You may ask why purify ‘safe’ water?
Is our water really safe? EPA gives its best efforts to ensure that every household receives safe and healthy water from the supplier. But, unfortunately, some contaminants do not fall under EPA’s scope. We, therefore, need to purify it further.
Reverse Osmosis (RO) is the process that gives water the healthy, pure and sweet quality for the food processing, drinking and the even for the aquarium if any. RO systems also effectively remove fluoride from your water, which many people believe causes adverse health effects. Water is fed to the purifying RO system installed under the sink, and a pump takes it to a storage tank from where it is tapped through a faucet.
A labeled RO diagram would help cut on the installation cost as the homeowner can install the system without an expert’s help.
Want to know more?
From the first commercial use of a reverse osmosis in 1977, RO systems have been refined and re-defined to give homeowners healthy water at an affordable price. Today, RO systems are cheap and small enough to be bought and used by each household. There are many models on the market today and choosing the best among them may prove to be a daunting task.
Buying a Reverse Osmosis filtration system is like buying a car in the sense that you buy a car with the goal of using it for years. A reverse osmosis filtration system should be looked at in that light, so you have to be extremely sure which system will best serve your immediate and long-term needs.
The answer to that question can only be found after conducting a thorough research and testing out the different types of reverse osmosis systems. Unfortunately, you may not have the time or resources needed to carry out that task and so we took it upon ourselves to do the research and testing and provide you with the best reverse osmosis system for home.
Now, let’s get started.
How We Tested
The tester also allowed us to check water temperatures at varied PSI. For efficiency, we manually operated each system and compared the ratio of waste to pure water to be certain that the features checked out.
The last tests we carried out were the effectiveness tests. Since this is the important feature, we took out time to confirm and re-confirm the purification properties of each system. We used different TDS meters including the Waterproof Ec / Tds / Temp Combo Meter / Professional Tester – Com-100 and the TDS Meter Inline Tester to avoid the risk of malfunctioned testers.
We were able to establish that each system was extremely effective in purifying water by eliminating TDS creep, chlorine, fluoride and arsenic while maintaining the appropriate pH and water temperature. Our tests concluded that the above systems are the best.
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All Types of Reverse Systems
Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems are grouped differently according to their stages of filtration as well as their use, be it commercial or residential.
However, residential and commercial RO systems fall under the categories compiled below (over the counter and under the counter) so no need of getting into much detail with them. Check out the types of RO systems below:
- Counter top RO systems
This type of RO system is generally small and like its name suggests, it is installed on the kitchen table next to the faucet.
Unlike other advanced RO systems, you don’t need to worry about installation costs with the counter top systems since you can install them by yourself. But since they are small and compact, they produce water in small quantities therefore making them ideal for small families.
- Under the counter / under the sink RO systems
This type of RO system is much larger than the counter top RO model. Since under sink RO units are large, they produce the high amount of water making them suitable for large families and even for commercial exploits. When connected, clean, filtered water is produced directly from the water taps since the units are fitted under the sink where the water faucets lie.
Despite all its advantages, you will have to incur installation costs while maintenance is a bit more costly than counter top RO models.
- RO systems with water tanks
RO systems with tanks are so convenient because they store filtered water which makes it accessible at any given time. But despite making filtered water readily available, it is common knowledge that stored water changes taste over time and may not be fit for drinking.
- RO systems without water tanks
RO systems without tanks is a new technology that was introduced to solve the problem of stored water contamination. This unit features sieve membranes that filter water in the pipes in a matter of seconds and sends it directly to the faucet, therefore, curbing the need to store it.
Since the filtered water is produced instantaneously, this type of RO model is ideal for both commercial purposes and home use.
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5 Stage Reverse Osmosis System
A 5 stage RO system is a type of multistage RO system with five layers of filtering to remove impurities in water. Each of the five filters in this RO model has its own unique function.
For example, the sediment filter is useful in flushing out debris such as dirt while the carbon filter is vital in removing chemical compounds that change the taste and odour of water. As for the 5 stage filter system, it features a filtration stage known as the remineralisation stage.
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4 Stage Reverse Osmosis System
The first filtration process of the 4 stage RO system involves getting rid of debris and sediments from water.
The second filtration stage is known as carbon filtration and is important in removing chorine from the water.
The third stage and most important stage is known as RO membrane stage. This stage is where the water is subjected to extreme pressure through the RO’s semi-permeable membrane to remove all impurities.
The last fourth and stage of the 4 stage RO system is the polishing stage where the water goes through another carbon filter to trap all the remaining chemical compounds. Since water can hold a large amount of chlorine, two carbon filters are fitted in this 4 stage RO to help share the burden on the filters to prolong their lifespan.
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Whole House Reverse Osmosis System
Despite being small, compact and lightweight, this type of RO system has the capability to produce as much as 1,500 gallons of water per day so its compact nature should not fool you into thinking that it is inadequate.
What’s the most interesting part?
In terms of build, whole house RO systems are usually made of heavy duty stainless steel rather than powder coated steel or aluminium for durability and to prevent rust from contaminating the filtered water.
The whole house RO system features an advanced purification system of sieve membranes that are perfect for purifying borehole and well water to remove the salty taste of it. This RO model can still be used to filter city-treated water to produce purified water at every tap.
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GE Reverse Osmosis Filtration System GXRM10RBL
GE, a household name regarding electronics released this GXRM10RBL water filtration system a few years back and in doing so it raised many eyebrows among critics. This RO model from GE is a 3 stage filtration system that comes with a tank reservoir and is fitted under the sink to filter water coming through your home water faucets.
Since the GE is only a basic purification system, it can only manage to remove just 21 different contaminants from water as opposed to the 60 contaminants from other RO filtration models. While this fact might put off some people, it is worth noting that is merely a small fact because the GE has been approved by the Public Health and Safety Organization.
Below we look at some of its properties that make it special.
- Design and Specifications
The GE comes with many useful accessories so it is extremely hard to give the exact shape and the exact materials used to construct it.
However, most components are made or stainless steel and plastic with the stainless steel components spotting a chrome finish while the plastic components have a white finish that makes it super easy to clean. At about only 21lbs, the GE is a lightweight RO system.
This unit’s overall dimensions measure 15 by 14 by 5 inches while the tank’s dimension measure 15 by 11 by 11 inches meaning it can hold approximately 2.05 gallons of water.
The GE is well-equipped with features that improve its overall performance. Some key features include:
- 3 stage Reverse Osmosis filtration system that purifies water to make it safe for drinking.
- Chrome faucet that comes with the full set of installation kit.
- Impressive six-month filter lifespan or should be replaced after filtering 900 gallons of water.
- Light indicator that alerts you when it is time to replace the filters.
- GE’s Performance
As for the performance, the GE performs at an average level compared to similar priced RO systems on the market. In all honesty, nothing about the GE’s performance particularly stands out.
This under-the-sink filtration system uses the reverse osmosis process to filter water with its 3 stage filtration system. The GE is highly effective thanks to its adjustable water pressure range of 40PSI minimum pressure and 125PSI maximum pressure.
As for convenience, the GE’s tank reservoir can store as much as 2.05 gallons of readily available filtered water. Concerning the temperature and pH limits of the GE, it can produce water at temperatures between 40 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit and pH levels of between 4 and 10.
The GE is well priced. You get value for your money with this filtration system. After six months when you need to replace the filters, you will be glad to know that genuine GE replacement filters are readily available but are a little costly.
However, if you don’t mind off-brand filters, you can find them at much cheaper rates however they don’t guarantee you the same performance as genuine GE’s filters.
- Water tank
- Decently priced
- Produces high quality filtered water
- Comes with all the vital accessories included in the package
- Fragile plastic build
- Removes fewer contaminations than other models
All things considered, the GE is worth consideration if you are in the market for a 3 stage RO system. While it doesn’t have a lot going for it, this 3 stage RO system is decently priced and notifies you when you require replacing the filters. This GE is ideal for small homes or large homes that don’t heavily rely on filtered water.
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Osmosis System Filters
RO water filters are responsible for getting rid of contaminants in water to leave it clean for consumption. The filtration process involves using pressure to force water through a semi-permeable membrane to filter out contaminants.
These RO filters flush out over 65 different contaminants at a 99 percent success rate. Most RO systems feature three or four filters.
Here they are:
- Sediment Filter – The sediment filter is the first line of defense against contaminated water. This pre-stage filter not only flushes out sediments like dirt and silt to purify water but also to protect the sensitive membranes from damage by the sediments.
- Carbon Filter – The carbon filter is different to the sediment filter. It works by getting rid of chemical composites such as chlorine to improve the taste and odor of water. Leaving such chemical compounds in the RO system lead to the deterioration of the RO membrane.
- Reverse Osmosis Membrane – As mentioned above, the RO is a semi-permeable component that only allows purified water through while flushing out 99 percent of contaminants that may have gotten through the first two system filters.
- Polishing Filter – The polishing filter is basically an additional carbon filter fitted in the RO system to polish’ off or get rid of the remaining odor and taste of water. RO water systems with four filtration stages produce more refined water than three stage filtration systems.
How To Choose
So, after making a decision to drink healthy, sweet, odorless water and figuring out that an RO system is the best option to attain this, what is the next thing?
There are some factors that need to be put into perspective. Given that there are many RO systems selling at very affordable prices, the best way to distinguish between superior and inferior systems is checking the features. We have a list of features to look out for.
Are you ready to learn more?
Check out the following properties.
- System Type
Check whether the system is a countertop or under sink type. Countertop systems are ideal for those who rent apartments since it requires little fixing. Under the sink, types are ideal for users with permanent homes.
We recommend under sink RO systems since they are only installed once and further maintenance is easy. Further, they do not require counter space in the kitchen. Ensure that the size is not too large.
- The GPD
This is the acronym for gallons per day. When buying an RO system, check that its GPD is enough for all water needs. The higher the GPD, the better the system is. However, it would a waste of money to buy a system with high GPD for smaller households. Purchase the one that suits the household.
Some RO systems are quite difficult to install or have a high installation cost. Ensure that an instructional manual provides a well labelled diagram. In addition to this, there should videos online clearly showing how the system should be installed. We recommend that a good system is one installed in less than one hour.
- Efficiency and Effectiveness
Ensure that the system cleans, purifies and sweetens water to the maximum. Also, check that it does not waste too much water.
Confirm from the manufacturer the life length and how long it takes before replacement of filters and the membrane. In our experience, an average system requires that filters be changed in six months and the membrane in a year. If there are systems that exceed this average, they are definitely better.
- The Price
The RO system should have a price fair to the seller and the buyer. But as the rule of thumbs, when quality is of concern, price may be overlooked. We strongly advice against overpaying just because the manufacturer says the system is good.
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Believe it or not, it is a simple, DIY activity. It is good to explore whether all the necessary fitting have been delivered. The parts may include a faucet, a storage tank, filters, shut-off valves, and tubing. After confirming they are there, we suggest the following steps be followed:
- Decide where exactly the components of the equipment are to be installed.
- Drill a hole through the sink where the faucet is stand. An electric drill may be needed for this activity. Depending on the material your sink is made of (metal or porcelain) choose the appropriate type of drill to perform this operation.
- Fit the faucet in the drilled hole. All parts above the rubber ring should be above the sink while the others fall on the under the sink. Tighten the nut below the sink.
- Choose an appropriate place where the storage tank is to be placed. Fix any tubing in line with kitchen cabinet boundaries to avoid clumsiness
- Install the shut-off valve. This valve links the supply line to the already fixed faucet, and the line should be shut off during installation. The valve requires no tool; it can be fixed by freely by hand.
- Install the drain saddle valve, which later connects the system to the drain pipe. A small hole is to be drilled on the side of the drain pipe where the systems drain line meets the drain pipe. A clipping should be used to fix the two.
- Connect the tubing at this point. Also, connect other components of the systems- filters, and membrane.
Stages of Filtration
Except for a few systems, reverse osmosis systems have five stages of filtration. Some systems go as far as incorporating two more stages and continue to give ultra-safe water for drinking. Other systems have small designs and use a four-stage filtration model.
What happens during the stages?
- The First Stage
Water from the cold water supply line is fed to the system through connected tubs. This water passes through and comes into contact with a sediment filter. At this stage, large particles such as sand particles, rust, dust, and mud are removed. This filter serves to protect the next filter from filling up and leaking as well as damage.
- The Second Stage
Most RO systems place a GAC (Granular Activated Carbon) filter at this point. Its main function is to remove chlorine and fluorides. These pollutants can damage the membrane and impair its lifespan.
- The Third Stage
A CTO (Chlorine Taste Odour) filter is installed at this stage. As the name suggest, the filter removes chlorine, bad taste and odor from the water. Further, the cloudiness in contaminated water is removes at this stage.
- The Fourth Stage
This is referred to as the reverse osmosis stage. A semi-permeable membrane (TFC or CTA) is installed to filter out dissolved VOC chemicals as well as other dissolved solids.
The membrane with pores measuring 0.0001 microns in diameter filters out bacteria and water viruses, which have slightly higher measurements (0.02-1 micron). Water from this stage is pumped to the storage tank. The waste water is taken down the drain pipe.
- Fifth Stage
The water from the storage tank passes through coconut shell filter in this final stage. Here, odours and smells are removed to give fresh tasting water.
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Reverse Osmosis Efficiency and Waste
Wondering what is the negative side of RO systems?
The answer is that they do waste water during purification. The efficiency of an RO system is summarized by a ratio of wasted water to pure water produced. Traditional systems retain about 15% of the water and waste the rest. Commercial systems retain about 80%. However, their RO membranes have larger pores and hence have a larger TDS.
Household RO systems can be modified to reduce the waste drastically. Our research shows that RO systems using an inbuilt permeate pump or featuring the Water Saving Smart Technology are very efficient with ratios of 1:1. We, therefore, recommend them more.
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Different manufacturers of RO systems offer different warranties on their products. It advised that the buyer be fully aware of the warranties granted to them. Our research shows that the most common granted for RO systems is one year, sometimes with a money back guarantee of one month.
We advise buyers to look out for this warranty when purchasing a system. Whole house system warranties may go to between five and ten years. However, beware that warranty laws change from state to state. Comply with the laws of your state to enjoy the full benefits of the warranty.
The road to getting clean, healthy and tasty water is a simple one. All that is needed is an RO system.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
Most reverse osmosis systems use JG fittings that are easy to install in the under sink with the help of an installation diagram to maintain zero installation cost. Within no time, fresh delicious water comes running through the faucet. We advise that the system have a pump so that efficiency is preserved. With enough pure water in the storage tank, unlimited water will be available for drinking, cooking and for the aquarium.
With our journey of the best reverse osmosis system for home coming to an end, we recommend the iSpring RCC7 WQA Gold Seal Certified 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System as the rating proves to be #1 Amazon bestseller. After all, it is Gold Seal Certified by Water Quality Association and has 1-year money-back guarantee along with lifetime support from iSpring.