Table of Contents
- 🥇 Best Whole House Reverse Osmosis System
- ⭐ Reviews – Best Whole House RO Systems 2021
- 🧾 Whole House Reverse Osmosis System Buyer’s Guide
- Advantages of POE Reverse Osmosis Systems
- Disadvantages of Entire Home RO Systems
- Considerations When Purchasing a Point of Entry Reverse Osmosis System
- Frequently Asked Questions
There are plenty of water filters out there, but not all of them can remove TDS (total dissolved solids). Enter reverse osmosis, a highly effective form of filtration that can reduce TDS by more than 99.9%, resulting in virtually pure water.
While the most common type of reverse osmosis system is designed solely to improve drinking water quality, the increased demand for whole-home reverse osmosis solutions has led to an increase in these products on the water treatment market.
If you’re looking for a reverse osmosis system that can provide clean, purified water throughout your home’s plumbing and appliances, this guide will point you towards the right product.
I’ll also be offering advice and information that will help you with the buying process, whether you know a bit about reverse osmosis already or this method of purification is completely new to you.
🥇 Best Whole House Reverse Osmosis System
- US Water Systems Defender Whole House RO System
- Crystal Quest Whole House Reverse Osmosis System
- iSpring RCB3P
- WECO HydroSense Light Commercial Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System
|US Water Systems Defender Whole House RO System||Efficiency Ratio: 5:1|
Production Rate (GPD): 2,000 - 8,000
Tank Included: Yes
Pressure Pump Included: Yes
Warranty: 2 years
|Crystal Quest Whole House Reverse Osmosis System||Efficiency Ratio: 1:2|
Production Rate (GPD): 200 - 7,000
Tank Included: Yes
Pressure Pump Included: Yes
Warranty: 1 year
|iSpring RCB3P||Efficiency Ratio: 1:2|
Production Rate (GPD): 300
Tank Included: No
Pressure Pump Included: Yes
Warranty: 1 year
|WECO HydroSense Light Commercial Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System||Efficiency Ratio: 1:1|
Production Rate (GPD): 500
Tank Included: No
Pressure Pump Included: Yes
Warranty: 1 year
⭐ Reviews – Best Whole House RO Systems 2021
US Water Systems Defender Whole House RO System
The Defender is a durable, customizable whole house reverse osmosis system that efficiently produces clean water for your whole property.
Built in the USA, the Defender can be used both at home and in commercial or industrial applications. With high-quality components, including stainless steel housings (no plastic used here), the system has a good lifespan and a relatively decent 2-year warranty.
If you’d rather waste as little water as possible during the RO process, you’ll be particularly impressed with the Defender’s 80% efficiency rating.
This means the system only wastes 1 gallon of water for every 5 gallons of purified water produced, which is pretty incredible for a reverse osmosis system.
The Defender uses a commercial centrifugal pump, which has a much longer lifespan than other common RO pumps like rotary vane and diaphragm pumps. Included is a flow meter and pressure gauge, so you can better control your water and wastewater production, and the 5-micron pre-filter helps extend the lifespan of the RO membrane itself.
The manufacturer recommends using a pre-treatment to ensure the Defender can last up to 20 years. You can choose between the Anti-Scalant Injection System and the BodyGuard Plus Whole House Water Filtration System, depending on your preferences.
It’s easy to replace the filters in the Defender, though exactly how often you need to change them is something you should ask the manufacturer directly, as the information isn’t available online. Like the best whole house reverse osmosis systems, the Defender can reject up to 99% TDS (total dissolved solids) – and it comes with a TDS meter, so you can check the efficiency of the system whenever you need to.
👍 What I Like
- Impressive 80% efficiency rating
- Included TDS meter, flow meter and pressure gauge
- Durable, with a 20-year lifespan
👎 What I Don’t Like
- Very expensive, especially if you purchased a pre-treatment system too
- Lacking information on filter changes
Crystal Quest Whole House Reverse Osmosis System
The Crystal Quest unit is a high-performing, great-value whole house reverse osmosis system that provides purified water throughout your entire home. Made in the USA, each Crystal Quest system undergoes extensive testing in-house before being shipped to you fully equipped and ready to go, so you can rest assured that you’re going to benefit from a high-quality experience from the very beginning.
If you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and change the prefilters and membranes as advertised, you can get between 15 and 20 years out of the Crystal Quest. You can choose to operate the system at 9 different flow rates, so there’s something to suit every home’s water pressure.
Though it’s naturally bulkier as a whole-home system, the Crystal Quest is relatively space-saving compared to other whole house reverse osmosis systems on the market. The components are easily accessible, making it easy to perform maintenance and change filters. Running this system is relatively low-cost, as it’s designed to be as economical as possible.
If you’re a fan of third-party certifications, you’ll appreciate that the Crystal Quest uses Scientific World Products ISO Certified Components.
There are four filters that make up the system:
- Sediment Reusable Pleated Filter Cartridge
- The Coconut-based Carbon Block Filter Cartridge
- The SMART Filter Cartridge
- and the RO Membrane
The water tank holds up to 165-550 gallons at a time, depending on the system size you opt for, making this a great option for families looking for access to clean water immediately.
There are a number of optional extras recommended by Crystal Quest, including a UV sterilizer to prevent microbiological contamination, and an alkalizing post-filter, which increases water’s pH. These will require more money spent but can significantly increase the lifespan of your RO unit in the long run.
👍 What I Like
- One of the most affordable whole-home RO options available
- Large water storage tank
- 3 system sizes and 9 flow rates to choose from
👎 What I Don’t Like
- Relatively new system – virtually no customer reviews so far
- Recommended extras add onto total spend
The iSpring RCB3P is a high-capacity reverse osmosis water filtration system for whole-home residential or light commercial use. The system is capable of reducing more than 1,000 contaminants to more than 99.9% effectiveness, including fluoride, calcium, arsenic, chlorine, sodium, lead and asbestos.
The system is mounted on a metal hanging basket and stainless steel frame, which makes it easier to install and change your filters, and also acts as a protective outer layer for the unit. At the heart of the RCB3P, the efficient RO membranes are capable of producing up to 300 gallons of clean, purified water in a single day. With .0001 micron pores, you can rest assured that these membranes are capable of eliminating even the tiniest contaminants, like bacteria and viruses.
There’s a built-in booster pump that can increase the speed of purified water production. This is particularly helpful in homes with low water pressure that may struggle to handle a whole-house reverse osmosis water filter. There isn’t a tank included with this system, which means you’ll need to purchase your own tank at an extra cost.
You can use the RCB3P in offices, restaurants, salons, labs, and, of course, your own home. The system combines pre-RO filters and three 100 GPD RO membranes, but you’ll need to consider post-treatment, like UV or alkalizing filters, yourself.
👍 What I Like
- Affordable & great value
- Built-in pressure pump
- Can reduce more than 1,000 contaminants
👎 What I Don’t Like
- Doesn’t come with a tank
- Some customers had issues with damaged/broken fittings
WECO HydroSense Light Commercial Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System
The WECO HydroSense comprises four stages of water filtration for whole-home use. The system comes with an automatic electric booster pump and pressure sensors, which work together to ensure the highest level of operating efficiency, regardless of your home’s water pressure.
The four stages of filtration offered by the WECO HydroSense allow for up to 99.9% contaminant removal. First, the sediment filter removes particles like silt and rust, before water flows through two 5-micron activated carbon filters.
These remove chlorine, chloramines, chlorine byproducts such as THMs, organic contaminants like insecticides and herbicides, and sulfur odors.
Finally, water is forced through the RO membrane, which removes everything from heavy metals to salts, radon, fluoride, bacteria, and much more.
As the system comes pre-assembled, installation is relatively simple – and you can install the entire system using basic hand tools. However, WECO advises that you pay a licensed plumber to install the system, which will, of course, come at a cost.
To maintain the filter performance, you’ll need to routinely replace the filters – you’re told to “monitor your pH and replace as needed”, but I would recommend purchasing a TDS (total dissolved solids) meter and replacing the filters when your reading starts to climb.
While the WECO seems like a pretty good bargain for $1,500, it’s worth noting that this isn’t a complete whole house reverse osmosis system. You will need to buy your own drinking water storage tank, jet pump and any additional required equipment separately, which will bring up your overall investment cost.
👍 What I Like
- Four thorough stages of filtration
- Relatively easy to install
- Comes with an automatic electric booster pump
👎 What I Don’t Like
- Not a complete reverse osmosis system
- No clear information on how often to change filters
🧾 Whole House Reverse Osmosis System Buyer’s Guide
Of all the residential water treatment options out there, whole house reverse osmosis is the most expensive. If you’re familiar with the unique benefits of an RO system, this shouldn’t put you off. However, you should certainly make sure that you’re getting the best value for money from a whole house reverse osmosis system if you’re prepared to go down this route.
How Does a Whole House Reverse Osmosis System Work?
A whole house RO system is installed at your home’s point of entry, or the location where your water supply enters your home, before your heater. This means that any water flowing into your home must first pass through your reverse osmosis system before it can reach your faucets and appliances.
A whole house RO system works by sending water through a series of filters, and, most importantly, a semi-permeable reverse osmosis membrane. This membrane is key to the production of purified RO water, and features tiny pores that block the majority of contaminants from passing through.
While water particles are small enough to slip through the membrane, almost every type of impurity out there is too big to pass. The impurities that can’t get through the membrane are flushed down a drain along with a small amount of wastewater.
The draw of a whole house reverse osmosis system is obvious: it’s capable of producing purified water for your entire home.
No matter where you are in the house, if you’re using water in an appliance or from your faucet, you can guarantee that this water has been filtered to remove the bad stuff. If you’re looking for maximum protection against waterborne contaminants, whole house reverse osmosis systems are the answer.
Advantages of POE Reverse Osmosis Systems
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest benefits of owning a whole house RO system:
Simple Solution for Entire Home
If your local area’s water quality is particularly poor, you might need a water treatment solution for various uses around the home, including a shower filter, an under-kitchen sink water filter and a filter to protect every appliance in your home.
Rather than buying separate filters, which will each require their own installation and maintenance, simply purchasing a POE reverse osmosis water filtration system will cover everything at once.
Improves Water Taste
You’ll be able to drink from the water faucet of every sink in your house with a whole house reverse osmosis water filtration system. Your home’s entire water supply will not only be safe to drink, but it’ll also taste purer, as trace contaminants have been removed. If you’re a bottled water drinker, you’ll be able to save money and drink filtered reverse osmosis water instead.
Most Effective Option Available
There’s no more effective whole house filtration option than reverse osmosis. RO systems can greatly improve the quality of drinking water, removing more than 99.9% of drinking water contaminants. If thorough contaminant removal is what you’re after, a reverse osmosis water filter will prove the better choice if you’re also considering standard whole-home filters.
Increases Lifespan of Appliances
Your washing machine and dishwasher can be affected by limescale, sulfur, and iron deposits. Whole house RO systems remove these contaminants from water, helping to improve the lifespan of your water-based appliances.
Improves Skin & Hair Health
Showering in water that contains contaminants like chlorine, calcium and magnesium can aggravate the skin and the scalp. If you already have a skin condition, like eczema, your shower water may cause more frequent flare-ups.
A whole house reverse osmosis system can remove these contaminants before they reach your shower, helping you to maintain healthy skin and hair.
Disadvantages of Entire Home RO Systems
Whole house reverse osmosis systems are typically the most expensive residential water treatment option available. They can cost upwards of $8,000, and that’s just the initial purchase – you will also need to pay for filter changes and replacement parts over the years if you want your system to live past its first birthday.
If you’re not prepared for the long-term costs of looking after this filtration system, I wouldn’t recommend it for you.
May Require Pre- or Post-treatment
Whole house reverse osmosis systems can rarely be installed alone.
They typically require some form of pre- or post-treatment to protect them and maintain the high quality of your water.
For instance, you may have to install a water softener before the RO system to prevent damage by hardness minerals, and you may need a neutralizing filter installed after the system to remedy high acidity and bring pH back up to neutral.
You might even need a UV filter to disinfect water that may have picked up contaminants in the RO storage tank. Reverse osmosis water is a stronger solvent, so it’s more likely to grab onto impurities like dissolved metals on its journey to your faucet.
There are many whole house RO systems that are far more efficient than under-sink alternatives. However, being bigger and treating a larger amount of water per day, a whole house RO water filtration system is likely to waste significantly more water.
Remember that, with a whole house reverse osmosis water filtration system, even your toilet water and bath water will have been purified by the system. The exact amount of water you waste depends on how much water you consume on a daily basis, but the cost of the wasted water shouldn’t add too much to your water bill.
More Space Needed
Tankless under-sink reverse osmosis systems are increasing in popularity – but it just wouldn’t be feasible to own a whole house RO water filter system without a storage tank.
The storage tank holds a clean supply of water that’s ready to be sent to your faucet whenever you need it. The problem with this is that a whole home RO storage tank is usually huge, so you’ll need plenty of space for it. If you don’t have available space in your garage or basement, this system may not be an option for you.
Adequate Water Pressure Required
You’ll need a water PSI of at least 40 to be able to operate a whole house RO water filter system. Anything lower than this and you will have to purchase a pressure pump, which will boost your pressure at your POE.
It’s important to have adequate water pressure for reverse osmosis. If your pressure is too low, there won’t be enough force to send water through the filters (and even if it does get through, you’ll end up with only a trickle of water coming out of your faucets and showerheads, which isn’t ideal). Do a water test for pressure if you don’t know your PSI reading already.
Considerations When Purchasing a Point of Entry Reverse Osmosis System
Before buying a POE whole house RO system, be sure to consider the following things:
Source Water Chemistry
The makeup of your water – i.e. its pH and the contaminants it contains – may affect your buying decision.
For instance, if you have hard water, it’s highly recommended that you purchase a water softener to install before your RO system, which will protect the reverse osmosis membrane and ensure the system has a long lifespan.
Unusually high or low pH may also damage the membrane, but you shouldn’t have a problem here if you get your water from a municipal source.
Considering reverse osmosis removes pretty much every existing contaminant from water, you don’t need to worry too much about what your water contains. But it’s still wise to do a drinking water test in advance to determine whether you might need to install an inline pre-filter, like a sediment filter, before your RO system to protect the reverse osmosis membrane.
This is especially worth doing if you get your water from a private well.
Most whole house RO systems come in several sizes, and you can choose the right size for you based on your water consumption.
I’m going to assume that you’re looking to buy a reverse osmosis system for your home, and not for commercial use. Usually, the smallest system will be just fine for you. Many whole house RO systems are commercial-grade, so the larger systems are a bit excessive for a typical family of 4 (not to mention they probably wouldn’t fit comfortably inside a cupboard).
Still, it’s worth figuring out your daily water consumption, as this will help you determine what flow rate to set your RO system at (more on this below). You can use this handy water use calculator to get a rough idea of how much water you use. If you have a smart meter, simply take a reading at the end of the day for 7 days to get your average.
Your water consumption will also determine the storage tank size you need. The larger the tank, the more water can be stored at a time. Again, with whole house RO systems, you’ll most likely be fine with the smallest tank available, unless you’re running a laundry business from home or taking 5-hour-long showers.
Water Pressure & Flow Rate
As I mentioned earlier, most homes have at least a 40 PSI water pressure, which is the minimum required to operate a whole house RO system. But if you know your home has water pressure issues (obvious signs are whistling in your pipes, washing machines or dishwashers taking forever, and reduced flow from your showerhead), you may need to consider a booster pump.
A booster pump increases your home’s water pressure, ensuring there’s enough force to send water through your RO system and all around your house. Adequate water pressure also gives you a perk that many of us have now taken for granted: being able to use multiple water-based appliances at once.
A typical booster pump will need to be connected up to a source of electricity. You can find plenty of options online for between $100 and $200, but don’t buy a pump before you buy a system, as many whole house systems include a pump as part of the package. You can use a pressure gauge to measure your water pressure in PSI if you’re not sure whether a booster pump is necessary for your home.
A pressure pump isn’t the only pump that RO water filtration systems require. To effectively transport filtered drinking water from your storage tank to the point of use (your faucet, shower, toilet, or other water-based appliance), something called a demand pump is needed.
A demand pump switches on when there is “demand” for water (i.e. you switch on an appliance or open a faucet). This pump makes sure you get fast access to water without having to wait around unnecessarily.
Most whole home reverse osmosis water filtration systems come with a demand pump included, which increases the overall upfront cost of the system. If your RO system doesn’t have one of these, you can buy one for less than $100 should you think that you need it.
Reverse osmosis filtration is usually segmented into several different filter stages. First off, there’s a pre-filter, followed by an activated carbon filter. Next comes the reverse osmosis membrane, and the process usually ends with a final activated carbon filter or post-filter.
The water system you opt for may have several of the same filtration stages. For instance, it’s common for POE reverse osmosis filtration systems to have two reverse osmosis membranes or two pre-filters, to ensure water is clean and ready for drinking.
Though this isn’t typically included with a reverse osmosis water system, many manufacturers highly recommend purchasing a UV purifier to install after your storage tank. Over years of use, storage tanks can accumulate bacteria and other pathogens, and a UV purifier can kill any potential contaminants in your drinking water before it reaches your faucet.
Optional Remineralization Filters
Like all reverse osmosis systems, whole house units filter everything out of your drinking water – and that includes the good stuff.
Healthy minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium can be found in most municipal water sources. While we get plenty of these minerals from our diets, if you enjoy their taste or just want to benefit from them in your water, you can install a whole-home remineralization filter.
Of course, a remineralization filter will come at an extra cost. It’s also pretty hard to find remineralization filters that are suitable for whole-home use.
Alkalizing filters are more common, and they make more sense for whole-home filtration too, with some manufacturers advising that they’re essential. An alkalizing filter increases water’s pH after reverse osmosis treatment (which is naturally pH-lowering).
This doesn’t only improve water’s taste; it also makes it safer to store, as water with a low pH is at more risk of picking up contaminants on its journey to your faucet.
You’ll be happy to know that POE RO filtration systems tend to have a really decent wastewater ratio. While a conventional under-kitchen sink system might waste 4 gallons of water for every 1 gallon produced, many whole home reverse osmosis water filters can do the opposite, wasting only 1 gallon of water per 4 gallons produced.
Unless you go through an excessive amount of water (I’m talking thousands of gallons of water per day), you won’t have a noticeably high gallons-per-day water waste cost tacked onto your water bill.
Storage Tank Capacity
I’ve already discussed storage tank capacity in the above points, but I’ll reiterate it here: a typical whole house reverse osmosis system is designed for both residential and commercial use, which means even the smallest system will have a pretty large storage container.
For most families, the smallest available tank capacity (usually around 150 gallons) will be more than enough to provide you with a constant, steady access to water. Remember, your storage container will automatically refill itself to make up for any water lost, so you’d just have to make sure that you didn’t either:
- Use so much water in one go that you drained the entire tank
- Use water at a frequency that the RO system was unable to keep up with (i.e. the vessel couldn’t refill as quickly as you were using water)
A family of 4 uses around 300 gallons of water per day, so in total, a 150-gallon tank would only need to fully refill itself once per day. You probably wouldn’t even notice this happening, either.
The only reason it’d be worth considering a bigger tank is if you have a particularly large family or use an above-average amount of water. Tanks can hold up to 500-600 gallons of water, though remember that the larger the tank, the more space it’ll take up.
Installation & Maintenance
Installing a POE water reverse osmosis unit requires a few basic DIY skills and plumbing knowledge. While some systems are relatively easy to install, manufacturers generally recommend getting a plumber to do the job for you, to make sure you comply with your local area’s rules.
There’s surprisingly little information online, both by the manufacturers of whole house reverse osmosis units and water treatment experts, on how often to change the filters in a POE RO application. However, the average reverse osmosis filter needs to be replaced yearly. This includes the pre- and post-filter, and the activated carbon filter(s).
Most carbon, pre- and post-filters are really easy to change – you just click or twist to remove them from the main body of the unit, then do the opposite to install the new filters. It’s important to remember to replace these filters to keep the system functioning properly and ensure flow rate stays high.
How many gallons per day of municipal water you use will affect the frequency of filter replacements, as does the quality of your water.
If your system is having to work harder to produce filtered water, or it simply produces more gallons per day of filtered water, it makes sense that the filters will become clogged at a faster rate. Your user manual should outline how often you should change the carbon, pre-and post-filters. Ask the manufacturer if you’re unsure.
Reverse osmosis membranes also need to be changed, usually once every 2 years, depending on the quality of your water supply.
Finally, on the subject of installation and maintenance, if you’ve installed additional systems to protect your RO unit (such as a water softener) or improve your water quality further, you will need to regularly perform system maintenance on these, too.
The biggest ongoing cost for a POE RO system is replacing the carbon, pre- and post-filters and the reverse osmosis membrane.
Because whole house RO is less common than a POU application like under-kitchen sink RO, you’ll have a smaller selection of replacement filters to choose from. You’ll likely have to buy directly from the manufacturer to make sure you’re getting the right filters for your unit. This will set you back a few hundred dollars per year.
Another cost that’s worth being aware of with a POE RO unit is the price of water waste.
Let’s say, for the sake of simplicity, that your RO treatment wasted 1 gallon of municipal water for every 1 gallon of filtered water produced.
If you used 300 gallons per day of municipal water in your home, this wastewater-to-filtered water ratio would mean that you’d also waste 300 gallons per day, bringing your total water use up to 600 gallons per day.
Luckily, many whole home RO systems are designed to waste far less water per gallon of filtered water, but it’s worth checking with the manufacturer if you can’t find information online.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Whole House Reverse Osmosis Unit Necessary?
Manufacturers can market their products to make you feel like whole house water reverse osmosis is the elite option – the best of the best; the unit that everyone should aim for. But it certainly isn’t always necessary.
Ask yourself what you’re looking for in an RO unit. If you’re just looking to filter your drinking water or avoid the costs of drinking bottled water, you don’t necessarily need to install a whole house water system.
If you also want to extend the lifespan of your home’s water-based tech and shower in clean water, then whole house RO is an option.
But there are other, more affordable options that may be just as effective, such as a water softener or POE water filter. Remember, the water produced by RO typically has a low pH, which may not make it ideal for whole house use.
Do I Need Reverse Osmosis If I Have a Whole House Filter?
A whole house filter can remove the most common contaminants that you’re likely to encounter in city water. You can also get POE water filters that are designed for well water, if your home is supplied by a well water source.
A whole house RO filter can remove a greater range of contaminants, but it’ll also remove salts and minerals that contribute to better-tasting water, so it’s not necessarily the better clean water option (and it certainly isn’t the most cost-effective).
How Long Does a Whole House Reverse Osmosis System Last?
The average POE RO unit can last up to 15-20 years from installation – but only if you look after it properly. You’ll need to perform regular maintenance and protect the system with additional filters, like water softeners, for it to last this long.