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Best Reverse Osmosis System Reviews 2020- What You Need to Know

Reverse Osmosis systems are a niche product, but can be life changing for many families. If you’re living with dirty, polluted, contaminated, or just mineral heavy water, you want a water filter of some kind, and it is an advisable way on the market to deal with any combination of those issues. Still, knowing you need one and knowing what the best reverse osmosis system for your money is are two different things, so I put together this list of reverse osmosis system reviews to make your job a little easier.

In a Rush?

These are our choices:

Click the link to check the price on Amazon.com.

Overall: iSpring RCC7AK-UV Deluxe Under Sink

FEATURES

  • Removes up to 99% of over 1,000 contaminants including lead
  • Automatic RO system flow sensor switch for UV (on/off)
  • Alkaline Remineralization (AK) filter
  • Advanced 11 watt UV sterilization that kills viruses, bacteria, salmonella, e-coli and many other microorganisms
  • 3 pre-filters: PP sediment, Carbon KDF (GAC), Carbon block (CTO) that remove large contaminants

OTHER PRODUCTS

  • For Home: Home Master TMAFC-ERP Artesian Full Contact
  • Budget: APEC Top Tier Alkaline Mineral pH+ 75 GPD 6-Stage Ultra Safe
  • Countertop: AquaTru Countertop Purification RO System
  • Under Sink: APEC Top Tier Alkaline Mineral RO System pH+ 75 GPD
  • For Drinking Water: iSpring RCC7AK-UV Deluxe
  • For Well Water: iSpring RO System RCC7AK-UV Deluxe
  • Tankless: Countertop Portable Universal 5-stage

Top Choices on the Market

Product

Description

Price


iSpring RCC7AK-UV
  • 75 Gallon Per Day Membrane Capacity
  • Automatic Flow Sensor Switch for UV
  • Removes 99% of over 1000 contaminants

Home Master TMAFC-ERP
  • 7-Stage Filtration
  • Modular "All-In-One" Design
  • 5-Year Limited Warranty

APEC Top Tier
  • 6-Stage Filtration
  • Comes with 100% Lead Free Faucet
  • 2-Year Warranty

AquaTru
  • 4-Stage Mechanical Pre-Filter
  • Quick Change Filters
  • Removes Harmful Contaminants

Portable Universal 5-stage
  • 5-Stage Filtration
  • Unique Deionization Ion Exchange Media
  • Easy-to-Install

Express
  • 5-Stage Filtration
  • 6 Months of Filter Life
  • Can Product 50 Gallons Per Day

Hydro-Logic 31035
  • Stealth RO100 Filter
  • Produces up to 100 Gallons per day
  • Removes 98% of contaminants
Global Water RO-505
  • 5-Stage Filtration
  • 1 Year Filter Life
  • Quick Connect Fittings

Brondell
  • 4-Stage Filtration
  • 2 Years of Filter Life Usage
  • LED Filter Change Indicator

Whirlpool WHER25
  • 3-Stage Filtration
  • UltraEase Filter Replacement
  • 1-Year Warranty
Waterdrop
  • 7-Stage Filtration
  • No-Tank Design to Save Space
  • Easy to Install

Best Reverse Osmosis Systems Reviews [Updated 2020]

Listed below are the top RO systems for different uses. Pick the best reverse osmosis system that is suitable for your needs.

1. iSpring RCC7AK-UV Deluxe Reverse Osmosis System - Overall / For Well Water

iSpring RCC7AK-UV 75GPD 7-Stage Under Sink  Drinking System with Alkaline Remineralization and UV Ultraviolet

Features

  • Removes up to 99% of over 1,000 contaminants including lead
  • Kills viruses, bacteria, salmonella, e-coli and many other microorganisms
  • 3 pre-filters :PP sediment, Carbon KDF (GAC), Carbon block (CTO) that remove large contaminants
  • 75 gallon-per-day capacity RO membrane
  • Automatic flow sensor switch for UV (on/off)

WATER FILTRATION:

3 Pre-filters, Fine GAC filter,  Ultraviolet Sterilization,  Alkaline Remineralization 

ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 

Alkaline Remineralization filter restores healthy minerals

  • Filtering

7 stage filtering is the gold standard without being overkill, and ensures reverse osmosis water is as pure as you can reasonably expect it under any circumstances.

Pros

  • UV Sterilization

Built in UV lamp is set to the ‘Germicidal Spectrum’, killing most bacteria, viruses, and protozoa found in the water without having any effect on the water itself. System shuts on and off as needed to reduce power usage and increase UV lamp’s longevity.

  • Smart Process

iSpring acknowledges that the process can be a bit too effective, removing both healthy and harmful minerals indiscriminately. After filtering, certain minerals are reintroduced to your reverse osmosis water to maintain its nutritional value without affecting your health.

  • Guarantee

iSpring reverse osmosis system has a 1 year money back guarantee and 1 year warranty backing up its quality. Combined with the low price, this makes the iSpring an incredibly good budget option, especially considering its great quality overall.

  • Faucet Design

While it lacks a filter sensor like one model above, the faucet is well constructed and a proper high spout model which is slightly different than the one pictured above. I suspect the faucet was changed slightly with the new model, similarly to how they added the water pressure sensor for the UV light in an updated version. The new one is made of brass, and has a higher curve.

2. Home Master TMAFC-ERP Reverse Osmosis Filter System Artesian - For Home  

Home Master TMAFC-ERP Artesian Full Contact

Features

  • Removes up to 98 percent of chemicals contaminants
  • Adds calcium and magnesium minerals twice for great taste
  • Non-electric permeate pump
  • Five-year limited warranty
  • Design eliminates problems like canister filter housing leaks, slow flow rate, high water waste, and acidic water

WATER FILTRATION:

7 stages of filtration, catalytic carbon, full Contact' remineralization system

ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 

Modular ‘all-in-one’ design and change once a year or every 2000 gallons for capacity

Pros

  • Warranty 

A five year warranty takes a lot of the sting out of the relatively high price tag for this model.

  • Smart Filters 

This system bypasses the issue some similar systems have in reducing good, healthy minerals in water by reintroducing those minerals in the last stage of the filtering process, giving you all of the good with none of the bad.

  • Incredible Filtering

This system uses 7 stages of filtering, vastly increasing both what is filtered and how much of it is removed. It boasts an impressive 98% reduction in contaminants.

  • Efficient

Process reduces waste water by 80%, and increases gallons per day by 50% over previous models. While it is rated for only 50 gallons per day, it provides this water almost on demand through a faster filtering process than other units, making it a valid trade.

  • Less Waste

This product at worst wastes 4 gallons to every 1 gallon of reverse osmosis water purified as waste water, but can be as good as 1.5 gallons wasted per gallon purified. This is in either case far better than the average 6:1 waste: purified water ratio.

3. APEC Top Tier Reverse Osmosis Filter System Alkaline Mineral pH+ 75 GPD 6-Stage Ultra Safe - Under Sink / Budget

APEC Water Systems ROES-PH75 Essence Series Top Tier Alkaline Mineral pH+ 75 GPD 6-Stage Certified Ultra Safe

Features

  • Removes up to 99% of bacteria, viruses, cysts, organics, chemicals
  • Uses food-grade calcium from trusted source for safe, proven water pH enhancement
  • Comes with 100% lead-free designer faucet
  • Free technical support
  • Leak-free quick connect fittings
  • 2 year warranty

WATER FILTRATION: 

6-stage system, ROES-PH75 mineral cartridge, polypropylene sediment filter, double carbon blocks, coconut shell refining carbon filter

ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 

Modular ‘all-in-one’ design and change once every 2 to 4 years for capacity

Pros

  • Carbon Filters 

Filters are efficient and long lasting extra large carbon blocks. This both increases filtering power (removing 99.99% of contaminants) and vastly improves the lifespan of the filters.

  • Filtering 

6 stage filtering is above and beyond the usual, and very welcome. The sixth stage rebalances alkalinity by adding calcium, both improving nutrition and enhancing taste and texture of the reverse osmosis water.

  • Easy Install 

Connections are quick fit and leak free, making them easy and hassle free to install, without any added worry from minor leaks under your countertop or at the faucet seam.

  • Warranty 

Warranty is two years, with lifetime customer support, increasing the longevity of your unit and providing peace of mind.

  • Faucet

Faucet is simple, but quite nice looking, and fits in with most kitchen designs. Chrome finished, lead free, and leak free.

  • Noise Free

System is whisper quiet when in use, giving it a leg up over a lot of the competition.

  • Price 

The perfect confluence of price, looks, and efficiency. While not as good as a 7 stage or above filter, 6 stages is perfect for most peoples’ purposes, and many highly efficient models skimp on the looks to keep improving the function. Apec sacrifices neither form nor function, and does it all while keeping the product cheaper than most models on this list.

4. AquaTru Countertop Water Filter Purification RO System 

AQUA TRU Countertop Purification System with Exclusive 4 - Stage Ultra  Technology (No Plumbing or Installation Required) | BPA Free

Features

  • Removes such poisons as Lead, Chromium, Copper, Fluoride, Radium, and Chlorine
  • Takes less than 3 minutes to setup
  • Purifies 1 gallon of tap water in 12-15 minutes
  • Quick change filters

FILTRATION:

4-stage mechanical pre-filter, RO, membrane, activated carbon

ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 

Modular ‘all-in-one’ design and change once every 6 months to 2 years for capacity

Compact

This unit takes up about as much space as a can opener, making it easy to leave out or store in a cabinet.

Pros

  • No Installation Necessary

The AquaTru Countertop Water Filter works similarly to a traditional reverse osmosis water filter (like a Brita filter); simply fill the reservoir with water and it filters the water. For anyone skittish about doing even simple plumbing tasks, this is a good option.

Cons

  • Expensive

The AquaTru costs as much as the units that require installation while providing a significantly less efficient product in a lot of ways, and costs significantly more (close to four times the price) of the other countertop model on this list.

  • Bare Minimum Filtering

A four stage process is good, but most filters in this price range have five stage filtering, making their water cleaner and more pure.

  • Small Capacity

The tank capacity on the AquaTru is a mere 1 gallon; about enough water for two people, and barely at that. For comparison, the next smallest tank on the list filters three times that number…every hour. Also keep in mind that close to a third of the tank is waste water, so the actual drinking water produced by this filter is less than three quarts.

5. Countertop Portable Universal 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis RO Purification Water System with DI Deionizing Mixed Bed - Tankless

Countertop Portable Universal 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis RO Purification Water System with DI Deionizing Mixed Bed

Features

  • Removes all major dangerous contaminants like chlorine, chloramines, viruses, bacteria, arsenic, VOCs, and pesticides
  • Comes with chrome metal 2-way diverter for kitchen faucets
  • Less than 60 seconds to install
  • Kitchen diverter and standard adapter fits approx 94%-96% of regular (not sprinkler type) kitchen faucet

FILTRATION:

5-stage, sediment, coconut activated carbon, deionizing mixed bed, coconut Carbon T33 type

ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 

Unique Deionization Ion Exchange Media and change once every 8-12 months for its capacity.

Pros

  • Easy to Install

Like most point of use models, this  is fast and simple to put in and use, and just as easy to disassemble.

  • 5 Stage Purification

A five stage filtering process is perfect for most purposes, and that you can reasonably expect from almost any system. It removes more than 90% of most contaminants, putting your reverse osmosis water well within safe drinking levels.

  • Portable

This system can be unhooked and moved to a new location quickly. Perfect for temporary living in places with unclean water, such as for crews living on site to look into a more permanent solution for those plumbing issues.

  • Capacity

For the size, 75 gallons per day (3 gallons per hour) of water is great. Enough for drinking for a large number of people, so long as water isn’t wasted using it for other purposes.

Cons

  • Design

This unit sits on a countertop. While that makes it easier to install, it also means it takes up quite a lot of room compared to other point of use models. Keep this in mind when installing, as it takes up about as much space as a toaster oven, and so is unsuited for dwellings with limited counter space.

6. Express Water RO5DX with Faucet and Tank – Under Sink Water Plus 4 Replacement Filters

Features

  • Removes up to 99.99% of Lead, Chlorine, Fluoride, Nitrates, Calcium, Arsenic, Bacteria, and more
  • Automatically fills the tank
  • Includes Brass Feed Adapter and Quick Connect Adapter
  • Can produce 50 gallons per day
  • Water through your faucet at 0.8 GPM

FILTRATION:

5-stage, Sediment, Carbon Block and Granular Carbon, RO Membrane, Post Activated Carbon

ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 

Double Sealed Filters, Leak Stop Valve and change once every 6 months for capacity

Pros

  • Leak Stop

Unit automatically shuts off if there is a leak somewhere, reducing risk of flooding under the counter that could mildew or otherwise damage the area under your sink.

  • Filter

5 stage filtering is just the right mark for most units, filtering everything it needs to and improving taste and odor.

  • Easy Install

Installation is even easier than most models, with color coded, easy to see water lines for each stage of the installation.

  • Easy Replacement

Filters are likewise color coded and easy to recognize and replace. This is a vast improvement over most other models which require a bit of looking to see which is which and when it needs to be replaced.

Cons

  • No Remineralization

The dangers of 5 stage filtering without the extra remineralization stages is you lose out on healthy minerals that make water worth drinking in the first place, and the water itself often tastes odd. Most units with at least 5 stages have this, but the Express Water Reverse Osmosis System actually advertises being proud of the fact that it removes fluoride and calcium with all of the contaminants it’s meant to remove.

7. Hydro-Logic 31035 100-GPD Stealth-RO100

Hydro-Logic 31040 300-GPD Stealth-RO300

Features

  • Removes 98% of chlorine and contaminants
  • Produces up to 100 gallons per day
  • Low PPM water
  • Tankless

FILTRATION:

Stealth RO100 Filter

ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 

Produces ultra-pure, low PPM water and change once every 6-24 months for capacity

Pros

  • High Capacity

The Hydro Logic Reverse Osmosis System Filter provides 100 gallons per day of clean water, which is a bit more than the average.

  • Easy to Install

This unit is designed for gardening, so in some cases is as easy to install as screwing it onto a garden hose. In that scenario it produces about 2 gallons per minute. Not fast or high water pressure, but easy enough to fill containers with it.

  • Compact

The Stealth-RO100 is small and unobtrusive, so it won’t significantly change the bulk of your water hose.

  • Low Waste

Creates approximately 25% less waste water than similar products, increasing its efficiency, though at the cost of filter longevity (on average the filters need to be replaced about two months sooner than similar products).

Cons

  • Finicky

The Stealth-RO100 has strict temperature guidelines for the filters; hot water can ruin it. This makes set up more difficult for under sink models, and can be frustrating in the summer for use with a  garden hose, as temperature is hard to predict that time of year in warmer climates.

  • Availability

The RO100 is a good product, but was discontinued years ago. This makes it a finite resource, and it is often out of stock on Amazon, with most available only through third party sellers (sometimes at a significant mark up).

8. Global Water RO-505 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis System Water Quality Filter- 24 HOUR USA Tech Support

Global Water RO-505 5-Stage Water Quality Filter- 24 HOUR USA Tech Support -

Features

  • Quick Connect fittings
  • Removes up to 99% of Contaminants such as chlorine, lead, bacteria, arsenic, fluoride, and other contaminants
  • NSF/ANSI standard 58

FILTRATION: 

5 stage, Sediment,  GAC coconut shell activated carbon, coconut shell block carbon,  TFC RO membrane

ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 

Lead free faucet and tank and change once every 6-12 months for capacity

Pros

  • Thorough

 This reverse osmosis system boasts 5 stage purification, leaving your water incredibly clean and free of any unwanted tastes.

  • Price

For a point of use, under sink model with a tank, this is very cheap, so makes a great budget option for those on the fence about whether to buy one or who are unsure how long they may need it.

  • Quick Install

This system has ‘quick connect’ fittings to make installation fast and easy. Perfect as an intermediate solution between a countertop portable unit and a full sized model.

Cons

  • Capacity

At only 50 gallons per day, this model is slow and doesn’t allow a lot of storage potential for the tank.

  • High Waste

One third of the water produced by this model is unusable waste water, making it less efficient than similar options.

  • Filters

The filters prefer pre-filtered water, which is what all of the numbers for reducing or removing contaminants are based on. Running straight tap or well water through this product will like result in far poorer performance than advertised.

9. Brondell Circle Reverse Osmosis System, Under Sink, Black – 4 Stage RO Water Designer Chrome Faucet

Features

  • LED Filter Change Indicator
  • Quick Change Twist And Seal Filters
  • WQA Gold Seal Certified
  • Small Footprint
  • SF/ANSI Stds 42, 53, 58, And 372
  • Flexible Reservoir
  • Auto RO Filter Flushing

FILTRATION:

4 stage Filtration

ADDITIONAL FEATURES:  

patented Smart Valve substantially reduces wastewater by eliminating back water pressure and change once every 2 years for capacity

Pros

  • Fast

The Circle refills about twice as fast as other models, more than making up for its small tank.

  • Sleek Design

The Circle takes up far less space and sits much more cleanly under your sink than most other models. No unsightly, tangled wires and it sits flush against the wall, leaving most of the space still usable for storage.

  • Designer Faucet

Faucet design is fashionable and indistinguishable from most faucets; a rarity for reverse osmosis systems, which usually have ugly and obtrusive designs. As an added bonus the Circle’s faucet comes equipped with an indicator for when filters need changing, reducing hassle and guesswork.

  • Smart Valve

Special valve reduces back water pressure, thus vastly reducing the amount of water wasted when topping off the tank after use. This saves water, thus saving you money.

Cons

  • Filtering

Filtering process is only 4 stages, the bare minimum acceptable. While not bad compared to 3 stage filters (which should always be avoided) it is strange on a product whose overall design is so good in every other aspect, and may make you think twice when purchasing in areas with extremely contaminated water that need at least 5 stages to remove disgusting tastes or odors from the water.

10. Whirlpool WHER25 Reverse Osmosis (RO) Filtration System with Chrome Faucet

Whirlpool WHER25 With Chrome Faucet | Extra Long Life | Easy To Replace UltraEase Filter Cartridges

Features

  • Space-Saving Design
  • Up To 6 Months Of Filter Use For Best Results
  • Hassle-Free Installation
  • Advanced System For Reduced Contaminants And Healthier Drinks Up To 99%
  • Better Tasting Water And Removes The Odor
  • 1 Year Limited Warranty

FILTRATION:

3 stage Filtration System

ADDITIONAL FEATURES:  

UltraEase Filter Replacement with EZ Indicator Light

Pros

  • Space-saving design fits under the kitchen sink
  • Easy-change, twist filters aren’t a big hassle to remove
  • Fewer filters mean less expense when it comes time for a replacement
  • You don’t need to touch anything dirty—the filters are enclosed in containers
  • Indicator lights alert you when it’s time to change the filters
  • Each filter lasts around six months, which is longer than comparable models
  • Three filtration stages remove chlorine, lead, sediment, microbial cysts, chemicals, and dissolved solids
  • RO membranes last at least two years
  • A storage tank allows you to filter and store water instead of filtering on-demand
  • The unit is NSF certified and third-party tested

Cons

  • Doesn’t remove bacteria or pharmaceuticals from your water supply
  • Only filters the sink you install it under—not the entire house
  • Three filtration stages may be insufficient for cleaning some water supplies
  • You will likely need to change the pre- and post-filters about every six months, but some consumers must change them more often
  • Some tools are necessary to install the equipment
  • You may need an adapter to successfully install the faucet and other connectors

11. Waterdrop NSF Certified, TDS Reduction, 400 GPD Fast Flow, Tankless, Compact, Smart Faucet, 1:1 Drain Ratio, UL Listed Power, USA Tech, WD-G3-W

Waterdrop NSF Certified, TDS Reduction, 400 GPD Fast Flow, Tankless, Compact, Smart Faucet, 1:1 Drain Ratio, UL Listed Power, USA Tech, WD-G3-W

Features

  • Smart Faucet Which Displays Water Quality Real Time
  • NSF Certified Performance
  • Saves Water Waste By 300%
  • Reduces And Prevents Bacteria And Viruses From Building Up
  • Made With High Quality And Lead Free Metal
  • Easy To Install

FILTRATION:

7-Stage Filtration

ADDITIONAL FEATURES:  

No-Tank Design to Save Space with Built-in Smart TDS Monitoring Panel

Pros

  • Three levels of filtration successfully remove over 1,000 contaminants
  • Removes chlorine, limescale, heavy metals, cysts, arsenic, fluoride, and more
  • Tested and certified by the NSF 58 for TDS reduction of up to 94 percent
  • Certified NSF 372; lead-free material
  • Installation is quick and straightforward
  • Just twist and turn to remove and replace filters
  • Three filters incorporate activated carbon plus pre-sediment and additional levels of filtration
  • An internal pump produces 400+ gallons of water per day
  • Tankless design means no excess bulk under the sink (or anywhere else)
  • Saves water waste—up to 300 percent—in comparison with other models
  • Automatic shutoff if a leak occurs; preserving water and your home
  • Indicator lights for all processes
  • The manufacturer partners with The Water Project to donate clean water to children in Africa
  • The RO membrane filter lasts around two years (or 2,200 gallons)

Cons

  • Not the most economical choice if you’re on a budget
  • Timing isn’t the quickest—it takes about 12 seconds to filter one cup of water on demand
  • The initial installation and flushing wastes about 8.5 gallons of water that is non-potable
  • Still wastes water at a 1:1 ratio, so for each gallon of potable water, 1 gallon goes to waste

Final Verdict

iSpring RCC7AK-UV Deluxe

While most of these products are great, Apec, iSpring, and Home Master really knock it out of the park. With the exception of the countertop models (the Revolution and AquaTru models), those three systems really obsolete every other entry on the list; they’re each both cheaper and better than the other models that do the same job. Which is perfect for you depends on your purposes. The Home Master has a tank, meaning it’s great for storing filtered water for a while to use over the course of the day, while the Apec and iSpring are better at filtering as needed. The Apec does it fastest, while the iSpring also is a great choice.

Any of the three are great, affordable, and perfect for the purposes of any homeowner.

What is Reverse Osmosis?

Simply put, it’s a filtering process. Your water passes into a semi permeable membrane that filters out particles over a certain size. This can be anything from heavy metals (like lead) to something simpler, like a lot of dirt in your water. A key component is the pressure of the water naturally shedding things that water passes through easily, but other things get caught on.

For whole house systems, this splits the water off into a clean water reservoir and then flushes the contaminated water down the drain. For under sink systems, or other point of use (POU) systems, they work similarly but have their own small attached tank and only filter water from a single faucet or other outlet.

In either case, you’re usually looking at a 4-5 step process for filtering as the water passes through multiple membranes, catching ever small particles or things that just slipped through cracks the previous times. This leaves the water almost completely purified of anything that might be caught in it, making reverse osmosis a perfect system for homes whose water has multiple problems that need solving at once.

This thorough process makes it particularly good for well water, as it never passes through a water treatment plant or similar process before it gets to you. While naturally free of most chemical pollutants, sediment and certain materials picked up through your pipes (particularly old lead pipes) are still often found in well water.

Does It Remove Chlorine, Lead, Bacteria, Fluoride?

The short answer is: yes to all of the above, except fluoride (which is not removed, but may be reduced)

The Long Answer: Is It Water Good Or Bad For You?

The more complicated answer is that it’s better at some of those than the others. It is ridiculously effective at removing bacteria, protozoa, and viruses carried by water. The Center For Disease Control (CDC)  rates these systems as “very high effectiveness” for all three of those.

Sodium, chloride, copper, chromium, and lead are removed completely by reverse osmosis; their particles are too big to pass through the multiple stages of filtration.

Arsenic, fluoride, radium, sulfate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, nitrate, and phosphorous are not completely removed by the process, but may be reduced.  This is not as bad as it may first appear.

Arsenic and radium can be dangerous in high enough concentrations in water, but that is fairly rare. If you do find high concentrations, you should seek a different source of water or a more specialized filtration system before harm comes to you.

Sulfate is a nuisance, but nor particularly dangerous for the most part. It primarily causes a scaly buildup (causing for example rings in your toilet, or a white substance in your kettle’s bottom).

High concentrations of nitrate can cause overgrowth of algae, but is of little harm on its own.

The other minerals (fluoride, calcium, magnesium, potassium , and phosphorus), however, are necessary for the proper growth, development, and maintenance of the human body in the concentrations they are found in water, so you end up with a  filter that removes most of what’s bad, but leaves the good minerals in!

Reverse Osmosis vs Distilled Water

The above information (reverse osmosis removes bad contaminants, but leaves good minerals) means water filtered by the former far better than distilled water for drinking. Distilled water is completely pure…which counterintuitively makes it poor for drinking, at least on a regular basis.

Distilled water is excellent for purposes that require a more pure liquid to function. This includes a lot of manufacturing purposes (most batteries would be ruined if made with simple tap water, and many chemical reactions can be botched by impure water) and some home medical uses (CPAP machines are a good example of something that uses distilled water).

However, most of what makes water nutritious is the minerals within it, so stick with something besides distilled water for drinking.

As for Pricing

Reverse osmosis systems sound complicated and expensive, but are surprisingly affordable for the common consumer. They run on average price with some outliers showing up for extremely thorough systems (6 to 10 stages of filtration).

How to Pick the Perfect One for Your Needs

If you’re in the market for a whole house reverse osmosis system, it can be a tricky purchase. You need to know what features to look for, establish a budget, consider your water consumption, and look at additional filtration options beyond basic RO.

Here’s what to consider when choosing the perfect reverse osmosis filter system for your needs.

How Easy It Is to Swap Filters

In general, the reverse osmosis semi-permeable membrane won’t need to be changed often. However, your other filters will need changing. And it helps if all of them are easily accessible.

When it comes to swapping the RO filter, see how complicated it is and how expensive the replacements are.

As far as additional filtration, these often require replacement sooner. If the unit has pre- and post-filters, consider your water type and how severely those will become clogged from sediment, minerals, and other contaminants.

Size and Layout of the Equipment

With many whole-home water filters, you’ll need pipe cutters and other equipment for installation. Look at the configuration of the unit and how it matches up with your existing plumbing.

The less work it is to install, the easier it will be to start using your reverse osmosis system.

Of course, if you don’t have a basement and will have to work hard to get to the plumbing in your home, you’ll want a unit with a smaller footprint.

Setting a Water Filtration Budget

Purchasing a reverse osmosis system may seem like a splurge. And it’s true that buying a whole-house RO filter can be a steep investment.

That said, there are two significant factors you need to consider when setting a budget:

  • How much you currently pay for clean drinking water, and
  • Whether you have health conditions that might be better with fresher water

For households that purchase filtered, bottled water, you probably have an idea of how much you spend per month. And yes, water is a necessity. But instead of paying for plastic bottles each week or month, you can bottle RO water from the tap—and often for far less than retail.

You can look at the total price of the filtration system and divide it by the number of years you can expect to use it for. You can also calculate the amount of cash you spend on bottled water per month and figure out a reasonable comparison.

But beyond pricing, you must consider your health.

If you have a condition that requires medication or specific vitamin supplements, your water supply could be impacting your health.

Not only is mineral-rich water sometimes dangerous for people in general, but it can also impact people with existing health conditions. If your body is working hard to clean the water as it goes through your system, investing in an RO system could save more than your wallet.

Availability of Additional Filtration

As noted, your RO equipment of choice might come with built-in filters for more than just reverse osmosis. Consider whether your tap or well water needs another layer of cleansing and choose accordingly.

For example, you might want an RO system with a specialized filter for removing chlorine. Especially if your tap water has a strong chlorinated smell, this type of filtration may be crucial.

Or, if you have hard water, the excess calcium and magnesium might mean another pre-treatment filter is necessary. Otherwise, the buildup could dirty the micron filter in your RO equipment. Then, you would need to change the filter more often.

Benefits at Home

Why should you get a whole house reverse osmosis water system? After all, it can be a significant investment.

And, you may have trouble finding a place to put your system—plus struggle with installing it (but not to worry—we’ll cover some user-friendly options here).

The truth is, there are plenty of benefits to having a reverse osmosis setup at home for all your drinking water (and cooking) needs.

Here are some of the reasons why many experts recommend drinking RO water at home (and installing your own equipment for it).

  • Reverse osmosis water is one of the safest ways to hydrate. Pre-, post-, and .0001-micron filtration gets everything gross out of your cup or bottle.
  • Reverse osmosis for home use is the same as industrial bottling applications when it comes to the filtration level.
  • You don’t need to buy bottled water to get the same level of water safety.
  • RO removes off-putting tastes and smells from your tap water.
  • Cleaner water means less scale buildup throughout your home (and its pipes).
  • You have a lower chance of falling ill due to bacteria like salmonella and E. coli.
  • RO removes more chemical contaminants than other filtration methods.
  • Processing your own water is convenient and cost-effective.
  • Water at home via RO is far more affordable than buying bottles for the rest of your life.
  • Your wastewater is less of a burden on public water (or private septic) systems. The pre-treatment of RO gets tons of chemicals out, so even your waste is cleaner with the right filtration.
  • You don’t need to worry about parasites in your drinking water.
  • People with health conditions will get fewer minerals and contaminants in their drinking water—meaning better health is more attainable than ever.
  • You’ll see less buildup in your sinks and showers (and even the toilets) since the entire house receives cleaner water.
  • Your exposure to toxins in bath and shower water is lower.
  • Your dishes benefit from cleaner water with fewer remnants that can cause buildup.
  • House plants won’t experience an accumulation of minerals or contaminants that affect growth.
  • RO is preferable to many alternative filtration methods as it’s lower-maintenance and convenient.
  • You can install the unit at your home’s main water source—no piping or plumbing necessary throughout the property.
  • Filter changes are infrequent—most systems’ membranes last around two years before you need to replace them.

Why Is There a Need for this System?

We’ve explained what a reverse osmosis system is and what it does.

But what is the need behind an RO filtration setup for your whole house?

In short, it’s because water with less stuff in it is healthier.

When you don’t know what’s in your water, you have no way of knowing whether it’s affecting your health.

When you don’t use filtration, your body must work to rid your system of chemical byproducts, microscopic bacteria and viruses, and heavy metals.

A buildup of heavy metals can be harmful to your system. But all the other toxins in tap and well water can also wreak havoc on your body.

People rely on reverse osmosis water to ensure that their hydration is high-quality.

You’re probably careful about what you eat. You pay attention to how often you exercise. You keep up with your medication (as necessary).

But you also want to know that your water is helping—not hurting—your case.

For optimum health, you need exceptional hydration without all the gunk that messes with your body and its balance of micronutrients.

In short, less stuff in the water is less work for your body.

Contaminants

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), reverse osmosis removes a long list of contaminants.

You can expect reverse osmosis water to be free of:

  • Bacteria like campylobacter, salmonella, shigella, and E. coli
  • Protozoa like cryptosporidium and giardia
  • Viruses like enteric, hepatitis A, norovirus, and rotavirus
  • Contaminants like sodium, chloride, copper, chromium, lead, arsenic, fluoride, radium, sulfate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, nitrate, phosphorous, aluminum, bicarbonate, iron, chloramines, cyanide, and others
  • Sediment and other dirt particles
  • Rust and anything else that’s lying around in your home’s pipes and plumbing

Of course, the big question is:  

Does reverse osmosis remove chlorine?

The answer is that it depends. By default, an RO system may not remove chlorine.

That said, most systems come with a carbon filter that does remove chlorine.

In many manufacturers’ marketing materials, they specifically highlight the removal of chlorine as part of the pre-treatment process.

If your RO equipment features pre- or post-filters, it most likely filters chlorine, too. Read the fine print to be sure, of course.

Carbon filters can remove other contaminants as well. Plus, they may help reintroduce a bit of flavor to otherwise flavorless water.

What Are the Uses of RO Water?

Water produced via reverse osmosis is drinkable, sure. But what are the other uses of this type of water?

Cleaner water—without minerals—means your dishes won’t have water spots. Neither will your car, if you’re using household plumbing to run your hose.

If you freeze the water, it creates clearer ice—and better-tasting beverages.

Your plants might perk up with reverse osmosis water. After all, plants don’t like heavy metals or bacteria in their water, either.

In short, RO water is useful all over your home and property, including for watering pets, crops, gardens, lawns, and more!

Is RO Water Safe to Drink?

Like other types of filtered water, reverse osmosis H2O is generally safe to consume. Many people prefer the flavor of RO water and even feel healthier after switching.

Still, there are potential health effects for people with underlying conditions. For example, people who lack necessary nutrients might become deficient since RO water is mineral-free.

However, this indicates a nutritional deficiency that’s unrelated to the water source—people with such issues will require supplements or medication.

An RO filter system doesn’t add anything harmful to the H2O. It only removes contaminants and potential toxins.

So, in general, this type of water is very safe to drink—and preferable for many people who want to live a healthier lifestyle.

Of course, with the focus on water’s pH, some people will prefer alternative hydration sources.

Per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the healthiest pH for humans is between 6.5 and 8.5. This pH is what municipal water sources aim to maintain.

However, the EPA doesn’t strictly enforce pH levels because it’s an “aesthetic” quality.

Still, reverse osmosis water typically measures at around 7 on the pH scale—meaning it’s nearly neutral.

Of course, if you want to find the exact measurement, you’ll need to have your water supply tested.

Pros and Cons

While there are tons of positives to an RO system, there are a few cons, too.

Consider the balance and whether the positives outweigh the negatives for your household.

Pros

  • Cleaner water without toxins/harmful elements
  • Most systems remove chlorine
  • Fluoride is severely reduced or eliminated, depending on the system
  • Cheaper over time than buying bottled water
  • No need for plastic containers for water storage
  • Filters last a long time—up to two years
  • Additional filtration options for pre- and post-treatment
  • The whole house gets clean water, so less pipe buildup
  • No hard water effects on your sinks, tubs, and drains
  • Your wastewater is easier on the sewer system and environment

Cons

  • The water has nothing in it—even beneficial minerals that some people don’t get via their diet
  • Without minerals, the water’s pH is more acidic
  • There’s a significant amount of wastewater
  • The pores in the filtration membrane can become clogged
  • Installation can be complicated, depending on your home, plumbing, and floorplan
  • Many factors impact whether an RO system is the right choice for your household. Fortunately, for most consumers, reverse osmosis turns out to be the best—and most economical—choice for home filtration.  

How Does It Work?

Clean and safe water is a priority for many people. A reverse osmosis system claims to offer that.

But what is a reverse osmosis system?

A reverse osmosis, or RO, system uses pressure and a permeable membrane to remove contaminants from water.

So, how does this system work to create clean H2O?

Water starts out as a concentrated solution of water plus all kinds of toxins, minerals, bacteria, viruses, and other nasties.

The reverse osmosis process applies pressure to the water, pushing it through the filter or membrane.

What comes out is a less concentrated—more diluted—water solution.

In short: the harmful particles are left behind, separated from the now-clean water.

Many RO systems use pre- and post-filters, too, to increase the cleanliness of your H2O.The result is super-clean water that outmatches nearly every other filtration method.

Of course, you might wonder:

What’s the difference between reverse osmosis and a regular filter?

The answer is that RO equipment uses high-quality filtration with a semi-permeable membrane. This isn’t a carbon filter or one with large holes. Hence, the need for pressure—to push the water through the microscopic holes in the filter without letting toxins through, too.

And by microscopic, we mean tiny. In fact, RO filters often have micron filtration down to .0001 micron—that means barely anything can get through. Most bacteria, viruses, ions, chemicals, minerals, and sediment are larger than .0001 micron and don’t stand a chance against RO filtration.

Plus, most bottled water is purified with reverse osmosis. The process is almost effective enough to desalinate salty ocean water, though you wouldn’t want to try it at home.

What you can do is create super-clean, toxin-free drinking water in the comfort of your own home.

Read on for details on all the benefits of using RO equipment in your house.

How to Correctly Maintain This Unit

Once you install the equipment, a reverse osmosis water filter does not require much maintenance.

Yes, you will need to change the semi-permeable membrane-type filter—once about every two or three years.

You may also need to change the supplemental filters. For example, an activated charcoal filter or a pre-filter for sediment might need swapping more frequently.

That said, your system might benefit from additional maintenance.

For example, ESP Water Products recommends removing their RO equipment filter and flushing the system with hydrogen peroxide. Other manufacturers may have specific guidelines for keeping your equipment clean and sanitized.

How Do You Install This System?

For under sink or other point of use models, it’s actually a fairly simple and quick do it yourself chore. For whole home models, it’s better to call a professional if you don’t have any plumbing experience.

First, make sure you have the tools required: a four in one screwdriver (or set of screwdrivers with a range of sizes), and adjustable wrench, and a good knife.

Then shut off the water to the point you’re installing the system, and install the saddle valve that splits the water off from your usual water line.

Cut the water lines to the proper length, and hook them up to your proper fittings.

Fasten your new faucet to the sink, then cut the waste line so it hangs down with no loops or kinks.

Place your storage tank, and attach the proper water lines. Sterilize and fill as directed for your unit.

Make sure the tank is properly pressurized, and you’re good to go!

That’s about it. For more detailed instructions, consult the user’s manual for whichever model you buy, as certain installation steps may change slightly depending on your exact model. It should only take you about two hours, and nothing is very time sensitive; if you need to stop at any point and double check your work, feel free!

FAQs

Still have questions about reverse osmosis water and systems? We have the answers!

a. What happens to the water after the process of reverse osmosis?

After reverse osmosis, the ‘cleaned’ water leaves the processing chamber and goes through your home’s plumbing to your faucets.

The toxins and contaminants, however, remain behind in the filter.

b. What is the pH of RO water?

As explained, the pH of RO water tends to hover around 7. Of course, your results may vary, depending on the quality of the water pre-treatment.

Also, this “pure” pH is before water is exposed to air. The air can cause the pH to drop to acidic levels—around 5 to 5.5.

c. What are the side effects of drinking RO water?

If you’re already deficient in specific minerals, drinking RO water might cause you to exhibit more severe symptoms.

Some people experience fatigue, muscle cramps, cardiovascular problems, and weakness due to mineral deficiencies.

For people who aren’t deficient, though, you likely won’t notice any side effects.

Keep in mind that balanced nutrition is vital for maintaining your overall health—and your hydration source shouldn’t make or break your wellness.

Consult your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your specific experience with reverse osmosis water.

d. What is not removed by reverse osmosis?

Reverse osmosis can’t wipe everything out of your water, unfortunately. It can’t eliminate some pesticides and VOCs, but to determine how much (or how little) remains in the water, you’d need a professional lab to test the final product.

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Last Updated on September 8, 2020