RO System Help

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matt_m

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I have this system which I bought almost 9 years ago, before I started brewing.


When I that, they sold me a second small tank to meet the demand of the icemaker and filling pots for cooking. I get great water from it and have regularly replaced filters over the years and the RO membrane and auto shutoff valve once when TDS started creeping up. The water runs to a drinking water faucet at our kitchen sink, our refrigerator, and now my brewery. According to the gauge in the system, we're at about 50PSI after our city water passes through the sediment and carbon filters, just before the membrane.

I replaced the small DI stage a 10" housing DI kit from Buckeye Hydro in early 2020 which has greatly reduced the frequency I need to change the resin and is now getting me 0 TDS water from that part of the system which is mostly used for CPAP water and some minor cleaning uses in the brewery.

When I started brewing and before researching I added an additional 14 gallon tank of dubious quality (so now we're at "22" gallons total), but we're running out of water when I fill my kettle with 10 gallons of water (actually by 7-8 the flow is quite low) which makes sense as I've read these tanks may store as little as half their rated volume--maybe less for the off brands? I've also since read it's not really great to store that much water for occasional use, though we don't seem to have quality issues over the last couple years of use.

I'm looking for recommendations for moving forward.

Wondering if I should add more pressurized storage? Maybe scrap all the storage I have and put in 1-2 matching tanks of better quality?

Is there a way to add some check valves to dedicate the 14 gallon tank for the brewery where the final filling of my kettle slowly is fine and reserve the small tanks for household use? I don't know enough to know if adding a check valve between storage and the membrane might cause issues since there would be no back pressure?

Would adding a booster pump improve refill speed enough to keep up?

Should I just dedicate the existing system to household use and get a dedicated system for the brewery?
 

day_trippr

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Background: I started with an APEC 50gpd system with a booster pump driving the membrane (as our well pump runs from 35 to 65 psi) and it did provide an honest 2 gph. I had to start collecting the 20-24 gallons of brewing liquor the evening before a brew morning. I don't use water from the pressure tank - that's dedicated to a faucet. I eventually upgraded the membrane to a 100gpd model, changed the flow restrictor to match, and upgraded the booster pump, all from @Buckeye_Hydro. At 4 gph I still have to start collecting brewing water the night before unless it's going to be an afternoon session. But if I need to mix up a fresh batch of Star San it only takes a little over an hour to fill the bucket, so there are advantages.

Anyway...

If water pressure isn't up in the optimum-for-throughput range for your membrane a booster pump between the last filter and the membrane input will definitely help.

Stored RO is corrosive so using a proper vessel is important. Also, RO water can get funky which is why most systems have a dedicated charcoal "taste & odor" cartridge between the tank and the faucet.

You can definitely configure your system such that a tank (or tanks) are dedicated to a product line isolated from another. I have a strategically placed check valve that won't let tank water head towards my brew rig.

HBT member Russ @Buckeye_Hydro is a willing resource on all things RO. Definitely take advantage of him :)

Cheers!
 

Spartan1979

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If you're not getting the capacity out of your tanks that you expect, it may be that the air pressure in the tank needs to be increased. I have a two gallon tank on my system and when I checked the air pressure in the tank, it was below specs. After adding some air I got most of my capacity back.
 

mabrungard

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Don't forget that the usable capacity of a pressure tank is about half the tank's volume. So if you have a tank that's big enough to hold 20 gallons, the actual volume that can come from the tank is about 10 gallons. The other half of the volume is the air space within the tank. I have a 20 gal RO tank so that I can draw off up to 10 gal for my brew days.
 

Bobby_M

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When I started brewing and before researching I added an additional 14 gallon tank of dubious quality (so now we're at "22" gallons total), but we're running out of water when I fill my kettle with 10 gallons of water (actually by 7-8 the flow is quite low) which makes sense as I've read these tanks may store as little as half their rated volume--maybe less for the off brands? I've also since read it's not really great to store that much water for occasional use, though we don't seem to have quality issues over the last couple years of use.

I'm looking for recommendations for moving forward.

Wondering if I should add more pressurized storage? Maybe scrap all the storage I have and put in 1-2 matching tanks of better quality?
Any pressure tank I've tried over 2-3 gallons causes the water to taste and smell like vinyl. The answer most vendors will give is to run it back through another carbon filter before use. Nah.
Is there a way to add some check valves to dedicate the 14 gallon tank for the brewery where the final filling of my kettle slowly is fine and reserve the small tanks for household use? I don't know enough to know if adding a check valve between storage and the membrane might cause issues since there would be no back pressure?
Yes. I'll try to explain this the best I can. My RO output from the system first hits a tee. Tee output #1, which I'll call the "drinking water output" goes into a check valve first then hits another tee which splits it between the small pressure storage tank and the drinking faucet (and anything else you need that water for... ice maker, aquarium topoff float valve, etc. The check valve after the first tee makes it so that no matter what, none of the drinking water can come back once it's in the tank.

The output #2 runs over to my brewing area where I have an inline quarter turn ball valve and then it terminates on a float valve. This gets clamped to a brewing vessel and the float is set to the volume I want to collect. Then I open the valve the night before brewing well after anyone would want to consume all the drinking water. This isn't super important but as long as the brewing system is filling with water, the drinking tank will not get replenished. You can still use any of the saved water in the pressure tank because it can't get redirected to the brewery due to the check valve.

Would adding a booster pump improve refill speed enough to keep up?
A booster pump does three things; increases your production rate, reduces your waste water ratio, and lowers your RO output TDS by a few extra percent. It also allows you to increase your membrane from a 75GPD to a 100 or 150GPD, but if you implement the design I outline above, you won't have to do that.
Should I just dedicate the existing system to household use and get a dedicated system for the brewery?
Only if running 1/4" PE tubing to your brewing area is a pain.
 
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matt_m

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@Bobby, thanks. I do have a carbon filter as the last stage and the water tastes great with very low TDS. I can implement a scheme like that for the cost of a few check valve and one more final filter so seems like it’s worth a try!
 
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I have this system which I bought almost 9 years ago, before I started brewing.


When I that, they sold me a second small tank to meet the demand of the icemaker and filling pots for cooking. I get great water from it and have regularly replaced filters over the years and the RO membrane and auto shutoff valve once when TDS started creeping up. The water runs to a drinking water faucet at our kitchen sink, our refrigerator, and now my brewery. According to the gauge in the system, we're at about 50PSI after our city water passes through the sediment and carbon filters, just before the membrane.

I replaced the small DI stage a 10" housing DI kit from Buckeye Hydro in early 2020 which has greatly reduced the frequency I need to change the resin and is now getting me 0 TDS water from that part of the system which is mostly used for CPAP water and some minor cleaning uses in the brewery.

When I started brewing and before researching I added an additional 14 gallon tank of dubious quality (so now we're at "22" gallons total), but we're running out of water when I fill my kettle with 10 gallons of water (actually by 7-8 the flow is quite low) which makes sense as I've read these tanks may store as little as half their rated volume--maybe less for the off brands? I've also since read it's not really great to store that much water for occasional use, though we don't seem to have quality issues over the last couple years of use.

I'm looking for recommendations for moving forward.

Wondering if I should add more pressurized storage? Maybe scrap all the storage I have and put in 1-2 matching tanks of better quality?

Is there a way to add some check valves to dedicate the 14 gallon tank for the brewery where the final filling of my kettle slowly is fine and reserve the small tanks for household use? I don't know enough to know if adding a check valve between storage and the membrane might cause issues since there would be no back pressure?

Would adding a booster pump improve refill speed enough to keep up?

Should I just dedicate the existing system to household use and get a dedicated system for the brewery?
Yes - with a standard auto shut off valve you should get about 50% of your tank volume out in water.

Yes - you can configure the system to have one pressure tank feed one outlet, and another pressure tank feed another outlet. There's no particular benefit to having both tanks be of identical size.

Yes - a booster pump will speed production.

Here's some other things I would seriously consider:
  • Add a permeate pump with high pressure auto shut off valve. This will dramatically reduce the amount of water you send to drain (it cut the water/sewer bill by $10/month at my house), will improve the purity of the water in your tanks, and dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to fill your tanks. The permeate pump does not require electricity.
I can provide a more detailed discussion of this equipment if there's interest.​

  • Unless or until you add that permeate pump, make sure the system is configured such that water from the pressure tank can not make its way to your DI stage.

Please call in if you have questions about how to work any of this into your system. The way any/all of this needs to be plumbed in, and any other fittings you may need to plumb it in cleanly varies.

Russ
513-312-2343
[email protected]
 
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matt_m

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I’d definitively like to learn more about the permeate pump. From the description it’s a bit like a turbocharger in the sense it use the waste stream to improve performance?
 
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Yes. This revolutionary pump is powered only by the hydraulic energy of the waste water - which is usually lost to the drain (i.e., no electricity required). The pump forces product water into the pressurized storage tank, overcoming the backpressure of the tank. These pumps dramatically improve the efficiency of RO water production, reducing wastewater by up to 80%. Benefits include higher delivery pressures, faster water production, superior water quality, and extended filter/membrane life. This pump can be ordered as a component of a new BH RO system, or can be retrofitted to upgrade existing RO systems. Has 1/4 inch quick connect fittings. Includes clip kit for mounting pump to RO membrane housing.

Russ
 
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matt_m

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I got my parts from Russ and installed the permeate pump today which made a serious difference in pressure in our system. I'm assuming that means there's more water in the tanks as well. I forgot to order a second final filter so I'll see how the system works with the new pump and go from there.
 
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matt_m

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I haven't run water for brewing yet but @Buckeye_Hydro's recommendation for the permeate pump is a game changer for everyday life in our house. The increased pressure from the faucet in the kitchen has cut filling my pour over coffee kettle and a glass of water in half. The water dispenser in our fridge wasn't really usable before but is now. I *think* its making the "craft" icemaker work better too. I'll be real interested to see if it makes a noticeable difference in our water bill.
 

Tartan1

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After reading thru this thread I also went with @Buckeye_Hydro's recommendation and purchased a permeate pump and high pressure shut off valve. Similar results to what you experienced, my RO system has never had as much pressure as it has now and the refresh rate into the tank is much quicker. It's only been a couple of days so the waste water output won't be known until my next water bill but it seems to be less judging the time it takes to refill the tank.
For me it was a worthwhile investment!!
 
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The permeate pump and high pressure ASOV is really a slam dunk for anyone with a pressurized storage tank because this configuration improves system performance tremendously and it pays for itself in short order due to the water savings.

Russ
 

mabrungard

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A permeate pump is indeed a useful addition to those that discharge to a pressure tank. However, they aren't without problems. They are quite noisy with a clunk, clunk, clunk note. The other problem that I experienced, is that the pumps contain a strong stainless steel spring and the spring can eventually break as the metal reaches its endurance limit.

Buyer beware!
 
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A permeate pump is indeed a useful addition to those that discharge to a pressure tank. However, they aren't without problems. They are quite noisy with a clunk, clunk, clunk note. The other problem that I experienced, is that the pumps contain a strong stainless steel spring and the spring can eventually break as the metal reaches its endurance limit.

Buyer beware!
After selling and using permeate pumps for over 20 years, my guess is less than 10% of users find them too noisy. If you have the RO in your basement, or garage, or essentially any where other than under the kitchen sink, it will likely be a non issue.

Your comment on the spring is interesting - I've never come across this issue. But I guess anything with mechanical parts can break. Just not something I've ever run across.
 
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matt_m

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Filled my brew kettle yesterday as a test using just the 14 gallon tank and it filled in under an hour. Not sure if it ran the tank dry and dribbled in the last part but regardless this is working out perfect.
 
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For those wondering about how to plumb a permeate pump with a high pressure auto shut off valve (that has a "horseshoe" flow pattern):
P Pump w HP ASOV.png
 
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matt_m

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1 month update, couldn't be happier. I had the parts to split the systems for the brewery from the house on hand so I went ahead and did that. Filling my kettle has no impact on household operations. Turns out our LG fridge's "craft ice" maker works far better with more pressure. The additional flow from our sink faucet alone made the upgrades worth it.
 
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