Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Guides

Drinking pure water is paramount for your health, and an easy way to stay on the safe side is to purify tap water yourself with a reverse osmosis water filter.

Getting a reverse osmosis water filter is often a challenge though.

The contaminants you want to remove from water determine the type of system you need.

Luckily, the market is full of choices, and we have reviewed some of the most promising models for you.

Check them out below.

RO water filters Table Summary for 2020 (click on each tab to see the full specs and requirements)

iSpring RCC1UP-AK 7-Stage RO
APEC Top Tier 5-Stage Ultra Safe RO - (Essence ROES-50)
APEC Water Systems RO-90
AquaTru Countertop Water Filter RO
Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection
Express Water Alkaline Ultraviolet Reverse Osmosis
iSpring RCC1UP-AK 7-Stage RO

 - iSpring RCC1UP-AK 7-Stage ROMain Features:

  • Perfect for most homes. It comes with a booster pump that increases the water pressure ( up to 80 psi) if your water system is not capable of delivering more than 45 psi.
  •  Shut-off and check valves to stop or activate the system when the tanks is full or empty.

 - No of Filters:  Seven (7); see below for more details.

 - Tank volume: 3.2 gallons.

 - Pollutants Removed:

  • Sediments Total Dissolve Solids - TSD (up to 750 ppm).
  • Heavy metals (lead, mercury and others).
  • Chlorine, fluoride, organic compounds, odor.
  • iSpring rcc1up-AK 7 stage reviewBacteria & viruses (micro-organisms).

 - Flow Rate: Daily (up to 100 gallons).

 - Water Pressure (Optimal - PSI): 45 to 70.

 - Size/design: medium to large size (L:36cm, W:20cm. H:48cm).

 - Filters made of:

  • Stage 1: 5 micron Sediment filter (polypropylene).
  • Stage 2: 5 micron Granular activated carbon (GAC).
  • Stage 3: 5 micron Carbon block filter (CTO - Chlorine, Taste and Odor).
  • Stage 4: Reverse Osmosis membrane (main stage).
  • Stage 5: Polished carbon filter.
  • Stage 6: Alkaline filter (addition of important minerals for you body to absorb; balancing pH).
  • Stage 7: UV filter (11 w with switch sensor for activation of UV light).

 - Filters Life (months): six (6).

 - Water source: Municipal water and well (private water).

 - Warranty: 1 year; life time technical support.

 - Certified: NSF/ANSI.

 - Efficiency (water waste ratio): 2:1 .

APEC Top Tier 5-Stage Ultra Safe RO - (Essence ROES-50)

 APEC Top Tier 5-Stage Ultra Safe RO- Main Aspects:

  • The water pressure delivered by this system is great so you don't need to suffer.
  • Easy to install in most kitchens.

 - No of Filters:  Five (5); see below for more details.

 - Tank volume: 4 gallons

 - Pollutants Removed:

  • Heavy metals (lead, arsenic, mercury, Cr6+ and others)
  • Chlorine, fluoride, particulate solids, organic compounds.
  • Bacteria and viruses.

 - Flow Rate: up to 50 gallons per day.

 - Water Pressure (Optimal - PSI): 40 to 80 psi.

 - Size/design: small to medium size (L:40cm; W:13cm; H:44cm)

 - Filters made of:

  • Stage 1: 5 micron Sediment filter.
  • Stage 2: 1 x 10 micron Carbon block filter (CTO - Chlorine, Taste and Odor).
  • Stage 3: 1 x 10 micron Carbon block filter (CTO).
  • Stage 4: Reverse Osmosis membrane.
  • Stage 5: Coconut shell carbon filter.

 - Filters Life (months): Filters from 6 to 12 months and RO membrane from 2 to 3 years.

 - Water source: Municipal water and well (private water).

 - Warranty: 2 years if you register your product. Lifetime tech support.

 - Certified: NSF/ANSI.

 - Efficiency (wastewater ratio): 3:1 (medium efficiency).

APEC Water Systems RO-90

 - APEC Water Systems RO-90Main Aspects:

  • Double filtering capacity, including the possibility of using a 14 gallons storage tank.

 - No of Filters:  Five (5); see below for more details.

 - Tank volume: 4 gallons.

 - Pollutants Removed:

  • Heavy metals (arsenic, chromium 6, mercury, lead and others)
  • Fluoride, particulate solids, chloride, organic and inorganic compounds.
  • Micro-organisms such as viruses and bacteria.

 - Flow Rate: 90 gallons per day.

 - Water Pressure (Optimal - PSI): 85 psi.

 - Size/design: small to medium size (L:40cm; W:13cm; H:44cm).

 - Filters made of:

  • Stage 1: 5 micron Polypropylene sediment filter.
  • Stage 2: 10 micron Carbon block filter (CTO - Chlorine, Taste and Odor).
  • Stage 3: 10 micron Carbon block filter (CTO).
  • Stage 4: Reverse Osmosis membrane.
  • Stage 5: Coconut shell carbon filter.

 - Filters Life (months): 12 months.

 - Water source: Municipal water and well (private water).

 - Warranty: 1 years and lifetime support.

 - Certified: NSF/ANSI 56.

 - Efficiency (wastewater ratio):  (3:1 efficiency).

AquaTru Countertop Water Filter RO

 - Main Features: AquaTru Countertop Water Filter

  • Ultra compact, combining the best water quality possible and optimizing your kitchen space.
  • It can filter up to 54 gallons per day.
  • Light indicators to advice when to replace the filters.

 - No of Filters:  Four (4); see below for more details. 

 - Pollutants Removed:

  • Sediments.
  • Heavy metals (lead, radium, Cr6+ and others).
  • Chlorine, fluoride, organic & inorganic compounds.

 - Flow Rate: 54 gallons per day.

 - Water Pressure (Optimal - PSI): N/A (water pump embedded).

 - Size/design: small but medium size for a countertop water filter system.

 - Filters made of:

  • Stage 1: 5 micron Sediment filter (polypropylene).
  • Stage 2: Activated carbon (GAC).
  • Stage 3: Reverse Osmosis membrane (main stage).
  • Stage 4: Activated Coconut Shell Carbon.

 - Filters Life (months): 6 months to 2 years (depending on use).

 - Water source: Municipal water.

 - Warranty: 1 year.

 - Certified: NSF/ANSI.

 - Efficiency (water waste ratio): 1:3/4 (efficient)

Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection

 Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection reverse osmosis water filter- Main Features:

  • The Home Master TMHP hydroperfection undersink reverse osmosis water filter system has a permeate pump reducing water waste, improving the efficiency ratio.
  • Quick connect design for easy and fast filters replacement/installation.
  • Addition of healthy minerals (magnesium and calcium).
  • All tools and pieces included (also faucet).

 - No of Filters:  Six (6); see below for more details.

 - Tank volume: 3.2 gallons.

 - Pollutants Removed:

  • Sediments Total Dissolve Solids (TDS). Max removal of 2000 ppm.Read Review
  • Heavy metals (lead, , cadmium, mercury, Cr6+ and others).
  • Removes the hardness of the water.
  • Chlorine, fluoride, herbicides, pesticides, organic compounds, odor.
  • Bacteria & viruses (micro-organisms).

 - Flow Rate: 75 gallons per day (3.12 g/hr).

 - Water Pressure (Optimal - PSI): 40 to 90 psi.

 - Size/design: medium size (L:12", W:16". H:20").

 - Filters made of:

  • Stage 1: 5 micron Sediment filter.
  • Stage 2: 5 micron Iron filter with (KDF85) and catalytic carbon.
  • Stage 3: Reverse Osmosis membrane (main stage).
  • Stage 4: Artesian filter (to storage tank).
  • Stage 5: Artesian filter (to faucet) - advanced remineralization filter.
  • Stage 6: UV filter.

 - Filters Life (months):

  • 12 months or 3000 gallons for the Iron Filter.
  • 12 months or 2500 gallons for the artesian Filter.
  • 12 months or 3900 gallons for the sediment Filter.

 - Water source: The Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection can filter municipal water as well as groundwater.

 - Warrant: 5 years limited.

 - Certified: NSF/ANSI.

 - Efficiency (water waste ratio): 1:1 (very efficient).

Express Water Alkaline Ultraviolet Reverse Osmosis

Express Water Alkaline Ultraviolet Reverse Osmosis water filter reviews- Main Features:

  • The Express water 11 stage provides with remineralization of the water by adding magnesium, calcium, potassium between others.
  • Automated to activate and deactivate the water filtration system when required.
  • A leak detector (fabric disk) is included with this RO 11 stage system that helps to shuts off the water flow.
  • The express water filter comes with matching colors so that you can know where to connect the filter.

 - No of Filters:  eleven (11); see below for more details.

 - Tank volume: 3.2 gallons

 - Pollutants Removed:

  • Read ReviewSediments Total Dissolve Solids (TDS).
  • Common heavy metals such as lead, mercury, Cr6+ and others).
  • Chlorine, fluoride, arsenic, herbicides, pesticides and others.
  • Bacteria & viruses (micro-organisms) are gone from your water tap.
  • Hard water is improved.

 - Flow Rate: 0.8 g/min (100 gallons per day).

 - Water Pressure (Optimal - PSI): 40 to80 psi.

 - Size/design: medium to large size (L:15", W:5". H:17.2").

 - Filters made of:

  • Stage 1: 5 micron Sediment filter.
  • Stage 2: 5 micron carbon block (CTO) filter.
  • Stage 3: Granulated activated carbon (GAC).
  • Stage 4: Reverse osmosis membrane.
  • Stage 5th to 9th: Alkaline filter for remineralizaton.
  • Stage 10: Ultraviolet Sterilizer.
  • Stage 11: Post activated carbon (coconut shell) to add extra value, removing any potential pollutant building up in the storage tank.

 - Filters Life (months):

  • 2 year: sediment, carbon block and GAC.
  • 1 year: RO membrane, Post GAC, Alkaline.

 - Water source: surface water or municipal water.

 - Warrant:  1 year warranty is provided with this express water reverse osmosis system.

 - Certified: NSF/ANSI 58.

 - Efficiency (water waste ratio): 3:1.

RO filters use a semipermeable membrane developed to remove micro contaminants that other configurations can’t do.

This is only possible by applying an external pressure, which reverses the natural flow.

At the end of the process, you’ll have pure drinking water that is safe for your health and tastes better.

With the information above in mind, this is what we found important to mention on the following five (5) RO filtration systems reviews, therefore providing the answers you are looking for.

1. APEC Top Tier 5-Stage Ultra Safe RO (Essence ROES-50)

APEC Top Tier 5-Stage Ultra Safe RO


✅ It will fit in small spaces so all kitchens are covered.

✅ Removal of up to 99% of common pollutants.

✅ All connection are included (faucet also). Also has excellent output water pressure.

⊖ No UV treatment, which could be a good addition if you are sourcing you water from a private well (groundwater) or a river stream.

⊖ Considered as moderate level install process between 2 and 4 hrs (last for new installations). Nevertheless, it comes with clear instructions so you should be okay.

⊖ You may need specific tools to install the faucet.

APEC reverse osmosis system is one of the budget choices we included on our list.

As its name suggests, Top Tier 5 is a five-stage filtration system designed to remove up to 99% of contaminants including heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, particulate solids, bacteria, and viruses.

Medium to high efficient, the filter has a wastewater pure water ratio of 3:1 and uses double carbon blocks designed to achieve maximum chemicals and chlorine removal as well as to increase the lifetime of filters and membrane.

On average, you’ll have to change the filters every six (6) to twelve (12) months and the reverse osmosis membrane every two (2) to three (3) years.

The APEC RO system purifies both tap and well water, removing even particles with a size of 0.001 microns.

Like most under sink filters, the APEC water filter is fairly easy to install and comes with comprehensive written instructions and videos need for mounting.

We also liked the true leak-free fittings equipped with stainless steel teeth for guaranteed grip on the tubing.

Once the system is installed, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of this unit capable of outputting up to 50 gallons per day and working at a pressure between 40 and 80 PSI.

2. APEC Water Systems RO-90

APEC Water Systems RO-90


✅ Filtering capacity is higher than the previous APEC versions (90 gallons per day).

✅ Filters last up to 12 months so less replacement frequency.

✅ It has the WQA gold medal certified so you will be drinking safe water.

✅ You can fit a 14 gallons storage tank, which means less filtering over time.

⊖ Does not include a UV filter.

⊖ Instructions could be a little confusing regarding the operation of the storage tank.

⊖ The feed water adapter may be not the right one for your kitchen, which means having to buy a separate one.

APEC water systems are renowned for their reliability and dependability.

If you liked the system above but feel you could use more than 50 gallons of water a day, then the APEC RO 90 could be the right reverse osmosis water filtration system for you.

This system preserves most of the features of the Top Tier 5-Stage filter and incorporates the same 5-stage filtration including the high-grade polypropylene sediment filter, double extruded carbon block, and TFC reverse osmosis membrane.

Easy to install under the sink and requiring minimal maintenance, this APEC reverse osmosis system comes with a four (4) gallon tank and can output up to 90 gallons per day at a feed water pressure of 85 PSI.

If you have sufficient space available, know you can even replace the small tank with a 14-gallon alternative, for more peace of mind.

Regarding efficiency, this APEC water filtration system is WQA gold medal certified to remove up to 99% of contaminants including chlorine and fluoride, heavy metals, arsenic, viruses, and bacteria, alongside multiple other contaminants.

3. AquaTru Countertop Water Filter


AquaTru Countertop Water Filter


✅ It comes with indicator lights to tell you when to change a filter.

✅ Compact and easy to install (no plumbing required).

✅ It is portable so you can access clean water over your trips.

⊖ You have to push a dispensing button to fill up a glass; this means, you cannot control the water flow like a water tap does. In addition, it doesn't stop immediately.

⊖ You will need to manually fill up the unfiltered water tank.

⊖ Needs power to run the system.

⊖ It cannot filter well or salt water.

AquaTru appeals to those who’re after a portable reverse osmosis water filter.

Ready to use straight out of the box, the AquaTru countertop water purification system uses a four (4) stage filtration to provide pure water without the hassle of under sink installation.

This compact countertop reverse osmosis filter takes less than three minutes to set up and boasts NFS standard certification.

It removes over 70 water contaminants including lead and other heavy metals, chlorine, and fluoride to name just a few.

AquaTru water filter imitates the reverse osmosis process used by most under sink systems.

It consists of four (4) filters designed to remove particulate solids alongside other microscopic contaminants.

The system also includes an activated carbon pre-filter as well as a coconut shell carbon volatile organic compounds (VOC) filter.

Maintenance is easy, thanks to the twist and seal filter design, and each filter lasts between six (6) months and two (2) years, depending on type and usage; nevertheless, you can check if the lights are indicating time to change a filter.

AquaTru reverse osmosis water filter purifies one (1) gallon of tap water in 15 minutes (54 gallons a day) and is perfect to use at home or on the go.

Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Overview and User’s Guide

Installing a reverse osmosis water filter in your home is perhaps the easiest and most economical way to have access to pure drinking water.

Before buying, there are a few objective criteria you should consider though. To begin with, you should understand how this system works.

How Does Reverse Osmosis Work

Reverse osmosis (RO) is the process of water demineralization and/or deionization by pushing the liquid under pressure through a semi-permeable membrane.

These systems use a high-pressure pump to force the water go through the RO membrane, leaving up to 99% of chemical contaminants in the wastewater stream.

The wastewater that is generated during the filtration process is separated and discharged directly to you home drainage system. 

Because reverse osmosis is only responsible for the demineralization and deionization of water, most RO units also come equipped with post activated carbon filters developed to improve the taste of purified water.

  • RO Filters

Most domestic RO systems employ a variety of filters, including sediment filters for the removal of larger particulate solids and active carbon filters for organic and inorganic compounds elimination. Water FIlters RO

The technology used for each filter will depend on the manufacturer specification. This information is only available for the manufacturer.

At the end, the main difference between filter brands is their lifespan and size.

  • Storage Tank

Now, this element is very important to understand how does reverse osmosis work in any system.

RO Storage TankAs its name says, it only stores the filtered water that will eventually be delivered into your faucet or appliance.

You may be wondering, why to have a storage tank and not connect the system directly to the faucet?

Well, the size of the RO membrane pores are so small that the output pressure is very low, therefore it could take ages to fill up a glass of water.

So, to keep up with the water demands, instead the tank can deliver a higher pressure, which will take only you a few seconds for a glass of water.

Now, what about the tank pressure?

RO Tank inside
Image from Pipes, Plumbing, Filters and Fun

When putting to much pressure inside the tank, the water coming through the system will no be able to push the bladder down completely.

This means less water stored, the filters will be working more frequently (to supply the water demand) and reducing the filters lifetime.

On the other hand, pressure below the recommended will result in low water flow to your faucet or whatever appliance (fridge) you have the RO system connected.

The ideal pressure inside the storage tank for a reverse osmosis filtration system should be 6 to 8 psi.

This pressure range will ensure the bladder up (that holds the treated water) is pushed up against the pressure created by the water weight and the system.

Lastly, usually the size of a RO system tank varies from 2 to 4 gallons. It will depends on the amount of water that you required to be filtered and the system brand.

Benefits and Common Problems of RO Systems (Pros & Cons)

Like pretty much anything else, any reverse osmosis water filter comes with advantages and disadvantages. Lets discuss some of the benefits of having a domestic RO system.

RO System Positive Aspects

  • It removes up to 99% of impurities.
  • Improves the taste, odor, and appearance of water.
  • Reverse osmosis water filters are almost fully automated.
  • Easy to maintain. All you have to do is change the filters as instructed.
  • Energy efficient and cost-effective water purification solution.
  • Encourages to drink tap water instead of bottled water.

On the flip side, these are some of the common problems that users face with domestic RO filtration systems.

RO Water Filter System: Room for Improvements

  • Reverse osmosis filters are prone to clogging. This would be more likely to happen when you water is sourced from private wells or surface bodies.
  • The filtration process is rather slow because of the large number of filters or stages the water has to go through. This is also as result of the fine membrane small pores (the heart of the system) that is capable of removing pollutants up to 0.001 microns.
  • The water tank incorporated with the system can eventually loose pressure due to an internal damage of the bladder. This means, replacing the tank cos unfortunately it cannot be repaired. You can confirm this if the tanks is full, the recommended tank pressure is correct and the water flow at the faucet is low.
  • Most of the RO systems come with a faucet so you will have to think about drilling a hole on your sink or countertop to install the faucet.

Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Types

One of the most important things to consider before buying a reverse osmosis water filter is its type. We can distinguish between three (3) solutions:

Portable reverse osmosis water filter

It is ideal for the outdoorsy people who want to purify natural water during their adventures.

Portable filers are perfect for RVs (e.g., Big Berkey Water Filter Review and FAQ) and some models are compact enough to take in your travels such as the AquaTrue RO brand.

A portable reverse osmosis water filter is great to take in countries where tap water is unsafe to drink if you want to save on bottled water.

Countertop reverse osmosis water filter

It is perfect for those who have little under sink space or for homeowners who don’t want to install an under sink system. This type of RO filter is typically compact and ideal for small homes.

Under sink reverse osmosis system

It is by far the most popular. This system goes under your sink and connects to the water supply pipe.

Once installed, the system requires no other intervention from your side except for periodical filter replacement.

It’s great for those who want a permanent water filtration system.

Reverse Osmosis Filtration Stages

RO water filters come in an assortment of choices, from smaller portable or countertop water filtration units with four (4) filtration stages to top-end filters that employ ten (10) or eleven (11) filtration stages.

Each stage refers to what the filter removes – or sometimes adds – from the water.

We will only discuss the most common water filtration stages:

Stage 1:

The first three (3) stages consist of filters present in most domestic water filtration systems. During the first (1) stage, water passes through a sediment filter that retains larger particulate solids.

Stage 2 & 3:

Following stage 1, the second (2) stage is to pass the water through two (2) carbon filters (usually a combination of granular activated carbon (GAC) and a carbon block (CTO).

It can be also be a combination of GACs or CTOs, designed to remove harmful chemicals, pharmaceuticals, organic compounds (such as hydrocarbons) and heavy metals.

Stage 4:

The fourth (4) stage is the reverse osmosis filtration that removes harmful ions and minerals. This is considered the heart of the whole filtration process.

Stage 5:

Five-stage (5) filters also contain the last carbon filter (CTO) developed to improve the taste and odor of purified water and to remove volatile organic compounds the could’ve gone through the previous stages (this could happen if the filters are getting saturated).

Stage 6 and above:

High-end filters with six (6) stages or over also employ water mineralization and UV filters developed to enrich the water with healthy minerals, alkalize it, and kill up to 99% of microorganisms.

What to Consider When Buying a Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

What needs to be filtered:

The first thing you must determine is what contaminants the reverse osmosis water filter you want to remove.

Most systems can effectively remove chemicals and heavy metals from water, but if you’re concerned of waterborne diseases, know that only those systems with UV filtration can remove viruses and bacteria.

The volume of water you need to filter:

Most RO systems can filter between 50 and 100 gallons per day. The less they filter, the cheaper they are, so consider your real needs before buying.

Required pressure and flow rate:

Reverse osmosis water filters usually require a high feed water pressure for correct operation.

Most units require at least 40 psi.

If you have well water and struggle to get constant pressure, opt for a system with a minimum pressure requirement of 30 psi.

The flow rate is also important.

If you want to enjoy a flow rate similar to tap water, aim for a system that can output around at least 0.8 gallons per day.

Available space (IMPORTANT):

Under sink water filters can be bulky and take up much of the space under your sink. If you need a smaller system, a portable or countertop RO filter could be a better choice.

Maintenance and cartridge replacement:

Reverse osmosis filters require little to no maintenance once they are installed.

You’ll have to replace the cartridge periodically to keep with the quality of the filtration system.

Most entry-level and mid-range filters will require to change the filters twice a year, whereas you’ll be able to change them only once a year if you opt for a higher end unit.

Efficiency vs. Cost:

All reverse osmosis systems, wastewaster (water with scum rejected by the RO membrane) but some are more efficient than others.

  • Mid-range units, typically waste three (3) gallons of water for each gallon of pure water on average.
  • High-end units increase efficiency and have a wastewater pure water ratio of one (1) to one (1) .

Although these systems are more expensive, they are cheaper too in the long run and bring great value for money.

Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Guide Wrap Up

If you want to make sure you’re consuming pure water you have to purify it yourself. There are many systems to consider, but reverse osmosis brings the most benefits by far.

Whether you need a portable filter for your RV, a compact countertop solution or a full-size under sink water filtration system, there are plenty of products to choose from.

All units mentioned in this review bring true value for money, so you can pick the reverse osmosis water filter that best suits your needs.


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