How Much Does a Reverse Osmosis System (RO) Cost?

cost of reverse osmosis system

How much does a point-of-use RO system price? How much can a whole house reverse osmosis system costs? What’s the cost for installation? And just how much are maintenance and operating expenses?

Where to Buy a House Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System

If you ask us, undoubtedly, the best place to get a reverse osmosis system is online. Most companies run their own shops which you could check out. The Amazon market also lists a vast choice of products at great prices.

Popular sites have the advantage which you can browse through the customer testimonials to learn about the positives and negatives of individual products.

Reverse Osmosis System Price Factors

How much does a RO system cost? To be able to answer this question correctly, we want to take these factors into consideration:

Whole House Reverse Osmosis System Cost

ro system prices

For a whole small home or light commercial system, you need to invest at least $500. If you include an atmospheric tank + shipping pump or a bladder tank, 1,500 is the minimum. Larger systems may cost $5,000 or $10,000 and upward, primarily based on the amount of water that has to be purified daily and how complex the purification procedure.

FYI: Do not find residential whole-home RO systems frequently. This is because, along with the filter unit, a complete setup involves pre-and post-treatment (e.g., water softener, backwashing carbon filter, calcite filter) and elements for storing and distributing the purified water.

Last but not least, you should be cautious when purchasing a supposedly high-end item. Some include useless bells and whistles without any benefit in any way. Others compromise on essential features merely to maintain their form and style. To put it differently, make sure that when you pay for a premium RO system, it delivers on function and performance.

Installation Cost

Except for countertop systems that attach within seconds and require no permanent installation, under-counter, and whole house reverse osmosis water purifier systems will need to be plumbed in.

The latter specifically may call for a professional plumber or contractor as the whole setup is more complicated.

But first things first. Let us start with the conventional POU under-sink unit. DIY installation can be finished in about two hours, and there isn’t any need to become an expert so long as you are somewhat handy with tools. This is fantastic if your budget is tight, or you only wish to save a few additional bucks.

How many? Online estimates vary from $150 to $400 when there’s sufficient room to accommodate the machine, and no significant problems occur. In cases like this, a skilled plumber should be able to do the install in under 1 hour.

The modification, repair, or relocation of specific components in addition to water testing and inspection fees aren’t included.

POE Systems

As far as whole house RO water filtration systems are involved, more time and extra material — think tubing and valves — are needed for their installation, adding to the price tag.

What’s more, only skilled do-it-yourselfers that have the essential determination and expertise should take on such a job. For everyone else, we recommend hiring a professional who does the plumbing for you.

At what cost? It’s tough to estimate. Whole house systems are not standardized. A few hundred around $500 is the bare minimum for many, we’d say. To learn more, it is probably best if you speak to local plumbers in your area.

Operating Costs

The initial cost of an RO system is simply one part of this equation. To this, you’ve got to add charges for membrane replacements and regular filter and factor in wastewater costs.

Filter & Membrane Replacements

reverse osmosis cost

Pre and post-filters will need to be changed depending on your water intake and the feed water status. High levels of chlorine and hardness minerals, as an instance, may lower the lifespan of filter components significantly.

Generally, filters must be replaced every 6 to 12 months, based on their quality. RO membranes have the endurance of as long as 3 (5) years.

Yearly costs range from $60 to $200 with $80 to $90 being the standard — for POU system, mind you. The costs are higher if a machine includes more filter stages. Additionally, it’s more expensive to replace filters using a modular layout because you dispose of the whole housing.

Buying aftermarket components can help save money. Although the quality often leaves a lot to be desired. If you will purchase from a different source, ensure the quality is up to standards not to put your health in danger.

For whole house/commercial systems, expect to pay between a few hundred up to tens of thousands of dollars. By the way, there’s not any reason to not do the maintenance yourself. It isn’t overly complicated. This also goes for single-faucet systems.

Wastewater

The added price for wastewater only plays a part in high-volume applications, increasing your water and sewage bill.

How much water does RO waste? Modern whole house systems reach a bare minimum recovery rate of 33 percent (2:1), two gallons of wastewater for each gallon of purified water.

However, by employing a pressurizing pump — something we highly support — and a recycle valve, recovery rates of around 75 percent are realistic. Multi-membrane systems are maybe even more efficient.

Industrial Applications

Municipal seawater desalination, wastewater treatment, and industrial wastewater recycling make zero sense to provide a price quote for industrial reverse osmosis plants or systems. Applications are far too complex, and configurations differ for each.

Again, the two chief factors are the status of the feed water and water volume.

Is a whole house RO system necessary?

A whole house reverse osmosis process is only necessary for particular water issues. There are hardly any water quality problems that are so severe they can only be addressed by whole house reverse osmosis. Full house reverse osmosis will most frequently be found in rural homes on wells, where the groundwater is compromised by several difficult pollutants. 

Water with high levels of natural compounds like nitrates and arsenic can only be handled by reverse osmosis. Homes constructed near manufacturing plants may observe elevated microplastics levels, volatile organic compounds such as benzene, chemicals such as PFAS, or high dissolved salt concentrations. Eliminating these contaminants poses a particular challenge that few water filtration systems are equipped to handle. When these contaminants emerge in unison, they may be particularly troublesome, and reverse osmosis may be the most viable method to eliminate them from the water. If you have water with exceptionally high levels of TDS. In that case, you might decide you need to protect your whole house from those contaminants by installing an entire home RO system.

Municipal water supplies are disinfected by chlorination and very unlikely to contain levels of contaminants that could only be addressed by reverse osmosis. You might see contaminants in city water, such as water hardness, chlorine, chloramines, and lead, can be treated efficiently by other whole house water filtration systems. But some people on municipal water only prefer RO water and need the entirety of the house to use reverse osmosis water. People are also more worried about the appearance of fluoride in municipal water. Fluoride is synthetically added to city water supplies to decrease the chance of tooth decay in children. Fluoride is extremely hard to eliminate from water. The industry standard for removing it is with a filtration media known as activated alumina, a procedure that’s impractical for many applications. Activated alumina requires quite a lengthy contact time with the water to decrease fluoride, and produces water at approximately 0.25 GPM. Plumbing an entire house with this kind of low water pressure is completely unfeasible, so those needing to remove fluoride from their home entirely normally turn to reverse osmosis.

How do I know if I want whole house reverse osmosis?

The only way to genuinely know if your water has to be handled by whole house reverse osmosis would be to perform a thorough water test. Many contaminants that pose the biggest danger to your health and your house are odorless, colorless, and tasteless. Your well water may have a harsh odor, be discolored, and taste like metal, but lots of these issues are solvable by much simpler filtration methods. An accurate water test kit will reveal your water’s chemical, organic, and metallic composition, identifying the level of everything from ammonia and pesticides to arsenic and cyanide. Without a comprehensive comprehension of what’s in your water, it’s not possible to understand how to best go about removing the contaminants. A water test will help visualize what pretreatment your water should undergo before reaching the reverse osmosis system. With no water test, you’ll also be unable to assess your whole house reverse osmosis system’s success.

If the water test shows that the well has concentrations of nitrites, nitrates, chromium, arsenic, or TDS far above what the EPA has recommended as safe, then you need to speak to a water specialist. While an under-sink RO system can be used to revive your drinking water’s safety and taste, there are some applications where you’ll require a system to support the entirety of your home.

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