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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

10 Models Considered
68 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
153 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best reverse osmosis systems

Last Updated June 2019

Thirsty much? It makes sense. Water is a big part of our lives, especially since it makes up 50% to 60% of the adult human body. When you feel dehydrated, reaching for a glass of water is a quick solution to quench thirst — or is it? To some, tap water isn’t the most appealing solution, so bottled water, filtered water, and other alternatives are considered. Thanks to the rising popularity of reverse osmosis systems, the need to second-guess that glass of tap water disappears.

Reverse osmosis systems filter impurities and contaminants from tap water. They’re installed beneath your kitchen sink and connect to a separate dedicated faucet. Not only can they catch contaminants missed by municipal water filtration, they can also reduce the residue pulled from household pipes on the way to the faucet. This easy solution also cuts down on bottled water use, as well as the wait time for water to go through filtration pitchers.

If you’re looking for a cost-effective, healthy, and green solution for drinking water, a reverse osmosis system is a worthwhile investment. We examined the features and benefits of different models to help make your choice crystal clear.

Water tastes different with a reverse osmosis system. You’ll be able to appreciate the flavors of coffee and tea in purer forms.

Key considerations

System size

A reverse osmosis system is comprised of a tank, filters, and tubing. It takes up considerable room in an already limited space under the sink. Some compact models can be neatly edged against a side wall; others have a lot of girth and monopolize the area. On average, reverse osmosis systems take up a bit more space than a gallon jug of milk.

Filter costs

It’s a long-term investment to purchase a reverse osmosis system, so it’s expected that maintenance, like changing filters, will be an ongoing expenditure. Because models vary in their number of stages and filtration methods, some require more filters than others. They also vary in their frequency of change, as some last longer than others.

Replacement parts

Reverse osmosis systems are low-maintenance items, but they do occasionally need parts replaced. Washer tubes are the most common pieces to be changed out at some point. Some systems have plastic pieces, like washers and fasteners, that are recommended to be replaced with metal versions.

Well or septic water

Reverse osmosis systems are efficient in homes with septic water, though they’re not always recommended if you have well water. Some manufacturers are frank and either state the system is not designed for well water use or offer system modifications to accommodate it. Other manufacturers advertise their product’s ability to accommodate both types of water as a perk.

Gallons per day

The amount of water a reverse osmosis system puts out per day is measured in gallons per day, or GPD. The typical system puts out 50 GPD, though some can reach 100 GPD. Bear in mind that a product’s GPD is an average or approximation.

EXPERT TIP

Buy spare filters when you purchase your reverse osmosis system. That way, you’ll have some on hand when it’s time for a filter change.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Staged filtration

  • Number of stages: Reverse osmosis systems remove pollutants through different stages for a rigorous cleaning and purification process. The number of stages range from three to 10, with five stages being the most popular amount. The price of the model doesn’t really affect the number of stages, so there are quite a few expensive systems that have five stages. In fact, some models indicate they have five consolidated, efficient stages instead of drawing out the process with more.

  • Stage breakdown: Regardless of how many stages a system has, they all tend to share the same type of cyclical progression. The earlier stages of filtration remove the largest contaminants, while the later stages focus on smaller ones.

Targeted filtration

Reverse osmosis systems are designed to filter as many contaminants as possible — and there are thousands out there. The standard filtration across the board targets larger particles (think visible ones) like dirt, sand, and sediment. As for the other types of dedicated filters, there are a variety of combinations. Some systems even include more than one of the same filter type. This either creates redundancy for overall cleaner water, or it targets different particles between the stages.

  • Sediment filters: Dirt, sand, and sediment are among the larger particles in water. In addition to being pollutants themselves, they attract other harmful particles. As a result, they’re usually targeted in the first stage of reverse osmosis systems.

  • Carbon filters: These filters target organic pollutants as well as rust, pesticide, sludge, and other residue. They also reduce chemical levels, including chlorine and fluoride. Some chemicals can cause an odor or metallic taste in water, so these filters are instrumental to the reverse osmosis process.

  • UV filters: Ultraviolet light (UV) functions as a disinfectant and sterilizer at the microbial level. It’s the main filter that targets bacteria and viruses that fester in water, as they’re resistant and unresponsive to the other filters.

  • Remineralization/alkaline filter: Reverse osmosis systems have intense filtration processes, so sometimes good minerals are filtered out with the impurities. This filter aids in restoring and balancing pH to optimal levels by adding them back in. Some people say models without this filter have water that is somewhat flavorless, so it’s a desirable option.

Standard faucet

A dedicated faucet is a basic inclusion in reverse osmosis systems. They’re usually thinner and smaller than a main faucet, as smaller amounts of water are dispensed at a time. These faucets sit pretty tall with curved necks to be out of the way of other kitchen sink traffic. In some models, the base rotates, but others can be stationary. In more expensive, package-priced systems, the faucets tend to be more aesthetically appealing with some color or finish options.

DID YOU KNOW?

Fruits and vegetables receive a cleaner, more thorough washing with reverse osmosis systems.

DID YOU KNOW?

The intense filtration process removes impurities that affect the color of water, so your ice cubes will be clearer and less cloudy.

Reverse osmosis system prices

Reverse osmosis systems cost between $150 and $600, with the most popular price point between $200 and $400. These mid-range systems offer between five and 10 stages of purification and filtration. Some come with fancier faucets, spare filters, or maintenance kits, which add to the the price.

For systems on the opposite ends of the spectrum, price revolves around stage sophistication and component grade. The least-expensive ones around $150 stick to five stages with very modest faucets, some of which are flimsy. They also have more rudimentary designs and are less compact than others. At the high end, pushing closer to the $600 mark and up, components are made of noticeably better quality. Not all have 10-stage systems, though they’re more efficient and can filter in consolidated stages as opposed to the isolated ones seen in mid-range models.

Tips

  • Establish a maintenance schedule. Reverse osmosis systems require cleaning and maintenance, as explained in their user guides. Set a schedule on your phone or calendar to keep up on it so your system remains in good working condition.

  • Test the pH of your water. Compare the pH of water between your reverse osmosis system and regular tap with pH testing. Obtain an accurate reading, and check levels on a regular basis to monitor the effectiveness of your system.

  • Prepare necessary tools prior to installation. Because some reverse osmosis systems are do-it-yourself, check the installation guide to see which tools you need. Power drills and wrenches are some commonly required tools. Plumbing tape and spare washers may also be helpful to have on hand.

  • Enlist someone’s help. Even though reverse osmosis systems feature easy do-it-yourself installation, certain steps could be completed more efficiently with another pair of hands.

  • Clear out the space beneath your sink. Reverse osmosis systems take up a reasonable amount of space, so clear out unnecessary items. It’s also a great opportunity to give the space a deep cleaning or a fresh application of cupboard lining.

  • Check for leaks. Treat your reverse osmosis system with the same, or better, vigilance as other plumbing and household fixtures. It’s easy to troubleshoot leaks if you catch them early, and sometimes it’s as simple as replacing a washer or tubing.

Other products we considered

If tinkering with your sink and plumbing is out of the question, the Aquatru Countertop Water Filter Purification System with Exclusive 4-Stage Ultra Reverse Osmosis Technology is a fair option. There’s no hassle with installation, and you can transport it easily to other rooms. It only purifies one gallon at a time, though, so it might be best for small households or an office cubicle.

The Aquasure Premier Advanced 75GPD Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System with Quick Change Water Filter has a unique combination of features. It has exclusive leak detector technology as well as a safeguard to prevent against sudden water pressure changes. This model denotes the ease with which homeowners can change filters in addition to a long lifespan. It’s one of the fewer models with the option to choose faucet finishes.

Reverse osmosis systems aid with water conservation since they eliminate the need to keep the faucet running until the water runs clear.

FAQ

Q. Am I limited to using the faucet that comes with my reverse osmosis system?
A.
You may use a compatible faucet as an alternative. Feel free to get one that matches the rest of the hardware and décor of your kitchen, so long as it fits with the rest of the sink’s plumbing components.

Q. I’m moving, so can I take my reverse osmosis system to our new home?
A.
Yes. Simply disconnect the system and reconnect the original sink setup. Some manufacturers even have uninstallation tutorials available, or their customer service can guide you during a call. If you’re concerned about the extra hole from the system’s faucet, purchase an inexpensive sink hole cover to plug it.

Q. Can I adjust the temperature of the water coming out of the system faucet?
A.
No. It will only stream cold or cool water, as it’s not connected to hot water. These systems and components were designed for cold water, and some manufacturers say hot water could cause permanent damage.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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