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Old 12-26-2013, 02:21 PM   #1
beernardo
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Default Anybody use these RO Systems?

Hey guys,

Getting back into brewing, and dealing with some very hard water. I'm thinking of getting the Ispring RO system or the Watts. Both are very cheap on Amazon (under $200).

I'm not particularly interested in an aquarium set-up at this point, simply because I'll be putting this under the kitchen sink, and we'll use it for drinking water when it's not being used for brewing water. For the $30 I'll save through the aquarium system, I'll probably spend more in gas and parts back and forth to the hardware store to adapt it to my sink. Rather just get the system ready to go for kitchen install.

However, this will get some real daily use, and if I'm going to curse the thing, I might just pop for the Tap Master.

Just wondering if anybody uses the consumer-level kitchen systems with any feedback on how it works for them.

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Old 12-26-2013, 03:20 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beernardo View Post

Just wondering if anybody uses the consumer-level kitchen systems with any feedback on how it works for them.
I have basically the same thing (Culligan) and it works great and has been doing so for 14 years.

Each year I have the basic filters changed and the system tested. I have only have to have the RO membrane changed once.

We use it every day for drinking water, cooking, coffee makers and the like.
I get 2 1/2 gallons out of it at one time and after a fairly short time another 2 1/2.. Doesn't take long to get a full 10 -12 gallons for my brews.

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Old 12-26-2013, 03:34 PM   #3
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I used one while living in Shanghai. I'd slip tubing over the little tap and run it into my kettle on the floor. Only once did I completely forget about it and overflow a quart or so of water.

You might find this useful. It was a review on Amazon for one of the under-sink units, but seemed quite applicable to any of them on how to get the most out of a system. I copy and saved it in the event I install one at home due to my hard water.

"RO system

Works great, easy to mod
By DCD - December 29, 2012
I have had this filter for 6 years and love it. As one reviewer stated "I love water now". I have found a few ways to take this from a really good filter system to an awesome filter system...

First, don't use a water softener if you can help it. If not, then at least put this before the softener. Water softeners work by removing calcium ions (scale) from your water and replacing them with sodium ions. They usually add Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) to your water and this makes your filter have to work harder, requiring more frequent filter replacements.

Second and probably the most important tip, buy a TDS meter. Don't go by the blinking 6 month indicator light. Chances are your filters will last much longer than 6 months. A TDS meter will tell you for sure. Check your water quality once a month. When your TDS starts to rise, it's time to replace your carbon pre-filter. If it goes back down (will be high at first with a new filter), then great. If not, then replace your carbon post-filter. This will greatly cut down on the cost of replacement filters because you only replace them when needed. More than likely you will not have to replace the reverse osmosis membrane but once every few years. Again, go by the TDS meter to tell you when the filters need replacement. I replace my carbon filters about once every 6-8 months and my reverse osmosis membrane every 2-3 years. Throw the battery away and don't even use the 6 month light...

To get your filters to last even longer, install a whole house carbon filter right after your water pressure regulator, before your reverse osmosis system. You will not only save money by replacing just the whole house element every 3 months or so, you will also save your plumbing fixtures by keeping sediment out of the lines. By pre-filtering the water, most of the sediment will be removed before it ever gets to your reverse osmosis (RO) system which will make those more expensive filters last longer. Also, by using a carbon whole house filter and not just a regular sediment filter, you will remove most of the chlorine from your water. This will remove chlorine from your shower water and from the water you use to water your plants. They will thank you!

Some people have complained about a gurgling noise. This is caused by sludge build up in the drain line. If you take the black line apart, you will see black sludge clogging the line. This causes turbulence, i.e. noise. For maintenance, put a dropper full of bleach in the air break located on the side of the faucet. You can clean the sludge away from the line and inside the key hole shaped air break with a q-tip.

If your want more water output, buy a second air diaphragm tank. I have a 44 gallon tank that I hooked up by cutting the yellow hose that goes to the existing tank, putting in a tee fitting and running a second hose to my 44 gallon tank. You can have virtually unlimited filtered water for cooking, ice makers, home brewing beer, hooking up to an aquarium auto-top off system, etc. This filter system is rated to produce about 14 gallons of water a day, if you need more you can always buy another one and hook them up in series. Just add more diaphragm storage tanks as needed. If you add more tanks to the system, be sure you sanitize them. Place a couple of drops of bleach in the tank before you hook it up. Allow it to fill completely with water (overnight or however long it takes). Then, empty it completely through the faucet before using it. Maintenance on the tank(s) requires that you periodically check the air pressure. Pressure should be between 5-7 psi with 6 psi being the target. This system only pressurizes to about 30 psi and so you will have to bleed off some air from any new tanks you install. Most are pressurized from the factory to 30 psi and you will have to bleed it down to 6 psi to get full capacity from them.

Now if you want pristine water that will be cleaner than any bottled water you can buy, add a de-ionizing filter. On the side of the RO system, there is a blue outlet line. This is your reverse osmosis filtered water that goes up to the faucet... Cut this line and hook it into a de-ionizing (DI) cartridge. I have a dual chambered system on mine. One end of the cut blue line will go into the DI filter and the other end of the blue line goes into the other end of the DI filter. Now all the RO water will flow into a DI filter resin which will strip out all total dissolved solids leaving you with ultra purified, pristine water. This is a must if you want to use this water for an aquarium. This has practically eliminated my water changes, but that's a different discussion... To make DI filter change out easy, be sure to install a cutoff valve before the DI filter so that you can shut off water from the RO system. You can also shut off water without a shutoff valve if you simply unscrew the post carbon filter on your RO system. You will spill a few drops but it's not that big of a deal

On my system, I bought a permanently installed TDS meter. It has two probes, one for water going in, and water going out. I hooked the probes up to the water flow before and after the DI filter by using a Tee fitting with the probe inserted in the water stream. The "in" probe reads water quality before the DI filter, but after the RO system. I use this to monitor the performance of the RO system. I usually maintain 1-3ppm of total dissolved solids coming out of my RO system. If this number climbs, then I know it's time to replace a carbon filter or two... I use the "out" probe to monitor the DI filter. It has a replaceable resin and when I notice any rise in TDS coming out of the DI filter, I will replace the resin. It's just a grain like sand that you dump in the cartridge. Simple to replace. On my system I always get 0ppm of TDS which is about as clean as you can get. MUCH cleaner than any bottled water you will find. It rivals distilled in terms of quality. My DI resin lasts me about 3-4 years. This is with about 4-5 gallons of use per day.

If you do all of these things, you will have a very high quality system that is both easy to maintain and low cost. It's nice having RO/DI filtered water on tap for my fish tank and it makes drinking water taste good again!

For clarity here is a flow diagram: Whole house carbon filter-> RO carbon pre-filter-> RO membrane-> storage tank(s)-> RO carbon post-filter-> TDS "in" probe-> DI filter resin-> TDS "out" probe-> faucet. You can tee the line off the faucet and hook it up to your refrigerator's ice maker, aquarium auto top off system, etc."

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Old 12-26-2013, 03:37 PM   #4
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I use my RO system only for brewing (and soapmaking) and I bought this system two years ago:

http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/catalo...t/view/id/983/

It's perfect for my needs, and works easily. It's under the sink in my laundry room, but I did consider mounting it above the HLT.

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Old 12-26-2013, 05:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quaker View Post
First, don't use a water softener if you can help it. If not, then at least put this before the softener. Water softeners work by removing calcium ions (scale) from your water and replacing them with sodium ions. They usually add Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) to your water and this makes your filter have to work harder, requiring more frequent filter replacements.
This is bad advice. If your water is hard then you definitely want to feed your RO system with softened water. A softener remove calcium (equivalent weight 20) and magnesium (equivalent weight 12.15) with sodium (equivalent weight 23) equivalent for equivalent so yes, the weight of dissolved sodium in a treated liter of water is greater than the weights of calcium and magnesium it has removed but that's not what a TDS meter measures anyway and what is at issue here is that if you don't use softened water the membrane of your RO sytem will clog up with calcium carbonate. Now the under-the-sink units are designed to have such low recovery (typically under 20%) that they can deliver long membrane life up with feedwater that is pretty hard. There should be a number in the manual. If your water is harder than that limit then be sure to soften before RO. If you are buying a fancier unit with higher recovery then you will very probably need to soften before the RO unit.

To answer the basic question: Yes, thousands of home brewers use these small RO units with success. They can make a tremendous difference in the quality of your beers.
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Old 12-26-2013, 05:25 PM   #6
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The system that Yooper points out is quite adequate for brewing needs. I have a similar system. You can get my extended thoughts about RO systems on Bru'n Water's Facebook page.

I was fortunate that my basement was unfinished when I bought my RO system. That allowed me to plumb RO water to my brewery, the kitchen, and refrigerator using PEX lines. I also plumbed in a 20 gal tank into that system, so there was no problem with delivering for most uses. Gaining multiple uses around the house is a big plus with your significant other.

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Old 12-26-2013, 09:39 PM   #7
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Thanks guys.

AJ, your reply is basically what I didn't want to hear, but I figured was true. Our water is rather hard, and I've been considering a softener. Looks like I have to figure out which one to get before I proceed.

Our hardness as CaCO3 is 233 ppm. While not 'off the charts,' it's still unacceptable for most styles I brew, and it's hard enough to play havoc with the dishwasher and the valves in the pipes. I've been contemplating a WS since we moved into the house, but it'll require some doing to get it place properly and plumbed correctly.

Martin, any pictures of your setup anywhere? I suppose it's just what I imagine, but I could be persuaded to go down that road. I've got an unfinished basement, and my plumbing skills are adequate to the task.

Additionally, if anybody uses either of these systems in particular, I'd love to hear what you all think...

p.

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