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Filtering your drinking water can have a wide range of benefits, even if you live somewhere that has relatively clean tap water. There are lots of ways to filter water, but one of the more popular ways is to use a reverse osmosis system. Today, we’ll explain more about what these systems do and help you find the best reverse osmosis water filter for your needs.
There are a lot of competing products on the market. In our search for the best reverse osmosis system, we looked for well built, well rated products that had a proven track record of effective filtration and good durability. This guide will list a few of our top recommendations.
Quick Picks for the Best Water Filter Systems of 2020
Key Features: #1 best-seller; excellent reviews; removes 99% of contaminants; 2 year warranty; leak-free fittings
Price Range: $$
In our opinion, the APEC ROES-50 is the best reverse osmosis water filter on the market today. The device is incredible efficient, filtering out 99% of all contaminants and effectively removing over 1,000 unique contaminants from your tap water. It’s well built, offers a long-lasting filter, and has premium leak-free components for no-hassle installation and use. Check out our APEC ROES-50 review for more info.
We are not alone in our high praise for this product – the ROES-50 has consistently been a top seller on Amazon, earning incredibly positive ratings in reverse osmosis system reviews from real customers.
Despite the excellent performance, 2-year limited warranty and exceptional customer reviews, this unit is actually quite affordable! It also comes with just about everything you need to get started, and it’s relatively easy to install if you have some basic plumbing knowledge. Click here to learn more.
Price Range: $
For those on a budget, the best reverse osmosis system may just be this Costway model. This unit features a 5-stage filtration system that’s effective in removing organic substances, colloids, bacteria, heavy metals and other harmful substances.
At around half the price of most comparable units, it’s quite a deal indeed. And although it’s cheaper, it’s still quite effective and well-made. Replacement filters and parts are also quite affordable, so this should be a cheap unit to maintain long-term, as well! Click here to learn more.
Key Features: 7-stage filtration system; long lasting filters (2000 gallons); fast flow rate
Price Range: $$$
For a more high-end product, look no further than the Home Master TMAFC. This unique product has a 7-stage filter that removes up to 98% of chloramine, chlorine and other contaminants. It also has unique Full Contact technology that actually adds calcium and magnesium (beneficial minerals) back into your water after filtration.
The long-lasting filters feature a 2,000 gallon/1-year lifespan, and are relatively affordable to replace. The filter design also allows for a fast flow rate, which is up to twice as fast as traditional reverse osmosis systems. Click here to learn more.
Key Features: 2-stage, high capacity system; strong water pressure; 1-micron filtration; 100,000 gallon filter
Price Range: $$$
If you’re looking for the best whole house reverse osmosis system, this unit from Home Master is a great option. This high capacity unit will allow you to filter all the water that comes into your house – so whether you’re washing the dishes, taking a shower or drinking a glass of water, you’ll be using clean, filtered water.
The Home Master’s high-capacity filter (which can last up to 100,000 gallons) can remove up to 95% of contaminants and sediment, leaving a cleaner, tastier and healthier purified water. This unit also has a very high flow rate, so you won’t have to sacrifice water pressure for cleaner water. Note: This will likely require some basic plumbing knowledge and additional parts to install for whole-house use. Click here to learn more.
Key Features: Attaches to standard faucets; counter-top, portable unit; 4-stage filter system
Price Range: $$
Apartment-dwellers, renters and RV travelers may wish to seek out the best portable reverse osmosis system. In our opinion, the APEC Portable is the perfect product for the job. It easily attaches to most standard faucets, and simply sits on top of your kitchen counter – no installation needed!
This unit features a 4-stage filter to effectively remove chlorine, sediment and other contaminants from water. It’s compatible for water pressures between 40 and 80 PSI, which should be sufficient for most household uses. Like other APEC products, this unit has excellent customer reviews from verified purchasers. Click here to learn more.
Reverse osmosis, sometimes referred to as RO, is a filtration technology commonly used in homes across the world. It’s used to remove contaminants by pushing the water through a semi-permeable membrane with microscopic holes.
A high-pressure pump is used to force the tap water across the membrane. This leaves the majority of contaminants – usually 95% to 99% – in the “reject stream”, which is then discarded. Very small portions of contaminants can make it through the membrane, which is why no RO filter is 100% effective.
If you want to learn more, this guide explains the process in great detail.
How much is a reverse osmosis system?
Typically, you can expect to spend around $150-$300+ for a good RO water filter. Most of our recommendations fall in this range.
What does reverse osmosis remove?
Reverse osmosis filters are quite effective in removing bacteria, protozoa and viruses. They can also significantly reduce or remove a wide variety of contaminants, including metal ions, sodium, chromium, chloride, copper, and lead. They can also reduce radium, arsenic, fluoride, sulfate, “hard” minerals like calcium and magnesium, potassium, nitrate, phosphorous and others. Find more info at the CDC website.
How much water does reverse osmosis waste?
As part of the filter’s normal flushing process, reverse osmosis filters use a fair amount of water that will never make it to your glass. Efficiency varies, but even the best RO systems typically have a ratio of about 1:1, meaning for every 1 gallon of filtered water, you have about 1 gallon “wasted” through the flushing process. Some units have a ratio of up to 1:4. This is an unfortunate aspect of RO systems.
Is reverse osmosis more effective than other water filters?
This is a contentious debate. The Center for Disease Control notes that RO systems are very effective in the removal of bacteria, protozoa and viruses, and the general consensus is that reverse osmosis is quite effective. If you’re curious about other types of filters, check out our overall water filter buying guide.
Taste – Using a good RO water filter can help drastically improve the taste of your water. Chlorine is a big culprit that can affect the taste of tap water, often leaving a chemical-like aftertaste in your mouth. Many other contaminants can also affect the purity and tastiness of your water.
Safety – The best reverse osmosis water filter will remove many contaminants that are potentially harmful to our health. Chlorine alone is highly toxic when consumed over long periods of time, and other common contaminants found in tap water can cause a whole host of health concerns. And remember, even if your city has good tap water, the piping leading from that water to supply to your house could be contaminated!
Peace of Mind – Knowing that you are drinking fresh, clean and purified water can provide significant peace of mind. It may even encourage you to drink more water, which is never a bad thing!
Filtration – The technology behind the filters used in each unit was a main consideration in our search. Although the concept of reverse osmosis is the same in each filter, the execution and design of the filter system differs. We focused on filtration tech and efficacy in our quest for the best RO water filter system.
Price – You can spend as little as $100 and as much as several thousand on a good RO filter setup. We focused on affordable yet high quality models, mostly in the $150-$350 range. We found this to be the “sweet spot” between quality and value.
Reviews – Our hands-on testing was limited in scope and duration, so we also looked at tons of reverse osmosis water filter reviews from customers. This helped us get a more rounded picture of the quality of each product – often from people who had been using the devices for years!
Durability – Even on the more affordable end, these RO systems are still a decent chunk of change – so you want them to last! We focused on well-built models that are designed to last a long time.