The Pros and Cons of Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Systems

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You’ve probably heard that reverse osmosis water filter systems do a fantastic job of removing or at least dramatically reducing the levels of pollutants in your water. On the other hand, you might know that some consider them to have a few weaknesses too.

This home water filtration system buyer’s guide takes a look at the pros and cons of reverse osmosis water filter systems. You can use the information to evaluate them for use in your own home.

Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Systems: How they Work

how do Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Systems workReverse osmosis water filter systems use several filters to treat water. They must also be plumbed into the drain line. For this reason, they are usually installed in a sink cabinet.  Incoming cold water first passes through one or two pre-filters to remove large sediment from the water.

Then, the water flows into the main filter that contains a special semi-permeable layer that is about as thick as cellophane. The water pressure forces water through the membrane, but most dissolved solids in the water are too large to pass through.

The contaminants that are stopped by the membrane are then flushed down the drain by water coming into the system. For every gallon of water that passes through the system, 1-5 gallons are used to flush away the impurities. Some systems have a post-filter for a final polishing of the water before it enters the tap.

The filtered water is stored in a tank with a capacity up to 2.5 or 3.0 gallons. The system is outfitted with its own faucet that is usually installed next to the standard faucet in the kitchen sink. The faucet of reverse osmosis water filter systems are fairly low-flow because of the difference between the volume of water flowing into the filter and the amount of filtered water produced.

Benefits of Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Systems

The best reason to use a reverse osmosis system, also known as an RO system, is the purity of the water produced. They remove many harmful contaminants from the water completely, or greatly reduce their number. Just a few of the many pollutants they remove include microbial cysts, bacteria, sodium, sulfate, nitrate, iron, mercury, lead, phosphate, nickel, fluoride, chlorine, chloroform, cyanide and barium.

To put it into perspective,  the best whole house water filtration systems leave water with less than 1,000 parts per million of dissolved solids, which is very good. Reverse osmosis water filter systems leave water with less than 100 PPM, often much less.

RO systems are the best water filters for home drinking water. In addition, they are a top choice for specialty uses such as hydroponic gardening when pure water is essential.

Concerns about Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Systems

There are two main concerns about these systems. The better ones tend to be quite expensive. While you can find systems for less than $125, the better ones cost $150-$600 for residential use. In general, the more it costs, the more filters it will have and the better the results would be.

Secondly, since the systems have a slow rate of filtration, they are not suitable as whole house water filters. Finally, because they use 2-5 gallons to flush the system for every gallon collected, those who use metered water might be concerned about the cost.

Is a Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System Right for Your Home?

Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Systems - faucet mountedIf you want the cleanest drinking water you can obtain without buying purified water, than RO water filtration systems for home use should be considered. As you consider cost, however, keep in mind that on top of the initial cost of the system, you’ll need to buy a complement of filters periodically. The filter sets can cost as much as $100 or more. All water filters for home use require replacement filters every 3-12 months.

Your other options include whole house water filtration systems, or under sink or countertop water filters that are point of use but don’t use reverse osmosis. In addition, faucet-mount and carafe-style water filters are available that do a very respectable job removing pollutants from the water.

Take some time to browse our water filtration system reviews and articles to better understand the outstanding choices you have. Consider your budget and the level of filtration you want, and you’ll know whether one of the other options will work or if one of the reverse osmosis water filter systems really is the right choice for your home.

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