Written by: Gene Fitzgerald // Last Updated:
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Cost is always a significant thing to consider with any home improvement undertaking, and if you can save a few dollars on a DIY, why wouldn’t you?
This applies to your reverse osmosis system. You could save a few hundred dollars by putting it in yourself.
But, if you aren’t feeling too confident, a plumber might be the best person to call.
Let’s break down how much you can expect to pay to install your RO system.
There are a multitude of factors that will influence reverse osmosis installation cost.
The main one is which kind of system you are installing. A simple countertop point-of-use system can easily be done by yourself and cost nothing, while a whole house RO system may need a professional and can cost in the thousands of dollars…
A standard point-of-use reverse osmosis system can set you back a purchase price of $150-$600. If you hire a professional to install an under sink system, it will cost you an additional $150-$400.
If you have tools and supplies and are handy with plumbing, you can install it yourself in a couple of hours, which will cost nothing. If you need the tools and supplies, purchasing them could cost an extra $50-$100.
How about countertop RO systems? Many of these are completely installation-free, so that’s $0. If one does require installation, expect the same fees as with installing an under-the-sink unit: $150-400.
Whole house reverse osmosis systems are much more expensive to install using a professional, so you should budget around $1,000 or $100 per hour. If you want to do it yourself, please only do so if you have a decent level of plumbing experience, as whole house RO can be complicated and lead to issues if installed incorrectly.
The more complex the RO system, the more expensive it will be to install. Some systems have complicated designs, which may take more work to hook up.
Depending on where you install the system is another factor that could increase complexity. Some units need to be installed in a utility closet or even in a separate room and have the lines run to the point of use.
If it is under the sink, garbage disposals and other items under there may make it more difficult for the plumber to get the system in, and they will likely reflect that difficulty in their invoice.
Many countertop, under sink, and whole house units have various modifications you can make, like extra filtration steps or lines to ice makers and coffee machines, all which may add to the time your plumber needs to be there. If you decide you want an additional component, such as a UV water purifier, then the plumber may have to install and configure that, too.
If your whole house unit cannot be connected to the main feed water line, your actual plumbing may need to be modified, which will add to the cost. Same if you have plumbing that isn’t ‘standard’ and needs adaptation for under-sink units.
Depending on who you choose to install your system, they will come with various price points. Getting a written quote from two or more service providers is important so you have a good idea of what you should be paying.
If you live remotely, then it is more likely that the call-out fee your plumber charges will be higher.
So, how much does it cost to install a reverse osmosis system?
In summary, if you do it yourself, then your costs may be in purchasing some tools, and that’s about it. If you hire a professional, it is best to budget around $100 per hour for one. The simpler the system, the faster and cheaper it is to install.
Some plumbers may even charge a call-out fee to provide a quote on the system you want to install. This will vary depending on where you live or your plumber’s policies, so make sure they are clear about it when discussing their fees. It is best to find a plumber with extensive experience with the type of RO system you want to install so that they can give you a more accurate price range.
It is estimated that a plumber will charge $100 per hour. A point-of-use under sink model will only take an hour or two to install, so it should be pretty cheap. A whole house system is likely to be over $500-1,000 and higher if it is more complex and requires more labor.
If you have purchased a countertop model, you won’t need to hire a plumber or contractor to install it, and this will save you on costs. Under sink systems can be installed yourself with a bit of patience and some DIY knowledge, but if that doesn’t sound like fun, you can usually find a plumber to do it for you.
In most cases, installing a whole house reverse osmosis system yourself isn’t recommended, as it is quite a complicated task.
The average prices of RO systems by type are:
With that said, here are some current RO models, sorted by type, and their price tags.
|Model||System Type||Price Tag|
|Waterdrop G3 (Tankless)||Under Sink||$499.00|
|Aquasana OptimH2O||Under Sink||$349.99|
|Crystal Quest Thunder 1000C||Under Sink||$298.40|
|Home Master TMHP||Under Sink||$529.95|
|Crystal Quest Thunder (Portable)||Countertop||$202.23|
|Crystal Quest Whole House – 1000 GPD, Storage Tank, Remineralization||Whole House||$6,643.20|
|USWS Defender – 2000 GPD, 250-Gallon Tank||Whole House||$8,466.95|
|iSpring RCB3P – 300 GPD (Tankless)||Whole House||$544.17|
|RainDance-1200 – 1200 GPD, 300-Gallon Tank||Whole House||$7,183.00|
*Last updated: February 2023
At an absolute minimum, a whole house system will cost 500 dollars, and adding a tank, pumps, etc., brings the minimum cost to 1,500 dollars. If you need a lot of water as well as additional pre and post-treatment (which is usually the case), you will need a more extensive system which could be 10,000 dollars and upwards.
Point-of-use systems come in under sink or countertop models. The countertop ones are often cheaper and could be as little as $100. Under sink reverse osmosis systems typically start at $150. At the other end of the scale, a more expensive countertop model will cost $500, while a more costly under sink model will cost up to $600.
You can modify and add additional things to your under sink unit, and these will increase the overall cost.
A light commercial system will set you back at least $500 and more if you need delivery pumps or storage tanks (around $1,500 is the bare minimum here). Larger systems could be significantly more than this, and industrial systems can commonly be $100,000+. It will really depend on your water quality and how much purified water you need in a day.
Maintenance and operation costs need to be factored into any decisions when purchasing an RO system. They will require annual or biannual maintenance and will cost more to operate than just running your tap.
Membranes and filters need to be changed periodically with any RO system to ensure it is adequately filtering your water.
Wastewater is an additional cost to factor in, particularly for whole house or commercial systems.
On average, RO produces 3-5 gallons of wastewater for every 1 gallon of purified water. This can be improved to 1 gallon of wastewater per 3-5 gallons of RO water if you use pressure pumps, wastewater recycling, and similar features.
With that said, if you are a household that drinks only bottled water, then your RO unit will pay for itself quickly, as even with the wastewater, it is still cheaper than bottled water.
Let’s say you buy an RO system for $300 and install it yourself, and maintain it for $90 per year. Your price per gallon of bottled water is $1.22, and your cost per gallon of tap water is $0.005.
You consume 1.3 gallons of water daily on an RO system with a 20% recovery rate.
Over one year, you will spend around $580 on bottled water ($1.22/gallon x 1.3 gallons/day x 365 days = $578.89) vs $11.86 on RO filtered water, wastewater included ($0.005/gallon x 1.3 gallons/day x 5 (wastewater factor) x 365 days = $11.86 per year). So even if we add $200 for filter replacements, it’s still much cheaper.
It usually is. Even a cheaper point-of-use countertop system can save you hundreds per year if you are a household that drinks bottled water. That is not even to mention the health and safety benefits of consuming pure water with no contaminants.
If you are in an area where your water source is at high risk of contamination, then an RO system is a no-brainer. If you have well water, or are close to agricultural areas that highly contaminate your water, then a whole house system is likely worthwhile for you.
The only time an RO system would not be worth it is if you install the whole house variety for relatively low-contaminant municipal water, as there just is not much point.
If you have any questions about reverse osmosis system installation cost please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!