ispring vs apec vs aquasana

iSpring vs APEC vs Aquasana: Selecting RO Unit Under $200

In previous article, I have compared three different countertop filters. Today I’m going to talk about three different reverse osmosis filters that are quite similar, yet still different.

  1. iSpring
  2. APEC
  3. Aquasana

In this article, I will compare iSpring vs. APEC vs. Aquasana.


To make it more interesting, I have decided to figure out which one of these is the best option under $200.

You know it’s simple to buy a filter if you have the budget, but it’s different when you don’t have it.

On top of that:

Why would you waste the money if there are efficient systems that would do a great job?

Below I have included detailed comparison table where you will find pretty much all the information you need to know about every filter in this article.

Comparison Table

My Rating
Filtered capacity (Gallons per day) 75 75 35
Filtration Type Reverse Osmosis Reverse Osmosis Reverse Osmosis
Remineralization Stage?
# of stages 6 5 3
NSF Certified?
Tank Capacity (Gallons) 3.2 4 3.2
Filter lifespan (Months) 6-12 6-12 6-12
Other Features 6 stages Charity program Many different certifications
Warranty (Years) 1 1 2
Latest price

iSpring RCC7AK 6-Stage

iSpring RCC7AK, NSF Certified 75 GPD, Alkaline 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis System, pH+ Remineralization...
  • Certified to NSF/ANSI 58, 6-Stage Alkaline Remineralization Layered Filtration - Exclusively designed to restore the natural alkalinity and mineral balance of water; this...
  • GREAT-TASTING MINERAL WATER - A standard 5 stage RO system produces slightly acidic water with a pH of 7. 0 or below because the RO membrane removes not only harmful...
  • LOW MAINTENANCE - Transparent 1st stage housing for easy visual inspection. Three extra long life pre-filters to remove large contaminants and protect RO membrane. Ultra...
  • EASY TO INSTALL & NO LEAKS - The water purifier is designed for DIY installation and all necessary parts for installation are included. Backed by clear installation...
  • 100% SATISFIED CUSTOMERS - RCC7AK from America’s favorite brand of under sink water filter is the highly rated reverse osmosis systems. Comes with 1-year limited...

Last update on 2024-06-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The truth is:

iSpring makes good filters!

So, what is so good about this particular one?

Compared to the rest of filters in this article, iSpring comes with 6-stages. I think this is a fantastic offer given the fact that we are selecting a system under $200.

Let’s be honest!

You won’t be able to find something like this for the given price.


Let’s dive deeper to see what else iSpring offers.

We know that RO systems are the ones with the best performance.

For this very reason, I think there is no need to talk extensively about the performance of this filter as the RO membrane ensures high rates anyway.

But for the peace of mind, here is the list of contaminants that are filtered out of the water. Please note that the percentage may vary based on the initial quality of water.


When it comes to the capacity iSpring is able to filter up to 75 gallons per day. Again, this may vary as factors are contributing to this such as water pressure and water quality.

GOOD TO KNOW: For most RO systems the minimum water pressure needs to be at least 45 PSI. Otherwise, you will need a pump.

Let’s talk a little bit about stages.

As said earlier the filter comes with 6 stages. First three steps are so-called pre-filters. These are taking care of chlorine and some larger sediments.

The fourth stage is the RO membrane itself and is followed by the tank storage.

The tank itself has a capacity of 3.2 gallons and is not made of fiberglass which is usually used with water softeners. Also, 0.7 gallons of the capacity is used to generate the pressure to push water to the faucet.

Mainly, there are only 2.5 gallons of water usable. The manufacturer reports that it takes up to 3 hours to fill this tank, and again it depends on water in your area.

As you have noticed tank is placed after the RO stage, but there are still two more filtration steps left, which means these are used for already filtered water stored in a tank.


The post-carbon filter is there to ensure to eliminate any odor or sediment that might have accumulated in the tank.

Here we go:

We are getting to the last remineralization stage.

As you know, on top of the harmful contaminants RO membrane also removes those minerals you want to keep such as magnesium or calcium.

The fact is RO filtration decrease the pH of water.

What remineralization stage does, is that it adds healthy minerals back to water which will improve the taste and also it will increase the pH of the water to make it alkaline.

Note that there different times for filter replacement. However, I would recommend changing all stages no longer than every 6 months and RO membrane up to 12 months.

Here is the deal with warranty:

The manufacturer offers a standard 1-year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee.

  • Easy installation
  • Capacity 75 GDP
  • WQA & NSF Certified
  • Great taste
  • Remineralization stage
  • Some users reporter poor quality of components
  • Reported leaks


What makes this system to stand out is that you are getting 6-stages of filtration.

I am pretty sure you won’t be disappointed with iSpring if you are looking for high performing filter within the given budget to purify water for drinking and cooking.

APEC Top Tier 5-Stage ROES-75

APEC Water Systems ROES-PH75 Essence Series Top Tier Alkaline Mineral pH+ 75 GPD 6-Stage Certified...
  • Supreme quality – Designed, engineered and assembled in USA to guarantee water safety & your health.
  • This 75 GPD 6-stage system ROES-PH75 is guaranteed to remove up to 99% of impurities such as Chlorine, Taste, Odor, VOCs, as well as harmful Fluoride, Arsenic, Lead,...
  • Premium made filter cartridge uses premium-grade calcium from trusted source for safe, proven water ph enhancement. Enjoy ultra-pure drinking water with added calcium...
  • WQA certified system. Premium long lasting filters used to treat tap/well water. Provides unlimited clean drinking water.
  • America's no.1 rated water filter brand with 20 years of success guaranteeing trouble free, noise-free system for long lasting, dependable, pure drinking water.

Last update on 2024-06-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


APEC and iSpring are both great companies, and I can actually say that they are rivals in the water filtration niche.

Compared to iSpring, this filter comes with only 5 stages.

Those are the same as for iSpring, and even the treatment capacity is the same 75 GPD.

The good thing is:

If you know, you are not going to use this filter heavily, you can opt-in for cheaper version ESSENCE ROES-50 that provides 50 gallons a day.

Apart from that:

The difference is that the tank is slightly bigger compared to iSpring.

It comes with the capacity of 4 gallons, and unfortunately, there is no information about how much water is used to generate the pressure.

Although, I would assume it would be somewhere in the range of 0.7-1 gallon.

Another thing I have noticed is that manufacturer states that stages will last up to 12 months which is excellent.

Although, due to bacteria I wouldn’t recommend you to use cartridges for more than 6 months anyway.


What I like most about this company is the charity program that APEC runs.

Basically, from each purchase you make APEC take some money and provide free reverse osmosis system to people who are facing financial and medical difficulties.

For you, as for the buyer, it’s good to know that you are supporting the ones in need.

The installation itself is also simple as pointed out by many users.

What you would like, is the customer service that is very helpful and fast in response.

The warranty is 1-year, same as for the previous system.

  • Customer service
  • Bigger tank
  • WQA Certified
  • Charity program
  • Easy installation
  • Compact size
  • No remineralization stage
  • Some users reported leaks


If you want to get yourself a filter and support someone in need than APEC would be a great way to go.

Compared to iSpring it doesn’t offer remineralization, however, regarding build and quality it is an excellent unit, and you won’t be disappointed.

Aquasana OptimH2O 3-Stage

Recommended Product

aquasana optionh2o

What I Like

  • Three Stages
  • Certified to NSF Standards (42, 53, 58, 401)
  • Removes PFOS
  • Removes 95% of Fluoride
  • Designer Faucets
  • Remineralization Stage


Aquasana is an amazing choice if you are looking for the filter that removes fluoride, with its 95% removal rate and many certificates. With its compact size, Aquasana fits well in tight under the sink spaces.

Here is the thing:

Compared to previous two filters you may argue that Aquasana is not the competition with its 3 stages.

I would ask you to hold on on this though and read this as I am pretty sure Aquasana will surprise you as well as it surprised me.

Let’s start with certifications:

There are not many units out there that can be proud holders of all NSF certificates, but Aquasana is one of them.

Let me explain a little bit what different NSF certificate mean:

  1. NSF 42 – Certified to reduce chlorine and improve taste.
  2. NSF 53 – Certified to remove contaminants that have some kind of affect on health (VOCs, lead). These are regulated by EPA.
  3. NSF 58 – Fluoride, arsenic and other contaminants on the EPA list.
  4. NSF 401 – Certified that filter has the ability to remove pharmaceuticals and chemicals.


Lot’s of filters are NSF certified but not so many has that many certificates.

Another certificate that Aquasana has is called P473. This is quite a new certification, and Aquasana is the first proud owner.

Okay Eugen, but what does it mean?

P473 ensures that contaminants called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are reduced in water.

Mostly, these are fluorinated chemicals that are commonly used in fabric and textile manufacturing and other industries.

What do you say now?

It doesn’t look like a weak competitor anymore, right?

So, certificates are covered and let’s have a quick look at those 3 stages as compared to the previous two, Aquasana has selected a slightly different approach.

As you can see previously mentioned systems have 3 pre-filtration stages followed by RO membrane.

What Aquasana did is put just one pre-treatment carbon filter before the RO membrane.

This is an interesting approach although, I believe it might slightly reduce the lifespan of the membrane.

After the RO membrane, there is a stage called Claryum filtration.

The cartridge is made of different materials and contains activated and catalytic carbon, well-known in this industry, ion-exchange resin, and sub-micron mechanical filtration.


I would say everything that is contained in pre-filtration stages of the other two filters is included in this one cartridge.

After these stages, there is also a remineralization stage to improve the pH and ad minerals back. So, there are actually 4 stages, but the manufacturer doesn’t count remineralization as the separate stage.

What you will love:

As well as other two unit Aquasana also removes fluoride. You can read my other article where I compare more filters that remove fluoride.

This system also comes with a metal tank to store water. The capacity of the tank is 3.2 gallons, and as well as other two the available capacity is lower. This depends on the initial water pressure.

Best part:

The manufacturer gives 2-year warranty for the product with a 90-day guarantee, which makes it a winner in my eyes.

Something to be aware of is that users reported a bit confusing installation. So, if you don’t have experience with plumbing I would instead call the professional.

  • NSF Certificates
  • Remineralization stage
  • 2-year warranty
  • I like the faucet design
  • Durable build
  • Reported leaks
  • Installation might be confusing
  • Lower capacity than other two filters


If you are looking for the certified and tested unit for the price, Aquasana will serve you well.

NSF certification assures that you won’t be scammed and the filter will perform as claimed. Note, that compared to the other two units Aquasana has a lower filtration capacity, and won’t be suitable if your estimated consumption is high.

Who Is The Winner?

As you can see from my review all of these options are great, but we need to select one.

So let’s summarise what each filter has to offer.

The iSpring comes with 6 stages with the remineralization, 75 gallons per day of the capacity and is quite easy to install.

On the other hand, APEC offers just 5 stages of filtration, but also there is a charity program, so you will feel happy after the purchase, that you have supported people in need.

I think we all had been the most surprised with Aquasana.

On first sight, the simple filter, that offers just 3 stages of filtration, surprised us with various NSF certifications.

Also, it gives you 2-years warranty which other brands don’t and has a remineralization stage.

Personally, I would go with Aquasana as it has everything I’m looking for in a budget reverse osmosis system.

Another reason why I would select this filter is that it has only three stages of filtration.

Just think about that:

If you’re looking for a budget reverse osmosis, you don’t want to spend a lot of money on cartridges so the more stages you have, the more you have to spend on the replacements.

With three stages which are less than the other two and certified performance, I’m sure the treatment is pretty much the same as for iSpring or APEC.

Final Words

So, this is it for today’s article.


It’s your turn to share your experience with budget reverse osmosis filters.

  • How well did they perform?
  • What was the worst budget filter you have ever had?

Make sure to share your experiences in the comment section below and don’t forget to share this article with your friends and family.

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