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apec ro

APEC RO-CTOP-C Portable Countertop RO System Review

Are you looking for an RO system that can provide purified water on the go?

We recommend the APEC RO-CTOP-C reverse osmosis water filter.

It is a countertop RO system that hooks up to any standard faucet in minutes. If you need purified water when you are at a hotel or a friend’s house, the APEC RO-CTOP-C is perfect.

It is compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry around in your travel bag. For easier portability, you can get it with a convenient storage/travel case.

It’s also an excellent choice for apartments, RVs, boats, dorm rooms and any other situation where installing an undercounter RO system is not feasible.

Read on for our full review of the APEC RO-CTOP-C RO water filter.

If you are looking for an under-sink system, read our reviews of the 12 best reverse osmosis water filters.


  • The best portable RO system
  • Hooks up to most standard faucets in minutes
  • Compact and lightweight – easy to travel with it
  • High-performance 4-stage filtration system
  • High daily production capacity


  • Low water flow rate (expected for a system of this size)
  • Not ideal for large families because of the low flow rate

Product Specifications

portable reverse osmosis system


  • Number of stages: 4
  • Production Capacity: 90 gallons per day (GPD)
  • Wastewater to pure water ratio: 2:1
  • Reserve tank capacity: No reserve tank
  • Booster pump: no
  • Remineralization stage: no
  • Filter lifespan: 6-8 months
  • Membrane lifespan: 2-3 years
  • Installation kit: yes

Best Features

apec portable countertop reverse osmosis water filter system

1. 4-Stage Filtration System 

The RO-CTOP-C has almost the same number of filtration stages as a full-size under-sink RO system. That should tell you something about how well it filters water.

Here are the four stages that water goes through.

Sediment filter: Like all other RO systems, the RO-CTOP-C uses a sediment filter as the first line defense. It deals with large particles suspended in water including dust and sediment. This ensures these contaminants do not clog the other filters, which would greatly reduce their lifespan.

Activated carbon filter: Removes chemicals, chlorine, and anything else that causes an unpleasant taste or smell in the water.

RO Membrane: Removes heavy metals, total dissolved solids, cysts, bacteria, and viruses.

Post carbon filter: Gives water a final polish to remove any remaining tastes and odors. This ensures your water tastes and smells fresh.

The one thing missing from the RO-CTOP-C’s system is a reserve tank. All under-sink RO systems have one.

Considering that the RO-CTOP-C is designed to be a portable system, there really isn’t space for reserve tank.

Instead, you add the water directly to a water bottle or pitcher using the output tube.

2. High Filtration Performance 

How Much Purified Water Can the APEC RO-CTOP-C Produce Per Day?

The APEC RO-CTOP-C can produce up to 90 gallons of water per day.

Despite its size, the APEC RO-CTOP-C purifies water almost as well as a full-size system.

The four filters clear water turbidity, remove any unpleasant smells and tastes and ensure that the water is safe to drink.

Primarily, it produces bottled water but without costing you any extra money or polluting the earth with plastics.

3. Compact, Highly Portable and Easy to Setup 

Traditional reverse osmosis systems take on average 2-3 hours to install. You need to have enough space under your countertop install it.

If you are not up for all the drilling and tube fittings, a countertop model like the RO-CTOP-C is an excellent choice.

It takes up little space on the counter, making it ideal even for smaller kitchens, RVs, and boats.

It’s also the right choice if you live in a place where you wouldn’t be allowed to install an under-sink RO system such as an apartment or dorm room.

The RO-CTOP-C doesn’t require any installation. Just connect it to the faucet, and you are good to go.

If you spend a lot of the time in hotels, you’ll also love this RO system. The small and lightweight design makes it easy to carry in your travel bag.

And because it takes only a few minutes to set up, you can have clean drinking water almost instantly wherever you go.

This is cheaper and more convenient than carrying bottled water.

4. Above Average Water Efficiency 

How does the APEC RO-CTOP-C drain waste water?

The part you connect to the faucet has a drain port below. The wastewater pours directly into the sink where you can let it drain away or collect it and use it to water plants.

Considering its size, you might expect the APEC RO-CTOP-C to waste a lot of water. But it actually wastes less than an under-sink system.

It has wastewater to purified water ratio of 2:1, meaning it drains 2 gallons for every gallon of drinking water it produces.

So don’t worry; your water bill will not shoot up.

If you still feel bad about the two gallons that go down the drain, you can collect it and use it for gardening. It’s safe for plants.

Installation and Maintenance

apec installation

How long does it take for the APEC RO-CTOP-C to fill a water bottle?

It depends on the water pressure and temperature. If the tap water has a pressure between 50 and 60 psi, the RO-CTOP-C can fill about 3 gallons in an hour. Filling a 1-gallon water bottle takes 15-20 minutes.

The APEC RO-CTOP-C RO filter doesn’t require any installation, at least not in the traditional sense.

There’s no drilling required or filters to be mounted.

Instead, you just connect it to your faucet like any other faucet water filter. You have to remove your faucet aerator first and then attach the adapter to the faucet.

The filters themselves sit in a pack on the counter. To keep them looking neat, get the filters with the case. The case only costs a few bucks extra.

You’ll still be able to connect the filters to the adapter even with the case on.

To use the filter, make sure your tap is on, and the knob on the adapter is in the right position to allow water to divert into the RO system.

The purified water comes out of an outlet tube running from the filters. Put this tube into a water bottle or pitcher to collect water.

The drain water comes out of an outlet on the adaptor and pours into the sink.

Note that the APEC RO-CTOP-C is only compatible with standard faucets. It is not compatible with pull out faucets, sprayer faucets or any special designer faucets.


Which Filters in the APEC RO-CTOP-C do I need to replace?

  • ​​​​​Sediment filter (6-8 months)
  • Activated carbon filter (6-8 months)
  • RO membrane (2-3 years)
  • Post carbon filter (2-3 years)

Maintenance mostly involves replacing the filters when they reach the end of their lifespan.

For the first two filters that are 6-8 months. Replace them earlier if you receive well water in your home.

Well, water has a higher TDS level, meaning the filters clog faster.

For the membrane, replace after 2-3 years.

Replace the post carbon filter the same time you replace the RO membrane.

Replacing the filters takes only a few minutes, and the instructions are very clear with handy illustrations to show you exactly what you need to do.

What We Like the Most about the APEC RO-CTOP-C Portable RO Filter

countertop reverse osmosis

Portable: Want clean and safe water on the go? The APEC RO-CTOP-C is the best portable RO filter you can buy.

Great for small spaces: No under-sink installation required. The APEC RO-CTOP-C sits on the countertop.

Great for apartments, RVs and dorm rooms: If it’s not possible to install an under-sink RO system, the APEC RO-CTOP-C ensures you can still enjoy safe and great tasting water.

Easy to set up: It takes less than 5 minutes to connect it to a standard faucet.

What We Don’t Like About It 

apec portable countertop reverse osmosis water filter system

1. Very Slow Flow Rate 

The water comes out of the outlet tube at just a little more than a trickle. It can be frustrating to fill up a water pitcher.

Even a glass of water takes a couple of minutes to fill up.

To ensure you have pure drinking water on demand, users recommend filling up water bottles and pitchers. Put the tube in the water bottle and leave it to fill up.

For large bottles, it could take up to half an hour or more. You can go about your business as it fills.

2. Not Ideal for Large Families 

For large families that need a lot of drinking water, the APEC RO-CTOP-C’s low flow rate makes it too tedious to use.

We recommend a traditional under-sink RO system instead.

 If you don’t have space under the sink, most RO systems can be installed anywhere there is a cold water line and a drain line.

The APEC RO-CTOP-C Portable Reverse Osmosis System Is Perfect For You If...

apec portable countertop reverse osmosis water filter system
  • You cannot install an under-sink RO system because you don’t have space or you are not allowed.
  • You want a portable RO system you can use on the go.
  • You are looking for a compact countertop RO system for your RV or boat.

Avoid Buying This One If…

  • You are a large family. An under-sink RO system will be more convenient.

Our Bottom Line

APEC RO-CTOP-C expert support

It is impressive how APEC has managed to compress an RO system into something this compact without sacrificing filtration performance.

The APEC RO-CTOP-C countertop portable RO system is really convenient for those who cannot install a traditional RO system as well those who spend a lot of time on the road.

Ed Carmichael

About the Author Ed Carmichael

Ed is a water specialist in Tampa, FL. He built to help his friends and family learn about DIY solutions to common water quality issues in the home.

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