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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: Joe_Beer on November 07, 2021, 06:39:46 am

Title: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: Joe_Beer on November 07, 2021, 06:39:46 am
I've been tossing around the idea of getting an R/O system. My tap water is quite hard (HCO3=457,CACO3=452) and when I've run it through a carbon filter and made beer, the results, for IPA anyway, aren't that great. I've been using distilled water for awhile now and quite pleased. My local grocer is having issues keeping distilled water stocked however. The shelf is missing all but a few gallons for the past month. Hard to tell how long it might last.

I've been looking at the Waterdrop 600GPD (update: I have the wrong number here.  Model number is actually WD-G2P600-W) since it boasts a 2:1 drain ratio, which is nice, but the replacement filter cost is over $100 bucks which isn't so nice. I think there are actually two filters on this unit and from what I've been able to find, the second one is ~$30 so there's a substantial cost to running this.

If I use this just for brewing, and the other needs (netti pot) we use distilled for, the filters may last considerably longer than a standard installation. I brew maybe once or twice a month so leaving the system sit for a week or so may introduce other longevity concerns. Still need to look into that.

I poked around the forum a bit here and found a discussion with Martin from 2018 https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=32353 (https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=32353) where another person mentioned the iSpring RCC7P was a favorable unit. Being a few years old though, things may have changed. Also sounds like feedwater from the R/O system should come from the output side of my water softener to cut the hardness. Maybe add a carbon filter too.

Are ya'll still liking your iSpring or other units? Any suggestions other than filter cost and drain ratio if you had to buy one again?

Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on November 07, 2021, 07:39:25 am
You need a series of filters before the RO membrane. A Sediment/particulate filter is first. Then an activated carbon block. The carbon block will take out clorine/chloramine which will eat holes in the RO membrane if not removed before it.

600 GPD is great, so is the 2:1 reject ratio. I'm not familiar with that unit, but as you said, you're paying for that performance.
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: Bob357 on November 07, 2021, 08:14:25 am
Actual rejection is dependent on the makeup of your water, as well as temperature, pressure, pH and other factors, so the advertised ratio can vary quite a bit. Our water has 550+ ppm TDS, and rejection can be as high as 6:1. High mineral content also means your filters will need to be replaced more often.

I buy RO water from vending machines at local stores for ~$ .40/gallon. That's ~$3.20 per 5.25 gallon batch of beer. I doubt I could buy a good system and maintain it for that, especially considering the cost of rejected water. YMMV, depending on your water, but worth looking into before buying a system.
Title: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: BrewBama on November 07, 2021, 08:18:39 am
I also use distilled and have issues at the grocery. I read the label of ‘purified water’ which is RO. They never seem to run out of ‘purified water’ so I consider it a suitable substitute.

I also researched RO systems but the wastewater was a huge turnoff for me. I realize cleaning/washing anything in water (clothes, dishes, a car,…) all create waste water but RO system waste just seems high to me. 2:1 is great.

I have even explored a distillation unit. …but being from the foothills of the Appalachians and owning a ‘still might get me a little more attention than I care for.

Whatever you settle on please report back. I have been on the fence for years.



Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: Buckeye Hydro on December 11, 2021, 09:18:11 am
I've been tossing around the idea of getting an R/O system. My tap water is quite hard (HCO3=457,CACO3=452)

First, realize that you can change the ratio of concentrate to permeate on any RO System, at very little expense, to be whatever you want it to be.

Second - realize that you may NOT want to limit the concentrate flow if you want to get a reasonable life span out of your RO membrane.

You mention you have very hard water.  That said, you'll want MORE concentrate flow so that you don't plug your membrane with scale.  There are no "magic membranes" out there that avoid the issue of scaling.  But if you have soft, or softened water, you can reduce the concentrate flow to around a 2:1 and still get a reasonable life span out of a very low flow residential RO membrane.

Russ
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: HopDen on December 11, 2021, 10:51:20 am
This is what I have been using for 4/5 years. 5 stages may be overkill but it is what it is. I do not regret the purchase at all. It has definitely improved my beers. Keep in mind that you will want to clean the stages after 5-10 uses but YMMV depending on your water.
https://www.amazon.com/Olympia-Water-Systems-OROS-50-Filtration/dp/B06XD2KN2G/ref=sr_1_6?crid=2H05GA0FFAZHA&keywords=olympia+water+systems&qid=1639244702&sprefix=olympia+water+%2Caps%2C189&sr=8-6
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: Joe_Beer on December 12, 2021, 04:40:57 am
Thanks everyone for your insight on this. Much appreciated! I'm starting with a whole house spin down, sediment and carbon filter. I really only need the spin down as we have to clean out the sand and other junk on the faucets a couple times a year but figured as long as I'm cutting up plumbing, I may as well add a couple of these. It might improve the taste of the water in a few other locations of the house. Should help with longevity of the R/O filter if I do go with one.  Not sure how it will affect the water pressure but we'll see.

First, realize that you can change the ratio of concentrate to permeate on any RO System, at very little expense, to be whatever you want it to be.

By "concentrate" I think you mean the "water you want to filter", correct?

You mention you have very hard water.  That said, you'll want MORE concentrate flow so that you don't plug your membrane with scale.  There are no "magic membranes" out there that avoid the issue of scaling.  But if you have soft, or softened water, you can reduce the concentrate flow to around a 2:1 and still get a reasonable life span out of a very low flow residential RO membrane.

So, if I did go with R/O that should be connected downstream from the output of the water softener?
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: ynotbrusum on December 12, 2021, 04:49:58 am
Mine is installed post softener, because my well water is hard.  I get TDS in the teens (post RO system) and rarely need to swap out filters.
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: mabrungard on December 12, 2021, 08:29:27 am
Don't get taken in by the promise of instant RO by buying a system with high output.  Modest (and far less expensive) RO systems that output 50 to 75 gpd are a wise choice...unless you're going to actually be using more RO water than that per day.  A modest system with some form of RO storage is a wise way to go. 

As mentioned above, getting a RO system with many stages is probably not necessary.  In general, 2 stages are required for someone on their own supply well: sediment filter and RO membrane.  Those on a municipal water system need to add another stage: carbon filter.  Adding the 4th or 5th stages is not typically necessary for brewery use. 

People with fairly hard water supply will be well served by adding a water softener to the 'stages' in their RO system.  That helps avoid the premature scaling of their RO membrane and its need for replacement. 

I strongly recommend avoiding any RO system that requires proprietary filters and membranes.  The standard 10- or 20-inch filter cartridges and the '1812' membrane cartridges are industry-standard items and their cost is reasonable.  That can't be said for proprietary systems. 

For anyone contemplating the purchase and operation of their own RO system, I recommend that you read the "Pure Water" articles in Zymurgy that provide great insight into what you need or don't need for your system and how to operate and maintain it.  AHA members have access to the eZymurgy archive to view those articles and other interesting content.  I believe that you can now become a AHA member for a monthly fee and that would give you quick access for the time you want.  AHA membership has its advantages! 
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: Joe_Beer on December 13, 2021, 03:24:37 pm
Don't get taken in by the promise of instant RO by buying a system with high output.  Modest (and far less expensive) RO systems that output 50 to 75 gpd are a wise choice...unless you're going to actually be using more RO water than that per day.  A modest system with some form of RO storage is a wise way to go. 

Thanks Martin. I'm thinking about the Waterdrop WD-G2P600-W mainly because it boasts a 2:1 pure/waste ratio. I don't know if they are gaming the numbers to make that statement however. We're all aware of the "*" prefixes and fine print around product blurbs.

Does a 2:1 ratio seem attainable or is this simply not realistic? I don't mind waiting a day or two to fill an 8 gallon container with a smaller/different unit but would prefer not dumping 2x or 3x gallons of waste to get it. That's the only reason I'm looking at this unit in particular.

For anyone contemplating the purchase and operation of their own RO system, I recommend that you read the "Pure Water" articles in Zymurgy that provide great insight into what you need or don't need for your system and how to operate and maintain it.

I've read through both articles (Thank you for the great info!) and will need to go over them again.  A lot of good info there. I like the mention about mineral scale removal and the acid solution. I've got 452 for cac03 in my tap water and hardly a clear glass in the house so pretty sure I'd need to do that often.
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: fredthecat on December 13, 2021, 03:48:53 pm
I've been tossing around the idea of getting an R/O system. My tap water is quite hard (HCO3=457,CACO3=452) and when I've run it through a carbon filter and made beer, the results, for IPA anyway, aren't that great. I've been using distilled water for awhile now and quite pleased. My local grocer is having issues keeping distilled water stocked however. The shelf is missing all but a few gallons for the past month. Hard to tell how long it might last.

I've been looking at the Waterdrop 600GPD (update: I have the wrong number here.  Model number is actually WD-G2P600-W) since it boasts a 2:1 drain ratio, which is nice, but the replacement filter cost is over $100 bucks which isn't so nice. I think there are actually two filters on this unit and from what I've been able to find, the second one is ~$30 so there's a substantial cost to running this.

If I use this just for brewing, and the other needs (netti pot) we use distilled for, the filters may last considerably longer than a standard installation. I brew maybe once or twice a month so leaving the system sit for a week or so may introduce other longevity concerns. Still need to look into that.

I poked around the forum a bit here and found a discussion with Martin from 2018 https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=32353 (https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=32353) where another person mentioned the iSpring RCC7P was a favorable unit. Being a few years old though, things may have changed. Also sounds like feedwater from the R/O system should come from the output side of my water softener to cut the hardness. Maybe add a carbon filter too.

Are ya'll still liking your iSpring or other units? Any suggestions other than filter cost and drain ratio if you had to buy one again?

totally unrelated, but i moved back to ontario and the shower water feels so annoying compared to where i lived before. its not extremely hard here, but it is harder than where i was, or the mineral composition is different and its just awful. i still notice it years later.

so, that is a consideration - overall quality of water enjoyment.
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: mabrungard on December 13, 2021, 06:33:55 pm
Does a 2:1 ratio seem attainable or is this simply not realistic? I don't mind waiting a day or two to fill an 8 gallon container with a smaller/different unit but would prefer not dumping 2x or 3x gallons of waste to get it. That's the only reason I'm looking at this unit in particular.

The waste ratio has little to do with the equipment.  It has more to do with the incoming water quality and how much water has to be flushed across the membrane to limit or avoid scaling up the membrane.  The typical RO system has a fixed flushing rate based on some 'bad' incoming water quality.  Just because your example RO system provider says they can produce RO with only 2x wastewater, doesn't make it so.  But if the incoming water happened to be softened via an ion-exchange softener, then you can confidently plan and implement very low wastewater rates. 

Please don't believe that promise of low wasting rate.  It's either based on great incoming water quality or it's based on a lie.  It's time for everyone dealing with the typical water equipment provider to understand that they typically aren't very knowledgeable about water issues and treatment and they are VERY interested in selling you EVERYTHING they can.  There is a reputable equipment provider that has replied to this thread, you would be wise to consult them.
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: Bel Air Brewing on December 16, 2021, 04:44:38 pm
We love ours, built in under-counter, with a faucet dispenser at the sink. We change all 3 filter cartridges every 12 months.
There is very little if any waste.
And I have used this R/O water for beer, many times.
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: chinaski on December 17, 2021, 04:32:39 pm
We love ours, built in under-counter, with a faucet dispenser at the sink. We change all 3 filter cartridges every 12 months.
There is very little if any waste.
And I have used this R/O water for beer, many times.
How can there be little if any waste if you need to have the RO filter in the first place?
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: MDL on December 18, 2021, 08:44:52 am
One may want to consider omitting the RO storage tank when implementing a RO system for brewing water. The unit will run more efficiently without the back pressure on the permeate side. You could collect the water in a bucket or kettle or rig it up to a mechanical float valve even.

In my setup I collect 30 gallons of RO water the day before a brew into my kettle. I use a simple RO consisting of a 5 micron sediment filter followed by two 100 gallon per day membranes in parallel. With my real world water conditions and temperature the unit produces about 5 GPM of permeate. There is an Aquatec diaphragm booster pump ahead of the RO to boost incoming pressure to 80 psi.

My well water is treated with ozone to remove the iron, manganese and H2S before the RO system. It is not softened, has TDS of about 300 and temperature of around 50 degrees depending on the time of year.

I replace the pre filter annually. I am still on the original membranes from 2011. Permeate is 4 ppm

The Booster pump is an Aquatec 8800.

You could put together a customized setup depending on your intended use. Brewing water or brewing and drinking water. A place like Buckeye Hydro could help with that and could be a better option than purchasing a prefab drinking water system.

I didn’t purchase my components from Buckeye and am not affiliated. I purchased mine from my local hydro store and assembled myself.







Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: goose on December 18, 2021, 09:58:43 am
Something else to consider if you live close enough to a Culligan or Clearwater supplier of softeners and R/O systems.  Althought I hve an R/O system here with a 8 gallon storage tank which we use for drinking water and for cooking, I usually don't tax it to get enough water to brew with.  My water is extremely hard and has black manganese in it (read really crappy water).

I can go to Clearwater and get 5 gallons of R/O water for $1.50 which allows me to get brewing water either the day before or the same day as I am brewing.

Also it is highly recommended by the suppliers of R/O systems to have a water softener ahead of the R/O if you are using well water so you don't plug up the membrane. As others have mentioned putting a carbon pre-filter ahead of the R/O is also a wise choice.
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: Joe_Beer on December 21, 2021, 06:28:34 am
You could put together a customized setup depending on your intended use. Brewing water or brewing and drinking water. A place like Buckeye Hydro could help with that and could be a better option than purchasing a prefab drinking water system.

You know, I was just thinking about this the other day. I already have a whole-house spin-down, sediment and carbon filter along with cold, softened water coming out of the laundry tub faucet. If I run that water through a simple RO membrane, what would I get?  For $30 bucks I purchased a memrane and housing. I'll give it a shot and see what I get for TDS. I really only intend on using this for brewing and maybe filling a gallon or two a week for drinking water.

Good to know about the pump. Thanks!
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: Joe_Beer on December 23, 2021, 12:28:15 pm
Here's what I have so far. It's hooked up to the softened cold water faucet in the laundry room. The water here is pre-filtered with a whole house sediment (5 micron) and carbon filter.

The RO membrane is a 100GPD off Amazon. It's a generic looking thing that's in a lot of the product shots of various systems. A replacement RO membrane is $20. Both housing and membrane 'kit' came to $35 bucks. I added the pressure gauge and TDS meter for $12 and $20 respectively.

I got everything hooked up and had an 'ah, crap' moment when I was only getting waste output and nothing from the filtered output. I learned what a restrictor valve was and found out I needed to order one separately. I dug up a small ball valve to put on the output hose. I basically closed the valve until I got a constant trickle out of the waste hose. I'm quite certain there's a better choice for a restrictor.

It's been running for about 25 minutes and I have 4-1/2" inches of water in the filtered bucket and 2" in the waste bucket (5 gals). The TDS meter is showing 250ppm on the input and 2ppm for output. This might work.


  (https://imgur.com/vIdwn3Nl.png)
 (https://i.imgur.com/vIdwn3N.png)
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: mabrungard on December 23, 2021, 07:41:19 pm
Be aware that placing a carbon filter at the entry point to your house’s water system can put you in danger. That filter is removing most of the disinfectant from the water and there have been cases where microbes colonize the piping and fixtures in the house. Famous cases of this include the hotel where a bunch of Legionnaires gathered for a convention and many died. Infections like Legionnaires disease are easy to avoid by keeping the protective disinfectant in your water in your water system.
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: fredthecat on December 23, 2021, 08:49:49 pm
Be aware that placing a carbon filter at the entry point to your house’s water system can put you in danger. That filter is removing most of the disinfectant from the water and there have been cases where microbes colonize the piping and fixtures in the house. Famous cases of this include the hotel where a bunch of Legionnaires gathered for a convention and many died. Infections like Legionnaires disease are easy to avoid by keeping the protective disinfectant in your water in your water system.

valuable note. its always good to consider carefully new ideas in homebrewing. i had the thought recently of using cedar wood for flavour in beer. turns out some species of cedar (not all) have toxic elements in the resin held within the wood. the idea is "homebrewed beer is safe", which it is, but once you start playing with more and more elements that can change.



and re: the admittedly cool set up joe_beer has pictured. i regularly just buy 4 litre bottles of RO water when i need it for a brew. its an extra 5 bucks in total for 20 litres, but if i wanted to go cheaper and use the 15litre ones i think it'd be about 3-4 dollars for 20 litres. arguably less money spent than paying for tap water + the setup+ replacement filters. my 2 cents
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: Joe_Beer on December 24, 2021, 03:38:26 am
Be aware that placing a carbon filter at the entry point to your house’s water system can put you in danger. That filter is removing most of the disinfectant from the water and there have been cases where microbes colonize the piping and fixtures in the house.

Thanks! I looked all over trying to find data on POU vs. POE filtration and if CDC/NSF had a list of dos/don'ts related to it but nearly every link ended at a sales pitch for some filtration system. Do you know if the chloramines still left in the water (post carbon filter) provide any anti-microbial benefit? How do people with wells keep their water safe for use? Is it typical to put POU filtration on every faucet and shower head?

Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: MDL on December 24, 2021, 10:54:24 am
That looks great Joe Beer! As far as legionella goes Isn’t too low of a hot water heater temp the concern? Will 140 degree tank temp not kill it?

If you are concerned about bacteria growth in the plumbing after a carbon filter perhaps plumbing in a bypass would allow you to occasionally fill the plumbing with chlorinated water? Though at typical residual disinfection levels of municipal water that may not be high enough to sanitize plumbing with any biofilm growth in it.
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: mabrungard on December 25, 2021, 04:24:18 pm
Do you know if the chloramines still left in the water (post carbon filter) provide any anti-microbial benefit? How do people with wells keep their water safe for use? Is it typical to put POU filtration on every faucet and shower head?

Since the flow rate past the typical carbon unit isn't low enough to remove chloramines, there probably is some residual remaining.  It MIGHT provide some benefit, but the killing power of chloramine is substantially lower than chlorine.

People on well water are at risk for that sort of contamination too.  Thankfully, its pretty rare in all cases...but still possible.  I just wanted our readers to know that there are risks for removing your disinfectant residual.  I'm curious why you're interested in removing that residual?  I find that it's definitely not a problem in the shower, but I can smell my chlorine residual when I draw water from an aerated tap.  It goes away pretty quickly with a puff of breath across my glass.
Title: Re: How do you like your R/O system?
Post by: Joe_Beer on December 26, 2021, 08:18:10 am

Since the flow rate past the typical carbon unit isn't low enough to remove chloramines, there probably is some residual remaining.  It MIGHT provide some benefit, but the killing power of chloramine is substantially lower than chlorine.

Ok hmm.. I see your point. I could replace the carbon filter with another sediment filter I suppose.  Or, remove it all together. Sharkbite fittings are nice that way.

Do you know if the length of run of plumbing makes a difference as far as risk goes with non chlorinated water? In other words, is a point-of-use carbon filtrater any better? These usually have several feet of tubing post-filter. More if going to the fridge for the ice maker. Maybe stuff doesn't grow as easily there?

I just wanted our readers to know that there are risks for removing your disinfectant residual.  I'm curious why you're interested in removing that residual? 

The lack of chlorine in the water is preferred by the longer haired residents of the house. Both scalp, and hair are less dry and brittle. The carbon filtered water just tastes better too. Honestly, it just seemed like an easy fix to get all the water in the house tasting better while also making it simple to run non-chlorinated + softened water through the RO membrane for brewing.


That looks great Joe Beer! As far as legionella goes Isn’t too low of a hot water heater temp the concern? Will 140 degree tank temp not kill it?
If you are concerned about bacteria growth in the plumbing after a carbon filter perhaps plumbing in a bypass would allow you to occasionally fill the plumbing with chlorinated water? Though at typical residual disinfection levels of municipal water that may not be high enough to sanitize plumbing with any biofilm growth in it.

Thanks! I would guess without any chlorine, anything less than boiling for a given amount of time would be a "no" on that but I'm no where near as experienced as Martin in this. Even pastuerizing temps are not effective for removing legionella (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2017.01330/full) so it's one of those things you don't even want to get started. Like wild violets in your lawn.

I thought about a bypass to "flush" things monthly but then what is the metric to know this was effective? Also, depending where/how you tee bypass, there's still going to be a length of plumbing just past the filter (up to the tee) which never gets flushed. So, the more I think about it, it's probably best to just buy a couple POU under the sink filters and change the media every so often.

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