Looking for a whole-house reverse osmosis system?
You’ve come to the right place.
Most of the reverse osmosis systems you’ll find on Amazon, and other online stores are under-sink systems.
Under-sink RO systems are point-of-use filters, meaning they only filter water at one point, in this case, your kitchen faucet.
If you want to purify all the water coming into your home, you’ll need a whole-house reverse osmosis system.
These are a bit hard to find, but we scoured Amazon and found four good ones.
What's in This Buying Guide?
In this in-depth buying guide, we review the best whole-house reverse osmosis systems.
Some of them require a bit of DIY work and additional accessories to work as a whole house system, but they have enough filtration capacity to supply an entire home with purified water.
If you are looking for a different type of RO filter, read our reverse osmosis systems buying guide for reviews of under-sink, countertop, and portable RO systems.
Best Whole-House Reverse Osmosis Systems 2021: Comparison
- Editor’s top pick
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- Best for large homes
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- Best for medium-size homes
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- Best budget
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Best Whole-House Reverse Osmosis Systems 2021: Reviews
iSpring RCS5T 500GPD RO System
The iSpring RCS5T is actually designed for light commercial use in restaurants, labs, and salons. But because an affordable residential home RO system is hard to come by, most people opt for this one.
It has a daily output capacity of 500 gallons (more than enough for drinking, showering, and other uses) and comes with a built-in booster pump.
To have it supply water to your entire home, you’ll need to buy a holding tank and a pump to supply your home with the purified water.
You need two accessories to turn the iSpring RCS5T into a RO water supply system for your entire home.
The holding tank doesn’t have to be pressurized. But make sure it’s large enough to hold the amount of water your family uses in a day. Most customers got a 300-500-gallon tank.
Having a tank ensures an uninterrupted water supply.
The pump gets the water from the tank and into your home, ensuring it comes out of faucets and the shower with sufficient pressure.
Once you have these two things, the iSpring RCS5T works perfectly as a whole-house RO system.
It has a 500 GPD filtration capacity, so you don’t need to worry that it won’t produce enough water for your family.
When it comes to cleaning up water, the iSpring RCS5T does a great job. It has six filtration stages: sediment filter, GAC (granular carbon) filter, a carbon block filter, and RO membrane and a post-carbon filter.
The three pre-filters (sediment and carbon) protect the RO membrane by removing particulates, chlorine, and other chemicals from the water.
The RO membrane reduces heavy metals, TDS, fluoride, and microorganisms while the post-filter polishes the water to remove any remaining odors and tastes.
Thanks to the built-in booster pump, the iSpring RCS5T has a manufacturer-stated efficiency ratio of 1:1.
However, when customers tested it at home, most got a waste of pure water ratio of 2:1. That’s still pretty good compared to the 4:1 ratio of most RO systems.
If you use well water, which contains a higher level of contaminants, the ratio may be higher since the system needs more water to flush the system
Issues & Limitations
The iSpring RCS5T doesn’t work as a whole-house reverse osmosis system right out of the box. It needs some DIYing and extra accessories to supply water to your home.
But even with the extra time and money required, most people still found it to be a cheaper option than buying a proper whole-house RO system.
The iSpring RCS5T reverse osmosis system is a great choice for homeowners looking for an affordable whole-house reverse osmosis filter.
Crystal Quest 7000 GPD Whole House Reverse Osmosis System
If you want an RO system that can supply water to a mansion or a large home, we recommend the Crystal Quest 7000 GPD Whole House Reverse Osmosis System.
It’s expensive, but it has a higher output capacity than any other whole house RO system we’ve seen.
Unlike the other RO filters, the Crystal Quest RO system is actually designed to work as a whole-house reverse osmosis filter. It comes with everything you need to set it up and supply purified water to every shower and faucet in your home.
The main unit consists of pre-filters and a high-rejection TFC membrane. These filters remove almost all impurities from water, including heavy metals, chemicals, and bacteria.
You also get a storage tank. We recommend the 550-gallon tank, but you can choose the smaller 165 or 220-gallon tank.
The Crystal Quest system includes a pump and float switches.
The pump supplies water to your home at the right pressure and flow. As the water level falls in the tank, the float switches allow more water from the RO system to fill the tank. This ensures you have an uninterrupted water supply.
Because of the size of the system and the complexity of connecting it to your home plumbing, we recommend having a plumber install it for you.
Issues & Limitations
The Crystal Quest RO system is expensive, but it’s not surprising considering the high daily output. You won’t find a residential RO system that can produce that much water.
WECO HydroSense 0500GAC Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System
If a 7,000 GPD RO system is overkill for your home, the WECO HydroSense RO system has a lower capacity, and it’s cheaper.
It can filter up to 500 gallons a day, which is enough for small to medium-size homes.
Similar to the iSpring RCS5T system, you’ll need to buy a holding tank and pump to connect WECO HydroSense to your home water system.
The WECO HydroSense is similar to the iSpring RCS5T in that they are both designed for light industrial/commercial use.
But they also work great as whole house RO systems. All you need to get is a holding tank and a pump.
The tank is where purified water from the WECO HydroSense RO system will be stored, ensuring your family has ready access to purified water all the time. We recommend a 300-500-gallon tank.
The pump ensures you get adequate water pressure out of the shower and faucets.
The WECO HydroSense has built-in booster pumps to ensure a high flow rate through the system and high daily output.
As for filtration, it uses a 5-stage system.
The first three stages are pre-filters consisting of a sediment filter and two carbon filters. They remove particulates, chlorine, and various chemicals.
Five RO membranes, each rated at 100 GPD, then filter out the remaining impurities, including heavy metals, TDS, and waterborne microorganisms.
An in-line polishing filter eliminates any remnant odors and tastes from the water.
We highly recommend having a plumber install the WECO HydroSense for you to ensure it works properly.
Remember to replace the pre-filters and post-filter every 6 months, or after about 20,000 gallons. The RO membranes last two years.
Issues & Limitations
The main issue with the WECO HydroSense is one that owners of the iSpring RCS5T have also encountered – the filter is not ready to install out of the box.
You’ll need to budget for a holding tank and a pump to use WECO HydroSense as a whole-house RO system.
There’s also the cost of professional installation.
WECO HydroSense is a great choice for owners of medium-size homes looking for an affordable whole-house RO system.
iSpring RCB3P 300 GPD Reverse Osmosis System
If you are on a budget, we recommend the iSpring RCB3P 300 GPD. It has a slightly lower daily output – around 300 gallons a day, enough for a family of 2-4.
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of a holding tank and a delivery pump, both of which are necessary if you want to use the iSpring RCB3P as a whole-house RO system.
Like the WECO HydroSense and iSpring RCS5T RO filters, the iSpring RCB3P is designed as a light industrial/commercial reverse osmosis filter.
But it can work as a whole-house filter. You’ll need a holding tank (we recommend a 300-gal tank) and a pump to deliver the water to your home.
It’ll take a day or longer to fill the tank, but once it fills up, you’ll have a steady supply of purified water. Get a float switch for the tank so that it automatically refills when the water level drops.
The iSpring RCB3P uses a 5-stage filtration process. There are three pre-filters (a sediment filter and two carbon filters), three RO membranes, and a post-filter.
A built-in booster pump increases water flow through the filters. This reduces the amount of water going down the drain and ensures the system achieves the max daily output of 300 GPD.
The pre-filters have a lifespan of 20,000 gallons or about 6 months. The RO membrane is good for 2-3 years, while the post-filter lasts about one year.
Issues & Limitations
You’ll need to budget extra money for a tank and pump. You may also need to spend some money on a pro to install the system.
Note that the iSpring RCB3P is ideal only for small families. If your family has more than four people, it may not produce adequate purified water. For large homes, we recommend an RO system with a capacity of 500 GPD or higher.
iSpring RCB3P is a good choice for small families looking for a low-budget whole-house RO system.
Specification Chart: Top Picks Compared
|RO System||Dimensions||Weight||No. of Stages||Capacity (GPD)||Warranty||Incoming water pressure||Accessories Needed|
|iSpring RCS5T ||14 x 11 x 17.5 inches||32.7lbs||6||500||30 days||30-70 psi||Holding tank and delivery pump|
|Crystal Quest||30 x 38 x 47 inches||265lbs (with 550 gal tank)||Not listed||7,000||1 year||45-150 psi||None|
|WECO HydroSense ||15 x 20 x 34 inches||70lbs||5||500||1 year||40-125 psi||Holding tank and delivery pump|
|iSpring RCB3P||14 x 10 x 30 inches||52lbs||5||300||1 year||25-90 psi||Holding tank and delivery pump|
What Are The Different Types of Whole House Water Filters?
There are three main types of whole house water filtration systems.
Whole House Filters
Whole house filters typically target specific water contaminants. For example, you can install a sediment filter to remove silt, sediment and particulates from your well water.
A whole house carbon filter is great for removing the taste and smell of chlorine from municipal water.
A UV filter targets microbes in your water, while an iron and manganese filter such as the iSpring WGB32BM is great for well water.
Typically, whole house filters have a multi-stage design. That is, they consist of multiple filters such as a sediment pre-filter, carbon filters and a UV filter.
Whole house filters are great for removing chemicals, aesthetic contaminants (like chlorine), and sediment from water. But most don’t remove more dangerous contaminants such as heavy metals and germs.
Whole House Reverse Osmosis Systems
If you want the cleanest water possible in your home, your best best is an RO system. A RO system will remove all the contaminants other filters remove, as well as tougher impurities like salts, heavy metals and microbes.
The downside of whole house RO systems is that they are expensive and waste some water.
Water softeners are filters in the sense that they remove hardness minerals from water, usually through an ion exchange process.
Other than that, water softeners do not remove any impurities from water – they simply soften it.
If you want to soften water and remove contaminants, you’ll need to install both a water softener and a water filter.
Do You Need a Whole-House Reverse Osmosis System?
A whole-house reverse osmosis system is useful if you want to purify all the water coming into the house.
If you are concerned about heavy metals, chemicals, and germs in your shower water, a whole-house reverse osmosis system can help. It’s more effective than a showerhead filter.
A whole-house RO filter is also the best choice if you want easy access to purified drinking water from any faucet in the house. It’s especially convenient for multi-level homes.
Note: If your concern is chlorine, water hardness, sediment, or chemicals in your water, there are other cheaper whole-house water treatment systems. For instance, a water softener for hard water or a carbon filter for chlorine and chemicals.
What Type of Whole-House Reverse Osmosis System To Buy?
Dedicated whole-house reverse osmosis systems are hard to come by. The few brands available tend to be costly.
If you have the money, we recommend a dedicated whole-house RO system. It’s easier to install, and you don’t need to buy extra accessories to install it.
If you are on a budget, look for a light commercial RO system and repurpose it to become a whole-house RO system.
The downside of using a commercial system is that you need extra accessories to make it work. Specifically, you’ll need a large holding tank and a delivery pump.
But even after buying these accessories, you’ll still spend less compared to purchasing a dedicated whole-house RO system.
How Much Does a Whole-House RO System Cost?
Dedicated whole-house RO systems typically start at $3,000 for a 100-200 GPD system with a holding tank to $8,000 or more for a 5,000+ GPD system with a large tank.
That doesn’t include the several hundred dollars a plumber will charge you for installation.
A retrofitted light commercial RO system costs around $500 to $1,000 depending on the daily output. With a water pump and a holding tank, the average total cost is $2,000-$4,000 depending on the pump and tank size.
The Definitive Buyer's Checklist: What to Consider When Choosing a Whole House Reverse Osmosis System
The best RO system capacity depends on your family size and how much water you use per day.
For smaller families, a 300-500 GPD RO system is adequate. For larger families, a 1,000-5,000 GPD system is enough.
2. No. of Filtration Stages
Most reverse osmosis systems, whether point of use or point of entry, have the same number of filtration stages – five.
These include three pre-filters that reduce sediment and chemicals, an RO membrane to reduce TDS and germs, and a post-filter to give the water a final polish.
The three pre-filters should consist of a sediment filter and two carbon filters (usually a GAC or granular activated carbon filter and a carbon block filter).
Unlike under-sink systems, house RO systems do not have a re-mineralization stage. If you want mineral water, you’ll have to add liquid minerals to the purified water.
Alternatively, you can install a calcite filter after the RO system. It will raise the water’s pH, getting rid of the flat or metallic acidic taste often associated with RO water.
3. Filter Lifespan
How long do the filters and RO membrane last?
A short lifespan means you’ll be spending more money on replacement filters.
The average lifespan is six months for the pre-filters and two years for the RO membrane.
Check how many gallons of water the system drains for each gallon of purified water. The ideal ratio is 1:1. At most, it should be 2:1.
Losing more than two gallons for every gallon of purified water is highly inefficient. It leads to a lot of water wastage, considering that a whole-house system can process hundreds of gallons of water a day.
5. Components Required
If you buy a dedicated whole house RO system, you likely won’t need to buy any additional components as everything will be included in the package.
But if you plan to repurpose a light commercial RO system to supply RO water to your entire home, you’ll need to buy a few additional things to make it work.
Check what’s already included in the package to determine what components you need to buy. Most light commercial RO systems include all the filters, essential fittings and an electric booster pump.
You need to buy a holding tank separately and, usually, a pump as well to take water from the tank to your home plumbing.
How To Install a Whole-House Reverse Osmosis System
A whole-house RO system connects to the main water feed line coming into your home. If you want all the water coming into your home to be purified, install the RO system before the line branches to the water heater and other destinations.
You’ll need to set up the drainage as well to drain away the water used to flush the system. You can let this water drain with the rest of your home’s wastewater, or you can recover it for use in gardening.
If you have a water softener, install the RO system after the softener. This ensures the RO membrane does not interact with hard water, which can significantly reduce the filter lifespan.
If you have well water that’s high in iron, we recommend installing an iron filter before the RO system. Too much iron can damage the RO membrane.
Tip: While you can install the RO system yourself, most homeowners find it easier to hire a pro. A pro will ensure everything, including the pump, is properly connected and that the purified water is flowing well throughout the house.
Do I Need to Pre-Treat My Water ?
Reverse osmosis systems come with pre-treatment filters. There are usually three of them – a sediment filter and two carbon filters.
These filters remove sediment, particulates, chlorine, chloramine and various other chemicals. This protects the RO membrane from wearing out too quickly or being damaged by chemicals like chlorine.
If you receive treated municipal water in your home, there’s really no need to pre-treat it. The only exception is if you live in a hard water area.
While the RO system will soften the water by removing calcium and magnesium (the primary minerals responsible for water hardness), scale from the hard water will slowly damage the permeable membrane.
If you receive hard water in your home, we highly recommend installing a water softener before the RO system.
Another situation where you need to pre-treat water is if you use well water. Well water usually contains high levels of contaminants like iron, manganese and arsenic.
Again, a reverse osmosis system can easily eliminate these impurities. But because of their high levels in well water, they’ll wear out the RO semi-permeable membrane quickly.
We recommend installing a whole house filter for the specific contaminants in your well water. Then install a RO system after it to remove microbes, salts and other remaining impurities.
If your well water contains high levels of iron and manganese, get the iSpring WGB32BM whole house iron and manganese reducing filter.
Care and Maintenance of a Whole-House Reverse Osmosis System
There are only two things you need to do to maintain a reverse osmosis system: keep an eye out for leaks and replace the filters on time.
The filter lifespan will be listed in the manual both in terms of gallons and approximate time.
The average lifespan for pre-filters is six months or 20,000 gallons. For the RO membrane, it’s usually two years. The actual lifespan of your filters and membrane will depend on your water condition and consumption.
Hard water or well water with high levels of impurities will reduce filter lifespan. That’s why we recommend pre-treating hard or highly contaminated water.
Frequently Asked Questions About Whole-House Reverse Osmosis Systems
Is whole house reverse osmosis expensive?
The initial and ongoing costs of a whole-house reverse osmosis system are higher compared to an under-sink RO system.
A whole-house RO system is more expensive and ‘wastes’ more water, meaning your water bill may go up. If you are connected to your city’s sewer system, your sewer bill may also go up. Most cities calculate sewer bills based on water usage.
How does a whole house reverse osmosis system work?
The water coming into your house passes through multiple filters, usually five. Each filter removes specific contaminants.
The water coming out the other side of the RO system has very low levels of contaminants and is considered purified water.
Can I install a whole house reverse osmosis system myself?
If you have the time and some plumbing skills, you can. But we highly recommend hiring a pro to properly install the system.
Do I need to buy a pump and tank for a whole house reverse osmosis system?
It depends on the type of RO system. Dedicated whole-house RO systems come with everything you need.
A light commercial RO system will need some retrofitting to work as a whole-house RO system.
You’ll need to buy a holding tank (300-500 gallons) and a delivery pump to supply RO water to the house.
How to pre-treat water for a whole-house reverse osmosis system
Pre-treating water protects the RO system from damage, especially the sensitive RO membrane. Chemicals and minerals like iron reduce the lifespan of the membrane and filters.
Here are some filters you can install to pre-treat the water for a whole-house RO system.
Sediment pre-filter: Useful for homes using well water. It ensures you don’t overwhelm the sediment filter in the RO system.
Iron pre-filter: Also useful for homes that use groundwater. It reduces iron levels in water to protect the RO membrane.
Water softener: If you live in a hard water area, your RO system will need frequent filter replacements. Installing a water softener before the whole-house RO system will extend the filter lifespan.
Where is a whole house reverse osmosis system hooked up?
Install a whole-house RO system on the main water line bringing water into the house before the line branches to various parts of the house.
If you don’t want purified shower water, you can install the RO system after the line branches off to the heater.
When should I replace the membrane for my whole house RO system?
After two years.