Reverse osmosis water is having a moment right now.
There are so many reverse osmosis systems on the market, choosing only one can be a time-consuming task.
How can you possibly find the best reverse osmosis system in a sea of options?
At Wisewell, we know a thing or two about what it takes to create a water filtration system that’s as easy to use as it is easy on the eyes. What we’ve discovered is that reverse osmosis filtration is an extremely effective method of filtering unwanted particles from drinking water — but it works best when used in combination with other styles of filtration.
Continue reading to find out how to choose the best system and to learn about the different water filtration systems available for your home and office.
What is reverse osmosis?
Reverse osmosis (RO) is a process that removes unwanted particles from a water source. Unlike other water filters, RO removes these particles by applying pressure to the water and forcing it in reverse through a semipermeable membrane.
Unwanted particles become trapped in the filter as clean water flows through.
This process can remove forever chemicals, chlorine, salt, and heavy metals from water sources, among other contaminants.
Residential RO filters can be installed under individual sinks or alongside your home’s water source. They’re also available in stand-alone units and as countertop filters.
Pros and Cons of Reverse Osmosis
With so many different types of home and office water filtration on the market, choosing a system can be time consuming.
RO filtration systems aren’t perfect. They can be costly, require installation, and don’t filter out all unwanted particles and chemicals.
But RO filtration also provides plenty of benefits, including filtering out some of the most potentially dangerous chemicals in drinking water.
What are the pros and cons of reverse osmosis? Is it worth the cost and installation? And are there systems that provide multiple types of filtration, including RO, carbon, mineral, UV, and more?
Reverse Osmosis Pros
Before we get into possible reverse osmosis disadvantages, let’s take a look at some of the upsides to RO filtration systems.
The main reason consumers opt for these systems is because RO filters can remove harmful forever chemicals, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and contaminants, such as metal ions and aqueous salts.
No chemicals are used in RO filtration, because the filter uses water pressure to remove the unwanted particles. RO filters can also remove up to 95% of sodium from water. In addition, these filters won’t taint the water supply with parasites or bacteria.
Reverse Osmosis Cons
Reverse osmosis may be a pretty effective method for filtering water, but it doesn’t do its best work alone. And not every residential filtration system is a good fit for every home or office.
RO systems don’t filter volatile organic compounds, and certain larger particles will make the filter membrane break down faster, so they’re best used in conjunction with other water filters, like activated carbon. Reverse osmosis also removes beneficial minerals, which may affect the taste and texture of water. RO also doesn’t kill bacteria or microorganisms.
Under-the-sink, whole-house, countertop, stand-alone, and tankless systems all have their limitations.Whole-House RO Cons
According to the EPA, whole-house, and under-the-sink “Reverse osmosis units use approximately three times as much water as they treat.”
All reverse osmosis systems produce wastewater, which needs to be disposed of, but whole-house systems are the biggest culprits when it comes to discarding wastewater without allowing the homeowner the chance to recycle it.Under-the-Sink RO Cons
Under-the-sink filtration systems may reduce your cabinet storage space.
Like whole-house systems, under-the-sink filtration can be costly and time consuming to install and may also reduce water pressure.
Countertop RO Cons
Countertop filtration systems require no installation, but these units take up valuable counter space.
Stand-Alone RO Cons
The biggest downside to a stand-alone reverse osmosis system is that it’s hard to know where to put it. Some units may be an eyesore or clash with your decor.
That’s why we designed the Wisewell system to seamlessly integrate into any home decor. If an appliance is going to be seen, it should be beautifully designed.
Stand-alone systems also won’t filter every water source in your home. If you need a shower and bathroom sink filtered, you may want to opt for a whole-house filtration system.
Benefits of RO Water Filtration
Reverse osmosis water filtration has to satisfy a lot of needs. Including removing unwanted particles and improving the taste and texture of water.
But a truly good system should do so much more. It also needs to make drinking water easier and require little-to-no maintenance.
It should also be attractive.
Removes Unwanted Particles
The main reason to buy a filtration system is to remove unwanted particles from your drinking water, including heavy metals and forever chemicals.
RO water filtration removes almost all potential contaminants, including some of the most potentially dangerous ones: forever chemicals. But "almost all" gets closer to "all" when you combine reverse osmosis with other filtration techniques.
But even this is just the baseline.
Water filtration systems need to do so much more than simply remove the “bad” stuff. They also need to improve the taste and texture of water. And let’s face it: They should add to your home’s design, too — not detract from it.
Better Tasting Water
After removing unwanted particles from water (and adding minerals back into the water), you’ll probably notice that your water just tastes better!
RO filtration removes forever chemicals that don’t break down naturally. Also known as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), forever chemicals derive from fluoropolymer coatings and products, used in the production of adhesives, clothing, electrical wire insulation, food packaging, furniture, and heat-resistant non-stick cooking surfaces, and can contaminate drinking water.
These chemicals can also alter the taste of drinking water, tainting it not just with the chemicals themselves but an undesirable taste.
Research shows that RO alone may reduce forever chemicals by up to 94%.
Filtration systems that use a combination of carbon and RO filtration can remove even more contaminants, and mineral filters can add desirable minerals back into the water — improving the taste even more.
The right filtration can make your water, coffee, and tea (or any other food or drink you add water to) taste better.
No Harsh Filtration Chemicals
Reverse osmosis systems don’t use any chemicals in the filtration process.
RO filtration systems are more convenient than other types of home or office water filtration.
Regardless of whether you opt for a whole-house RO filtration system, an under-the-counter system, or a stand-alone water filter, most reverse osmosis systems are easy to clean and maintain.
Whole-house filtration systems only need to be cleaned once a year. Under-the-counter systems only need to be cleaned once or twice a year. Most stand-alone water filtration systems may not need to be cleaned for 18 months.
Whole-house, under-the-sink, and stand-alone RO filtration systems also conveniently dispense filtered water. Turning on the faucet or pushing a button is all you need to do to get clean water.
Types of Reverse Osmosis Systems
There are five popular types of RO systems, including whole-house, under-the-sink, tankless, countertop, and stand-alone systems.
Whole-House Reverse Osmosis System
Whole-house reverse osmosis systems are installed near the main water shut-off valve. As the name suggests, these systems can filter the water in your entire house — from your sink to shower water.
You won’t need to install a separate system for each water source as you would with an under-the-sink system.
Whole-house systems for residential use can cost anywhere between $600 to $4,200. Installation can cost up to $2,000. Depending on your plumbing experience, you may be able to install such a system yourself. Though, whole-house filtration systems are more complex than the other types of reverse osmosis systems on this list.
Benefits of a Whole-House Reverse Osmosis System
- Filter water throughout your entire home
- Doesn’t take up space under the sink
- Out of sight, out of mind
Under-the-Sink RO Filtration
Under-the-sink RO filters convert tap water into clean water for drinking and cooking. They’re conveniently hidden behind your sink’s cabinetry.
This type of filtration system is less costly and time consuming than whole-house filtration.
One of the major downsides to under-the-sink filtration is that they need to be installed. If you’re a DIYer, you can probably do this yourself. But if you don’t have the time or desire for a home renovation project, you’ll need to hire someone.
The cost to install a filtration system under the sink can cost anywhere between $150 and $1,200.
If you live in an apartment, you’ll need to get your landlord’s blessing to install such a unit (or ask them to install one for you).
You’ll also need to purchase a separate filtration system for each sink.
Benefits of Under-the-Sink RO
- Out of sight, out of mind
- Filter water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and more
- Easier installation than whole-house RO systems
Tankless RO filtration systems are also stored under the sink. Yet, these systems take up less space than traditional under-the-sink filtration systems, and no water pressure is lost, as many tankless systems use an internal boost to pump water.
Many tankless systems use smart systems to alert users to any maintenance issues via LED lights. They also include total dissolved solids (TDS) meters that test filtered solids and report data.
Still, tankless systems need to be installed under the sink (though installation is easier and more cost-effective than with traditional under-the-sink and whole-house water filtration systems).
You also need to purchase a separate system for each sink.
Benefits of Tankless Systems
- Takes up less space than traditional under-the-sink water filtration systems
- Uses smart sensors to monitor efficiency and maintenance issues
- Fewer water pressure issues
Countertop Reverse Osmosis Systems
Countertop RO systems filter drinking and cooking water efficiently, and no installation is needed.
Simply plug in these systems to the closest power source, connect to a faucet or fill the tank with water, and start enjoying filtered drinking water. These systems are ideal for apartments, as you won’t need to get permission from your landlord.
Countertop systems may seem like a dream, compared to whole-house and under-the-sink filtration. After all, they’re cost-effective and you don’t need to install them.
However, there are a few downsides to countertop reverse osmosis filters. They take up valuable counter space (which can be a real pain if you live in an apartment with little space already) and they need to be plugged into a nearby outlet. The systems that need to be attached to a faucet also need to be relatively close to a sink, which limits placement options.
As for the units with refillable tanks, since they need to be small enough to fit on a countertop, they also come with smaller water tanks that need to be filled frequently.
Benefits of Countertop RO
- Very little installation
- Convenient for renters
- Little maintenance required
Stand-alone Reverse Osmosis
Stand-alone reverse osmosis systems offer all of the benefits of under-the-sink systems without the installation.
If you don’t need your shower water or bathroom sink water filtered, they’re also superior to whole-house systems.
Wisewell’s stand-alone system not only filters out forever chemicals thanks to reverse osmosis, but it also uses a carbon filter to removes volatile compounds, such as mercury and chlorine; a mineral filter to add trace minerals back into your water, improving taste and texture; and a UV light to kill bacteria and microorganisms.
Unlike countertop RO systems, Wisewell’s stand-alone system comes with internal and external water tanks, giving it a 9.5-liter total water capacity. It doesn’t take up valuable counter space and simply needs to be plugged into a nearby power outlet.
Benefits of Stand-Alone RO
- No installation
- Ideal for renters
- Filters forever chemicals
Benefits of Wisewell’s Stand-Alone System
- Four types of filtration, including RO, carbon, mineral, and UV
- 9.5L total water tank capacity
- Sleek and attractive
- Dispense hot, cold, and room-temperature water
- No installation required
- Mineral filter adds trace minerals, improving taste and texture
Who should buy a reverse osmosis system?
Reverse osmosis systems are perfect for both the home and office.
Not only do they remove unwanted particles and harmful chemicals from drinking water, but they also make coffee, tea, and other water-based foods and beverages taste better, too.
Reverse osmosis systems are ideal for home use. The average person spends between 7 and 10 hours a day at home. Many of us are spending even more time at home now that working from home has become more common.
Even if you spend eight or more hours a day at an office, you probably still spend a significant time cooking, eating, and drinking at home.
Home RO systems make life easier. They can make your food and drink taste better and remove harmful chemicals and particles from your family’s drinking water.
Gone are the days of the office water cooler. Yes, RO systems may be more difficult to gather ‘round to chat about office politics. But they’re more efficient and cost-effective.
Plus, what employee wants to lift up a huge jug of water each time it needs replacing?
Yet, offices still need fresh, delicious drinking water.
Stand-alone RO filtration systems look sleek next to the office Nespresso or Keurig machine, and they don’t come with the hassle and inconvenience that water coolers do.
Benefits of Stand-alone RO Filtration: Why should I buy a stand-alone water filtration system?
There are so many different types of RO filtration systems out there. So, why should you buy a stand-alone system? Let us count the ways…
One of the most obvious benefits of a stand-alone RO filtration system is its easy setup. There’s virtually no installation whatsoever with many stand-alone RO filtration systems. It’s as easy as plug-and-go.
This can be a major benefit to apartment dwellers or anyone too busy to install a confusing under-the-sink or tankless system. The cost to install a whole-house RO filtration system is $1,500 on average, though it could cost anywhere between $500 and $2,800. And that doesn’t even include the $3,000 cost for a whole-house RO system itself or the $200 to $1,000 cost of under-the-sink RO filtration.
Though stand-alone RO filtration doesn’t provide water to your entire house, do you really need such a filtration system in sinks that are mainly for handwashing, anyway?
We use approximately 1.2 million plastic bottles per minute, and we only recycle about 9% of plastic.
Though most water cooler refill companies collect used water jugs and sanitize and recycle them for future use, the environmental impact and emissions of transporting five-gallon jugs of water to offices each year are extensive.
Installing a reverse osmosis system in your home or office can reduce the number of plastics (including single-use plastics) your family or workers use each month.
Stand-alone RO filtration systems, like Wisewell’s, only require you to change the filters every six months. The environmental impact of shipping filters that only weigh a few pounds is significantly less than a weekly or monthly delivery of bottled water.
Stand-alone reverse osmosis systems may be easier to maintain than whole-house, under-the-sink, or tankless systems.
Since there’s no installation (just plug in and go), you won’t need to worry about parts breaking during the installation process.
Wisewell’s stand-alone filtration system only needs its filters changed once every six months. The Wisewell app will remind you when it’s time to change the filters, and the Clean Water Subscription plan automatically ships filters every six months.
The best part? There’s little regular maintenance required. Wisewell units also come with a one-year warranty.
Filtered water tastes delicious! No matter whether you’re using it for drinking or cooking, filtered water with minerals tastes better than tap water. Filtration can even improve the smell of drinking water.
When municipal water systems filter and treat water sources, they filter out harmful particles, but they can also remove some of the good stuff, like minerals.
Most municipal water treatment centers replace lost minerals, such as fluoride, but they don’t replace all the minerals lost in the filtration process.
A good stand-alone RO filtration system should always replace minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, in your water. Not only may replacing minerals provide health benefits, but adding minerals to water makes drinking water just taste better.
Using stand-alone water filtration systems can be less expensive than buying bottled water.
Want to know the true cost of your savings using Wisewell? Our app tracks just how much money you save each time you dispense water from the Wisewell system. You can also track how using a stand-alone filtration system can help reduce your carbon footprint.
Using such a system for only one year can significantly reduce your consumption of single-use plastic bottles. The average household using a Wisewell will spare the need for 3,700 plastic bottles in just one year.
Are Wisewell customers helping to save the planet by reducing their carbon footprints? We like to think so!
Stand-alone water filtration systems, such as Wisewell’s, can be more convenient than under-the-sink, whole-house, or tankless water filtration systems.
No installation means you get to start using your new filtration system on day one. Minimal maintenance means you get to spend more time drinking clean, filtered water and less time focusing on the unit itself.
Subscription plans and the Wisewell app automate your experience. You don’t need to remember when to change your filters because Wisewell does that for you! Want to know how much water you’ve used in the past month or six months? Just check the app.
Of course, the day-to-day convenience of hot, room temperature, or cold water at the push of a button isn’t bad either!
Best Reverse Osmosis System: What to Look For
Not all the best reverse osmosis systems were created equally. Before investing in a whole-house, under-the-sink, tankless, or stand-alone system, consider the following factors.
Ease of Use
A reverse osmosis system should be easy to use. Your water filtration system should make your life easier — not add more drama to it.
How easy is it for all members of your family to use your water filtration system? Is it as easy as turning on the tap or pushing a button? Can all members of the family reach the dispenser who need to do so? Are there safety precautions in place, such as hot water lock buttons, to prevent burns or other safety issues?
Can you access hot and room temperature water just as easily as you would cold water?
Before investing in an RO system, try to find out how much maintenance it will need each year. How much time or money will you need to invest in its setup and installation? Will you need to learn how to troubleshoot any issues?
What are the reviews of the reverse osmosis system? Do reviewers find it easy to use and maintain? Or will replacing filters or parts require ongoing maintenance and service costs?
Yes, we’re talking about the best reverse osmosis systems here. But aren’t the best RO systems the ones that utilize other types of filtration, too?
Reverse osmosis is just one type of filtration. Though it removes many of the most potentially harmful substances from water, such as forever chemicals, it doesn’t remove volatile organic compounds, microorganisms, or bacteria. It also doesn’t add any beneficial minerals back into your drinking water.
Choose a filtration system that does all of the above.
Wisewell's Full Spectrum Filtration uses four types of filtration, including RO, carbon, UV, and mineral. RO, carbon, and UV filters remove the “bad” stuff, while mineral filters add minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc, and iron back into your water.
The best reverse osmosis systems shouldn’t add any clutter to your life.
While under-the-sink and whole-house filtration systems are essentially out of sight, they can clutter your basement or storage areas.
Stand-alone water filtration systems should be sleek and minimalist. You don’t want your water source to be an eyesore.
Wisewell’s sleek design practically disappears into your home or office decor. It comes in two colors, black and white, making it not only practical but attractive as well. Order now to join the hydration revolution.
Point-of-Use Reverse Osmosis Systems: https://www.epa.gov/watersense/point-use-reverse-osmosis-systems
A Guide to Drinking Water Treatment Technologies for Household Use: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/home-water-treatment/household_water_treatment.html
Water Health Series: Filtration Facts: https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2015-11/documents/2005_11_17_faq_fs_healthseries_filtration.pdf
Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS) Fact Sheet: https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/PFAS_FactSheet.html
American Time Use Survey: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/atus.pdf
Reverse Osmosis System Prices: https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/environmental-safety/reverse-osmosis-system/
Fact Sheet: Single-Use Plastics: https://www.earthday.org/fact-sheet-single-use-plastics/
Research on the Carbon Footprint of Bottled Water: https://www.bieroundtable.com/wp-content/uploads/49d7a0_824b8dcfeaa74427a56b57abb8e2417e.pdf