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What Does a Reverse Osmosis System Cost?


A reverse osmosis water filtration system, sometimes called an RO system, is a worthy investment in your home’s water quality. But just how much of an investment is it? What does a reverse osmosis system cost?

The price of an RO water filtration system can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. The cost depends on many factors, including the stages of filtration included, third-party certifications, filter life, WiFi connectivity and more. That’s why it’s important to do your research on any RO water filter before having it installed — that way, you know exactly what you’re paying for (and what to expect).

Here’s your breakdown of all things reverse osmosis.

Reverse Osmosis: Cost Breakdown

Reverse osmosis water filtration systems are one of the most effective ways to help protect your water against a wide variety of potential issues. While the initial investment may be higher than a basic solution like a filtered pitcher or the filter in your refrigerator, an RO system can provide much more comprehensive filtration. That means your family will have high-quality water available for all of their needs, whether that means enjoying a glass straight from the tap, cooking or preparing beverages like coffee and lemonade.

So, how much does a reverse osmosis system cost? Here are a few factors that determine the overall price:

Water Testing

A quality RO system should be customizable to your individual water problems and concerns, so water testing is the first step in determining what kind of filtration system is right for your home. Some water tests come with fees, but your local Culligan® water expert can perform a free, in-home water test and consultation. In around 30 minutes, you’ll have helpful information about your water quality and potential contaminants such as: chloramine, chlorine, copper and many others. *

Your local water expert will also help you determine what your test results actually mean. They’ll recommend the right water filter for your needs — which means you won’t have to spend time and money on guesswork.

Expert Installation

A reverse osmosis filtration system needs to be connected to your water line, and to avoid potential problems or issues, it’s a good idea to buy your system from a partner who can take away any questions or hassles and provide a trained technician to install your system. Furthermore, that expert installation should come with a full walkthrough of the system and how it works, as well as answering any questions you have about usage and maintenance.


The process of reverse osmosis adds plenty of value on its own, but the best water filtration systems offer more than the basics. If you want the best value for your dollar, you need to look for systems that go beyond the filtration process alone. For example, Culligan RO systems have optional ClearLink PROTM technology. This button wirelessly connects with your system, allowing you to switch between filtered and unfiltered water without having to install a separate faucet, which is the typical process for RO systems. 

Smart Technology

These days, you can get everything from a smart garage opener to a smart refrigerator — and your RO system shouldn’t be an exception. Smart RO water filters like Culligan’s let you use an app to see what contaminants are being reduced in your water, alert you when filter changes are needed, and can even help you save money in the long run by setting water usage goals and tracking how much you’re using.

Third-Party Certifications

Not all reverse osmosis systems are created equal. If you just look at their prices, some might seem almost too good to be true — and that’s usually because they are. Often, cheaper RO filters aren’t certified to remove certain contaminants, making them less comprehensive choices. High-quality systems will be transparent about exactly what they remove. For example, Culligan’s Aquasential® Reverse Osmosis Systems are certified to remove up to 61 contaminants, including lead, arsenic, pharmaceuticals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), plus 15 emerging contaminants.

Multiple, Customizable Filtration Stages

Culligan’s Aquasential® Reverse Osmosis Systems have up to seven stages of filtration, customizable to your water and your concerns. This means you’re getting the value of  a better, more comprehensive filtration process from day one.

Long Filter Life

Not all RO filters are created equal. Look for a system that offers a long filter life to save the cost and hassle of frequent filter changes. Culligan RO filters last up to two years, while the reverse osmosis membrane lasts up to five years. Other systems may not offer this kind of longevity, especially in the RO membrane, which means you’ll end up paying more over time.


The design of an RO system can have a big impact on its cost. Cheaper options might be difficult to use, less comprehensive or even awkwardly oversized. Meanwhile, a good system is durable, user-friendly and employs a space-saving design no matter where it’s installed – in the basement, under the sink, or elsewhere in your kitchen. Consider what faucet options are available as well – look for modern finishes and options like tracking water quality and  filter life right on your faucet. 

Maintenance and Repairs

Say you had your reverse osmosis system professionally installed — but now something’s gone wrong, and you’re not sure what to do. If you choose a system that doesn’t have an option of service from a reliable water partner, it’s up to you to figure out troubleshooting and repairs. 

The same is true for warranties. Always look for a system that comes with comprehensive warranties. Otherwise, you might end up paying even more just to get your filter working again.

Satisfaction Guarantees

While a satisfaction guarantee doesn’t directly contribute to the cost of a reverse osmosis system, it should have an impact on your decision-making process. After all, these guarantees act like a financial safety net. Take, for example, the Culligan Water promise: If you’re dissatisfied with your Culligan product for any reason within 30 days of your purchase, we’ll remove the product and refund the purchase price.

Payment Options

Another thing to consider when researching RO systems is payment options. If you’re worried about the upfront expenses of purchasing and installing a new RO filtration system in your home, look for a provider offering financing opportunities, rental options and other payment solutions.

What Makes Reverse Osmosis Filtration Unique?

As you’re researching water filtration options, you might notice that RO systems are more expensive than pitcher, countertop and other basic filter configurations. Why is this?

The simple answer is that reverse osmosis is a unique filtration process — one that other filters don’t offer. Here’s what to know about reverse osmosis:

How Does Reverse Osmosis Work?

Before water reaches your faucet, it is derived from a well or from a natural source, such as the ground, a river or a lake. Even if you have municipal water, it can pick up various contaminants on its way into your home from the treatment center. A reverse osmosis system, however, can help reduce contaminants that might be present.

Before tap water flows out of your faucet, the system will:

  • Use pressure to push the water through a specialized membrane
  • Capture undesired molecules, including some contaminants as small as a single atom, while allowing the treated water to flow through
  • Minimize contaminants to leave you with fresher, cleaner filtered water

What Are the Benefits of RO Systems?

Many people don’t think twice about the water that comes out of their taps, but they should. Depending on your circumstances, untreated drinking water in your home may taste or smell bad — but there are also water issues that can’t be detected without testing. If certain contaminants are present in your water, such as excessive lead or arsenic, water issues could impact your family’s health. 

Using and drinking reverse osmosis water can help make a difference in your overall quality of life. Benefits of a reverse osmosis system include:

    • Water that tastes, smells and looks better: With a reverse osmosis system, you can enjoy cleaner, great-tasting water — not just for drinking but also for cooking and cleaning.
    • Reduced contaminants: Reverse osmosis systems typically include multiple stages of filtration that can address a broad array of contaminants, including chlorine, lead, fluoride, mercury, bacteria, viruses and more. Some can even reduce the presence of emerging contaminants like “forever chemicals” PFOA/PFOS.
    • Less sediment: Most RO systems also can reduce larger particles such as rust, dirt and sand.
    • Full compatibility: If you have a water heater, water softener or other water solution already, not to worry — your house reverse osmosis system can work with all of them.

In addition to these benefits for your health and home, a reverse osmosis system can also help reduce the number of single-use water bottles you purchase. This can help you save money while also offering a more environmentally friendly solution for drinking water.

Does Everyone Need Reverse Osmosis?

Most people can generally benefit from RO filtration. That’s true even if your water goes through some kind of water treatment system, like city water does. This is because pure water usually doesn’t exist, even in nature — so whether your water comes from a municipal source or a private well, it could use filtration.  However, depending on your water quality and needs, you might need another solution — like a whole home water filtration system – to address issues like iron, sulfur or sediment that can impact the water you use for cleaning and bathing as well. The key is to have a professional water test performed so you can base your decision on accurate information.

When to Consider Reverse Osmosis

Like with most things, there’s generally a “right time” to switch to a reverse osmosis water filter system. But how do you know when that time is?

Ask yourself these questions. If you can answer “yes” to one or more, it might be time to filter your drinking water with an RO system:

You’ve Done Your Research

If you know the pros and cons of a reverse osmosis system and have had a free water analysis to get you started, you’ll feel more confident making this big decision.

You Have Specific Water Quality Issues

Maybe you noticed an unpleasant odor or taste in your last glass of water, or perhaps your water test results told you that your water might contain contaminants like high levels of total dissolved solids (TDS). If these drinking water quality concerns sound familiar, it’s probably time for a reverse osmosis filtration solution.

You Want Better-Tasting Drinking Water

The water you drink and cook with should taste great. Unfortunately, some contaminants can negatively impact that flavor profile. RO water filters can often address these contaminants and leave your water tasting just as good as it looks.

You’re Upgrading From a Simpler Filter

Although fridge, pitcher and countertop filters might seem attractive at first, they’re not the most comprehensive options for water filtration. If you’re ready to say goodbye to these simpler solutions, reverse osmosis might be just what you’re looking for.

You’re Going Green

There are plenty of ways to go green in your everyday life — but where do you start? If you have a reverse osmosis filter, the answer is easy: Just turn on the tap. 

An RO system with smart features can help you track water usage so you know what your habits are. That’s the first step in using water thoughtfully, all without impacting how much you drink.

But that’s not all you can expect from your RO system. By allowing you to rely on your tap water instead of bottled water, these systems also cut down on plastic waste. They even help reduce the environmental impacts of manufacturing and transporting those bottles.

You Want to Save Money

If you’re tired of paying for single-use bottles or those filters that need to be replaced every six months, you need a lasting solution. Reverse osmosis systems are an upfront investment, but over time, they help save money in all kinds of ways — which means they might just pay for themselves.

Considering a home filtration system? Try our Water Solutions Finder.

Choose the Right Reverse Osmosis System for Your Home

Reverse osmosis is a comprehensive, reliable solution for a wide range of water quality issues. While it might be intimidating to compare so many different cost options, remember that a filtration system’s price is determined by specific factors — such as the number of contaminants it’s certified to reduce or the effectiveness of its design. Once you have that information, you can confidently decide whether a particular filtration system is budget-friendly and efficient at the same time.

While you’re doing your research, remember that improving your water quality begins with a free, in-home water test and consultation. Schedule yours today to find out which RO system is right for you.


*Contaminants may not be present in your water.

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