Are reverse osmosis systems worth it?
There are several ways to use reverse osmosis technology in home water filtering. That means that most households can get good value from a RO system, regardless of their feed water quality.
If your water passes EPA safe standards but contains smell, taste, or appearance impurities, then an under-sink RO system is one of the most cost-efficient ways to dramatically improve water quality.
For those with unsafe private water supplies, installing a whole house RO system provides high-level filtering power that can only be matched by combining several other types of filter – which again means cost-efficient protection.
However, there are situations where a reverse osmosis filter might not be the best option for one reason or another.
If hard minerals are the main issue with your water supply, for example, a water softener is likely to be a more efficient and long-lasting solution. Likewise, those primarily looking to remove chlorine and chlorine byproducts will get more value from a simple but effective carbon filter.
What is the advantage of a reverse osmosis system?
Advantages of reverse osmosis systems revolve around cost efficiency, ease of installation, and filtration performance:
- No other single type of home water filter can remove the same amount and diversity of contaminants as reverse osmosis systems.
- While cartridge media stages of reverse osmosis systems may need replacing every 12 months, most RO membranes themselves should last for at least 2 years.
- Most under-sink reverse osmosis systems can be easily DIY installed (the only issue may be fitting the faucet into the kitchen counter)
What is the disadvantage of a reverse osmosis system?
Disadvantages of a reverse osmosis system revolve around their slow flow rates, water waste, and at times excessive filtering power:
- Because they use pressure to force water through microscopic holes, reverse osmosis systems have very slow flow rates. While other filters measure water production in gallons per minute (GPM), most RO systems are measured in gallons per day (GPD). This means that almost all reverse osmosis systems come with water storage tanks to hold pre-filtered water.
- Another consequence of using pressure is that RO systems produce less filtered water than they take in. Most RO systems run at around 33% efficiency, meaning that they filter one gallon of water for every three.
- Reverse osmosis filters are so powerful that they remove almost all minerals and metals from the water supply. This can result in a somewhat bland taste that some people may not like.
How long does a whole house reverse osmosis system last?
Quality reverse osmosis systems with regular maintenance should last around 20 years. The osmosis membranes themselves have a performance lifespan of 2 – 5 years depending upon their pore size and the quality and incoming pressure of feed water.
Most RO systems also contain carbon and sediment filtration stages to remove undissolved matter and organic chemicals from the water supply. These stages use replaceable media cartridges, which need to be changed every 6 months – 2 years depending upon their size and the quality of incoming water.
How much does a whole house reverse osmosis system cost?
The price of a reverse osmosis system varies dramatically depending upon whether the system is designed for point-of-entry or point-of-use applications.
Point-of-entry reverse osmosis systems tend to cost between $2,500 and $9,999. That’s because they include large water storage tanks, electrical pumps, and reverse osmosis filters capable of processing over a hundred gallons of water per day.
Point-of-use reverse osmosis systems start at around $150 and can cost up to $600 depending upon the number of filtration stages in the system. They’re generally cheaper thanks to smaller, plastic water storage tanks and capacities that max out at around 60 gallons per day.
Can I install my own reverse osmosis system?
Most people contract a professional to install a reverse osmosis system, as with other types of home filters. However, there’s nothing stopping you from installing your own system, if you have the right DIY and plumbing know-how.
When it comes to under sink RO systems, the installation of the filter itself should be relatively straightforward. The only non-DIY-friendly element is fitting the countertop faucet, which requires drilling a hole into your counter.
Whole house RO systems present a much more complex installation challenge due to their multiple large components and need for water pressure calibration. Don’t attempt to install your own whole house filtration system unless you have previous plumbing experience.