Water purification is quickly becoming an integral part in any household. Tap water has become less reliable either because of ineffective treatments processes or extensive chemicals. It has made tap water no longer viable from a hygiene perspective. It also raises health concerns. This is why having access to purified and safe drinking water has become very important today. When you use a reverse osmosis system, it does exactly just that. It delivers pure and safe drinking water. So if you are now convinced and in the market for one, read on to find out which reverse osmosis water filter is best suited for your needs.
What is a Reverse Osmosis System?
To further appreciate what it does, let us explain what this system really is. A reverse osmosis system uses a tested, pump-driven high-pressure system that converts tap water, brackish or sea-water into potable water. This contemporary water purification system uses the same principle found in nature, only in reverse(hence the name).
What are its uses?
Reverse osmosis systems are used to successfully treat water in various conditions like desalination of sea water, purification of brackish water, conversion of waste- and tap- water into clean and safe drinking water. A reverse osmosis system is also one of the water purification systems that uses the least energy.
A reverse osmosis system can be used to purify water from:
- Waste-water – Purified even the worst waste water, including even industrial waste.
- Salt water – It successfully purifies ocean salt water into potable water.
- Tap water – Capable of purifying typical tap water.
- Brackish water – Reverse osmosis system can even purify brackish water.
So without further ado, here are the best reverse osmosis systems of 2018.
Best Under Sink Reverse Osmosis System – iSpring RCC7 WQA 5-Stage
The iSpring RCC7 WQA is the only system to receive the Water Quality Association’s Gold Seal Certification in the world, which makes it a system of the highest quality. It uses an infused granular activated carbon (GAC), carbon block (CTO) filtration basis, and polypropylene sediment (PP), which will convert low-quality water to a refreshing and high-quality drinking water.
The iSpring RCC7 WQA has dimension of 17.5 by 14.5 by 5.25 inches, and uses a reservoir of 16 by 11 inches. The entire system fits underneath your sink cabinet like a glove. It has a compact and lead-free brass surface tap with a nickel coated finishing. It can then be installed on your kitchen counter top for convenience or you can also connect it to your ice maker, refrigerator, or coffee maker.
The installation process of the iSpring RCC7 WQA is also quite simple. Just follow the unstructions of the multi-media user’s manual. Best of all, its parts are standardized and available directly from the supplier.
It offers a one-year money back guarantee, limited warranty and a lifetime technical support. Another additional feature that this system has is its convenient tank. The tank can produce 2½ gallons with every purification run which is pretty high and appropriate for its price. Its design also allows you to see the process because the first stage housing is transparent. You will be able to see the sediment filter at all times because of this, which will provide with greater confidence in its purification capabilities. It also allows you to determine when to change the filter a lot easier.
- Easy installation
- Offers a crisp and refreshing taste the water
- Convenient water pressure and connection potential to other household equipment
- Easy connect to water supply
- Will filter out natural minerals
- Assembly is time-consuming
Best Reverse Osmosis System for Water Well – APEC Essence Ultra Safe
APEC Essence Ultra Safe is the king of all water well purifiers. It is capable of removing 99% of water contaminants, including any unpleasant odors, tastes, lead, chromium, arsenic, or fluoride. The APEC Essence Ultra Safe model is an efficient RO system that can last for many years. It is designed to fit in areas that do not necessarily have an abundance of flat surfaces. Just like most RO systems, this model is easy to install. You don’t need to cut any holes to access your sink in the process.
It boasts of a 50-gallon daily output which should be sufficient for drinking or cooking. With proper maintenance, you will be assured of minimal water wastage. Furthermore, maintenance of this unit is fairly easy. Just make sure to use Teflon tape to guard against any leaks.
- Well designed and stable
- Will last long
- Installation is very simple
- Better tasting than bottled water
- After-sales service is not good
- Parts may need to be replaced after a few months of regular use
Best Reverse Osmosis System for Hydroponics – Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection
If you are looking for a unique product, the Home Master TMHP is your best option. Not only does it purify your water, it also adds minerals for extra health benefits. This system uses a permeate pump to reduce water wastage by approximately 80% and boosts the production by about 50%.
It also doesn’t have the common issues typically found in other reverse osmosis like the slow canister filter housing flow rate. Water wastage has also been substantially reduced, additional minerals have been included to improve water flavor and leakages have been reduced.
It also features a modular filter design which gives consumers improved water output, faster flow rate, filters that can be easily changed and maintained and the benefits of a UV light.
The Home Master TMHP has a 9-step filtration, sanitization, and sterilization process. This is an improvement to the normal 5-7 stages that most RO systems have. Speaking of filtration, this system removes 98% of chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, chemicals, metals, dissolved solids, chloramines, and other potentially harmful chemicals from your water. Using latest innovative redox media KDF85 method, it also eliminates dissolved iron, which is commonly present in well water.
Installing the Master TMHP system is also not complicated. It comes with clear installation instructions which makes installing it quite simple and quick. The Master TMHP water purifier model has a mixed media pre-filter with catalytic carbon that makes sure that harmful chemicals like chloramines, herbicides, and pesticides are eliminated from your water. Using advanced UV light, the sterilization chamber will be able to get rid of up to 99% of all germs, bacteria and viruses too. Lastly, it has a water production rate of 50 gallons a day that ensures that the entire family has access to pure drinking water daily.
- Easy maintenance
- Very durable
- Minimal water wastage
- Quick and easy installation
- Filter changing is a little tricky
- Install with care to avoid leakage
Best Reverse Osmosis System for Home Use – Express Water RO5DX 5 Stage
The Express Water RO5DX has a simple design that is very user-friendly. Since you don’t need to touch the piping, chances of leakages over time is greatly reduced. The Express Water R05DX is very easy to install because all the parts are labelled. The reduced operating costs of this system is also music to any consumer’s ears.
A monthly saving of around 1000 gallons ensures that the membrane life of this water purifier is greatly extended. Furthermore, this system also switches off as soon as the pressure reaches 65%, and when it has filled up to a 2/3 capacity level. It has a large storage volume of 4.4 gallons that operates between pressure levels of 45 to 75 psi. For your information, a reverse osmosis system’s performance is mainly dependent on flow rates when booster pumps are not available. Another great feature that this model offers is the flow restrictor, which feeds the appropriate levels of water pressure through its membrane. This enhances the efficiency of its functionality to produce drinking water that is safe and highly palatable.
- Noise free
- Smooth operation
- Smart switch-off system increases lifespan
- Operates without electricity
- Water wastage is high
- Can only be used with treated water
Best Reverse Osmosis Water System – Hydro-Logic 31040 Stealth-Ro200
The size of the Hydro-Logic 31040 Stealth-RO200 is proportionate to its performance and capabilities. Considered as the largest reverse osmosis system on the market today, this system delivers approximately 200 gallons of pure water daily. This monster is excellent for a very large household. It eliminates 98% of water impurities like chlorine and limits water wastage to 25% less than other comparable systems. What makes it attractive to most consumers is it uses a convenient plug and play technology. Since it uses plug and play technology, it requires virtually zero installation time, which also means that your first drink of purified water is quickly produced. It also has low maintenance features which makes it a very durable water purifier.
Even though it produces 200 gallons of pure water daily and removes chlorine, it still is an effective power saver and can save up to 25% more electricity than the competition. Research also indicates that this system is also suited for drawing water from wells. because it easily eliminates large quantities of iron, neutralizes high pH levels and normalizes ppm. To top it off, it has an impressive after sales services that are very helpful. Upon purchase, you will also receive a strong mounting bracket, a smart auto cartridge that offers an efficient switch-off technology(ensures that your purifier will not overflow). As with any large water purification system, it needs to be cleaned regularly which might take some time, but the hygiene benefits and savings on maintenance are well worth the effort.
- Can produce 200 gallons of purified water daily
- Uses 25% less electricity
- Eliminates 98% of impurities
- Only one size and shape is available
- The bulky size makes it awkward to mount on the wall alone
Now that you know which RO systems to go for, here’s an in-depth explanation on what features to look for when shopping for a reverse osmosis water filter.
Factors To Consider When Buying a Reverse Osmosis Water Filter
Wasted Water – Before we talk about this, let’s clarify the common misconceptions about the amount of water that is wasted in Reverse Osmosis filtration. When using sea water, there will naturally be high amounts of salt and other sediments. Filtering sea water will have a significant amount of water “wasted” to flush the membrane, but these are for large, commercial uses. Remember that the filtration systems in our guide are designed for home use. So it is significantly more efficient. Also, with improving technology, the amount of water needed to flush the RO membrane will decrease. So if you are questioning if the benefits outweigh the small additional cost of wasted water, then don’t. When choosing a system for you, check the water costs in your municipality and if see they are high enough to make an impact. If they are, you may want to go for a more efficient unit.
pH Levels – Reverse osmosis systems are designed to work with water of almost any pH level. Keep in mind that most public water supplies have neutral pH levels of around 6.5 – 8.5. As a general rule, reverse osmosis systems will make water slightly more acidic because they lower the pH value of the incoming water. Also, since the pH level will be lowered, the resulting water might have a taste that you’re not used to because most of the minerals have been removed. Fortunately, there’s a solution for that. You can use a remineralization system. This system will change the taste of the water and put the exact minerals in the water that you’re looking for.
Installation – Some systems are easy to install while others are complicated. That’s why the ease of installation is also another important factor that you should take into account when choosing an RO system. Ultimately, it will rely on whether or not you are comfortable installing it on your own to save on additional expenses or if you have the budget to hire a professional to do it.
Taste – The taste of the purified water is another big consideration that you need to look at. A good RO system should produce purified water that doesn’t alter the taste too much. After all, you will be drinking and using this water to cook. Luckily, these systems are designed to remove impurities that will affect the taste of the water, you will be ensured that the taste won’t be that. It is up to you which system produces a taste that you are comfortable with.
Stages – Most RO systems have a 7-stage purification process, but not all systems have all 7 stages. The good news is, it isn’t very critical for the quality of the water. In most cases, 5 stages are ofen enough for your needs, unless you have a personal reason for wanting all 7.
To give you an idea of the 7 stages, here’s a list. Keep in mind that this is universal.
Stage 1 – water passes to a filter that traps sediment to eliminate silt, dust, and large particles.
Stage 2 – a carbon filter removes odors, bad tastes, mineral oil and chlorine.
Stage 3 – additional carbon filter removes any remaining odors, bad tastes, or chlorine.
Stage 4 – This is where the reverse osmosis process happens. The water is pushed to a fine filter that removes around 95 percent of the remaining impurities like fluoride.
Stage 5 – With the use of a polishing carbon filter, the water in the reservoir will not form a stale taste.
Stage 6 – This stage is where the water is alkalized. The pH level is adjusted to 7 or above with the use elements like calcium and magnesium.
Stage 7 – Lastly, a special filter uses UV rays to kill germs and bacteria in the water.
Total Dissolved Solids – Total Dissolved Solids or TDS for short, is a measurement for the amount of sediments in drinking water. Sediments like magnesium, potassium, chlorides and sulfates and other organic matter are generally harmless, they are measure nonetheless to keep a standard. The EPA’s standard for a failing TDS score is 500 mg/L of water. The best RO systems can filter ip to 99.9% of these sediments.
How does a Reverse Osmosis System work?
With the use of extremely microscopic pores, an RO system will be able to filter out any impurity that is in the water. Although they are technically called “filters”, they are more like membranes because the pores are so thin that they allow only water to pass through just like a cell membrane. This leaves all the sediments behind, ensuring that you are getting pure water. All the pure water is then stored in a tank for consumption.
The great Reverse Osmosis filters can filter up to 99% of all contaminants in water. That is why it is very effective in turning even the most toxic and polluted water into pure drinking water that is safe for human consumption. Here’s a list of what an RO filter can filter out.
- Phosphate: 97.1 – 99.8%
- Arsenic: 98.4 – 99.9%
- Lead: 99.1 – 99.9%
- Iron: 98.4 – 99.5%
- Fluoride: 94.5 – 99.1%
- Chloride: 92.1 – 99.3%
- Mercury: 96.2 – 99.5%
The downside of being able to remove everything from the water is it will also filter out essential minerals that are beneficial to you. Luckily, you can just add these minerals back in a mineral packet or an alkaline water machine.
Purification Performance of an RO System
There are a variety of factors that will affect the effectiveness of your reverse osmosis system. The RO system may underperform depending on the situation. Here are some of the factors that can impact the performance an RO system:
Water Pressure – If there is insufficient water pressure to the RO filter, it may not be able to force the water through the membrane. This will result in a lot of wasted water.
TDS of Incoming Water – When there are more impurities in the water, there will be more stress put on the machine. This will result in replacing the filters frequently.
Temperature – In general, RO systems filter water best at luke warm temperature.
Quality – As always, you get what you pay for.
Is an RO system really needed for drinking water?
Reverse Osmosis systems are mainly used if your source of water is very impure or potentially dangerous. So, to answer the question, it is overkill for drinking water. If you want to improve the taste of your drinking water, going for a countertop water filter is a better option.
Is the water purified from Reverse Osmosis systems safe to drink?
The answer is a very resounding YES! Although it can sometimes result in lack of essential minerals, it isn’t inherently dangerous in any way. You may have to supplement some of the minerals you would have otherwise ingested from your tap water.
Can RO systems really filter even the most dangerous water sources?
RO systems are the most sophisticated systems for filtering water, so the answer is 99.9% of the time. There are very rare instances where an RO filtration is not acceptable. In these cases, you may want to use a water distiller. Keep in mind that this isn’t filtration, but it is able to produce 100% pure water. The only difference is it uses a significant amount of energy to produce.
What do the different RO stages mean?
Technically, reverse osmosis systems use membranes instead of filters. These membranes can remove sediments over 900,000 times thinner than a human hair. This membrane is usually used in one of the later stages of a Reverse Osmosis system. The first filtration stages work like your average water filter. Once it goes through the standard filtration processes, that’s the time where water is forced through an RO membrane. Advanced systems have an additional stage after the RO membrane. In this stage, it will usually use a UV light to remove germs and bacteria. Remember, the more stages, the more pure the water.
Do I need to do maintenance on my RO system?
Just like any piece of equipment, RO systems require maintenance every 6 months to 2 years, depending on how often it is used and the quality of the filters. Sediments will naturally build up in your filters over time. When that happens, the water will no longer pass through the stages at a reasonable speed, and will end up wasting nearly 100% of the water. That’s the main reason why you need to replace your filters every so often. The good news is, the replacement process is quite easy and the water filters are quite affordable in general.
How do you install a Reverse Osmosis System?
Reverse Osmosis systems of the countertop and under-sink varieties, are very easy to install and do not require professional installation. All you need are some basic tools and a very basic understanding of where your incoming water pipes. There are numerous videos on YouTube and other sources that will show you step by step, how to install any model of reverse osmosis system.
Top Brands of RO Water Filters
To lighten up the burden of looking for the best RO water filters, here are the top brands that make the best RO systems.
iSpring Water Systems – This Georgia based, family run company was established in 2005. It is an American company that specializes in both residential and commercial reverse osmosisis systems, and other filters for various faucets and appliances. They manufacture some of the highest quality systems in the market .
APEC Water Systems – APEC Water Systems is known as the #1 manufacturer of RO systems in the United States. It is a California based company that has a strong desire to educate the public about safe water and providing the world with the best filtration systems to help keep people in need safe.
Home Master Water Filters – Home Master Water Filters is among the leading providers of RO systems for hydroponics and counter top reverse osmosis filters. This Scottsdale, Arizona based company has grown to become one of the top selling RO filtration systems online. Most of their systems have the necessary add-ons like UV filters.
Hopefully, by reading this guide, you should now have a better understanding of reverse osmosis systems. By following this guide, you should know whether you need to invest on one or not. Just a few reminders though. It’s relatively simple to know what factors to consider when looking for the best system for your family needs. You need to consider the system’s capacity, durability, installation and taste, among others. What we consider as the best RO system is the iSpring RCC7 WQA 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System – Gold Seal Certified (75 GPD). This system is the only system in the world that has the Water Quality Association’s Gold Seal Certification. Aside from that, it doesn’t take too much effort in maintaining the system since the filters are very easy to clean and the firm provides great customer services. So if you are looking to invest in one, you will never go wrong with the iSpring RCC7 WQA.