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In this in-depth buying guide, we will help you choose the best reverse osmosis (RO) system for your home.
We explain exactly how an RO system works, why you might need one in your home, and what to look for when shopping for one.
We also recommend the best reverse osmosis water filters available online. These include large systems for large homes, small countertop units that you can even carry around and everything in between.
Reverse osmosis is the most reliable method of water filtration and purification.
Unlike other water filters like activated carbon that produce filtered water(meaning it still contains certain impurities), a reverse osmosis system provides purified water.
Purified water is free of almost all kinds of impurities from large ones like silt to microscopic ones such as bacteria –anything larger than 0.001 microns.
Because of its ability to remove a wide range of impurities from water, a reverse osmosis system offers the best protection for your family compared to other types of water filters.
Experts often recommend RO filters for water that might be biologically unsafe, meaning it contains waterborne pathogens like Cryptosporidium and Giardia.
That’s because no other filter is as effective as an RO system at removing microbes from water.
But even if you receive treated city water that is likely free of dangerous bacteria, you can still benefit from an RO water filter.
It can remove many other impurities that most other filters leave behind including dissolved salts, heavy metals and chemicals.
An RO water filter works as well filtering city water as it does well/artesian water.
It’s also our top pick for the best reverse osmosis water filter for several reasons.
It’s better value for money compared to other expensive RO systems, it’s a breeze to install under the counter, it produces great tasting water, and it has a higher flow rate than almost any other RO system.
The only minor downside is that the installation takes a bit of time. If you are planning to install this yourself, block around 2-4 hours from your schedule.
The Home Master under-sink RO system uses a combination of filters to remove up to 98% of sediment, chemicals, heavy metals, and dissolved salts.
These include a catalytic carbon filter that is much more effective than the normal activated carbon filter used in most RO systems.
The catalytic carbon in the Home Master can remove chlorine as well as chloramine.
The RO membrane removes heavy metals and harmful waterborne microorganisms.
Reverse osmosis tends to be a bit too thorough when filtering water. It strips out minerals from water, including the good minerals.
This not only makes the water a bit less healthy for you, but it also makes it more acidic. The water has a certain unnatural taste.
The Home Master solves this by remineralizing the water twice. This reintroduces calcium and magnesium minerals, improving the taste of your drinking water and balancing out its pH.
Normal reverse osmosis water filters waste about 4 gallons of water for every gallon purified. Over time, that’s a lot of water wasted.
The Home Master uses a non-electric permeated pump to reduce water waste by up to 80%.
Instead of flushing away 4 gallons for every gallon, it only wastes a single gallon for every gallon of purified water you use.
Another advantage of the permeate pump is an increase in water production.
Most reverse osmosis water filters produce purified water in a trickle. The Home Master has double the flow rate, making it so much easier to fill your water bottle.
One area where the Home Master stands out from other RO filters is the filter design.
With most systems, the filter cartridges are put inside filter housings.
When it’s time to replace the filters, you just have to remove the cartridge and put in a new one.
But the filter housing themselves are not replaced for several years. Eventually, the stress and scale buildup in the houses causes them to break and leak. In some cases, the houses can flood your home.
Home Master uses a modular design where both the housing and the filter are one.
When you replace the filters annually, you replace even the housings. This keeps the system functioning at its best and ensures durability.
The only issue with the Home Master Artesian System is that installation takes time.
But this is normal for under counter water treatment systems.
What makes Home Master’s installation take even longer is that you need to drill a hole in the sink for the dedicated faucet and another hole in the drain line for draining away the wastewater.
You can hire a plumber if you want, but you should be able to set up the filter yourself in an afternoon.
Avoid this one if: You are looking for a compact counter top RO system for your kitchen, boat, or RV.
The Home Master Artesian Reverse Osmosis water filters are best for: Families and individuals looking for a high performance but affordable under counter RO system that is easy to install, easy to maintain, and lasts long.
If you want complete peace of mind that your family is drinking the safest possible water, then this is the best RO system to buy.
It doesn’t matter whether you use city or well water, the Home Master HydroPerfection will keep your drinking water safe and your cleaning water free from minerals, toxins and other contaminants.
Like the Artesian HomeMaster system above, this one also installs under the counter.
Installation is easy enough, but it takes some time.
The Home Master HydroPerfection uses 5 filter stages to remove over 98% of impurities in water including 99.99% of microorganisms.
Sediment filter: Removes fine sediment and silt suspended in water.
Catalytic carbon filter: Removes chlorine, and chloramine. Also filters out heavy metals, dissolved minerals and chemicals.
RO membrane: Removes heavy metals, dissolved salts, chemicals, cysts, bacteria, and viruses.
UV filter: Kills or neutralizes microbes by damaging their DNA.
Activated carbon post-filter: Provides a final polish to the water.
To make sure the water is not too acidic and unnatural tasting, the Home Master HydroPerfection system includes a remineralization stage.
Calcium and magnesium are added to the water, which balances the pH and makes your water tastier.
The RO filter includes a non-electric permeate pump that reduces the amount of water wasted by up to 80%.
Most reverse osmosis water filters have wastewater to purified water ratio of 4:1 gallon. The Hydro Perfection wastes only 1 gallon for every gallon of purified water consumed (1:1 ratio).
The permeate pump also increases the production of purified water, ensuring you won’t have to endure a trickle like with most RO systems.
The filter further increases the flow rate by using larger fittings.
If you have city water, the catalytic carbon can remove both chlorine and chloramine, depending on which disinfectant your city uses.
If you have well water, it can remove impurities like iron and hydrogen sulfide.
The HydroPerfection features Home Master’s signature modular design that combines the filters and filter housings into one.
After one year, you’ll replace both the filters and the filter cartridges.
This greatly improves performance and durability compared to traditional RO systems that use filter cartridges.
The main issue with the Home Master Hydro Perfection is that the installation process is long.
Installing the filter under your counter is easy – you don’t have to call a pro. But expect to spend at least 2-3 hours connecting it to your cold water line and drilling a hole on your sink for the new faucet.
Avoid this one if: You are looking for a compact and easy-to-install counter-top RO filter.
The Home Master Hydro-perfection RO system is perfect for anyone looking for a premium reverse osmosis water filter that provides extra protection against waterborne bacteria and viruses.
RO systems tend to be more expensive than other types of filters. Some of the most powerful ones cost well over $500.
If you are not ready to spend that much money on an RO filter, we recommend the budget iSpring RCC7AK.
The iSpring RCC7AK is one of the least expensive RO systems sold today, but it doesn’t sacrifice the most important features. It comes with a 5-stage filtration process plus a remineralization stage to restore your water’s natural taste.
Installation under the counter is easy, but it takes some time.
Here are the five filters water passes through:
This is where the minerals stripped from water are put back, specifically magnesium and calcium (don’t worry, the amount of minerals added won’t make your water hard).
This raises the pH of water, making it healthier for drinking, cooking, taking medicine, and making baby food.
It also gives the water a more natural taste.
You can definitely install this filter yourself. There’s no need to hire a pro even if you’ve never done any DIY plumbing.
But be ready to spend at least two hours hooking up the filter to your cold water line and installing the new faucet.
I’d say it’s an afternoon's worth of work.
But at least the filter comes with everything you need including push to connect fittings and color-coded tubing.
This RO filter doesn’t come with a permeate pump that would significantly reduce water waste and increase water pressure.
It wastes more water than most RO filters (around 4 gallons for every gallon) and has a lower flow rate.
It can be a bit frustrating to fill a large bottle or pitcher.
But for the price, this is an acceptable sacrifice.
Avoid this one if: You want an RO filter with a high flow rate. Also not ideal for homes that use well water.
The iSpring RCC7AK reverse osmosis water filter is best for: Anyone looking for a budget but good quality reverse osmosis water filter.
Most budget RO systems use 6-month filters, meaning you have to buy new filters twice a year. But the RO-90’s filters last 12 months, similar to the filters in more expensive RO systems.
The added capacity makes maintenance easier and cheaper.
There are 5 filters in all, including double carbon blocks that remove unpleasant tastes and smells from your tap water.
Unfortunately, the RO-90 lacks a remineralization stage. Your drinking water won’t have than nice bottled water taste that other RO systems produce by adding minerals.
Sediment filter: removes suspended particulates including dust, silt, and rust. This protects the RO membrane and the carbon filters from clogging up too soon.
Two carbon blocks: To make sure your water tastes fresh, the system uses two large carbon blocks to remove chlorine and other chemicals that affect the taste and smell of water. Unfortunately, these carbon blocks do not remove chlorine.
RO Membrane: Removes over 99% of impurities, including chemicals, heavy metals, dissolved solids, viruses, and bacteria.
Carbon post-filter: Removes any remaining smells and tastes.
The filter replacement period is a convenient 12 months. This is a double the capacity of RO filters in the same price range.
This not only makes maintenance easier, but you also spend less money.
The system is easy to install undercounter tough it takes a bit of time. I recommend setting aside at least 2-3 hours for the installation.
All parts and fittings are provided including a lead-free chrome faucet.
The only issue is that the manual is written poorly. But there are several helpful installation videos online you can follow.
The main complaint from customers is the manual. It could have been more details and clear.
But even with the poorly written manual, installing the filter is still fairly easy. If you get stuck, there are some installation videos online. You can also contact their very helpful customer support team.
The other issue is the low flow rate. This model doesn’t have a permeate pump so, water comes out at just a little bit more than a trickle. It’s tedious to fill up a large bottle.
If you want higher water pressure, you have to buy a separate permeate pump and install it.
Another limitation is the lack of a remineralization stage, which is available in most other RO systems. Because the stripped minerals are not added back, the water tastes slightly unnatural.
But most people don’t notice the difference. If you don’t care about your drinking water tasting exactly like bottled water, then this is not a problem.
Avoid this one if: You want a reverse osmosis filter with a high flow rate or mineralization.
The APEC RO-90 is best for: Anyone with a large family looking for an affordable RO water system with a long lasting filter.
It’s less expensive than most other water filters in this guide but it provides comparable features and performance.
The RCC7's 5-stage filter system capable of removing up to 99% of over a thousand contaminants ranging from chlorine to cysts and bacteria.
Installation under the counter takes a couple of hours. All the parts you need are included.
Being a budget RO filter, there are some sacrifices. The RCC7 has relatively low water flow, waste water is on the higher end and there’s no remineralization stage.
But when it comes to what matters most, giving your family safe purified water, the RCC7 matches other systems for way less money.
Water passes through 5 stages that systematically remove specific contaminants at each stage, as follows:
Installation takes about 2 to 3 hours depending on your experience in DIY plumbing.
But you don’t have to call a pro. All the parts and fittings you need are included along with the RO filter. All you need are tools to connect the system to your cold water line and drill a hole for the new faucet.
The faucet is an upgraded European-design made from brushed nickel. It’s not the most luxurious faucet you can get but it looks pretty good.
The RCC7 system doesn’t require much in terms of maintenance. Your only job is to monitor filter life and replace the filters when necessary.
Apart from the RO membrane, which has a 2-3 year lifespan, the other filters have a lifespan of 6-12 months.
Because the system has no filter replacement reminder, I recommend using the clear first stage housing to determine when it’s time to get new filters.
When the first filter fills up with sediment, replace it along with the other filters (except the RO membrane).
The RCC7 doesn’t have a permeate pump, which is used in more expensive filters to reduce water wastage and increase flow rate.
As a result, the water comes out of the faucet in a weak stream that takes a while to fill up a large water bottle or pitcher.
The system also wastes more water than pricier RO filters.
The wastewater to purified water ratio is 3:1, meaning 3 gallons of ‘dirty’ water are drained for every gallon of purified water you use.
Avoid this one if: You are looking for an RO system with low water wastage and high water flow rate. Get a system with a permeate pump instead.
The iSpring RCC7 reverse osmosis system is best for: Anyone looking for a budget but high performance reverse osmosis system.
That doesn’t mean it has the lowest performance, however.
Performance-wise, the RO5DX is as good as several more expensive systems. It uses a 5-stage filtration process that removes most of the impurities from water.
The final water quality is as good as bottled water.
The RO5DX does lack two important features: a remineralization stage and a permeate pump.
The system is divided into a pre-filter stage, the main RO membrane filtration stage and post-filtration. Altogether, these stages consist of media as follows:
The filter comes halfway assembled, making installation much easier.
Everything you need is included though some customers say the package was missing a 3/8” adaptor for their cold water pipe.
All you need is an adjustable wrench, a power drill and ¼” and ½” drill bits.
The system uses quick connect tubings that are really easy to work with. All the tubes are color-coded depending on where they are supposed to go.
Overall, installation takes a couple of hours.
The system includes an automatic leak detection mechanism that shuts off water supply to prevent flooding.
It consists of a simple fabric disc that stays in contact with the floor under your sink. If the fabric absorbs water, a valve closes immediately.
One of the issues raised by several customers is that the filter doesn’t come with a 3/8” adaptor. The ½” adaptor that’s included doesn’t fit most homes’ cold water outlets.
It’s likely that this omission was only in earlier models. In the updated model, the manufacturer says both 3/8” and ½” adaptors are included.
But even if yours doesn’t come with the right adaptor, you can get it for around $10 at any plumbing store.
The other issue is about filter replacement. The filters are actually cloth cartridges inside cylinder housings.
So instead of replacing the entire part, you have to open the filter housing, remove the wet and dirty filter and wash the housing before putting in a new filter.
Filter replacement takes longer and is messier than in systems that use all-in-one filters.
Avoid this one if: You want an RO water filter with a remineralization stage. Or do you don't like getting wet when changing filters.
The Express Water RO5DX is best for: Families and individuals looking for a cheap but good quality reverse osmosis water filter.
It adds two more filter stages to the 5 basic stages of its sibling reverse osmosis water filters:
One of them is a remineralization stage to enhance the taste of water and make it healthier.
The other is a UV filter to provide added protection against microbes.
As expected, the RVV7AK-UV is more expensive than the RCC7 and RCC7AK. But it’s still surprisingly affordable considering the extra features.
The first five stages are the same ones in the RCC7 and RCC7AK.
There’s a sediment pre-filter to remove suspended particulates like sand and dust, two carbon filters (GAC and CTO) to remove chemicals, chlorine and chloramines and an RO membrane that removes heavy metals, TDS, bacteria and viruses.
There’s also a post carbon filter to polish up the water.
But before the water goes to the storage tank, it passes through a couple more stages.
pH/remineralization filter: Minerals stripped from the water are added back to improve taste and increase pH. This makes the water healthier and tastier.
UV filter: Intense UV light kills off any remaining microbes to ensure your water is completely safe to drink.
The RCC7AK-UV installs under your counter in 2-3 hours. You can hire a pro if you don’t have the time to install it but it’s not necessary.
The system is easy to install. All the fittings, connectors and a faucet are included. All you need is a wrench to open and tighten connectors and a drill to make a hole on the sink for the faucet.
If your sink already has an existing hole, you can use that instead.
In case there is a leak somewhere in the system, a water detector will immediately sound an alarm to prevent flooding.
Despite costing more, the RCC7AK-UV doesn’t have a permeate pump. So don’t expect a powerful water stream that fills bottles in seconds.
The system also wastes more water than filters with a permeate pump. The waste to purified water ratio is 3:1.
Avoid this one if: You are not concerned about bacteria in your water or you don’t care much for added minerals in your drinking water.
The RCC7AK-UV RO water filter is best for: Families that want an RO filter with extra protection against biological contaminants (bacteria, cysts and viruses). Also ideal for those who want an affordable RO filter with a remineralization stage to give their water a bottled water taste.
If you want your purified water to taste like bottled water, look for a reverse osmosis system with a remineralization stage that adds stripped minerals back to the water.
The APEC ROES-PH75 is one of the most affordable RO systems that produces bottled water quality mineralized water. The resulting water is healthier and tastes better than non-mineral purified water from other RO systems.
The water passes through four filtration stages before going through the remineralization stage where calcium carbonate is added.
Not counting the pH filter/remineralization stage, the APEC ROES-PH75 cleans up water using five filters, as follows:
All of the above are high capacity filters that should last up to 12 months on city water.
The RO membrane and the post filter last even longer – around 2-3 years.
However, if you receive well water in your home, the manufacturer recommends replacing the first 3 filters sooner than 12 months. A 6-month schedule is ideal to keep the system at its best.
During this stage, calcium carbonate is added to the water which achieves two things:
The system is relatively easy to install.
All the fittings and parts are provided including filter wrenches, a drain saddle and a brushed nickel faucet.
You just need to have the right tools with you including a drill to make a hole for the faucet.
Installation instructions are generally clear except when it comes to installing the pH filter. Most people found that part a bit difficult because of poor labeling and instructions on the manual.
To avoid any problems, I recommend watching an installation video to get an idea of how the 6 stages are put together.
The APEC ROES-PH75 has a wastewater to purified water ratio of 3:1. That’s fairly high compared to systems that can achieve a 2:1 or 1:1 ratio.
The high water wastage ratio is primarily because of the lack of a permeate pump, which also reduces water flow rate out of the faucet.
Something else lacking is a water leak detector, a feature you’ll find even in cheaper RO systems.
It’s important that you regularly check for leaks yourself and fix them before they cause flooding.
Avoid this one if: You are looking for an RO system with a low waste to filtered water ratio.
The APEC ROES-PH75 RO filter is best for: Anyone looking for an affordable reverse osmosis filter that produces great tasting mineral water.
RO purified water is slightly acidic. That’s because the RO membrane strips out mineral ions.
Some reverse osmosis water filters have a remineralization stage that adds back some of these minerals, usually calcium and magnesium.
But this doesn’t fully counter the acidity issue. The best it does is increase the pH to neutral, the same level as your normal tap water.
The Express Water ROALK10DCG system not only rids your water of impurities, it also produces alkaline water, which is full of healthy antioxidants.
While the manufacturer calls this a 10-stage RO water filter, there are only five actual filters. The other five stages are all for remineralization.
The pH/remineralization filter is located between the RO membrane and the post carbon filter.
In this stage, several minerals are added to the water, raising alkalinity and enhancing its taste.
The final water is full of healthy minerals and has a pH of about 8-8.5.
High pH water, or simply alkaline water, contains more antioxidants than neutral or acidic water.
Though research is still ongoing, some studies indicate that alkaline water can help with reflux, inflammation and skin problems.
You don’t need to hire a pro to install the Express Water filter. It’s designed for DIY installation with all the parts and fittings provides and accompanied by clear instructions and pictures.
If you encounter any issue, the company’s customer support team is very helpful.
But I have to warn you – setting up the filter can consume an afternoon.
Most people finish installation in 2 hours. But to be safe, set aside at least three hours especially if this is your first DIY plumbing project.
Easy doesn’t mean fast.
While you won’t have much trouble installing the Express Water RO filter, expect to spend at least 2-3 hours setting it up.
The part that takes up most time is drilling a hole for the new faucet. You have to be extra careful to do it right. If you get it wrong, there’s no going back.
If your sink already has a hole for soap, you luckily won’t have to make another one.
Avoid this one if: You don’t care much for extra minerals in your water – you just want a basic RO filter system.
The Express Water ROALK10DCG system is best for: Families looking for a reverse osmosis water filters that produces healthy alkaline mineral water.
Most of the reverse osmosis systems you’ll come across are installed under your countertop.
This portable unit APEC is great for families who want a temporary RO system. It’s also perfect if you want to enjoy purified water on the go, in an RV or on a boat.
It hooks up to most standard faucets in less than 10 minutes.
A typical reverse osmosis water filter takes at least 2 hours to install.
In contrast,the APEC RO-CTOP-C is ready to use in 10 minutes.
That’s because you don’t have to disconnect any water lines or drill a hole in your sink.
The filter has a water diverter valve that attaches directly to your standard faucet.
The valve redirects tap water to the filter. Purified water comes out of an outlet line connected to the filter.
The diverter valve has another outlet attached to it for draining away the wastewater.
This filter is compatible with most standard faucets.
You just need to remove your faucet’s aerator, find an adapter that is compatible with your faucet (there are three adaptors included)and attach the diverter valve to the adaptor.
Attach the quick connect tubes as shown in the user manual and let the system flush for 10-15 minutes.
Note: The filter is not compatible with a sprayer, pull out or any special design faucets.
Despite its compact size, the APEC RO-CTOP-C purifies water just as well as bigger systems, albeit at a much slower rate. It uses 4 filters to removes dozens of contaminants from water, as follows:
This is the same number and arrangement of filters used in many full size undercounter systems.
The only difference is that the RO-CTOP-C purifies less water. Otherwise, you are guaranteed the same high quality.
Most portable filters are non-RO systems. They are usually a combo of carbon and sediment filters that don’t come close to an RO filter’s capability.
With the RO-CTOP-C, you can finally enjoy safe purified water wherever you are.
Instead of carrying bottled water or risking unsafe tap water in a hotel, carry the filter with you and hook it up to the faucet.
The filter comes with a handy case you can safely carry it in.
For all its convenience, the RO-CTOP-C can be pretty tedious to use. The water comes out in a light stream that takes forever to fill a jug or bottle.
This makes the RO-CTOP-C less than ideal for large families.
Some customers found a good workaround to this issue. They fill large water bottles or pitchers with water. When they need drinking water, they pour it from the bottle rather than from the filter.
Avoid this one if: You are looking for a permanent high capacity reverse osmosis system for your family.
The APEC RO-CTOP-C portable RO water filter is best for: Anyone looking for an easy-to-setup reverse osmosis water filter they can carry with them when traveling. Also perfect for use in an RV or a boat.
Using a 5-level filtration system, the ROES-50 is capable of removing over a thousand impurities from the water from harmless ones like sediment to dangerous contaminants like mercury and bacteria.The system is designed to produce up to 50 gallons of purified water per day, which is plenty even for a large family.
Here are the five filters water passes through:
All the parts and fittings you need are included along with the filter.
APEC says the fittings are fitted with special O-rings and steel teeth to ensure there is no leaking. As a result, they don’t include a leak detector valve.
Having a leak detector would have provided complete peace of mind, but so far, most customers say the system doesn’t leak at all.
Installation takes about two hours to complete (I said it was easy not quick) with the most challenging part is drilling a hole in the sink for the faucet.
If you want, you can hire a pro to do the installation. But if you have an afternoon free, this is something you can do yourself. The instructions in the manual are detailed and easy to follow.
Most RO filters in this price range have 6-month carbon and sediment filters. The ROES-50 filters last a full year before you need to replace them.
This not only saves you time, but it also saves you money because you don’t have to buy replacement filters as often.
Note: If you use well water, you may have to replace the filters every 6 months. Use a TDS meter to monitor filter life.
Expect to spend at least 2 hours connecting the filter to your cold water line and installing the dedicated faucet.
The ROES-50 produces slightly acidic water, which is not as beneficial as alkaline water.
Many undercounter RO filters include a pH filter in the system that adds minerals to the purified water to raise its pH and enhance the taste.
If you are looking for an RO system that produces mineral or alkaline water, this is not it.
Avoid if: You want an RO system that produces alkaline or mineralized water.
The APEC ROES-50 RO water filter is best for: Families looking for an affordable reverse osmosis water filter that produces high quality purified water.
To understand reverse osmosis;it is important to understand osmosis.
Osmosis is the movement of water from a solution with less salt to one that is more concentrated. The water moves through a semi-permeable membrane that only allows some molecules, mostly those of water, though.
Plants take in water from the soil through osmosis. It’s also how kidneys absorb water from the blood.
Reverse osmosis is, well, the reverse of osmosis. Water moves from a more concentrated solution to a less concentrated one.
But while osmosis occurs naturally, reverse osmosis requires pressure to force water to go against the natural osmotic pressure.
As the water is forced to move across the semipermeable membrane, it leaves behind 95-99% of dissolved salts as well as heavy metals and microbes.
What you get on the other end of the membrane is purified water that is almost completely free of impurities.
What remains on the concentrated side is the reject stream full of salts and other impurities. This ‘dirty’ water is drained away through some systems recycle it back into the system to extract more purified water.This is the general reverse osmosis process. Home reverse osmosis water filters work the same way but with a few additional steps involved. Here’s the journey your tap water takes through a typical undercounter RO system.
These are the impurities removed by the semi permeable membrane itself. Pre-filters remove additional contaminants including sediment, rust, chlorine and organic chemicals.
With so many different kinds of reverse osmosis systems and numerous brands in the market, it can be difficult to choose the best filter for your needs.
Use this checklist of important features to narrow down your options and find the system that works best for you.
GPD is the amount of purified water an RO system can produce per day. Most RO filters can produce at least 50GPD.
But often, the actual capacity is 10-20% lower than the stated one. Thus, for large families we recommend systems with a daily capacity of 90-100 GPD.
Note that factors like source water quality, water temperature, and your water pressure will affect daily production capacity.
Capacity will be lower if the source water has a lot of impurities, if it’s cold (such as during winter) or if it comes in at a low pressure.
For the best filtration performance, get a system with no fewer than 4 filters: a sediment filter, a carbon filter, the RO membrane, and a post filter.
This not only removes more impurities from water, it also lengthens the life of the filters and especially the membrane.
Some systems also include a UV filter that provides extra protection from microbes.
It’s hard to determine a system’s performance without using it at home. So here you have to go with what other customers are saying.
Specifically, check by how much the filter reduces TDS or total dissolved solids.
A good RO system should reduce TDS by at least 90%.
Check the certification documents to see exactly which impurities the filter is certified as effective in removing.
The RO membrane does not filter out carbon dioxide and other gasses in water. The carbon dioxide forms weak carbonic acid.
To counter the acidity of RO purified water, some systems have a pH filter that adds stripped out minerals back to the water.
This increases pH to neutral or slightly alkaline.
According to some studies, alkaline water is healthier than acidic water.
Some people also find water with minerals sweeter and better tasting than completely pure water.
If you want to avoid drinking acid water or you love the taste of mineral water, look for an RO system with a pH filter.
All reverse osmosis water filters produce a weaker stream of water than that from your normal tap. But some are painfully slow, making it tedious to fill a large bottle or pitcher.
For large families, that consume a lot of purified water, the slow flow rate can be inconvenient. We recommend getting a system with a booster or permeate pump.
It significantly increases the flow rate.
Some systems such as those from Home Master also use larger fittings to increase flow rate.
Check how much water the system drains. This is expressed in form of a ratio of wastewater to purified water.
The most wasteful systems have a 4:1 ratio, meaning 4 gallons are wasted for every 1 gallon of purified water used.
Pricier systems are more efficient, with some reaching rations of 2:1 or 1:1. Most of these low-waste RO filters have permeated pumps that greatly reduce the amount of water that goes down the drain.
Regardless of the price of the system, most RO membranes last 2-3 years.
What varies is the lifespan of the pre-filters.
Low capacity filters have a lifespan of 6 months, meaning you have to replace the filters twice a year.
To reduce maintenance costs, look for filters with a longer lifespan of at least 12 months.
Check how big the storage tank is. The smallest ones are about 3 gallons in capacity.
The best size depends on your family size and how much purified water you drink.
For larger families, look for a system that provide a storage capacity of at least 4 gallons. This ensures there’s enough purified water at any time.
Also, check if the system can be upgraded to a larger tank. Some tanks can be as big as 20 gallons.
A reverse osmosis system is right for you if:
A reverse osmosis filter is not ideal for you if:
Most residential reverse osmosis water filters are designed for easy DIY installation. But while the setup process is fairly easy, it takes quite a bit of time.
Clear 2-3 hours from your schedule to give yourself enough time to install the system under the counter.Here are the basic tools you need to have on hand.
All the fittings including the faucet are usually provided along with the filter.
Here’s the general installation process. Check you user manual for specific instructions for your particular model.
You’ll need to flush the system before you drink the water. Let the reserve tank fill up then drain it by opening the faucet. Do this a second time.
After that, you can drink the purified water.
Note: If you have a countertop RO system, it’s much easier to install. You just need to remove your faucet aerator and attach the adaptor. Connect tubing to the adaptor to take water to the RO filter. Finish by connecting the drain line that will drain wastewater into the sink.
Countertop systems have their own water outlets so there’s no need to install a new faucet.
Maintaining your reverse osmosis water filters mainly involves replacing the filters once or twice a year.
If you have a Home Master system that uses a modular design, replacing the filter is very easy. Just remove the current filters and put in new ones.
If your system uses cartridges, first remove the filter housings using a filter wrench.
Remove the cartridges inside, wash the housing with mild soap, put in a new cartridge, and tighten the filter back onto the system.
Note: Turn off the cold water line before changing filters.
Removing the RO membrane is just as easy. Unscrew the membrane housing and remove the used filter inside.
Wash the housing and put in the new membrane, taking care not to touch it to avoid contamination.
Most RO systems don’t come with a filter life indicator or a replacement reminder. The manufacturer will simply recommend changing the filter every 6 or 12 months.
But your filters may last for longer or less time depending on your water quality and consumption.
To avoid replacing your filters too early or too late (which could damage the RO membrane), get a TDS meter.
Measure the TDS levels in your tap water and purified water.
The purified water should have TDS levels 10% those of tap water. If the purified water TDS approaches 15-20% the TDS of tap water, replace the pre-filters.
Note: If your system has a pH filter/remineralization stage, TDS levels of the purified water will be a bit higher. Take a reading when the filters are new and measure future readings against the initial one. If TDS levels start going up, you know it’s time to get a new filter.
Yes, it does.
Yes, it does. It also removes viruses, cysts and other harmful waterborne microorganisms.
Yes, it does. Most RO systems can remove up to 90% of dissolved salts.
The pre-filters usually last for 6 months or 1 year. The post filter lasts about 1 year. The RO membrane lasts or 2-3 years.
Unless you are really busy, you can install an RO system yourself in 2-3 hours.
Filtered water is not completely free of impurities. Normal filters remove only some contaminants. Purified water, the kind you get from an RO system, is almost completely free of impurities including microorganisms like bacteria.
Most are designed for undercounter installation though there are some you can set up on your countertop.
Yes, an RO filter will remove both bad and good minerals. If you want your water to still have good minerals, look for an RO system that replenishes healthy minerals in the water after purification.
Reverse osmosis water filters are hands down the best types of water filters for homes. They can remove far more impurities compared to other types of the whole house, under-counter and faucet filters.
If you want the best protection for you and your family, an RO system is a way to go.
Our number one recommendation is the Home Master TMAFC-ERP Artesian RO System.