Water Dispenser Vs Water Filter: Which is Better?

Last Updated on February 3, 2023 by Claire

Water dispenser Vs water filter, which is better? Clean water is a basic necessity of life, you need clean water for everything you do. But in your search for ways to purify your water and keep only clean, non-contaminated water coming out of your tap, you might have come across the terms “water dispenser” and “water filter” being used interchangeably. However, these two mean different things.

Water dispenser Vs water filter

Water dispenser Vs water filter

Generally, a water dispenser dispenses clean, drinking water—some models feature built-in filtration systems for water purification. However, a water filter gives your home continued access to pure, filtered water, especially if you clean it regularly.

Here’s a table comparing a water dispenser and a water filter

Water dispenserWater filter
FunctionTo dispense previously filtered or purified water.

Even with an in-built filtration system, they are still nowhere as effective as water filters when it comes to purifying water

To remove contaminants and purify water using different methods
TechnologyDispenses water through a tap controlled by means of a knob or button.


Uses a physical or chemical filtration technique to purify water
PriceSingle water bottles are cheaper but expensive in the long runInitial installation can be a little pricey but will prove to be cheaper in future
Water capacityVolume of dispensable water is limited by your water source or the number of water bottles/containers you have.There is no limit to the volume of water it can process
EfficiencyEven water dispensers with built-in filtration systems are only capable of removing large impuritiesExtremely effective down to micron- levels
Additional featuresInstant access to cold or hot water at the push of a button or knob due to its in-built refrigerator unitIt can only supply water at the temperature it was fed into it at the water source. It’s incapable of varying the temperature of water on request.
UseDesigned for mostly domestic (or office) use due to their limited capacityThey are suitable for a variety of applications and can also be customized to suit any needs
Initial set upVery easy to set up and useRequires a professional to setup and use
MaintenanceRequires regular inspection and maintenanceCan go about 3-6 months before requiring any form of maintenance (although this depends on the quality of water and how much water you’re using)

Read also: Do fridge water dispenser work?

Similarities between a water dispenser and water filter

1. Both devices provide water

Although the raison d’être for a water filter is simply to remove, decontaminate and purify water (even on a micro-level) to make it clean, safe, and healthy for use in various activities, while a water dispenser is only concerned with dispensing clean-filtered water.

However, both devices are similar in a way -they both provide water via the means of a tap or knob controlled by the user.

2. Both devices require a water source

None of these devices can produce water on their own; they both need to be connected to a water source to do their jobs.

3. Health benefits

Both of these devices have health benefits such as better hydration, improved skin care, and completely eliminating of the threat of potentially infectious and dangerous water-borne diseases.

What is a water dispenser?

A water dispenser is an appliance that stores and dispenses filtered clean water and sometimes cools or heats water by way of a refrigerating unit. They usually sit on a desk, bench top, or sink.

Although some water dispensers have a filtering feature, they are still just water dispensers and not water filters.

How do water dispensers work?

Water dispensers typically use a fundamental working principle:

They are usually connected to a water source, and they deliver this water through a tap controlled by means of a knob or button.

However simple this principle is, the way a dispenser works is mostly dependent on the type of dispenser it is.

Types of water dispensers

There are various types of water dispensers on the market today such as:

  • Table-top water dispensers
  • Freestanding water dispensers
  • Wall-mounted or recessed water dispensers
  • Direct-piping water dispensers
  • Bottom-load water dispensers
  • Sparkling water dispensers and more


1. Healthy option

Water dispensed by these devices is usually pure and free of any contaminants or germs that can result in dangerous infections. Water dispensers use an internal filtration system that sieves and removes all forms of contaminants.

2. Dispenses cleaner water

By using an internal refrigeration and heating unit, water dispensers are able to provide instant hot or cold water upon request.

3. Better hydration

Instant access to clean and pure drinkable water will keep everyone in the family hydrated. Staying hydrated leads to improved energy levels and hyperactivity.

4. Improved skincare

Drinking safe, clean, and distilled water improves human skin. Health experts strongly advise drinking water from a dispenser to make the skin brighter and smoother.

5. Fast beverages

Water dispensers provide instant access to clean and safe warm water for making beverages, thus eliminating the need to spend precious minutes boiling water to make your beverages.


  • Water dispensers require regular inspection and maintenance
  • Heavy water bottles/containers need to be physically replaced
  • The volume of dispensable water is limited by your water source or the number of water bottles/containers you have.

What is a water filter?

A water filter is a system that decontaminates water by removing sediments, microorganisms, and any impurities present, so that the water becomes clean, safe, and healthier for activities such as cooking, bathing, drinking and others.

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s wrong to assume that if a filter removes one contaminant, it can also remove others. Often, filters that remove chemicals do not effectively get rid of germs, and vice versa. Nevertheless, it’s known to remove 99% of the impurities from water—Paragon Water Systems.

How do water filters work?

Water filters use two different techniques to purify water—physical and chemical filtration.

Physical filtration simply refers to using a physical filter to sieve water in order to remove any impurities present in it.

Chemical filtration refers to filtering water by using a blend of chemical agents to attract contaminants from the water, thus allowing only clean water to pass through.

Although these are the general working concepts of a water filter, the way a water filter works will depend on the type of water filter it is and how it is set up.

Types of water filters

There are five types of water filters

1. Mechanical filters

Mechanical filters can be anything from a simple mesh for filtering large impurities to a complex-pore structure ceramic filter for the micro-filtration of microbes and impurities.

2. Reverse osmosis filters

These filters use water pressure to force water through a semipermeable membrane leaving the filtered-out impurities behind.

Reverse osmosis is an extremely effective method of filtering water and is sometimes combined with other filters to reduce impurities to the barest minimum.

3. Ion exchange filters

Ion exchange simply refers to the softening of hard water by replacing the calcium and magnesium ions present in hard water with hydrogen or sodium ions.

This filtration system is more suitable for applications where water is stored at high temperatures.

4. Sequestration filters

Sequestration refers to the use of scale-inhibiting filters that are made up of food-grade polyphosphate to chemically isolate magnesium and calcium minerals present in hard water.

Unlike ion exchange, sequestration isn’t suitable for all applications, especially those that involve water storage at constantly high temperatures of about 95C or more. 

5. Absorption filters

Absorption in water filtration simply refers to the use of granular activated carbon (GAC) to trap chemical impurities in water. This is a highly-effective filtration method that reduces impurities on a micro-level.


1. Cost

Although it might seem cheaper to buy single water bottles as opposed to installing a filtration system, in the long run installing a water filtration system becomes cheaper and will pay for itself over and over again.

2. Retains important minerals

Water filters will remove impurities such as chlorine, lead, mercury, and arsenic from water, but retain important minerals such as zinc, fluoride, magnesium, and calcium.

3. Taste

Filtered water tastes cleaner and feels more refreshing due to the absence of impurities that can make unfiltered water flat or have a weird odor.

4. More than just drinking

Compared to water dispensers that only cater to drinking and the occasional beverages, filtered water can be used for other activities such as bathing, cooking, making feeds, and more.

5. Better hydration

Similar to water dispensers, water filtration systems allow instant access to clean and pure drinkable water which keeps everyone in the family hydrated. Staying hydrated leads to improved energy levels and activity.

6. No water limit

No limitation to the amount of water you can filter and these filtration systems can also be customized to suit any application.


  • Relatively pricey upfront, however, they prove to be cheaper in the long run
  • Unlike water dispensers, you don’t have the option of choosing the temperature of your water (hot or cold) due to the absence of an in-build heating or refrigerating unit
  • You can’t pick the elements you want filtered out and those elements you want to remain in your water.

Making your choice to suit your needs

When it comes to getting good-quality pure and safe drinking water, a water filter is a far better option than a water dispenser.

There are two major reasons for getting a water filter:

  1. What do you want to remove from the water? If you want to remove impurities such as chlorine, lead, mercury, and arsenic from water, but retain important minerals such as zinc, fluoride, magnesium, and calcium, go for a water filter.
  2. What challenges do you have with the water? If you are finding it difficult to cope with hard water, or you have specific applications for your water that require them to be kept at a certain temperature for some time, then you need a water filtering system.

Although to save costs, many people usually opt for a water dispenser over water filters. This is because as much as water filters can seem a little pricey initially, they are actually a great investment and will pay for themselves many times over by giving you access to clean, safe, and healthy water for quite a while to come.

Frequently asked questions

Does a water dispenser purify water?

No, the primary purpose of a water dispenser is to store and dispense filtered clean water. However, some water dispensers have an in-built filtering system and are capable of purifying water, although not as effective as a water filter.

What is the difference between water purification and filtration?

The difference is- purification removes impurities from water by the use of techniques such as absorption, ion exchange, and sequestration. While filtration refers to the use of a “device” to restrict the passage of large impurities when water flows through it.

Are water dispensers healthy?

Yes, water dispensers are healthy. Although, this actually depends on how well the dispenser is cleaned and how often regular maintenance is done. So far your water dispenser is in good condition, it is safe and healthy.