Need help choosing filter type
I need help picking an undersink filter system. I'm perplexed by the filter choices. For example, Watts has systems designed for VOC, BVC and LCV. Similarly, Puriteam Purhome has a customizable filter where you choose Flouride, Nitrate or extra carbon. Pure Water Products (Black and White?) has a number of similar choices between single to quadruple filters which filter different things.
I don't know what to choose. I will provide my criteria:
- This is my city's Water Quality Report.
- My filtering goals are, in order of importance:
2a. Eliminate chlorine and calcium taste. I want bottled-water taste. Not spring water. But, a good purified taste like the grocery store's generic brand water.
2b. Reduce odor. Slight chlorine.
2c. At a distant third, I'd like to make the water safer. Metals, chemicals, bacteria? This is where I'm confused by many of the filter choices. Where does my city fail the most?
2d. Lower-cost filter replacement. Not too important compared to how I really want good taste!
I've considered Reverse Osmosis (Apex RO-45 or Watts WP5-50). But, since my primary goal is bottled-water taste (not perfect water), and I don't think bottle water is produced by RO (is this true?), I don't think I need to go that far. But, I'm willing to spend that much ($300) for a good system and good taste.
Can anyone guide me based upon the above parameters? I want to do the best I can at the $300 range, have low-maintenance, and hopefully not painful replacement filter costs.
I'm perplexed by the choices. Are there other systems to choose from? I've read about ion exchange. In another thread, someone mentioned Pentek filters. That looked like another myriad of choices. Would the "Black and White" four-cartridge deal be good, and end up using Pentek replacement filters? (I.e., four holes to get the best mixture of filtering using better filters? Like two carbon for best taste?).
If someone gave me $300 and said give me the best drinking water you can, I would buy a bigbox RO. Even though they are not the highest quality units out there, they still use membranes to make the water the best you can for that amount. Replacement filters and membranes cost nearly as much as the unit new, but the end result will produce better water than ANY filter can.
If water IS important to you, then increase your budget and get something of quality that will last longer and provide better water. Quality water comes when a customer is more serious than the water being treated.
Andy hit the nail on the head...but I'll address one point about bottled water. If you check the labels on the better bottled waters of the world and looked at how it is treated you'll see Reverse Osmosis and/or distillation. I would never go for the ones that simply say "filtered" as that says nothing about anything.
Back to basics: RO or filter?
Thank you for your prompt reply. I haven't considered RO because:
- I live in the desert and am sensitive to creating 3:1 to 6:1 wastewater. Not opposed to it. But, avoidant.
- I'm also nervous about having a high-maintenance system. It seems like there are more things to go wrong (membrane, auto-shutoff valve, check valve, tank bladder). I don't mind putting some effort into it. But, nervous about a time and money pit.
- RO removes beneficial minerals. I've even heard RO water can taste flat without those minerals(?).
- My primary goal is to recreate bottled water. I don't believe retail water is produced by RO. Therefore, I don't feel like I need RO.
I'm open minded and willing to consider it. Questions:
- What is an example of a "bigbox RO?" Which system would you recommend at the $300 level?
- I was looking at Apex RO-45 or Watts WP-5. They appear to be equivalent. Are they similar to what you'd recommend?
- Compared to a filter-only system:
- How significant would the taste difference be?
- How significant will the maintenance be?
- How does maintenance compare to a properly-constructed 3-4 filter filter-only system?
- Based upon my water report, can my maintenance frequency be guessed?
- Will occasional low pressure hurt the system if it happens to be running?
- Sometimes my water pressure drops to what may be lower than 40 PSI (someone taking a shower while washing machine runs).
- How will that affect RO?
- Does it contribute to membrane failure?
I might have some more questions about filter only. But, to avoid going in too many directions, I'll wait to consider what you have to say about RO.
Thank you for your patience. I'm trying to make an informed choice. Sorry if I'm being tedious.
Without ranting too much I'd like to say that this entire "removing beneficial minerals" issue is a non-issue in reality. If you are counting on your water to provide you with vitamins and minerals then your diet is severely lacking. Water is not meant to provide them. In the case of calcium in hard water it's in insoluble form anyway which means your body uses little to none of it anyway. It's the same as licking a limestone rock all day long. I hear it from many people and I've found that generally it stems from companies who sell a product that doesn't remove anything from the water...so it becomes their sales tool. Plus, if you want minerals and high quality drinking water I'd recommend the Kinetico K5. It has an optional slot to add on a mineral cartridge that puts "good" calcium back in the water again along with magnesium. It also boasts the least amount of waste water to product water that you'll find at 3:1. But, it's more than your posted budget...though worth every penny more for its features.
Thanks. After I posted I found a post in the RO sub-forum saying much the same thing. And, the Apex web site had a FAQ entry saying the same thing. It makes sense.
Originally Posted by pawaterguy
I'm leaning toward Watts WP5. It looks like Costco has it for $175. (Sediment, 2 charcoal, RO and polish.). A year's worth of filters cost $30 (two of each pre-filter plus one polish).
Originally Posted by pawaterguy
Any warnings about how I'll regret this?
The Apex RO-45 sounds good. It's $300 with promotional free handheld TDS meter and set of free pre-filters. Same filters, but a year's replacements cost $50. That doesn't include a polish which would cost $15 more. (I guess I could use the Watts filters in the Apex unit. But, that begs the question how the Apex system differs sufficiently enough to justify twice the initial cost.).
I don't mind spending some money, but the Kinetico sounds a bit too much for me. (I'm nervous of anything that doesn't post its prices, requiring "contact us for quote." It sounds a little proprietary.). I'm leaning toward Watts. It seems to have good reviews at Amazon and Costco.
Warnings? Are Watts filters deficient at $30 per year? ("too good to be true" a factor?). Would third-party filters be a better choice at the first replacement?
Ro's tend to be a "pay now or pay later" type of investment. The lower cost ones will generally lack features and benefits that the more expensive ones have. IE: the Watts unit is a good first step and is better than nothing but you won't get a "good" wastewater ratio, you won't get a membrane rinse with treated water to maintain and preserve it thus prolonging the life of it, unit shutdown after a specified amount of gallons, extra slots for optional filters, water over water tank system vs air charged tank, etc. All of these things can be found on the K5 unit. You'll need to locate a Kinetico dealer to get a price as Kinetico does not sell to the general public directly. Filters are designed for 500 gallons (unit will shut down so you know it's time to change them preventing you from drinking water beyond what they will be effective on) and will run you in the ballpark of probably $50 to $75 depending on what your local dealers price is on them. But, like I said...the Watts unit is better than nothing. It just might cost you more to maintain over the years vs a higher end unit such as the K5 and won't perform quite as well.
ALso, those TDS meters cost 10 or 20 bucks to buy if you want one.