When it comes to hydroponics, people often neglect the importance of water quality in their systems. They get all the proper lighting and nutrients, without realizing that the most important ingredient is water.
To properly grow your crops, you need to provide them balanced nutrients. However, tap water has contaminants that can knock-off the nutrient balance and prevent proper growth. With a Reverse Osmosis (RO) System, you will get perfectly clean and balanced water – ideal for optimal results. The best RO systems will prevent alkalinity, hard water and other undesirable elements.
- How Does a Reverse Osmosis System Work?
- 1. Does Your Water Need RO Filtration
- 2. Mineral Content
- 4. Wasted Water Amount
- 5. Water pH
- 6. Hard Water – Bad for Growth
- RO Growing Systems – 16 Product Reviews
- 1. LiquaGen 4-Stage Hydroponics RO Water Filtration System
- 2. Home Master HydroGardener TMA-HG
- 3. Home Master HydroGardener TMA-HG-Pro
- 4. Home Master TMAFC Artesian
- 5. Hydro-Logic 31035 100-GPD Stealth-RO100
- 6. FS-TFC RO Under Sink
- 7. Hydro-Logic 31040 300-GPD Stealth-RO300
- 8. Hydrofarm AARO312 Two-Stage
- 9. 3 Stage – Hydroponics Reverse Osmosis
- 10. Hydroponic (Plant Growth)
- 11. 4 Stage – Hydroponic
- 12. Express Water Ultraviolet
- 13. AquaFX 610074278870 Barracuda RO/DI Aquarium Filter
- 14. iSpring RCS5T 500 GPD Commercial Grade
- 15. Hydro-Logic 31023 1000-GPD Evolution RO1000
- 16. Aquatec CDP 8800 High Flow Pressure Boost Pump 8852-2J03-B423 100GPD
- Installing an RO Grow System
How Does a Reverse Osmosis System Work?
Reverse osmosis is a process which uses a membrane under pressure to separate relatively pure water from a less pure solution. When two aqueous solutions of different concentrations are separated by a semi-permeable membrane, water passes through the membrane in the direction of the more concentrated solution as a result of osmotic pressure. In simple terms, a reverse osmosis water filter works by forcing water across a semi-permeable membrane, leaving contaminants behind.
Seven things to know when considering the purchase of an RO system.
1. Does Your Water Need RO Filtration
You might be wondering if there is a method to see if you need Reverse Osmosis water. Luckily, there is – all you need to do is measure the PPM of contaminants in your water. If your water is 10 PPM or below, it’s fine. If it’s over 10, you should invest in an RO system.
To take this measurement, you can use an alkalinity meter, an electrical conductivity meter or, the most affordable method, a test kit. The test works by adding a diluted acid which causes a color change in water. The test comes with a color chart, so when you compare it to the color of water, you will know how many PPM the water has.
2. Mineral Content
If you grow cannabis, there are a few things that you should know when it comes to RO systems. Using an RO system can be amazingly beneficial, but it can also make things a bit complicated. RO-filtered water has no minerals, leaving you responsible for the entire mineral content that your plants get. People with experience growing hydroponically are used to controlling the nutrients provided to their plants, but not everyone is willing to put in this kind of work.
4. Wasted Water Amount
Reverse Osmosis can waste a significant amount of water. For every gallon of purified water your reverse osmosis system produces, it will likely have used between two and four gallons, depending on the system you choose. However, compared to other filtrations methods, its advantages may outweigh this issue. RO is the best method for water softening. No ion particles can be allowed to enter through the semipermeable membrane. Also, the maintenance the system may require is simple and can be done when the machine is still operational. Lastly, RO is more cost effective than other methods of filtering water.
5. Water pH
When talking about RO systems for growing, most people tend to mention the pH level of water. The RO process makes the water slightly acidic by removing minerals from water. It’s good for hydroponic plants, which are generally grown in a pH between 5.5 and 6.
6. Hard Water – Bad for Growth
Hard water is another thing that affects crop growth. It’s water that has high mineral content, even if the pH balance is fine. Over time, hard water can lock your plants’ vital elements and prevent the true harvest potential.
Some people use water softeners to handle water hardness. However, they only displace calcium and magnesium ions, while leaving carbonates behind. Besides, water softeners add sodium to the water, which is not what you want for proper growth.
7. Number of Sediments
You might have heard of TDS, which is the Total Dissolved Solids. It measures the total amount of sediments in your water. Those usually include chlorides, sulfates, and magnesium. A high-quality RO system can filter over 90% of these sediments from your water.
RO Growing Systems – 16 Product Reviews
Here is a list of 16 products our experts reviewed.
1. LiquaGen 4-Stage Hydroponics RO Water Filtration System
|Performance||Removes up to 99% of contaminants|
|Original||Manufactured in the USA|
|Advantage||Comes with premium, long-lasting filter|
|3 stage hydroponics system||Polypropylene sediment, RO membrane, and UDF Activated and Coconut carbon|
|50-100 PSI operating pressure|
Several things made us consider this fantastic system for review. At first, it’s 4-stage filtration is amazing. The first filter is Polypropylene sediment, which removes dust and various large particles. It directly affects the lifespan of other filters, especially the RO membrane.
The other two filters are UDF Activated Carbon and Coconut Carbon. They remove chlorine, organic chemicals, and VOCs, while at the same time, they get rid of unpleasant taste and odor in the water. At the end of the system, there is a powerful Reverse Osmosis membrane.
This system operates under the pressure of between 50 and 100 PSI. You can also run it on 45 PSI, but the flow rate will be very low. Also, the system is tested at regular temperatures, so extremely cold or hot water will destroy it.
We are also amazed by how simple it is to install the unit. Besides, it’s economical and easy to maintain and is perfect for city water. If you’ve never bought an RO system for growing before, this unit is your best choice.
2. Home Master HydroGardener TMA-HG
|Main Feature||Removes various chemicals as well as heavy metals|
|Weight||Only 5 pounds of weight|
|Advantage||Built-in Cal/Mag delivery system|
Even the most demanding gardeners are satisfied with this system. It makes the water perfectly pure and provides an optimal, balanced pH.
What we like the most is its innovative design, which successfully eliminates common RO systems’ problems. For example, it won’t bore you with canister filter leaks, bad flow rate or acidic water. You can enjoy it with no fear.
This RO system delivers pure and clean water through several steps. First, it uses catalytic carbon and sediment filtration, then the Reverse Osmosis, and then the Advanced Remineralization. The last step adds between 15 and 30 PPM of calcium and magnesium.
TMA-HG comes with a high-efficiency Reverse Osmosis membrane, which produces around 150 gallons of pure water daily. It also has an excellent waste ratio of 2 to 1. The system also comes with various fittings and connections to make the installation as easy and simple as possible.
With a clear and concise user-manual and 5-year manufacturer warranty, you won’t have to fear the system getting damaged. Besides, the customer support team is available at any time of day, every day. If any kind of problem occurs, they will help you promptly.
3. Home Master HydroGardener TMA-HG-Pro
|Performance||Excellent for well water, can work at 35 PSI|
|Advantage||Comes with a variety of fittings for easier installation|
|Cal/Mag delivery system adds 15-30 PPM of calcium and magnesium|
This filtration system is like an improved version of the previous model. It’s a bit costly but comes with more features. For example, it’s great for any water, including water from wells; the system can operate at pressure as low as 35 PSI.
Also, like the original model, it comes with a nice and precise user manual and a variety of connections. The package includes the under-sink compression feed water adapter and the adapter for the garden hose.
The thing that differs this PRO model from the original is the efficiency of the RO membrane. It provides 130 gallons of pure water daily, at 1 to 1 waste ratio – Amazing! Besides, the filtration is slightly better and the system produces cleaner water. It also comes with a 5-year warranty.
4. Home Master TMAFC Artesian
|Performance||Provides 2000 gallons of clean water|
|Main feature||Removes around 98% of chemicals|
|Advantage||Comes with Fast-Flow RO Kit|
Home Master TMA-FC provided us with a variety of high-quality models through the years, so we have a lot of faith in this system. It offers excellent filtration and restores the natural calcium and magnesium, which are usually removed.
The system features a Fast-Flow RO Kit, which doubles the flow from your faucet while improving water efficiency. The system reduces water waste by around 80% and doubles water production.
All Home Master systems use catalytic carbon filters which remove chlorine. The system is simple to install and requires no maintenance.
5. Hydro-Logic 31035 100-GPD Stealth-RO100
|Performance||Produces around 100 gallons of ultra-pure water daily|
|Main feature||Removes 98% of contaminants|
|Advantage||Comes with Stealth RO100 filter|
If you are looking for the best quality-to-price ratio, this filtration system is your best choice. It uses three filtration stages and produces around 100 gallons of clean water daily. Also, the system works effectively at the minimum pressure of 40 PSI.
It offers a ratio of 2:1, which is better than many RO systems for growing on the market. However, to keep the performance at the maximum level, you should replace filters every couple of months, and RO membrane every year.
The system might be a bit bulky at over 10 pounds. However, it’s not a portable unit, so you won’t have to worry about its weight once you finish the installation. It comes with a clear and concise user manual and their fantastic customer support team is available 24/7. It’s an excellent choice if you are looking for the best quality for your money.
6. FS-TFC RO Under Sink
|Type of filter||5-stage filtration|
|Advantage||Each filter is individually wrapped|
|Performance||Up to 120 PSI pressure|
No matter which system you have, at some point you will need to buy a refill kit. If you own FS-TFC 100G 5-Stage Under Sink Filtration System, this refill kit is the way to go. However, be aware that it’s not suitable for standard 10-inch RO systems.
The kit provides fantastic cleaning and removes up to 99% of contaminants. Besides chlorine, it successfully removes lead, arsenic, bacteria, heavy metals, and similar. It provides perfectly clean water, not only for hydroponics but for drinking as well.
7. Hydro-Logic 31040 300-GPD Stealth-RO300
|Type of filter||Automatic shut-off cartridge|
|Advantage||Comes with wall-mountable metal bracket|
|Performance||Feed flow rate up to 2GPM|
If you are looking for a system that can deliver huge quantities of water every day, this unit is your best choice. It delivers a whopping 200 gallons of water and is excellent for large families. This amazing system eliminates 98% of contaminants, with only 25% of water waste.
The system also comes with a useful plug-in-and-use technology. You don’t need any tools for filter-replacement, and there is almost no maintenance. On top of that, the system is an excellent energy-saver. It saves up to 25% of electricity, compared to many similar units.
The unit comes with a strong and durable mounting bracket and a smart auto cartridge. It offers a convenient switch-off technology, which prevents overflow.
8. Hydrofarm AARO312 Two-Stage
|Type of filter||Economical 2-stage system|
|Advantage||Ideal for small volumes of clean water|
|Main feature||Works with Aaro701 and Aaro610 replacement filters|
This relatively small RO system is ideal for producing small volumes of water on demand. It comes with a heavy-duty carbon block which provides excellent filtration. You can choose between two different replacement filters, depending on how much money you want to spend.
This system comes with a heavy-duty mounting bracket and weighs less than 5 pounds. Although pretty light, AARO312 is a strong and durable system, with an extended lifespan. However, it’s primarily made for chlorine removal. If you want the ultimate-filtration, this system won’t suit your needs.
9. 3 Stage – Hydroponics Reverse Osmosis
|Type of filter||3-excellent membranes|
|Advantage||Comes with transparent cartridge|
|Main feature||Optimized mainly for plants|
This Oceanic system provides excellent 3-stage filtration. First, water goes through a sediment filter, which removes particles of 5 microns in size. Then, the water goes through the coconut carbon block, which removes unpleasant taste and odor, as well as cloudiness in water.
In the end, the water passes through a RO membrane, which removes selenium, fluoride, manganese, cadmium, barium, and other minerals.
Another fantastic feature that this system offers is a transparent cartridge. Simply look at the cartridge, and you will know if it’s time for a replacement. The system also comes with a garden hose, wrench, and Â¼-inch tubing.
10. Hydroponic (Plant Growth)
|Type of filter||4-stage filtration|
|Advantage||Comes with a rubber ring to prevent leaking|
|Main feature||Removes over 1000 contaminants|
|Application||Ideal for plants|
The first thing that caught our attention about this system is its filtration ability. As the company states, it can successfully remove over 1000 contaminants, including heavy metals, chlorine, lead, and bacteria.
Besides, the system can work at very low pressure, down to 30 PSI. It also increases delivery pressure at the garden hose at least two times. On top of that, the permeate pump requires no electricity to operate.
The system has four filtration stages. Besides the sediment and carbon block, there is also a GAC and a Reverse Osmosis membrane. It can deliver around 150 gallons of clean water every day.
11. 4 Stage – Hydroponic
|Type of filter||4-stage filtration|
|Advantage||The system comes pre-assembled|
|Main feature||Removes bad taste and odor|
This filtration system significantly helps your water get rid of bad taste and odor. We tested it with very contaminated water, and it came out perfectly clean. It comes with 4-stage filtration, which includes two carbon blocks, a sediment filter, and a Reverse Osmosis membrane.
Besides, the system is pre-assembled, which means very easy installation. It comes with a concise manual, but you won’t even need it. After a couple of minutes, your system will be installed and ready for use.
The system works at casual pressure, which ranges from 50 to 100. Also, it’s made to work under normal temperature, so don’t use it with extremely hot or cold water. Although it comes with a warranty, it doesn’t cover problems caused by improper use.
12. Express Water Ultraviolet
|Type of filter||360-degrees swivel faucet|
|Advantage||Deliver 100 gallons of clean water daily|
|Main feature||Filters over 100 major contaminants|
|Warranty||Comes with a 1-year warranty|
This Express Water RO system is ideal both for plant growth and health improvement. It delivers clean and safe water for the whole family. Besides, the system comes with a 1-year warranty, which guarantees its quality and long lifespan.
Another nice thing is that the system features a powerful UV sterilization. It removes Escherichia coli, as well as various bacterias, viruses, and microorganisms.
With around 28 pounds, the system is a bit heavy. However, it’s amazingly simple to install, and comes with a very clear user-manual. Also, you don’t need to do any refilling or re-activating. When the tank gets empty, the system will fill it up automatically.
13. AquaFX 610074278870 Barracuda RO/DI Aquarium Filter
|Type of filter||Quick-connect fittings|
|Advantage||Deliver 100 gallons of clean water daily|
|Feature||Heavy-duty aluminum mounting bracket|
|Performance||Allows you to add 100 GPD with PiggyBack|
AquaFX Barracuda sells their system in a few variations. For example, you can choose between 50 and 300 gallons per day, choose supply type, and carbon type. Therefore, you can get a system with a kitchen faucet adapter, inline sink adapter, hose adapter, and a few more options.
You can also choose between the standard carbon block, chloramine blasters, and high capacity carbon. Of course, all of the additions will increase the final price.
The system comes with a fantastic, 1-micron sediment filter. It is hand-built in their shops and is never outsourced. It comes in a nice package, which also includes a 10-inch canister filter wrench, and 6 feet of supply, drain, and product tube.
14. iSpring RCS5T 500 GPD Commercial Grade
|Type of filter||Dual-flow RO membrane|
|Main Feature||11-20 gallon optional storage tank|
|Performance||Delivers up to 500 GPD|
iSpring RCS5T is a lot different than most RO filters. What makes the big difference? It’s the special dual-flow RO membrane, fueled by a strong electric booster pump. The pump results in the membrane receiving water from both sides of the housing, which allows an extremely high water delivery. The system can deliver up to 500 gallons of water every day!
This RO system is designed for high-demand environments but is also an excellent choice for restaurants or small businesses. It’s a bit heavy but still compact and easy to install and maintain. iSpring RCS5T is an excellent investment in the long run!
15. Hydro-Logic 31023 1000-GPD Evolution RO1000
|Main Feature||Polypropylene construction|
|Performance||Delivers up to 1000 GPD|
|2:1 water waste ratio|
First, let’s mention the system’s incredible ability to deliver lots of water. It’s able to provide up to 1000 gallons per day, which makes it ideal for multiple purposes. However, production is affected by water pressure and water quality.
Hydro-Logic 31023 is an efficient system. It has a 2:1 water waste ratio, and all the systems that waste below 4:1 are considered efficient. Besides, it’s very easy to install and doesn’t weigh too much. It comes with a nice user manual, but you probably won’t even need it.
16. Aquatec CDP 8800 High Flow Pressure Boost Pump 8852-2J03-B423 100GPD
- Manufactured in the USA
- Fits most Reverse Osmosis systems
Many plant growers face the problem of low flow-rate at some point. That’s why we decided to test this awesome booster pump and give you our impressions.
The pump is compatible with most RO units. It’s manufactured in the USA and made from strong, durable materials. Also, it requires no maintenance and is incredibly easy to install. If you are struggling with low flow rates, you should consider investing in this pump.
Installing an RO Grow System
Installing a RO system differs between units. However, let’s check a few basic steps that every installation includes.
First, check your user manual and look for a specified height for the assembly kit. Hang the assembly kit and turn off the valves for hot and cold water. Then, install the valve that comes with the unit.
You will notice that there is a colored supply line. Cut it to size to make sure that it doesn’t get twisted, and fasten the plastic tubing to the supply valve. If you are not sure what to do, most likely there are pictures in your manual. Use them as a reference.
Then, you need to attach the system lines to the faucet base. You will also notice black waste lines, but they are not connected to the supply. Those lines prevent potential sink backups.
Then, you need to install the drain line adapter. After you install it under the sink basket, simply cut the waste line, and push it into the adapter. The parts might be a bit fragile, so be cautious not to apply too much force.
After you set the storage tank in the proper position, install the final line. Sterilize the system according to instructions in the manual, and that’s it. Your system is installed and ready for use!<h2″>Frequently Asked Questions
Is Reverse Osmosis Water Necessary for Hydroponics?
The idea of Reverse Osmosis is to get the ideal water base for proper nutrition. It is not necessary, but greatly affects the nutrition balance that your plants get.
Is an RO System Worth It?
Yes, it is. It might seem like a big expense at the start, but it will pay off after a short period.
Is Reverse Osmosis Water Safe to Drink?
Yes, Reverse Osmosis water is perfectly safe to drink. The RO process removes contaminants that can be harmful, however it also removes the essential minerals, creating so-called “dead” water.
How Often Should I Maintain my System?
Reverse Osmosis systems require almost no maintenance, which makes the usage very simple. You only need to replace filters every couple of months, and that’s it! Replacing the filter is very simple to do, and you don’t have to be a DIY expert or a skilled plumber.
As you can see, getting a Reverse Osmosis system for growing your hydroponics has numerous benefits. You might need to invest a bit more in a high-quality system, but it will pay off in the long run.
If you need high volumes of pure water every day, the best choice is HydroLogic 31023. On the other hand, if you are looking for the best quality to price ratio, HydroLogic 31035 is the way to go.