Drinking water represents only 1% of your household consumption, but probably the most important portion of the total water usage in the home.
Major Types of Drinking Water Filtration Systems
Drinking water systems are among the more varied parts of water treatment.
Water softeners have dramatic differences in efficiency and equipment life. Yet, they all will pretty much produce soft water on Day 1.
For drinking water filters, that is not the case. There is a dramatic difference.
Water quality and total cost of ownership are two of the biggest considerations.
The water quality is driven by a decision to use just carbon or carbon plus reverse osmosis.
Carbon covers a wide range of filters.
The lower end includes most of the pitcher-types and most refrigerator filters. This is typically a loose, granulated carbon. That’s what those black floaties are in your Brita.
There are some higher grade carbon filters. A denser block of carbon will be a more effective filter than a granulated filter. Some of these can be pretty effective for carbon.
For example, the Always Fresh filters that we carry are a dense carbon block. It affords high levels of chlorine reduction. The increased contact time also helps remove volatile organic chemicals. These are things like herbicides and pesticides.
The Always Fresh filter also has a silver-based substance that curbs microbial growth. The main benefit to using carbon is it’s incredible surface area. Just one gram of activated carbon has 5,400 square feet of surface area. That’s also a lot of nooks and crannies for bacteria to grow. These silver-impregnated filters help curb that growth.
Reverse osmosis is a membrane-based system. The membrane has very tiny pores. Reverse osmosis works by blocking anything larger than a water molecule from getting through.
The system is only as effective as the membrane. So, a lower grade membrane will produce lower-quality water and need frequent replacement. This drives up the total cost of ownership.
A unique characteristic of our EverClean rinse on the Kinetico K5 is that it rinses using clean water. Everyone does this on their commercial reverse osmosis. We’re the only ones doing it on the residential side. It makes the membrane work better and last longer.
Third-parties measure reverse osmosis quality. Their results are compiled into datasheets listing contaminants removed. The better the system, the longer the datasheet.
You might find lower-end systems tested to remove 50-80% of what is in the water. Our Kinetico K5 Drinking Station has one of the longest datasheets in the industry. This covers a wide array of contaminants. Rejection or elimination rates vary by contaminant. An example, the arsenic elimination is 99.3%.
What is Removed: Reverse Osmosis v. Carbon Filtration
Once the objective is the virtual elimination of all contaminants, the solution is reverse osmosis.
Within the larger category of reverse osmosis, you’re dealing with a few things:
- Percentage of contaminant elimination – this is tested by the NSF. A good system will have at least 20-30 contaminants tested by 3rd parties. Do not even look at one where the datasheet lists just a few items or whose datasheet is hidden.
- Membrane life – what is the warranty? If it is a one-year warranty, it’s going to be both expensive in terms of constant replacement and provide questionable water quality.
The Best Residential Reverse Osmosis System
Kinetico K5 Drinking Water Station
The Kinetico K5 Drinking Water Station is so advanced that it eliminates nearly everything from your home’s drinking water that isn’t water. Our unique system offers:
- Increased water pressure and flow
- A usage meter that monitors filter life and alerts homeowners when changing is required
- A 10-year warranty more comprehensive than our competitors, because the system self cleans with pure water
- Flexible cartridge options. Eliminate arsenic, add in minerals. It’s flexible.
- The removal of bad taste, odors, chlorine and other chemicals, bacteria, viruses, pharmaceuticals and harmful toxins