7 Best Reverse Osmosis Filtration Systems of 2020

Best Reverse Osmosis Filtration System
Image by Tetiana Garkusha / Canva Photos

We all want our drinking water to be as clean and pure as possible. One of the most effective ways to remove contaminants and toxic chemicals from water is through a process called reverse osmosis, or “RO.” Having one of the best reverse osmosis filtration systems can mean cleaner and healthier water without too much hassle or waste.

There are lots of effective home reverse osmosis systems on the market, and we’ve rounded up the best ones. Ditch the bottled water, ineffective pitchers, the endless trips hauling jugs from the grocery store — and install an RO unit right at home. Imagine: clean, pure drinking water, 24/7, on command!

Whether you’re on a budget, want tons of features, or want to learn about eco-friendly choices — we can help figure out which of our picks for best reverse osmosis filtration system is just right for you.

Our Top Picks

Check out our top picks:

1. APEC Water Systems Reverse Osmosis System

The best reverse osmosis system overall

APEC 1 Filter

Brand: APEC / Gallons Per Day: 90 / Waste Water to Pure Water Ratio: 3:1 / Special Feature: Super Capacity Filters / Price: 💰💰

APEC Water Systems describes this product as their “flagship workhorse,” and it shows. The Ultimate Series RO-90 system has everything you want and need in a reverse osmosis system. It is our pick for best overall (and best under the sink) reverse osmosis system. This highly-reviewed system truly checks every box:

  • Removes 95-99% of all contaminants in water
  • Reasonably priced
  • High 90 GPD rate
  • Super capacity filters (which need to be changed less often)
  • Easy installation
  • Excellent customer service/assistance

The unit’s only drawback worth mentioning is its moderate waste water to pure water ratio of 3:1. However, if you’d like to reduce water waste, adding a permeate pump to this system would be an economical, environmentally-friendly choice.

  • Both city water and well water users endorsed this product.
  • Easy installation. Works especially well with a refrigerator/ice maker connection.
  • Water quality is top-notch, tastes great, and is noticeably better for pets, plants, humidifiers, and other uses.

  • Installation can be tricky
  • Isolated reports of systems spontaneously failing

2. Waterdrop Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

The best eco-friendly reverse osmosis system

Water Drop Filter

Brand: Waterdrop / Gallons Per Day: 400 / Waste Water to Pure Water Ratio: 1:1 / Special Feature: Tankless / Price: 💰💰

This Waterdrop RO unit is modern and compact, boasts an unusually high flow rate, wastes very little water, and is NSF-certified. It’s our clear pick for best eco-friendly reverse osmosis system.

One criticism of reverse osmosis is that the process wastes a lot of water as it filters. Many systems waste 2-5 gallons of water for every gallon they purify. The Waterdrop RO system is different. It uses new filter composition technology and an internal pump to reduce water waste. It produces a faster, more stable water flow. In fact, this unit can produce up to 400 gallons per day! Because of its tankless design and “twist and pull” filters, it also takes up 70% less space than a traditional RO system and makes filter changes a lightning-fast process.

  • Noticeably better taste than untreated water
  • Fairly quiet, has a fast water flow for a tankless unit
  • Love for the unit’s sleek and compact design — no tubes, hoses, or connections that can leak or break

  • Unlike most RO units, this one requires power
  • Warranty only applies when the system hooks up with municipal/city water

3. Express Water Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

The best budget reverse osmosis system

Express Water 1 Filter

Brand: Express Water / Gallons Per Day: 50 / Waste Water to Pure Water Ratio: 3:1 / Special Feature: Add-ons available / Price: 💰

It’s entirely possible to score a good reverse osmosis system for under $200, and this solid 5-stage filtration unit proves it. The Express RO5DX removes sediment, pesticides, chlorine, heavy metals, and much more, and is our pick in the budget category.

This system is NSF-certified, easily installed, and very well-reviewed. It even includes an extra set of filters, so you save money on your first round of replacements. If you decide you want additional filtration later on, this unit is easy to customize. Additional add-ons include an alkaline filter, UV filter, and more. The Express brand also scores extra points for their color-coding, which leads to easier installation, filter identification, and replacement.

  • High quality, great-tasting water
  • Very affordable unit that also saves additional money over time (compared to bottled water)
  • Good water flow w/ easy installation and setup —most love the well-labeled, color-coded system and appreciate the clear diagrams and descriptions that come with the unit

  • This unit does not have the best wastewater rate
  • A few reminders to make sure connections are tight and to use plumbing tape during installation to reduce the chance of leaking

4. Express Water Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System w/ Faucet

The best countertop reverse osmosis system

Express Water 2 Filter

Brand: Express Water / Gallons Per Hour: 3 to 4 / Waste Water to Pure Water Ratio: 3:1 / Special Feature: Countertop / Price: 💰

If you live in an apartment, rent a home, or simply have limited space, you might not be able to install a traditional RO. A countertop RO system is an excellent choice for apartments, condos, dorms, or even motorhomes. And compared to similar countertop models, the Express Countertop RO system is more affordable, comes as a contained and portable unit, and offers easy change filters. This unit has a moderate/typical water waste rate of 2-3:1, depending on your water pressure.

There are a few drawbacks to be aware of when it comes to countertop units. They are definitely better suited to small spaces and/or small households, and since they’re tankless, they store and produce less water, and have a slower flow. One other issue: a countertop unit takes up valuable space and isn’t exactly beautiful.

  • Small but mighty
  • The Express brand is known for good customer service
  • Reviewers love being able to take the unit with them when they move

  • Slower water flow
  • Takes up significant counter space

5. Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection Undersink Reverse Osmosis Filter System

The best reverse osmosis system for well water

Home Master Filter

Brand: Home Master / Gallons Per Hour: 75 / Waste Water to Pure Water Ratio: 1:1 / Special Feature: UV Filter / Price: 💰💰💰

Well water filtration can require special consideration since it’s more prone to bacterial contaminants, industrial chemicals, and heavy metals. The Home Master HydroPerfection system removes everything a proper RO unit should, like arsenic, nitrates, total dissolved solids (TDS), VOCs, lead, and more. While filtering, it also is remineralizing your water for better taste and health. It also includes a UV filter that will eliminate bacteria or microorganisms lurking in your well water.

This BPA-free system meets or exceeds all NSF standards and produces at a rate of 75 gallons per day, which means the flow rate remains high and will provide plenty of water at the ready. And while this system is the most expensive (under the sink) RO unit on our list, the thoughtful design features will save you money over the long run.

The HydroPerfection model uses modular filters and is specially designed to avoid degradation of its water tank. Which is a fancy way of saying: you don’t have to clean the system as often. Plus, it will last longer.

Another bonus: most reverse osmosis systems do not include a permeate pump, but this one does. A permeate pump is a non-electric device that increases water pressure before it enters an RO unit’s filters. This pump will increase your water flow by up to 50%. It also has the additional benefit of reducing water waste up to 80%.

Sidenote:
If you have municipal water and don’t need a UV filter, Home Master offers less extensive versions of this RO system. You can tailor the more basic options to your specific situation and budget. So while this model is our official pick for best RO system for well water, it’s also a great overall choice.

  • Easy filter changes
  • Inclusion of an (ultra-quiet) permeate pump
  • Exceptionally clear and clean-tasting water, in some cases, noticeably better than other RO units

  • Some installation difficulties
  • On the more expensive side of RO filters

6. APEC Water Systems Essence Series Alkaline Mineral pH+ Reverse Osmosis System

The best reverse osmosis system with remineralization

APEC 2 Filter

Brand: APEC / Gallons Per Hour: 75 / Waste Water to Pure Water Ratio: 3:1 / Special Feature: Remineralization / Price: 💰💰

This affordable 6-stage RO system is engineered and assembled in the United States. It is easy to install and maintain and produces a robust 75 gallons of water per day. It removes up to 99% of VOCs, lead, nitrates, fluoride, and over a thousand other contaminants. Then, it remineralizes your water after filtering.

Why remineralize? Reverse osmosis is so effective that it extracts nearly everything from your water, including harmless (and sometimes even healthy) minerals. The RO process also makes water slightly more acidic, which can be bad news for the flavor of your water.

What sets this reverse osmosis system apart from others is its special calcium mineral cartridge. As APEC describes:

“Other remineralization RO systems claim to add various beneficial minerals back into the water; however, their mineral formulations are often from unknown and uncertified sources that can lead to potential health concern. APEC’s calcium mineral cartridge adds only 100% US-made high-purity calcium carbonate to effectively raise pH in the water for those who desire alkaline water.”

  • Excellent customer service
  • Great-tasting, crystal clear water
  • Most found installation to be manageable
  • Flow rate is not as fast as some other models
  • A few people had issues with tank failure after several years

7. Apex Commercial Reverse Osmosis System for Drinking Water & Hydroponic Treatment

The best whole house reverse osmosis system

Apex Filter

Brand: Apex / Gallons Per Hour: 1500 / Waste Water to Pure Water Ratio: N/A / Special Feature: High Volume / Price: 💰💰💰💰

Most reverse osmosis and other “point of use” systems filter water at the point where you access your drinking water. Whole house water filters are installed at the point where water enters your home, essentially filtering every drop of water you use. See our guide to the 7 Best Whole House Water Filters of 2020 for more details.

Before you install a whole house reverse osmosis filtration system, make sure you really need one. Consult with a home water expert. They can help you calculate your household’s water consumption and determine if you need pumps, pre-treatment, or additional filtration components. Whole house RO systems are expensive, complex, and require ongoing maintenance. They’re also likely overkill unless you need to remove extremely high levels of total dissolved solids, VOCs, arsenic, or other dangerous contaminants.

If you’ve spoken with a professional and are ready to take the plunge, we do have one recommendation. It’s generally challenging to order whole house RO systems online — both because they’re very large and heavy, and because many professionals actually recommend installing what is known as a “light commercial” unit. Our pick- the Apex Commercial Reverse Osmosis System- is a high-volume, efficient 3-stage filtration system that features meters for monitoring system performance, a manual on/off switch, and is available on Amazon.com.

  • Good customer service
  • NSF compliant and made in the U.S.A
  • Most reviewers are owners of small cafes, childcare centers, apartment buildings, etc. and have generally reported great taste, good pressure

  • The most expensive model on our list
  • Requires professional installation and maintenance

What to Look for in a Reverse Osmosis Filtration System

Filters on one of the best reverse osmosis filtration systems
Image by Dmitri Maruta / Canva Photos

First, identify your specific needs. Here are some questions you should ask before purchasing an RO unit:

  • What’s your budget? You can get a decent RO system for under $200. Still, if you’re willing to pay more, you can get great additional features and a super-efficient, low-waste system that will last for a decade or more.
  • How much water do you need/use? With any RO system, you want to check how many gallons per day (GPD) it produces. The most common range you’ll see is 50-100 GPD. For smaller households, 50 is sufficient. If you have a large family, or if you generally use and drink water at a higher rate, you may want to consider a system with a higher GPD.
  • How’s your water pressure? Anything below 40 psi may result in an RO system not functioning correctly. And if you want a faster filtration rate, you may want to invest in a unit with a permeate pump, which will also reduce your water waste.
  • Do you rent your home rather than own? You’re probably looking for a system that doesn’t require installation, like a countertop unit.
  • Do you have well water? You’ll want to consider a system with a UV filter.
  • Do you want your drinking water to be alkaline? You’ll need a system that includes a remineralization filter.

1. Environmental Impact of Reverse Osmosis Systems

Check a system’s efficiency. One of the most significant drawbacks of reverse osmosis is how much water gets wasted during the filtration process. Look for a system with lower wastewater to pure water ratio. Most reverse osmosis systems waste about 2-4 gallons of water for every gallon of purified water they produce. The more eco-friendly systems on our list only waste at a 1:1 rate or less.

2. Installing Your RO System

Consider the level of installation difficulty. Be honest with yourself. Are you a handy DIY-er? Would it best to add a bit to your budget to hire a plumber to come in and install your reverse osmosis system? Even the best reverse osmosis filtration system isn’t going to be effective unless its installed properly.

3. Have a Filter Strategy

Decide how you feel about filters. Check to see if filters are continually available and easy to change. “Quick change” filters are convenient but wasteful because they can’t be separated from their plastic housing (canisters) before being thrown away. However, the more eco-friendly filters without plastic filter housing are often more fussy and messy. You may want to decide which route you prefer before purchasing an RO system.

Our Process

For this guide on reverse osmosis filtration systems, our team spent 5 hours researching the most popular options from over 25 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about one hundred user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each filter system. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 7 reverse osmosis filtration systems on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.

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