The APEC RO-90 is one of the most popular under-sink reverse osmosis systems in the market. Its 5 stage filtration process removes an impressive 99% of water impurities.
At a 90 GPD capacity, it’s ideal for families that need a lot of water for drinking, cooking, and making beverages.
You can easily install it in less than 2 hours, using basic tools. Maintenance is also easy thanks to the long-lasting filters and membrane.
The only thing you might miss is the natural taste of mineral water. The RO-90 lacks an alkaline filter, meaning the water comes out slightly acidic and stripped of all minerals.
Read on for our full review.
If the APEC RO-90 is not quite what you were looking for, see more recommendations in our in-depth reverse osmosis filter buying guide.
Filtration System Design
The APEC RO-90 has a 5-stage filtration system:
Each filter is contained in a protective housing that makes it easy to replace when it wears out.
Stages 1,2 and three filters are arranged in a vertical position and are replaced on an average period of 12 months.
Stages four and five are placed horizontally above them. These two require replacement every 3 to 5 years.
Note that the actual replacement period depends on the quality of feed water as well as how much RO water you use.
Monitoring the pure water with a TDS meter is a much more accurate way of determining when to replace the filters.
The APEC RO-90 has a WQA-certified 99% contaminant removal rate.
It filters out arsenic, cadmium, borium, copper, fluoride, selenium, chromium, lead, and radium.
The pre-filters remove chlorine, chloramines, pesticides, hormones, and other organic chemicals.
The water flow rate is a bit low because there’s no permeate pump. But it’s not too bad as long as your home water pressure is good.
If you have low water pressure, install a permeate or booster pump. It will increase the flow rate out of the faucet and reduce the amount of water the system flushes down the drain.
Production capacity is not an issue with the APEC RO-90. It can produce up to 90 gallons of purified water per day.
That more than enough, even for large families.
Note: Water pressure can affect production capacity. If your home’s water pressure is low, the system will produce less water.
The APEC RO-90 has a 3:1 waste to pure water ratio.
This means that 75% of the feed water will be discarded as waste. Some of that water is used for flushing the RO membrane to keep it from clogging from impurities.
To reduce the amount of water wasted, install a permeate or booster pump. It will increase water pressure, which allows more water to get into the tank and less of it to go down the drain.
With the pump, the system drains about a gallon of water for every gallon of purified water.
Alternatively, collect the drain water and use it in gardening.
Installation and Maintenance
Although you can get a pro to install the RO-90 for you, you can easily set it up yourself in 1-2 hours.
It has a very DIY-friendly design, and all the parts you need are included along with the package.
When you unpack your newly purchased purifier, make sure it has all the components needed for a successful installation.
These include the manual, installation kit, pressure tank, RO module, and faucet.
The installation kit contains color-coded tubing, a filter wrench, angle stop connector, tank valve, faucet connector, drain saddle, and membrane.
Tools required include a ¼” drill bit, faucet drill bit, Philips screwdriver, tubing cutter, channel lock pliers, and an adjustable wrench.
The only challenge you might face is having to drill a hole in your sink or countertop. Drilling through granite requires special drill bits, so you might have to pay a professional to do it.
The other hole you’ll drill will be on the sink drainpipe to hold the drain saddle.
The system comes with four color-coded tubes to make installation easier:
You must never connect the APEC RO-90 to a hot water source. Hot water can damage the carbon filters and the membrane.
The RO-90 takes up a fair amount of space under the sink (Tip: you can position the tank on its side to save space).
If it doesn’t fit, it’s alright to install it somewhere else such as the basement.
Just make sure it’s not too far away from the sink (max 10 ft.) to ensure the water maintains adequate pressure.
Also, be careful not to install it where it might be exposed to hot or freezing conditions.
The most important part of maintenance is replacing the RO filters and membrane.
The replacement schedule is as follows:
Pre-filters: 12 months
RO membrane: 3-5 years
Post-filter: 3-5 years
These are just estimated replacement periods.
If you have well water or your city water has high levels of impurities, you’ll need to replace the pre-filters sooner to avoid damage to the RO membrane.
Use a TDS meter to monitor when you need to get new filters.
APEC sells a pack of replacement filters that includes one sediment filter, two carbon filters, 1 RO membrane, and one post-filter.
The pack is fairly expensive but remember that these are high-quality filters. They last longer, so you don’t need to buy them often.
To replace the filters, turn off the feed water line to the system by turning the needle valve clockwise until it stops.
Next, turn off the tank ball valve by turning its blue handle 90 degrees. Lifting the RO faucet lever releases any pressure built up inside the system.
You can then use the filter wrench to turn the vertical housings clockwise.
The next step is to remove the used filter and swap it with a new one. Use mild soap to clean the housing before installing a new filter.
What We Like The Most about the APEC RO-90 RO System
What We Don’t Like
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Our Bottom Line
While it will cost you slightly more than other 5-stage reverse osmosis systems, the APEC RO-90 is still a good bargain.
It produces more purified water than other more expensive systems and its filters last longer.
Whether you are shopping for your first RO system or looking to replace an old one, we highly recommend the APEC RO-90.