Getting clean water to drink is more important than ever, and it can be difficult to acquire in some areas. While we won’t show you how to filter water in the wilds, the best reverse osmosis system can fulfill all of your from the comfort of home. They are a big step up from filtered pitchers, and some are even small enough to take on the road if you want clean water in your RV or a hotel room.
If your water has gone foul due to someone nodding off at the treatment plant or a natural disaster, you may not have time to wade through our RO system buying guide. If you need to clean up your tap water quickly, consider the contaminants you need to remove along with how much water you need to treat.
You’ll also want to check your water pressure to ensure it’s in the range of the system you have your eye on. With filters, keep the lifespan in mind. More expensive systems usually have filters that hold up longer and RO membranes “should” last longer than the rest.
How to Find the Best RO Water Filtration Systems
When you want to take almost everything out of your tap water, a reverse osmosis water filter is your best option. It can reduce heavy metals like lead and copper along with chloride, sodium and other things you don’t want to ingest. It can also handle a long list of contaminants like fluoride, calcium and phosphorous as well.
Reverse osmosis systems are considered the best water treatment option for home use but do have a few drawbacks despite its purification prowess. A reverse osmosis system isn’t cheap, they tend to be slow, and only a handful of models will sit comfortably on a counter. Aside from those fun facts, they are the best way to reduce metals and microorganisms in your water.
Every machine on our list will have an RO membrane filter, but the best reverse osmosis system will have other filters as well. Prefilters deal with sediment and rust from the pipes before it gets to the membrane, and are common across the board. Systems with storage tanks can also have a filter at the end of the line to keep things fresh and clean.
In the middle, more often than not you’ll find a form of carbon filter. There are plenty of variants, but coconut-based and carbon block filters are two popular options. Mixed media filters with various substances are in play as well along with filters that add minerals back into the water. As for UV filters, they kill bacteria and microorganisms and are typically found in high-end water filtration machines.
What about Replacement Filters?
So you’ve got your eye set on a new RO system and think you’re all set. Well, not so fast as you will need to scoop up water filter replacements at some point. How long that is depends on how many stages the filter has, how well it’s built, and of course, the style. Some are made for light-duty use while others are rated for thousands of gallons before you’ll need to replace them.
You can usually buy single filters, but many systems are designed so you’ll change most, if not all of your filters at once. The price is an obvious factor although you’ll need to keep lifespan in mind as well. Take those numbers with a grain of salt however as it all depends on how much water you run through the machine at the end of the day.
Whether you’re shopping for a new 4K TV, a smartphone or dishwasher, every product has certain specifications you’ll need to know about. It’s no different when you’re looking for the best RO water system, so here are a few areas to keep in mind…
Other Things to Consider
Once you figure out which type of system you need, it’s time to take a long hard look at your faucet. 90% of the time, you’re good to go and can pick up an adapter if your kit doesn’t fit. If you have an exotic sink, it may be a different story, so it pays to look before you leap. You’ll also want to consider, but not be blown away by things like…
Gold Seal Certification
Whenever you buy any device that can purify water, it is required to carry certification in certain parts of the world. Well, it should at least and in North America that would be the NSF certification.
The minds behind that program explain things nicely, but it’s not the only term you should be aware of if you’re concerned about the materials used in your purifier. Gold seal certification is another popular term closely associated with the WQA or Water Quality Association.
The warranty process is pretty straightforward in the water filter world – they are usually short. Most are made from plastic with very few metal or moving parts. As plastic housings tend to hold up well, you generally don’t need to have a 3-year warranty for a product that’s a shell with disposable filters.
If you’re buying anything that plugs into a wall, uses a UV filter or other exotic means to clean your tap water, you will want a longer warranty. You’ll usually get one from the best RO systems, but extended warranties are always an option if you’re paying top dollar for an RO system.
How We Made Our Selections
Most of our team has owned a Brita water filter or an on-tap solution, but we’ll admit, UV sterilization and reverse osmosis were relatively new to us. That means we spent a considerable amount of time looking into those filtration methods and what they remove along the top models available.
We also poured through hundreds of reverse osmosis system reviews from respected authorities and verified consumer reviews. There were plenty of surprises along the way which excluded a few top models. From there, we chose the best options from several different areas including filtration, price, and portability.
Our Top Reverse Osmosis System Reviews
Home Master #TMHP
- 75GPD, 9 Stages
- 2,000 gallons or 1 year between filter changes
- Best for well water high in iron
municipal water using chloramines
APEC Ultimate RO-90
- 90 GPD, 5 Stages
- 0.23gpm @ 60 psi
- Warranty: 2 Years
iSpring RCC7 AK
- 75GPD, 6 Stages
- 1-year money-back guarantee
3-year manufacturer warranty
Brondell RO Circle Water Saving
- 57GPD, 4 Stages
- 0.26-0.37GPM @ 20-100psi
APEC Countertop RO-CTOP-C
- 90GPD, 4 Stages
- Hooks up to most STANDARD FAUCET in minutes
- 4 Stages
Countertop Portable Universal
- 75GPD, 5 Stages
Olympia Water Systems OROS-50
- 50GPD, 5 Stages
- nsf certified and tested
1. Home Master HydroPerfection Reverse Osmosis System
The Best All-Around RO Water Filter
Pure Water Ratio
If you’re looking for an RO system that can tackle more contaminants than others, look no further than the Home Master HydroPerfection TMHP. While pricey, it’s the best reverse osmosis system for consumers that require extreme filtration.
This all-in-one filtration system can do a little bit of everything. It comes with a 3.2-gallon reserve tank which ensures you’ll always have a steady supply of fresh H20. It also has a built-in UV filter that’s good for a year and handles 99.9% of germs and bacteria.
The HydroPerfection TMHP has nine filtration stages in all, so you’ll never have to worry about iron, chlorine, pesticides, metals and other nasty substances. We’re also fans of the mixed media pre-filter with catalytic carbon considering it’s designed to deal with iron and chloramine.
One of the unique features with this RO filter system is the way those filters are designed. The modular filters keep things tidy as you replace the whole canister each cycle, not just the filter. This gives you an extra layer of protection against leaks, and you’ll only need to change them once a year or every 2,000 gallons.
Home Master used their patented Full Contact remineralization tech in this unit as well. The system gives you a double dose of Magnesium and Calcium as water enters the tank and heads towards the tap. While it improves the overall quality, it also keeps your storage tank from degrading as water sits in the tank.
As for the tech specs, this RO system needs 40 – 90 PSI and works with a temperature range between 40 - 100°. Copper, chlorine, iron, and bacteria reduction sit at 99% while lead is rated at a 98.6% reduction rate. Fluoride is solid at 93.9%, but a little lower than some models that are considerably cheaper and the flow rate is around a gallon per hour.
The Home Master HydroPerfection TMHP comes with everything you need to get started including a Fast Flow RO! Kit, RO faucet and adapter, and permeate pump. It meets NSF standards and sports a 5-year warranty out of the box. It is expensive, but an excellent choice when you need UV filtration and want a tidy Pro-level system.
Filtration down to 0.001 microns
75 gallons per day
Overkill for some
2. APEC Water Systems RO-90 Ultimate
A Great Value for the Price
Pure Water Ratio
Whenever there’s a list of reverse osmosis system reviews, you’re going to find a filter from APEC. While they have plenty of products, our favorite is the RO-90 Ultimate. It’s an RO system that cleans your water with ease while protecting you from thousands of harmful contaminants.
This water filter uses a similar multi-stage filtration system as the rest of our picks. You’ll get five stages in all including a polypropylene sediment filter for the first stage for rust, dust and other contaminants. Two extruded carbon block filters take care of stages two and three which handle odor, taste, and color.
The highlight is the reverse osmosis membrane, however, which takes care of 99% of total dissolved solids including fluoride, radium, arsenic and lead just to name a few. The last stage is filled with coconut shell carbon for TCR removal which clears up any residue from the tank before it heads to the tap.
On that note…
The chrome faucet is stylish and will look great on any countertop although a brushed nickel variant is available as well. FDA approved food grade tubing is used for the lines and the system itself is WQA Gold Seal certified. Those filters will last for 12 months under normal usage, and a complete set of refills will set you back a little over $100 bucks.
APEC built the RO-90 to handle a wide range of conditions, so you’re good to go with water pressure between 40 – 85 PSI and temperatures within the 40 - 100° range. It can handle 90 gallons per day, removes all traces of chlorine and rates 99% on bacteria and copper reduction. Iron is at 95%, lead is at 96%, and fluoride is 97.7%. The flow rate for this system is around 3 gallons per hour.
While there’s no UV filter on this one, it’s capable and will have a fresh supply of clean water at the ready considering it can do 90 gallons per day. The waste to clean ration is less than stellar at 3:1, but it’s hard to argue with the price and performance of the APEC RO-90. This affordable RO system comes with a 1-year warranty and lifetime support.
5-stage filtration process
90 gallons per day
Large 4-gallon tank
Great price point
Tricky installation for some
3. iSpring RCC7AK-UV
Seven Stages of Purification Power
Pure Water Ratio
The iSPring RCC7AK-UV looks like a lot of other under the counter RO systems, but this 7-stage system has plenty of purification power. It provides a great deal of value for the price as well, especially if you’re in need of some mineralization and require UV sterilization.
Looks can be deceiving as you could easily mistake the RCC7AK-UV for any one of a dozen RO water filters. While the design is standard, the performance does not disappoint provided you have at least 45 – 70 PSI water pressure. The feed water temperature is 40 – 100°, and it’s capable of producing 75 gallons per day under optimal conditions.
Filtration starts with a 5-micron polypropylene sediment filter which is followed by a GAC filter and a carbon block. Stage four is a reverse osmosis membrane rated at .0001 micron while stage number five is an inline post carbon filter that deals with leftovers in the tank. The first three stages are 10” and meet NSF and ANSI standards.
Mineralization comes courtesy of a filter full of ionized calcium, sodium, magnesium, and potassium in stage six and stage seven is the 11w UV light with a flow sensor. Bacteria and chlorine see a 99% reduction while iron and lead aren’t far behind at 98%. The system reduces copper by 97%, and fluoride is 94%.
In addition to the system itself, you’ll get a 3.2-gallon pressurized storage tank which can be stored horizontally or vertically. It’s also been certified by the proper parties along with the ¼” tubing. Other features to note include standard accessories like spare O-rings and fittings, and brushed nickel faucet. You will get a water detector as well, a small but extremely useful tool.
The waste to water ratio on this unit is 3:1 which puts it on the level of most mid-range RO systems. The filters don’t quite live up to the 12-month mark if your water is bad, but most filters don’t give you mineralization and a UV filter at this price. The iSpring RCC7AK-UV comes with a 1-year warranty along with lifetime support from a U.S. based team of technicians.
11w UV sterilization
Easy to install
Filter life isn’t the best
Waste to water ratio
4. Brondell Circle Reverse Osmosis System
An RO System with Class
Pure Water Ratio
If you’re tired of white RO systems with exposed filters, Brondell has something you’ll love. The Circle Reverse Osmosis system would look just as good on your countertop as it would under it, and it doesn’t even require a power plug.
This sleek filtering system looks like a countertop kitchen appliance. It’s fully encased and only 16.5”H x 9.25”W x 13.8” D with a weight of 14 pounds. There are three ports on the top for the drain, outlet, and inlet which connect with color-coded tubing, but it’s a very clean design and a modern-looking RO filtering system.
Due to the size of the machine and how it works, the filtering system isn’t quite as robust as you’ll find with other models. Fluoride reduction is only 83.8%, and we couldn’t find stats for iron at all. On the flipside, it does 98% on copper, lead, and chlorine. The pressure range is a bit wider at 40 – 120 PSI although the temperature is around the average with a range of 41 – 95°. Despite its size, this unit has a 1.58-gallon tank and a rated service flow of 0.07 gallons per minute.
As with most systems, the first filter deals with things from your water line including rust while the second filter is carbon-based. The RO membrane is the third stage, and another carbon filter finishes things off. It’s simple, but effective considering it blocks chromium, arsenic, radium, barium, cysts and the aforementioned metals and chemicals. The regular filters are good for 6 months, and the RO membrane should get you through 2 years.
While the filtration may not be up to snuff with our top pick, this system has a 2:1 waste to water ratio. A unique valve eliminates back pressure to cut down on waste and improves efficiency along with the flexible reservoir. In a nutshell, you’ll save money on both the water and electric bills with the Circle RO.
If you’re looking for an RO filtration system that can deal with bacteria and iron, you’ll want to consider another unit. Otherwise, there’s a lot to like about this WQA certified machine, and it’s definitely one of the easier models to deal with. The Brondell Circle RC100 comes with all the necessary equipment to get you rolling a faucet with an integrated LED for filter changes.
No electricity required
2:1 waste water ratio
RO filter flushing
The price tag
Filtration in some areas
5. APEC Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter
The Best Portable Reverse Osmosis Water System
Pure Water Ratio
Our second option from APEC is a little different from our first. The APEC RO-CTOP-C is a portable reverse osmosis system that can hang with the best of them and doesn’t need to sit on your counter.
We’re going to start with the design of this countertop water filter as it will not be for everyone. Boxy is the word best used to describe the RO-CTOP as the system sits on a rack and is simply covered with a case. It might clash with your kitchen to a degree, but it’s still not bulky at 14”L x 6” D x 6.5”W. It won’t win any awards for its cutting-edge design, but we do like the fact the filtration system is very easy to access if needed.
This system has a 4-stage filtration system with standard sized filters that are easy to connect. The first stage takes care of sediment while the second is an activated carbon water filter; both need replaced every six months or between 600-800 gallons. Stage-3 is a membrane that is rated to last 2-3 years depending on the quality of your water, and the last stage is a post-carbon filter good for a few years.
Those will remove Arsenic, Barium, Fluoride, Copper, Lead, and Cadmium along with Radium 226/228 and more. Odors will be a thing of the past and so will chlorine, so your water will definitely taste better than it did before. Iron and lead reduction are at 95% while copper is 96% and fluoride sits at 93%. The flow rate is 60 seconds for an 8 oz. cup or 16 minutes to fill a gallon jug at 60 psi.
Consumers stand behind this product, and it’s hard to argue with the price point given what it can do. As with any RO water system, you will need to fine tune things, but we feel the APEC RO-CTOP provides a lot of value for a portable system. It comes with an installation guide, 1-year warranty, and has an uncased variant if you’re looking to save a few bucks.
90 gallons per day
Easy to use
Expensive compared to other models
6. ZIP Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter
The Best Countertop Reverse Osmosis System
Pure Water Ratio
Now it’s time to take a look at something a bit different. The ZIP reverse osmosis system is designed to sit on your counter like an ordinary appliance. While it will take up a bit more space than your typical coffee pot, we think you’ll be impressed by what it can do.
Is it a new Keurig competitor or a water filter? That’s the question guests will ask themselves after setting eyes the ZIP. The name actually stands for “Zero Installation Purifier” which is 100% accurate considering all you need to do is plug this one into a socket and change filters as needed. The systems measures 9.4”W x 14.5”L x 16.25H with a weight of around 23 pounds.
When it comes to filtration, you’ll get four stages with the ZIP. A 5-micron sediment filter starts things off while stage two is activated carbon which is followed by the RO membrane. The last stage is unique as they went with an Alkaline post filter. It will increase your PH, while the other deal with pesticides, lead, chlorine, fluoride and other harmful chemicals.
This simple system can clean with the best of them despite only having a handful of filters under the hood. Fluoride sits at 95% while lead, iron, copper, chlorine, and arsenic see a 98% reduction rate. From mercury to tannic acids, rest assured the ZIP will remove most of the nasty substances from your tap water.
The usual tech specs don’t apply to this machine, but there are a few things to keep in mind. It’s capable of filtering a gallon of water in 10 – 14 minutes although there’s not a traditional holding tank to speak of. Both the top and bottom containers are BPA-free however with wastewater flowing into the latter. There won’t be much to deal with though considering it has an excellent recovery rate(1:1).
This system is ideal for consumers that want reverse osmosis filtration without the hassle of additional hookups. It’s also an excellent choice if space is a little tight under your sink, even if the price is higher than models with better filtration capabilities. The ZIP RO has a 1-year warranty and comes in black or silver and white.
No installation required
Alkaline 7-8 pH
Filter lifespan and price
7. Reverse Osmosis Revolution Portable RO Water System
A Compact System That Won’t Break the Bank
Pure Water Ratio
When you need a portable RO system, your options are limited and can be quite pricey as well. Nobody told the folks at Reverse Osmosis Revolution that as their 5-stage system is one of the cheapest available and can be installed in just a matter of minutes.
Looking for a small RO system that will work almost anywhere? If so, you’ll be thrilled with this unit as it measures 14” x 7” x 7” with a weight 5.3 pounds. It will not take up much space in your RV, countertop or a cabinet under your aquarium. You won’t need any special tools to install this RO system either, and some adapters are free of charge if you have a funky faucet.
While tiny, there are five filters in this system including the standard 5-micron sediment filter and one with coconut activated carbon. The RO membrane removes 96 – 99% of contaminants and a post filter with KDF-55 takes care of the last stage. It’s not any different from other systems aside from the fourth filter which contains a deionizing mixed bed polishing filter.
The filters on this unit are good for 8 – 12 months or 1,000 gallons while the membrane is rated at 2 – 3 years depending on your usage. It can produce 3 gallons of water in an hour, and the waste to water ratio is in the middle of the pack at 2.8 to 1. The pressure range is 40 – 75 PSI, and it can reduce a wide number of contaminants like arsenic, barium, selenium, and more. Fluoride sees a reduction of 85 – 90% while iron and other metals are around 94 – 98%.
Obviously, this reverse osmosis system won’t be everyone’s cup of tea as it’s slower than top models and doesn’t block quite as many particulates. That said, it has an attractive price tag and is compact enough for travel which opens the door to all-new possibilities! Reverse Osmosis Revolution’s filter comes with a 1-year warranty, and a 15-day money back guarantee.
Ease of use
Budget-friendly price tag
Waste to water ratio
8. Olympia Water Systems OROS-50
The Best Budget-Friendly RO System
Pure Water Ratio
For years, reverse osmosis systems remained out of reach for plenty of folks due to the price. Things have changed over the years, and now you can find alternatives like the Olympia Water Systems OROS-50.
This reverse osmosis system is just like the rest or choices when it comes to functionality. There are a series of filters along with a holding tank, and it slides under a sink with ease. What makes this one different is the price tag as it’s rare to find an RO filter with five layers of filtration this cheap.
As you might suspect, there’s no UV filtration, pump or any other extras with the OROS-50. Instead, you’ll get a simple system with a 5-micron sediment filter, two 5 micron carbon block filters, and the RO membrane. A post-carbon filter rounds things out for the last stage, and everything has been NSF certified.
You may think having fewer filters would be a major disappointment when it comes to filtration. Well, that isn’t the case considering the Olympia OROS-50 provides a 99% reduction in bacteria and chlorine. Copper and iron are reduced by 97%, lead is 93%, and fluoride brings up the rear at 94%. That’s better than some higher priced systems and will certainly get the job done for most folks.
We won’t bore you with the tech specs on the OROS-50 as it has around PSI range is around the average although temps top out at 100°. As the name implies, it can handle 50 gallons per day with a flow rate of 0.75 gallons per minute. The carbon filters are reasonably priced, but only good for 6 months before you’ll need to swap them out.
The unit proves you don’t need to spend a fortune to have filtered water, and it’s a big step up from those old Brita pitchers. On the downside, 6-month filter changes aren’t ideal. The waste to water ratio is high on this one as well although the high marks were consistent in reverse osmosis system reviews of the OROS-50. This system comes with a standard 1-year warranty, all the necessary fittings, a chrome faucet, and a 3.2-gallon holding tank.
NSF tested & certified
Easy to install
Great customer support
6-month filter changes
4:1 waste to water ratio
In our journey to find the best reverse osmosis system, we found that there are more similarities than differences between machines. That played a part in our product selection as we tried to include a machine to satisfy everyone. If you need a larger system that can generate enough H2O for your entire house, be sure to check out our list of the best whole house water filters as well!