Reverse Osmosis System Review
Bringing you the best expert advice on all the leading reverse osmosis water filtration system brands. Never buy blind again.
Not particularly impressed with any of our recommended products? Read our buyer’s guide to find out what considerations we take into account and that will help you buy the best product for you.
The Best Reverse Osmosis Systems of 2017
Read our review of the top reverse osmosis systems on the market today
Aquasana AQ-RO-3.55 OptimH2O Reverse Osmosis Fluoride Water Filter System
Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection Undersink Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System
Brondell H2O+ Circle Water Saving Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System
APEC Top Tier 5-Stage Ultra Safe Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System (ESSENCE ROES-50)
Watts Premier RO-Pure 531411 4-Stage Reverse Osmosis System
|# of filtration stages||3||9||4||5||4|
|GPD (gallons per day)||35||75||∓55||50||50|
|Dimensions (inches)||12” x 4.5” x 12.5”||12” x 4.5” x 12.5”||13.8” x 9.2” x 16.5”||11” x 11” x 15”||12” x 4” x 12”|
|Star trait||Remineralizing filter||9 stages of filtration for ultimate effect||Stylish and compact design||Removes 99.99% of contaminants||Very user friendly|
Our Osmosis System Selection for 2017
Here’s more information about each of the systems that you should consider.
#1Aquasana AQ-RO-3.55 OptimH2O Reverse Osmosis Fluoride Water Filter
Without a doubt, the biggest concern around using reverse osmosis water filtration systems is the health impacts of drinking demineralized water. While the jury is still out on whether it actually has tangible impacts on your health and how big that impact is, one thing is for certain:
You can’t go wrong with a healthy dose of macrominerals in your drinking water. The remineralizer replenishes the water with magnesium, calcium, and potassium, all beneficial to our health.
Not only does this help us squeeze in some much-needed nutrients but from a luxury standpoint, it actually makes water taste better. It restores the pH balance and makes the water more alkaline after the reverse osmosis process. You really can taste the difference.
Other than that, it’s a pretty straightforward reverse osmosis water filtration system that goes at a decent price. It is certified under four different NSF/ANSI standards for water quality and safety. Including, the improvement of taste and smell, removal of health affecting contaminants, a valid RO membrane system, and removal of emerging contaminants.
In total, the system is said to remove up to 95% of fluoride and mercury, 97% of chlorine and asbestos, and 99% of lead and arsenic. So, it doesn’t seem like it particularly needs extra stages of filtration. The basic 3-stage RO system is already very thorough. Any additions are just shaving off the percentages.
For our in-depth analysis of this system, check out its accompanying review Aquasana AQ-RO-3.55 OptimH2O Reverse Osmosis Fluoride Water Filter – Want clear, tasty water and keep the essential minerals?
#2Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection Undersink Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System
This is a high-end reverse osmosis water filtration. The price is by some margin the highest of any product we have reviewed so far. While this might act as a deterrent, once you look at the long list of features as well as the 6 extra stages of filtration, you should see why that price is worth it if you can afford it.
There are very few as complete reverse osmosis systems for your home available. One of the extra filters present in the HydroPerfection is a special iron pre-filter that’s focused on removing various metal solids from your water supply. This goes a long way to protect the following filters and your machine as a whole.
Another unique and interesting filter that you won’t easily find somewhere else is the UV light filter. This is one of the four filters approved by the EPA to remove microorganisms from your water and is actually the best and most efficient of those four.
What’s more is it also replenishes magnesium and calcium minerals twice during the process. This gives the water a better pH balance, makes it more alkaline, and generally improves the taste.
For our in-depth analysis of this system, check out its accompanying review Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection Undersink Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System Review – Is a high-end reverse osmosis filtration system what you need?
#3Brondell H2O+ Circle Water Saving Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System
When first looking at this RO system it would be understandable for you not to know that you are even looking at a water filtration device. Usually, RO water filtration systems are unwieldy as they are made of different parts and unattractive so you wouldn’t want them anywhere in line of sight. However, the Brondell sweeps these away with it’s sleek and stylish design.
Everything is located in this one unit. Only the faucet where you pour out your drinking water is separate. The actual dimensions of it are actually slightly larger than some other products but this doesn’t matter as it’s just so easy to handle.
You might think this design makes it more difficult to change filters, but not really. You just have to slide off the back, slide up the filters and pull them out. The replacement filters also just snap back into place. There is no electricity involved at all. Just mechanical parts.
It is also certified under no less than 4 separate NSF/ANSI standards. This means that you know you get a quality product for your money.
You can put your mind even more at ease with the fact that the Brondell is pretty efficient compared to most reverse osmosis systems.This is due to its Smart Valve patented technology that reduces back pressure.
For our in-depth analysis of this system, check out its accompanying review Brondell H2O+ Circle Water Saving Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System Review – Do you want a stylish reverse osmosis water filtration system alternative?
#4APEC Top Tier 5-Stage Ultra Safe Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System (ESSENCE ROES-50)
This is arguably the best value for money system that you can get. It’s the least expensive option we have reviewed and it would be tempting to write it off as “cheap” or “low-end”. Yet, for its price, it sets the bar so high that it feels as if you are only paying for luxuries from here on up.
As you can see the APEC makes use of 5 stages of filtration. Two more than the standard RO system and one more than most other products on this list. That’s pretty good value for money.
The extra two stages comes partly from splitting the carbon pre-filter into two Premium Carbon Block filters. This ensures that it catches even more chemicals, VOC’s, and chlorine as well as other impurities. It’s this stage that contributes most to odor-free and better tasting water.
The other extra stage is a Refining Coconut Carbon Filter. Coconut shells are one of the best sources of activated carbon. It is interestingly included in this system to further enhance the taste by removing the residual contaminants at the end of the RO process.
Furthermore, it makes use of the ROES-50 RO system. This system is extremely popular and reputable, albeit a bit wasteful when it comes to water.
For our in-depth analysis of this system, check out its accompanying review APEC Top Tier 5-Stage Ultra Safe Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System (ESSENCE ROES-50) – Do you feel like you need an extra stage of filtration power?
#5Watts Premier RO-Pure 531411 4-Stage Reverse Osmosis System
One thing that the manufacturers really emphasized when making the Watts Premier RO-Pure is the user experience. Every aspect of this machine seems to be put together to make it as easy as possible for the owner to install, maintain, and service their own reverse osmosis water filtration system.
They have done this through a highly modular design and simplistic design. For one, all the filters are connected to a single main manifold. This means you don’t have to handle as many pipes and tubes as with most RO systems.
Secondly, the process for removing filters and replacing them is extremely easy. You simply have to pull the filter horizontally, press a button, and twist. A simple click mechanism lets you know when the replacement is in place.
To make things even better, the filters connections have shut-off valves to stop leaking and make the replacement go smoother. The system is protected with 2 micron pre-filters to improve lifespan and lessen the likelihood of problems.
The rest of the filtration process is pretty standard and typical of most reverse osmosis systems.
From a practical perspective, the Watts Premier RO-Pure is not the most productive product on the market, but it performs very well for its price class. It can produce around 50 gallons per day and has a storage tank with a 3.2-gallon capacity.
For our in-depth analysis of this system, check out its accompanying review Watts Premier RO-Pure 531411 4-Stage Reverse Osmosis System Review – Do you wonder what an extra stage of filtration can do for you?
The Ultimate Reverse Osmosis Buyer’s Guide
Don’t just take our word for it! Every person has their individual needs, priorities, and limitations. However, there are some general things you should keep an eye out for when you want to buy a reverse osmosis water purifier.
As we are committed to giving you the knowledge to make the best decision for you, we have included this buyer’s guide so that you know what to take into account.
How reverse osmosis water filtration systems work
Let’s first look at how reverse osmosis water filtration work so that you understand why the considerations are important.
For a full explanation read our article What is reverse osmosis?
Reverse osmosis water filtration systems hook up directly to your homes water outlet. As it is a system based purely on pressure it is dependant on good water pressure to function properly and produce at the rate the manufacturer promises.
Generally, the system is made up of a few different parts:
- The actual filters that consist of pre-filters, the RO membrane filter, and post-filters.
- A faucet where you collect the water.
- A storage unit that houses the filtered water.
- Valves, tubes, and connections to hook up the parts and connect to the water supply.
The pre-filters are usually carbon and sediment filters that take out all the solids and particles that could endanger the rest of the system. The RO membrane is where the actual reverse osmosis takes place and the post-filter removes any remaining particles that mostly affect the taste and smell of water.
An automatic shut-off valve stops the system from purifying more water when the storage tank is full. As soon as water leaves the tank through the faucet, it allows the system to automatically start the process all over.
What Should You Look For?
Here’s how you should evaluate your new reverse osmosis system
Gallons Per Day (GPD)
This is the amount of purified water that your RO system can produce during a single day. Most of the time you will see it written in its abbreviated form as GPD. Typical reverse osmosis water filtration systems can output over 50 gpd while some of the more efficient models can reach between 75 and a hundred.
The gpd is highly reliant on what the RO membrane itself can handle and the water pressure to your home. You should see how your water pressure stacks up to the suggested requirements to know what kind of performance you will get.
Not all the water that goes into a reverse osmosis water filtration system makes it out the other side. In fact, in most systems, by far the bulk of the water is drained out as wastewater. For those of us that are environmentally conscious this could be a heavy weight to bear. However, when it comes to your water bill, it shouldn’t make much of a difference.
If it is a sticking point for you, you can easily find the ratio of water that is purified to water that is drained away. The worst you’ll find is a 1:10 ratio. The average is usually around 1:4. The most efficient systems are 1:2 or even 1:1.
There is a very long list of contaminants that are removed during the process of reverse osmosis and water filtration. However, there are a few givens that are automatically taken care of if the system is certified under the NSF/ANSI standard 58. An easy way is to look for other standards such as 53, 372, 401, and 42.
Just some of the most basic contaminants you should see the system taking care of are fluoride, arsenic, lead, TDS’ (totally dissolved solids), chlorine, chloramine, sediments, rust, etc. Some systems will place more emphasis on different contaminants and have specialized filters. For example, the HydroPerfection that has a UV filter to combat viruses and bacteria.
If you already know where you want to put your faucet for your reverse osmosis water system then this is very important. You don’t want to buy a system only to be unable to fit it in its desired location.
The average dimensions for home reverse osmosis systems are around 12 x 10 x 12 Inches. However, remember that you still need to think about the storage until. Some products, like the Brondell H2O+, come in a compact, single-unit design. While it might be slightly big, having everything in one night can be a big advantage.
Storage Unit Size
Another logistical consideration you should look at is the actual size of the water tank. This is where the already purified water sits, just waiting for you to pour the crystal clear drinking water into a glass.
Typically, storage units are around 5 gallons. This is more than enough drinking and cooking water for a typical family. Many systems only have 3.2 gallon storage tanks. While this is cutting it close, it should still be just enough. Worst case is you will just have to wait a short while as more water is purified.
NSF/ANSI and WQA Certified
The National Science Foundation, American Standards Institute, and the Water Quality Association has created a set of standards and certifies products according to them. Look for this to see if you are buying a reputable and standard adhering product.
Filter Replacement Time
Different systems and different filters have varying life expectancies. Most filters need to be replaced either on a 6-month or yearly schedule. Some specialized filters such as a refining coconut filter might only need to be replaced every 2-3 years.