Reverse Osmosis systems are designed to be installed under the kitchen sink in most cases. Usually, they come with a small faucet that is installed next to your kitchen faucet and they have a small tank to hold the purified water in reserve so that you have access to a few gallons at a time.
For all intents and purposes a reverse osmosis unit is a water purifier. It does however come with up to seven filters that remove various contaminants. As you shop for a unit you will notice that they are listed as a 4-stage, 5-stage, etc. on up to a seven stage unit. Each stage is designed to specifically remove a particular impurity from the water. You can check out reviews at Frugal Home Design to get in-depth information on all types of water treatment systems for the home. Read their articles for a great informational review on the Tap Master and iSpring systems, two of the best.
The filters will take care of these issues for you:
1st Stage is a sediment filter which will eliminate dust, rust, and silt. if you have cloudy water this is usually what is needed to remedy the situation.
2nd Stage is a granular activated carbon filter which will also eliminate cloudiness, discoloration, bad tastes and odors. Chlorine is also removed by the stage 2 filter.
3rd Stage is a dense block carbon filter that tackles any remaining chlorine, bad tastes, and odors.
4th Stage is the brain of the system, a reverse osmosis membrane which removes between 95-99% of all the left over impurities.
5th Stage is an in-line polishing carbon filter which will help make the water taste great.
6th Stage is an alkaline filter. This one puts back certain minerals that the other filter removed. It is what gives you “mineral water on tap”. However, if you want the “hard minerals” removed it is best to skip this stage.
7th Stage is a UV filter that can kill bacteria, virus, and other microorganisms. If you are on well water or in an area that is known to have bad water you may want to add this filter to your system.
Note: In a 6 stage RO system many companies will offer a 6 stage alkaline or a 6 stage UV. Make sure you know which one you are getting.
If you do decide to invest in one of these units you will be glad to know they are relatively inexpensive, the best unit is still under $500. For maintenance there is very little that has to be done. Mainly it depends on how much water you use but on average you will want to replace all your filters every year. You can go up to 18 months if you use it infrequently. The RO membrane will last from 2 to 5 years, again depending on the usage. Finally, once per year you will want to flush the unit and recharge the system.
Deciding on a reverse osmosis unit for your home is a modest investment. The pure, clean water it provides is a boon to your health. You can read about healthier lifestyle choices at this site: Health As A Lifestyle.
You will have the benefit of pure water and if you purchase bottled water you will have the added benefit of helping reduce the amount of recyclables or waste produced each year, not to mention money saved from buying bottled water each day. Check out this article about the cost of buying bottled water for specific figures.