So… I’ve been thinking of getting a reverse osmosis drinking water system for under the kitchen sink.
This Apec RO-90 system ($300 via Amazon) looks like a good choice, and they also make a couple of smaller/lower capacity systems.
This particular Apec system has 5 stages of water filtration, and a storage tank for what I’m guessing on-demand water.
I had taken a look at another brand, but not only were they pricey, the feed rate was about 1/3 a gallon per minute. That’s about 5-1/2 cups of water per minute, which means it takes around 10 seconds to fill up a single 8 oz glass of water. A water tank is definitely a good idea.
Plus, this Apec system is said to be built in the USA, with Apec touting their use of NSF certified parts and WQA (water quality association) certification.
These systems are intended for DIY installation a lot of the time, and so I figure I should have an easy time installing it. They also make a $21 accessory for connecting it to a refrigerator’s icemaker.
I’m not even thinking about a whole house system at this time – I figure a kitchen unit is a good start.
I don’t think we’ll need 90 GPD filtration rate of this Apec system, but it’s nice to know the capacity is there if we need it, and without too much of a premium over the less expensive lower capacity systems.
Do you have a reverse osmosis drinking water filtration system? Which would you recommend?
Buy Now(Apec RO-90, which is at the top of our shortlist, via Amazon)
I have this one and it was well worth the money. The water in my town sucks and this was a great purchase. Very easy install and only needs the 3 bottom filters changed every 6 months. The other get 2 years of use.
I have this one, and have a pump that I added, which just uses water pressure, and reduces waste. I love it as well. I consistently run water tests with a TDS meter, and I consistently see under 6PPM of dissolved solids.
I have a Culligan Aqua Cleer Reverse Osmosis System, I use it for drinking water, and I have it branched off to a hot water heater that is also under the sink so I can have hot water or room temp water.
I prefer it to be in the sink because it’s much easier to fill up pitchers and pots of water for cooking.
The system was not cheap, much it works well, and the water is pretty hard where I live, water tastes great, better than some of the Reverse Osmosis systems I have tried at some of my neighbors.
I forgot to add a nice benefit to this system. 5 gallons of clean water in case of emergency. We had a water main break last Thanksgiving that lasted all day so it saved a trip to buy bottled water.
I don’t have a particular recommendation, just make sure you can easily purchase replacement filters for whatever model you’ll choose and that the company has good customer support (which can actually reply to your e-mails same or next day).
I bought one for my parents. I bought one for myself. You can usually get a deal around the holidays. Check out their website and buy direct you might get a better deal with more options.
You’ll be amazed at how your ice cubes look. You’ll be amazed at how much better your coffee tastes. Water is outstanding now. I bought the larger size tank.
I really can’t give a stronger recommendation for it.
RO systems make very pure water. However, they remove everything out of the water, and for some people this lack of minerals is a taste they are not used to. That is why most bottled water states “minerals added for taste” because pure water has none, it is completely neutral. Also RO systems do waste alot of water during the process. This can add to your water bill. There are some systems that use a very small recirculating pump to send the water back and not create wasted water. The systems all install relatively easy, but check the cost for replacement cartridges, including the main membrane which is the most expensive, before picking a brand.
Stuart, funny timing. I purchased recently a RO system from Aquasana. It is a 6 stage with RO and an akiline filter to remineralize the water post the RO. It is normally $500 but I found a link that took 60% down to $200. Sale is good for a little more time. I have done a bit of research and feel this is the best deal. For the fridge ice/water line I just installed a tee. Also there are different options for the faucets finish to match your sink faucet. It matches my oil brushed bronze finishs.
The cost of filters and replacement membranes compared to others, aquasana seemed slightly less costly.
The RO system normally uses 2 gallons to produce 1 gallon of purified water. This wasn’t a concern for me due to this is only for drinking and thats not that many gallons.
I haven’t ruled out Aquasana, but I couldn’t find a 5 or 6 stage system from the on Amazon. Apec, on the other hand, seems to be very committed to Amazon, making replacement filters easy to order. I don’t see Aquasana 5 or 6 stage replacements on Amazon. I don’t see such a system on their site either.
I believe that Apec has a 1 gallon produced to 3 gallons wasted ratio, but that’s the same as what, an extra 2 flushes per day? Every other day?
If we go with a RO system and don’t like the taste, I figure we can try a remineralization filter from Apec or elsewhere.
I got it mixed up with the others I was looking at. I believe technically it is a 4 stage. http://www.aquasana.com/product_detail.php?product_id=310
I had talked to my friend that’s a plumber about doing this, and in his opinion they are time consuming to install, expensive, and only cover the kitchen sink. Not a good investment from his standpoint. He installed a whole house charcoal filter for me with a new shutoff before it for not much more than what the Apec unit costs. And the filter only costs 29.99.
James P – A whole house filter only deals with particulate (solids) and some free chlorine. It will not remove any TDS (any metals) and in the event of an emergency (like Flint’s water crisis) would do nothing to protect your health. They basically keep sediment from filling up your water heater (though not water scale) and plugging valves in dishwashers. These aren’t comparable to an RO.
Also don’t consult a plumber about water filters, this is a specialized field and most plumbers have little to no experience IMHO (and twenty years experience).
Most people will spend more time clearing a space under there sink then on the actual install process.
Master Technician Ecowater Systems
I’d be curious to know what has you looking at RO. I ask because I went down that road a few years ago and realized that since my needs were more about taste that a really good charcoal under sink filter was a better fit. We’ve used a Multipure for about 4 years and it’s great- it goes to both a counter top faucet and the ice maker. Fast, zero maintenance, super long filter life and makes the water taste perfect. If you are a municipal water system, you might look into it. If you’re on a well, then I get the need for RO. Consumer Report last rate the Multipure at the top of its rankings.
We go through a lot of Poland Spring. We’ve been renting, with no space for a refrigerator with filtered water line, and neither of us are fans of Brita, and every time I looked into faucet filters, all I saw were complaints after complaints.
We like the taste of Poland Spring, and also don’t like the tap water around here. We’ve grown accustomed to this by habit. Bottled water was the best option.
There have also been a couple of “boil your water” advisories, and probably minor incidents we were never told about.
But we’re moving and it seems silly to keep up with our current intake of bottled water. Tap water there tastes kind of lousy too.
Then you hear about stuff like how in one city (around Detroit?) a lot of families have toxic water that has affected their health, especially their children’s.
I figure a RO system won’t pay for itself immediately, but it should in about a year, maybe a little more.
If I go the whole house route, I would probably go with a simpler filter after the water softener, and then a separate RO system under the kitchen sink.
I figure it’ll be easier for me to start with an under-the-sink unit and go from there. It seems more effective as well.
How much water do we drink and consume (soups, etc.), compared to how much goes down the drain when showering, flushing the toilet, or washing dishes? I figure that tap water is good enough for such purposes, with an under-the-kitchen-sink filtration system having the most effect.
So, it sounds like you have all the same concerns that I did. Our unit is a large single filter under counter carbon block system that reduces all the contaminants that you are worried about, is NSF certified, and is a lot less hassle than a RO system. The flow rate is really high and we use it for everything from making coffee to boiling potatoes to our ice maker because it fills everything so quickly. We live in Washington DC, so believe me, I share your skepticism of the municipal water system- but the likely contaminants that can get into a municipal system are a lot fewer than a well and the carbon block systems can deal with them. Anyway, I’d look into the Multipure or a competing carbon block system. I’ve had an RO and the hassle and cost are just way lower with the carbon systems. One thing I actually like about the carbon systems is that they remove the fluoride taste, but not the benefit. Having two kids and some genetically cavity prone teeth, it’s good to have the backup.
Flint is the city you are thinking of. E Coli, excess chlorine to kill the E coli, the toxic byproducts of using too much chlorine, lead way above safe levels, brown rusty water, the list goes on. Nasty stuff, it’s been a pretty big deal around here. Oddly enough, Detroit has good water and they ran into problems because they decided to switch from Detroit and started getting water from the Flint River.
It should be noted that most “boil water advisories” are issued after you actaully should have been boiling your water. Better to filter it first.
Between the two, I’d go with the Apec, as it’s built with standard size filter housings, making buying replacement filters much easier. The membrane it comes with is a Dow filmtec, which is pretty much industry standard, so that’s good.
The waste to product ratio isn’t that important when you’re just making drinking water, but varies from 4:1 to 2:1 based on water temperature and pressure. It’s more of a deal when you’re using one to fill 400gal aquarium.
A 5 or 6 stage unit though may be a bit overkill though unless you have well or questionable municipal water. A 3 stage with a single sediment, carbon and membrane would be fine in most situations.
Working in the aquarium and aquaculture industry, I’ve come to really like the filters from Air, Water, & Ice. Great pricing, and offer a wide range of components and replacement filters, which you can choose to suit your particular water needs.
Years ago I bought a Culligan RO system tea and coffee taste much better. We have our own well water and use a softener and sediment filter. They come check the system every two years, change filters for about $40.
I purchased a watts premier unit from costco in 2006 and it still runs really well. I’ve replaced the sediment, carbon, and “taste” filters at about twice the “recommended” time frame since then. My wife and I love our water – we re-fill bottles and take them everywhere we go. When on vacation, we find a supermarket and buy gallon jugs – it’s usually fairly easy to find something that says it’s purified with reverse osmosis.
Normal installation has you taking up quite a bit of room under the kitchen sink. I didn’t want to lose valuable kitchen space, so I put the tank and the main filters in the basement – the tank is secured with two boards between the rafters and the filter housing is as high as I could make it. I originally thought that I’d have water pressure issues, but that fear didn’t pan out – the system works great.
One of the fears in the article was about a spec of “5-1/2 cups of water per minute” This really doesn’t matter at all – the tank is slow to fill up, but you normally don’t need more than what the tank holds. I can usually fill about ten 16 ounce containers before it starts slowing down and another 4 before it gets REALLY slow. The only time capacity is an issue is if you want to fill up a big water jug for a picnick or something – and at that point it might be better to just spend a buck per gallon at the grocery store or k-mart for reverse osmosis filtered water.
I also bought a watts from costco. I just purchased another one from costco for my new place. Installation was easy for a hack like me. Do yourself a favor and don’t use the saddle valve that come with most of them,Pick up a ‘T’ adaptor instead. Another tip I got from a plumber friend is to install the waste line as far from the sink drain as you can as some people complain of the water sounds when the watse water is draining.
I’m on a well with a septic tank. My water tastes awful, and so we buy bottled water. I’ve been exploring filtration options to best serve our needs but haven’t decided on anything. Anyone else with a well system? I would like to utilize / recirculate the waste water if possible.
Will RO remove minerals from water sufficiently well that the water can be used in an ultrasonic humidifier without having to worry about white dust?
Last year, I hacked together a large ultrasonic humidifier using a couple transducers intended for greenhouses. The idea was to replace my noisy console humidifier (rated at 10gal/day though at 68-70F it averages more like 6gal/day). It worked well but I hadn’t considered the hardness of my water…within a couple days both of my furnaces started going into high-temperature lockout. Turns out both air filters were clogged with white mineral dust.
An RO system will remove some ion content but not all. For that kind of application, you’ll probably want to add a deionizer cartridge to the system after the RO output. I’d look for the kind of systems reef aquarium owners use, such as those sold by these guys: http://theh2oguru.com/
That will keep the water going in as pure as possible.
Thanks! I’ll take a look.
Best purchase I’ve ever made. Ever!
I have a Perfect Water brand Artesian model, but they’re all mostly the same. I got it during one of Amazon’s Gold Box deals many years ago, but I think you can get them at Home Depot.
Whatever brand you get, get something that uses the standardized filters they sell literally everywhere. I like the model I got because it has the extra ‘artesian filter’ that adds back in some minerals after it goes thru all the filtration so it doesn’t taste quite as ‘flat’
Replacement membranes and 3 filters come in at about $100 total if you shop around.
Also grab a TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) meter from Home Depot or Amazon, and do a before and after test. You’ll be surprised and how much stuff is in your water. Regular water out of my tap is about 400 ppm, after filtration is right about 5.
One thing to keep in mind about the flow rate is that the “90gpd” is based on a pressure level and water temperature. Stray from those ratings too far and rejection (how much is filtered out) and flow across the membrane suffer. The latter translates to more wasted water per gallon of RO.
Couldn’t find a definitive membrane model on that system but you can always get a new membrane or even one with a higher GPD rating. The pre-filter canisters are standard size — refills available all over — but the source for the 5th stage might be costlier and more limited. You could easily replace it with another standard 10″ carbon filter canister that takes all manner of inserts.
I’m writing as a happy customer of the Black and White RO system.
What sold me is the clear description of all the products they sell. This unit has a few options that you can read about on that page as you scroll down.
I have mine with a permeate pump to increase it’s efficiency (reduces waste water).
To address the lack of minerals, I asked them to add a post filter that adds some minerals back into the water.
At any rate, the site is pretty amazing if you’re into doing things to filter or purify your water. I personally found the answers to a lot of questions that were difficult to find on other sites.
I can’t recommend them enough!!! Again, I’m not benefiting in any way here…
Get a good TDS meter and a copy of your municipalities water report. Then contact a water filtration company to get advice on what stages (micron levels) that better work with your water system. You may find that getting
I use to have a reef tank and one important aspect of keeping corals was to start with 0 TDS water. For a lot of fellow reef keepers this meant using a RO/DI system (because buying 100 gallons of distilled water in one gallon jugs makes you look crazy), but the DI stage is overkill for your application. I initially purchased my RO/DI system online as a complete kit. When my TDS got up to 8ppm I realized I needed to get new filtration media. After hearing a lot of great reviews from “The filter Guys” I gave them a call. The guy on the phone listened to all my water parameters and needs and redid my system making it more efficient and less costly.
As mentioned above, the Gallons Per Day rating is best case scenario. Inline water temperature, age of filters, pressure, and initial water condition will play big factors so expect much lower rates.
The amount of waste water generated by these systems (even more so with a DI unit) can be pretty high and discouraging. To lessen the impact you can run the output line to a storage container (Brute trash can) and use it for things like washing machine, water plants, soak laundry, etc..
You sound like a TSP member! Subject then the details! Lol
It’s kind of ironic, but after doing a PhD that involved making and testing a bunch of nanofiltration membranes in the lab, i worry a lot more now about what is being leached into my water from the infrastructure than i used to. Flush any new cartridge well before ingesting the water.
Also, remember that any reservoir water in a filtration system should be flushed if it sits around for long (e.g. after a vacation), because the chlorine is removed by the filter, which allows the almost inevitable resident bacteria to proliferate.
I have had an RO system for years. Greatly improves water quality, saves a fortune on bottled water.
Just make sure you are getting quality components and getting what you paid for. The most important component is the RO membrane. A lot of vendors use cheap membranes rather that quality units like DOW FilmTec. Also, some will claim xx GPD but use much lower rated membranes and then claim that their unit is somehow able to exceed that capacity.
One of my units came from eBay, it was advertised as 150 gpd. When I went to replace the membrane for maintenance, I discovered it was really a cheap 50 GPD rated model. Here is response from vendor when I questioned it …. I wound up replacing it with a Dow 75GPD.
Thanks for the information! You received the correct membrane the TW2012-LP (low pressure) AKA the 150 GPD membrane around here. We routinely get well over 120 GPD out of that membrane around here with the booster pump. We have seen it go higher than that depending on water quality, water temperature, PSI feed to the membrane etc (all those lab perfect conditions that no one actually has:). Have you done a timing test to see what your unit produces per minute?
Most people don’t need the 150 GPD…so when asked I recommend the 100 GPD as it has a better quoted rejection rate. You can switch out to the 100 GPD membrane without changing your flow restrictor, but any other membrane change and you would also have to change your flow restrictor.
Hope this answers your question. Dd
We went the Brita way for a long time but upon moving into an older house and redoing the kitchen, wife was big on the Apec system. I was a skeptic but it really is a tremendous bit of water science that increases the quality of everything you use water for – drinking, cooking, etc. Well worth it and highly recommend the Apec system.
Brita is a carbon filter that really only affects the taste, the RO system is a vast improvement.
Wow, lots of positive response, but there are downsides. RO is inefficient in that it generates about 5 to 10 gallons of wastewater for each gallon of finished water it produces. This can be important if you are on a well and/or septic system. Also, RO water is very aggressive – that is it is corrosive. Not usually a problem on a point of use system like under a sink, but I have seen whole house systems destroy the plumbing in a matter of a few years.
I’ve had a RO system for about 6 years, in the country on a well. The water has a strong sulfur smell and the well is not very deep, so it’s some protection, though there aren’t farms around, but you never know what can get dumped where.
Really really helps with the taste and smell for drinking/coffee and with some peace of mind. I got the Whirlpool WHER25 at Lowe’s over 6 years ago and they still sell that same model for $200. A plumber put it in when he put in the plumbing there but I’m sure I could do it. At the time it was a CR best buy and reasonably priced. It does take out lead. It’s still a CR best buy, though somewhat basic if you need more filtration.
Flint situation is horrible because they changed from an excellent system to a horrible one and charged way more for it, but there are plenty of other problems everywhere. A few years ago Toledo and lots of small towns currently. The story I’ve heard on Flint is that they were taking steps to privatize the water system. Right now the residents pay 8 times the national average for their water. If they stop paying the city can shut down their houses and make them move out. They can’t sell their houses because it’s a known hazard. They pay, yet they can’t use it.
The city of Flint was crying about lost revenue because people stopped paying water bills. What about the kids’ brains and bones?
I think its time for citizens to start paying more attention to their water supply and water tests by their local communities. The value of your home is closely tied to this. Then pressure politicians at the local level to make sure it stays safe. I knew someone who worked for a large city water system. Oh the stories were scary! Like after flooding, etc. yet this was a water system with a good reputation.
Water has been taken for granted. We can no longer do that. I’m 100% for RO filters, but its tricky to buy them. When I called various companies there were high pressure sales techniques being used and very little information given when I had specific questions, like “does it remove chloramines?” They’d answer, “yes, it removes chlorine” etc etc. Let the buyer beware. I finally just used consumer reports, which at least in unbiased. Luckily, I’d had my water tested and knew it was ok (at the time of the test, anyway).
But yes, I’ve had good luck with mine. I may change the model eventually.
This is a great topic. I appreciate what others have to say and hope to learn some things about these filters.
(Sorry about the soapbox, but I’ve thought about this for a long time and seeing this stuff in the news is just over the top.)
Buy a watts system. You do not need all those fancy extras…Plus the replacement filters are dirt cheap on amazon. I have 2 in my house. Dont let the flow rate scare you. You are not going to be drinking ~1 gal at a sitting. I would say once the pressure in the tank builds up, it is about ~10 seconds for a 16 oz glass of water.
wow the prices have gone up. I paid ~$170
If it were me I’d opt for a Vertex Puratek unit. Microprocessor controlled to automatically backwash membrane for TDS creep as well as built in booster pump. My rationale is it produces 1:1.5 (product:waste). Standard units without a booster pump typically yield 1:3 or 1:4 product to waste. While it may not seem like much if you are on a well or in water restriction area, that waste water adds up. You would need to a tank as well as the faucet.
Stu, this is the same unit at only 138.00. I’ve had mine for 16 years with no problems. I did add the optional UV light for 80 bucks.
Just wondering, anyone tried these?
http://brondell.com (Typical RO, but claim that they don’t waste water)
http://www.linxwater.com/ (this use electric to purify water)
The linx system really interest me, since I had been seeing this process during high school chemistry, and now they apply it to real life application. Problem is do anyone know the cost, and who actually have the data of how much stuff can this unit pick up versus a typical RO?
Just installed the Brondell Circle RO system myself, piece of cake, well thought out design. Works Perfectly!
The Brondell Circle appears to be the only RO system developed in the 21st Century. The rest of the RO systems out there appear to be designed by Rube Goldberg 50 years ago.
Check out Brondell’s Swash 1000 toilet seat, been using one for over 7 now. Wiping with toilet paper is like starting a fire with a stick. Primitive!
Anyone using an Aquasana OptimH2O RO system? If so, have you been able to figure out how to install a permeate pump and automatic shutoff valve?
I have the Apec system with pump. It’s a great system. This is my second RO, and in comparison to the other unit, the Apec has thicker plastic fittings, generates more water per day, has a larger storage tank, and flows WAY better. I did upgrade to the 3/8″ tubing, which I feel is mandatory. You will be disappointed with 1/4″ tubing.
Using a Whirlpool Wher25 over the last ten years have replaced the entire system once and the filters another two times. I no longer use the tank but instead have a timer valve that collects about of gallon of RO water per hour and a bit less than a gallon of waste water which I use for plants, cleaning etc. To fine tune the flow I also installed a valve to restrict the flow to both. The feed is from a water softener with a TDS of around 350 ppm. The RO is around 11 ppm.