More kitchen remodels include a water filtration system

Consumer Reports News: April 25, 2012 11:08 AM

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Drinking water filtration systems were requested in 29 percent of kitchen remodeling projects in 2011, up from 26 percent the year before, according to the American Institute of Architect's latest Home Design Trends Survey, which draws from a nationwide panel of 500 residential architecture firms. The demand should only grow as tap water safety concerns and the environmental backlash against bottled water intensify. But as Consumer Reports' water filter Ratings show, some filtration systems are more effective than others, and the costs vary significantly.

Our water filter report covers the five main types: carafes, faucet mount, countertop, undersink, and reverse osmosis. There are pros and cons for each. For example, carafes are easy-to-use and cost-effective, though most of the models we tested were only mediocre at improving tap water taste. At the opposite end of the spectrum, reverse osmosis systems are pricey and require professional installation and service, but they're tops at improving taste and capturing contaminants.

If you're remodeling on a budget, undersink filtration systems offer a good middle ground. They filter large volumes of clean-tasting water without cluttering the countertop. The required plumbing modification should be easy to do with the kitchen opened up, and if you're putting in new counters you can specify a hole for the dispenser. The top-rated Multi-Pure costs about $400, with replacement filters adding another $120 per year.

Another option: Many refrigerators now feature water dispensers with built-in filtration. They're most common on French-door and side-by-side models, though we're also seeing them on more top-freezers. Water filtration is not part of our standard refrigerator Ratings, though in the past we've found refrigerator filters to be only average at removing impurities. So if you're worried about serious contaminants in your tap water, you might want to consider a dedicated filtration system that performs well in our tests.

Daniel DiClerico

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