In late 2015, I spent $$$ on a “premium” reverse osmosis system. I wanted to enjoy the fresh taste of filtered municipal water without having to worry about contaminants.
However, it turned out that the RO system couldn’t hold up to its promises. After using it for close to six weeks, the filtered water suddenly had an unpleasant plastic smell to it and tasted even worse than the untreated water.
Obviously, I was disappointed and angry. And as I realized that there really wasn’t enough valuable information on good reverse osmosis systems available online, I decided to get active and created this website.
|Model||Our Rating||Price||Filter Stages||Capacity||Warranty|
|$$$||7||75 Gallons Per Day||5 Years|
|$||5||50 Gallons Per Day||1 Year|
|$||5||50 Gallons Per Day||1 Year|
|$$$||9||75 Gallons Per Day||5 Years|
|$||3||15-20 Gallons Per Day||1 Year|
Order of Reviews
An outstanding 7-stage filtration process makes the Home Master TMAFC the best reverse osmosis system in the mid-price segment (go to Amazon).
It provides enough healthy and great tasting drinking water even for larger families, is made in the USA and backed by a 5-year warranty if something goes wrong.
System maintenance doesn’t require much time or effort and thanks to an extended performance span (about 2,000 gallons of water) filters need to be changed only once a year.
The all-in-one modular design means that the replacement is a piece of cake. Plus it prevents canister leakage/failure and the accumulation of disease-causing bacteria and other germs, since the entire filter housing including sediment, microorganisms and biofilm is disposed of.
Last but not least, the package includes everything you need for setting up the RO system, such as a feed water adapter, drain saddle, chrome faucet and reverse osmosis membrane.
The self-explanatory user manual guides you through the installation process step by step. In addition, there are installation videos to be found on YouTube.
So if you are handy around the house there is no need to call a professional plumber. Time to save some extra money!
On a side note: Reverse osmosis systems produce slightly acidic water that lacks calcium, magnesium and other essential minerals. These minerals would normally contribute to your daily nutritional intake. The Home Master TMAFC adds them back into your water once it reaches the storage tank.
We would have appreciated additional certifications for contaminant reduction rates.
If you are looking for the best reverse osmosis water filtration system on the market, the Home Master TMAFC is definitely the right choice. All in all, it’s our top pick!
As an optional upgrade, you can add a permeate pump to the Home Master TMAFC RO system which is then called Home Master TMAFC-ERP.
The permeate pump will boost daily reverse osmosis drinking water production capacity by 50%, from 50 to 75 gallons per day (gpd).
At the same time, water efficiency and flow rate increase and thereby reduce the amount of wastewater that goes down the drain by up to 80%. And if that wasn’t enough, water quality will also improve a tiny bit.
In other words, you get more water, you get better water and you can lower your expenses.
Gallon Comparison: Filtered Water – Wasted Water Ratios
|Home Master TMAFC RO System||Approx. four gallons wasted for one gallon filtered water|
|Home Master TMAFC-ERP RO System (with permeate pump)||Approx. one gallon wasted for one gallon filtered water|
Second on our list is the APEC Essence ROES-50, a 5-stage reverse osmosis system that offers the best price-performance ratio.
In fact, we consider it one of the top reverse osmosis systems in the lower price segment.
The filtration process was designed to provide plenty of purified water even for larger families, free from many harmful substances like lead (94 – 99%), fluoride (90 – 97%) and arsenic(V) (94-99%).
Filters are long lasting meaning less replacement cost and you get a one-year limited warranty + lifetime product support from the manufacturer.
What about the installation? There are written instructions and a 5-part video series explaining every single step in detail. All parts included – check. Low maintenance requirements – check.
A handful of people have struggled with minor leaks and we are missing NSF certifications.
The APEC ROES-50 is among the best selling RO systems on Amazon. It provides clean, clear and great tasting drinking water with almost no contaminants left. In our opinion, it offers the best value if you are on a small budget.
WQA Gold Seal and NSF Standard 58 certification – looks like you can be rest assured that the iSpring RCC7 home reverse osmosis system with 5 filter stages is most effective at removing lead, fluoride, bacteria, viruses and a bunch of other bad stuff, while making no annoying noises doing so.
Furthermore, the RO system is very affordable. Oh, and replacement filters are super cheap, too!
The maximum filtration capacity is 75 gpd which is plenty of water for drinking and cooking no matter how big your family is.
But what we like best about the RCC7 is the fact that it comes with a leak sensor that triggers an acoustic alarm as soon as it detects any moisture under the system.
On top of that, every single RO system is thoroughly tested by iSpring before shipping. Then, if you have the time and patience, you should be able to get everything up and running within a couple of hours.
The biggest issue with this unit is leaking.
And in rare cases, people received damaged systems.
The iSpring RCC7 reverse osmosis system makes a great choice for everyone who likes the idea of saving a few bucks when purchasing the filter system itself and spending even less on replacement filters. Are there competitor products that perform better from a water-quality point of view? You bet, but not for this price tag!
Home Master’s TMHP HydroPerfection is like the standard Home Master TMAFC (see above) on steroids, thanks to a couple of practical upgrades. So sit back & relax and watch the reverse osmosis system do its work providing you with a maximum of 75 gallons of pure water per day.
Here are all advantages at a glance:
The HydroPerfection under sink reverse osmosis water filtration system is NSF Standard 42 approved, however, it lacks additional certifications. Also, system maintenance is somewhat more expensive due to the 2 extra well water filter stages that require replacement from time to time.
This system is the cream of the crop of reverse osmosis water filtration – no doubt about that. It doesn’t matter whether you are on city or well water, the Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection will deliver healthy and crisp drinking water right to your tap. Be prepared to dig deep into your pockets, though. Bottom line: Top Quality!
Let’s get straight to the point: This reverse osmosis system by Express Water filters up to 99% of dirt, tastes, odors, chemicals, microorganisms, etc. (We wrote “up to”, since we couldn’t find specific reduction rates.)
The RO system comes at an affordable price – extra set of replacement filters included – and makes an okay choice if you don’t want to spend a lot on a water purifier. Plus it fits into almost any kitchen cabinet due to its compact size.
You get 5 stages of filtration, 100% lead and BPA-free materials, an emergency leak stop detector that makes you sleep better at night, and a basic one-year limited warranty.
What’s more, the quick connect fittings make the installation relatively effortless with only basic plumbing skills required.
Filters need to be changed more frequently compared to most other reverse osmosis systems, but are inexpensive especially if you buy in bulk.
You definitely want to be careful when turning on this RO system for the first time. Expect that you will need to seal multiple leaks before all components work as intended.
The Express Water RO5DX reverse osmosis water filtration system is legitimately a very popular product among customers that only have a very small budget. Simply put, affordable pricing meets decent filtration.
Thanks to a high-capacity reverse osmosis membrane, the APEC Ultimate RO-90 is one of the most efficient at producing purified water at high speed – twice as fast as the average home reverse osmosis system, so no long waiting times.
Keep in mind, however, that high water flow usually means a less thorough filtration. In other words, if the safety of your health is your number one priority consider opting for a different RO model like the Home Master TMAFC.
Pre-filters require annual replacement, unless you struggle with high levels of hardness minerals or TDS in general that cause clogging.
In this case, you might have to change filters every 6 months or so. No reason to worry, though, the cost is reasonable.
Some people using the APEC Ultimate reverse osmosis system had issues with bad taste that might originate from the storage tank. For a few others the RO system stopped working out of nowhere.
APEC’s Ultimate RO-90 stands out from the competition as it processes a lot of water at an extremely fast pace. That being said, it costs a bit more than the average RO system. So the question is: How much reverse osmosis water do you really need?
Now we are going to take a look at the APEC Essence ROES-PH75, a top rated 6-stage under sink reverse osmosis system in the medium price segment.
Like all other water filters sold by APEC, this RO system, too, is assembled in the United States.
It’s an advanced model that savors new features, like improved chlorine reduction and the ability to remove up to 99% of pathogenic contaminants, with the goal to make drinking water as safe as possible for human consumption.
The maximum amount of purified water gallons that the APEC Alkaline Mineral Essence ROES-PH75 can produce each day is easily sufficient for households of 6+ people. Thereby, all water runs through 5 stages of filtration with and additional sixth stage to balance pH levels by adding calcium carbonate (alkalinization).
As far as the installation is concerned, the RO system comes with easy-to-grasp instructions suited for do-it-yourselfers. To top it off, you can always rely on APEC’s great customer support.
NSF certifications for this RO system are missing. Also, depending on your preferences you might not favor the alkaline taste.
It’s not a surprise that Amazon ratings for this product are more than excellent – you can check out some of them here. Although we are missing important certifications, a lot of people like the alkalinized water. If you do, too, then you can’t really go wrong with the APEC Alkaline Mineral Essence ROES-PH75 RO system. Top!
The Olympia Water Systems OROS-50 stands out as it appears to be a high-quality reverse osmosis water system and yet super affordable at the same time.
It features a solid 5-stage purification process providing up to 50 gallons of clear and tasteless water per day – a sufficient amount for families with up to six members.
A recent test conducted in December 2017 has shown that the RO system can reduce the amount of dissolved solids by roughly 87.8% from 82 to about 10 ppm.
What’s more is that the whole system is NSF tested and certified against standards 42 and 58, unlike many other models that only feature certified parts.
The module measures 16″ x 7″ x 20″ and the storage tank 12″ x 12″ x 18″ (W x D x H). Both were designed to fit inside small cabinets.
You shouldn’t have any problems installing the RO system in under 3 hours (the official record is 45 minutes) following the step-by-step installation guide with plenty of color pictures to help you out. Screw fittings make the installation very unobtrusive which in turn makes the water filter a great choice for renters.
Last but not least, the unit is super quiet and if you ever need assistance you can approach the highly professional customer service team that knows all Olympia water filter systems inside out.
As with everything in life, there are benefits and drawbacks. Standard 42 and Standard 58 are a good start. However, we would have preferred more comprehensive testing with the focus on contaminants with health effects.
This home RO filter system may not remove 98 or 99 percent of all water impurities. Nonetheless, because it’s so cheap it’s worth the buy and perfect for renters.
This is what distinguishes the Aquasana OptimH2O from the rest.
Altogether, the RO system can handle a total of 88 different contaminants. Here are some of the reduction rates:
As you can see, this simple reverse osmosis system for home use provides refreshing drinking water that’s more or less 100% pure (do the ice cube test for proof!).
Its water filtration capacity and flow rate is on the lower end, but should still suffice for medium-sized families if water usage is limited to drinking and cooking.
Another great aspect about this RO water purifier is that it also remineralizes water with healthy calcium, magnesium and potassium that add to your daily nutritional intake.
The holding tank is standard-sized (3.2 gallons) and top quality.
Replacement filter cost are a bit over the top.
Also, the chrome faucet that comes with the RO system looks and feels rather cheap, which is particularly noticeable when switching back and forth between it and your regular faucet.
The Aquasana OptimH2O is a great example showing that quality doesn’t come cheap. And we are not talking about the initial purchase price, obviously, but the cost for replacement filters. It’s up for you to decide if you are willing to pay that much. In our opinion, more affordable reverse osmosis systems should be perfectly adequate for most waters.
And last but not least, a water purification system that looks nice and comes in a single box! Which, by the way, helps to keep the space under your sink much tidier.
The Brondell H2O+ Circle wastes as little as 2.1 gallons of water for every gallon filtered. This is about as efficient as a regular home RO system that applies a permeate pump to increase low water pressure. It’s an advantage that helps you to save money, and it’s useful if you live in a region facing frequent droughts.
The system fully refills in about 40 minutes which is nice because you don’t have to wait for too long if the storage tank ever gets empty.
Another convenient feature is the LED that lets you know when it’s time to replace one of the water filters. It’s integrated in the chrome faucet that is part of the package.
Even if you are not good with tools, installing the Brondell H2O+ shouldn’t take more than one or two hours including drilling the holes in the drain line and your kitchen sink or counter.
We don’t like that replacement components are so expensive, and we don’t understand why to be honest.
Another thing is, some parts of the unit seem weak, like they tend to wear out quickly.
The Brondell H2O+ Circle is a solid reverse osmosis system with good filtration performance. We like the reduced water waste and also the fast tank filling speed. All in all, if you don’t mind paying for high-priced replacement filters make sure to shortlist this product!
|Home Master TMAFC & TMAFC-ERP Reverse Osmosis Systems||7 Stage Process, Separate Water Storage Tank, Dedicated Faucet||TFC RO Membranes (More Info), Use Catalytic Carbon, Remineralization Stage Adds Minerals to Clean Water (Raises pH), TMAFC-ERP Unit Features Permeate Pump to Boost Water Pressure & Filtered Water Efficiency (Less Waste Water), Easy Installation + Maintenance|
|APEC Top Tier Essence ROES-50 RO System||5 Filters, Separate Water Tank, Dedicated Faucet||TFC RO Membrane, Makes Use of Double Carbon Block, Easy to Install|
|iSpring RCC7 RO System||5 Filters, Separate Water Tank, Dedicated Faucet||Easy to Install|
|Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection RO System||9 Stage Process, Separate Water Tank, Dedicated Faucet||TFC RO Membrane, Makes Use of Catalytic Carbon, Remineralization Stage Adds Minerals to Clean Water (Raises pH), UV Light Filter Kills Bacteria & Viruses + Other Types of Microorganisms, Permeate Pump Boosts Water Pressure & Filtered Water Efficiency (Less Waste Water), Straightforward Installation + Maintenance|
|Express Water RO5DX Reverse Osmosis System||5 Filters, Separate Water Tank, Dedicated Faucet|
|APEC Ultimate RO-90 Reverse Osmosis System||5 Filters, Separate Water Tank, Dedicated Faucet||TFC RO Membrane, Makes Use of Double Carbon Block, Ultimate RO Systems Provide the Most Clean Water Per Day, Easy to Install|
|APEC Alkaline Mineral Essence ROES-PH75 RO System||6 Filters, Separate Water Tank, Dedicated Faucet||TFC RO Membrane, Makes Use of Double Carbon Block, Remineralization Stage Adds Minerals to Clean Water (Raises pH), Easy to Install|
|Olympia Water Systems OROS-50 RO System||5 Filters, Separate Water Tank, Dedicated Faucet||Pump Boosts Water Pressure & Filtered Water Efficiency (Less Waste Water), Easy to Install|
|Aquasana OptimH2O RO System||3 Filters, Separate Water Tank, Dedicated Faucet||Lower Water Pressure, Filters Most Contaminants (According to Manufacturer Testing Data)|
|Brondell H2O+ Circle RO System||4 Filters, Integrated Water Storage Tank, Dedicated Faucet||Unit Filters Most Contaminants (According to Company Testing Results), Requires Electricity|
Other Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Reviews
What do you need to consider when searching for the best reverse osmosis system for your home?
They are more important with other water filtering solutions, but with RO systems, too, you should choose a unit with NSF certifications if possible. They not only ensure that a system provides water safe for human consumption, but also that it’s made from high-quality materials.
Some reverse osmosis systems are also certified by the FDA which is less important.
Top-notch RO systems use at least 4 to 5 purification stages that water has to run through before it comes out of the faucet:
Some pricier RO systems come with additional processing stages, for example to remineralize the water and balance pH by adding bits of calcium and magnesium.
A well-designed reverse osmosis system not only allows for easy installation, it’ll also make filter and membrane replacements way easier.
RO systems that feature a modular design are the preferred choice here. Whenever you replace one of the filters you simply dispose of the entire housing. This prevents bacteria and other germs from accumulating inside the system, plus the whole process doesn’t take more than a few minutes. No need to turn off the water supply, no spilling, no worries.
The only drawback: Modular replacement filters are usually more costly than those with a separate housing. One exception is the Home Master TMAFC RO system (review right below)!
When to replace the RO membrane? A TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) meter will tell you. Simply measure the TDS of the permeate water. If the rejection rate drops below 80% it’s time to replace the membrane.
Pro tip: Use this formula to calculate your current TDS rejection rate:
Rejection rate in % = (Total Dissolved Solids of untreated tap water – Total Dissolved Solids of pure water) / Total Dissolved Solids of untreated tap water x 100
RO systems waste water. That’s just how the process works. The only thing you can do about this is adding a pressure or permeate pump to your system, such as this one which ups the water pressure and thus reduces wastewater production significantly.
In the first section, we reviewed some the best RO systems for sale. The guide below answers some questions users have about reverse osmosis water filtration.
If you live in a rural area and receive water from a private well you might be looking for a reverse osmosis system that works on well water – makes sense.
The problem, however, is that no matter how good an RO system, most well waters require pre-treatment or otherwise the delicate RO membrane will clog in no time.
This could be a simple sediment pre-filter setup with 3 cartridges rated at 50, 10 and 5 microns to remove dirt, rust, sand, silt, etc. For high amounts of hardness minerals, you should consider installing a water softener in your home. It will soften the hard water before it enters the RO filter.
With iron contamination, a different type of pre-treatment is required, depending on the type and concentrations.
Speaking of iron, the Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection reverse osmosis system comes with an iron pre-filter stage and might be just what you are looking for. It also features a UV light lamp to destroy bacteria, viruses and other types of microorganisms.
This is another reason, by the way, why filtering raw well water with reverse osmosis alone might not be a good idea. If the water is biologically unsafe it requires some sort of disinfection such as shock chlorination.
But this goes beyond the scope of this article. For now, all you need to remember is that well water oftentimes requires a different and more sophisticated approach than municipal water when it comes to the right treatment method(s). What should be your next step? Have your water tested.
Drinking water treatment by means of reverse osmosis filtration leads to a reduction of mineral content. If that’s something you are concerned about, we want to provide you with some basic information on what you can do to still cover your daily mineral intake with ease.
Let’s use calcium as an example: Only about 20% of our recommended daily intake (RDI) comes from the water we drink. The remaining 80% comes from our food. Nevertheless, if we drink RO purified water chances are that we might not cover our calcium RDI entirely. The same applies to magnesium. For all other minerals, including iodine, iron and zinc, drinking water provides less than 5% of the RDI.
The most convenient solution for demineralized water is to add a remineralization stage to your reverse osmosis filtration system. In the additional treatment step, beneficial minerals are automatically added to your drinking water. It doesn’t get any easier!
Another option is to mix an electrolyte blend into the filtered water. The main focus here should be a balanced mineral composition. About 60 mg/l of calcium and 25 mg/l of magnesium are ideal. An alternative to electrolyte blends are green powder blends and mineral-rich salts, e.g. Himalayan salt.
Questions about RO systems or any other type of water filter or purifier? Ask Away!
And make sure to revisit this buying guide from time to time as we are going to continue our hunt for the best reverse osmosis systems add new reverse osmosis system reviews occasionally.