Not sure if an under counter water ionizer is the right choice for you? Have questions about the under counter water ionizer installation process? What are the pros and cons of choosing an under counter water ionizer over a countertop model?
This article answers these questions and more providing what you need to know about under counter water ionizers.
The best place to start is with the pros and cons of choosing an under counter water ionizer.
Less Clutter on Your Counter – With an under counter water ionizer, all you see above the sink is the faucet that dispenses the water. A true under counter water ionizer will have all of the primary controls for the machine right on the faucet. The only time you’ll have to access the unit that sits under the sink is to change the filters or when it’s time to follow the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning procedure.
You will be able to select the type of water you want to produce right on the faucet. If you select a model that allows you to customize the presets, you will be able to make most of these adjustments through the control panel on the faucet as well.
No extra appliance on the counter taking up valuable space.
Hidden Pre-Filtration – Some companies recommend a pre-filtration system to supplement their water ionizers’ internal filtration system. Some areas have source water that requires special pre-filtration. Some customers want additional pre-filtration to remove fluoride which is not removed by any water ionizer’s internal filtration system.
Whatever the reason for using a pre-filtration system, these things are often bulky and unattractive. Not something you want sitting on your counter.
Because the “business end” of your under counter water ionizer is actually under the sink, any pre-filtration system you use with your water ionizer will also be hidden under the sink.
Fancy Faucets Not a Problem, Hoses Hidden – Faucet with built-in pull out sprayer heads or and designer faucets can create challenges when it comes to the standard installation method for counter top water ionizers.
In most cases there are work-arounds but having a hose running from the end of a “fancy faucet” to the water ionizer is inconvenient, unattractive and a downright deal-breaker for many. Even if you have a more “normal” faucet that fits the standard diverter piece required for installation, you may not want to have a hose running from your faucet to your ionizer or the drain hose hanging into your sink.
Because under counter water ionizers are plumbed directly into the cold water line below the sink, there is no need for anything to attach to your regular kitchen faucet. And the faucet that comes with your under counter water ionizer will have two spouts – one to produce the water you’ve selected, and a second in place of the drain hose that comes out of the bottom of counter top models.
Protection from Hot Water – Every water ionizer company warns against running hot water through their machines. It can cause premature wear on the plates and the excess heat can damage electronics, computerized components and reduce the effectiveness of the internal filtration system.
Counter-top water ionizers rely on the user to NOT use hot water to produce ionized water – still, sometimes accidents happen. Hot water left in the pipes from the last time you used the sink or guests who don’t know any better may try using your machine with hot water.
The under counter water ionizer installation procedure eliminates this risk completely. You will be diverting water directly from the cold water line below the sink to the water ionizer.
When most people think of potential draw-backs to an under-counter water ionizer they think of a complex installation and the cost of calling a plumber to handle the job. This is NOT the case.
We’ll cover installation a little later – for now, let’s look at what the most common “cons” to choosing an under counter water ionizer.
You Can’t Take it With You – If you travel and want something you can take with you to different locations, an under counter water ionizer isn’t the best choice.
Although installation isn’t that difficult or complicated, it’s still more involved than the standard counter top installation. If you’re spending several months in another location, it might be worth it to uninstall the unit and take it with you. But if you’re just going away for a week or two or are a frequent traveler looking for something that’s easy to set up and take down, stick with a counter top model.
Space Under the Sink – You win some, you lose some. While an under counter water ionizer will save valuable counter top space you will have to sacrifice some storage real estate under your sink.
On the upside, the unit base that sits under your sink is usually slightly more compact than a counter top water ionizer. Still you’ll need to give up some space under the sink to accommodate it and any pre-filtration system you might use.
It’s okay to install the water ionizer and keep the unit base and any pre-filtration system pushed to the back of the area under your sink, but remember, you’ll need to get to these when it’s time to replace the filters or do the recommended cleaning.
Cost – Compared to Counter Top Models – You can expect to pay $300 to $1,100 more for an under counter water ionizer compared to a comparable countertop model from the same company.
The technology required to compress a water ionizer’s control panel to fit within the faucet is more expensive, there are more parts, electronics and also more testing required to ensure electrical safety. Think about the cost difference between laptop computers compared to desktop computers.
In the end, most customers agree that the convenience of the under counter design is worth the extra cost.
In most cases, installing an under counter water ionizer can be done in about 30 minutes with no plumbing experience or special tools required. We do recommend using plumbing tape when installing the T-adapter. Some companies include this, some do not, but you can find it just about anywhere for under $5 a roll. Just ask for “plumbing tape” or “teflon tape” in the plumbing section of any home improvement or hardware store.
There are three basic steps in the installation process:
All of the parts required for the installation will come with the water ionizer.
Mounting the faucet just requires placing the faucet where you want it and, using the washers and lock nut included, locking it down in place. The faucet requires a standard size hole at your sink – the same size hole used for side-sink pull out sprayers or soap dispensers. Most people will remove the side-sink sprayer and just use that hole.
You’ll need a pair of pliers for installing the T-adapter. You’ll need to shut off the cold water, disconnect the cold water line either from the post that comes out of the wall or from the connection just below your faucet, screw the T-adapter in where you removed the cold water line connection, then reconnect the cold water line to the T-adapter.
The last step of the installation is connecting the hoses.
One hose will run from the T-adapter to the port labeled “in” or “inflow” on the unit, one hose will run from the port labeled “alkaline” on the ionizer to the hose connected to the alkaline spout on the ionizer, and another will run from the port labeled “acidic” on the ionizer to the hose connected to the acidic spout on the faucet.
The hoses coming from the bottom of the faucet for connection will all be labeled or color coded. The most important thing is to pay attention to the labels on the unit to ensure that water coming from the cold water line is going to the “inflow” port on the unit, and that the alkaline and acidic hoses coming from the faucet are connected to the correct alkaline or acidic ports on the unit.
Then there’s the electronics cord that lets you control the unit from the faucet. These are simple connections that you should have no problem hooking up.
Finally, you’ll plug the unit in using either an existing outlet or, if you don’t have an outlet under the sink, using an extension cord with a surge protector.
The water ionizer will have a power switch on the back or at the bottom of the unit. Flip it on and you’re ready to go.
You’ll need to have a power source under the sink. Do not assume that the outlet you may be using for your garbage disposal will work. In many cases, the power to this outlet is controlled by the same switch you use to turn on the garbage disposal.
To make sure you’ve got a good outlet, you can take a hair dryer or small lamp and plug it in to the outlet. If you are able to turn on the hair dryer or lamp just by plugging it in, you’re in good shape. If you can’t get power to the device without flipping the switch to turn on the garbage disposal, you’ll need to find an alternate power source for the water ionizer OR have an electrician install an outlet that works independent of the garbage disposal on/off switch.
It’s a good idea to get the size specifications for the water ionizer base that will sit under the sink. Compare that to the space you have available so that you are sure that the under counter water ionizer you choose will fit and allow for relatively easy access when it’s time to change the filters or perform the recommended cleaning procedure.
The first thing you know is that they all work and they all work well. There is no “perfect” or “best” water ionizer – countertop or under counter – but there is a “best” under counter water ionizer for you. Here are some things to consider when choosing the best under counter water ionizer for your home….
Budget - You can get a good under counter water ionizer for as little as $2,195 and the prices go up from there. It’s always a good idea to figure out what you’re willing to pay before you start shopping.
Looks – This is something that you’re going to have in your kitchen for a long time. Take a look at the faucet styling and design. Which would you prefer seeing at your sink every day for the next 15 – 20 years?
Cleaning Procedure – If you are in an area that has very hard water you’re going to need to perform the recommended cleaning more often, no matter which under counter water ionizer you choose.
Some companies offer a one-time-use cleaning cartridge which makes this process easier. Others have a recommended cleaning protocol that involves using either vinegar or citric acid powder for “do it yourself” cleaning. In the long-run you’ll save money with the “do it yourself” cleaning but because it isn’t as convenient as installing and running a cleaning cartridge, you may not keep up with this part of the maintenance like you should.
Source Water & Prefiltration – Keep in mind that some companies recommend an external pre-filtration system for the best quality ionized water. Take a look at the space you’ll need under the sink for the the water ionizer’s base unit and the prefiltration system.
If you’re on well water or have extremely hard water, you’ll likely need some type of pre-filter to address those issues – and extremely hard water means more frequent cleaning so consider the time and cost required for performing the recommended cleaning.
Warranty & Money Back Guaranty – Finally, take a look at the money-back guaranty period, any restocking fees for returns during that period and the warranty. Most companies give you 60 days from the date of purchase to try the unit and return it if you’re not satisfied. Some companies only give you 30 days. Industry standard restocking fee is 15% but some charge up to 20% restocking fees. Shipping charges won’t be refunded and if the company shipped the unit to you at no charge, your refund will most likely be less that company’s cost to ship the unit to you.
On the warranty, the industry standard is 5 years covering parts and labor but some companies have extended warranties.
We’ve created a side by side comparison of the under counter water ionizer that we recommend most. You’ll be able to see each model and compare by cost, warranty, filtration system, cleaning options and performance. You’ll also find links to the store pages with detailed specs on each model.
The Under Counter Water Ionizer Comparison Chart is your best next step. Just click on the image below to get started. And if you have questions once you get there, just give us a call. We’ve provided contact information on the page and we’re happy to help you find the under counter water ionizer that’s best for you.
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