Visit the Sweetwater LLC blog
Visit the Sweetwater LLC blog
Connect with Jim on LinkedIn

Whole House Water Filtration System Comparison

 A Comparison of Whole House Water Filtration Systems


Compare Whole House Water Filters

Home Water Filtration System Comparison & Ratings

People often ask me to compare whole house water filters and I tell them I am reluctant to do so. The reason is that direct comparisons are tough and some statements are intended to be misleading. In the chart provided below I provide a comparison of whole house water filtration systems be selecting four relatively well known competitors and listing selected criteria.

On this page I provide a comparison of whole house water filtration systems to my Urban Defender whole house water filter. This home water filtration system comparison lists two well known backwashing systems, one well known cheap alternative, and the most costly filter on the market.

Note: these numbers are aging due to Covid and supply chain issues but all companies are subject to the same pressures. Once that stabilizes I'll update it (3-25-22)

Urban Defender
Well Known Upflow Filter ***BC2 **big company*Wellness
Retail Price (1) $2340-2565 $799 $2899 $3790 $5950
Replacement Cost $750-1160 $639 $2890 $3790 $2950
Capacity (2)
in gallons
500,000 300,000 400,000 720,000 ? 400,000
Per month cost (3) $18 $17.75 $60 $32 $61
Removes chlorine Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Removes particulate > 5 micron > 5 mic > 10 mic > 10 mic > 5 mic
NSF Certified (4) No Yes NA Yes No
Requires electricity Yes No Yes Yes No
Back flush (5) Yes No Yes Yes No
Annual Cost (6) $220 $213 $722 $379 $737


 * big company has demanded that any reference to them be removed as of 4-12-2011

 ** BC2 name removed on 6-7-2011

*** This is a well known upflow system. I've removed the name on my own. As you can see it is the cheapest to buy. It is also the least efective. Learn more here.

(1) prices may vary from those listed above. Price increases due to covid will affect this chart but the idea is the same.

(2) The problem with estimating gallon capacity is that water quality will vary in every city and how long a system will last depends entirely on the level of chlorine in the water along with the levels of other contaminants. 

The amount of KDF and carbon and other media or the type of carbon used are also factors.  In this comparison I am using 2 mg/l of chloramine in city water and catalytic carbon as the media to derive the numbers provided.     

What is misleading about the NSF 42 certified systems is that they have been tested to the gallons listed but only have to remove 50% of the chlorine or chloramine to gain certification. Real life residential application will not result in the volumes they claim. My estimate is an attempt at a real number.                     

(3) I assume a 12 year life with one media change at 6 years.  The Urban Defender could easily be used again and that would lower the cost further.  Big company claims a 16 - 20 year life. This is a false claim.  Since both systems use similar media one would have to evaluate the contaminant levels upon which big company bases this claim. Another well known product sold through plumbing companies claims a 3,000,000 gallon life. This is simply false. It may remove chlorine for that long but the dangerous trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids will not be removed after 500,000 gallons. That company actually uses carbon that is less effective than what I use. Ultimately you have to decide who to trust and who knows what they're talking about.

(4) The Urban Defender whole house water filter uses NSF certified media.  Big company is certified for NSF 42 Aesthetic Effects, which basically means that it removes some chlorine.  Big company's removal claim for gallons is for half of the chlorine or chloramine in your water.

(5) Systems that do not backflush are subject to decreased effectiveness in a short time. I have considered manufacturing such a system but can't bring myself to do so.  Ask me why backwash carbon systems are more effective than upflow systems.

(6) As I stated above, how long the media within a system will last depends on the level of contaminants as well as the amount of water used. In this case I assume a 10 year life for the purpose of comparison.

All performance claims and pricing are based on the Manufacturer’s or Authorized Distributor’s literature.

These whole house water filtration system comparisons illustrate that the Urban Defender is affordable and the most cost effective backwashing whole house water filter on the market. 

As I note at the top of this page it is a challenge to compare whole house water filters because there are subtle differences between the various models.  I have attempted to provide this information for those who find it useful.

Urban Defender whole house water filter Flow Diagram

The Urban Defender is equal to or more effective than the more expensive water filtration systems listed above.  You have my word on that.

To learn which specific features to look for when purchasing a whole house water filter or when comparing whole house water filters, visit blog:

Choosing the best whole house water filter or simply request my Urban Defender specifications:

 Urban Defender and UV light Ohio retouch

Send Me Your Urban Defender Specs and Pricing


or view it on the web at Urban Defender whole house water filter


To see customer reviews of the Urban Defender: Sweetwater Product Reviews


To learn more about which water purification system will meet your needs:


FREE E Course: 
Five Steps to Pure Water!



Purchase My
Ultimate Guide To Selecting The Perfect Water Treatment System

for just $14.95:


 "What's in YOUR Water?"

James P McMahon, ecologist James P McMahon

Visit my Resource Library


 To view my experience and credentials:

JPM Biography


I don't take American Express