Article updated by Molly on July 13th, 2022 / Checked product availability and updated pricing for all four purifiers via the Amazon API.
To start with the basics:
Water purifiers and water filters are umbrella terms that cover a variety of systems to treat water and make it potable using several different techniques.
Read more: Best overall water purifiers
But more specifically, the term “filters” usually refers to the mechanism that catches impurities and lets water pass through. In other words, water purifiers will have types of water filters. The term purifiers refers to the products that contain these filters, using chemical and physical processes to rid water of virtually all impurities, while leaving only water behind. Thus a purifier can house multiple types of filters or "stages of filtration."
Specific to Viruses & Bacteria
Where it concerns viruses and bacteria:
Filtering water must occur in a series of steps that deal with larger impurities first, before getting down to the smallest ones. Since viruses and bacteria are the smallest forms, we need a particular form of filtration to insure their removal.
Can they be removed from water and if so, how? You'll need a water purifier with a UV filter, which is powerful enough to kill viruses in your water. We recommend the follow four, based on our research:
Best Water Purifiers for Viruses (our top 4 picks)
HQUA-OWS-12 Ultraviolet Water Purifier
Bluonics 110W UV Water Purifier
Aquasana EQ-WELL-UV Whole House Filter System
HQUA-OWS-124 UV Water Purifier
1. HQUA-OWS-12 Ultraviolet Water Purifier for whole house
The HQUA-OWS series routinely gets high marks for value, taste and easy installation.
Customers also noted how well the system is packaged for safe transport, and often commented on the quality and taste of the water after installation.
The UV filter works simply by running water into one side of the tube where it passes through the UV light, then exits the opposite end, per the following graphic:
Something to note:
UV-C light is particularly damaging to skin and eyes even after only short exposure time. One reviewer reported an injury to the eyes from testing the bulbs before use. Even though this is unfortunate and we want consumers to be careful, the fact that these lights have the power to do damage proves that UV-C light is used and not only the UV-A and UV-B rays which are less effective at treating water.
We'd consider this series one of the stronger and more effective options if you're primarily concerned about viruses.
2. Bluonics 110W UV Ultraviolet Light and Sediment and Carbon Well Water Filter
For those looking to treat their water with multiple stages of filtration, the Bluonics 11W UV and Sediment/Carbon Filter is a good option since it has multiple stages of filtration, in addition to the UV stage that kills viruses.
Filtration methods include the following:
- UV light
- Sediment filter
- Carbon filter
Customers who have reviewed the unit give it high marks for value, at under $600 for a comprehensive whole house system. UV water filters are usually a standalone package, but this one is a comprehensive option that will deal with sediment, chlorine, and odor all in addition to viruses as bacteria.
It's a particularly good option for people with well water or some kind of non-municipal water source.
3. Aquasana EQ-Well-UV-PRO-AST Whole House Well Water Filter System with UV Purifier and Salt-Free Descaler
For those looking to install a whole-home system with some longevity and efficiency, the Aquasan UV-equipped purifier will get you 500,000 gallons at $0.01 per purified gallon. This is more than twice that of comparable purifiers. In other words, most purifiers get you 250,000 gallons a $0.01 per.
In most households, you'll take about five years to get to 500k gallons.
To be clear, this is not the lifespan of the unit, but rather the approximate length of time you'll be purifying water at one penny per gallon.
In other words, it moves a lot of water.
Like the Bluonics model, the Aquasana is a multi-stage purification system with a carbon & KDF filter, in addition to the UV light ray. It's a good easy-to-install option with a long lifespan and no need for draining or back flushing.
We'd recommend it for larger homes or those that want to purify higher amounts of water at a time.
The only thing we don't like is that the added flow capacity means you have to change your filter more often. Three months is the official recommendation.
4. HQUA-OWS-124 UV Water Purifier for Whole House
The Big Brother of the HQUA-OWS-12, this model uses 40 watts instead of 55 and comes with two extra lamps, one extra ballast and an extra quartz sleeve.
The gallons per minute doesn't change even though this model uses less electricity. Customers score this UV purifier at 4.4 stars overall, and with a price tag just around $70 above the HQUA-OWS-12, the HQUA-OWS-24 is a bargain, processing the same volume of water while adding extra parts.
Keep in mind, this is again only the UV filtering mechanism, meaning things like sediment and carbon filters will not be included.
The OWS-12 and 24 are both recommended for people that are only concerned with virus and bacteria-related purification in their drinking water.
In this section, we'll cover a basic understanding of what viruses are and how they function.
Viruses are organisms that have two main components:
- Nucleic acid
These microscopic parasites require a host to live and only survive for a limited amount of time without one. Once inside a host cell viruses have one goal; to multiply within the live host cell.
Much smaller than bacteria, viruses have not been studied for nearly as long as bacteria and are more difficult to treat in water. For this reason viruses are also the most difficult agent to remove from water. A typical bacteria sizes around 1000 nanometers in comparison to a virus which ranges from 20-400 nanometers.
That's about 1/1000 the size of a single grain of salt, just to give you an idea.
That's why we need the UV light. Even the stingiest filters aren't nearly small enough to grab something that small from drinking water.
The only option is to kill it on the spot, which the UV light does quite well.
There is no guaranteed way to remove a virus since it is so small.
What we have been able to do for over 100 years is to ruin the virus’s ability to function using ultraviolet (UV) light. The UV-B and UV-C rays scramble the DNA inside the virus, effectively causing it to become impotent and unable to reproduce. At this point, consuming the virus is no longer a threat to a host cell.
Keep in mind that UV light purifiers should be used in conjunction with other forms of water purification methods since they don’t filter out other substances.
The good news is once you combine an extremely effective method like RO filtration with UV light purification, you are left with virtually 100% pure water. RO systems are the gold standard for ridding water of most contaminants and the microscopic bacteria and viruses left are “fried” by the UV light.
If you are in the market for a water purifier to rid your water of viruses, these choices will prove good options. To summarize our recommendations, UV light filtration is a must and any filtering stages you can add-on to that process will only improve the final product.
For questions or thoughts about the products we've recommended, or water virus removal in general, feel free to leave a note in the comments section below.
We'll do our best to help out.