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10 Best Reverse Osmosis Systems Reviewed

By: David Trinh
Last Updated:
RO System

So, you’ve determined that a reverse osmosis system is an optimal solution for your home’s tap water.

Maybe you use a municipal water supply or well water and want to filter out inorganic dissolved solids, or maybe you want extra protection from microorganisms.

You might also be tired of having to buy plastic bottles all the time to drink from or just want the purest cleanest water possible.

No matter why you’re interested in a reverse osmosis system, you’ve come to the right place.

We have spent countless hours researching, talking to manufacturers & customers, and testing units to simplify your buying process.

This post reviews the best under-the-sink reverse osmosis systems that will give you the purest filtered water for your drinking and cooking needs at home.

Top Home RO Water Filters Compared 

IMAGE PRODUCT FEATURES
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#1 Waterdrop G3
  • Stages: 7
  • Output: 400 GPD
  • Remineralization: No
CHECK PRICE
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#2 SoftPro Green
  • Stages: 5
  • Output: 75 GPD
  • Remineralization: No
CHECK PRICE
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#3 Home Master TMAFC-ERP
  • Stages: 7
  • Output: 75 GPD
  • Remineralization: Yes
CHECK PRICE
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#4 Pelican 6-Stage
  • Stages: 6
  • Output: 20 GPD
  • Remineralization: Yes
CHECK PRICE
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#5 Aquasana OPTIMH20 RO
  • Stages: 6
  • Output: 32 GPD
  • Remineralization: Yes
CHECK PRICE
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#6 iSpring RCC7AK
  • Stages: 6
  • Output: 75 GPD
  • Remineralization: Yes
CHECK PRICE
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#7 Brondell RO
  • Stages: 4
  • Output: 57 GPD
  • Remineralization: No
CHECK PRICE
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#8 APEC Ultimate
  • Stages: 6
  • Output: 75 GPD
  • Remineralization: Yes
CHECK PRICE
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#9 Express Water R05DX
  • Stages: 5
  • Output: 50 GPD
  • Remineralization: No
CHECK PRICE
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#10 Home Master TMHP Hydro
  • Stages: 9
  • Output: 75 GPD
  • Remineralization: Yes
CHECK PRICE

Evaluation Criteria to Consider Before Purchasing an RO Filter

When choosing the best reverse osmosis system for your home, these are the main things you should consider before making a purchase:

Contaminants Removed

All reverse osmosis filters are going to greatly reduce the amounts of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, as well as copper, lead, chromium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, other total dissolved solids (TDS), nitrate, sulfate, fluoride, radium, arsenic, and other contaminants in your water. RO filters can also remove organic chemicals if they are larger than 100amus in weight. 

The main difference between RO systems is the exact percent of the contaminants that they filter out – most RO filters alone will remove between 95 and 98% of contaminants. Some systems will also come with carbon pre and post-filters that help filter out even more impurities like volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Flow Rate & Wasted Water Ratio

All water filters are going to impact your flow rate, but reverse osmosis systems tend to slow it down the most. This is due to the high level of filtration, but low flow rates are one of the most common customer review complaints about RO systems.

Reverse osmosis systems also generate waste water by design. The contaminants that build up behind the membrane are flushed away with more water, and the average RO system generates 4 gallons of wastewater for every 1 gallon of fresh water. The best reverse osmosis system will maximize flow while reducing waste. 

Filter Lifespan & Replacement

Most RO systems themselves last 10-15 years while the filter cartridges themselves last 12-24 months. If your system has carbon filters as well, those usually last 6-12 months. Also, as with most things, a cheaper system is probably going to have a slightly shorter lifespan due to the quality of the parts.

The last thing to consider with the replacement filters is their ease of installation. Most systems make their filters easily accessible and able to be quickly swapped out, but you’ll want to make sure that’s the case before you buy it.

Contains Permeate Pump

Permeate refers to the filtered water that the RO system produces, and a permeate pump works to push that water into the storage tank. This achieves two things: more pure water and less wastewater. 

Pumping the permeate away means that there’s less pressure at the RO filter due to less water building up on the permeate side. This allows the system to move water across the membrane more efficiently, which reduces the wastewater needed and allows the membrane to remove contaminants more effectively.

Contains Remineralization

Sometimes a thing can be too good, and such is the case with RO filtration. The TDS that these systems remove include minerals like sodium, calcium, and magnesium. While these can be problematic in large quantities, removing too much of them makes your water both acidic and potentially less tasty. 

RO systems with remineralization introduce some of these minerals back into the water after they’re filtered out to improve the drinking experience.

Certifications

Water filters in general can be certified through both NSF and WQA for different standards, but RO systems have their own special certifications they can get, including the NSF/ANSI 58 standard. Certification by one of these third-party testers is an added assurance that your filter will do what it claims to. 

Price

While purchasing your reverse osmosis system is going to be an up-front investment, the cost of the replacement filters is something you’ll want to consider as well. You may also have to plan for the cost of installation if you get a system that requires a plumber.

As for the long-term costs, let’s say one system costs $300 up front but the replacement filters are only $50. You’re going to save more over the system’s lifespan than if you buy a $100 system with $100 replacement cartridges. 

Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Reviews

Let us start by saying that there’s no single best RO system. All of the top reverse osmosis water system contenders have their share of benefits – and downsides, like whether your home’s water pressure is adequate to use these filter systems. 

To pick the best reverse osmosis system for your home, you must determine which features are must-haves and which are lower priority or even unnecessary. There’s no one-size-fits-all filter – just what works best for you.

One last thing to keep in mind – these are point-of-use systems only. Whole-house RO systems aren’t as efficient, are harder to find, and are not very practical, but you can find more information on whole-house filters in our buyer’s guide below. 

1. Waterdrop G3 RO

Waterdrop-G3

The Waterdrop G3 RO filters are the strongest RO system on the list, providing an impressive 400 gallons of water per day (GPD) – which is more than 5x the normal production of an RO system. 

It’s 7-stage filtration system with carbon filters is NSF certified, and this reverse osmosis water filter is one of the few that lacks a tank and fits nicely under your sink. This compact, tankless design means your water is filtered on-demand.

You’ll also find that these systems come with a dedicated smart faucet that lets you know when your filters need to be replaced, an automatic flush feature, and a sound reminder for when the system is becoming overworked.

We highly recommend this filtration system as our top pick overall because it’s high capacity, high-tech, and excellent design.

Stand-Out Features at A Glance:

  • 400 GPD water flow
  • Automatic flushing
  • DIY installation
  • Holiday mode
  • Low drain ratio (waste water ratio)
  • Smart technology on a dedicated faucet
  • Tankless design
  • TDS display
  • NSF certified

Main Features & Benefits: 

Contaminants removed: The G3 water filter system contains 7 stages including both carbon block filters and RO water filtration. That means it’s removing chlorine, taste and odor, sand, rust, solids, and other impurities. The RO system also filters TDS to 94%, and reduces limescale, heavy metals, bacteria, viruses, and more than 1,000 other harmful water contaminants.

Flow rate & waste water ratio: The main benefit of the G3 filtration system is that it’s tankless, which means that it can continuously produce filtered water instead of needing to stop to refill a tank. This design prevents bacteria from forming in a tank and saves you 50% in under-sink space, as well as providing a 0.27 GPM flow rate (you can fill a cup of water in 12 seconds). 

As for the waste water ratio, this system is one of the most efficient on the market at 1:1 for gallons of wastewater produced compared to fresh water. 

Filter lifespan & replacement: The carbon block filter lasts 6 months, the activated carbon filter lasts 12 months, and the RO filter lasts 24 months. Each can be replaced in seconds with the twist-and-pull design, and you don’t have to turn off the water supply.

This filter system also comes with a one year manufacturer warranty against defects, and the system itself should last you 10-15 years.

Contains permeate pump: While this system doesn’t have a tank for this to apply, the tankless design mimics a system with a permeate pump.

Contains remineralization: This system does not have a remineralization stage, which is one of the only downsides.

Certifications: This reverse osmosis water system has been tested and proven to meet NSF 58 & 372 certifications to filter 94% of total dissolved solids. 

Price: The system itself is $549 to purchase which is on the higher end of the spectrum, but the value it provides is well-worth it. The replacement cartridges for all 3 stages will run you about $240 over the span of 2 years. 

Who The G3 RO System is Best For:

Suppose you’re looking for a high-quality RO system that doesn’t have many of its competitors’ drawbacks. In that case, the Waterdrop G3 filtration system is an excellent option. 

There isn’t any need to worry about wasting a significant amount of water, facing a complicated installation, experiencing a slow filtration rate, or storing a bulky frame. 

Instead, the Waterdrop G3 is ideal for anyone looking for a tankless option featuring a strong filtering performance, simple installation, quick water filtration rate, lower water waste, smart leakage detection, and a faucet featuring smart technology. These models also have a sensor alerting users of the unit’s filter life, TDS value, and water quality in real-time.

For the price point that the G3 is available, we believe this is the top RO system on the market for someone looking for a tankless, high-tech, under-sink RO system. If you’re looking for the best reverse osmosis system, then this is the product you need to buy.

See our full Waterdrop Filters Review here for more information.

Pros:

  • Tankless filter system
  • 400 GPD capacity
  • Low drain ratio
  • Awesome looking filter design
  • Saves space under-sink
  • Smart filter technology
  • Filters 94% TDS and other water contaminants
  • Easy to install and has straightforward maintenance
  • NSF certified 

Cons:

  • Lack of water remineralization
  • Expensive
  • Requires electricity to operate
  • Users cannot place the unit on its side

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2. SoftPro Green RO

SoftPro Green RO

Working as a family-owned business since 1990, Quality Water Treatment features the SoftPro Green Reverse Osmosis System. This unit can remove up to 96% of the impurities in your home’s water. However, while doing so, it only has a 1:1 waste ratio. That’s approximately two-thirds lower than competing models.

While starting with the 5-micron sediment filter, this unit features 5 stages in all. The remaining four include two coconut shell activated carbon blocks, an RO membrane, and a carbon post-filter. 

We like this system because it eliminates up to 96% of organic and inorganic contaminants while adding back healthy minerals, and accomplishes this goal while producing up to 75 gallons daily which is pretty good.

Stand-Out Features at a Glance:

  • Removes up to 96% of contaminants
  • 5 stage filtration removes over 1,000 contaminants
  • Features a 75 GPD production capacity
  • Wastes only 1/3 of the amount of water compared to competing models
  • Twenty-four faucet colors and styles, including contemporary, classic, and modern
  • Five-year manufacturer warranty

Main Features & Benefits:

Contaminants removed: This system removes 96% of arsenic, bacteria, chlorine, chromium, fluoride, heavy metals, lead, nitrates, bacteria and viruses with its 5 stage system.

Flow rate & waste water ratio: Not only does this filter produce 75 GPD of water, it also has a 1:1 waste water ratio to maximize efficiency, minimize waste, and save you water. 

Filter lifespan & replacement: This model comes with a five year warranty from SoftPro Green, and you can expect the system to last between 5 and 10 years. The carbon replacement cartridges will last the standard 6 months, and the RO membrane and remineralization cartridges should both be replaced yearly. 

You don’t have to worry about hiring a plumber to do the installation on this model, and the cartridges are quick and easy to replace as well. 

Contains permeate pump: This system does not have a permeate pump.

Contains remineralization: Yes, remineralization is included.

Certifications: This product has not been certified by NSF or WQA since it is a smaller company and they have not invested in rigorous testing yet.

Price: You can get this system for $309, and then the replacement cartridges will run you about $200 per year to replace.

Who This RO System is Best For:

If you’re looking for a unit that isn’t a problem to install and comes with everything you need to complete the job, this unit tops the list. Each of the fittings you’ll find in the package are “quick connect.” That means all you have to do is push them in, and they’ll lock into place. This unit also includes a long-reach chrome faucet that compliments this model nicely.

Should you run into any problems when installing this unit, the Quality Water Treatment company has superior customer service. That means they strive to go above and beyond for each of their customers.

In addition to this product having a mid-range price, the company also offers a 60-day money-back guarantee. That, on top of the product’s five-year warranty, makes this filter one that you should check out.

Pros:

  • Filters 96% of water contaminants
  • 5 stage carbon block filter
  • 75 GPD filtration capacity
  • Low water waste ratio at 1:1
  • RO membrane

Cons:

  • Not a well-known brand
  • Noisy when refilling the tank
  • Large storage tank

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3. Home Master TMAFC-ERP

Home-Master-TMAFC-ERP

Opting for the Home Master TMAFC-ERP under the sink reverse osmosis unit means your water goes through seven water treatment stages. Those stages filter, purify, and enhance your home’s water while taking out up to 98% of the water’s impurities. 

This unit also improves your water’s taste during its remineralization process. With its highly efficient design, you’ll find a non-electric permeate pump built-in that helps reduce wasted water by up to 80%. This pump also helps increase your home’s water production by up to 50%.

The Home Master system is one of our top picks because of the high-quality filtration. This unit’s water remineralization function has a patented two-stage process, and it also features a permeate pump.

Stand-Out Features at a Glance:

  • Removes up to 96% of contaminants
  • 5 stage filtration removes over 1,000 contaminants
  • Features a 75 gallon per day filtration capacity
  • Wastes only 1/3 of the amount of water compared to competing models
  • Twenty-four faucet colors and styles, including contemporary, classic, and modern
  • Five-year manufacturer warranty

Main Features & Benefits:

Contaminants removed: You can be assured of clean water because this filter removes 98% of impurities including chloramine, chlorine, dissolved solids, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and more. This unit also reduces the level of biofilm and microorganism build-up. 

Unlike some reverse osmosis systems, the Home Master provides full-contact purification. That is in conjunction with water remineralization – producing high-quality water with great taste.

Flow rate & waste water ratio: You should have filtered water for all of your daily needs with 75 GPD, and according to the customer reviews you aren’t compromising much on your flow rate either thanks to the permeate pump. The pump also helps make this system more efficient, reducing the waste water generated to 1:1. 

Filter lifespan & replacement: Like most of the other systems, this filter will last you between 5-10 years and Home Master will cover it for the first five. The cartridges themselves all need to be replaced annually, but they’re easy to change and don’t require any special tools.

The system also has a modular design where the filter element and housing are an all-in-one assembly for quick and easy annual filter changes.

Contains permeate pump: Yes – this filter’s permeate pump increases its efficiency and filtration capacity. 

Contains remineralization: This system also has a remineralization stage to add alkalinity back into the water.

Certifications: NSF has certified this system for material safety and performance. 

Price: This RO system falls in line with the others in the mid-range price point at $336. It doesn’t require professional installation, and the replacement cartridge set is $80 per year. 

Who This Reverse Osmosis Filtration System is Best For:

The Home Master TMAFC-ERP system is an excellent choice if you want a standard under-sink reverse osmosis system with a tank. It’s also optimal if you want water remineralization at an affordable price.

For those looking for a unit that produces water twice as fast as its competitors, this model is a great choice. Not only does it have that feature, but it’s also straightforward to install and doesn’t take up a significant amount of space. Consumer reviews also indicate that their drinking water tastes significantly better after installing this unit. 

Pros:

  • Full contact purification
  • Water remineralization
  • Fast speed in dispensing water
  • Excellent customer support

Cons:

  • The system makes noise when working
  • Takes up a fair amount space
  • There’s no UV light to eliminate all microorganisms
  • Costs more than competing models

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4. Pelican 6 Stage RO

pelican ro

While maintaining its status in the water treatment industry, the Pelican 6 Stage RO system is compact and eco-friendly. This six-stage reverse osmosis model takes 95% of harmful chemicals and other impurities from your home’s water and also incorporates remineralization.

While filtering a maximum of 50 gallons daily, this unit also produces a 30% higher flow rate than traditional RO systems. You’ll also find that this unit is NSF and WQA certified. As a product of the USA, this unit steps above its competitors regarding efficiency and maintenance. 

We like this RO system for its high percentage of contaminant removal, the incorporated remineralization, its higher flow rate, and the lower amount of waste water generated.

Stand-Out Features at a Glance:

  • Three faucet finishes, including chrome, brushed nickel, and oil-rubbed bronze
  • Reduces water waste by 50%
  • Features remineralization to add minerals back into the water
  • 50 GPD maximum
  • The filter delivers 30% more faucet water flow compared to competing models
  • No tools are necessary for maintenance
  • 4-stage membranes need changing every 18 months
  • 2-stage post filter needs changing every six months
  • This model is lighter and smaller than competing models
  • Limited one-year warranty
  • LED filter life indicator

Main Features & Benefits:

Contaminants removed: This system removes 95% of contaminants. During the first stages of filtration, this unit treats water for arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium 3 and 6, copper, fluoride, lead, radium, and more. During the last two stages, that’s when a carbon filter polishes the water and remineralization occurs.

Flow rate & waste water ratio: You have less compromise with both your flow rate and your waste water generated with this system, even though the gallons per day produced is between 17.9 and 50 GPD. 

The flow rate is up at 1.0 GPM so you can be sure to have a good flow. The waste water ratio is also 2:1, meaning it’s 50% more efficient than most other RO systems. 

Filter lifespan & replacement: The carbon filters for this system need to be replaced every 6 months, while the RO filter itself can go for 18 months. All are simple to replace without any tools necessary.

Contains permeate pump: This system does not have a permeate pump.

Contains remineralization: Yes, this system incorporates a remineralization stage. 

Certifications: This filter has been NSF/ANSI certified for standards 42 and 53, and has been Gold Seal Certified by the WQA.

Price: You can get this system for $309 without needing a plumber to do the installation, and over an 18-month period you can expect to pay $356 in replacement filters.

Who These RO Systems are Best For:

Suppose you are looking for an alternative to Waterdrop or Home Master’s product and want a reverse osmosis system that is NSF/ANSI certified and includes water remineralization. In that case, this system from Pelican is an optimal choice. 

Many reviewers indicate that this unit is one of the leading models on the market for its price. Not only do these consumers report that it installs without trouble, but it also features a higher water flow. They also remark about how clean, fresh, and great-tasting their drinking water is now compared to before. 

This unit is also smaller than standard models. With its 14.5 x 12 x 14.75 inch dimensions, it can fit nicely under any small kitchen cabinet. 

For those people wanting to match their kitchen’s design, when picking out which model you’d like to use you’ll also find three faucet finish choices. Those include brushed nickel, chrome, and oil-rubbed bronze.

Pros:

  • 6 stage filtration
  • 50 GPD RO system
  • NSF/ANSI certified 
  • Filters 95% of water contaminants
  • Water remineralization
  • Compact and easy to maintain
  • A trustworthy brand made in the USA

Cons:

  • Capacity per day is not as good as Waterdrop
  • Some consumers complained about leaking faucets
  • It’s priced higher than many competing models and the replacement cartridges are pricey

Use Exclusive Code: WATERTECH at checkout for 10% off Pelican Products!

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5. Aquasana OPTIMH20 RO + Claryum

aquasana_optimh2o

The Aquasana OPTIMH20 reverse osmosis system is one of our top recommendations. It’s one of the only filters to combine reverse osmosis, claryum filtration, and water remineralization in one system. That means it filters all the contaminants from your water while also putting back in healthy minerals that the reverse osmosis process removes.

Aquasana was the first in the industry to develop a reverse osmosis filtering product featuring remineralization technology. This unit also filters five times more water contaminants than standard reverse osmosis systems, and has been certified to NSF/ANSI standards. Not to mention that Aquasana is one of the leading brands, and you can rely on them to deliver.

We recommend the Aquasana OPTIMH20 because of it’s high contaminant removal percentage and incorporated remineralization system.

Stand-Out Features at a Glance:

  • Filters out 88 different contaminants and impurities
  • Eliminates 95% of fluoride and mercury
  • Eliminates 97% of chlorine and arsenic
  • Eliminates 99% of asbestos and lead
  • Easy twist-off carbon and claryum filter housings
  • 1 year RO membrane life
  • 1-year remineralization life
  • Six-month carbon and claryum filter life
  • 90-day guarantee
  • Two-year warranty

Main Features & Benefits:

Contaminants removed: This filter effectively removes 88 harmful contaminants, including 95% of fluoride and mercury, 97% of chlorine and arsenic, and 99% of lead and asbestos. It filters 5x more water contaminants than a standard reverse osmosis system with its six-stage filtration system.

These filtration stages include reverse osmosis, activated carbon blocks, catalytic carbon filters, ion exchange, 5-micron filtration, and water remineralization.

Flow rate & waste water ratio: Unlike the Waterdrop G3, this filter only has a daily production of 13.32 GPD and a flow rate of 0.05 GPM – and this is one of the main customer complaints about this system. The waste water ratio is also on par for your average reverse osmosis system at 4:1.

Filter lifespan & replacement: Aquasana offers a 2 year warranty on this model and it should last for many years before needing to be replaced. As for the cartridges, the carbon stages for this system will need to be swapped out every 6 months, while the remineralizer and RO cartridges should last you a year. The filters are easy to swap out and replace, and you don’t need to cut off your water supply to do so.

Contains permeate pump: No, this is a traditional system.

Contains remineralization: Yes, and was the first RO system to incorporate it.

Certifications: This system has been rigorously tested and certified to NSF/ANSI standards 42, 53, 58, 401, and P473. 

Price: This RO system normally sells for $400, but you can often find it on sale for $219 and you don’t need a plumber to install it. The yearly cartridge replacements will set you back $220, and overall this is a mid to high price point (depending if you can get it on sale) that delivers a high-end result. 

Who These RO Systems are Best For:

This system from Aquasana is an excellent option if you’re looking for a reverse osmosis system containing superior water filtration plus remineralization. The remineralization feature adds healthy minerals back to your water, which standard RO systems take out.

The lower flow rate means they’re not great for heavy-use households and would work best as a source of drinking and cooking water, but you can rest assured that you’re getting some of the best-quality water possible.

Pros:

  • Six stages of water filtration 
  • Certified to NSF/ANSI standards
  • Filters 5x more water contaminants than average
  • Easy to install filter replacements 
  • Straightforward installation
  • Good value for the price

Cons:

  • Not quite as powerful as Waterdrop’s gallons per day (GPD) output
  • Some consumers believe the water pressure is too low
  • There’s no automatic shut-off on the tank

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6. iSpring RCC7AK 

iSpring-RCC7AK

The iSpring RCC7AK is our #6 pick because it successfully eliminates up to 99% of over 1,000 impurities in the water. 

The iSpring unit features a five-stage RO filtration system that’s incredibly effective. This model also has the sixth stage for remineralization, and between the extremely high filtration percentage and the slightly higher efficiency this is a great filtration solution for your home.

Stand-Out Features at a Glance:

  • Exclusively designed alkaline remineralization filter
  • Protects against over 1,000 different types of impurities
  • 3.2-gallon pressurized tank with storage for 2.5 gallons of water
  • Produces slightly acidic water featuring pH levels of 7 or lower
  • Dedicated European-style faucet
  • Features 3 extra-long-life pre-filters
  • Ultra-fine RO filter removes impurities down to 0.0001 microns
  • Simple DIY installation and has everything you need inside of the box
  • 1:3 filtered water to water waste ratio
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 1-year manufacturer warranty

Main Features & Benefits:

Contaminants removed: The iSpring RCC7AK removes 99% of 1,000 contaminants including asbestos, arsenic, bacteria, calcium, chlorine, fluoride, giardia, hormones, and sodium with its 5-stage system. You’ll also find that this unit can eliminate up to 98% of the water’s lead content.

During the first stage, there’s a polypropylene filter for removing rust, sand, and sediments. The second and third stage involves a carbon filter for removing chlorine and unpleasant odors and tastes. The fourth stage uses a membrane for removing up to 99% of the water’s other impurities. During the fifth stage, the post-filter is available for removing any remaining tastes and odors.

Flow rate & waste water ratio: This unit produces 75 gallons daily, which is optimal for most families. It also has a 3:1 waste water ratio, so you’re getting slightly more efficiency than you would from a standard RO filter. 

Filter lifespan & replacement: The filter system itself should last for at least five years and is guaranteed by iSpring for 1 year. The replacement filters all last between 6-12 months, except for the RO membrane that lasts 2-3 years.

Contains permeate pump: This system does not have a permeate pump.

Contains remineralization: The remineralization on this system is unique in that it adds back healthy minerals into the water while still having a finished product that is neutral or slightly acidic. 

Certifications: This system is certified for NSF/ANSI standard 58. 

Price: This unit is at a very reasonable price point for one that contains the sixth stage of remineralization at $198, and installation is easy. The cartridges are likewise budget-friendly at $106 for three years. 

Who This RO Water System Is Best For:

The iSpring system is a reliable water filtration pick for the budget conscious. This is especially true if you are looking for a traditional reverse osmosis system made by a reputable company that’s been in the water business for a while. 

It’s not the best on our list, but it gets the job done for your under-sink drinking water needs at a very affordable price.

Pros:

  • Six-stage reverse osmosis filtration 
  • Filters 99% contaminants
  • Includes water remineralization
  • Easy installation

Cons:

  • No permeate pump
  • Bulky and cumbersome
  • Some consumers complained about too much water waste
  • Other consumers reported low efficiency

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7. Brondell H20+ Circle

brondell h20

The Brondell H20 system made our list due to its efficiency and innovative technology, saving water and making it ten times more efficient than its competitors. 

What’s surprising about this model is that its efficiency doesn’t involve using a permeate pump – instead, the Brondell H20+ Circle features a patented smart valve, and it’s reservoir’s exclusive circular design increases its efficiency. 

Despite having these technological advancements, this unit has an incredibly small footprint. That means that, after installing this unit, you’ll still have ample storage space beneath your kitchen cabinet. Because of its attractive design, many believe that it could have been a countertop unit.

Stand-Out Features at a Glance:

  • High efficiency with circle design and smart valve technology
  • Sleek and compact design
  • No electricity required
  • DIY installation
  • High refill rate
  • WQA and NSF certification 

Main Features & Benefits:

Contaminants removed: The Brondell H20+ Circle contains a 4-stage filtration system with a sediment filter, pre-filter, RO membrane filter, and post-carbon filter. It reduces heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, TDS, VOCs, microorganisms, harmful chemicals, and bad tastes/smells. 

Flow rate & waste water ratio: The system’s efficiency involves saving an average of 2.1 gallons of waste water for every gallon of drinking water it produces. The refill rate for this unit is two times faster than competing non-electric models, and the customer reviews don’t report a significant reduction in flow rate. 

Filter lifespan & replacement: The filter cartridges each last 6 months, except for the RO stage which will last for 2 years. Replacing the cartridges is easy, and the initial installation is DIY as well.

Contains permeate pump: No, but utilizes smart valves and a circular design to achieve the same pressure relief at the membrane.

Contains remineralization: This model does not have a remineralization stage.

Certifications: Both the water quality association (WQA) and NSF/ANSI have certified this filter for standards for contaminant removal.

Price: The initial cost of the system is around $330, while the replacement cartridges run $70 every 6 months for the carbon stages and the RO membrane itself runs $80 every 2 years.

Who These Filtration Systems are Best For:

Say you want a model that stands out from the other reverse osmosis systems for its appearance: a black, rather than white, storage tank – which is very nicely designed and fits under your kitchen sink well.

Suppose you are also looking for a decent reverse osmosis system with average filtration and no water remineralization. In that case, this is a great system to consider.

Pros:

  • Sleek design
  • Saves water
  • 4-stage water filtration
  • Smart valve eliminates backpressure
  • NSF/ANSI certified for contaminant removal

Cons:

  • Average water filter capacity  
  • Replacement filters are difficult to obtain
  • No water remineralization
  • Some consumers had difficulty fitting this unit underneath a standard sink
  • The faucet’s flow-rate seems lower than competing models

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8. APEC Ultimate

APEC-Ultimate

The APEC Ultimate made our list because it offers outstanding, six-stage reverse osmosis filtration. We also like its water remineralization, WQA gold seal certification, and quality business reputation. It’s a reliable reverse osmosis system.

Stand-Out Features at a Glance:

  • WQA certified and tested to eliminate up to 99% of contaminants
  • Large-capacity and long-lasting filters remove two times more contaminants
  • A dedicated faucet that’s food grade and 100% lead-free
  • Stainless steel teeth on fittings create leak-free protection.
  • Five-year limited warranty

Main Features & Benefits:

Contaminants removed: With six-stage reverse osmosis filtration, you know you’re receiving filtered water at the highest standards. The APEC Ultimate filters 99% of contaminants and solids as well as bacteria. The sixth stage remineralizes water with calcium and magnesium.

Flow rate & waste water ratio: The flow rate and waste water ratio are both what you would expect for a standard RO system (4:1), and the customer reviews don’t cite low flow rates.

Filter lifespan & replacement: One good thing is the APEC Ultimate is one of the most straightforward reverse osmosis systems regarding installation. Suppose you run into any problems during the installation process (or at any other time, for that matter). In that case, you benefit from the top-notch customer service from APEC water RO systems

After setting up the system, the only maintenance that these systems require is changing the filters. Stages 1, 2, and 3 will all last you one year, stage 4 will last 2-5 years depending on your water source and usage, and stage 5 will last 3-5 years as well.

Contains permeate pump: This system does not have a permeate pump.

Contains remineralization: The remineralization system improves the taste of the water while raising the alkalinity. 

Certifications: This model has the WQA Gold Seal Certification.

Price: You won’t break the bank on this filter, with the initial system costing $206 and then the replacement filters costing $157 for a combo pack of all of them. 

Who These Filtration Systems are Best For:

An under-sink system, the APEC Ultimate features a pressurized tank that holds 4 gallons and requires 15 inches by 11 inches of cabinet space. These are around average requirements for an under-sink system.

Overall, this is another solid choice if you don’t like our other top recommendations. The system gets the job done well with a standard tank and faucet, but it doesn’t have a sleek design or many bells and whistles. 

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Good customer service
  • 6 stage filtration that removes 99% of contaminants
  • WQA certified

Cons:

  • Too much water waste
  • Some users report taste issues
  • Other consumers indicate the unit is difficult to install

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9. Express Water RO5DX5

Express-Water-RO5DX

A budget system, the Express Water RO5DX5, provides high-quality filtered water at a discounted rate. Although it only features a 5 stage reverse osmosis process and no permeate pump, it effectively removes all types of contaminants from the water coming out of your faucet.

Stand-Out Features at a Glance:

  • Five stages of water purification
  • Stage two and three feature carbon block and granulated carbon filters
  • Double-sealed filters preserve and protect your kitchen and the unit’s filters
  • Eliminates 99% of contaminants, including arsenic, bacteria, calcium, chlorine, fluoride, lead, nitrates, and more
  • Easy to understand and quick installation
  • Includes feed adapter and quick-connect adapter
  • Emergency leak-stop detector that works by shutting off the water flow
  • Pre-filters need changing twice annually, and the rest need changing once per year
  • Labeled and color-coded matched system for easy replacements
  • 1 year limited warranty

Main Features & Benefits:

Contaminants removed: Despite the system’s low price, the filters in the Express Water RO5DX5 are of good caliber – they filter 99.99% of impurities including lead, fluoride, chlorine, nitrates, arsenic, calcium, bacteria, and others.

Flow rate & waste water ratio: You’ll get 50 GPD from this filter, and that should be plenty depending on your usage. The flow rate is also 0.8 GPM, which isn’t bad for an RO filter system. The waste water ratio, on the other hand, is the standard 4:1.

Filter lifespan & replacement: The carbon filters will need to be replaced every 6 months, while the PAC filters will last 12 months and the RO filters will last 18 months. The system itself is only under warranty for a year, but you should still get several years’ use out of it.

Filter replacement is quick thanks to the included wrench and user-friendly design. Installation of the Express Water RO5DX5 is just as easy with the detailed instruction manual that lays out the steps in easy-to-understand language. Plus, the filters are pre-assembled for faster fitting.

Contains permeate pump: No, there is no permeate pump.

Contains remineralization: No, there is not a remineralization stage. 

Certifications: This filter has been NSF certified for standard 58.

Price: At $155 to install and only $89.50 every three years, this model proves that having clean water doesn’t have to cost a bunch of money. 

Who These Filtration Systems are Best For:

If you are looking for a budget option, this system from Express Water is one to consider.

Pros:

  • Removes 99% of impurities
  • Straightforward installation with pre-assembled filters
  • NSF/ANSI certified

Cons:

  • No water remineralization
  • No permeate pump
  • Produces 4 gallons of water waste for each of the gallons per day (GPD) that it purifies
  • Some consumers reported that the connections didn’t come with their faucet upgrade
  • Other consumers indicate that this unit is difficult to install

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10. Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection

Home-Master-TMHP-HydroPerfection

The Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection is one of the few filters with a UV light, making it suitable to use with more water sources. The UV filter kills 99.8% of microorganisms that may be present in your natural water source. These reverse osmosis water filters also have nine-step filtration, making it one of the most effective filters.

Stand-Out Features at a Glance:

  • Advanced filtering and purification stages eliminate 98% of contaminants, including chemicals, heavy metals, iron, and more
  • The patented full contact technology adds minerals, like calcium and magnesium, twice during the filtering process
  • The unit includes a UV light for destroying microorganisms
  • Easy to change and long-lasting filters that need changing once annually or every 2,000 gallons
  • This unit’s Fast Flo RO Kit increases the water’s flow rate by nearly double
  • The unit’s efficiency and water pressure improve with the permeate pump
  • Increases water production by approximately 50% and reduces waste by almost 80%
  • Five-year limited warranty

Main Features & Benefits:

Contaminants removed: Sending water through a total of nine stages (including an iron filter), you’d be hard-pressed to find a filtering system that removes more impurities. That makes it ideal for families concerned about water quality, especially households receiving their water from a well.

Impurities removed include 99% of chemicals, TDS, and metals, as well as iron, viruses, and other microorganisms.

Flow rate & waste water ratio: Thanks to the permeate pump, this system wastes minimum water with a 1:1 ratio. You’ll receive drinking water quicker as well, due to the ⅜-inch diameter tubing that allows for faster water flow rates. The daily production of this filter is 50 GPD.

Filter lifespan & replacement: It is easy to change the filters –  there’s no need for any tools. The system’s installation is also simple, provided you do have some DIY knowledge. It should take around an hour to fit the faucet and pressurized storage tank. The Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection also comes with a 5-year warranty which is longer than most other reverse osmosis filter systems, and the replacement filters themselves last around a year each.

Contains permeate pump: Yes, there is a permeate pump.

Contains remineralization: There is a remineralization stage as well. 

Certifications: This product is EPA #97952-AZ-1 registered. 

Price: The system itself is pricey at $446 – and that’s on sale. The replacement cartridges are more reasonable at  $157 per pack.

Who These Filtration Systems are Best For:

If you’re looking for a top traditional reverse osmosis system with a tank, then this system is one to consider. It has 9 stage filtration, which is one of the most effective on the market, and it wastes smaller amounts of water compared to some brands.

Pros:

  • 9 Stage filtration
  • Easy to change filters
  • 5-year warranty

Cons:

  • A UV filter is often unnecessary
  • Requires electricity to run
  • Bulky and cumbersome
  • The system’s lamp requires a 115v power connection
  • The RO membrane removes too many helpful minerals

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Top RO Systems Feature Comparison Table

ModelWaterdrop G3SoftPro GreenHome Master TMAFC-ERPPelican 6-StageAquasana OPTIMH20 RO + Claryum
Our Rank12345
Contaminants Removed %94%96%98%95%95-99%
Output400 GPD75 GPD75 GPD50 GPD32 GPD
Wasted Water Ratio1:11:11:12:14:1
Filter Lifespan6-24 mo6-12 mo12 mo6-18 mo6-12 mo
Permeate PumpYesNoYesNoNo
RemineralizationNoYesYesYesYes
CertificationsNSFNoNSFNSF/WQANSF
Price$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$($)

A Buyer’s Guide to RO Water Systems

Now you know about the top RO water filters, but how do you choose the single best reverse osmosis system for your home?

Before you start narrowing down your options, make sure that you clarify what a reverse osmosis system does. You should also understand why it is different from other types of water filtration systems.

What Is a Reverse Osmosis System?

A reverse osmosis filtering system passes water through an RO membrane using pressure. With this technology, reverse osmosis systems can remove between 95 and 99% of contaminants from the water coming out of your faucet.

This makes a reverse osmosis membrane more effective than any other membrane filtration method, including ultrafiltration, micro-filtration, and nano-filtration. You should replace that membrane every 2 to 3 years.

The Basics of Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System

A reverse osmosis system is typically a “point of use” filter system, meaning installation occurs near a faucet. Most designs include an installation either on the countertop or under the sink. 

They have a dedicated faucet that delivers potable water for drinking and cooking. By purchasing an extra line, you can also connect your system to your refrigerator for the water dispenser or ice maker.

How a Reverse Osmosis System Works

A reverse osmosis filter works with a high-pressure water pump to increase the system’s salt-side pressure. In doing so, that pressure forces water across the system’s semi-permeable reverse osmosis membrane. 

Between 95% and 99% of dissolved solids remain behind in the wastewater stream during that process. The amount of pressure to push water the unit requires depends on the feed water’s salt concentration. If the feed water contains a high salt concentration level, that means it needs additional pressure.

When water enters the system’s reverse osmosis membrane under pressure, its water molecules pass through a semi-permeable membrane. During that process, the water’s salts and other contaminants cannot pass through, making them reject and flow into the wastewater stream. Some refer to the waste water stream as the brine stream. 

That waste water flows down the drain and feeds back into the feed water supply. There are also situations when this brine water can recycle back through the system to help conserve water.

Learn more about how reverse osmosis works here.

What Contaminants Does the Best RO System Remove?

microorganisms

Reverse osmosis water is free from all contaminants that come out of your faucet and could be damaging your health, even substances that can cause cancer. Your water might contain contaminants like:

  • Selenium
  • Arsenic
  • Nitrates and nitrites
  • Phosphate
  • Fluoride
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Cysts
  • Metals like lead, chromium, cadmium, radium, barium, and sodium

How Are Reverse Osmosis Filters Different Than Regular Filters?

A reverse osmosis system has a more comprehensive filtration level than a standard water filter that uses just carbon filter cartridges and sediment filters. A traditional water filter usually removes taste, odor, chlorine, chloramine, and other organic compounds and bacteria.

A reverse osmosis filter is a bit more useful. The main reason is that these filter systems remove all the contaminants from the water listed above, plus the ones that a standard filter removes as well.

One thing to make sure that you keep in mind is that reverse osmosis filtration is exceptionally effective. That means that these filter systems make water so pure that they remove healthy minerals from the drinking water coming out of your home’s water faucet. If having these beneficial minerals in your drinking and cooking water is essential to you, it’s time to buy a filter that includes water remineralization.

Lastly, it’s important to note that an RO filter’s use is mainly a “point of use” under the sink system with a dedicated faucet. If you are looking for a whole-house filter water, see our guide to whole house filters.

Can You Get Reverse Osmosis in a Whole-House Filter?

Now that you understand the technology, you may be wondering if RO is a viable option for your whole-house system. The problem: as mentioned, reverse osmosis becomes less and less efficient the larger you scale the system. 

This means vast amounts of waste water generated, and very few companies incorporate RO into their whole-house systems. RO will give you great-quality water at your faucet, but for your other water needs you’re going to be better off going with a different filtration system. 

Yes, there are some larger commercial whole house RO machines that can be used for the whole house but the efficiency and waste is not very good which is why they are not usually used for that purpose. Most people don’t need RO filtration for all the water in their home, just the drinking water.

What to Keep in Mind For Your Reverse Osmosis Water System

Before picking the best system for your home’s water, there are a few criteria to consider.

Space Requirements

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, reverse osmosis components, and (in most cases) the tank. It may be that you need to rule out a countertop system or an under-sink water system for lack of space. However, most homeowners should free up enough room for these filter systems under the sink by merely moving things currently there.

Replacement Filters

Multiple filters are excellent for having cleaner water, but they also mean more maintenance and a high expense. Plus, you’ll need to keep a note of when it’s necessary to change each water filter. For this reason, it’s essential to choose the level of filtration that best matches your water needs.

Water Source

The next point we’re going to discuss in this guide is your home’s water source. You need to know if your water is coming from a city supply or if it’s well water. That way, you can figure out which system could best remove the contaminants present in your water. You can find out what your water has in it by conducting a water test through a certified lab.

Water Remineralization

Your water may currently contain a large number of healthy minerals that the system can remove. Suppose you want to regain these water minerals. In that case, you should pick a water system that offers water remineralization to add them back. The water remineralization step is usually the last in the filter process before water leaves the faucet.

Water Usage

Even if you choose the most efficient reverse osmosis filtration system, it can waste some water. If you live in an area where water is scarce, wasting water may not actually be an option. In this case, you should pick a filter other than reverse osmosis to purify your water. Otherwise, consider looking for the RO system that wastes the least amount and still offers quality filtration.

Water Pressure

Most water reverse osmosis systems use water pressure to operate. Your home’s water pressure needs to be at least 40 PSI for the reverse osmosis filter process to work. If your home has low water pressure, find out if you can increase the pressure with a booster pump.

Keep in mind that it’s impossible to increase water pressure in some homes. That means if you don’t have adequate water pressure, an RO system is an unsuitable choice.

How Much Does a Reverse Osmosis System Cost?

The price of an RO system typically ranges between around $200 to $550. In large part, the price depends on the quality and additional features of the reverse osmosis system. Most of our picks for the best reverse osmosis systems fall within the range of $150 to $600 for each model.

Water Efficiency Ratio of A Reverse Osmosis Explained

The amount of waste water compared to purified water determines the water efficiency ratio for these systems. 

The best reverse osmosis system usually uses a permeate pump, which lowers the waste water rate to 1:1 – meaning one gallon of water wasted for every one gallon of filtered water. Without a permeate pump, a good ratio is 3:1. Anything lower than 4:1 is considered decent, but budget water systems could have a rate as high as 5:1.

Optional Accessories for Your Home Reverse Osmosis System

Many of the top reverse osmosis water systems come with additional accessories to improve filter’s efficiency and increase water quality coming out of your home’s faucet. There are three main accessories that many reverse osmosis water systems come with:

  • Permeate pumps — Because it’s non-electric, a permeate pump improves filter efficiency by eliminating wasted water. A permeate pump also helps maximize the water pressure coming out of your home’s faucet.
  • Remineralization — Filtering water with RO can mean that you lose some beneficial minerals. A system with a water remineralization filter adds minerals back to the water, creating better-tasting water and increasing health benefits.
  • UV light — To kill all the bacteria and microorganisms in the water, it is necessary to go beyond filtration and use UV light systems.

Other Important Reverse Osmosis System Terminology

You may come across unfamiliar terminology when comparing the best reverse osmosis systems. Being clear about what each term means can help you determine which filter to use, select the ideal models for your home, and make the right buying decision.

  • Filter Stages: Each reverse osmosis water model is a multiple-stage system. The reverse osmosis process starts with pre-filtering, which removes large particles from the water. The next is a reverse osmosis filter that removes small particles from the water. Lastly, water filtration systems include post-filters, which reduce odors and adverse tastes for the water. Some RO systems also have an additional stage after post-filters to remineralize the water.
  • Storage tank: Almost all the reverse osmosis filtration water systems on the list but one have a storage tank. The main reason is that reverse osmosis filtration systems don’t work super fast, and a storage tank can hold filtered water until it’s needed.
  • Gallons per day output (GPD): The amount of water the system can process per day is the system output. You’ll see systems measuring this as gallons of water per day (GPD). You might see references to gallons per minute for flow rate, but the standard measurement is GPD.
  • Wasted water: Each of these systems wastes a certain number of gallons daily in order to flush the RO membrane. As reverse osmosis water filters need additional water to remove the buildup of contaminants from the RO membrane, the system wastes a certain amount of water for every gallon of pure water produced.
  • pH: The pH of water refers to how acidic or alkaline it is when flowing through these systems. A higher pH is more alkaline, and a lower pH is more acidic. Water with a high pH has an improved taste, whereas a low pH is more corrosive.
  • TDS: Meaningtotal dissolved solids, these are small, mineral contaminants the RO system removes. In doing so, these systems produce purified water.
  • Air gap faucet: An RO system features a drain line and a cross-connected cold water line. Preventing water in the drain from making contact with the clean water involves cross-connections that use an air gap faucet.

Installation and Maintenance of a Reverse Osmosis System

installation

All RO systems feature a relatively simple installation process. A countertop system is the most straightforward system of all, as they sit next to the faucet and don’t require significant plumbing installation. However, an undersink system means that you have to drill a hole into the countertop for the faucet during installation.

Under the sink systems typically come with a dedicated faucet or a separate attachment so you can use your existing faucet.

That means you may need the assistance of a plumber or handyman to complete the installation process so that you can use the faucet. If you prefer not to drill a hole in your countertop during installation, then these under-sink water reverse osmosis systems are not the optimal choice.

Rarely is any maintenance necessary after installation beyond the replacement of filters. Typically, a pre-and post-filter requires changing every 6 or 12 months and reverse osmosis filters every one to five years after installation. The manual for your filtration system specifies installation instructions and how often you need to change the system filtration. You can utilize a TDS meter to check the filters you use, too.

Before you purchase an RO system, make sure you run a water test. That water test helps you determine the level of filtration your water requires and show you what types of contaminants are currently in your water supply. 

Suppose you find high levels of the contaminants named above in your water. In that case, the installation of an RO system is ideal. However, suppose the problem lies with chlorine, an adverse taste, or odors. In that case, it would be wise to consider a standard carbon water filter.

See our reverse osmosis system maintenance guide here for more information.

RO System Frequently Asked Questions

Will RO filters remove minerals from my water?

Yes. These water treatment systems typically remove calcium, fluoride, iron, lead, manganese, and salt. The process eliminates minerals because their molecules are significantly larger than what’s in water. 

We wrote detailed guides on how they remove different impurities below:

How RO Removes minerals

How RO Removes bacteria

How RO removes fluoride

What’s the deal with chlorine and fluoride? Are they bad?

Municipal water supplies contain added chlorine to help kill off microorganisms and waterborne pathogens. Municipalities also add fluoride to help prevent tooth decay. The downsides of adding these chemicals into the water is that they could cause health issues if the levels are higher than the recommendation. For example, too much chlorine could cause heart problems, and too much fluoride could cause elevated blood pressure.

Do RO filters require electricity?

No, these units run using water pressure. The only time electricity is necessary is if the model uses an electric pump or UV light.

Is it bad to drink reverse osmosis water?

The water that these machines produce without remineralization has low pH levels. If you drink water with low pH for an extended timeframe, there’s a chance it could cause gastrointestinal issues or kidney disorders but as long as you are getting healthy minerals from other sources this is not likely. So no, it’s not bad to drink RO water.

What is not removed by reverse osmosis?

Despite removing high levels of chemical impurities and other pollutants, these units don’t remove everything. For example, some pesticides, solvents, and volatile organic chemicals could still be present.

Is reverse osmosis the same as distilled water?

No, there are differences between reverse osmosis vs distilled water. For example, reverse osmosis involves removing volatile chemicals and filtering water. Distilled water involves boiling water, capturing its condensation, and condensing it back into the water’s supply.

Is reverse osmosis better than regular filtered water?

Traditional filters do well at filtering impurities from water, but they don’t have the reverse osmosis membrane. In both of these filtering machines, you’ll find a carbon cartridge to remove chlorine and sediment. It’s the membrane in the reverse osmosis machine that removes almost all of the other pollutants.

Do I need reverse osmosis if I have a whole house filter?

This depends on your water quality. Remember, reverse osmosis filters are usually point of use drinking water filters while whole house filters are attached at the incoming water inlet (point of entry) to filter your basic water supply. If you have contaminants in your drinking water that a whole house system cannot remove then it may be smart to install both.

Are There Any Regulations on RO Systems?

As of now there are not any legal bans or regulations on reverse osmosis systems. You can see our article where we review reverse osmosis bans speculation here.

Final Recommendations

After reviewing all of the best reverse osmosis systems above, we recommend a couple of standout filter options.

Suppose you are looking for the best technology and highest filter GPD output. In that case, we recommend the Waterdrop G3 System as the top choice for your home’s water.

Suppose instead you’re looking for the best reverse osmosis systems with a storage tank and excellent water filtration capacity that isn’t as expensive as the G3. In that case, we recommend the Soft Pro Green RO unit for your home’s water.

If you have high levels of contaminants in your water or your water just isn’t pure, purchasing and installing one of these top-quality reverse osmosis systems can make your health, cooking, and drinking water ultra-safe. So, we advise you to invest in and use a high-quality RO system instead of a sub-par water system.

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AUTHOR
David Trinh
David is an expert in all things plumbing, heating, cooling, and water treatment. He got his start in the plumbing business working on fixing all types of home improvement issues including water leaks, broken toilets, appliance installation, and more. Over time, he learned a ton about installing and choosing the correct water treatment products for homeowners. He nows spends part of his time servicing local clients and part of his time educating consumers about water treatment and other household appliances.