Best Reverse Osmosis Systems
Even in locations where water is designated as safe to drink, tap water tends to contain a variety of dangerous contaminants that can lead to serious health problems. Whether you have city water or well water, a solution to rid your water of impurities is to filter water before use.
In this post, we will review the best home reverse osmosis systems you can place under your sink to get the cleanest and purest water for your home needs.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top 10 Home RO Water Filters
- 2 Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Reviews
- 3 A Buyer’s Guide to RO Water Systems
- 4 What Is a Reverse Osmosis System?
- 5 What Contaminants Does the Best RO System Remove?
- 6 What to Look For in Your Reverse Osmosis Water System
- 7 How Much Does a Reverse Osmosis System Cost?
- 8 Water Efficiency Ratio of an RO Unit Explained
- 9 Optional Accessories for Your Home Reverse Osmosis System
- 10 Other Important RO System Terminology
- 11 Installation and Maintenance of a Reverse Osmosis System
Top 10 Home RO Water Filters
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Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Reviews
There is no single best RO home system. All 10 of the top contenders have their share of benefits — and downsides. To pick the best for you, it’s necessary to figure out which model meets all your criteria and what features you can go without.
1. Waterdrop RO
The Waterdrop RO is our top reverse osmosis system pick.
It’s the most powerful reverse osmosis system on the list, providing an impressive 400 gallons per day (GPD). This is far more than even a large household usually needs.
It’s also one of the few models which lacks a tank and fits nicely under your sink. Not to mention this model looks awesome with sleek design.
This model filters your water on demand meaning it can keep producing purified water continuously, instead of needing to stop to refill the tank. This means the daily output is more than 5x the average RO unit.
The unit also has an LED ring on the faucet which allows you to see the status of your filter without looking at the device. The three filters that provide the seven stages of filtration are easy to replace and the installation of this unit is super easy.
Lastly, the final advantage is the extreme accuracy of the RO membrane which removes 99% of contaminants including fluoride.
If you’re looking for the best RO filter system on the market then this is the product you need to buy.
- A tankless unit which produces 5x more than average RO system
- 400 Gallons per day capacity
- Awesome looking sleek design that fits nicely under the counter
- Compact and doesn’t take up much space
- LED ring that shows filter status on your faucet
- 2 displays for water quality & TDS
- Easy to install and maintain
- Excellent filtration which removes 99% contaminants including fluoride
- Lacks both UV light and remineralization.
- Doesn’t offer alkaline water
- If you place the system on its side, it will not work properly and may leak
2. Aquasana OPTIMH20 RO + Claryum
Coming in at #2 is the Aquasana OPTIMH20 reverse osmosis system.
Aquasana is one of the leading water filtration and softening brands and for good reason. They make excellent products that have top of the line filtration capacity as well as innovation.
This system has 6 stages of filtration including reverse osmosis, activated carbon, catalytic carbon, ion exchange, absolute sub-micron filtration, and remineralization.
It has been rigorously tested and certified to NSF/ANSI standards to remove 95% of fluoride and mercury, 97% chlorine and arsenic, and 99% of lead and asbestos. This makes it one of the top RO filtration systems on the market removing around 5x more than average.
This model is also ultra-fast meaning it provides fresh, clean filtered water at a 0.5 GPM rate. It’s easy to replace the filters and pretty easy to install and maintain.
Overall, next to the Waterdrop model this system from Aquasana is another top pick if you’re looking for a great RO device.
- 6 stage filtration that removes 99% contaminants
- Tested and certified to NSF/ANSI standards
- Removes 5x more contaminants than the average system
- 0.5 gallons per minute which is ultra-fast
- Easy filter replacement and installation
- Very affordable price point
- Not quite as powerful as Waterdrop at 32 gallons per day
3. Pelican 6 Stage RO
Next on our list is the Pelican 6 Stage RO system. Pelican is another leading brand of water filters and softeners and they make quality products at an affordable price you can rely on.
This RO filter has 6 stages of filtration making it excellent at removing contaminants from your water. The 6 stages include sediment filtration, pre-filter, filter, membrane, polishing, and remineralization.
This product has been certified to NSF and ANSI standards to remove Arsenic, chromium, barium, cadmium, copper, radium, selenium, turbidity, cysts, fluoride, lead, and TDS.
With the added remineralization stage it also adds back in beneficial minerals to your water supply. The model is green, requires minimal maintenance, and is made in the USA.
Overall, if you are looking for an alternative to Waterdrop of Aquasana’s product then this model from Pelican is a good choice.
- 6 stage filtration
- NSF/ANSI certified to remove 99% of contaminants
- Compact and easy to maintain
- Reliable trustworthy brand made in the USA
- Capacity per day is not as good as Waterdrop
- Design isn’t great
4. SoftPro Green RO
Coming it at #4 is the SoftPro Green Reverse Osmosis System from Quality Water Treatment.
This model removes 96% of contaminants found in residential tap water including chlorine, lead, nitrates, chromium, arsenic, toxic heavy metals, organic impurities, fluoride,
It has a 5 stage filter and filters at 75 gallons per day capacity. This system also has a very low 1:1 water waste ratio which means it only wastes one gallon per gallon made.
Compared to other RO systems on the market this product from Quality Water Treatment is a great middle of the road option if you don’t want to go for the Waterdrop or Aquasana product.
- Removes 96% of contaminants
- 5 stage filter
- 75 gallons per day filtration capacity
- Low water waste ratio at 1:1
- Great middle of the line product
- Filtration is good but not great
- Brand is not as well known or trusted as top picks
5. Home Master TMAFC-ERP
Another great choice for most households, the Home Master TMAFC-ERP is an under-sink RO system with a storage tank that holds 3.2 gallons.
Unlike some models, the Home Master provides full-contact purification. This is in conjunction with remineralization, producing high-quality water with great taste.
Another advantage is its speed in dispensing water- there’s no need to wait when you want a glass of water. The faster delivery is due to the permeate pump and the larger dispenser tubing, which is 3/8 inch rather than the standard 1/4 inch. The permeate pump also means that water wastage is just 1 gallon for every gallon filtered.
The company also has excellent customer support and a 5-year warranty. The unit is also easy to install.
Overall, the Home Master TMAFC-ERP unit is another great choice if you aren’t going for the Top picks.
- Full contact purification
- Fast speed in dispensing water
- Excellent customer support
- Overall great pick
- The system makes noise when working
- High price point
6. iSpring RCC7AK
Coming in at #6 is the iSpring RCC7AK.
Offering under the sink reverse osmosis, the iSpring RCC7AK provides you with the benefits of RO without taking up space on your kitchen counter. For many people, this is a selling point of the water filter. Obviously, if you have insufficient space under the sink, you will need to look for a different model.
Using six stages of filtration, you can rest assured that your water will be almost completely rid of contaminants with the iSpring. It has the capacity to remove up to 99 percent of all impurities, including fluoride. Plus, only the first five stages remove contaminants: the final stage is for remineralization. This sixth stage means that your drinking water regains beneficial minerals for a higher pH and better taste.
Installation of the iSpring RCC7AK is easy, requiring just a couple of tools that you likely have already. In about an hour, you’ll be able to install the faucet and pressurized storage tank.
Overall, this model from iSpring is a solid pick if you don’t want to go with one of the previous options.
- 6 stage filtration removes 99% contaminants
- Includes remineralization
- Easy installation
- The iSpring RCC7AK has neither a UV light nor a permeate pump. As a result, there is the risk that your filtered water could contain bacteria and you’ll waste around 3 gallons of water for every gallon purified.
7. Brondell H20+ Circle
At #7 is the Brondell H20 model.
The Brondell H20+ Circle is quite efficient, wasting just 2 gallons for every one gallon purified. It stands out from the other models for its appearance: a black, rather than white, storage tank.
Most people are happy to have this filter in their kitchens as it looks great and also offers quality RO filtration.
This unit has 4 stage filtration and meets all the NSF certification requirements showing that it removes most of the contaminants in your water.
Overall, if you are looking for a sweet black design with pretty decent filtration then this is a unit to consider.
- Sweet black design that fits nicely under counter
- Quality 4 stage filtration
- Meets NSF certifications for filtration
- The Brondell H20+ Circle doesn’t have great capacity at 50 gallons per day and it has only four stages.
- Replacement filters are difficult to obtain. As they are only for sale through the manufacturer’s website (not in any stores), you’ll need to pay for shipping every time you need new filters.
8. APEC Ultimate
An under-sink model, the APEC Ultimate has a 4-gallon pressurized tank that requires 15 inches by 11 inches of cabinet space. These are around average requirements for an under-sink unit.
One good thing is the APEC Ultimate is one of the easiest reverse osmosis systems to install. If you do run into any problems during the installation process (or at any other time, for that matter), you can benefit from the top-notch customer service from APEC. Once you’ve set up the system, the only maintenance it will require is changing the filters once a year.
With six-stage filtration, you know you’re receiving water purified to the highest standards. The APEC Ultimate removes 99 percent of contaminants and solids as well as bacteria. The sixth stage remineralizes water with calcium and magnesium to help you reach your recommended daily allowance of these minerals and enhance the taste of the water.
Overall, another solid choice if you don’t like our top recommendations.
- Very easy to install
- Good customer service
- 6 stage filtration that removes 99% of contaminants
- Although the flow restrictor and automatic shutoff valve do reduce water wastage somewhat, the lack of a permeate pump still means you waste 3 gallons for every 1 gallon of purified water.
- Another issue for some users is taste. Many reviews show that people do like the resulting drinking water, but others complain that it is like alkaline than they would have liked. This discrepancy is likely due to the difference in the water being purified. The unit raises the acidity level by 1 to 1.5, which is less of a problem if your water is more alkaline, to begin with.
9. Express Water RO5DX5
A budget model, the Express Water RO5DX5 provides high-quality purified water at a discounted rate. Although it only uses five stages, it is effective at removing all types of contaminants from water.
Despite the low price of the system, the filters in the Express Water RO5DX5 are good caliber — able to remove 99.99 percent of impurities. When you need to change the filters, the process is simple: you only need the filter wrench that comes in the package.
Installation of the Express Water RO5DX5 is just as easy, thanks to the detailed instruction manual that lays out the steps in easy-to-understand language. Plus, the filters are pre-assembled for faster fitting.
Overall, if you are looking for a budget option then this model from Express Water is one to consider.
- Good budget option
- Removes 99% of impurities
- Easy installation with pre-assembled filters
- The Express Water RO5DX5 has none of the frills of some of the other models. For instance, all five stages remove impurities — there is no stage for remineralization.
- In addition, there is no permeate pump, which leads to 3 gallons of wastewater for every gallon purified.
10. Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection
The Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection is one of the few water filters with a UV light. This makes it suitable for a greater variety of water sources. The UV filter kills 99.8 percent of microorganisms that may be present in natural water sources.
This model also has 9 stage filtration. Sending water through a total of nine stages (including an iron filter), you’d be hard-pressed to find a system that removes more impurities. This makes it ideal for families concerned about water quality, especially households receiving their water from a well.
It is easy to change the filters — there’s no need for any tools. It is also simple to install the unit, provided you do have some DIY knowledge. It should take around an hour to fit the faucet and pressurized storage tank.
Even better, the Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection has a permeate pump, meaning it wastes a minimal amount of water — just 1 gallon for every gallon purified. You’ll receive drinking water quicker as well, due to the ⅜-inch diameter tubing that allows for faster flow rates.
Lastly, the Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection comes with a 5-year warranty, which is longer than most of the other models.
This model is another good option if you aren’t interested in the Waterdrop or Aquasana models.
- The largest amount of filtration stages at 9
- Removes most contaminants and impurities with 9 stage
- Easy to change filters
- 5 year warranty
- A UV filter is often unnecessary — if you’re receiving your water from a city supply, you may be better off picking a different model. The UV filter requires plugging into a 110-volt power outlet, which can make installation more complicated and means that (unlike other models) the system requires electricity to run.
A Buyer’s Guide to RO Water Systems
Now you know what some of the top reverse osmosis filters on the market are, but how do you choose the one for your home?
Before you start narrowing down your options, it is important to be clear what a reverse osmosis system does and why it is different from other types of water filtration systems.
What Is a Reverse Osmosis System?
A reverse osmosis system uses technology to pass water through a membrane. Reverse osmosis systems are able to remove between 95 and more than 99 percent of contaminants from water. This is more extensive than any other method of membrane filtration, including ultrafiltration, micro-filtration, and nano-filtration.
The Basics of an RO-Filter System
RO systems tend to be point-of-use units, meaning they are installed near a faucet. Most are designed to be installed either on the countertop or under the sink. They have their own faucet that delivers potable water from drinking and cooking. By purchasing an extra line, you can also connect your RO system to your refrigerator for the water dispenser or ice maker.
How a Reverse Osmosis Machine Works
In most cases, an RO filter only needs water pressure to operate — there’s no need for an electric power source. The water pressure forces the water to pass through a semipermeable membrane that traps dissolved solids in the liquid.
The name “reverse osmosis” is derived from the fact that this system is the opposite of natural osmosis. In osmosis, the more pure water flows toward the less pure water, even when this means passing through a membrane.
What Contaminants Does the Best RO System Remove?
R/O water is free from all contaminants that could be damaging your health, even substances that can cause cancer. This includes:
- Nitrates and nitrites
- Metals like lead, chromium, cadmium, radium, barium, and sodium
What to Look For in Your Reverse Osmosis Water System
To pick the best RO system for you, there are a few criteria to consider.
To start, you need to assess how much room you have under your sink and on your countertop. It needs to be sufficient for the filters, RO components, and (in most cases) the tank. It may be that you need to rule out all countertop models or all under-sink models for a lack of space. However, most homeowners should be able to free up enough space under the sink simply by moving things that are currently there.
Multiple filters are excellent for having cleaner water, but they also mean more maintenance and a greater expense. Plus, you’ll need to keep note of when it’s necessary to change each filter. For this reason, it’s important to choose the level of filtration you actually need.
This brings us to the next point: the source of your water. You need to know if your water is coming from a city supply or well to figure out which models will remove the contaminants present in your water.
Your water may currently contain a large amount of beneficial minerals that the RO system will remove. If you want to regain these minerals, you need to pick a model that offers remineralization.
Even if you choose the most efficient RO filtration system, it will waste some water. If you live in an area where water is scarce, wasting water may not be an option. In this case, you should pick a solution other than reverse osmosis to purify your water.
Water pressure needs to be at least 40 PSI for reverse osmosis to work. If your water pressure is lower than this, find out if you can increase the pressure with a booster pump — some RO systems even come with a pump. Bear in mind that in some homes, it is impossible to increase water pressure, making an RO system an unsuitable choice.
How Much Does a Reverse Osmosis System Cost?
The price of a reverse osmosis system ranges from around $200 to $550. In large part, the price depends on the quality and additional features of the system.
Water Efficiency Ratio of an RO Unit Explained
The amount of water wastage to purify water is expressed as water efficiency ratio. The most efficient models use a permeate pump, which lowers the ratio to 1:1 — one gallon of water wasted for every 1 gallon purified. Without a permeate pump, a good ratio is 3:1. Anything lower than 4:1 is considered decent, but some budget models have a ratio as high as 5:1.
Optional Accessories for Your Home Reverse Osmosis System
Many of the top RO systems come with additional accessories to improve efficiency and increase the quality of water.
There are three main accessories to look out for:
- A permeate pump — Without electricity, a permeate pump will improve efficiency by lowering the amount of water wasted.
- Remineralization — Filtering water of contaminants can mean that you lose some beneficial minerals. Models that have a remineralization filter add minerals back to the water, improving the taste and increasing health benefits.
- A UV light — To kill all the bacteria and microorganisms in the water, it is necessary to go beyond filtration and use UV light.
Other Important RO System Terminology
You may come across unfamiliar terminology when comparing RO systems. Being clear as to what each means will help you make the right buying decision.
- Stages — All RO systems have various stages. The first are pre-filters that remove large particles. The next is an RO filter that removes small particles. Lastly come post-filters, which reduce odors and bad tastes. Some systems also have an additional stage after post-filters to remineralize water.
- Storage tank — Almost all the RO filters on the list have a storage tank. This holds purified water until it is needed.
- Water output — The amount of water the system is able to process in a day is specified as water output in gallons per day (GPD).
- Wasted water — As RO filters need additional water to flush the membrane, the system wastes a certain amount of water for every gallon of water it purifies.
- pH — The pH of water refers to how acidic or alkaline it is. A high pH is alkaline, a low is acidic. Water with a high pH has an improved taste, whereas a low pH is corrosive.
- TDS — Standing for total dissolved solids, these are contaminants the RO system removes.
- Air gap faucet — RO systems feature a drain line and a water line that are cross connected. To prevent water in the drain making contact with the clean water, cross connections need an air gap faucet.
Installation and Maintenance of a Reverse Osmosis System
All reverse osmosis systems are relatively simple to install. Countertops are the easiest of all, as they sit next to the faucet. Under-sink models, however, require drilling a hole into the countertop for the faucet, which may mean you need the assistance of a plumber or handyman.
Rarely is any maintenance necessary beyond the replacement of filters. Typically, pre- and post-filters require changing every 6 or 12 months and RO filters every 1 to 5 years. The manual for your filtration system will specify how often you need to change the filters in your unit. You can also check using a TDS meter.
Before you purchase a reverse osmosis system, it is worthwhile to run a water test. This will help you determine the level of filtration your water requires and show you what types of contaminants are currently in your water supply. If you find that you have high levels of the contaminants named above, an RO system will be ideal. However, if the problem lies with chlorine, a bad taste, or odors, you may like to consider a different solution.