If you want pure, clear water at home you can’t do better than a reverse osmosis system.
Well, unless you want to ship in extremely expensive mineral water daily of course!
I’m going to assume you don’t.
So, let’s talk about reverse osmosis…
Reverse osmosis works by forcing water through a membrane at pressure. That membrane is so incredibly fine that only water molecules can get through, leaving behind all nasties and contaminants.
That means when you use a reverse osmosis filter, you’re getting probably the closest thing to genuinely pure water you ever will.
So, what are the best reverse osmosis systems on the market right now?
At a Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Reverse Osmosis Systems of 2022
- Built with additional 3 stages filtration along RO membrane
- Sharply removes a range of contaminants
- 75/gallon a day capacity
- Top value for money
- Reduces water waste by an amazing 80%
- Adds calcium and magnesium to your water twice
- Removes an incredible 98% of contaminants
- Excellent 5-stages filtration
- Offers 40-85 psi water pressure
- 2-year standard warranty
- 6-stage excellent filtration
- NSF/ANSI 58 certification
- Longest-lasting filters
- Installation is easy & fuss free
- Unit includes 3 filters
- Auto-flushing system
- 5-stage filtration removes 99% contaminants
- RO filters last around a year
- 1-year warranty
- Removes all potential contaminants
- Works well for both well water and lakewater
- On expensive side
- 4-stage filtration system
- Purify up to 90 gallons of water per day
- Remove up to 99.9% of heavy metals & other contaminants
- Quick to install
- Excellent performance
- No installation required
- Small, square footprint
- Minimal maintenance needed
- 6 liter tank capacity
- Four filtration stages
- No electricity needed
- Space saving design
- 1:1 wastewater to purified water ratio
- Excellent value for Money
Let's dive deeper into the details of these top rated RO systems:
1. Springwell SWRO-Nickel – Best Under Sink Reverse Osmosis System
Springwell’s compact under-sink reverse osmosis filter system doesn’t sacrifice capacity for its diminished size.
- Compact under sink system
- 75/gallon a day capacity
- Easy installation, besides the countertop faucet
- Just a one-year warranty
Built with an additional three stages of filtration alongside the RO membrane, the end result is four-stage filtering that leaves you with powerfully pure water.
The first stage, sediment filtering, removes larger contaminants and prolongs the life of your filters.Double carbon filtering stages remove a broad spectrum of contaminants and reverse osmosis purifies your water almost beyond belief.
The long list of contaminants removed by Springwell’s SWRO includes chlorine, chloramine and pesticides, lead, arsenic, fluoride and heavy metals as well as sediment and rust.
The 75/gallon a day capacity impresses and should be more than sufficient for your family’s drinking and cooking needs. The system comes with its own independent faucet, so you can save your filters and bypass the RO when purity isn’t a concern. The additional faucet is a handy feature, but note that installation requires the addition of a hole in your countertop, complicating the process.
The sediment and carbon filters require replacement every six months – a cost to factor into the unit's moderately high price point. The RO membrane filter, however, should last for around two years.
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2. Home Master TMAFC – Best All-Round RO Filter System
The Home Master TMAFC is designed with solving the problems of most reverse osmosis systems in mind. It’s the reverse osmosis filter system for people who are sceptical of reverse osmosis filter systems.
What does the Home Master do differently? Well, first of all this under sink, tank RO system adds calcium and magnesium to your water twice during the filtration process to make sure that you’re drinking enriched water.
Secondly, the Fast Flo RO kit means that flow rates are not made sluggish by a Home Master filtration system.
Finally, the built in non-electric pump reduces water waste by an amazing 80%, so your water bills won’t cost the Earth and nor will you damage the Earth by using insane amounts of H2O.
On top of all that, all the components used in the TMAFC are individually BSF certified (an unusual mark of quality for a reverse osmosis system like this one), and the system’s modular design make it extremely easy to upgrade and service. Filters should be changed around every 2000 gallons (roughly once a year), and no tools are required to do so.
In all, the Home Master offers seven stages of filtration and mineralisation, and removes an incredible 98% of contaminants from your water supply. It truly is an incredible filter system, providing access to fast flowing, crystal clear mineral water at the touch of a faucet.
3. APEC Water Systems ROES-50 – Best For Pure Drinking Water
This is an RO system from America’s no. 1 rated water filter brand, so you know it’s going to be quality.
The APEC ROES-50 offers exceptional, US-designed quality and a seal of approval from the WQA, who have certified the system. Offering a water pressure of 40-85 psi, this system won’t slow down flow in your kitchen, and it can be installed under pretty much any sink as long as there is room for the tank.
The APEC comes with a faucet, along with all the tubing and adaptors needed for installation, but should be installed by a professional if you don’t personally have decent plumbing skills. Fittings are high quality and leak free, and the faucet is stainless steel (no heavy metals are used in its production).
With a 2-year warranty as standard, you can trust that this five-stage filtration system is built to last. It includes two carbon block filters and a coconut carbon filter on top of the reverse osmosis filter and sediment filters you would expect to find as a minimum in a system like this.
The APEC is really affordable for such a high quality system, and as it doesn’t remineralise water you don’t need to worry about changing additional cartridges or sourcing them.
4. iSpring RCC7AK 6-Stage – Best Under Sink RO Filter System
The iSpring RCC7AK 6-Stage is a great value, NSF certified reverse osmosis filter for undersink use. iSpring are a hugely trusted water filter provider, with loads of experience of providing at-home water filtration solutions.
- This is an excellent value system
- All installation materials are included, as well as very clear instructions
- NSF 58 certified
- Excellent, US-based support
- The remineralization and alkalisation stage is an unusual addition
- If alkalised water isn’t something you’re interested in, skip the iSpring
- This RO filter system does produce a fair amount of wastewater
On top of the three pre-filters, a PP sediment filter, a carbon KDF (GAC) filter, and a carbon block (CTO) filter, and the all-important RO filter, the RCC7AK offers a final KDF filter and then a fantastic remineralization and alkalisation filter which both remineralizes and softens water to ensure the healthiest water possible for you and your family at the touch of a faucet!
This RO filter, with its NSF/ANSI 58 certification, delivers bottled mineral-water quality water at a fraction of the price of constantly stocking up on bottles.
It comes with a faucet, along with everything needed for installation. Installation videos on the iSpring site mean that if you have some plumbing skills you should be able to install the iSpring RCC7AK yourself, and otherwise it should take a handyman or plumber no time at all.
iSpring also offer some of the best customer support available for a water filter system like this. All of their support staff are US based, working out of GA, and once you register with the company you will receive lifetime support from professionals.
With some of the longest-lasting filters in the industry, the iSpring is easy to maintain. And of course, you will be supported at all times with all tech issues if you buy an iSpring. That includes any issues you have with filter changes, etc.
5. Waterdrop RO Water Filtration System – Best For Fuss-Free Installation
This tankless reverse osmosis water filtration system is a big investment, but if you’re working with a smaller space it might be just what you need.
- Although it’s expensive, the features of the Waterdrop mean it’s good value
- Space saving
- Incredibly easy to install and maintain, helped along by the filter status light and composite filter
- Comes with everything needed for installation
- This is a big-ticket item, so it’s not a good choice if you’re trying to save the pennies
- There’s no remineralisation stage with the waterdrop
Not only does the Waterdrop’s tankless design save space, it also means that installation is easy and fuss free. This filter should only take about thirty minutes to install – that’s an awful lot quicker than a traditional undersink RO filter with a tank, which can take a couple hours to install if you aren’t an expert.
And that’s not where the ease of use stops, not by any means! A composite filter combines all the filters you would expect, including PP, activated carbon and of course RO, into one. This means that changing the filter takes about thirty seconds. And you know just when to change the filter (and when to order a new one, too) because the included faucet has a state of the art filter indicator light in its base.
The Waterdrop comes with three filters included, so you won’t need to order more for a while anyway!
This filter is working hard 24 hours a day, with an auto-flushing system and a reminder for shut-off. Essentially, you won’t find any other RO filter that is easier to use, more intuitive, or more convenient.
6. Express Water RO5DX – Best Budget Pick
This undersink reverse osmosis filter system from Express Water is a fantastic budget option for anyone who wants clean, clear water they can trust without breaking the bank.
The Express RO5DX consists of a sediment filter, a granular filter, as well as a reverse osmosis filter and a coconut carbon post-filter to ensure the purest water possible every time you turn on the faucet.
And speaking of the faucet, it comes with a stainless steel faucet along with everything else you need to set up your new undersink RO filter system with a tank. And set-up is exceptionally easy with the RO5DX, with 50% more pre-assembly as standard than most of its competitors.
Like all Express Water RO systems, the RO5DX comes with a no-questions asked 1-year warranty. It shouldn’t be needed though, because upkeep is as easy as installation with the RO5DX. Prefilters should be replaced every six months, while RO filters last around a year. A quick color-match system makes this all really simple.
This system doesn’t include any remineralisation, and the tank system does use a fare amount of water, but there is nothing comparable at the price point.
7. iSpring RCC7AK-UV – Best for Well Water
The iSpring RCC7AK-UV includes all the features of the excellent RCC7AK, but with an additional UV post-filter.
- Includes a remineralisation and alkalisation stage
- Easy to install and maintain
- Can be used on both lake and well water, as well as water from a municipal supply
- This is quite an expensive option
- Unless you’re relying on lake or well water, you might want to consider the cheaper version without the UV filter
It’s a slightly more expensive option, but the UV filter element means that all bacteria and viruses are eliminated with no use of chemicals or potential contaminants. When combined with the existing combination of sediment, carbon and RO filters that characterise the RCC7AK you get an unrivaled purity of water coming out of your faucet.
The iSpring RCC7AK-UV can deal not only with poor municipal water supplies, but also both well water and lakewater. That means that wherever you live, and whatever your water source, this RO filter will work for you.
The system comes with everything you need to set it up, and when installed correctly (DIY if you have any plumbing knowledge, or by a handyman or plumber otherwise) it should maintain a pressure of 45-70psi.
8. APEC Water Systems RO-CTOP-C Portable – Best Countertop
The APEC is a really incredible bit of kit. It’s a portable, tankless RO water filter system that comes at an incredibly reasonable price – not something you see every day by any means.
This lightweight and practically instillation-free system plugs into almost all faucets in minutes, and with its case it can be transported almost anywhere with ease (it should be noted that the RO-CTOP-C does not fit pull out faucets).
This four-stage system can purify up to 90 gallons of water per day, maintaining up to 60psi of water pressure. All the filters are US made and high capacity, and they are as follows: five micron sediment filter, coconut carbon filter, TFC reverse osmosis membrane, and a final coconut carbon filter to remove any unpleasant tastes
As it’s so small, light and portable, the APEC does not include remineralisation, but it would be pretty shocking if it did given its price point and design.
9. Express Water UV – Best For UV Sterilization
Another excellent, UV-enabled reverse osmosis system, the Express water impresses with an incredible eleven stages!
- A great system with an amazing number of stages
- UV filter gets rid of all bacteria and viruses
- An excellent remineralization and alkalization stage
- Easy to put together and maintain
- This system does produce a fair amount of wastewater
- The 11 stages mean there are a lot of cartridges to keep track of and change
As you would hope with such a complex system, the Express promises to remove up to 99.9% of heavy metals and other contaminants from your drinking water. It consists of active block carbon, active granulated carbon, RO, and sediment filters, plus the aforementioned UV filter, a post-carbon filter and remineralization and alkalization stage.
What does all this mean?
Well, basically it means that you get mineral-water quality H2O straight out of your faucet!
The Express Water UV is designed to be quick to install and easy to understand, meaning that both the bi-annual filter changes and initial installation should be easy, even for novices.
Its quick-connect system is color coded, and labeled for ease of use. On top of that, a leak detection system means you never have to worry about unnoticed cracks or leaks within your undersink RO filtration system.
10. AlcaPure RKIN-ZIPAL – Best For Apartment
As a countertop water filter, the AlcaPure is an incredibly easy way to run a reverse osmosis system (which, as we all know, can be a hassle).
In fact, there is no installation required whatsoever with the AlcaPure. You just assemble the countertop filter, fill it, and run it. It’s designed to be compact, with a small, square footprint, so it fits in smaller kitchens and even in RVs.
The countertop filter includes four stages, with a sediment filter, an active carbon filter, an RO filter, and a post-filter for absolute purity. The filter warns you when cartridges need changing, so you can always stay on top of the (minimal) maintenance needed. This should only be about every 12 months, so don’t worry about excessive maintenance needs!
The Alcapure will provide you with 0.5 gallons of purified water in about 15 minutes when you fill it with a gallon of tap water. The rest is wastewater, so you will have to get rid of it.
11. Brondell Circle Reverse Osmosis System – Best For Minimizing Water Waste
The biggest joy of the Brondell is its efficiency. It’s up to 10 times more efficient than many competitors, which is pretty incredible.
On top of that, the Circle’s 6 liter tank refills in under an hour so it is constantly working hard to purify water for you and your family. It’s designed to react to your water use, meaning that it never wastes more water than absolutely necessary for optimal purification.
The four filtration stages of the Brondell Circle are a sediment filter, an activated carbon filter, an RO membrane filter (of course) and a carbon block post filter. All this adds up to clean, clear, purified water on tap!
Speaking of which, the Brondell comes with a stylish faucet ready for installation. And it includes an LED filter change reminder light so that you’ll always know when you need to work on upkeep for your reverse osmosis system.
This is a no electricity system, so it’s easy to install and works pretty much anywhere! Of course, as it is so compact this system does not include a remineralization stage.
12. Waterdrop Tankless Reverse Osmosis System – Best Tankless Reverse Osmosis System
This is a fantastic value tankless RO system, and like all tankless systems it saves both space and installation hassle.
The Waterdrop tankless isn’t as elegant as some tankless systems, and it has a 1:1 wastewater to purified water ratio, but it really is amazing value for money.
The filter within the Waterdrop is composite, meaning less upkeep (only one filter to change). It does, however, contain three stages in a compact space, including a sediment PP membrane and an activated carbon block on top of the RO filter.
The small system means you’re saving an amazing 70% space wise when compared to comparable systems with tanks. So, if you’re dealing with an apartment or a small space beneath your sink, it makes a huge amount of sense to consider this set up.
Is Drinking Reverse Osmosis Water Safe and Healthy?
Whilst water that has been filtered using reverse osmosis is some of the purest water in the world, there is a legitimate argument that it might be too pure.
That’s because reverse osmosis membranes are so fine they allow only water molecules to pass through, filtering out even minerals. Normal tap water contains magnesium, calcium and sodium at levels that can help you get your RDA of these minerals.
Magnesium, calcium and sodium are all useful for normal nerve and muscle function, so removing a main source of them from your diet can be dangerous!
To counter this, you can remineralise water once it has been filtered. However, the remineralisation packs are not particularly well regulated, and synthetically manufactured minerals aren’t as good for you as the natural variety. For that reason, you may want to think hard about an RO system if it’s going to filter all of your drinking water.
Reverse Osmosis Pros and Cons
Reverse osmosis has some cons, and of course many pros.
- Water being stripped of minerals, so there is a danger of not getting your RDA of things like calcium and magnesium
- A fair amount of upkeep, particularly changing cartridges in systems with many stages
- Wastewater is inevitable in a reverse osmosis system, which has an affect on both your water bills and the environment
- They can be somewhat tough to install alone if you don’t have any plumbing knowledge
And yet, many people believe the pros outweigh them:
- The purest water you can get with an at-home water purification system
- RO filters remove heavy metals, including lead, which is rare in an at-home filter system
- Over time, RO systems save money when compared to buying bottled water
- The issue with minerals can be solved with a remineralization system, which is included in plenty of models of RO system
Types of RO System
There are several types of RO filter on the market, though some are more popular than others. They include:
These are small filter systems that are often portable. They tend to be either installation free (so, need to be filled regularly) or very easy to install by simply hooking them up to the faucet.
Countertop filters are suitable for travel, RVs, or smaller families and residences. They tend to consist of three or four filtration stages, including carbon and sediment filters as well as and RO filter.
Standard undersink RO filters hook up to the cold water line, and include a storage tank and several filter cartridges. Many also include their own faucet, which has to be installed.
Under sink RO filters can consist of up to nine stages of filtration, including activated carbon, KDF, sediment, and of course RO.
These are very like regular under sink filters, but as they don’t have tanks they often can’t process as much water as quickly as a standard under sink system. They are, however, a fantastic option for smaller spaces like apartments.
The Reverse Osmosis Frequently Asked Questions
Any questions at the back of the class? Raise your hand, please!
How Does Reverse Osmosis Work?
Reverse osmosis works to purify your water by passing the water through a membrane filled with tiny, microscopic holes. This semipermeable membrane prevents the vast majority of molecules from passing through, ensuring the water on the other side is nothing but hydrogen and oxygen.
Water that doesn’t pass through the membrane leaves the system as wastewater, plumbed to a drainage pipe. Most reverse osmosis systems produce as much or more wastewater as they do purified water.
Because the membrane is barely permeable, the system relies on a minimum water pressure to force water through. 40 psi can be adequate, but 60psi is optimal for greater output.
What Does Reverse Osmosis Remove?
The minuscule pores in the reverse osmosis membrane are as small as 0.0001 microns. A micron is a millionth of a meter, so these tiny pores don’t let much at all squeeze on through.
Reverse osmosis, therefore, removes a wide range of contaminants, including:
Sodium, chloride, magnesium Arsenic and fluoride Metals such as copper and lead Protozoa such as Giardia Bacteria and viruses.
In fact, reverse osmosis is so effective that it removes a number of harmless and even healthy minerals such as magnesium, sodium, and calcium. Many RO filters have an additional remineralization stage, replenishing your water with these micronutrients to improve the flavor and health-giving properties of your water.
So is there anything RO doesn’t remove? Well, whilst RO is exceptionally effective, there are some contaminants with molecules smaller than H2O. These contaminants, including some herbicides and pesticides, and certain chlorine molecules: that’s why prefiltering with KDF media and activated carbon, is an important component of an entire home reverse osmosis filtering systems
How Do I Look After My Reverse Osmosis System?
When you’re splashing out on expensive whole house RO filter systems, it has to last. That means maintenance and upkeep are vital – so how do you look after your reverse osmosis system?
The primary job in reverse osmosis system maintenance is changing the filters. RO membranes themselves should last a number of years, but activated carbon filters and remineralization stages have a shorter lifespan – usually around 3 to 6 months.
Forgetting to change your filters could compromise your water’s purity. These additional filtering stages also remove contaminants such as chlorine that can damage your RO membrane, so regular filter maintenance is vital to your unit’s lifespan.
If your reverse osmosis system has a freshwater tank, you should sanitize this annually to keep everything in good condition. This can be done with a sanitization and maintenance kit, available from many suppliers at a low cost.
Aside from sanitation and filter replacement, reverse osmosis systems are very low maintenance and offer a great hands-off approach to purified water!
As reverse osmosis filters are so varied and complex, you have to think really carefully about what you want from a new RO system.
If you have a large family (especially if you live with children or older people who have to be careful about getting enough minerals) then you will want to go for something with all the bells and whistles, including remineralization and potentially UV filtration too. For that, I would advise the iSpring RCC7AK-UV.
The Apec Portable Countertop is an absolutely incredible product, though it is built for travel it could also be used in a smaller home or in general life by a single person or couple. It’s amazingly easy to use, which is a real plus-point, and also a great choice if you need an RO filter for RV trips or similar.
Finally, the Waterdrop Tankless is amazing value for a compact system that does the job, is easy to install and use, and takes very little upkeep. It would be my choice for a small space if it was more than just me, or me and a partner. It’s also a wonderful budget option if that’s a serious concern.
RO filters can be a slightly contentious issue, and you should consider water usage and your mineral intake needs, but overall every filter on this list is capable of providing incredibly pure water with ease.