APEC Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Review

Are you looking to improve the taste of tap water in your home? Or perhaps you are concerned about ingesting impurities that can be bad for your health? Either way, the quality of your tap water could probably use some improvement.

So, what is the solution? It can be tough to choose one when there are so many products available on the market. Today, we’re here to tell you about the APEC RO-CTOP, an easy to use and effective water filter that is suited for most households.

APEC Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis Review

The APEC RO-CTOP is a reverse osmosis water filter system. Reverse osmosis (RO) filters are popular because they are usually affordable, safe to use, and able to remove most pollutants from the water while improving its taste. Not surprisingly, this is exactly what this filter does.

It is a portable water filter system, which means you can carry it with you wherever you go, and it fits most standard faucets, with little installation required. The tap water goes in through a tube, passes through the filter, and comes out cleaner and fresher.

People have been using the RO-CTOP since at least 2005, and it is quite popular due to its small size and ease of use. However, the reverse osmosis filter does tend to make the water slightly acidic, although this is hardly noticeable. To address this issue, APEC released the RO-CTOP-PH, which adds calcium carbonate to the filtrated water to safely increase its pH.

Both the RO-CTOP and RO-CTOP-PH can be purchased with a handy aluminum carrying case. The versions with the included case are called RO-CTOP-C and RO-CTOP-PHC, respectively.

Who Is This Water Filter For?

Thanks to its portability (it only weighs 11 pounds), the RO-CTOP is the ideal choice if you travel a lot and like to drink clean water wherever you go.

Its small size (14×6.5×6 inches) also makes it a good option for small apartments or RV’s, where it can be complicated to fit larger systems. If you are staying at a rental home, you should also buy one of these, because you may not want to install a more permanent solution.

You would think that such a small piece of equipment would not be enough for everyday use, but it can output an impressive 90 gallons of water per day (at 60 psi pressure). Just remember, the system cannot handle hot water (100º F is the limit).

However, it does not have a storage tank, so you have to store the water beforehand if you need it in short order. So if you require large amounts of clean water on demand, the RO-CTOP is probably not for you.

What’s Included?

The unboxing of the RO-CTOP is quite easy and simple. It includes all the essentials to get the system up and running, as long as you have a standard faucet on your countertop.

Thanks to the included adapters, you can connect the faucet adapter to any male or female 13/16” or 15/16” faucet.

Summing up, here are the contents of the package:

  • Installation instruction & owner’s manual
  • RO-CTOP equipment, complete with 4 filtration stages
  • Faucet adapter with tubing
  • 13/16” male thread valve adapter
  • 15/16” male thread valve adapter
  • Rubber grommet

Unboxing Video

Overview of Features

So let’s take a look at what the RO-CTOP is capable of. As we’ve seen, it is a really handy piece of equipment that you can carry with you anywhere and just leave on a countertop, since it won’t take up much space. The numbers do not lie: it weighs only 11 pounds and measures 14×6.5×6 inches.

The system features 4 filtration stages, each one in charge of a different task. Stage 1 is responsible for removing dust, rust, and particles from the water. Stage 2 gets rid of any unwanted odors and colors, along with chlorine.

Stage 3 is the reverse osmosis membrane, where most of the magic happens. It can remove up to 99 percent of total dissolved solids (TDS) contained in the water, along with nasty contaminants like arsenic, chromium, fluoride, lead, radium, selenium, and even bacteria and viruses.

Finally, a stage 4 carbon filter will remove any residual tastes from the water, making it suitable for consumption.

The capacity of the RO-CTOP is impressive. It outputs 90 gallons of water per day at 60 psi or 75 gallons at 50 psi. These numbers were measured at 77º F. It can withstand input water pressures from 35 to 90 psi and temperatures ranging from 40º F to 100º F.

The only missing feature from this filter is a water storage tank, but if you think about it, this would defeat the purpose of portability.

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How to Use It

Installation of the RO-CTOP is a breeze, so you probably won’t need to call a specialist. There is no need to fiddle around with pipes or large tools, as the filter simply connects to the end of your kitchen faucet. Just keep in mind that it is not compatible with pull-out, sprayer, or special-size designer faucets.

If there is an aerator currently attached to your kitchen faucet, remove it first. Then, you just have to connect the faucet adapter to the kitchen faucet. If the size does not match, you can use one of the provided adapters.

When this is done, remove the red cap from the end of the output tube and you are ready to go! Check out this video if you have any doubts. The instruction manual provided by APEC Water also gives a good description.

As far as maintenance goes, you do need to swap the filter cartridges once in a while. APEC recommends changing stages 1 and 2 of the system every 6 months or 600-800 gallons of water. Stages 3 and 4 require less maintenance since they only need to be replaced every 2 to 3 years.


Because it is a reverse osmosis water filter system, the RO-CTOP tends to slightly acidify the water it filtrates. While the pH change may not be noticeable, it is not ideal, either.

If you also feel this way, you can opt for the RO-CTOP-PH instead. The difference between this system and its older brother is in the 4th filtration stage: the RO-CTOP-PH adds purified calcium carbonate to the water, in order to safely increase its alkalinity.

Alternatively, you may be interested in a less portable solution that provides some water storage capacity to simplify the logistics. The APEC RO-90 is a great alternative: it has a 4-gallon tank, with an additional 14 gallons as an option. This impressive system even has a WQA gold seal certification, which is a symbol of quality, safety, and reliability.


If you are looking for a good water filtration system, especially one that you can carry with you, then the APEC RO-CTOP is definitely a product to consider. It can filter up to 90 gallons of water per day and remove some nasty pollutants from it, such as arsenic, cadmium or lead.

It uses a reverse osmosis system, which is one of the safest and most affordable methods of filtration available. You’ll notice a change for the better in the taste and odor of your water.

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