The term reverse osmosis sounds like something your chemistry teacher in high school droned on about, right?
If you tuned out your teacher to doodle on the margins of your notebook, now is the time to learn what reverse osmosis is and how it can improve the quality of your drinking water.
Find out all the facts on reverse osmosis home systems and decide whether you should purchase one for your home. And don’t miss our comparison table on the most popular reverse osmosis home systems at the bottom of the page.
Table of Contents
What Is Reverse Osmosis?
In the simplest terms possible, reverse osmosis, or RO, is a system that pushes water through a series of filters and membranes to remove impurities. There is a lot of history behind it and a more scientific way to explain the process, but to understand how it can make the water you consume cleaner and healthier, you can skip the history lesson and the geek-speak.
RO On A Grand Scale
Most municipal water systems use reverse osmosis to clean the H2O that flows out of your tap. Large water filtration systems like that usually use a cellulose triacetate filter (CTA) that requires the water flowing through it to be chlorinated to keep bacteria from building up on the filter.
A higher quality filter known as TCF does not need the water to be chlorinated to work and usually employs a carbon filter to absorb chlorine and keep the water tasting good.
Despite the fact that city water supplies are put through some reverse osmosis, the water that ends up in your faucet usually has some sediment, minerals, bacteria, chlorine and even viruses in it.
Reverse Osmosis Home Systems – Benefits and Cost
A reverse osmosis system for the home is an excellent way to produce very clean, pure, healthy water. Here is what a home RO system can do for your water and why they are a good investment:
- Removes impurities like salt, heavy metals, odors and other impurities from your drinking water
- They have a low energy consumption
- They are easy to maintain (filters last about a year)
For between $200 and $500 you can find a lot of different models. Buying on the higher end of that price range will ensure you get a better quality model. The main difference between the numerous systems to choose from is the quality of the filters and membranes. When you make your purchase, see if the unit has a warranty and for how long. Find out how easy it is to replace the filters and look for product certifications.
The National Sanitation Foundation (NFS)and Water Quality Association (WQA) are independent 3rd party certifiers of quality RO water systems. A good system should get:
- From NSF a standard of 58
- From WQA a Gold Seal Certification
Types of Reverse Osmosis Home Systems
There are a couple of options to choose from when deciding to purchase an RO unit for your castle.
1. Traditional Tank System
This is a unit that is installed under your sink and uses a series of filters that tap water is pushed through to clean it and then is stored in a tank. These types of systems have an additional faucet separate from your sink faucet to dispense the water. Be sure to get a model with an automatic shut-off valve so that it stops producing water when the tank is full instead of the water being wasted down the drain.
2. Tank-less System
These are relatively new to the marketplace. The advantages of having a tank-less system are:
- It is connected directly to the tap water faucet and dispenses water on demand
- There is less cabinet space needed because there is no storage tank
- This kind of system can dispense a large volume of purified water out of numerous faucets in the home
The disadvantage of a tank-less model are the higher cost of the unit, you have a lot more filters and membranes to replace, and it may require an additional purchase of a pressure booster pump to keep the water flowing.
The Stages of Reverse Osmosis
Here is how your unit will function and what each filter and membrane is for.
Phase 1 – water passes through a sediment filter to get rid of silt, dust and large particles
Phase 2 – GAC (granular activated carbon) filter removes chlorine, odors, mineral oil and bad tastes from the water
Phase 3 – A more dense carbon filter removes any remaining chlorine or bad odors or tastes that may still be lurking about
Phase 4 – this is the big one; reverse osmosis. The water is pushed through a very fine filter that can remove around 95% (or more) of the remaining impurities in the water like fluoride.
Phase 5 – a polishing carbon filter keeps the water in the tank from tasting stale while it sits in storage
Phase 6 – here is where you water gets alkalized, meaning the pH is adjusted to 7 or above using good minerals like calcium and magnesium.
Phase 7 – this final step employs a UV filter to kill any bacteria or viruses in the water
Now that you have an answer to how does reverse osmosis work, you can see the advantages of installing an RO home system. Fresh, clean, alkalized drinking water is more appealing to drink straight, use to make coffee or tea and include in our cooking.
Home Reverse Osmosis Systems Comparison Table
Here is a comparison table of some of the best-selling home reverse osmosis systems. We have included systems that provide only filtered water (5 stages) as well as the 6 or more stage systems that will alkalize the water.
|Feature||Tap Master TMAFC Artesian Full Contact System||iSpring 75 GPD 6-Stage System (RCC7AK)||APEC Water Systems RO-90 Premium 90 GPD||iSpring 75 GPD 5-Stage System|
|Manufacture - |
|HomeMaster - TMAFC||iSpring - RCC7AK||APEC - RO-90||iSpring - RCC7|
|Stages||7 Stages||6 Stages||5 Stages||5 Stages
|Produces Alkaline Water||Yes (Produces water with an Alkaline pH of 7.5 - 8.0||Yes (Includes RO Alkaline Filter)||No||No|
|GPD (Gallons per Day)||50 gGPD||75 GPD||90 GPD||75 GPD|
|Certification||WQA Gold Seal certified||WQA Gold Seal Certified ||WQA Gold Seal certified|
|WQA Gold Seal certified|
|Weight||14.1 pounds||20 pounds||25 pounds||25 pounds|
|Other Features||Included Fast Flow RO Kit - Double the flow as standard RO systems||Includes second alkaline remineralization stage for better tasting water||Long Life filters|
FDA certified food grade tubing
|Automatic Shut-Off Valve
Streamlined Filter Installation
|Warranty/Guarantee||30 days money back policy|
5 year limited warranty
|1 year money back guarantee|
3 year manufacturer warranty
|30 day money back guarantee|
1 year limited warranty
|30 day money back policy
1 year limited warranty
|Conclusion||***Our Winner***||A Close Second||2nd Runner Up||4th Place (but still a good machine)|
Which is the Best?
Our choice this year is the Home Master Undersink Reverse Osmosis System. Why? It filters water using all 7 phases, gets absolutely stellar reviews, is lightweight and has the best warranty. The fast flow kit is a bonus since a slow output system gets tiresome really fast. This is a solid product from a solid manufacturer. And it looks great too.
Still not sure which system is right for you? For more information on the different types of alkaline water systems available, visit our home page.