When it comes to contaminants in our water supply, does size matter?
Some contaminants, such as magnesium and calcium, leave telltale signs across the kitchen and bathroom. Limescale may be unsightly, but at least these contaminants can be seen with the naked eye. Better the devil you know.
However, many dangerous contaminants in our water aren’t so easily detected. I’m talking about dissolved solids, particles down to one-ten thousandth of a micron.
A micron is a thousandth of a millimeter, so yeah, we’re talking pretty small.
And when it comes to chemical contaminants, size really doesn’t matter. Chloride, lead, arsenic, and fluoride can be present in microscopic form – ready to slip through your standard defenses.
Sometimes, the only way to target these contaminants is through reverse osmosis. As Missy Elliott would say, let’s flip it and reverse it. So let’s check out the best whole house reverse osmosis systems on the market!
At a Glance: 6 Best Whole House Reverse Osmosis Systems of 2022
- Six-stage filtration system
- 75-gallons capacity
- Guarantees 99% of contaminants removals (including fluoride, arsenic, lead etc)
- Great value for money
- Six-stage filtration
- 75 gallons capacity
- NSF certified quality
- 400 gallons capacity
- NSF certified performance
- Easy installation
- 3-stage filtration system
- Produces better than bottled water
- Long-lifespan filters
- Four stage filtration
- RO membrane has five-years lifespan
- Space saving design
- Whopping 1000 gallons per day capacity
- Efficient 2:1 wastewater ratio
- Easy DIY installation
- Expensive price tag
Whole house reverse osmosis systems are a surefire way to reduce the total dissolved solids in your water supply, leaving you with exceptionally pure water. Here are the best options for microscopic purity.
1. APEC Water Systems ROES-PH75 – Best For Great Tasting Drinking Water
APEC’s American construction guarantees premium quality and this six-stage, mid-capacity RO filter system is built to last.
This is a fantastic option for anyone with a wide range of filtering needs – as well as a reverse osmosis membrane removing 99% of TDS (total dissolved solids), it also eliminates thousands of other contaminants thanks to the double carbon blocks.
With the final stage, APEC’s calcium mineral cartridge remineralizes your water to a healthy pH – leaving you with great-tasting, healthy, and pure drinking water.
The 75 gallons per day (GPD) capacity will be adequate for couples but larger families may find the unit struggling towards the evening. The capacity of the ROES-PH75 can be boosted to 90 GPD, but only if you can bump your water pressure to 60psi.
Designed for self-installation and coming with detailed instructions, you don’t need to be a DIY hero to get this system installed. You will need plenty of time, however, as it’s a complex job that requires patience to understand.
2. iSpring RCC7AK – Best Multiple-Stage Filter System For Easy Installation
iSpring’s mid-capacity whole house filter system includes 6-stages of filtering and remineralization.
The RO filter features a premium membrane, which blocks anything larger than 0.0001 microns. This filter is sandwiched between three pre-filter and two post-filter units which remove a wide range of contaminants from metals to chemicals and then remineralize your water for a clean-tasting finish.
That’s some impressive filtering capacity, and it’s backed up by NSF certification. However, the whole system is limited to 75 GPD – not uncommon in this price range, but larger families or individuals with high water use may find this unit struggles.
The simplified installation system, including color-coordinated attachments, makes life easy for the do-it-yourselfers. It’s a more compact system than similar models, but this comes at the cost of a smaller water tank.
The base price offers good value, but you’re stuck buying iSpring replacement filters which will add to the long-term costs. A one-year manufacturer’s warranty comes as standard.
3. Waterdrop RO Water Filtration System – Best For Additional Filter Stages
Waterdrop’s innovative tankless system saves on space and it’s exceptionally easy to install. But the latest in whole house reverse osmosis technology commands a serious price tag.
Utilizing a powerful internal pump and dispensing with the typical wastewater tank, the Waterdrop RO produces filtered water on-demand. With a capacity of up to 400 gallons per day, it can handle anything your family – or even a small business – might throw at it.
Three internal filters provide seven stages of filtering thanks to smart, multi-purpose filters. As well as an impressive reduction in TDS through the reverse osmosis membrane, lead, fluoride, and a wide range of further chemicals are removed. The whole system is certified to multiple NSF standards.
Thanks to the simplified design it’s exceptionally easy to install and maintain, and the intuitive warning light system will alert you when it’s time to change the filter.
4. Whirlpool WHER25 – Best Whole House RO System For Long-Life Filtering
Whirlpool’s WHER25 uses a compact design that saves space without compromising on filtration.
Activated carbon pre- and post-filtering reduces chemical contaminants, and the reverse osmosis membrane removes all total dissolved solids larger than 0.001 microns.
Whilst you might not notice the difference with the naked eye, that’s 10x larger than other models, implying a worse performance in removing TDS. Nevertheless, it’s NSF certified so you have peace of mind with your water quality.
But for the compromise on TDS removal, you get an exceptionally long-life filter system. The RO membrane will last for you years at optimal performance, and the activated carbon filters last six months.
With a capacity of just 22 GPD, this system won’t work for families – but it’s a good compact system for single-person households on a budget.
5. Watts Premier WP531411 RO Filtration System- Best For Easy Maintenance And Filter Replacement
Watt’s Premier RO system features four-stage filtering and a smart filter replacement system that means you’re never reaching for the water shut-off valve.
A sediment and pre-carbon filter preceded the reverse osmosis stage, reducing sediment and other contaminants in your water before the reverse osmosis membrane tackles total dissolved solids. A final post-carbon stage provides you with crisp, great-tasting drinking water.
The filters are long-lasting and the RO membrane itself has a maximum lifespan of five years, depending on your water quality.
The system is designed for self-installation and comes with all fixtures and fittings required – but it’s a tricky job that may have you tearing your hair out. It’s also essential you follow the directions to the letter, otherwise, leaks can occur.
6. Hydro-Logic 31023 – Best For High Water Consumption
With a whopping 1000 gallons per day capacity, this is a whole house reverse osmosis system designed for families and small businesses looking to enjoy near limitless purified water.
The multi-stage filtering system also includes a KDF/carbon dual-material filter. Not only does this tackle a vast range of contaminants – from fluoride to pesticides to lead – but it also lengthens the lifespan of your RO membrane by preventing chlorine and other chemicals from reaching the reverse osmosis stage.
And featuring a dual reverse osmosis filter stage with double membrane, this Hydro-Logic filter removes 95% of TDS.
It’s an efficient producer of pure water too, with a ratio of 2:1 wastewater to purified output. That keeps your water bill low and helps to justify the price tag.
The Buyer's Guide to Choosing Right Whole House RO System
With so many great whole house reverse osmosis systems out there, it can be hard to choose. But with your own unique water filtering needs, there’s a filter system that’s perfect for you. Here’s everything you need to know to find the right match for you.
Flow rate determines how much purified water you’re going to get in real terms, and it’s an important metric for determining if a whole house RO system is right for you and your family.
Flow rate, measured in gallons per day (GPD) can range from around 20 to 500. That’s a pretty serious range, so it’s important to find your ballpark.
For a whole-house system, you’re going to include bathing and flushing the toilet – and a single individual can use up to 100 gallons a day, all told. But as a general rule, a mid-capacity 75 GPD system will provide enough water for a couple without children.
Whilst reverse osmosis is the best way to tackle microscopic particles in your water supply, the majority of RO systems come with additional stages of filtering. More stages equals purer water in the end.
Pre-filtering stages can include water softeners reducing the mineral content of your water, and activated carbon to remove pesticides and chlorine, which can damage your RO membrane. The additional filtering stages speak to the quality of the system for complete filtration.
Can you go too far with filtering? Reverse osmosis is so effective at reducing total dissolved solids in your water supply that it actually strips away some valuable minerals, leaving you with water that tastes unappealingly bland.
Post-filtering stages often remineralize your water with trace micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and sodium. This gives you great-tasting, bottled-quality water from your faucet – one of the major benefits of an RO filtration system.
Nothing lasts forever. Whilst RO filters are long-lasting compared to their active-carbon compatriots, eventually, the membrane in your RO filter will degrade. Membrane lifespan will depend on the quality of the water supply you’re starting out with, so getting an independent test of your TDS will help to guide you.
Generally, an RO filter will last between one and five years – and pre-filtering contaminants like chlorine through activated carbon can extend the lifespan further.
You’ll notice that most RO filter systems include a faucet as part of the system. That’s because the contaminated wastewater produced by an RO system needs to be kept separate from your drinking water at all costs.
And when your drains get clogged, wastewater can be backed up into your faucet. The only way to prevent this contaminating your drinking water is with an air-gapped faucet, where an additional drainage point on the faucet lets wastewater escape.
Air gap faucets are a premium addition to any RO system and a sure sign that you’re purchasing a top-quality system.
Most RO systems are designed to be self-installed without plumbing expertise, and all standard fittings are usually included. Some units are more easily installed than others, however, with color-coded fittings and intuitive instructions, whilst other systems may leave you tearing your hair out.
But look out – air-gapped faucets require a larger hole in your countertop for installation. If you’re purchasing an RO system that includes this type of faucet, be prepared to make some adjustments to your original setup.
Efficiency And Wastewater
All reverse osmosis systems produce wastewater in the form of brine. The total dissolved solids that don’t make it through the RO membrane exit the system as waste, so the efficiency of the production of purified water will impact your water bill big time.
Premium systems can, in 2022, offer a maximum efficiency ratio of 1:1, but 2:1 (twice as much wastewater as purified water) and 3:1 are more common. Whilst these efficient systems command a higher price tag, inefficiency units producing a lot of wastewater are tantamount to flushing money down the drain!
You don’t want to splash out on a super-sized reverse osmosis system, only to discover there’s no room to install it. RO systems are often bulky, especially those with large freshwater tanks. Whether you’re installing under the sink or at the in-flow of your water supply, ensure you have the space for your selected system.
Unless money is no object, price will be a major factor in your consideration of a whole house RO system. Fortunately, compact units with limited capacity are affordable on a budget, but you’ll be compromising on gallons-per-day capacity and other options like pre- and post-filtering.
Reverse osmosis systems are easy to install, low maintenance, and super effective when it comes to reducing common contaminants.
And if you’re someone with an eye for detail, you’ll appreciate how whole house reverse osmosis systems offer protection to a microscopic degree.
Because when it comes to water, out of sight out of mind isn’t enough. Miniscule contaminants can still present a big danger to your family.
Once you factor in additional pre-filtering stages and post-filtering remineralization, you’ll have bottled-quality water coming from your faucet. That offers premium hydration whilst saving you a fortune on store-bought water.
Talk about healthy, wealthy, and wise! A whole house reverse osmosis system will show you purification on a new scale.