Best Source of Info for Top RO Systems

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If you have ever traveled, even to somewhere as close as the next town over, and drank the tap water in both places, you will probably notice the difference in the taste. Tap water tastes different almost every new place you go due to a variety of different factors in how it is purified for drinking.

If you want fresher, better tasting, more pure water, but don’t buy into the environment ravaging fad of buying bottled water, then look into one of the best reverse osmosis systems might be the perfect accessory for your tap.

Sometimes you get that less than lovely vaguely bleach flavored tap water in the city, if your tap water comes from desalination plants then it may be somewhat salty, and if you are really unlucky you’ll get that constant metallic tinge on your tongue from the presence of too much iron. If you are lucky, you will build your home somewhere with pretty great tasting tap water, but very few people get lucky.

Unfortunately, even if the water that comes out of your faucet tastes pretty good, you can’t always be sure what invisible particles are lurking within either. The Flint, Michigan water crisis is a pretty good example of that, albeit it on the most drastic end of the spectrum.

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What is Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration?

What is RO Water?

RO Water is simply an easier way of describing the water that comes filtered from reverse osmosis filters.  Thousands and thousands of people agree that the best home water filtration system is that an RO unit.  While it’s not the cheapest solution filtered home water, it is the most effective and what you spend up front will be made up for more than 10x in the near future.

Reverse osmosis is a filtration process in which water pressure is used to force water molecules through a very fine membrane. This allows pure water molecules through, but forces contaminants to stay behind. The clean water is then free to go into your glass while the contaminants on the other side of the membrane will be flushed back down the drain.

That is the simple explanation of it, anyway. The most basic terms of explaining anything make it seem like reverse osmosis filters don’t really do much of anything at all other than squeeze water through a filter, but because the filters are composed of several different

layers, it actually does much more than you would expect. The stages of filtration with a reverse osmosis filter include:

  • Sediment Stage – removes any rough particles like dirt, sand, and rust
  • Carbon Stage – removes chemical particles like chlorine and any other chemicals that may harm the actual membrane. Some reverse osmosis systems may have one or many carbon stages depending on the quality of the carbon they use and contact time the water has with the carbon.
  • Reverse Osmosis Stage – this is where the bulk of the purification process is completed. Essentially it removes dissolved solids and anything bigger than a water molecule via pushing water through the membrane.
  • Remineralization Stage – This stage is occasionally optional. As water purified through reverse osmosis is so pure and just slightly acidic, some filtration systems will actually add back in minerals that were previously filtered out like calcium and magnesium. This improves the pH balance, improves the taste, and gives you trace amounts of those beneficial minerals.
  • Storage Tank Stage – the water that has been filtered is put into a storage tank for consumption.
  • Specific Treatments Stage(s) – This is another optional feature of some filtration systems. This can include UV filters to destroy microorganisms as well as selective filters made specifically for nitrates, arsenic, fluoride, and deionization.
  • Polishing Stage – This is the final stage of reverse osmosis filtering. Essentially it just does a small carbon filtering once more to remove any taste or odors that the slightly acidic filtered water picked up in your storage tank.

As reverse osmosis filters thrive in removing salt while others struggle, these filtration systems are popular in areas with a high concentration of brackish water (saltwater mixed with freshwater), but can also thrive for those who want to preserve their plumbing by using water softener, but don’t particularly enjoy the new vaguely salty taste of their tap water.

Cost and Benefits of a Reverse Osmosis Filter System for Home Water

How Much Does a Good RO System Cost?

The benefits of getting a water filtration system for your home are myriad. The most obvious reason is that it produces fresher, better tasting tap water that you actually want to drink instead of the stuff that you have to hold your nose and gulp down like a chore.

However, in the process of making it taste better, you are also removing all the things that you can’t really see in regular tap water, but definitely don’t want to be drinking. This includes dissolved solids, salts, heavy metals, and any odors or other impurities left behind by the water treatment process.

Unfortunately, unless you have some truly horrid tasting tap water, reverse osmosis systems don’t seem like that great of an investment with price tags that can range between $200 to $800 dollars.Naturally, if your water is of a particular concern, you may want to look at the higher end of the spectrum which will often include multiple carbon filtration stages, extra purification features, and larger tanks or tank-less designs.

However, even with the high price tag, the system has its benefits other than just cleaner water. For one, they have a low energy consumption because, well, aside from pumping water in, there’s not a whole lot going on other than gravity purifying your water. It’s not like getting, for example, a new water heater than is both expensive and a big energy drain.

Once the system is installed, you also have to do very little to maintain it as well. The filters in the system last for roughly a year and are significantly less expensive than the system itself to replace.

However, the biggest benefit of making the investment in a reverse osmosis water filtration system is how much you will actually save on water in the long run. Think about it. You pay the city for tap water unless you have a private well, but you don’t like the taste of said water so you buy water again in bottled form. It’s kind of ridiculous, isn’t it?

Why not just use the water you pay for the first time to drink? Water filtration systems make those dreams possible, and, after the initial investment, can save you hundreds of dollars a year that you’d spend on bottled drinking water. Oh, and, you know, it saves the planet from those hundreds of empty water bottles, too. So there’s that.

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Choosing the Best Reverse Osmosis Filtration System

With price in mind, there are some things to look for when choosing the best reverse osmosis system for your needs. You can get one with a lot of extra features, but when the water from a $200 filtration system tastes the same as water from an $800 dollar one, you have to ask yourself if you believe in the difference the extra features are making. However, there are a few specific features that you need to consider when purchasing, including:

  • Water Purity Rating
  • System Type
  • Membrane Type

Water Purity Rating

When it comes to purity, there are standards set in place to help you choose to make sure you are getting the purest water. There are two 3rd party certifiers which give ratings that you want to look out for.

  • The National Sanitation Foundation (NFS) – You want your system to have, at very least, a rating above a 58.
  • Water Quality Association (WQA) – Systems approved by this certifier will have a Gold Seal Certification that indicates optimum quality.

Without either of these certifications then you’re really taking a gamble on the quality of the filter you’re getting for your home.

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Types of Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

After you have found a filtration system with a good rating by either (or both) of those certifiers, then it is time to consider which type of reverse osmosis system you want. There are two types, and each one comes with their own benefits.

  • Tank Systems – Traditional reverse osmosis systems come with a storage tank. The whole model is installed under your kitchen sink and will come with a separate faucet that will draw from the storage tank instead of directly from the water line. You can still use the other faucet for other tasks, like washing the dishes. What you really want to look out for with the traditional tank systems is an automatic shut-off valve so that when your water storage tank is full, it stops producing water so you aren’t wasting it by letting it drain down the sink when the tank is already full.
  • Tank-less Systems – One of the biggest downside of tank-less models for many is the higher price tag that comes with them. However, they do come with some major benefits that are great selling points for many. As the tank-less systems don’t use carbon pre-filters, just more membranes, they don’t require storage tanks and can produce clean water exactly when you want it. Lacking the tank, they take up less room and you can attach them to multiple faucets. You are also getting even more energy efficiency since filtered water comes out of the tap instantly. Unfortunately, because the membranes do more work, they will need to be changed more frequently.

Filtering Membrane Type (RO Membrane)

No matter which type of reverse osmosis system you choose, the membrane that is used within is important. As tank systems use so many pre-filtering carbon stages, one could argue that if you are going for the tank-less models, the membrane type is even more important because it is doing the bulk of the work. While some newer models may advertise new membranes, there are two common types used.

  • Thin Film Composite (TFC or TFM) – This type of membrane it typically hailed as superior because it rejects, on average, 98 percent of water contaminates and it is more resistant to organic fouling by bacteria in your water. Unfortunately, its major flaw is that it is intolerant to chlorine. In tank-less systems it can only be used with chlorine-free water, however with tank systems the pre-filtering carbon stages will filter out chlorine beforehand so it can be used with any kind of water.
  • Cellulose Triacetate (CTA) – Unlike Thin Film Composite membranes, the Cellulose Triacetate is able to withstand the presence of chlorine just fine, but it only comes with an ability to reject only 93 percent of water contaminants on its own. It can also be fouled by organic matter and bacteria in the water. This is the most common membrane for tank-less systems due to its ability to withstand chlorine, but its obvious shortcomings are countered by the tank-less systems using multiple membranes for optimum filtering.

Conclusion

So, is there an absolutely perfect reverse osmosis water filtration system out there? Some will try to tell you that, usually the company that makes said system. However, in the end it is not always wise to pick the “best” system, but rather to buy the system that meets your specific needs.

In order to do so, it requires knowing your water. There are a lot of different ways to test water quality to find what trace amounts of contaminants may be lurking in it. Obviously, if you have a lot of chlorine in your water, you may want to pick a different system than you would if you just want to remove some dissolved solids.

However, once you do figure what needs your reverse osmosis water system needs to satisfy, purchasing and installing one can be the right choice of a lifetime. Not only does it mean you get to enjoy amazing tasting water without creating plastic waste, but your tap water can actually be healthy for you. You know, like water is supposed to be.