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Reverse osmosis water filtration is among the most effective methods of removing contaminants from (drinking) water.
But the cost for purchase, installation, and maintenance isn’t negligible, particularly if you’re planning to buy a whole house RO system.
The following guide shall give you a rough idea of what you need to expect. We’re going to cover price tags for under sink, countertop, and whole house units as well as expenses for installation and maintenance.
So, let’s discuss how much a reverse osmosis system costs!
- 1 Reverse Osmosis System Price
- 2 Average Point-of-Use RO System Cost
- 3 Average Whole House Reverse Osmosis System Cost (+ Commercial)
- 4 Reverse Osmosis System Installation Cost
- 5 How Much Does Reverse Osmosis System Maintenance Cost?
- 6 Where to Buy a Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System?
- 7 Conclusion
Reverse Osmosis System Price
How much a reverse osmosis system costs depends on a variety of factors.
First and foremost, we need to differentiate between point-of-use and whole house reverse osmosis systems. The former is already available for less than $200 USD, whereas whole house RO systems can easily cost several thousand dollars and more. We can also further distinguish between under sink and countertop reverse osmosis systems. Both operate at the point of use, but countertop units are often more affordable.
Another factor is the specific filtration process used, because reverse osmosis systems not only apply RO water purification. Rather, they use multiple filter stages in order to remove a wide range of contaminants. The more filter stages, the higher the cost.
What’s more, additional features can increase the price tag of a reverse osmosis system significantly. One example is permeate or booster pumps to increase the daily water production limit and reduce wastewater. Other features include UV sterilization and a remineralization stage.
Lastly, I want to mention NSF certifications. A water filter that’s NSF-certified to remove certain contaminants is usually more expensive than one that isn’t.
RO System Prices by Brand
As with all products, what brand or manufacturer is behind an RO system can also greatly influence the final price tag. Below are a few examples (prices as of May 14th, 2021).
|Aquasana OptimH2O||$249.99 USD|
|Waterdrop WD-G3-W||$549.00 USD|
|Zero Installation Purifier||$399.95 USD|
|SoftPro Green||$309.00 USD|
|Crystal Quest Thunder||$189.00 USD|
|NU Aqua Platinum Series 5 Stage||$163.96 USD|
Average Point-of-Use RO System Cost
A standard under sink reverse osmosis system costs as little as $150 and as much as $550 USD.
Countertop RO systems can be purchased for less than $100 USD. However, we recommend investing at least $150 USD to get decent quality.
Naturally, if you have the budget and want to invest more, only the sky is the limit. Just make sure that you’re not paying for unnecessary bells and whistles.
*Prices as of May 14th, 2021
Average Whole House Reverse Osmosis System Cost (+ Commercial)
The cost for a whole house reverse osmosis system largely depends on how much filtered RO water it can provide on a daily basis. Another critical factor is required pre-filtration.
Reverse osmosis systems for light commercial use are already available for several hundred dollars. But don’t overestimate their maximum daily water output. Larger systems go easily into the thousands.
The same goes for whole house reverse osmosis systems. A setup usually requires an atmospheric tank combined with a delivery pump or a bladder tank. For example:
A whole house RO system rated at 1,000 gallons per day including atmospheric tank and delivery pumps costs roundabout $5,000.
Reverse Osmosis System Installation Cost
If you want to estimate the total cost for a reverse osmosis system you also need to take into account installation expenses.
Now, countertop RO systems are installation-free for the most part. And under sink units can be installed by handy do-it-yourselfers. The problem is POE RO systems require proper plumbing, which we wouldn’t recommend most non-professionals to do by themselves – the project is simply too complex.
POU RO System Install Cost
If you have two left hands and need help installing a point-of-use water filter, expect to pay $200 to $400 extra. However, this estimates only account assuming that no major issues occur and that your existing plumbing works as it should.
POE RO System Install Cost
Much more times goes into installing a POE RO system. Plus, we have installation supplies which you need to come up for.
How much the project will cost in the end is hard to predict. That’s because whole house reverse osmosis systems are diverse rather than standardized. In most cases, $1,000 is probably the lower end of the price scale. The upper end? Better ask a local contractor in your area…
How Much Does Reverse Osmosis System Maintenance Cost?
Purchasing and installing a reverse osmosis system are the costs you need to cover upfront and before you can even start using your system.
But once you’ve started enjoying purified RO water, a whole nother set of cost factors come into play. I am speaking, of course, about expenses for new filter elements and wastewater.
New Filter Elements
You need to replace each filter element according to schedule. How much each individual element will last depends on things like your average daily water usage, your water’s sediment levels, chlorine content, the concentration of hard water minerals, and the like.
That said, most manufacturers claim that their pre- and post-filters last between six to twelve months, which we can verify from experience. RO membranes usually last two to three years.
What are the annual costs? We would estimate around $100 USD on average. But keep in mind that more filter stages increase the costs. Also, $100 USD annually is the average for under sink and countertop reverse osmosis water filters.
Whole house reverse osmosis water filtration systems as well as commercial setups are an entirely different story. Here, you’re likely to pay $300, $400, or $500 USD and more!
Why is wastewater another expense when using an RO filter system? Because no matter how efficient the filtration process is, reverse osmosis always wastes water.
This could mean that as much as 4 or 5 gallons go down the drain for a single gallon filtered. Up-to-date systems may waste as little as 3 gallons for every gallon purified. And if a system features a pressure pump, it could potentially achieve a 50 or even 75% recovery rate, meaning a 1:1 purified-to-wastewater ratio or better.
The good news is that, if we leave environmental factors aside, the extra expenses for wastewater will be marginal for three reasons:
- Tap water is incredibly cheap.
- The total water consumption and therefore wastage of point-of-use RO water filter systems is small compared to overall household use.
- Whole house systems use pumps as mentioned above and often recycle the reject water to keep wastage at a bare minimum.
Where to Buy a Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System?
You can buy a RO water filtration system in 3 places:
- From your local water expert – Buying from your local water expert often means paying more than you would when buying online. The advantage of buying here is that you can really on expert knowledge and lots of experience regarding the quality of water in your area. Also, most local stores also offer installation and maintenance service.
- At your local hardware store – Visiting your local hardware store is ideal if you’re on a small budget. The only problem is that product quality may not be the best.
- Online – If you buy online you can choose from the largest selection of products. Above that, you can benefit from factory pricing if you buy directly from the manufacturer. Amazon and other platforms have the advantage that you can rely on unbiased customer ratings.
To estimate reverse osmosis system cost you need to take into account a filter’s purchase price, installation expenses, and spending on replacement filters.
Standard countertop and under sink RO water filter units cost between $150-550 USD. Installation is free if you can complete it yourself. A professional installer charges $200 USD and upwards. Yearly maintenance cost average around $100 USD.
For a POE RO filter, you need to invest several thousand dollars at least. Installation adds $1,000 USD or more. Annual maintenance costs around $500.
- Home & Whole House Water Filter Cost
- Guide: Cleaning a Reverse Osmosis System
- Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System Maintenance – Guide & Schedule
- Common RO System Problems and Their Solutions
-  https://www.nsf.org/knowledge-library/nsf-ansi-58-reverse-osmosis-drinking-water-treatment-systems
-  https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/guide_smallsystems_pou-poe_june6-2006.pdf
Jason is the founder of Water Masterz and head of content creation. After six years in the industry, he has tremendous knowledge and first-hand experience on all things related to water treatment.
His credo: Not a single American should have to drink unhealthy water at home.