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 – 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 an unpleasant 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 good reverse osmosis systems available online, I decided to get active and created this website.
|Model||Our Rating||Price||Filter Stages||Capacity||Warranty|
|$$$||7||75 gpd||5 Years|
|$||5||50 gpd||1 Year|
|$||5||50 gpd||1 Year|
|$$$||9||75 gpd||5 Years|
|$||3||15-20 gpd||1 Year|
I’m going to assume that you don’t want to waste your hard-earned cash on a random product that is not up to standards. So what do you need to consider when choosing the best reverse osmosis system for your home?
You should definitely pay attention to NSF certifications. They not only ensure that a system provides water safe for human consumption, but also that it’s made from high-quality materials only.
Some reverse osmosis systems are also certified by the FDA which is less important.
Top-notch RO home systems feature at least 4 to 5 purification stages that water has to run through before it comes out of the tap:
Pricier systems often come with additional processing stages, for example to remineralize the water by adding bits of magnesium and calcium.
Are you handy with tools? If not you might want to look out for a well-designed reverse osmosis water filter system that allows for easy installation. This way you can save money that you would otherwise have to spend on a plumber.
Also, pay attention to annual filter/membrane replacement costs.
By the way, changing filter cartridges can be tedious work – not so with RO systems that feature a modular filter design. Whenever you replace one of the filters you simply dispose of the entire housing. This helps to prevent germs from accumulating inside the purifier and the whole process doesn’t take more than a few minutes. No need to turn off the water supply to the system, no spilling, no worries.
The only drawback: Modular replacement filters are usually more costly than those that come with separate housings. One exception is the Home Master TMAFC (review right below)!
Let’s be clear: Every filtration system that makes use of reverse osmosis is going to waste some water. That’s just how the technology works. The only thing you can really do about it is buy a pressure pump, such as this one, which reduces wastewater production significantly.
Order of Reviews
An outstanding 7-stage filtration process makes the Home Master TMAFC the best reverse osmosis system for under $500.
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 in case 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 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 system, such as a feed water adapter, drain saddle, chrome faucet and filter 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 NSF certifications for contaminant reduction rates.
If you are looking for the best reverse osmosis water filter system out there, the Home Master TMAFC is definitely the right choice. All in all, it’s our top product!
As an optional upgrade, you can add a permeate pump to the Home Master TMAFC which is then called Home Master TMAFC-ERP.
The pump will boost daily RO water production capacity by 50%, from 50 to 75 gallons per day.
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 costs.
Comparison: Filtered Water – Wasted Water Ratios
|Home Master TMAFC||Approx. 4 gallons wasted for 1 gallon filtered water|
|Home Master TMAFC-ERP (with pump)||Approx. 1 gallon wasted for 1 gallon filtered water|
In the second of our home reverse osmosis reviews, we take a closer look at the APEC Essence ROES-50, a 5-stage filtration unit that offers a great price-performance ratio.
We consider it one of the best reverse osmosis systems (if not the best) for under $200.
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 costs and you get a one-year limited warranty + lifetime product support from APEC.
What about the installation? There are written instructions and a 5-part video series explaining every single step in great detail. All parts included – check. Low maintenance requirements – check.
A handful of customers 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 impurities 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 system comes at a very affordable price. Oh, and replacement filters are super cheap, too!
The maximum filtration capacity is 75 gallons per day which is plenty of water for drinking and cooking no matter how big your family is.
But what we like best about this reverse osmosis filter 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 system is thoroughly tested by iSpring before being shipped. 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 reverse osmosis system is leaking.
And in rare cases, customers received damaged products.
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 and spending even less on replacement filters. Are there competitor products for sale 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 H2O a day.
Here are all advantages at a glance:
The HydroPerfection is NSF Standard 42 approved, however, it lacks additional certifications. Also, the system is somewhat more expensive to maintain 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 removes up to 99% of dirt, tastes, odors, chemicals, microorganisms, etc. (We wrote “up to”, since we couldn’t find specific reduction rates.)
The 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 of money 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 systems, but are inexpensive especially if you buy in bulk.
You definitely want to be careful when turning on the system for the first time. Expect that you will need to seal multiple leaks before all components work as intended.
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.
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 costs are reasonable.
Our only concern is that some customers had issues with bad taste that might originate from the storage tank. For a few others the system stopped working out of nowhere.
APEC’s Ultimate RO-90 stands out from the competition as it processes water at an extremely fast pace. That being said, it costs a bit more than the average system. So the question is: How much RO water do you really need?
Now we are going to take a look at the APEC Essence ROES-PH75, a top rated 6-stage reverse osmosis under sink system in the medium price segment.
Like all other water filters sold by APEC, this 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 system can produce each day is easily sufficient for households of 6+ people. Thereby, all water runs through 5 filtration stages with and additional sixth stage to balance pH-levels by adding calcium carbonate (alkalinization).
FYI: Please be aware that it remains to be proven whether or not this has any health benefits.
As far as the installation is concerned, 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 support.
NSF certifications for this reverse osmosis system are missing. Also, depending on your preferences you might not favor the alkaline taste.
It’s not a surprise that Amazon ratings and reviews for this product are more than excellent – you can check out some of them here. Although we are missing certifications against NSF standards, lots of customers like the presumed benefits of alkalinized water. If you do, too, then you can’t really go wrong with the APEC Essence ROES-PH75. Top!
The Olympia Water Systems OROS-50 stands out as it appears to be a high-quality reverse osmosis 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 system is able to 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 tank 12″ x 12″ x 18″ (W x D x H). Both were designed to fit inside small kitchen cabinets.
You shouldn’t have any problems installing the 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 system a great choice for renters.
Last but not least, this unit is super quiet and if you ever need assistance you can approach the highly professional customer support team that knows all Olympia water filters inside out.
As with everything in life, there are pros and cons. NSF 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 reverse osmosis filter system may not be capable of removing 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 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 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 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.
The costs for replacement filters are a bit over the top.
Also, the chrome faucet that is part of the package 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 replacement filter costs. 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.
Finally in our reverse osmosis reviews: A 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 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 in case the tank ever gets empty.
Another convenient feature is the LED that lets you know when it’s time to replace one of the 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.
Above that, some system parts 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!
Other Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Reviews
In the first section, we reviewed some the best RO systems for sale. Next we are going to answer some of the most common questions consumers have regarding 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 the system, some well water just needs additional pre-treatment.
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.
Or if the well water contains high amounts of calcium and other hardness minerals, you should consider installing a water softener in your home. It will turn the hard water soft before it enters the RO filter.
In case of iron contamination, a different kind 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 waterborne pathogens.
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. Aeration and UV light treatment can work, too.
However, 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 tap water when it comes to the right treatment method(s). What should be your next step? Having your well 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, 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 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 would be to add a remineralization stage to your reverse osmosis filtration system. In the additional treatment step, minerals are automatically being 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. This depends to a large extent on your water’s pH-level, though.
Another option to conquer demineralization would be to mix an electrolyte blend into your RO water. The 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 salts, e.g. Himalayan salt.
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.
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 have to accept “toilet-to-tap schemes“.
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 find a link to the full BBC-article right here.
I hope that you found a top quality reverse osmosis filter.
If you have any questions about under sink RO systems or any other type of water purifier 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 reverse osmosis system reviews occasionally.