Frequently asked question for Reverse Osmosis Systems

UV Disinfection System
Water quality: How is RO water compared to bottled water?
water glass

Just as good or even better. We use the same technology, reverse osmosis (RO), as other major bottling plants use to filter water. Our drinking water has a refreshing taste with a touch of minerals —not like the flat taste of distilled or bottled water. RO systems purify water daily in your home which is more naturally fresh and healthy compared to stagnant water that has been sitting in plastic bottles for many months.

The five-stage system design delivers the most stable and complete RO process for home water purification, and it allows you to manage the unit's performance and ensure the purity of the water to protect you and your family, something that you cannot do with bottled water. This eco-friendly solution also protects the environment from plastic waste as RO users will never have to purchase bottled water ever again!

Tap water safety: I thought my city's tap water was safe to drink?
construction pipe

Cities are in desperate need of replacement from old age and wear. Water contamination can occur at almost any point in the delivery channel including lead leaching from corroded pipe solder, bacteria entering the system from water main breaks, or gardening chemicals back-siphoned from a careless neighbor.

Unfortunately most local and state governments do not have the financial resources to address these very expensive problems now or in the foreseeable future. To make matters worse, most cities also add chemicals like chlorine and fluoride to their water. The truth is, tap water quality in the US will most likely continue to decline in the coming years. The best way to protect your family from the increasingly wide range of contaminants found in today's tap water is by installing a reverse osmosis drinking water system.

RO filtration: How effective is Reverse Osmosis filtration compared to other methods?

RO is the most convenient and effective method of water filtration. It filters water by squeezing water through a semi-permeable membrane, which is rated at 0.0001 micron (equals to 0.00000004 inch!). This is the technology used to make bottled water, it is also the only technology capable of desalinating sea water, making it into drinking water.

Non-RO water filters typically use a single activated carbon cartridge to treat water. They are much less effective, and the pore size on these filter media are much bigger, generally 0.5 - 10 micron. They can filter out coarse particles, sediments and elements only up to their micron rating. Anything finer and most dissolved substances cannot be filtered out. As a result, water is far less clean and safe compared to reverse osmosis filtration. Click for more detailed information on reverse osmosis technology.

Compare APEC RO to others: How are APEC RO systems compared to other ROs in the market?

1) Our systems are designed, assembled, and tested in the U.S.A. using high performance parts: APEC RO systems are assembled right here in California, using premium quality filter components. We are proud to offer WQA certified systems in our ULTIMATE line which have been thoroughly tested and certified to remove a wide range of contaminants. Most other systems in the water industry today are untested systems made overseas using lower quality generic parts (foreign cloned) that break easily, clog up the system in a few months and deliver much lower contaminant rejection ratings.

Original Extruded KX Carbon Block Filters in every Ultimate R.O. System ! 2) Stronger & longer lasting filters: Our pre-filters are patented extruded solid carbon blocks. "Extruded block" consists of activated carbon particles fused into a uniform block with enhanced adsorptive capacity and efficiency. This innovative construction allows water to flow in a radial (outside-to-inside) direction and prevents channeling, a phenomenon that can lead to contaminants passing through the filter. Another advantage of our block media is that they do not release carbon fines that can clog up the system.

Our filters' superior material and design offer much greater dirt holding capacity and reliability when compared with the performance limitations of low quality carbon blocks, disposable or GAC (granular activated carbon) filters used by other brands. We use two extruded carbon blocks in sequence to provide the longest filter service life. While most ROs in the market can filter through only 1500-2000 gallons of water, our systems can fully treat up to 4000-5000 gallons of pure water. This means their filters have to be changed twice as often as ours.

3) Purer water and longer lasting RO membrane - Our High Rejection RO Membranes give the highest contaminant removal rate in the industry: 90-99%, they last 3-5 years easily. Most other membranes deliver only 70-90% rejection, and last only 1-2 years.

4) Most advanced QC Process: Every APEC system is put through a rigorous 10-point quality control process at our California facility to guarantee the ultimate performance and water purity. During our comprehensive testing, we are able to eliminate even the slightest component imperfections to ensure a noise-free, leak-free system with the highest contaminant rejection output.

While the majority of the water industry continues to import RO systems that are mass produced overseas, at APEC we still build and individually inspect every system by hand. This dedication in time, care, and attention to detail can be seen in the build quality of every unit and is a reflection of our commitment to our core values; our goal is to guarantee a premium quality and trouble-free product at your door!

5) Professional grade RO for demanding water qualities: APEC RO systems are specially designed to treat all types of water (tap and well water) while other ROs can treat only certain types of water. Our systems have high allowances for variations in pH (2-11), in water pressure (0 to 100 psi), in sediments and maximum dissolved solids (up to 2000 ppm), in output (45-270 gpd) etc. Meanwhile, the average ROs in the market are limited and could only treat decent water sources. This means if your input water happens to be harder, more acidic, or heavier in dirt than the usual standard water sources, these lesser RO systems will break down gradually, and without knowing, you would be drinking bad water -- your investment will be wasted.

6) Expert support directly from manufacturer: We are the original manufacturer, not just a 3rd party website/dealer. We have been making RO systems for over 17 years, and have developed a strong (and caring) technical support team that is dedicated in serving consumers just like you. We have all the replacement parts and technology to support you for as long as you own our system.

WQA Certification: What is the WQA and what are the benefits of purchasing a certified system?

Click to View Certificate

We are proud to offer premium quality WQA Std 58 Gold Seal certified systems at affordable prices directly to consumers. Only the best systems in the marketplace will become certified to WQA Gold Seal standards.

To receive WQA Gold Seal certification, a RO system must be constructed to meet strict public health standards and pass weeks of rigorous testing for material and parts safety, structural integrity, and contaminant rejection performance. In addition, the manufacturing processes, operational procedures and facility maintenance of the manufacturer are also audited annually to ensure total compliance and accountability. Therefore a WQA Gold Seal certified water system is a strong assurance of product quality, durability, and safety for the consumer.

The Water Quality Association (WQA) is a not-for-profit trade organization representing the residential, commercial, and industrial water treatment industry. As the preeminent voice in the water quality market, the WQA provides leadership and influence at all regulatory levels to benefit the industry and consumers. They also operate an ANSI-accredited product certification program and is dedicated to the certification of water treatment products.

Certified Contaminants Reduction %

  - Arsenic (Pentavalent) 99.0%     - Copper

- Barium
98.8%     - Fluoride 93.8%
  - Cadmium 98.3%     - Lead 96.8%
  - Chromium (Hexavalent) 98.3%     - Radium 226/228 98.8%
  - Chromium (Trivalent) 99.0%     - Selenium 97.9%
  - Turbidity 98.7%    

Click here for a full contaminant rejection table

Volatile Organic Chemical (VOC) Reduction
Carbon Tetrachloride
Dibromochloroproane (DBCP)
Ethylene Dibromide (EDB)
Haloacetonitriles (HAN)
Haloketones (HK)
Heptachlor (H-34,Heptox)
Heptachlor Epoxide
2,4,5-TP (Silvex)
Tribromoacetic acid

Gallons per day: APEC's smallest system makes 50 gal/day, but we don't need that much drinking water!

Yes, we know nobody uses 50 or 90 gallons of drinking water a day. But you have to see this as the "speed" with which the RO system makes the drinking water. For example, a typical RO makes 15 GPD. This means it only produces about 0.6 gallons of water per hour at the standard pressure 60 psi and at the standard temperature 77 °F. So you need to wait at least 5-7 hours for a 3 gallon tank to fill! Not to mention, if your pressure is on the low side, and if it is winter time (average winter U.S. water temperature is only 35°F), then easily you can wait around for up to half a day (12 hours) just for the tank to be filled again! Now you see why a higher quality system needs to take speed into account. Let's take a look at our 50 GPD ESSENCE RO System: it is going to only take about 1.7–3 hours for it to fill your tank*. What a difference! Now you think 50 GPD is a good speed for a system, right!
*actual result depends on your input water pressure and temperature.

RO Membrane Flow Chart

Amount of water produced in 1 hour (at 50 psi & 77ºF)
*Tested in open atmospheric tanks at 50 psi input water pressure and 77ºF input water temperature.

Ultra Violet light: When do we need to add a UV light to our system?
Click to read usage of UV light and when to need it.

The primary use for a UV light is to disinfect filtered water at a certain flow rate. Bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms are destroyed by the UV interfering with the DNA and RNA in the organisms' reproductive cycles.

If you are on a municipal water system (chlorinated tap water) in the U.S., chances are you will not need a UV light on top of our Ultimate RO System. If you are on well water, or if you suspect your water source is unsafe and want to have extra protection, then you can add a UV light to ensure safe drinking water. More info on UV lights.

Shipping Schedule: If I order your system today, when do you ship?

We ship most orders the same day or within 24 hours, because we have most items in stock. Depending on your location, you'll receive the shipment in 2-5 days by UPS ground service. Faster service and international shipping are also available. Please see shipping details here.

Location of System: Typically where can I put this system? In the kitchen? How about the basement?

Typically our systems are installed in the cabinet under the kitchen sink. Our systems are quite slim so they can usually fit inside any cabinet, even if you have a garbage disposal. The storage tank can be laid on its side to save space. You can also install our systems in the basement, garage, or anywhere there is water supply. If you have good water pressure in your home, then you can even run long lines(20-30 ft) from the water supply to the system or from the tank to the faucet. You can order additional tubing cut to your specs here. Please note that our systems come with 4 ft lines for a standard installation.

Easy Installation: Can I install this myself? What if I am unable to?

Our systems are DIY, Do-It-Yourself units that come with color coded tubing, detailed manuals and instructions and are very easy to install. Most of our customers (95%) have successfully installed our systems themselves without any professional help. However, if you really cannot or are intimidated by the task, not a problem; just call on any plumber in your yellow pages and they can install it for you for a small fee.

Simple Maintenance: What is the maintenance schedule and cost?

Models Filters Part Number Replacement Schedule*
Stage 1, 2, 3 Pre-Filters FILTER-SET Every 1 Year
Stage 4 Membrane - 90 GPD MEM-90 Every 3 - 5 Years
Stage 5 Carbon Post-Filter 5-TCR-QC Every 3 - 5 Years
Stage 1, 2, 3 Pre-Filters FILTER-SET Every 1 Year
Stage 4 Membrane - 45 GPD MEM-50 Every 3 - 5 Years
Stage 5 Carbon Post-Filter 5-TCR-QC Every 3 - 5 Years
RO-PH90 Stage 1, 2, 3 Pre-Filters FILTER-SET Every 1 Year
Stage 4 Membrane - 90 GPD MEM-90 Every 3 - 5 Years
Stage 5 Carbon Post-Filter 5-TCR-QC Every 3 - 5 Years
Stage 6 pH+ Post-Filter FI-PHPLUS-QC Every 6 - 12 months
Stages 1, 2 Pre-Filters FILTER-SET-CTOP Every 6 - 8 months
Stage 3 RO Membrane MEM-90 Every 2 - 3 Years
Stage 4 Carbon Post-Filter CT-24CAB Every 2 - 3 Years
Stages 1, 2 Pre-Filters FILTER-SET-CTOP Every 6 - 8 months
Stage 3 RO Membrane MEM-90 Every 2 - 3 Years
Stage 4 pH+ Post-Filter FI-PHPLUS-QC Every 6 - 12 months
ROES-50 Stage 1, 2, 3 Pre-Filters FILTER-SET-ES Every 6 - 12 months
Stage 4 RO Membrane MEM-ES-50 Every 2 - 4 Years
Stage 5 Carbon Post-Filter FI-ES-TCR-QC Every 2 - 4 Years
ROES-PH75 Stage 1, 2, 3 Pre-Filters FILTER-SET-ES Every 6 - 12 months
Stage 4 RO Membrane MEM-ES-75 Every 2 - 4 Years
Stage 5 Carbon Post-Filter FI-ES-TCR-QC Every 2 - 4 Years
Stage 6 pH+ Post-Filter FI-PHPLUS-QC Every 6 - 12 months
ROES-UV75 Stage 1, 2, 3 Pre-Filters FILTER-SET-ES Every 6 - 12 months
Stage 4 RO Membrane MEM-ES-75 Every 2 - 4 Years
Stage 5 UV Bulb UVBULB Every 6 - 12 months
Stage 6 Carbon Post-Filter FI-ES-TCR-QC Every 2 - 4 Years

*Replacement schedule may vary depending on water quality and usage volume.

Buying filters: Do I have to buy replacement filters only from APEC?

We highly recommend that you buy replacement filters from us whenever possible, because only we carry the original, top quality APEC filters made for our systems. Our filters are specifically designed for optimal performance, and only they can provide 100% proven compatibility and long-term reliability with our systems. APEC ROs are built to accept industry standard 10" filters (excluding tankless and some models), therefore other brands will work with our systems; however performance and durability may be affected by inconsistent filter quality. Poorly constructed filters can cause contaminants leaching leading to lower water quality and higher maintenance costs down the road. APEC filters are constructed of materials which are FREE of BPA, lead and phthalates to guarantee the safest drinking water for you and your family. For your convenience, we offer yearly filter reminder emails making reordering filters online fast and simple. With over 20 years of sales and service in the industry, you can trust in APEC to deliver the highest quality support for your system for many years to come.

Moving system: If I move, can I remove the system to bring with me?

This system is very easy to uninstall. There is no need to completely uninstall; just close the water inlet needle shut off, take off the water inlet tubing, and take off the whole system in 5 minutes. You can order a moving-kit from us and just install a new shut off tap at your new residence.

Water Chemistry: Does the reverse osmosis process affect water pH?

In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of a solution. We humans drink a variety of different beverages with varying pH ranges, from highly acidic orange and apple juice (3.3 pH), to mildly acidic milk and coffee (6 pH). Liquids that have a 7.0 pH are considered neutral and anything above that starts to become alkaline. Prior to any chemical reactions in the body, almost all drinks are naturally acidic. Water is an exception and can be both slightly acidic to mildly alkaline and drinking water ideally falls between a range of 6.5 to 8 pH.

Reverse osmosis filtration may or may not reduce the pH level of water at a noticeable amount. The pH difference after the RO depends on the composition of your input water source as well as the amount of gases such as CO2 in your local water supply. Water pH is actually a very complicated subject involving water and open air chemistry.

We have done many laboratory tests on the effects of our RO systems on water pH composition. The Southern California water sources used in our tests were slightly alkaline with an average pre-treatment rating of 8.12 pH. After filtration through our RO systems, the resulting pH averaged 8.06. Our results confirmed the conclusions of others in the scientific community –the reverse osmosis treatment process has very minimal effect on water pH chemistry.

People that wish to increase the pH of their RO water can also easily add an optional calcite filter to increase the alkalinity of their drinking water.

Mineral Content: Is it beneficial to have minerals in drinking water?

This is actually the biggest myth in the water industry. To understand the issue clearly, first we need to examine "what minerals" are in our tap water. If we were to send a sample of water to a testing laboratory, we would get back a report that includes calcium, magnesium, and sodium along with a list of other minerals and contaminants. While some of these mineral are safe and benign, there are also many toxic ones on this list including fluoride, arsenic, chromium and radium just to name a few. Unfortunately there are no filtration systems available that can differentiate between good and bad minerals. Basic carbon filter systems will leave in all the minerals, including the highly toxic and radioactive ones. On the other hand, RO systems will remove 90-99% of these undesirable contaminants.

The truth is the majority of healthy minerals our bodies need come from the food we eat and not from drinking water. The main concern with water is actually over toxicity, not mineral content. Whether water contains 1 or 100ppm (parts per million) calcium isn't really important, but the difference between 1 and 100ppm arsenic is of grave importance.

Membrane Maintenance: How much water is used to flush and clean the membrane?

All APEC RO systems use quality reverse osmosis membranes which offer long lasting performance and reliability. These membranes use a process known as "crossflow" which allows the cartridge to continually clean itself during water filtration. It is this innovative feature that allows our membranes to routinely last from 3-5 years between replacements while still providing 90-99% rejection ratings to deliver exceptional value and performance.

The water used to wash and treat the membrane is known as RO rinse water and is normally directed towards the drain. However many RO owners do reuse this water in their gardens, swimming pools, aquariums or for many other general household purposes. The rinse to product water ratio will vary depending on water conditions and the type of system, but normally falls between a 3:1 (undercounter) to 2:1 (countertop) ratio for open tank situations. For a small household, that is the equivalent of an extra 2-4 toilet flushes a day of used water.

ULTIMATE series: How is the ULTIMATE product line different from APEC's original Ultra line?

APEC's ULTIMATE product line is a new and improved version of our original Ultra line. Officially renamed to ULTIMATE, this line now uses upgraded Quick-Connect fittings for easier system, installs & maintenance. The primary filters and housings have not changed, therefore if you own an Ultra system (Pre-MAY 2013) you will use the same replacement filters as the ULTIMATE series. The system model numbers are also unchanged and can be used for easy system identification. The ULTIMATE models include: RO-90, RO-PH90, RO-PERM, RO-PUMP & RO-CTOP. If you have any questions about this change please feel free to contact us directly.