How Much Does a Reverse Osmosis System Cost to Maintain?

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Reverse osmosis is known for being a cheap and accessible method for filtering water in a home environment.

However, it’s important to remember that it’s not just about the initial cost of purchasing the system, but you also have to factor in all the ongoing maintenance costs.

If you’re wondering how much it costs to maintain a reverse osmosis system in the long run, read on.

Key Takeaways

  • The average reverse osmosis system costs around $100-150 to maintain.
  • By far the biggest cost factor of reverse osmosis maintenance is replacement filters.

Reverse Osmosis Maintenance Cost (Filter Replacement Cost)

How much does a reverse osmosis system cost to maintain? The average reverse osmosis system costs around $100-150 to maintain.

The main factor that determines reverse osmosis system maintenance cost is the price of replacement filters.

Not only do you have to swap out the RO membrane on a regular basis – typically every 2 to 5 years – you also need to replace the various pre and post-filters that come with most home reverse osmosis systems.

If you’re on a tight budget and are looking for something that won’t set you back in the long run, we recommend going with the AquaTru countertop RO system. It offers a great balance between filtration effectiveness and affordable filter elements. You’re probably looking at maintenance costs of between $100 and $120 per year.

blue reverse osmosis membrane

The Waterdrop G3 tankless under sink reverse osmosis system is also relatively cheap to maintain, with annual costs estimated at around $145. And if you’ve got more money to spend on this and don’t mind splurging a bit, you could consider the Aquasana OptimH2O, which will cost you up to $220 per year to maintain.

Reverse Osmosis System Annual Maintenance Cost
AquaTru Countertop Reverse Osmosis System ~$100-120
Waterdrop G3 Tankless Under Sink RO ~$145
Aquasana OptimH2O ~$180-220
Crystal Quest 1000C Under Sink RO System for Well Water ~$100-155
Crystal Quest Thunder Countertop RO ~$65-100
NU Aqua Platinum Series 5-Stage RO System ~$50
Home Master HydroPerfection (TMHP) Reverse Osmosis System ~$150-160
SimPure Y7P-BW Reverse Osmosis Countertop Water Filter $120

Other RO System Operating Costs

While replacing the reverse osmosis membrane + pre/post-filters is the main maintenance cost associated with running a reverse osmosis system, it’s not the only one. You need to consider a few other factors as well:

Cost for Wastewater

Reverse osmosis wastes a lot of water, and that’s probably the biggest disadvantage to this type of water filtration. You can expect to waste as much as 3-5 gallons of water for each gallon you’ve purified.

But considering the low cost of water in general, you probably won’t even notice any significant difference on your water bill, especially when you consider that the average American uses about 100 gallons of water per day. 5 gallons more doesn’t really make a difference.

By the way, 1,000 gallons of water cost less than $5 on average across the country, and a 3-person household uses around 9,000 – 10,000 gallons of water per month. This comes down to around 120,000 gallons per year, or just $600.

Cost for Electricity

One of the great things about reverse osmosis is that it doesn’t require electricity to run – just water pressure. This means that there are no electricity costs associated with running a standard reverse osmosis system.

The only exception is if you’re using pressure pumps in your system, but even those are only on for a few minutes each day in most cases. Other than that, you might have some indicator lights on the machine, but those cost next to nothing and are usually powered by batteries.

Cost for Cleaning

You will need to buy some bleach and perhaps other cleaning supplies for the occasional cleaning session – but we’re talking about an expense to the tune of a few dozen dollars per year. If you keep your RO system in good condition through regular maintenance, it’ll be even less.

RO Maintenance Cost Factors

If you’re wondering what factors play into the maintenance cost of your reverse osmosis system, here are some of the most important points to consider.

System Type and Size: Whole House vs Point of Use

A whole house reverse osmosis system will cost you significantly more to maintain in the long run, but the initial installation is usually the biggest price spike. The minimum you should expect is a couple of hundred dollars for maintenance, with larger systems costing more. But it also depends on how many RO membranes there are, what kind of pre and post-treatment you use, etc.

Under Sink Reverse Osmosis System

Countertop systems are usually cheaper to maintain than under sink units because the former often has fewer filter stages. But difference is not that big.

Filtration Process

The more filter stages there are, the higher the maintenance cost. Common filters stages include sediment and carbon pre-filters, the RO membrane, a carbon post-filter, a remineralization filter, and UV.


And of course, some models cost more than others simply due to their brand name. This is the same as with many other types of products, and there’s not much you can do about it other than to be careful about your choice of brand. Also, consider that more expensive brands might offer perks like better customer service.

Standard-Sized vs Proprietary Filters

While many reverse osmosis systems use standard-sized filter elements which are interchangeable, some have their own proprietary sizes and you have no option but to use those specifically. This can end up more expensive, as you can usually find cheaper alternatives to standard models from generic manufacturers.

If you have any questions about RO filter replacement cost please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald is one of the founders of BOS and currently head of content creation. She has 8+ years of experience as a water treatment specialist under her belt making her our senior scientist. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
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