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Ever wondered about the benefits of a reverse osmosis water filter system?
Despite sounding a bit like something you might find in a chemistry lesson, reverse osmosis is a popular and highly efficient method of filtering drinking water in your home.
Reverse osmosis systems are also less complicated to install and use than the name might suggest.
Through combining something called membrane filter technology with carbon and mechanical filtration, reverse osmosis water filter systems are able to perform some of the most powerful water filtration there is.
Top Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Systems At A Glance:
- Top ‘Overall’ Pick: APEC Top Tier 6 Stage RO Filter
- Best Countertop: APEC Portable Countertop RO Water Filter
- Best For Alkaline Water: iSpring RO System with Alkaline Reminerlization
7 Benefits Of a Reverse Osmosis Water Filter
Here are 7 major benefits associated with a good quality reverse osmosis water filter system:
- Fewer contaminants – a powerful reverse osmosis filter is able to remove an impressive array of contaminants from tap water, providing you with a source of healthier drinking water in your home
- Better tasting water – reverse osmosis water filters remove bad taste and odour from tap water
- Improved health – many people notice an improvement in certain health issues upon drinking reverse osmosis filtered water
- Easy and convenient to use – once installed reverse osmosis systems are simple to use
- Cost saving – if you take care of your reverse osmosis system, many systems should last you a lifetime, saving you money long term on things like bottled water
- Multiple layers of filtration – many reverse osmosis systems have up to 7 layers of filtration, which are able to remove practically all known harmful chemicals and particles
- Good for the environment – using a reverse osmosis water filter system cuts down on the need to buy bottled water. Reverse osmosis also uses less energy than some other filtration systems.
How Does a Reverse Osmosis Filter Work?
So how does a reverse osmosis water filter system work?
Here’s a short video from APEC, one of the leading providers of multi stage reverse osmosis systems, which show how the filters work:
All reverse osmosis water filter systems work in the same way and look alike, with the same or similar basic components. The main difference you will find is the quality of the filters and membranes inside the filter and the number of stage of filtering.
A reverse osmosis water filter system works by pushing water from the tap through a membrane and filter (or series of filters). Only the water passes through the membrane, leaving any larger molecule impurities behind. The pollutants are disposed of via the drain and the fresh water passed to a holding tank, which can easily be accessed via a tap.
They’re a popular choice for a home water system, thanks to their ability to filter out more contaminants than many other types of filter, such as pitchers or faucet filters, but still at a reasonable cost.
A reverse osmosis water filter system unit is generally installed under the sink or in a remote interior location (as long as there’s a water supply and drain point nearby). If you’re short on under sink space though, countertop reverse osmosis water filter systems, like this one from APEC are also now available.
What Can a Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Remove?
Reverse osmosis will generally remove any molecular compounds smaller in size than water molecules.
Like distillation, though, reverse osmosis removes almost everything from water, both good and bad.
A top quality reverse osmosis water filter system is usually capable of filtering out up to 99% of contaminants including:
- heavy metals
- bacteria and viruses
- plus agreat many others.
Reverse osmosis is also effective with taste and odour-producing chemicals, particulates, total dissolved solids and turbidity.
When activated carbon pre-filtering is also used in combination with the membrane (it is in top modern systems), water can also be effectively filtered against volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
You may have read that some reverse osmosis filter systems fail to remove chemicals such as chlorine and pesticides. However, most modern systems use a carbon filter, in addition to the membrane, which does remove these contaminants. To be sure, though, always check the product details.
Whilst one reverse osmosis filter system may look very much like the next, it is important to do your research. Whilst the design and components may look similar or the same across different brands and models, it is the quality of those components that is key. Differences in the quality of the components can have a significant impact on the quality of the water the system produces.
It’s also advisable to check that a filter meets the NSF seal of approval, or similar, as this indicates the filter has been independently tested to show it can reduce levels of certain pollutants under specified conditions.
Any Cons To a Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System?
For many people the benefits of reverse osmosis water filter systems outweigh any drawbacks.
However, the main drawbacks of reverse osmosis filters are that they:
- Create some waste water – this is an issue if you are water conscious, although if you break the waste water down it is often around only the equivalent of 2-3 extra toilet flushes a day.
- Not selective in which minerals they take out – since reverse osmosis generally removes any molecular compounds smaller in size than water molecules, this means essential minerals can get filtered out too, as well as the ‘bad’ ones. However, bear in mind, minerals in water are inorganic and harder for your body to use – we actually get most of our minerals from food, which provides organic, easily assimilated minerals. Many modern reverse osmosis systems also now add these minerals back in, during one of the filtering stages.
The mineral question is one of the most controversial in the whole drinking water purification arena, with experts sometimes citing convincing arguments on both sides. So at the end of the day, this is a personal decision.
Not all reverse osmosis water filter systems are able to remove pollutants such as chlorine or pesticides either, since they are molecularly smaller than water. So check the system has a carbon filter stage (most modern, quality, multi stage filters will have one) as this will effectively tackle these contaminants.
Top rated reverse osmosis water filter systems will almost certainly do this as a matter of course, but it’s best to check.
Reverse Osmosis System Filter Change & Maintenance
To ensure longevity and efficiency of a reverse osmosis water filter system you need to ensure it’s maintained well.
This isn’t hard though. Once a system is installed and running efficiently, the main thing you need to do is replace the filters.
Regularity of filter change depends to some extent on the individual system, water source and household usage, but most filters should last at least 6 months, sometimes more.
Pre-membrane filters also require changing. These are designed to filter out dirt, silt, sand and other sediments and generally requiring changing every 6-9 months.
You’ll also need to change the reverse osmosis membrane every few years (generally every 2-4 years, depending on the model).
There’s also a filter that comes after the reverse osmosis membrane, which also requires changing – generally every 6 – 12 months – but again, it’s likely to vary depending on the system, water source and usage.
Changing filters shouldn’t take you long at all if you follow the manufacturer guidelines.
You can find out more about general maintenance of reverse osmosis systems here.
What Are The Best Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Systems?
Benefits of Reverse Osmosis Water Filters – A Final Word
Reverse osmosis water systems for the home are one of the most effective and common options for providing good tasting, pure, drinking water through the reduction or removal of most contaminants.
They do create some waste water and also remove some of the good minerals in drinking water. However, these minerals are often replaced in modern multi stage systems.
Always, read the small print or product details to check which contaminants a filter removes, so you are confident you are getting the benefits of a reverse osmosis water filter you expect.