How Much Does a Reverse Osmosis System Cost? (2024 Guide)
Typical cost range: $150–$4,800
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Reverse osmosis (RO) is a water filter system that uses a semipermeable membrane to separate water molecules from unwanted contaminants. RO systems clean water more efficiently than almost any other system, removing impurities such as lead, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), arsenic, bacteria, and viruses.
A residential reverse osmosis system costs $150–$4,800* to purchase and have installed. The cost varies based on your filtered water system type, brand, and quality. These factors also affect labor costs. It’s a big investment, but it’s hard to put a price on guaranteed clean water.
In this guide, we’ll explore reverse osmosis system types, their biggest cost factors, and whether you can tackle installation yourself.
*Article cost data courtesy of Angi and Home Advisor.
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What Are the Major Reverse Osmosis System Cost Factors?
A reverse osmosis system costs range from $150–$4,800, with an average cost of $2,200. System type, brand, and installation are the biggest cost determiners.
Here are the main factors that determine what you’ll pay:
- Type of reverse osmosis system: The type of RO system—point-of-use (POU), point-of-entry (POE), or commercial—is the biggest cost determiner.
- Brand: The higher the RO system quality, the more it will cost to install.
- Installation: A system requiring a complex installation will lead to higher labor costs.
Type of Reverse Osmosis System
How much you’ll pay depends on whether you have a POU system, POE system, or commercial reverse osmosis system.
Cost by Type
|Type of System
|Cost of Materials and Labor
Reverse Osmosis System Brand
Many brands sell reverse osmosis systems at various price points and with various features. For example, water treatment company Culligan has certified RO systems that reduce up to 61 contaminants with smart features such as water filter change alerts and contaminant reduction stats. Some brands also offer advanced filtration, eco-friendly features, and a tankless design.
Cost by Brand
GE Pro Elite
Reverse Osmosis System Installation
The average reverse osmosis system installation costs between $300 and $700. Systems that are more difficult to install or that require complex plumbing can increase this price to as much as $1,500. Installing a point-of-use system costs much less, usually around $150–$300. Plumbers charge about $45–$200 per hour but may offer free consultation and water testing
Contact a local plumber or water filtration specialist to get an installation quote and read more about water softener system costs.
What Are Additional Reverse Osmosis System Cost Factors?
Reverse osmosis systems are highly effective, but they do produce waste. RO systems generate wastewater during filtration, up to 4 gallons of waste for every 1 gallon of water produced. The amount of waste depends on your system’s efficiency. Newer systems are more efficient and have a 1-to-1 ratio, so you’ll waste 1 gallon per every 1 filtered gallon. More efficient systems cost up to $300 more.
There are sediment and carbon filters inside and outside the reverse osmosis membrane to remove tap water’s unwanted tastes and odors. Most reverse osmosis systems have three to seven filtration levels. A higher number of stages generally means a higher price across the same brand.
There are no federal regulations for residential water treatment filters, but there are national standards set by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF). The NSF is an independent third-party verification that sets the minimum requirements for the safety and performance of filtration systems to treat drinking water. NSF certification isn’t required for a company to sell RO systems, but it can increase the RO unit price.
Reverse osmosis systems have a decades-long lifespan but require periodic maintenance to ensure the continued production of high-quality drinking water. Check for leaks and replace hoses and gaskets when necessary. Replace filters according to your system’s filter replacement chart, generally about every six months to two years, depending on the system type. If you need to call a professional to make a repair, expect to pay $150–$800.
There are recurring maintenance costs associated with RO systems, such as the following:
- $400 per year to run the system, including water and replacement filters.
- $50–$100 every three to five years to replace the RO membrane.
- $25 per month per household member drinking water.
Brands typically offer additional features with their reverse osmosis systems. These include advanced filtration, smart features, tankless designs, and extra pumps to increase efficiency and water pressure. Another popular feature is remineralization, a stage that adds minerals back into your drinking water after being stripped out by reverse osmosis. Magnesium, calcium, and fluoride are commonly found in drinking water and are generally considered to be good things.
Should You DIY vs. Professional Reverse Osmosis System Installation?
You may be able to install a point-of-use reverse osmosis system on a single tap, but complex installations and whole-house systems aren’t do-it-yourself (DIY) friendly. One mistake could break the system or lead to plumbing problems and water damage.
DIY Reverse Osmosis System Installation
Simple installs, such as a countertop or under-sink reverse osmosis system, often come with instructions that confident homeowners can easily follow. However, doing any work that involves your home’s plumbing system could lead to damage. Water damage is expensive to repair, costing between $1,305 and $5,707, depending on the severity, class of water damage, and where it happened.
DIY reverse osmosis system installation could save you between $100 and $300 for small units or up to $1,000 for whole-home systems. Keep in mind that it’s a big project with lots of factors to consider. Ask yourself the following:
- What’s the cost of DIY? You’ll need several tools for more complex installations, such as pipe cutters, mounting brackets, valves, connectors, and soldering supplies.
- How will you move the materials? If you pick the materials up, will they fit in your vehicle, or will you rent a truck? Per day, renting a small truck costs $20–$30, and renting a midsize or large truck costs $40–$100.
Professional Reverse Osmosis System Installation
A professional reverse osmosis system installer already has all the necessary tools and equipment to complete the job. A water filtration specialist or plumber will mount the system where you want it installed, shut off your water supply, connect the system to your faucet or main line, attach the reverse osmosis water filters, install the drain line and purified water line, and then test and flush out the system.
The exact installation depends on the system type. Point-of-use system installations cost as low as $150 and up to $1,500 for complex installs (such as those with limited space or in a hard-to-reach area).
There are several advantages to hiring a plumber or professional reverse osmosis system installer, such as the following:
- A local pro knows what, if any, permits you’ll need.
- A professional has the experience to do a complex installation.
- Reputable installers provide warranties or guarantees on their work.
- You’ll avoid risking damage to your RO system or your home’s plumbing.
How To Hire a Professional Plumber
Here are some tips on hiring a professional installer for your reverse osmosis system.
- Check the reviews for local installers or plumbers and ask friends and family for recommendations.
- Look up the business on the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Yelp, Trust Pilot, and other similar sites. Read customer reviews and look for any trends in the complaints.
- Contact multiple pros and ask about their experience, availability, and rates.
- Ask about their experience with the specific RO system type you want installed.
- Check whether the installer has the proper state licensing to work with plumbing systems.
- Get written cost estimates, guarantees, or warranties.
Unlike other water filtration systems, reverse osmosis removes the highest percentage of impurities found in drinking water at the molecular level. Although the up-front cost, maintenance, and operating expenses are high, it helps cut down on bottled water consumption and provides you with the peace of mind clean drinking water provides.
You may be able to DIY an under-sink reverse osmosis system, but you should call a professional for whole-house installations, plumbing work, or complex jobs. Mistakes are costly, and can potentially lead to water damage.
FAQs About Reverse Osmosis System Cost
How much does it cost to install a reverse osmosis system?
The cost to install a reverse osmosis system is between $300 and $700 but is dependent on the system type and job complexity. Point-of-use reverse osmosis systems are easier to install and take less time, costing $150–$300 to install. For more complex installs, expect to pay up to $1,500.
Is it worth getting a reverse osmosis system?
A reverse osmosis system is worth it if you need clean drinking water. If you’re worried about the cost, opt for a point-of-use system in the kitchen for drinking and cooking. If you have untreated water or it’s filled with contaminants, a whole-house RO system may be a better option. Consider that the average person spends $1,500 on bottled water per year, while the average reverse osmosis system costs just $400.
Is reverse osmosis water safe to drink every day?
According to the World Health Organization, relying on demineralized water could lead to a loss of mineral nutrients. However, you can add a remineralization stage to your system to replenish vital minerals. Not every home necessarily needs reverse osmosis filtration. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that home water systems meet the EPA’s 92% drinking water standard for the population.
Does reverse osmosis really purify water?
Reverse osmosis is the most highly efficient water filtration system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), RO filters have a pore size of approximately .0001 microns. This allows the systems to effectively remove contaminants such as protozoa, bacteria, viruses, and common chemicals such as chromium, chloride, magnesium, and other elements.
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