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How much does a point-of-use RO system cost? How much does a whole house reverse osmosis system cost? What is the price for installation? And how much are maintenance and operating expenses?
Find answers to these and other questions in the article below.
So, how much does a reverse osmosis system cost? A reverse osmosis system costs between $100 and $10,000+. In other words, it varies depending on several factors which we will get into shortly. But first, let’s look at some real-life RO system price examples:
|Model||System Type||Price Tag|
|Waterdrop G3 Tankless RO System||Under Sink||$499.00|
|Aquasana OptimH2O Reverse Osmosis System||Under Sink||$349.99|
|Crystal Quest Thunder 1000C Reverse Osmosis Water Filter||Under Sink||$298.40|
|Home Master TMHP Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System||Under Sink||$529.95|
|SimPure Y7P-BW RO System||Countertop||$429.99|
|Crystal Quest Thunder Portable RO System||Countertop||$202.23|
|ZIP AlcaPure Edition||Countertop||$439.95|
|Crystal Quest Whole House RO System – 1000 GPD with Storage Tank Kit and Remineralization||Whole House||$6,643.20|
|USWS Defender – 2000 GPD with 250-Gallon Atmospheric Storage Tank||Whole House||$8,466.95|
|iSpring RCB3P Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System – 300 GPD, Tankless||Whole House||$544.17|
|RainDance-1200 Whole House Reverse Osmosis Package – 1200 GPD with 300-Gallon Tank||Whole House||$7,183.00|
*Last Updated: February 2023
A standard point-of-use RO system costs anywhere between $150 to $600 USD; although some countertop units are readily available for less than $100 USD.
In theory, many lower priced products may purify water just as well as higher priced items. However, if there are no NSF certifications you cannot know for sure (more on this below). Also, cheaper models tend to wear out quicker. And if you are willing to pay more you get additional features which we will get to soon. Some sellers even provide a lifetime warranty on their systems.
We Recommend: AquaTru Countertop RO System
Tankless Under Sink: Waterdrop G3
Best Rated Portable System: Crystal Quest Thunder
For Well Water Filtration: Crystal Quest 1000C
For a small whole house or light commercial system you have to invest at least $500 USD. If you add an atmospheric tank + delivery pump or a bladder tank, $1,500 will be the minimum. Bigger systems may cost $5,000 or $10,000 USD and upwards, primarily depending on the amount of water that needs to be purified on a daily basis and how sophisticated the purification process is.
FYI: You don’t find residential whole house RO systems very often. This is because, in addition to the filter unit itself, a complete setup involves pre and post-treatment (e.g. backwashing carbon filter, water softener, calcite filter) and components for storing and distributing the purified water.
We Recommend: Crystal Quest Thunder Whole House RO System
Last but not least, you should be careful when buying a supposedly high-end product. Some come with useless bells and whistles that have no benefit at all. Others compromise on important features just to maintain their form and style. In other words, make sure that when you pay for a premium RO system it actually delivers on function and performance.
|RO System Type||Cost Range|
|Standard Under Sink||$150 – $600 USD|
|Countertop||$60 – $450 USD|
|Whole house||$500+ USD|
In order to answer how much a reverse osmosis system costs precisely, we need to take these factors into account:
RO systems vary in price depending on their type and size.
Unlike point-of-use systems, whole house systems filter all the water coming into your home, supplying you with clean water at every faucet, icemaker, and showerhead.
Some systems feature a more sophisticated filtration process than others, even using UV light to kill waterborne pathogens.
Your water purification needs, therefore, also dictate how much you’ll have to pay. With highly contaminated water, you would need a system with a more intensive filtration process, which would cost more.
NSF certifications guarantee that a certain product reduces or removes one or more specific contaminants. There are different certificates for different kinds of pollutants.
Most important for reverse osmosis water filter systems are NSF standards 42, 53, 58, 401, and P473. They cover aesthetic factors as well as contaminants with health effects – think lead. Usually, the more NSF certifications a system has, the higher the cost.
Some brands will always be more expensive than others (and this may not always indicate better quality). In some cases, you’d be paying extra for a brand name and nothing more.
RO systems from a well-established brand with a solid reputation will usually be more expensive than those from smaller, less popular companies.
Such features include a pump to boost pressure which increases water production capacity, filtering efficiency, and flow rate while reducing the amount of wastewater that goes down the drain.
Other popular add-ons are remineralization stages to balance water pH and increase alkalinity, and a modular design for convenient filter/membrane replacements. The latter also helps to prevent germs from accumulating inside the system.
Of course, the more add-ons to your system, the more it’ll cost.
Except for countertop units that attach within seconds and require no permanent installation, under counter and whole house reverse osmosis water purifier systems need to be plumbed in.
The latter in particular may call for a professional plumber or contractor as the entire setup is more complicated.
But first things first. Let’s start with the standard POU under sink unit. A DIY installation can be completed in about 2 hours, and there is no need to be an expert as long as you’re somewhat handy with tools. This is great if your budget is tight or you simply want to save a few extra bucks.
How many? RO system installation costs about $150 to $400 USD if there is enough room to accommodate the unit and no major problems occur. In this case, a skilled plumber should be able to do the install in less than one hour.
Labor costs include:
|Basic labor||Mounting RO faucet (may require drilling hole in sink or countertop), drain saddle installation, mounting RO module, connecting system to existing water source, installing filters + reverse osmosis membrane, system startup, checking for smooth operation, cleanup|
|Required supplies||Connectors, adapters, fittings|
|Equipment||Drill bit, screwdriver, tubing cutter, utility knife, adjustable wrench|
Modification, relocation or repair of certain components as well as water testing and inspection fees are not included.
You can learn everything you need to know about how to hook up a point-of-use reverse osmosis system here.
As far as POE (point-of-entry) a.k.a. whole house RO water filtration systems are concerned, more time and additional material – think valves and tubing – are required for their setup adding to the cost.
What’s more, only experienced do-it-yourselfers that have the necessary determination and experience should take on such a project. For everyone else we recommend to hire a professional who does the plumbing for you.
At what cost? It’s really hard to estimate. Whole house systems aren’t standardized. A few hundred up to $500 USD is the bare minimum for most we would say. To find out more it’s probably best if you talk to local plumbers in your area.
The initial price tag of an RO system is only one part of the equation. To this you have to add expenses for regular filter and membrane replacements and also factor in wastewater costs.
Pre and post-filters need to be changed according to your water consumption and the condition of the feed water. High levels of chlorine and hardness minerals, for example, can lower the lifespan of filter elements significantly.
Generally speaking, filters should be replaced every 6 to 12 months, depending on their quality. RO membranes can last as long as 3 (5) years.
Annual costs range from $60 all the way to $200 USD with $80 to $90 USD being the standard – for POU system, mind you. Obviously, the expenses are higher if a system comes with more filter stages. Also, it’s more costly to replace filters with a modular design since you dispose of the entire housing.
Buying aftermarket components can help to save money. However, the quality often leaves a lot to be desired. So, if you are going to buy from another source make sure that the quality is up to standards to not put your health at risk.
For whole house/commercial units, expect to pay anywhere between a couple of hundred up to thousands of dollars. By the way, there is no reason not to do the maintenance yourself. It’s not overly complicated. This also goes for single-faucet systems.
The added cost for wastewater only play a role in high-volume applications which will increase your water and sewer bill.
How much water does reverse osmosis waste? Modern whole house systems achieve a bare minimum recovery rate of 33% (2:1), so 2 gallons of wastewater for every gallon of purified water.
However, by using a pressurizing pump – something we highly recommend – and a recycle valve, recovery rates of up to 75% are realistic (only 1 gallon wasted per 3 gallons of purified water). Multi-membrane units can be even more efficient.
With regard to costs, remember that a properly functioning RO system will pay for itself down the road.
1 gallon of bottled water costs anywhere between $1.00 (not paying attention to quality + bought in bulk) and $10.00 USD. A full gallon of tap water comes at around $0.005 USD. Thus, even if your reverse osmosis system wastes 4 gallons for every gallon of filtered water, drinking purified tap water is way cheaper.
Of course, how much you save and how long it takes to reach break-even depends on your consuming habits. The more you consume, the better – at least from a financial perspective.
If we assume that 2 people drink 1.3 gallons of water a day and the system has a recovery rate of 20% (wastewater to filtered water ratio of 4:1), the cost difference between RO purified tap water an bottled water is:
By switching to RO purified tap water the 2-person household saves $567.03 USD every single year. When we subtract $300 USD for the initial purchase and installation and $90 USD for maintenance in the first year, the savings are $567.03 USD – $300 USD – $90 USD = $177.03 USD.
For each subsequent year the savings are $567.03 USD – $90 USD = $477.03 USD.
Reverse osmosis is one of the most effective ways to remove contaminants from water. The CDC confirms that reverse osmosis water treatment can remove microorganisms and toxic chemical pollutants like lead.
If a water test reveals that your water is in a bad state, then purchasing an RO system is worth the cost. Keeping your home water safe from contaminants must remain a priority.
Besides, producing your own RO drinking water at home is much more affordable than buying bottled water.
If you ask us, by far the best place to buy a reverse osmosis system is online. Most companies run their own stores nowadays that you can check out. The #1 reason to buy here: You benefit from factory pricing.
Of course, the Amazon marketplace also lists a large selection of products at competitive prices. Popular sites like Amazon have the advantage that you can browse through customer reviews to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of individual products.
Speaking of reviews, you can find our reverse osmosis water filter system reviews here.
If you prefer to buy local visit an expert who’s specialized in home water treatment. Prices may be a bit higher. On the upside, you can buy the full package including installation and yearly system maintenance.
We have mixed opinions about buying from big box and hardware stores. In many cases, product quality is not the highest.
Municipal wastewater treatment, seawater desalination, industrial wastewater recycling – it makes absolutely no sense to even try to give a price estimate for industrial reverse osmosis systems or plants. Applications are way too manifold and configurations differ for each.
Again, the two main factors are the condition of the feed water and water volume.
If you have any thoughts about the question, how much is a reverse osmosis system, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!