Primo RO Water Refill at Walmart

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agentbud

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Does anyone get there brewing water from one of those Primo RO Water refill stations at Walmart? Seems like a good deal at .37/gallon but as with anything from Walmart, quality can be questionable. I'm worried that it may vary from one store to the next. Anyone ever get a water report on that water?
Mike
 

marc1

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If it's RO it should have low enough mineralization that a report is unnecessary.
If you're getting water from a machine, get a cheap TDS meter to do your own QC on it. It will let you know if the water is off before you fill up your whole jug and make beer with it.
 

VirginiaHops1

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I've seen comments/posts before in other places where people tested water from store machines and the TDS was way higher than it should be. I usually buy mine at Safeway, and then sometimes Wholefoods. The Safeway machine has a date written on it when it's been serviced and it's always within 2-3 weeks but who knows what their standards are. I've sometimes wondered.

I'm ordering an RO system mainly because I'm tired of trekking back & forth with jugs but I think I'll test them for curiosity's sake once I get my TDS meter. Doesn't really answer your question but I agree with previous post, just get a cheap TDS meter to check it. I should've been doing that long ago but honestly thought they were pretty expensive until I looked into it when shopping for my system.
 

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I buy 4 gallon "purified water" from my local big box hardware store for a little over $3 per jug. Their detailed water report is on the companies web site which makes it very easy to make brewing water adjustments. I use 2 of them for a 5 gal batch. I couldn't care less if it isn't exactly RO water as long as I have the free water report which gives me my starting point before adjustments. Since I am at the hardware store frequently anyway it is easy to throw a couple in my cart. A home RO system would never save money for me with the cost of the system, filters, etc.. The water report alone is fairly expensive.
 

wepeeler

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I used to buy distilled by the gallon at Walmart, but ever since the pandemic, I can feel people looking down on me as I lug 15 single gallons to the front. I am actually going to check out the RO station that was just introduced to my local Walmart in the next few days. I figure filling two of them shouldn't be an issue (and a lot less stares from people thinking I'm hoarding water for the apocalypse). I would assume if they are advertising it as RO, it should be RO.
 

day_trippr

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fwiw, around here a gallon of pretty much any water from "spring" through distilled goes for a buck.
I use an average of 20 gallons of water per 10 gallon batch, and brew an average of 18 batches per year.
That would be $360 per annum.

I installed my RO system almost 3 years ago, for roughly $250 including upgrades to bring it up to 100 gallons per day throughput, and I can fill my rig for a brew in under 5 hours. So the math certainly favors RO system ownership for me...

Cheers!
 

flyfishorbrew

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Just a quick note that Primo, at least the way I buy it, isn't RO (I buy the 5 gallon jugs at the grocery store and just swap out the jugs each time). The jugs advertise that the water is distilled, with "minerals added back for flavor" or something like that. I found a water report for it on one of these forums somewhere and use that (pretty low TDS and soft enough for any water profile). But maybe these are RO machines by Primo serving a different product?
 

Jim R

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I agree with the others that this is a simple math problem. I brew 30-40 gallons per year so it is cheaper and easier to buy water even if it costs $1 per gallon. If you need 360 gallons per year, you need a home RO system.
 
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agentbud

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fwiw, around here a gallon of pretty much any water from "spring" through distilled goes for a buck.
I use an average of 20 gallons of water per 10 gallon batch, and brew an average of 18 batches per year.
That would be $360 per annum.

I installed my RO system almost 3 years ago, for roughly $250 including upgrades to bring it up to 100 gallons per day throughput, and I can fill my rig for a brew in under 5 hours. So the math certainly favors RO system ownership for me...

Cheers!
how often do you have to change filters and how much do those cost?
 
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agentbud

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Just a quick note that Primo, at least the way I buy it, isn't RO (I buy the 5 gallon jugs at the grocery store and just swap out the jugs each time). The jugs advertise that the water is distilled, with "minerals added back for flavor" or something like that. I found a water report for it on one of these forums somewhere and use that (pretty low TDS and soft enough for any water profile). But maybe these are RO machines by Primo serving a different product?
yeah, I contacted Primo for a water report. The "Refill" stations advertise RO but they said it can vary some based on the local water being used. The already filled "buy" or "exchange" jugs are purified with minerals added. The report for that water is here
https://primowater.com/wp-content/u...Added-Water-Quality-Report-FINAL-02-02-17.pdf
that report does not cover calcium, magnesium or sodium
 

Jim R

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how often do you have to change filters and how much do those cost?
I would like to know this as well? When I priced this out once, it looked like replacing the 3 filters for my home would cost about $50 total (??? if they would need to be replaced yearly).
 

day_trippr

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My RO system is dedicated to the brewery needs as I discovered I do not enjoy the character of RO water as a beverage over our well water. I actually went through the trouble of splitting the system to feed our fridge's icemaker/water dispenser upstairs only to find we liked our well better.

So it's in the 350-400 gallon ball park per year, and the filters are rated for many thousands of gallons. Feed water quality matters, obviously, but the system actually sits downstream of a whole-house neutralizer and media filter and polishing filter, so it doesn't see much loading. I did replace the sediment and two charcoal filters last year (Amazon sells the set of standard-sized cartridges for $39) but the $39 100gpd membrane should be good for many more years.

What one does need to do is periodic cleaning and sanitation of the system. I do that annually, takes about an hour, basically involves removing the cartridges to a bucket of RO water, cleaning any deposits in the housings, then running some very mild bleach solution through the system, then rinsing and reinstalling the cartridges. Worth it...

Cheers!
 

riceral

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A local brewery will give anyone who brings in their jugs RO water at no charge. When I brew, I bring in my 2, 5-gallon jugs, buy a pint or 2 and know that I'm getting good water.

Maybe check with your local brewery to see if they do the same thing.

It's also handy during hurricane season.
 
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I would like to know this as well? When I priced this out once, it looked like replacing the 3 filters for my home would cost about $50 total (??? if they would need to be replaced yearly).
For a three stage RO system like this: Premium RO Systems - Buckeye Hydro the sediment filter and carbon filter - the two in the vertical housings below the metal bracket - run about $15 total. They are typically replaced every 6 to 12 months. The RO membrane - in the white horizontal housing above the bracket - typically needs to be replaced every 2 to 5 years, and runs about $35 to $50, depending upon which membrane you have.

Russ
 
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If you are going to opt the buy your RO water, regardless of where you buy it, always test it with a TDS meter. We routinely hear stories about bad quality RO water from these vending machines - presumably because of lack of required maintenance.

A word about TDS meters... Unlike pH meters that are very persnickety, and where buying an inexpensive meter isn't likely to work out... TDS meters are robust and simple - no need to buy a pricy TDS meter.

Russ
 

youngdh

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Another cost to consider with your own RO system is the amount of waste water per gallon of RO water produced. Depending on how your municipality charges for water, if on municipal water, this may not be an insignificant cost if you brew a lot. Where I live there is a water consumption rate which also determines your sewer charges. I get charged coming and going.
 
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Good point. To put that in context, let's say you need 20 gallons of RO water - in a typically configured system the would generate about 70 gals of concentrate, for a total water use of 90 gallons. That's equivalent to using your shower for about 30 minutes.

If you have naturally soft water, or if you have a water softener, you can configure your RO system to produce much much less concentrate (aka "waste water").

Russ
 

chilitom

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I used to get RO water from a local WalMart, until I checked it with a TDS meter and got a reading of several hundred ppm. This, despite the machine having been recently "serviced". I switched to a different grocery store and never had a problem - it was always <5 ppm. I think it was a Primo system.

So an investment in a cheap TDS meter is highly recommended.

But ultimately I got tired of making the trip to get water and just got my own RO system, from Buckeye Hydro. Good thing, since most of the RO stations are now shut down, for some reason related to Covid.
 

TBA

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How does the water softener help RO waste water? I have been using the RO water refill station at the grocery because I don’t want to waste so much water at home. I do have a water softener (that waste plenty of water during regeneration), maybe this will change my position.
 
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agentbud

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For a three stage RO system like this: Premium RO Systems - Buckeye Hydro the sediment filter and carbon filter - the two in the vertical housings below the metal bracket - run about $15 total. They are typically replaced every 6 to 12 months. The RO membrane - in the white horizontal housing above the bracket - typically needs to be replaced every 2 to 5 years, and runs about $35 to $50, depending upon which membrane you have.

Russ
regarding the replacement of filters, is that based solely on usage or is replacement based on time as well? For example, if I get a RO system that I use just for brewing purposes, use it once or twice and then something happens where I cannot brew for a year. Do the filters degrade over time if not being used? Or is it just based on the number of gallons run through the system?
 

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For a three stage RO system like this: Premium RO Systems - Buckeye Hydro the sediment filter and carbon filter - the two in the vertical housings below the metal bracket - run about $15 total. They are typically replaced every 6 to 12 months. The RO membrane - in the white horizontal housing above the bracket - typically needs to be replaced every 2 to 5 years, and runs about $35 to $50, depending upon which membrane you have.

Russ
I was wondering when you'd pop up! ;)

I'm considering an RO system at my house (softened water, don't need the extra sodium) but I'd need GPDs to meet my needs... 3 adults, each drinking about .75 gallons per day, cooking, tea/coffee and about 10 gals for a batch a beer a month... and a good enough flow rate to avoid frustrating waits for water to generate...
 
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First - some jargon:
Permeate: aka RO water. Water that has permeated through the membrane and been purified.
Concentrate: aka waste water. Water that did not make it through the membrane - it contains concentrated (higher) levels of contaminants than the feedwater because some of the H2O has been pulled out of it (and became permeate).

Remember that everything that doesn't make it through the RO membrane layer as permeate needs to be flushed out of the RO element - that's the purpose of the concentrate. Best to think of it as "flush water." If you cut back on the volume of concentrate, one of the troublesome things that ruins membranes is scale - the deposition of calcium and magnesium hardness inside the membrane. If you have soft, or softened water, you can avoid scaling your membrane(s).

This is why it is NOT a good idea to plumb two RO membranes in series without knowing and considering the likelihood of scaling your membranes - especially your second membrane. We plumb commercial membrane systems like this all the time - but we precede the RO with a softener. Membranes with short life spans are good for making vendors $, but are not so good for the system owner.

Russ
 
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I was wondering when you'd pop up! ;)

I'm considering an RO system at my house (softened water, don't need the extra sodium) but I'd need GPDs to meet my needs... 3 adults, each drinking about .75 gallons per day, cooking, tea/coffee and about 10 gals for a batch a beer a month... and a good enough flow rate to avoid frustrating waits for water to generate...
Easy peezy. Give us a call!
 

Climb

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Interesting topic.

The following information and links provide quantitative TDS data for monitoring RO permeate and another point of view on RO filter replacement requirements by a recognized water expert, Martin Brungard.

From General 5 | Bru'n Water - section 4.2.1 "A relatively simple and rapid test is to evaluate the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) of the RO-treated water. Inexpensive, portable TDS testing meters are available for this use. A TDS reading of about 20 ppm or less is typical for a properly operating RO system. If the TDS exceeds about 50 ppm, membrane replacement may be needed. This method of quality assurance testing is highly recommended when purchasing RO water from vending machines."

From RO Systems – When to Change Filters? | Bru'n Water - "There are three filters that are likely used in typical RO systems: Sediment, Carbon, and Membrane. They each have differing replacement intervals. Most importantly, they don’t require replacement on a Calendar basis."

The manufacturer of the Sediment and Carbon filters that I buy also recommend a 6 to 12 month replacement interval or about 16,000 gallons.
 
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agentbud

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Most importantly, they don’t require replacement on a Calendar basis."

The manufacturer of the Sediment and Carbon filters that I buy also recommend a 6 to 12 month replacement interval or about 16,000 gallons.
If the replacement is not based calendar (time), I wonder why they say 6-12 months. If I brew one 5-gallon batch of beer a year (which would be really sad), those filters should theoretically last many, many, many years (until I go through 16,000 gallons), correct?

ps - the 1 batch per year is just an example. I do brew more, thankfully.
 

marc1

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If the replacement is not based calendar (time), I wonder why they say 6-12 months. If I brew one 5-gallon batch of beer a year (which would be really sad), those filters should theoretically last many, many, many years (until I go through 16,000 gallons), correct?

ps - the 1 batch per year is just an example. I do brew more, thankfully.
That would be 16,000 gallons of permeate + concentrate. The RO that you use is roughly 20-25% of your total water usage based on the BuckeyeHydro numbers above, so 3200-4000 gallons of RO.

You are also supposed to use the filter every week, and flush to clean.

I've had an RO system from Buckeye for about 2 years. I have softened well water, TDS in is 150-160, TDS of the RO is 3. I try to remember to flush/run it a bit at least every other week. Much preferred to running around all over the place trying to find an RO machine that is putting out good water.
 
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Martin was trying to simplify the topic. You can't really give a number, like 15 ppm, and say anything under that and the RO is working ok, and anything over that it is not (this would not be news to Martin).

RO membranes remove a PERCENTAGE of the TDS in the feedwater. This is called the REJECTION RATE. The higher the rejection rate, the more pure the RO water will be. The best residential membranes on the market - Filmtec - are spec'ed at 98% or 99% rejection, depending upon which membrane we're talking about. So if your feedwater is 250 ppm, only about 2% of that, or about 5 ppm should make it through to the permeate. If your feedwater is 2800 ppm (and yes - we have a customer with water like this), your perfectly functioning RO membrane would produce permeate at 55 ppm.

The lifespan of sediment filters depends upon how fast they clog or start to grow algae.

The lifespan of carbon blocks is determined by:
*how fast they physically clog, and
*how soon they start growing algae, and
*what's known as their chlorine capacity (stated in gallons). If done according to industry standards, the chlorine capacity is the number of gallons run through them at which they remove 50% or more of the chlorine. So a reasonable rule of thumb is change them out after 50% or less of the chlorine capacity. The devil is in the details re the chlorine capacity of carbon blocks. Most people aren't interested in the details here, and most suppliers couldn't tell you the chlorine capacity of the blocks they sell. That's what results in recommendations to change carbon blocks @ 6 months.

Russ
 

Dancy

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Since I read in another thread a while back that people found a lot of inconsistencies in RO dispensed water quality, I quit buying it at my local grocery store and now buy bottled distilled water as it isn’t much different. It is .89 cents a gallon but I pretty much drink most of the 5 gallon batches I make so I don’t brew as often as some — not cost prohibitive to me.
 

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Question for Buckeye_Hydro. Would I benefit from (or even be able to use) an RO system with my Rainsoft softener and well water that looks like tea when I bypass my softener? What about all the extra sodium I have in my softened water? Does the RO system remove that extra sodium?

Right now I'm getting my water from Wal Mart's refill machine.
 
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Sure - make sure to feed the softened water to your RO. The RO does a good job removing sodium. Many times, a drinking water RO setup will suffice. Less commonly, a whole-house RO system is required.

A softener uses a special kind of cation resin to exchange Na+ for Ca++ and Mg++ (primarily). Water w/out Ca and Mg is said to be "soft." You may also have some other issues with your well water like iron and/or Mn and/or tannins. Have you had your well water tested?

Russ
 

ChuckS1

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Lots of iron and sediment in my well water. for the amount I brew, looks like Wal Mart might be the better option. Thanks for the reply.
 

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I feel sorry for those people giving you weird looks. I say beer on and don’t worry about it. They’re there for purchase 😁



I used to buy distilled by the gallon at Walmart, but ever since the pandemic, I can feel people looking down on me as I lug 15 single gallons to the front. I am actually going to check out the RO station that was just introduced to my local Walmart in the next few days. I figure filling two of them shouldn't be an issue (and a lot less stares from people thinking I'm hoarding water for the apocalypse). I would assume if they are advertising it as RO, it should be RO.
 

day_trippr

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The plus is space, the down-side is latency: sans a storage tank of some kind you're down to the actual throughput of the system to pour a glass of water.

[edit] For example, my 100 gpd system produces roughly 8 ounces of water per minute. That's a long time to pour a glass of water :) Otoh, the small (4 g) pressure tank that services the small/cheap RO faucet at my brew sink will pour 8 ounces in about 10 seconds.

But that only matters if you're using the RO system for more than just brewing. If you're filling a rig with 20 gallons of RO the typical small pressure tanks that come with most kits really don't help that much...

Cheers!
 
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Tanks are used in RO systems to accumulate purified water so that when you go to get a glass of water, you have ready-made, pressurized water. Otherwise you'd have to wait several minutes for the RO to produce a glass full of water.

If you don't want a tank, then the tradeoff is you have to use an RO membrane that will produce an outlet flow like someone would expect from a kitchen faucet - that's about 2 gallons per minute. That would require:
2.0 * 1440 = a 28000 gpd RO membrane. As you might imagine - that membrane and surrounding equipment will be quite a bit pricier than the typical 100 gpd membrane used by home brewers.
 
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