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In some cases, reverse osmosis is the only water filtration method that can achieve the level of desired water purity.
And compared to point-of-use units, whole house and commercial reverse osmosis systems have much higher filtering capacities and water production rates.
The only problem: How do you find the best whole house reverse osmosis system respectively the best commercial reverse osmosis system out there? Don’t you worry, we got you covered!
On This Page You Will…
Best Whole House Reverse Osmosis System: Crystal Quest Thunder
Gallons Per Day: 200-7,000
Recovery Rate: 33-50%
Filter Stages: 4
Whole House/Commercial RO System Alternative: APEX MR-C1500
Gallons Per Day: 1,500
Recovery Rate: 50-75%
Filter Stages: 4
Best Light-Commercial Reverse Osmosis System: iSpring RCS5T
Gallons Per Day: 500
Recovery Rate: 50%
Filter Stages: 5
In our opinion, the best whole house reverse osmosis system in 2020 is the Crystal Quest Thunder, for 2 reasons:
All in all, the system provides purified water throughout your entire home for up to 20 years if properly maintained, which is neither difficult nor does it require a lot of work. 5 stars!
Side note: We also consider the Crystal Quest Thunder to be the best commercial reverse osmosis system for heavy duty applications!
Crystal Quest Thunder
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Built in the USA, the APEX MR-C1500 is a commercial reverse osmosis system that’s highly economical. Because all wastewater is reprocessed, the standard recovery is 50 to 75% which is much better than what you get with most other units – a real money saver, plus it’s good for the environment.
And when combined with a storage tank + delivery pump, the APEX MR-C1500 would be ready to go whole house giving you the flow rate and capacity that you and your family need.
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The iSpring RCS5T is your best option if you don’t want to be spending a thousand dollars or more on a whole house RO system.
It’s a light-commercial grade unit that supplies enough water for small businesses on demand, meaning it does not come with a storage tank.
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|Gallons Per Day:||500|
Compared to the iSpring RCS5T reviewed above, the RCB3P is a commercial-grade reverse osmosis unit that is compatible with pressurized storage tanks for whole house usage. Filtration capacity: Up to 300 gallons per day under ideal conditions which might be enough if your household is small.
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|Gallons Per Day:||300|
The WECO HydroSense is the last commercial RO water filter system that we’re going to review as part of this buying guide. It’s ideal for schools, medical offices, hydroponic growing operations, and other use cases.
What’s more, it comes in 5 slightly different variations so you can choose the one that best fits your needs.
|Gallons Per Minute:||0.35|
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How do the best whole house reverse osmosis systems respectively the best commercial reverse osmosis system compare to each other?
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|Crystal Quest Thunder||$$$|
Commercial reverse osmosis systems aren’t cheap. This is all the more true for whole house units. In order for you to make the right buying decision and not waste any money, here is what you need to consider when shopping:
A complete RO solution usually involves more than just the filter unit itself. You may need additional pre and post-treatment (more on this below) and a method for storing and distributing the purified water.
As far as whole house reverse osmosis systems are concerned, there is no way around a water storage tank which collects all filtered water acting as a buffer to make sure that you never run dry.
Most systems are compatible with atmospheric tanks. An atmospheric tank is non-pressurized. Thus, the water must be re-pressurized to flow which is why an additional booster pump is required for distribution. Some RO units also work with pressurized bladder tanks. The benefit of using a bladder tank is that a pressure pump is redundant.
Depending on your conditions, you may or may not require a storage tank with a commercial RO system.
Properly sizing a whole house reverse osmosis water filter system is key. Of course, the same goes for commercial units. This is the only way to guarantee that your water needs can be met.
It is estimated that the average American uses about 80 to 100 gallons of water per day. So for a whole house unit, a family of 4 should calculate with at least 4 x 80 gallons = 320 gallons of filtered water.
Furthermore, most experts recommend sizing a system so that it runs at 75% or less. Some go even higher and say the best practice is to double your water usage needs. So for a family using 320 gallons of water a day, a 2 x 320 gpd = 640 gpd (gallons per day) system would be appropriate.
However, just because an RO system is rated at 500 gallons per day does not mean that it will indeed deliver those 500 gallons within 24 hours. These gallon ratings mirror filtration capacities under ideal conditions. If in doubt, ask the manufacturer or seller for the actual output with your water conditions.
By the way, sizing is not only a question of how many gallons of water you use on a daily basis. It’s also about how many gallons you use at peak times, for example in the morning. This is why at least for whole house applications a large enough storage tank is mandatory. Minimum size: The amount of water that you use over the course of 1 day.
Light-commercial reverse osmosis systems are tankless most of the time. In other words, water gets purified on demand. So what matters most here is the amount of water that can be produced within a certain period. This is also known as water flow rate measured in gpm (gallons per minute). If a system’s flow rate is below of what you require, you may experience a drop in water pressure.
Depending on your feed water quality, a whole house RO system may call for additional pre-treatment. The same is the case for commercial units that operate at very high flow rates.
With the proper measures in place, a reverse osmosis system can last for many years. Without them, a system is almost bound to fail prematurely, which will add to the operating cost.
We also highly recommend that you conduct a water quality test to get a basic understanding of the condition of your feed water and the contaminants it contains. For TDS above 2,000 ppm, consider consulting a specialist to discuss your next steps.
Calcite filters are most commonly added to whole house RO systems for post-treatment. These raise water pH to prevent corrosion of copper pipes and fixtures, and also improve water taste (what you have to know is that reverse osmosis reduces natural mineral content in water).
What’s more, if you don’t consume a whole lot of water for a few days in a row and it stays inside the storage tank for too long, UV light disinfection or ozonation are recommended to ensure that any microbes that might have accumulated are rendered harmless.
Of course, every POE and commercial RO filtration system is different, but as a general rule, most of them can only be installed by do-it-yourselfers that have the necessary time, determination, and experience OR by a professional plumber or contractor.
As for the maintenance part, all there is to do is replace any pre and post-filters and any membranes on a regular basis and according to your water usage – easy. The crucial factor is replacement cost that can add up over time depending on the filter brand.
In the past, RO systems used to waste 6, 7, or even 8 gallons of water for every gallon purified. That’s not only a waste of resources, it also costs a lot of money. Today, modern devices are much more efficient which is all the more important if you go whole house. They can now achieve a minimum recovery rate of 33% (2:1).
By using a recycle valve, a portion of the drain water flows back into the system to obtain recovery rates of up to 70%. Multi-membrane units can achieve even more.
Also, remember that the amount of wastewater produced might overburden your septic system. In this case, you will need to send it to a dry well or out the basement drain system if possible.
These systems are heavy and more importantly large in size, so make sure that you have enough space to accommodate one.
The cost for a whole house RO filtration system can vary a lot. If we are only talking about the system itself without storage tank and optional delivery pump, expect to pay anywhere between a few hundred and a couple of thousand dollars. This depends on how sophisticated the purification process, how high the filter capacity, and how many extras you want.
The price for a system including an atmospheric tank plus delivery pump or alternatively a bladder tank is even higher.
More on Whole House Reverse Osmosis Systems
Most common are RO systems that get installed under the kitchen sink or that stand on a countertop. But there are also whole house RO water filters and systems designed for commercial use.
Both whole house and commercial units are much larger in size and can provide much more water much faster, compared to under sink or countertop systems.
Just like any other system type, a whole house reverse osmosis system makes use of a semipermeable membrane to remove a wide range of contaminants from water.
This process is based on the natural osmosis phenomenon, where a solvent flows from a low-salt through a membrane and into a high-salt solution until both salt concentrations are equal. In reverse osmosis the exact opposite happen: External pressure is applied to reverse the solvent flow. The aim is to separate the solvent (in our case water) from the salt (in our case any water impurities) resulting in purified water.
That said, a semipermeable RO membrane doesn’t make a (whole house) reverse osmosis system. Pre-filtration is used to protect the delicate membrane from fouling. This is usually achieved through sediment and activated carbon filtration. Depending on the quality of your water, you may also require more specialized filters and filter media to get rid of heavy metals, hard water minerals, etc.
In our opinion, the most important post-filter to use in conjunction with a whole house RO system is a calcite filter. The goal is to make the RO water – water that has been deprived of its mineral content – more alkaline and thus prevent corrosion of the plumbing system.
After the filtration process comes a pressurized or atmospheric water storage tank. This is the only way to guarantee that you don’t run out of purified water all of a sudden. An atmospheric tank must be used in conjunction with a booster pump for water distribution.
There is only one way to answer this question: Doing a thorough water analysis.
If you test your water you know what type(s) of contaminants you are dealing with. For this, you can either hire an independent laboratory which allows you to test for hundreds of different substances that your water supply might contain. Or you can do the testing yourself using simple test kits which are widely available.
For people on tap water, another option is to check their latest water quality report. People on well water usually don’t have that choice.
Each method has its pros and cons:
The number one benefit of using a whole house RO water filtration system is that you get access to RO water at every single outlet in your home. Drinking RO purified water is much healthier than drinking plain tap water obviously. That’s because reverse osmosis is a tried and tested technology. It removes up to 99.99% of heavy metals, metalloids, transition metals, salts like nitrate, bacteria, viruses, and cyst – and the list goes on. In addition, a system’s pre and post-filters target sediments, water disinfectants, disinfection byproducts, volatile organic compounds, pesticides, and PFAS among other things.
Water free from chlorine and other chemicals and contaminants is likely to taste and smell much better. The same goes for meals that are prepared using the water.
Chlorine-free water with reduced mineral content also benefits your skin and hair when used for showering and to fill the bath tub. Both chlorine and hard water minerals are known to irritate sensitive skin and dry out hair.
Many whole house systems are easily customizable to your individual water purification needs.
Operating a system is more affordable than buying bottled water for drinking.
Maintaining any type of whole house water filter system sounds more complicated than it is. In fact, RO system maintenance is rather simple. You just need to remember to replace the different filter elements in due time.
Even a small point-of-use reverse osmosis water filtration system wastes water. That’s just how the process works. This applies all the more to a whole house unit; it produces wastewater on a large scale. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to recovery rates.
RO is free from almost all impurities. Unfortunately, this also includes minerals like calcium and magnesium. On the one hand, those healthy minerals cannot add to your recommended daily intake anymore. On the other hand, water that lacks minerals is more corrosive. That’s why we recommend you add a remineralization/alkalinization stage to your setup.
Installing a whole house filter system at the main water line involves plumbing.
For us, the main reason to install a POE reverse osmosis system in your home is when other methods of water filtration cannot provide the desired results in terms of filtered water purity or quality.
But to be completely honest, this is rare. You may be able to achieve satisfying results by combining a regular whole house water filter that processes the water you use for showering and to wash your clothes etc., with an under sink or countertop reverse osmosis system that provides clean drinking water at a single point of use.
The costs for such a setup are likely to be significantly lower and you don’t have to deal with the undesired side effects of whole home RO purification, first and foremost the amount of water that gets wasted and the corrosiveness of the permeate.
Questions? Ask away!
And keep in mind: We’ll add new whole house reverse osmosis system reviews occasionally. So come back for more!