Water Filter Pitcher Face-Off: Brita Stream Rapids vs. ZeroWater Ready-Pour
CR tests and compares two popular models
We recently put six water filter pitchers through their paces, including the Brita Stream Rapids OB55, $35, and the ZeroWater Ready-Pour ZD-010RP, $33. Both feature filter-as-you-pour technology that reduces the amount of time you have to wait for filtered water, but that’s basically where their similarities end.
These pitchers can hold 10 cups of water; the Brita is slightly more compact by about 1 inch all around. Both models allow you to pour yourself a glass of water as it filters. And both filter out chlorine, which can affect the taste and smell of drinking water. Of these two pitchers, only the ZeroWater can filter out lead.
Test by Test
Flavor and Odor Reduction
In CR’s tests, we have professional tasters drink water that's been spiked and then filtered by these pitchers to see how well each removes compounds that make water taste metallic and smell like a sewage treatment plant and swimming pool.
The Brita earns a Very Good rating for flavor and odor reduction, meaning it filters out all smells but may leave minimal off-tastes. The ZeroWater pitcher receives only a Good rating; it gets rid of odors but not the metallic taste. When it comes to flavor and odor reduction, Brita comes out on top.
Even though both pitchers are marketed as “filter as you pour,” there are big differences. ZeroWater has a traditional reservoir that you fill with tap water, which flows through a cartridge into the pitcher itself. You can pour yourself a glass of filtered water anytime, thanks to a barrier that prevents unfiltered water from spilling over. In our tests, it took 6 minutes for the ZeroWater to filter 1 quart of water, earning it a Very Good rating for flow rate.
The Brita does away with the reservoir entirely. You fill the pitcher with tap water and water is filtered as it’s poured out. “It’s counterintuitive,” says Muratore. “Usually water needs more time in contact with the filter in order to get rid of contaminants, but this pitcher’s innovative design did it in 1 minute and 15 seconds.” It’s the fastest of all the pitchers we test and nabs an Excellent for flow rate, beating out the ZeroWater.
Ease of Use
One inconvenience our testers found in using the Brita was how it leaves about a quarter-cup of unfiltered water in the pitcher when it’s done filtering. “The entire lid and filter assembly must be removed to allow this water to empty out,” says Muratore. “It’s easy enough to do but still kind of annoying.”
There are potential problems with the ZeroWater, too. Part of the lid can fall off if you don’t hold it in place while pouring. But replacing filters is quick for both pitchers, and both are easy to take apart to clean. For ease of use, it’s a draw between the two.
Cost of Filters
Manufacturers of water pitcher filters usually recommend changing filters after a pitcher has gone through 40 gallons of water, or about every two months. In our tests, we calculate the cost for a year’s worth of filters based on this suggestion. For the Brita, which comes with a built-in filter replacement indicator, a year’s worth of filters cost about $42.
It’s a little more complicated with ZeroWater. If you change the filter every two months, you’ll spend $90 on a year’s worth of filters. But ZeroWater's manufacturer claims that its filters need to be changed much more often—on average, every 15 gallons—which brings the annual filter cost up to a whopping $255.
What’s the deal? The manufacturer says its filters need to be replaced more often because the indicator that comes with the pitcher measures levels of “total dissolved solids” (TDS), and the filter typically gets rid of enough contaminants that it needs to be replaced after every 15 gallons of filtered water, or sooner if your TDS levels are high. TDS is a term used to describe dissolved minerals and inorganic salts, such as calcium, nitrate, and sulfate, that are present in water, all of which can give it a bad taste.
In CR’s tests, however, several ZeroWater meters broke before they filtered enough water to require a filter change, and we couldn't ascertain the amount of water, on average, that a ZeroWater filter could handle.
No matter how much TDS the ZeroWater removes, it still doesn't do as good a job at getting rid of odors and smells as the Brita. And with an annual filter replacement cost of more than two to six times as much as Brita’s, ZeroWater is definitely the loser this round.
The Brita Stream Rapids filters water nearly six times faster than the ZeroWater and does a better job at removing flavors and odors, which helps it earn a spot on our list of recommended water filters. It’s also more compact, taking up less room in your refrigerator, but holds the same 10 cups of water as the ZeroWater.
The only benefit the ZeroWater has over the Brita is its ability to remove lead. If lead is a concern, and you don’t mind the high cost of filter replacements, the ZeroWater is an option. You can also check our water filter ratings to compare other brands and models, and read our buying guide on water pitcher filters for more information.
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Do you have bad-tasting water? Consumer Reports experts Perry Santanachote and James Dickerson explain how to find out about water testing and the best filtration systems.