Best Reverse Osmosis System Reviews – Guide 2016
Now that you’ve seen how Reverse Osmosis works, you’ll want to know which is the best reverse osmosis system will help you protect your family’s water supply, give you better-tasting water, and, of course, save you money. Here’s a list of the top ten reverse osmosis system reviews, which we’ve carefully reviewed, compared and rated to help you decide.
Specifics to Consider Before Buying Your Reverse Osmosis System
When shopping for an RO system, you’ll need to think about several factors. Not all machines are created equal, and you’ll need to look into what kind of water supply you have coming into your home. For this, you’ll need to test and measure your water supply, including its qualities, and its delivery mechanism.
Specifically, we’ll help guide you based on the following criteria.
How big is an RO unit?
Generally, most systems require a cavity space of anywhere between 12” x 12” x 15” and 17” x 17” x 15”, although there is a lot of variance in shape and size between brands and models. Your system will be easily installed in your kitchen cabinet.
What is my water supply like?
This is a large thing to bear in mind, and you should not ignore the quality of your existing water supply. You’ll need to check it for:
Did you know that metals can be corroded by liquids with a low pH? Generally, the average pH that comes from our faucets runs between 6.9 and 7.5. On the pH scale, 7 is right in the middle between acids and bases/alkalis. However, a mere tenth of a pH point’s difference between two supplies of water means that one is ten times more acidic, therefore potentially corrosive, than the other.
This is probably foremost in your mind. Water purity is measured in units of TDS (Total Dissolved Solids). For drinking, water should have a TDS of below 500. Just to give you an idea, water from wells runs between 1000 and 5000; seawater clocks in at about 40,000.
Different parts of the country will almost certainly experience different water pressures in supply. If your water is coming out weakly (at a force of less than 50 psi/pounds per square inch), if it’s very cold (especially likely in many northern states), or if the contaminant level is high (1000+ TDS, especially likely if you use a well), then you will need to invest in a booster pump. Note – some more high-end models include such a pump. The pump will increase the force of the water, breaking the force that binds the molecules of the dissolved solids or ions to the existing water supply.
What sort of components should my system have?
1. Which Membrane?
You need to check that your supply has been chlorinated. If your area doesn’t use chlorine in the water it supplies to your house, you’ll need to invest in a TFC membrane. This will keep bacteria out (yes, the kind that can make you sick!) and your water safe, but you’ll need to replace it about every two years. This all depends on the nature of your water supply as well as how much you use. If your supply has been chlorinated, look at getting a CTA membrane that isn’t sensitive to chlorine. You can use more than one membrane.
2. Which Filters?
You can also use more than one filter. Pre-filters take out sediments (such as silt or dirt), while carbon filters do the job on the chlorine that would otherwise damage the osmosis membrane in the RO unit.
3. What is meant by the Phases or Stages of Reverse Osmosis?
These are the phases or stages through which water enters the filtration process, going from Phase 1 (where a filter removes large particles like silt and dust), through Phase 2 (where we say goodbye to chlorine, bad water tastes, etc.), all the way through Phase 4 (the main feature in RO water system, where water loses 95% or more of its impurities), all the way up to Phase 7, where a UV filter exterminates any bacteria or viruses in the water.
4. What’s a good balance between cost and value for me?
Of course, you already value the safety of your water supply, otherwise you wouldn’t have read this far. However, if you live on your own and don’t use a great deal of water, you should check out the options we’ve selected with you in mind. GPD (gallons per day) is a measurement you’ll want to watch. Larger households will need to keep an eye on it, too.
Read more below!
Top 10 Best Reverse Osmosis System Reviews
1. APEC RO-90 Water High-Flow 90 GPD Drinking Water Filter System
This is a very strong premier entry from APEC
, giving super-fresh, super-clean water that tastes great. Certified as the highest standard in the industry with a WQA GOLD Seal, which guarantees the highest rate of contaminant removal, the RO-90 gives you the purest water possible. Enjoy water that’s 99% free of contaminants. What’s more, it can produce water at anywhere up to twice the rate of regular RO systems. Chlorine, fluoride, lead, chromium and that perennial nasty, arsenic, are among the pollutants taken out so your family stays safe and can drink in peace.
The unit comes with a 100% lead-free faucet as well as tubing that is NSF and FDA certified JG food grade, giving safe, contamination-free water. Installation is easy (unless you’re particularly tall and have to negotiate a very tight kitchen cabinet space), and filters are super capacity, meaning that they last twice as long as others.
Comparison check: This is easily APEC’s flagship offering, and it pretty much outguns nearly all other systems, including other models available from APEC (with the possible exception of the ROES-PH75, but that’s only on one point). With a Phase 5 or 5th-level extent of filtration (meaning that, in addition to doing the main job and magic of reverse osmosis, a polishing carbon filter keeps the water in the tank tasting fresh over time), it is an excellent system that shows in everything from its superb craftsmanship to its expert aftercare help. With a lot of consumers loving it with all five stars, it’s a great model.
Of course, with this, you’ll be saying goodbye to viruses and over a thousand contaminants. The water you drink, coffee you make and ice you use will have a taste so noticeably clean that you might be forgiven for thinking it was done by magic.
Still, if you’re prepared to opt for a premium RO unit, you may want to up your game a bit and enjoy even better results and security. What we’d suggest to take you a step above is Home Master’s TMAFC Artesian Full Contact Reverse Osmosis. The warranty ensures that you’ll have an awesomely functioning water filter system that much longer.
2. Home Master TMAFC Artesian Full Contact System
Home Master have scored a real hit, eliminating many issues traditionally faced by traditional reverse osmosis water filter. The price range betrays that this is a best water filter, even if it’s not their premium offering. However, in this cost bracket, and with a 5-year limited warranty, it will pretty much be the RO system to have long-term, delivering great-tasting water that has the added benefit of being mineralized. The patented remineralization system introduces small amounts of beneficial calcium and magnesium at two points in the delivery process.
Naturally, by that point the removal of contaminants is already about 98%, with chlorine, heavy metals, chemicals (including pharmaceuticals) and other pollutants having been blocked from making it through your faucet.
It doesn’t end there. Bigger tubing and fittings mean that the flow rate is twice you would find elsewhere. As this is a 7th-stage system, it means that your water is not only remineralized with the right minerals, but it’s also got a higher alkaline content. This will spare you drinking acidic water; it will keep the rubber bladder in the storage tank from being attacked, too, which would compromise the taste.
Comparison Check: Overall, this wins out on all fronts. If you’re prepared to lay on a higher budget that will essentially mean that the unit can pay for itself (take it as a five-year insurance policy against having to buy bottled water, for one thing) in the long run, it makes sense to overlook other heavyweight contenders, such as the RO-90 by APEC. The 7th-stage feature gives good peace of mind, even if, you could enjoy iSpring’s RCC7 system, which is a 6th-stage system that alkalizes your water.
Sometimes, though, taste means that the machine justifies the means to buy it. This is the emperor in virtually all departments, outdoing the competition on pretty much everything. At 14.1 pounds, don’t let its weight fool you. The only consideration is your family size or level of thirst – at 50 gallons per day, this unit still produces a lot of water, a lot of very good tasting, healthy water.
3. APEC ROES-PH75 Top Tier Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System
APEC’s other ace in the deck is the ROES-PH75, which adds calcium to give a better, mineral-water taste. It’s a solid middle-range system that combines superb function (providing unlimited, clean, great-tasting water) with an interesting extra feature that should make buyers on a more limited budget take extra note here.
With a mineral cartridge that injects only 100% made-in-the-US, high-purity calcium carbonate, the system ensures a higher alkaline level. This cartridge is the key to health and safety, as its mineral formulation comes from a certified source. Giving better tasting, healthier and cleaner water for drinking, cooking and ice-making, this system strips out 99% of total dissolved solids from your water supply.
APEC’s years of experience translate well into a system that’s made of high-caliber components. The real star of the show here, however, is the 6th-stage filtration feature. While most water filtration systems tend to make do with stages 4 or 5, this one ensures that not only is the water you drink and use that much less acidic, but it also means the water that is stored before it gets to you isn’t acidic. That saves your storage system from coming under acid attack, which you would otherwise be able to taste.
Comparison Check: While iSpring seems to offer something that can contend with this in their RCC7 (including a coconut carbon membrane), this APEC is nevertheless a better option for smaller families with budget considerations. At 75 GPD water preparation, this model still delivers a generous supply and, unlike other budget-level options, remember the 6th-stage feature. You may have considered the more powerful RO-90, but your budget pointed you towards economy. Well, this model is a fine bridge between good extras and savings. Your water supply is important to you and your family’s health. The alkaline, remineralized water – the taste of which you’ll keep noticing as you realize that you’ve stopped buying bottled water – is enough to tell you that, on your budget, you’ve hit an excellent balance.
4. iSpring RCC7AK 6 Stages 75GPD Under Sink Water Filter System
iSpring’s RCC7AK may prove to be something of an underrated hero. Ranked by Alkaline Water Machine Reviews as a “closed second” on their top four best models for 2016 chart, this system pulls off some great features. A heavyweight (at 32 pounds), it’s nonetheless chock full of ditties that have earned it the description “Top-rated Legendary Reverse Osmosis System”.
This system is ideal for average to larger family homes, as it has a storage capacity of 75 GPD per day. However, it’s not the quantity of the water that’s the star feature. True to form, iSpring have put their know-how in a forward direction, going one phase better than most of the competition (who average at 4th-level or 5th-level reverse osmosis in their models). That sixth level means that you get alkaline water that has also been remineralized. Health-giving calcium and magnesium return to your water; these would have otherwise been removed during the RO procedure.
Comparison Check: While Home Master’s TMAFC system has the undisputed edge, you have to look at value here. Of course, the components won’t be as slick or high-end as many pricier systems, and there have been grumbles about some installation-related problems (such as setting the O ring correctly to avoid leaks) and not-so-great instructions. Nevertheless, the point that you’re receiving alkalized, remineralized water should be enough to encourage you to aim that bit higher than the basic RCC7 offering from iSpring.
On a like-for-like basis, this is on par with APEC’s slightly higher-rated ROES-PH75, so it may come down to your brand loyalty. One thing’s for sure, if you value water that is bottled-water quality and tastes as crisp and clear as it is, you’re not going to want to lower your sights to a cheaper model lacking such features.
5. APEC Water RO-CTOP Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System
APEC prove that small is beautiful. At first glance, that’s what the Countertop Reverse Osmosis is all about – compactness. Not only is it installation free (no poking about in a cabinet under your sink), it’s lightweight and can be hooked up to your faucet in minutes, but it’s also ideal for traveling with. Whether you want this in your home, student accommodation or camper/RV, it’s the ideal companion. It will remove 99% of contaminants, such as all the usual suspects like chlorine, arsenic, lead, as well as tastes and odors.
Remarkably, it delivers 90 GPD with its high capacity filters, allowing you to enjoy bottled-water quality water to drink or make tea/coffee or ice with. Its level of filtration is such that the Quick-Connect coconut-shell fiber activated carbon filter will take out any possible tastes of residues.
Comparison Check: This model is really a choice based on the convenience of its size. If you live in an apartment or travel in your motorhome, it really is the one to have. The point that it can save hundreds of dollars on bottled water in a matter of months shouldn’t be ignored, either. Although it only filtrates to the fourth stage, no issues of water safety or taste have been observed.
You pretty much know, then, that this covers your needs. There’s a lot to be said for brand, and APEC are top rated, so you may want to overlook the point that, you could upgrade to a small under-counter model such as Home Master’s TMAC. That said, it carries an edge over iSpring’s RCC7 for packing such value.
However, if you have the room under your sink and don’t travel or camp much, or, if your household isn’t too large, you may want to look into APEC’s ROES-PH75 and get the fuller benefit of sixth-level home water filtration.
6. iSpring RCC7 Reverse Osmosis 5-Stage 75GPD Under-Sink Water Filter System
The RCC7 is iSpring’s basic under-sink model. Don’t let its simplicity fool you, though. It made fourth place in the top-four RO systems for 2016, as rated by Alkaline Water Solutions. Filtering though five stages and delivering 75 GPD, it’s ideal for standard-sized households seeking safer, better-tasting water. Water passes though its sediment filter – gauged at 5 microns – and this traps and removes dirt, rust, and silt, etc.; then, a 5-micron GAC filter takes out the finer pollutants such as chlorine taste. After the main stage of RO, which presses water through the membrane and keeps nasties like arsenic and lead away, the fifth stage offers a finer GAC filter, meaning that your water stays fresher longer. All the standard features are present in this model, including a lead-free faucet and food-grade 4-color tubing.
Comparison Check: The only issues of note appear to be based on installation difficulties and the odd packaging or part grumble. However, there’s no denying that this great standard model cranks out cheap drinking water of bottled-water quality and delivers consistently good results. It was the #1 Bestseller on Amazon for Automatic Shut-Off Valve, and the technical support given by iSpring is very highly rated.
Watts WP5-50 Premier Five-Stage Manifold Reverse system hovers in the same price range, but it’s safe to say that, given reviews for Watts’ offering, plus the point that this model finished last (but ranking so highly at the same time) in the Top RO models for 2016, it’s a safe bet to stick with a champion, even a more basic champion like this. At 25 pounds, it’s a middleweight, but it’s durable, if not fancy. Most importantly, it does the job and keeps doing it – exactly what you want as you safeguard your water supply.
7. Watts WP5-50 Premier Five-Stage Manifold Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment System
The WP5-50 by Watts is a unique contender in the marketplace. Not only does it have a 3-year limited warranty that distinguishes it with the signature of a high-end brand, but it also wins out with a highly convenient feature that can save users greatly when it comes to installation. Its sleek, manifold design means that you don’t have to worry about 17 connections. Water is channeled seamlessly, allowing you to enjoy 5th-stage filtrated water without many of the worries about connection such as leaks happening so easily. However, leaks still can happen. Even so, removing all the nasty pollutants, including arsenic and nitrates (the scourge of aquarium keepers), this system will also reliably deliver great-tasting water, as tastes and odors will also be kept out. It’s a general model that operates with standard, no-frills 5th-level filtration, and should suit an average household’s needs.
Comparison Check: Overall, this is a sound model for its price range. However, sound seems to be an issue for some consumers. While its opposite number (in price), the iSpring RCC7 clearly wins out, APEC’s ROES-50 is the stronger alternative (it’s a bestseller which certainly appears to offer the best value all round). Customer peeves for Watts’ offering here include noise, customer service and leaks. If you’re going to spend $200 on an RO system, you may want to keep Watts in mind if you have brand loyalty; however, choosing the RCC7 over it may actually prove to be an upgrade. Know your household’s needs. Four people in a home typically use anywhere between three and five gallons of water a day to drink and cook with.
8. APEC ROES-50 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System
A bestseller, APEC’s ROES-50 is a strong-selling system from this favorite brand. With all the qualities you’d expect from APEC (99% removal of contaminants, premium long-lasting filters, 100% lead-free faucet and certified JG Food grade tubing, etc.), it offers 5th-stage filtration via a coconut shell refining carbon 10-inch filter and is heavy duty. That means that everything from silt to chlorine and high levels of pharmaceutical chemicals, drugs and hormones will be absent from your drinking water. If you live in a big city, that should be a big consideration (in London, for example, every glass of water is said to have been through at least seven people before reaching your lips!). Its solid construction assures many years of reliable and noise-free operation.
Let’s take a closer look at that durability, because that’s a strong selling point here. The components, made in the USA, include high-quality Quick Connect fittings, needing nothing extra in the way of lock clips to seal leaks. That level of security and convenience is borne out in the consumer reviews, prove that this is the one to go for on this budget.
Comparison Check: True to form, APEC have put their industry-leading know-how into creating a clear winner. While it should be remembered that iSpring’s RCC7 made it into a winning category, APEC have a bestseller here that by many accounts outguns the likes of Watts’ offering in this price range. A well-packaged product and with US technicians manning the support phone lines, APEC appears to holding their own as the dominant force in RO systems, with a better ratio of consumers being kept happy, judging by the reviews observed. For your money, that makes this unit worth its weight in gold, with the iSpring running a close second.
9. Express Water 5 Stage Home Drinking Reverse Osmosis System
A strong seller, and no apparent grievances worse than someone’s not liking the instructions, this is your next RO system if you’re on a tighter budget. Combining the functionality to be expected from a more expensive model (removing up to 99% of contaminants using a “REAL Reverse Osmosis Technology with SUPREME Quality Filters”) with a USA-based Technical Support helpline (and coming complete with a one-year warranty and satisfaction guarantee), this is a highly affordable system. Even better, the amount of water waste is nice and small (two gallons of unfiltered water will make one gallon of RO drinking water), and the resulting water quality is nothing short of excellent. Ideal for households of all sizes (up to a generous usage of gallons per day – note that you can pick between 100 GPD and 50 GPD systems), this is the one for you if loyalty to APEC or iSpring don’t lead you further up the line. Guaranteed as being 100% lead free in all its components and made from solid BPA-free materials (we’re still talking anti-contamination here), this system should be seen as more than the sum of its parts.
Comparison Check: As a budget consideration, and if water volume is also on your mind, it might make better sense to go for something you can install in the kitchen cabinet, as opposed to an on-counter option such as New Wave Enviro’s 10-Stage Water Filter System. At around this budget, you can’t go wrong, and Express Water rates well as a brand. However, jump to APEC’s bestselling ROES-50 is not all that far, which may make you want to think. Going down the level, it’s an drop to New Wave’s offering. Whichever way you decide, you’ve still got a strong, affordable product here, but knowing your household’s needs and uses is essential before committing. You already know how valuable your family’s health is when it comes to drinking water; what about issues such as use-volume and durability?
10. New Wave Enviro 10 Stage Water Filter System
This is a good, affordable system, giving very reasonable results. If you want a water filtration system for well under $100 that streams clean filtered water to your faucet then look no further than this model. New Wave Enviro’s 10 Stage system may not be a reverse osmosis system per se, but it’s the next-best thing. Ridding your supply of (or nearly completely removing from it) pollutants such as chlorine, Trihalomethanes (the cancer-causing compounds of chlorine and organic matter that combine to cause cancer), lead, organic arsenic, bad odors, pesticides, asbestos and many others, this model produces water for your home that safely and effectively falls below the EPA recommended levels for contaminants. Better than that, it doesn’t remove the minerals that are good for you, such as magnesium and potassium. Fitting right onto your faucet (conversion kits are available separately), the system delivers clean, fresh, wonderfully crisp tasting water. Its durable filters treat 1500 gallons of water before needing to be replaced. That translates to serving a family of four for about one year, giving peace of mind and better tasting water every day.
Comparison Check: You do get what you pay for. Remember that this is a budget-range item; most customer peeves seem to center around lack of great customer support or product problems such as not filtering properly. Nevertheless, if you’re in this budget range and can’t manage the stretch to Express Water’s 5 Stage RO system, you could do worse than to stick with this. While Aquatic Life’s RO Buddie Three Stage Reverse Osmosis 50-gallon model does use reverse osmosis, it’s only to the third stage (where a denser carbon filter removes lingering chlorine and bad odors or tastes). Also, New Wave Enviro’s system seems to have evaded issues with leaking. All in all, if you’re constrained by your budget and want better water quickly and efficiently, you cannot really go wrong for what you’re buying here.
BONUS: You can download the infographic here.
Conclusion – Overall best and best for you
Home Master’s TMAFC is our favorite here. Ticking all the boxes and delivering exceptionally great-tasting, clean water, it is top of the line and deservedly so. For only one water filter change a year (or after 2000 gallons), you’ve got the best of all worlds happening in your water supply, so much so that you’ll never look at bottled water of any kind again. We’d call it the Ferrari of home RO systems.
However, in terms of best value, APEC’s ROES 50 will strike the best balance between being a luxury item and doing a great, reliable job at a far more affordable rate. It’s a bestseller for a good reason. If a lot of consumers are that happy with it (and they certainly appear to be), you will be, too, for years and years.