Welcome to Our 2018’s Best Home RO System Reviews
In late 2015, I spent almost $300 on a “premium” reverse osmosis water filter system. I considered it worth the money to get access to contaminant-free drinking water, which cannot be taken for granted anymore – and certainly not in the U.S.
However, it turned out that the system couldn’t hold up to its promises. After using it for close to six weeks, the filtered water suddenly had a strange plastic smell to it and tasted even worse than the unfiltered version.
Obviously, I was disappointed and angry. And as I realized that there really wasn’t enough valuable information on proper RO systems available online, I decided to get active and created this website.
On This Page You Will…
|Model||Our Rating||Price||Filter Stages||Gallons Per Day||Warranty (Years)|
Top #1 RO System: Home Master TMAFC
Best Price-Performance Ratio: APEC ESSENCE ROES-50
Most Economic: Home Master TMAFC-ERP
iSpring RCC7 - RO System with Faucet
Highest Filtration Capacity: APEC ULTIMATE RO-90
No Green Light For: Whirlpool WHER25
You are about to get to know the top RO systems available on the market, but first, let’s take a quick look at the key aspects you need to consider, if you want to purchase a reliable system. This way you can protect yourself from spending your hard-earned money on a product that is not up to standards.
You want to drink clean water, because you want to stay healthy and fit. That’s why it’s vitally important for you to rely on an established brand and a manufacturer based in the U.S. Usually, U.S.-made systems filter out at least 98 percent of all impurities.
Top-notch RO systems feature at least 5 filtration stages that water has to run through before it’s ready to be consumed.
Pricier systems often come with additional processing stages, for example to re-mineralize the water by adding bits of magnesium and calcium to it.
Not all of us are gifted do-it-yourselfers, but well-designed systems make installation a quick and easy process for everyone. Also, replacing a filter cartridge can be tedious work and paying for the new filter can be expensive. Therefore, opt for a device with long-lasting filters that can be replaced in no time.
Side Note: If you live in a larger household, you want to look out for filter systems that apply bigger membranes as they extend longevity and shorten the time that is needed to fill up your water tank.
A water filter should provide a consistent flow of clean drinking water and at the same time prevent water from being wasted by automatically shutting down once the tank is filled to the top.
An outstanding seven-stage filtration process makes the Home Master TMAFC the best reverse osmosis water filter system available for under $500, although it comes at a much cheaper price!
System maintenance doesn’t require much time nor effort, and thanks to an extended performance span (about 2,000 gallons) filters need to be replaced only once a year. Thereby, the ‘all-in-one’ design makes the replacement super fast and easy for you.
To prevent canister leakage or failure and disease-causing germs from accumulating, the annual filter replacement includes the disposal of the entire filter housing including possible sediment build-up, microorganisms, and biofilm (see all advantages here).
From our reverse osmosis reviews we’ve learned that most systems produce slightly acidic water lacking calcium and magnesium minerals, which would normally contribute to your daily nutritional intake. No reason to worry – the Home Master TMAFC automatically adds those minerals back into the water when it reaches the storage tank.
Last but not least, the scope of delivery includes everything you need, such as a drain saddle, chrome faucet, filter membrane and UV power supply.
The self-explanatory user manual guides you through the installation process step by step, so there’s no need to hire a professional, if you don’t want to. A great way to save that extra money!
One minor disadvantage is that you have to cover the additional costs that come up when replacing the whole filter housing. But as stated above, luckily this has to be done only once a year.
If you are looking for the best reverse osmosis water filter system available, the Home Master TMAFC is definitely the right choice. The following link will get you to the official Amazon product page, which has the best price available as of 16th June 2018.
In the second of our reverse osmosis system reviews, we take a closer look at the APEC ESSENCE 5-Stage, which offers a great price-performance ratio. We also consider it the best reverse osmosis system available for under $200.
First of all, the system is NSF and WQA certified (production in the United States), which guarantees that the treated water is 100% safe for human consumption and that the system doesn’t make any disturbing noises. Above that, a WQA Gold Seal guarantees excellent performance, quality and durability with only little maintenance requirements.
Filters are long lasting, which means less replacement costs you have to pay for. Also, APEC provides a one-year satisfaction guarantee plus lifetime product support.
In the five-stage filtration process 99% of all contaminants get removed including soil particles, rust, and chemicals. Additionally, the storage tank included in the package doesn’t add any artificial flavors to the water to preserve a natural taste. An automatic shut-down function prevents water wastage.
The membrane filter housing is a bit difficult to open. Moreover, at filtration stage three it may take a while for you to get rid of carbon floating on the water surface.
The APEC ESSENCE 5-Stage filtration system is among the best selling RO systems on Amazon. It provides clean, clear and great tasting drinking water with almost no impurities left. We believe that it offers the best value for everyone on a small budget.
The iSpring RCC7 offers a valuable alternative to APEC filtration systems. It’s also NSF certified and ensures microorganisms don’t get past the multi-level filtration process. However, the APEC ESSENCE system outperforms the RCC7, as iSpring filters won’t last as long. If you would like to read our full review, click here!
7-stage filtration process, low maintenance costs, alkalinization stage, full scope of supply – all these features are shared by the Home Master TMAFC (first review) and this second model by Home Master named TMAFC-ERP. In fact, they are identical apart from the built-in non-electric permeate pump that comes with the latter.
The pump effectively boosts your daily water production capacity by 50 percent, from 50 to 75 gallons per day. At the same time, water efficiency and flow rate increase and thereby reduce water waste by up to 80 percent. Another positive side effect is that you can enjoy even slightly cleaner water by eliminating what is called ‘TDS creep’.
What this all means is that with the help of this system’s permeate pump, you have access to even healthier water, you will get it faster, and you also save money, because less goes down the drain!
Filtered Water – Wasted Water Ratios
|Home Master TMAFC||4 gallons wasted for 1 gallon filtered|
|Home Master TMAFC-ERP (with pump)||1 gallon wasted for 1 gallon filtered|
Thanks to a WQA Gold Seal and NSF certificates, you can be rest assured that the iSpring RCC7 reverse osmosis system (5 filter stages) is a premium product built in the U.S., that makes almost no noises while operating.
The system comes at a very affordable pricing and uses cost-effective technology (automatic shut-off when the water tank is filled up) making it a great choice for people who care about our environment and want to save money at the same time.
In the filtration process, the system removes 99% of all contaminants including pharmaceuticals and microorganisms, and it provides enough water even for larger households at a maximum of 75 gallons per day.
At filter stage #4 the reverse osmosis process itself goes into action. Here, a large semipermeable membrane increases the system’s longevity and flow rate, which again is ideal for big families with a high demand for filtered water.
But what we like best about this system is the fact that almost everyone should be able to install it with the help of the detailed user manual including DIY videos that are part of the package.
Water pressure in your home needs to be at least 35 psi for this system to work efficiently.
Therefore, citizens living in areas with low water pressure have to purchase an additional booster pump. On top of that, the filters tend to wear out rather quickly causing extra replacement costs.
The iSpring RCC7 reverse osmosis water filter makes a great choice for everyone who likes the idea of saving a few bucks when purchasing the system itself, but is willing to spend a bit more on replacement filters.
The Home Master TMAFC is one of the best filtration systems we’ve covered in our reviews. It makes use of a world-class purification process to ensure that you don’t have to mess with low flow rates, acidic water, or leaks. A combination of high-density flow restriction components control the pressure emanating from the RO membrane to achieve super-high water purity levels.
In our opinion, the Home Master TMAFC easily outperforms the iSpring RCC7, however it comes at a higher price. To read our full review, click here!
The APEC ESSENCE provides the best price-performance ratio among all water filter systems with a price below $200. It’s built on the exact same filtration technology as the RCC7 – the same technology used by bottled water companies – and competes toe to toe with the iSpring system.
All in all, it’s highly effective at purifying water, which makes it an equally ideal choice. You can find our full review here.
This Express Water system removes up to 99% of dirt, tastes, odors, chemicals, and microorganisms. It also comes at a very affordable price compared to most other RO systems on the market. And the fact that it gets build in the U.S. adds an extra layer of safety to the filtration process.
Because the Express Water RO5DX works fully automatic, it’s very convenient to draw water from its faucet. The tank will auto-refill and shut off the system afterwards.
What’s more is the easy-to-follow user manual with clear instructions makes everything easy to set up (no special plumbing skills required), plus the system fits into almost any kitchen due to its compact size.
4 extra replacement filters are added to the scope of delivery. Additionally, a one-year warranty plus lifelong professional support back you up in case something goes wrong.
Customers have remarked that leakages are likely to occur, if you don’t follow the installation instructions with utmost accuracy. On top of that, carbon may float on the water’s surface for a couple of days before dissolving.
The Express Water RO5DX is legitimately a very popular product among customers that only have a very small budget. Simply put, affordable pricing meets decent filtration performance.
When searching for the best reverse osmosis system, there is a whole army of products waiting for you online. Of course each manufacturer claims his product to be the best one out there. Therefore, you can’t make a decision solely based on advertisements. You need to compare the advantages, disadvantages, and features of different models by reading a number of reverse osmosis system reviews in order to be able to make an informed buying decision.
Although the following two reverse osmosis systems are similar to the Express Water RO5DX in terms of features, they differ in quality, price, and required level of maintenance:
The Aquaphor RO-101 comes with a built-in airless storage tank and a remineralization stage. It is incredibly compact compared to other home drinking water filter systems and the most decisive aspect about it is that it works efficiently even at a very low level of water pressure without requiring a booster pump.
In addition to that the Aquaphor RO-101 features convenient twist on/off replacement filters.
The APEC ULTIMATE RO-90 exclusively uses FDA certified food grade tubing and a 100% lead-free chrome faucet to ensure your health and safety. Pre-filters require annual replacement and filter cartridges last much longer than normal filters, which reduces maintenance costs.
Above that, the ULTIMATE RO-90 system is one of the best at producing purified water at high speeds – twice as fast as the average system. It can provide large families with 90 gallons of pure drinking water on a daily basis.
To prevent water wastage and save energy and money, the system will shut down automatically once the water tank has filled up.
We are a little concerned about the fact that the membrane filters are difficult to access. You need to practice a bit before replacement and cleaning will become a quick and easy thing for you to do. Moreover, customers have noticed water leakage due to the smallest mistakes made during installation.
This reverse osmosis system by APEC Water is top-notch and delivers exceptionally pure drinking water that tastes delicious. However, it costs about $100 more than the average system and not everyone is willing to pay that much for a water filter.
We continue our APEC RO reviews series by taking a look at the ESSENCE ROES-PH75 6-stage system – a top-notch product in the medium price segment.
Like all other water filters sold by APEC Water, this system, too, gets manufactured 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 making water super safe for human consumption.
75 gallons of water can be provided by the system each day, which is easily sufficient for households of 6+ people. Thereby, all water runs through five filtration stages with and additional sixth stage to balance pH-levels by adding carbonates (alkalinization), which according to the WHO makes healthier water.
You don’t have to worry about calling a plumber for the installation part since the 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 service and support.
Depending on your preferences you might not favor the alkaline taste of the water.
Taking into consideration all the features and advantages, it’s not a surprise that this filter’s customer ratings are more than excellent – check out some of them here. If you are looking for a serious water filter unit in the medium price segment, this is the one to go for.
The Olympia Water Systems OROS-50 stands out as it appears to be high-quality and at the same time a very affordable option. It features a solid 5-stage filtration 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 system was able to reduce the amount of dissolved solids by roughly 87.8% from 82 ppm to about 10 ppm.
What’s more is that the whole system is NSF tested and certified (against NSF/ANSI 42 + 58), unlike many other models that only feature certified parts, such as tank or filter housing.
The OROS-50 measures 16″ x 7″ x 20″ and the tank 12″ x 12″ x 18″ (W x D x H). Both were designed to fit inside small kitchen cabinets.
Installing the system is a piece of cake and will take no more than 1-2 hours (official record is 45 minutes), if you follow 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 system a great choice for renters.
Last but not least, this unit is super quiet and if you ever need help, you can approach the highly professional customer support-team that knows all its products inside out.
Watch out to not accidentally break some of the delicate parts during installation. However, if you do, don’t fear to call the Olympia office and they will make sure to send a replacement piece out to you within a few days.
The Olympia Water Systems OROS-50 may not be able to remove 98 or 99 percent of all water impurities, nonetheless, it’s worth the money and perfect for renters.
The Aquasana OptimH2O; again, a full NSF certified system that removes up to 99% of more than 70 different contaminants. Here are some certified removal rates:
The system provides refreshing drinking water that looks and tastes 100 percent pure (do the ice cube test for proof!). Filtration capacities are a little lower, but should still suffice for medium-sized families, if water use is limited to drinking and cooking.
A great thing about this system is also that it remineralizes the water with healthy calcium, magnesium, and potassium that adds to your daily nutritional intake.
In rare cases, customers have reported missing parts.
Also, be careful to not over tighten the fittings or they will likely crack. Above that, the chrome faucet that is part of the package looks and feels a bit cheap, which is particularly noticeable when switching back and forth between it and your regular faucet.
Water flow rate could use some improvement, too. Filling a whole pitcher might take you a lot longer than you’d expect.
There is not much to say about this system. It performs well and we consider it worth its price tag.
Finally a system that looks good and that comes in one 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 RO system that applies a permeate pump to increase water pressure. It’s an advantage that helps you to save money, and it’s useful if you live in a region that fights against frequent drought.
The system fully refills in about 40 minutes, which is nice because you don’t have to wait for too long in case the tank ever gets empty. Another convenient feature is the LED that let’s you know when it’s time to replace a filter. It’s integrated in the chrome faucet that is part of the delivery scope.
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 for waste water and the additional faucet.
Some parts of the system appear weak and look like they wear out quickly. In the past, it has also happened that customers received broken pieces, which needed replacement before the installation could begin.
The Brondell H2O+ Circle is a solid water filter that comes at a reasonable price. We like the reduced water waste and also the fast tank filling speed. If both these features are important to you, make sure to shortlist this product!
Other RO Filter Models:
Other Filter Types:
More on Reverse Osmosis Systems
In the first section, we reviewed some the best reverse osmosis systems the market has to offer. Next we are going to answer some of the most common questions consumers have regarding RO water filtration.
Drinking water treatment by means of RO filtration leads to a reduction of mineral content. If that’s something you are concerned about, then 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 take calcium as an example: Only about 20% of our recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium 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 fully cover our calcium RDI. 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 would be to add a remineralization stage to your filtration system. In the additional treatment step, minerals are automatically added to your drinking water. It doesn’t get any easier!
What’s important is that you use nothing but food-grade minerals, which usually need to be refilled every 6 to 12 months. But this also depends to a large extent on your water’s pH-level.
Another option to conquer demineralization would be to mix electrolyte blends containing calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, etc. into your water. Your main focus here should be a balanced mineral composition. About 60 mg/l of calcium and 25 mg/l of magnesium are perfect. An alternative to electrolyte blends are green powder blends and mineral-rich salt – think Himalayan salt.
A well maintained RO system can last for many years. Proper maintenance includes replacing parts that are subject to wear and tear. Of course, the first component that comes to mind are filters, which need to be changed every 6 months to 3 years.
Actual filter lifetime mainly depends on quality and also the condition of the feed water. Cheap filters require replacements more frequently, as they tend to wear out quicker. Water with exceptionally high levels of chlorine and certain other impurities add to the burden.
Before you attempt to replace your system’s filters, make sure to check the product manual. It’s likely that the manufacturer has outlined specific maintenance requirements. The manual will even tell you how often you need to replace the various types of filters as well as the RO membrane.
Most importantly, look for specific step-by-step instructions on how to open up the filter and membrane housings.
It is also essential that you get the correct filters for your unit. Almost all manufacturers sell replacement parts including filters, so visit the manufacturer’s website first. If you are going to buy from another source, be sure that the quality is up to standards. Otherwise, you might put your own health at risk.
Although every model is different, here are some basic steps that apply to most RO units:
Eric from emoneyblue does a great job at demonstrating how to replace RO system filters in a couple of minutes:
What You Need:
The best way to clean a reverse osmosis membrane at home is by soaking it in different chemical cleaning solutions. So first, put on your gloves and protective eye wear and prepare the solutions in buckets.
By the way, using the right chemicals is key, as different RO systems use different types of membranes. Using the wrong chemicals could lead to irreversible damage. Therefore, if you don’t want to ruin your precious RO membrane, consult the manufacturer’s instructions for more information.
Please note that you don’t have to use all of the above chemicals to make your membrane look brand new!
In industrial applications, reverse osmosis filtration systems are much larger and much more complicated. They can be used for many purposes from producing drinking water from salty seawater (desalination) to recycling wastewater.
In recent years, the global capacity of desalination plants commissioned by the International Desalination Association (IDA) has increased by 28.8% from 67,400,000 m³/day (or 0.0674 km³/day) in 2011 to 86,800,000 m³/day (or 0.0868 km³/day) in 2015.
Considering that our planet’s freshwater resources add up to 10,633,450 km³ (U.S. Geological Survey), the annual worldwide desalination capacity in 2015 equaled about 0.0003 percent of that amount.
This means that with the underlying capacity it would take about 335,600 years to replace all fresh water on earth using desalination.
Do we need to start drinking toilet water?
The rising number of people living on our planet and severe droughts add to the problem that there is not enough clean drinking water available for everyone. This is the exact reason why we will have to accept “toilet-to-tap” schemes in the near future, according to BBC.
Already today, wastewater including toilet flushes is being filtered and treated until it is perfectly ready and 100% safe for human consumption. “If anything, recycled wastewater is relatively sweet,” says Anas Ghadouani (Environmental Engineer, University of Western Australia). Many people might not like the prospect of drinking recycled wastewater, but most cities already incorporate it into their water supply. After all, it’s the best way to tackle water scarcity and a necessity for a sustainable water future.
After removing larger solids, a reverse osmosis filtration process is used to filter out even the tiniest particles. Then the water is flashed with UV-light to kill pathogenic microbes.
If you are interested in reading more about this topic, you can find a link to the full BBC-article right here.
If you have any questions about RO systems or any other type of water filter really, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
And don’t forget to come back to this page from time to time, as we are going to add new RO system reviews occasionally.