Choosing the best whole house water filter for well water requires several unique considerations that differ from municipal water. Well water often has higher concentrations of heavy metals, most commonly iron. On top of that, well water is usually harder with a higher TDS level than municipal water. It’s also untreated, which can lead to harmful microorganisms finding their way into your well. Lastly, the rotten egg scent that we all dread – caused by hydrogen sulfide – is more common in well water.
Welcome to my helpful guide to choosing the best whole house well water filtration systems to eliminate all of these problems and get crystal-clear, delicious bottled water quality water on tap in your home all year round.
In this comprehensive guide, I share:
- The 5 Top-Rated Whole House Water Filters for Well Water
- Whole House Well Water Filtration System Reviews
- 2020 Buyer’s Guide
|#1) Aquasana Whole House Well Water Filtration System (EQ-WELL-UV-PRO-AST)||
|#2) Pelican PSE1800-Pro10 Filter-Softener with UV||
|#3) Express Water Heavy Metals Whole House Water Filter (WH300SCKS)||
|#4) APEC 3-Stage Whole House Water Filter System (CB3-SED-KDF-CAB20-BB)||
|#5) iSpring RCS5T 500GPD Tankless RO System||
Best Whole House Well Water Filtration System Reviews
I’m confident that the whole house water filtration systems in my Top 5 are the best available to fit all budgets and scenarios. Whether you’re battling hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg odor), heavy iron content, hard water (high calcium & magnesium), large particles such as rust, or harmful microoganisms, there are systems here to suit your needs. I even included a reverse osmosis system for people who have elevated concentrations of fluoride in their well water. As always, it’s best to test your water first to know exactly what contaminants to target.
In this section of the guide, I share individual reviews of each system in my Top 5, plus the pros and cons of each system according to owners on well water. If you’re still undecided now, you’ll know for sure which system is best for your home by the end of the reviews and guide.
Aquasana Whole House Water Filter
The top Aquasana whole house water filter for well water currently on the market is the EQ-WELL-UV-PRO-AST model. With this system, you get everything you need for a near maintenance-free five years of clean filtered water. This system offers a salt-free water softener, KDF-55 & activated carbon filtration media for contaminant removal, a 20″ sediment filter, post filter, and UV purifier.
One of the most important components in this system for well water is the UV purifier, which does the job of chlorine (without the chlorine of course) to eliminate any harmful microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses. It’s not uncommon for a well to become contaminated by microorganisms from natural water runoff due to rainfall or snowmelt. One of the tradeoffs of chlorine-free well water is the need to sterilize it through UV or ultraviolet purification. Aquasana and Pelican offer two of the most reliable UV purifiers on the market.
The drawbacks of the Aquasana whole house water filtration system are no KDF-85 filter media for optimal hydrogen sulfide removal and no fluoride removal. Secondly, there might also be a need to install a sediment filter with a larger micron rating ahead of the system to prolong the life of the sediment filter that comes with the EQ-WELL-UV-PRO-AS. Outside of those minor drawbacks, this is a top-notch system that’s ready to install out of the box.
Below are the pros and cons I found in the Aquasana whole-house well water filtration system reviews:
Pelican Whole House Water Filter
If you’re a fan of salt-free water softeners, Pelican’s salt-free water solution is second to none. Similar to the Aquasana system, the Pelican PSE1800-Pro10 is a complete system with all the necessary components for complete well water treatment. One feature I like the most about Pelican systems is the quality of the stainless steel tanks. These tanks are built to stand the test of time, are easier to handle & install than Aquasana tanks, and never need to be replaced. With a Pelican system, you replace the filter media only and keep the tanks.
The unique up-flow design eliminates channeling (a common problem with down-flow systems) and the need for an electronic head to backwash the system. Channeling reduces the effectiveness of the filters once the water begins to burrow “channels” through the media by taking the path of least resistance. Pelican tanks create a swirling upward motion to increase the contact time between your untreated water and the filtration media. Additionally, Pelican systems make no wastewater.
One drawback I noticed in this system is the small sediment filter. It seems that the sediment filter was somewhat of an afterthought, though Pelican did use the industry-standard big blue housing which is a plus. Having said that, depending on the level of larger particles in your well water, it might be necessary to install a sediment filter with a larger micron rating. The sediment filter included in this system is 10″ and has a 5-micron rating. That’ll clog fast without some preliminary support. Besides that single disadvantage, there’s not a whole lot else not to like about the Pelican PSE1800-Pro10.
Below are the pros and cons I found reported by owners in the Pelican whole house water filter reviews:
Express Water Heavy Metal Whole House Water Filter
If you’re looking for the best whole house well water filtration system that’s straightforward and versatile, this is the one. The biggest advantage of this system over the Aquasana and Pelican systems is the KDF-85 filter media in the second stage for removing hydrogen sulfide. If you want to eliminate a strong rotten egg odor, the Express Water Heavy Metals system can do the entire job on its own, or it’s easily combined with an additional sediment filter, water softener, and/or UV filter. If you’re not a fan of salt-free water softeners, this system is ready to be combined with a traditional salt system.
Another feature I like is the multi-gradient density sediment filter that goes down to 5 microns. This system combines wonderfully with a 100-micron spin-down sediment filter and UV filter for complete well water treatment. The integrated pressure gauges are a nice touch to ensure you’re getting optimal water flow to your home appliances, and the 15 gpm peak output rate is sufficient for all households.
Other system highlights include:
- See-through sediment filter Housing for easy monitoring
- Pressure release buttons and easy twist-off design for quick filter changes
- A massive capacity of up to 100,000 gallons per set of filters
- Standing stainless steel frame to hold the filters
- No water pressure loss
- No wastewater
- Comprehensive contaminant removal with a concentration on heavy metals
Below are the pros and cons I found reported by owners in the Express Water reviews:
APEC Whole House Water Filter
APEC is one water filtration brand that I trust wholeheartedly. All APEC systems are top-notch, often made in the USA (which is hard to find in the world of water filters), and tested to comply with NSF/ANSI Standards. The APEC CB3-SED-KDF-CAB20-BB model is very similar to the Express Water system above. Both systems are 3-stage with KDF-85 for hydrogen sulfide removal, activated carbon for contaminant removal, and include a sediment pre-filter.
Two reasons I chose the Express Water system over the APEC system are the sediment filter and the pressure gauges. I prefer a multi-gradient density sediment filter over a pleated filter, though you might prefer the pleated APEC sediment filter because it’s both washable and reusable. The same can not be said about the gradient filter in the Express Water system.
Both systems filter up to 100,000 gallons per set of filters, though, both most likely require a spin-down sediment pre-filter to achieve those results. While I do like the see-through housing in the Express Water system, I like the industry-standard reinforced polypropylene filter housing in the APEC system more. One last factor to consider when choosing between the Express Water and APEC 3-stage systems is the cost of the replacement filters. A full set of Express Water replacement filters costs considerably less at the time of this writing.
Below are the pros and cons I found reported by owners in the APEC reviews:
iSpring Tankless Reverse Osmosis System Review
I’m a reverse osmosis lover, so I decided to mix things up a bit by finishing my Top 5 with a whole house RO system. It’s not a whole house system out of the box, but by adding a holding tank and float valve for automatic filling, it can easily be converted to one. For the price, this system very well could give you the most bang for your buck. The beauty of reverse osmosis filtration is it removes everything.
Whether you’re dealing with hydrogen sulfide, heavy iron content, hard water, bacteria, or other microorganisms, RO is the catchall of water filtration. It’s also the only system in my Top 5 cleared for fluoride removal. While elevated fluoride content in well water is uncommon, it’s still something to think about, especially if you’re someone who discovered elevated fluoride levels after a lab test.
Other highlights of this tankless RO system are the ease of installation, multiple stages of activated carbon filtration including a post carbon filter, 1:1 wastewater ratio (70% less waste), and a sediment pre-filter. Adding a spin-down sediment filter and holding tank to this system turns it into one of the best whole house well water filters that’s easy to maintain. The drawbacks are the space/knowledge needed to install a large holding tank and the single RO membrane design. Compared to a traditional RO system for drinking water only, the membrane in this system needs to be changed more often.
Below are the pros and cons I found reported by people on well water in the reviews:
How to Choose the Best Whole House Water Filter for Well Water
As I’m sure you probably already noticed, there’s a range of options to treat your well water. These are the three main types of whole house water filters that are good for treating well water:
- Combination Softener-Filter Water Filtration Systems
- Multi-Stage Systems with KDF-85
- Whole House Reverse Osmosis Systems
Each system comes with its pluses and minuses. It’s important to know what’s in your well water before you buy a whole house well water filtration system. If one thing is for sure, if you notice a rotten egg odor, you need to target hydrogen sulfide with either a KDF-85 filter or reverse osmosis system.
KDF-85 and Hydrogen Sulfide
KDF-85 is the preferred filtration media for hydrogen sulfide removal to get rid of that rotten egg smell. Additionally, KDF-85 is helpful for controlling scale, bacteria, and algae growth (*). Overall, it’s a fantastic choice for most well water applications. Despite how great both the Aquasana and Pelican systems are for treating well water, it surprises me that both companies chose KDF-55 media over KDF-85.
KDF-55 is excellent for preventing bacterial growth in the system, removing chlorine from municipal water and water-soluble heavy metals from well water. Like KDF-85, KDF-55 helps to prevent scale buildup.
A UV water purifier uses ultraviolet light to eliminate microorganisms in well water. UV purification is a great alternative to chlorine treatment. The Aquasana and Pelican systems in my Top 5 both include UV purifiers. The other three systems can all be combined with a UV purifier if you’re concerned about microorganisms – such as bacteria and viruses – in your well water.
Obviously, harmful bacteria can cause illness. There’s also the common problem of iron bacteria in well water, which usually leads to a hydrogen sulfide problem, not to mention staining around your plumbing fixtures and in your tub.
The video below is helpful in explaining how humans and livestock can contaminate private wells:
You might also be wondering: Does UV water purification really work? The answer is yes. The time-lapse video below shows how UV light inhibits bacterial growth with just a short exposure window:
As you can see, UV light is a powerful and all-natural anti-bacterial agent that has the capacity to eliminate microorganisms in well water.
Activated Carbon Filtration
Activated carbon water filters are the most common types of water filters used to remove common water contaminants. There are granular activated carbon (GAC) filters and carbon block filters that are often found in stages of whole house filters following the sediment filter. Carbon filtration removes unpleasant odors from water and improves the taste as well. Activated carbon is like the Vitamin C of water filtration systems. You’d be hard-pressed to find a quality system without it.
Sediment filters are especially important for whole house well water filtration systems because well water typically contains larger sediment, including sand particles. One of the drawbacks of most systems for well water is the small micron rating of the included sediment filters. Another problem is the size of the filter is sometimes insufficient for larger households, e.g., the Pelican system.
By installing a 50 to 200-micron sediment filter before the rest of your system, you’ll extend the life of the sediment filters included with the systems in my Top 5. One of my favorite sediment filters is the Rusco spindown filter. This type of filter is great for trapping sand and other larger particles at the point of entry as a pre-filter. It’s also very easy to flush and maintain.
Be sure to consider the micron rating of the sediment filter before you choose a system and consider whether it would be advantageous to install a spin-down sediment filter before one of the systems in my Top 5. In most cases, it will.
Now you know the five best whole house water filters for well water and how to choose the right system for your home. These 5 systems give you more than enough options to tackle problems such as sulfur smell, rusty water, hard water, and heavy iron content.
Remember that UV filters are there to do the job of chlorine. If you’re concerned about potential microorganism contamination in your well, it’s best to err on the side of caution by installing a UV filter or choosing a reverse osmosis system at a minimum.
Are you ready to transform your well water into crisp, delicious drinking water that you can’t believe came from your well?