Home reverse osmosis systems are really very simple by design. A basic 4-stage system will consist of a pre-membrane Carbon Filter, Sediment Filter, a Membrane, a post membrane Carbon Filter, a Storage tank and a Counter Top Faucet.
The first stage is a Carbon filter removes chlorine which could damage the Reverse Osmosis Membrane. A good quality Carbon Block filter will also remove sediment up to 10 microns and last for 15,000 gallons or more.
The second stage is a sediment filter, preferably a 100% Pure POLYPROPYLENE Microfiber, pleated, 5-micron sediment filter. They are a little more expensive than cheaper “paper filters” but the added protection and increase lifespan are worth the extra money.
The third stage is the Reverse Osmosis Membrane. Not all membranes are created equal. Do yourself a solid and buy a quality membrane. The Dow Filmtec Membranes are the original industry standard. Most home systems are equipped with a Filmtec TW30-1812 50 GPD Reverse Osmosis Membrane.
The fourth stage is the post membrane, Carbon Block filter. The purified drinking water travels from here to the Storage Tank / Spigot and Refrigerator Ice Maker / Drinking water is equipped with an Ice Maker Kit.
The hard part is getting past the creative marketing and knowing what to buy. You can’t go to your local box chain retailer and necessarily get quality components. They’re going to sell you what their preferred vendor has supplied them.
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