Author Topic: RO water system  (Read 1845 times)

Offline jmcamerlengo

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RO water system
« on: February 13, 2012, 08:25:16 AM »
I'm looking to purchase an RO water system, or something to get my water down to 0 ppm everything and start with a clean slate.  Anyone have some experience on which systems work best? Certain brands? 3 stage 4 stage de-ionizer? I brew one 10 gallon batch a week so on average Ill need about 20 gallons a week. thanks!
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Offline nateo

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Re: RO water system
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2012, 08:30:31 AM »
I'm sure other people with more experience will chime in later, but I looked into RO systems and decided against it.

What I found in my research is that they use a lot of water (like 3 gallons of waste water per gallon of RO), they need to be left "on" and they don't work as well if you only use them occasionally, and if your water is hard you'll need a softener before the RO unit.

I know a lot of people love their RO units, so I'm curious if I'm wrong about the negatives I listed. 
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Offline hamiltont

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Re: RO water system
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2012, 08:43:36 AM »
I'm sure other people with more experience will chime in later, but I looked into RO systems and decided against it.

What I found in my research is that they use a lot of water (like 3 gallons of waste water per gallon of RO), they need to be left "on" and they don't work as well if you only use them occasionally, and if your water is hard you'll need a softener before the RO unit.

I know a lot of people love their RO units, so I'm curious if I'm wrong about the negatives I listed. 

When I looked into buying an RO system that was my final analysis as well. Much cheaper to fill up 5 gallon jugs at the local grocery store. The only advantage I could see was if someone used a lot of RO water all the time or lived in an area where the cost of buying RO water was prohibitive.

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Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: RO water system
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2012, 09:23:00 AM »
I'm sure other people with more experience will chime in later, but I looked into RO systems and decided against it.

What I found in my research is that they use a lot of water (like 3 gallons of waste water per gallon of RO), they need to be left "on" and they don't work as well if you only use them occasionally, and if your water is hard you'll need a softener before the RO unit.

I know a lot of people love their RO units, so I'm curious if I'm wrong about the negatives I listed. 

When I looked into buying an RO system that was my final analysis as well. Much cheaper to fill up 5 gallon jugs at the local grocery store. The only advantage I could see was if someone used a lot of RO water all the time or lived in an area where the cost of buying RO water was prohibitive.

Cheers!!!

I agree on the 5 gallon jugs, but what about 20 a week? I don't know if carrying 20 gallong jugs of Ro water out every week is gonna be very feasible haha. Unless they have 5 gallon containers I can fill up at a reasonable price?
Jason
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Offline nateo

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Re: RO water system
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2012, 09:30:25 AM »
Unless you have high permanent hardness, I don't really think RO is necessary for brewing. Do you have a detailed water report? 
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Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: RO water system
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2012, 09:33:25 AM »
I currently have city water, but our city is going through some crap for have an insane amount of chloramides in the water. I use campden tabs and boil out temp hardness to compensate but would really like to start with a clean slate and add salts as needed to know exactly where Im at.
Jason
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: RO water system
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2012, 09:42:38 AM »
A home RO system is a good idea in terms of convenience, but may not be ideal in terms of total ownership cost.  In my case, the level of sodium in my municipally softened water was too much for me and my family to handle.  My RO system serves my brewing and the family drinking water needs.  

RO does use a lot of water to make its product water.  Fortunately in a lot of places, water is relatively inexpensive.  A consequence of creating a lot of wastewater from the RO process is that the wastewater mineralization is relatively low and the effect on the environment is lessened.  

Most RO systems come with a pressure-triggered cutoff valve so that they do not run constantly.  When the pressure on the outlet side is high enough, the flow stops and no wastewater is produced at that time.  Nate is correct that you do need to have them hooked up constantly.  You don't really want to hook up a system, use it, disconnect it, and then dry it out.  It should be hooked up constantly to keep the membrane and other filters hydrated constantly.  If you have a concern with water use while its 'off', the user can close the inlet valve and then you don't have to worry about any leakage or waste.  When you need it, open the valve and everything is still hydrated and ready to go.  

If you are storing your RO in a pressure tank, then you can reduce the amount of water waste by including a permeate pump in the RO system.  They improve the pressure drop across the membrane which decreases the water volume wasted.  Permeate pumps are noisy though.  They produce a cyclic thumping noise that might not be welcome if its in your living area.  The other option to improve water efficiency is to pump your water into an open tank.  That way there is less back-pressure on the membrane and that improves the efficiency.  A simple float switch in the open tank can shut off the flow and avoid an overflow.  Of course, you have to move the water from the tank yourself.  

RO does not produce pure water.  There is a little bit of mineralization that passes through the membrane.  It depends on the ion, but there is typically between 1 and 4 percent of the raw water's ions that make it through into the product water.  A typical RO water profile is included in Bru'n Water.  

A RO system should use a good membrane and it should not be a proprietary unit like GE, Kinetico, or Whirlpool if you want to keep your ownership costs low.  The generic systems that include a name brand membrane is generally going to provide you with the same life and service.  A good brand name for membranes is Filmtec or Dow.  Look for those names when scouting for a system.  Ebay has a bunch of system providers and the internet is full of providers.  All the components typically come from the same suppliers and they typically have quality.

A RO system MUST have an activated carbon filter to remove chlorine and chloramine.  Those chemicals will quickly destroy most membranes if left in the water.  A good RO system should include particulate filters to keep grit and debris off the membrane and carbon.  I typically see 1 and 5 micron filters quoted.  A RO system might have a polishing activated carbon filter, but I don't really see the need for that since the raw water went through carbon once.  So, look for a system that says it has 3 or 4 stages.  A 5 stage system may be overkill since that typically includes that second carbon filter.

If the raw water feeding the RO unit is really hard, then it might be helpful to feed the unit ion-exchange (salt) softened water to help extend the life of the membrane.  If there is already a softener in the house, then feed the RO unit from the softener.  If you don't have a softener, don't fret about it.  The high amount of water wasting is intended to help avoid crusting up the membrane with mineral scale.  Feeding the unit hard water isn't a big deal.  

Do have a way to check the quality of your RO product water.  A TDS meter is a good idea for anyone using RO water.  That includes anyone buying RO water from a grocery store machine.  I've seen multiple cases where brewers has problems with their brewing only to find out that the RO water machine was having problems and was delivering untreated water.  The TDS meter is cheap and its your first line of defense against a problem with either your home unit or grocery unit.  

Enjoy!  
« Last Edit: February 13, 2012, 11:05:33 AM by mabrungard »
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Online morticaixavier

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Re: RO water system
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2012, 11:03:15 AM »
I'm sure other people with more experience will chime in later, but I looked into RO systems and decided against it.

What I found in my research is that they use a lot of water (like 3 gallons of waste water per gallon of RO), they need to be left "on" and they don't work as well if you only use them occasionally, and if your water is hard you'll need a softener before the RO unit.

I know a lot of people love their RO units, so I'm curious if I'm wrong about the negatives I listed. 

When I looked into buying an RO system that was my final analysis as well. Much cheaper to fill up 5 gallon jugs at the local grocery store. The only advantage I could see was if someone used a lot of RO water all the time or lived in an area where the cost of buying RO water was prohibitive.

Cheers!!!

I agree on the 5 gallon jugs, but what about 20 a week? I don't know if carrying 20 gallong jugs of Ro water out every week is gonna be very feasible haha. Unless they have 5 gallon containers I can fill up at a reasonable price?

I get my RO water from the machine at the store. it's 0.39 per gallon and I have three 5 gallon jugs so it generally costs me about 4 bucks per brew day. double that for 10 gallon brews
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Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: RO water system
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2012, 11:20:13 AM »
thanks for all the info guys!
Jason
-Head Brewer, Brewtus Brewers in the Shenango Valley. Hopefully opening a brewpub/nano brewery in the next couple years.

Offline richardt

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Re: RO water system
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2012, 11:39:15 AM »
16 gallons of store-bought RO water (for a 10-gallon batch-brewday) x $0.30/gallon x 20 brewdays=

$96/year on water (if you brew your 200 gallon limit).

Then you have to figure your scales/brew salts, time spent using bru'nwater, etc.

I think paying as you go would be cheaper than owning your own RO system ($$$) and buying water-softener salts, and filters periodically.  And, you'd still have to build your water profile for each batch you brew.

Personally, I find it easier to just take 5 bucks and four 4-gallon empty water jugs into the grocery store and fill 'em up.


Offline euge

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Re: RO water system
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2012, 12:04:09 PM »
I installed the under sink Whirlpool RO to compliment my whole house water softener. It ran me about $150 from Lowes. It's not pure but I measure with two different TDS meters and usually it's around 8 ppm. That's essentially pure in my book for drinking and brewing purposes. Tastes great too.

It is wasteful however. I calculate for every gallon produced 9 go down the drain. I am working on designing a solar-still that the effluent can be piped into to reclaim that water.

Also the cartridges are about $100 to replace. :-[ Regardless, as long as the ppm doesn't start spiking upwards and it tastes good then the original filters will stay.

Totally worth it.
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Offline punatic

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Re: RO water system
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2012, 12:16:50 PM »
Have you considered using rainwater?  It is naturally distilled, and as such is very low in TDS.  There is no concentrate waste like with an RO system.  100% recovery!

A food grade system to catch 50 gallons at a time is easy to make.  It doesn't have to be fancy or complicated.  A bit of filtration and it's good to go. I'm betting that the water would be at least as good as that from a store dispenser.  The water will be disinfected during the wort boil, so that is not a concern.
 
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Offline nateo

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Re: RO water system
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2012, 12:25:54 PM »
I use rainwater in all of my brewing.  It is my only source of household water.

Rainwater is a cool idea. I was actually just looking into rainwater collection. The tanks aren't terribly expensive. The biggest I found was a 250 gallon tank for about $250, but you can get smaller ones for less.
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Offline euge

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Re: RO water system
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2012, 12:51:33 PM »
I use rainwater in all of my brewing.  It is my only source of household water.

Rainwater is a cool idea. I was actually just looking into rainwater collection. The tanks aren't terribly expensive. The biggest I found was a 250 gallon tank for about $250, but you can get smaller ones for less.

That would be a great choice for those of us that actually get rain.  ;D We've been in drought conditions for years now. What we do get is totally unpredictable! But, yes I've been looking into that as well. When it does come down in buckets I have to pump thousands of gallons out of my backyard up to the front. Been looking at running a couple 500 gallon tanks in series to reserve some of that water.

So it would be a dual system. Catch what rainwater I can and distill the RO effluent too. Primarily this would be for my plants and vegetables, but can see brewing with it.
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Offline punatic

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Re: RO water system
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2012, 02:13:06 PM »
We get 180" (15 feet) of rain per year here at my house, so the 20,000 gallon cistern overflows most of the time.  150" of rain is considered a drought.   ::)

I'm not sure why you want to distill your RO concentrate euge.  You're running at 10% recovery so the waste is pretty close to the feed, TDS-wise. You could probably use it as you would any household water without noticing a difference. It would certainly be OK for irrigation.
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