with the overall component quality than we were with ZeroWater.

Component Quality 

The AquaTru unit is predominantly made from BPA- and BPS-free Tritan plastic. We noted that the unit felt sturdy and had a functional, well-thought-out design. 

Brian removing the water tank of AquaTru Countertop RO System

However, as with most types of plastics used in water filter systems, Tritan plastics have their fair share of bad press – for instance, BHPF (a bisphenol) was discovered in Tritan water bottles according to this study. If you’re trying to avoid your exposure to plastics, you might feel uncomfortable using a system that stores filtered water in a plastic tank. 

ZeroWater’s pitchers and dispensers are also made from plastic. They have a pretty basic design that serves a practical purpose but (in our opinion) didn’t look or feel as sturdy or durable as the AquaTru system. 

The pitchers themselves are made from BPA-free polypropylene and ABS (a terpolymer), known for being both durable and lightweight. Studies have found that polypropylene may leach microplastics, so again, it’s not ideal if you want to avoid your plastics exposure as much as possible. 

Brian assembling the ZeroWater 12 cup

Filter Materials

AquaTru uses several separate filter cartridges to purify water. These include a sediment pre-filter (likely made from some form of spun cellulose or acrylic fiber), an activated carbon filter, and a semi-permeable RO membrane. 

The ZeroWater pitcher combines all its filter stages within a single filter cartridge. The 5-Stage Filter uses three layers of physical filtration, ion exchange resin, and activated carbon media.

AquaTru has a more comprehensive range of filtration media, including a super-thorough semi-permeable membrane, which is why it’s able to purify water more thoroughly than the ZeroWater filter. 

Design Setbacks

Both AquaTru and ZeroWater have a couple of design setbacks that we think are worth mentioning in this section. 

The AquaTru’s 0.75-gallon water holding capacity is quite small given the overall size and footprint of the unit. Additionally, because the RO process wastes water, we had to empty the reject water tank manually as well as refilling the unfiltered water tank, which was an extra job to remember. 

The main disadvantage of our ZeroWater pitcher was that it only holds 12 cups of water, so we had to refill it frequently. We could choose to upgrade to a larger dispenser to minimize refills, but that would mean compromising on portability – ZeroWater’s dispensers are too big to carry when full, for instance.

Materials Safety Certification

Materials safety certifications are a great way for manufacturers to provide the reassurance that their filters are safe to use. These certifications can be obtained by the same organizations that offer performance certifications: IAMPO, the NSF, and the WQA.

Both AquaTru and ZeroWater have materials safety certifications: 

  • The AquaTru has an NSF 372 certification for lead-free design, and it also has a materials safety certification as a component of its IAMPO performance certifications.
  • ZeroWater’s NSF performance certifications also encompass materials safety.

That means both systems got equal scores from us in this category. 

⚙️ Setup

We wanted to know how setup compared for a water filter pitcher with a basic design and a slightly more comprehensive countertop RO system. We timed how long it took us to assemble the AquaTru and ZeroWater systems, and compared how easy we found each setup process.

We’ve highlighted our setup scores and times in the table below. 

ProductSetup ScoreSetup Time
Aquatru10.002 minutes
ZeroWater9.505 minutes

The AquaTru was partially assembled when it was shipped to us, which meant it was super quick and easy to set up at home.

We just had to connect the two water tanks, filters, and power cord (the tanks were also washed prior to use), and prime the filters. This was an easy job, requiring no tools or specialized knowledge. We ran 4 tanks of water through the system, discarding the purified water each time. 

The ZeroWater setup process was easy, too, taking us less than 5 minutes. The major time-saving factor was that we didn’t have to prime the filters. We just washed the pitcher in warm, soapy water, then inserted the filter into the reservoir and started using it straight away. 

🔧 Maintenance

We knew that maintenance would be different for AquaTru and ZeroWater due to their difference in filter lifespans and quantities. We were surprised to see that the ZeroWater’s ongoing spend was actually higher than AquaTru’s, despite it only using one filter cartridge. 

Take a look at our maintenance scores for both systems in the table below.

ProductMaintenance ScoreServicing RequirementsCosts
Aquatru9.75Outstanding$0.11/ gal.
ZeroWater8.25Outstanding$0.70/ gal.

AquaTru was the winner in this category. Although both systems were super simple to maintain, AquaTru had the lowest maintenance costs overall. 

Servicing Requirements 

As a multi-stage RO system, we expected the AquaTru’s maintenance requirements to be a little more taxing. 

The system has three separate filters that need to be replaced according to their own timelines. However, this was easy to remember because we could view real-time filter lifespan information on the AquaTru’s display screen. Replacing the filters was simple – we just removed the old one, inserted the new one, and followed AquaTru’s priming instructions (these vary depending on the filter that’s being changed).

The ZeroWater pitcher has just one filter to replace, and the filter lifespan is pretty short (as little as 2-3 weeks depending on your water quality/daily water usage). That said, replacing the filter was still really easy, and again, we didn’t have to prime a new filter before we could start using it. 

Alongside replacing the filters, we also cleaned the units around once a week. This was easier to do with the ZeroWater pitcher due to its smaller size and fewer components. AquaTru recommends flushing the unit with pure water once a week to clean out the filters. This is a bit of a hassle, and luckily isn’t essential. But we assume it helps extend the filter lifespan. 

Something we had to do a few times a day for the AquaTru was empty the reject water tank. This was easy, but it’s an extra maintenance task to be aware of. 

Maintenance Costs

According to our calculations, AquaTru’s maintenance costs are really low, while ZeroWater’s are quite high. 

We hadn’t expected this given that AquaTru has three filters that require replacing separately, while ZeroWater only has one. But ZeroWater filters have a very short lifespan, and replacement filters are expensive. 

Based on the manufacturer’s projected filter lifespans, we estimated that the AquaTru had an ongoing filter cost of $0.11/ gallon. This was a combination of the carbon pre and post-filters, and the RO membrane: the carbon pre-filter costs $0.03/gallon; the classic VOC carbon filter costs $0.04/gallon, and the RO membrane costs $0.04/gallon.

We calculated ZeroWater’s ongoing filter cost over 6 times AquaTru’s at $0.70/ gallon.

SystemFilterCost per Gallon
AquatruRO Membrane$0.04
ZeroWaterPrimary filter$0.70

So, although the AquaTru unit is a great deal more expensive to buy upfront, its maintenance costs are much cheaper than ZeroWater’s in the long term. 

Our Tip: You can help the ZeroWater filter to last longer by running your water through a separate, cheaper system before filtering it through your ZeroWater pitcher.

🏢 Company

We know that a company’s warranty, shipping, and returns policies are just as important as the product itself for many folks, and we’ve compared AquaTru and ZeroWater as companies here. 

See the company scores for both manufacturers in the table below.

ProductCompany ScoreWarranty LengthShippingReturns
Aquatru8.801 yearFree shipping on all orders30 days
ZeroWater7.5090 days vessels, 30 days filtersFree shipping on orders above $60 to continental USnone

AquaTru did slightly better here across the board, so it got a higher score from us.

Warranty Length 

AquaTru warrants its products with a 1-year limited warranty against defects in materials and workmanship, while ZeroWater provides a shorter 90-day warranty for its pitchers and dispensers, and a 30-day warranty for its filters. 


AquaTru provides free shipping to all 50 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico, with no minimum spend requirement. 

ZeroWater only provides free shipping to customers in continental US who spend more than $60 on their order. Since many of ZeroWater’s products actually cost less than this, you’ll have to spend more than you might want to (for instance, by buying a pack of replacement filters) if you want to make the most of this offering. 


AquaTru offers a 30-day returns policy, while ZeroWater has no specific policy in place for returns.

⛔️ System Setbacks & Flaws

We always try to give our honest criticism of products so that our readers can make the most informed buying choice. So here, we’ve compared any setbacks and flaws that we noted with the AquaTru and ZeroWater systems. 

AquaTru Setbacks

  • Expensive – If you have a smaller budget, you may be hesitant to invest in a system that costs $450+. 
  • Wastes water – The AquaTru wastes water; a setback that we didn’t get from the ZeroWater. We were at least pleased to see that the system is very efficient, wasting only 1 gallon of water per 4 gallons purified.
  • Optional remineralization costs extra  – We like the fact that the AquaTru system can be bought with a remineralization filter (something ZeroWater doesn’t offer), but we wish this was included in the base model and didn’t come at an extra cost.
  • Slow water dispensing – The AquaTru’s dispensing speed is slow, and only gets slower as the tank empties.  

ZeroWater Setbacks

  • Reduces healthy minerals – We don’t like that the ZeroWater filter is intentionally designed to reduce minerals just so that the manufacturer can claim to reduce all TDS, and there’s no remineralization option. 
  • Expensive ongoing cost  – The ZeroWater pitcher has a much higher ongoing cost than the AquaTru, even though it only uses one filter. 
  • Doesn’t seem to address disinfection byproducts – Disinfection byproducts were detected in our filtered water, so the ZeroWater filter didn’t address them in our testing.
  • Short filter lifespan – ZeroWater filters only last a few months at most, so they need to be replaced regularly.

🆚 AquaTru or ZeroWater: Which Should You Choose?

We think you might prefer the AquaTru RO unit or ZeroWater filter pitcher depending on your specific preferences and situation. 

We Think AquaTru is Best For: 

  • Folks who want to purify their water and eliminate as many harmful contaminants as possible. 
  • Anyone who wants the option to upgrade to a system that reintroduces healthy minerals back into their purified water.
  • People who prefer the reassurance of a filtration system that has been certified to reduce all contaminants the manufacturer claims to reduce.

We Think ZeroWater is Best For: 

  • Folks looking for a countertop water filtration system that’s smaller and more portable, and doesn’t need an electricity connection.
  • People with small budgets who want a countertop gravity filter with an affordable upfront cost. 
  • Anyone who would prefer to only replace just one filter, rather than multiple filters at different times, and avoid the hassle of emptying a wastewater tank. 


  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

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