Last Updated on

    Reverse Osmosis systems are a niche product, but can be life changing for many families. If you’re living with dirty, polluted, contaminated, or just mineral heavy water, you want a water filter of some kind, and it is an advisable way on the market to deal with any combination of those issues. Still, knowing you need one and knowing what the best reverse osmosis system for your money is are two different things, so I put together this list of reverse osmosis system reviews to make your job a little easier.


    In a Rush?

    These are our best reverse osmosis system choices:

    Click the link to check the price on Amazon.com.

    • Removes up to 99% of over 1,000 contaminants including lead
    • Automatic flow sensor switch for UV (on/off)
    • Alkaline Remineralization (AK) filter
    • Advanced 11 watt UV sterilization that kills viruses, bacteria, salmonella, e-coli and many other microorganisms
    • 3 pre-filters: PP sediment, Carbon KDF (GAC), Carbon block (CTO) that remove large contaminants

    How we conducted the test:

    We got a team of evaluators and tried a number of products from different brands to see which will give peak performances according to specific purposes. We also logged in the number of hours that we spent in testing the models.

    12 TESTERS

    32 PRODUCTS TESTED

    179 HOURS


    Best Reverse Osmosis System Choices on the Market

    Image

    Product

    TOP OVERALL CHOICE

    iSpring RCC7AK-UV Deluxe

    iSpring RCC7AK-UV Deluxe

    TOP OVERALL CHOICE

    Benefits

    • Advanced 11 watt UV sterilization that kills viruses, bacteria, salmonella, e-coli and many other microorganisms
    • Automatic flow sensor switch for UV
    • Alkaline Remineralization
    • 3 pre-filters :PP sediment, Carbon KDF (GAC), Carbon block (CTO)

    Specs

    • 14.5 x 5.2 x 19.5 inches
    • 31 pounds
    • Style: Alkaline & UV
    CHECK LATEST PRICE

    FOR HOME

    Home Master TMAFC-ERP Artesian Full Contact

    Home Master TMAFC-ERP Artesian Full Contact

    FOR HOME

    Benefits

    • Removes up to 98 percent of chemicals, including chloramine, and other contaminants
    • Adds calcium and magnesium minerals twice for great taste
    • Design eliminates the most common problems like canister filter housing leaks, slow flow rate, high water waste, service challenges, and slightly acidic water

    Specs

    • 12 x 16 x 20 inches
    • 14.5 pounds
    • Standard w/ Pump
    CHECK LATEST PRICE

    UNDER SINK

    APEC Top Tier Alkaline Mineral

    APEC Top Tier Alkaline Mineral

    UNDER SINK

    Benefits

    • Uses food-grade calcium from trusted source for safe, proven water pH enhancement
    • Comes with 100% lead-free designer faucet
    • Leak-free quick connect fittings
    • Removes up to 99% of bacteria, viruses, cysts, organics, chemicals

    Specs

    • 16 x 5.2 x 17.5 inches
    • 25 pounds
    CHECK LATEST PRICE

    COUNTERTOP

    AquaTru Countertop Water Filter Purification

    AquaTru Countertop Water Filter Purification

    COUNTERTOP

    Benefits

    • Removes such poisons as Lead 99.1%, Chromium 97.2%, Copper 95.2%, Fluoride 93.5%, Radium 96.4%, and Chlorine 96.6%
    • Takes less than 3 minutes to setup
    • Quick change filters
    • Purifies 1 gallon of tap water in 12-15 minutes

    Specs

    • 18 x 18 x 15 inches
    • 22.6 pounds
    CHECK LATEST PRICE

    TANKLESS

    Countertop Portable Universal 5-stage

    Countertop Portable Universal 5-stage

    TANKLESS

    Benefits

    • Removes all major dangerous contaminants, including chlorine, chloramines, viruses, bacteria, arsenic, VOCs, pesticides and others
    • Comes with chrome metal 2-way diverter for kitchen faucets
    • Less than 60 seconds to install

    Specs

    • 14 x 7 x 7 inches
    • 5 pounds
    CHECK LATEST PRICE

    Best Reverse Osmosis Systems Reviews

    Listed below are the top products for different uses. Pick the best reverse osmosis system that is suitable for your needs.

    • Removes up to 99% of over 1,000 contaminants including lead
    • Kills viruses, bacteria, salmonella, e-coli and many other microorganisms
    • 3 pre-filters :PP sediment, Carbon KDF (GAC), Carbon block (CTO) that remove large contaminants
    • 75 gallon-per-day capacity RO membrane
    • Automatic flow sensor switch for UV (on/off)

    1. iSpring RCC7AK-UV Deluxe Reverse Osmosis System

    9.8
    Rating

    FILTRATION:
    3 Pre-filters, Fine GAC filter,  Ultraviolet Sterilization,  Alkaline Remineralization 

    ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 
    Alkaline Remineralization filter restores healthy minerals

    Filtering: 7 stage filtering is the gold standard without being overkill, and ensures water is as pure as you can reasonably expect it under any circumstances.

    UV Sterilization:  Built in UV lamp is set to the ‘Germicidal Spectrum’, killing most bacteria, viruses, and protozoa found in the water without having any effect on the water itself. System shuts on and off as needed to reduce power usage and increase UV lamp’s longevity.

    Smart Process:  iSpring acknowledges that the process can be a bit too effective, removing both healthy and harmful minerals indiscriminately. After filtering, certain minerals are reintroduced to your water to maintain its nutritional value without affecting your health.

    Guarantee: iSpring reverse osmosis system has a 1 year money back guarantee and 1 year warranty backing up its quality. Combined with the low price, this makes the iSpring an incredibly good budget option, especially considering its great quality overall.

    Faucet Design: While it lacks a filter sensor like one model above, the faucet is well constructed and a proper high spout model which is slightly different than the one pictured above. I suspect the faucet was changed slightly with the new model, similarly to how they added the pressure sensor for the UV light in an updated version. The new one is made of brass, and has a higher curve.

    • Removes up to 98 percent of chemicals contaminants
    • Adds calcium and magnesium minerals twice for great taste
    • Non-electric permeate pump
    • Five-year limited warranty
    • Design eliminates problems like canister filter housing leaks, slow flow rate, high water waste, and acidic water

    2. Home Master TMAFC-ERP Artesian Full Contact Reverse Osmosis System

    9.7
    Rating

    FILTRATION:
    7 stages of filtration, catalytic carbon, full Contact' remineralization system

    ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 
    Modular ‘all-in-one’ design and change once a year or every 2000 gallons for capacity

    What We Liked:

    • Warranty: five year warranty takes a lot of the sting out of the relatively high price tag for this model.
    • Smart Filters: This system bypasses the issue some similar systems have in reducing good, healthy minerals in water by reintroducing those minerals in the last stage of the filtering process, giving you all of the good with none of the bad.
    • Incredible Filtering: This system uses 7 stages of filtering, vastly increasing both what is filtered and how much of it is removed. It boasts an impressive 98% reduction in contaminants.
    • Efficient: Process reduces waste water by 80%, and increases gallons per day by 50% over previous models. While it is rated for only 50 gallons per day, it provides this water almost on demand through a faster filtering process than other units, making it a valid trade.
    • Less Waste: This product at worst wastes 4 gallons to every 1 gallon of water purified as waste water, but can be as good as 1.5 gallons wasted per gallon purified. This is in either case far better than the average 6:1 waste: purified water ratio.
    • Removes up to 99% of bacteria, viruses, cysts, organics, chemicals
    • Uses food-grade calcium from trusted source for safe, proven water pH enhancement
    • Comes with 100% lead-free designer faucet
    • Free technical support
    • Leak-free quick connect fittings
    • 2 year warranty

    3. APEC Top Tier Alkaline Mineral pH+ 75 GPD 6-Stage Ultra Safe Reverse Osmosis System

    9.5
    Rating

    FILTRATION: 
    6-stage system, ROES-PH75 mineral cartridge, polypropylene sediment filter, double carbon blocks, coconut shell refining carbon filter

    ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 
    Modular ‘all-in-one’ design and change once every 2 to 4 years for capacity

    What We Liked:

    • Carbon Filters: Filters are efficient and long lasting extra large carbon blocks. This both increases filtering power (removing 99.99% of contaminants) and vastly improves the lifespan of the filters.
    • Filtering: 6 stage filtering is above and beyond the usual, and very welcome. The sixth stage rebalances alkalinity by adding calcium, both improving nutrition and enhancing taste and texture of the water.
    • Easy Install: Connections are quick fit and leak free, making them easy and hassle free to install, without any added worry from minor leaks under your countertop or at the faucet seam.
    • Warranty: Warranty is two years, with lifetime customer support, increasing the longevity of your unit and providing peace of mind.
    • Faucet: Faucet is simple, but quite nice looking, and fits in with most kitchen designs. Chrome finished, lead free, and leak free.
    • Noise Free: System is whisper quiet when in use, giving it a leg up over a lot of the competition.
    • Price: The perfect confluence of price, looks, and efficiency. While not as good as a 7 stage or above filter, 6 stages is perfect for most peoples’ purposes, and many highly efficient models skimp on the looks to keep improving the function. Apec sacrifices neither form nor function, and does it all while keeping the product cheaper than most models on this list.
    • Removes such poisons as Lead, Chromium, Copper, Fluoride, Radium, and Chlorine
    • Takes less than 3 minutes to setup
    • Purifies 1 gallon of tap water in 12-15 minutes
    • Quick change filters

    4. AquaTru Countertop Water Filter Purification RO System

    9.3
    Rating

    FILTRATION:
    4-stage mechanical pre-filter, RO, membrane, activated carbon

    ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 
    Modular ‘all-in-one’ design and change once every 6 months to 2 years for capacity

    Compact: This unit takes up about as much space as a can opener, making it easy to leave out or store in a cabinet.

    What We Liked:

    • No Installation Necessary: The AquaTru Countertop Water Filter works similarly to a traditional water filter (like a Brita filter); simply fill the reservoir with water and it filters the water. For anyone skittish about doing even simple plumbing tasks, this is a good option.

    What We Didn’t Like:

    • Expensive: The AquaTru costs as much as the units that require installation while providing a significantly less efficient product in a lot of ways, and costs significantly more (close to four times the price) of the other countertop model on this list.
    • Bare Minimum Filtering: A four stage process is good, but most filters in this price range have five stage filtering, making their water cleaner and more pure.
    • Small Capacity: The tank capacity on the AquaTru is a mere 1 gallon; about enough water for two people, and barely at that. For comparison, the next smallest tank on the list filters three times that number…every hour. Also keep in mind that close to a third of the tank is waste water, so the actual drinking water produced by this filter is less than three quarts.
    • Removes all major dangerous contaminants like chlorine, chloramines, viruses, bacteria, arsenic, VOCs, and pesticides 
    • Comes with chrome metal 2-way diverter for kitchen faucets
    • Less than 60 seconds to install
    • Kitchen diverter and standard adapter fits approx 94%-96% of regular (not sprinkler type) kitchen faucet

    5. Countertop Portable Universal 5-stage

    9.0
    Rating

    FILTRATION:
    5-stage, sediment, coconut activated carbon, deionizing mixed bed, coconut Carbon T33 type

    ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 
    Unique Deionization Ion Exchange Media and change once every 8-12 months for its capacity.

    What We Liked:

    • Easy to Install: Like most point of use models, this  is fast and simple to put in and use, and just as easy to disassemble.
    • 5 Stage Purification: A five stage filtering process is perfect for most purposes, and that you can reasonably expect from almost any best reverse osmosis system. It removes more than 90% of most contaminants, putting your water well within safe drinking levels.
    • Portable: This system can be unhooked and moved to a new location quickly. Perfect for temporary living in places with unclean water, such as for crews living on site to look into a more permanent solution for those plumbing issues.
    • Capacity: For the size, 75 gallons per day (3 gallons per hour) of water is great. Enough for drinking for a large number of people, so long as water isn’t wasted using it for other purposes.

    What We Didn’t Like

    • Design: This unit sits on a countertop. While that makes it easier to install, it also means it takes up quite a lot of room compared to other point of use models. Keep this in mind when installing, as it takes up about as much space as a toaster oven, and so is unsuited for dwellings with limited counter space.
    • Removes up to 99.99% of Lead, Chlorine, Fluoride, Nitrates, Calcium, Arsenic, Bacteria, and more
    • Automatically fills the tank
    • Includes Brass Feed Adapter and Quick Connect Adapter
    • Can produce 50 gallons per day
    • Water through your faucet at 0.8 GPM

    6. Express Water Reverse Osmosis System

    8.8
    Rating

    FILTRATION:
    5-stage, Sediment, Carbon Block and Granular Carbon, RO Membrane, Post Activated Carbon

    ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 
    Double Sealed Filters, Leak Stop Valve and change once every 6 months for capacity

    What We Liked:

    • Leak Stop: Unit automatically shuts off if there is a leak somewhere, reducing risk of flooding under the counter that could mildew or otherwise damage the area under your sink.
    • Filter: 5 stage filtering is just the right mark for most units, filtering everything it needs to and improving taste and odor.
    • Easy Install: Installation is even easier than most models, with color coded, easy to see water lines for each stage of the installation.
    • Easy Replacement: Filters are likewise color coded and easy to recognize and replace. This is a vast improvement over most other models which require a bit of looking to see which is which and when it needs to be replaced.

    What We Didn’t Like:

    • No Remineralization: The dangers of 5 stage filtering without the extra remineralization stages is you lose out on healthy minerals that make water worth drinking in the first place, and the water itself often tastes odd. Most units with at least 5 stages have this, but the Express Water Reverse Osmosis System actually advertises being proud of the fact that it removes fluoride and calcium with all of the contaminants it’s meant to remove.
    • Removes 98% of chlorine and contaminants
    • Produces up to 100 gallons per day
    • Low PPM water
    • Tankless

    7. Hydro-Logic 31035 100-GPD Stealth-RO100

    8.5
    Rating

    FILTRATION:
    Stealth RO100 Filter

    ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 
    Produces ultra-pure, low PPM water and change once every 6-24 months for capacity

    What We Liked:

    • High Capacity: The Hydro Logic Reverse Osmosis System Filter provides 100 gallons per day of clean water, which is a bit more than the average.
    • Easy to Install: This unit is designed for gardening, so in some cases is as easy to install as screwing it onto a garden hose. In that scenario it produces about 2 gallons per minute. Not fast or high pressure, but easy enough to fill containers with it.
    • Compact: The Stealth-RO100 is small and unobtrusive, so it won’t significantly change the bulk of your water hose.
    • Low Waste: Creates approximately 25% less waste water than similar products, increasing its efficiency, though at the cost of filter longevity (on average the filters need to be replaced about two months sooner than similar products).

    What We Didn’t Like:

    • Finicky: The Stealth-RO100 has strict temperature guidelines for the filters; hot water can ruin it. This makes set up more difficult for under sink models, and can be frustrating in the summer for use with a  garden hose, as temperature is hard to predict that time of year in warmer climates.
    • Availability: The RO100 is a good product, but was discontinued years ago. This makes it a finite resource, and it is often out of stock on Amazon, with most available only through third party sellers (sometimes at a significant mark up).
    • Quick Connect fittings
    • Removes up to 99% of Contaminants such as chlorine, lead, bacteria, arsenic, fluoride, and other contaminants
    • NSF/ANSI standard 58

    8. Global Water RO-505 5-Stage

    8.3
    Rating

    FILTRATION: 
    5 stage, Sediment,  GAC coconut shell activated carbon, coconut shell block carbon,  TFC RO membrane

    ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 
    Lead free faucet and tank and change once every 6-12 months for capacity

    What We Liked:

    • Thorough: This reverse osmosis system boasts 5 stage purification, leaving your water incredibly clean and free of any unwanted tastes.
    • Price: For a point of use, under sink model with a tank, this is very cheap, so makes a great budget option for those on the fence about whether to buy one or who are unsure how long they may need it.
    • Quick Install: This system has ‘quick connect’ fittings to make installation fast and easy. Perfect as an intermediate solution between a countertop portable unit and a full sized model.

    What We Didn’t Like:

    • Capacity: At only 50 gallons per day, this model is slow and doesn’t allow a lot of storage potential for the tank.
    • High Waste: One third of the water produced by this model is unusable waste water, making it less efficient than similar options.
    • Filters: The filters prefer pre-filtered water, which is what all of the numbers for reducing or removing contaminants are based on. Running straight tap or well water through this product will like result in far poorer performance than advertised.
    • LED filter change indicator
    • Quick change twist and seal filters
    • WQA Gold Seal Certified
    • Small footprint
    • SF/ANSI Stds 42, 53, 58, and 372
    • Flexible Reservoir
    • Auto RO Filter Flushing

    9. Brondell RO Circle Water Saving

    8.0
    Rating

    FILTRATION:
    4 stage Filtration

    ADDITIONAL FEATURES:  
    patented Smart Valve substantially reduces wastewater by eliminating back pressure and change once every 2 years for capacity

    What We Liked:

    • Fast: The Circle refills about twice as fast as other models, more than making up for its small tank.
    • Sleek Design: The Circle takes up far less space and sits much more cleanly under your sink than most other models. No unsightly, tangled wires and it sits flush against the wall, leaving most of the space still usable for storage.
    • Designer Faucet: Faucet design is fashionable and indistinguishable from most faucets; a rarity for reverse osmosis systems, which usually have ugly and obtrusive designs. As an added bonus the Circle’s faucet comes equipped with an indicator for when filters need changing, reducing hassle and guesswork.
    • Smart Valve: Special valve reduces back pressure, thus vastly reducing the amount of water wasted when topping off the tank after use. This saves water, thus saving you money.

    What We Didn’t Like:

    • Filtering: Filtering process is only 4 stages, the bare minimum acceptable. While not bad compared to 3 stage filters (which should always be avoided) it is strange on a product whose overall design is so good in every other aspect, and may make you think twice when purchasing in areas with extremely contaminated water that need at least 5 stages to remove disgusting tastes or odors from the water.

    Final Verdict

    iSpring RCC7AK-UV Deluxe

    While most of these products are great, Apec, iSpring, and Home Master really knock it out of the park. With the exception of the countertop models (the Revolution and AquaTru models), those three best reverse osmosis systems really obsolete every other entry on the list; they’re each both cheaper and better than the other models that do the same job. Which is perfect one for you depends on your purposes. The Home Master has a tank, meaning it’s great for storing filtered water for a while to use over the course of the day, while the Apec and iSpring are better at filtering as needed. The Apec does it fastest, while the iSpring also is a great choice.

    Any of the three are great, affordable, and perfect for the purposes of any homeowner.


    What Is Reverse Osmosis and How Does It Work?

    Simply put, it’s a filtering process. Your water passes into a semi permeable membrane that filters out particles over a certain size. This can be anything from heavy metals (like lead) to something simpler, like a lot of dirt in your water. A key component is the pressure of the water naturally shedding things that water passes through easily, but other things get caught on.

    For whole house systems, this splits the water off into a clean water reservoir and then flushes the contaminated water down the drain. For under sink systems, or other point of use (POU) systems, they work similarly but have their own small attached tank and only filter water from a single faucet or other outlet.

    In either case, you’re usually looking at a 4-5 step process for filtering as the water passes through multiple membranes, catching ever small particles or things that just slipped through cracks the previous times. This leaves the water almost completely purified of anything that might be caught in it, making reverse osmosis a perfect system for homes whose water has multiple problems that need solving at once.

    This thorough process makes it particularly good for well water, as it never passes through a water treatment plant or similar process before it gets to you. While naturally free of most chemical pollutants, sediment and certain materials picked up through your pipes (particularly old lead pipes) are still often found in well water.

    Does It Remove Chlorine, Lead, Bacteria, Fluoride?

    The short answer is: yes to all of the above, except fluoride (which is not removed, but may be reduced)

    The Long Answer: Is It Water Good Or Bad For You?

    The more complicated answer is that it’s better at some of those than the others. It is ridiculously effective at removing bacteria, protozoa, and viruses carried by water. The Center For Disease Control (CDC)  rates these systems as “very high effectiveness” for all three of those.

    Sodium, chloride, copper, chromium, and lead are removed completely by reverse osmosis; their particles are too big to pass through the multiple stages of filtration.

    Arsenic, fluoride, radium, sulfate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, nitrate, and phosphorous are not completely removed by the process, but may be reduced.  This is not as bad as it may first appear.

    Arsenic and radium can be dangerous in high enough concentrations in water, but that is fairly rare. If you do find high concentrations, you should seek a different source of water or a more specialized filtration system before harm comes to you.

    Sulfate is a nuisance, but nor particularly dangerous for the most part. It primarily causes a scaly buildup (causing for example rings in your toilet, or a white substance in your kettle’s bottom).

    High concentrations of nitrate can cause overgrowth of algae, but is of little harm on its own.

    The other minerals (fluoride, calcium, magnesium, potassium , and phosphorus), however, are necessary for the proper growth, development, and maintenance of the human body in the concentrations they are found in water, so you end up with a  filter that removes most of what’s bad, but leaves the good minerals in!

    Reverse Osmosis vs Distilled Water

    The above information (reverse osmosis removes bad contaminants, but leaves good minerals) means water filtered by the former far better than distilled water for drinking. Distilled water is completely pure…which counterintuitively makes it poor for drinking, at least on a regular basis.

    Distilled water is excellent for purposes that require a more pure liquid to function. This includes a lot of manufacturing purposes (most batteries would be ruined if made with simple tap water, and many chemical reactions can be botched by impure water) and some home medical uses (CPAP machines are a good example of something that uses distilled water).

    However, most of what makes water nutritious is the minerals within it, so stick with something besides distilled water for drinking.

    Pricing

    Reverse osmosis systems sound complicated and expensive, but are surprisingly affordable for the common consumer. They run on average price with some outliers showing up for extremely thorough systems (6 to 10 stages of filtration).

    How Do You Install This System?

    For under sink or other point of use models, it’s actually a fairly simple and quick do it yourself chore. For whole home models, it’s better to call a professional if you don’t have any plumbing experience.

    First, make sure you have the tools required: a four in one screwdriver (or set of screwdrivers with a range of sizes), and adjustable wrench, and a good knife.

    Then shut off the water to the point you’re installing the system, and install the saddle valve that splits the water off from your usual water line.

    Cut the water lines to the proper length, and hook them up to your proper fittings.

    Fasten your new faucet to the sink, then cut the waste line so it hangs down with no loops or kinks.

    Place your storage tank, and attach the proper water lines. Sterilize and fill as directed for your unit.

    Make sure the tank is properly pressurized, and you’re good to go!

    That’s about it. For more detailed instructions, consult the user’s manual for whichever model you buy, as certain installation steps may change slightly depending on your exact model. It should only take you about two hours, and nothing is very time sensitive; if you need to stop at any point and double check your work, feel free!

    Summary

    RankProductRatingRating
    1Spring RCC7AK-UV Deluxe9.8Check Latest Price
    2Home Master TMAFC-ERP Artesian Full Contact9.7Check Latest Price
    3APEC Top Tier Alkaline Mineral9.5Check Latest Price
    4AquaTru Countertop9.3Check Latest Price
    5Countertop Portable9.0Check Latest Price
    6Express Water8.8Check Latest Price
    7Hydro-Logic 31035 100-GPD8.5Check Latest Price
    8Global Water 8.3Check Latest Price
    9Brondell RO Circle8.0Check Latest Price

    Other articles that you might be interested in:

    Are you thinking about using other means of treating your water? Click on the link to find out more about water softeners.