When your ready to purchase a filter system, either a whole house water filter or a drinking water filter, you’ll soon discover there are many confusing options. In an effort to reduce some of this confusion, this article will explain the difference between standard size water filters and quick change water filters, as well as the positives and negatives of each.
When we talk about standard size water filters, we are referring to water filter cartridges that have standard dimensions. There are five size categories as follows, (dimensions are length first followed by diameter) 5? x 2.5?, 10? x 2.5?, 20? x 2.5?, 10? x 4.5?, and 20? x 4.5?. There are literally dozens of manufacturers and brands producing thousands of cartridges in these standard sizes. If you have a standard size filter housing, it will accept any cartridge from the appropriate size category. If you are having difficulty identifying the correct replacement water filter for your water filter system, simply remove the water filter cartridge and measure it’s dimensions for length and diameter. If it falls into one of these industry standard size categories, your search just got much easier. Please note; there is an allowable variance in the exact dimensions even within a specific size category. For example many 10? x 2.5? water filters actually measure 9.75? x 2.75?, and in other cases they could measure 10.25? x 2.875?. The point being that there is room for some variance in the exact dimensions. In some cases the exact same filter will have slightly different dimensions. Don’t worry about this! One of the benefits of standard size water filter systems is that they are built to accommodate these minor differences.
Other benefits of standard size water filters include the phenomenal ease of finding a replacement cartridge. They are literally everywhere! You will find them at your local mega-mart, hardware stores, and online. Also, you will not be limited to a single specific water filter, so you can experiment with different brands and even different types of filter media. Furthermore, standard size cartridges are inexpensive when compared to quick change or proprietary water filters.
Quick change water filter systems are a bit more complicated. There are thousands of water filter systems that utilize proprietary or unique replacement cartridges that typically (not always) offer a quick change or easy change function. There is no easy way to categorize these proprietary filters by size, because they vary greatly from brand to brand, yet they often have a similar appearance, which can cause confusion when purchasing a replacement water filter. These systems ONLY accept very specific replacement cartridges. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can identify the correct replacement by a mere visual comparison! When dealing with proprietary quick change cartridges, you absolutely MUST know the correct model # of either the system or the water filter.
Replacing a quick change cartridge typically requires no tools and the water filter cartridge simply screws into a valve head receiver by hand. This brings us to their primary benefit; changing filters is dramatically easier and cleaner than replacing the filter on a standard size water filter system. In fact, this may be the only benefit, as they are usually more expensive and harder to find, and sometimes get discontinued, leaving you with an obsolete filter system. Having said that, if you are not very handy, have a cramped space not conducive to messy filter changes, or if you are elderly or disabled, a quick change proprietary style water filter system may be the best choice for you.
There’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” water filter. What works for your neighbor may not work for you and your water. Hopefully this information will help you sort through the options to find the best fit for you.
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