An under sink reverse osmosis system is an affordable option that is certified to remove contaminants like arsenic and fluoride, two contaminants that a regular carbon filter cannot effectively remove. There are several different brands of under sink reverse osmosis filters, so the decision process can easily become overwhelming. But if you want quality at an affordable price, the iSpring RCC7 is definitely worth your consideration.
What is the iSpring RCC7?
The iSpring RCC7 is an under sink reverse osmosis system that that is intended to install at your kitchen sink to provide pure water for your drinking and cooking needs. At the current price of $188 (5-stage model), this system is very reasonable. You will only pay approximately once per gallon of filtered water, which is about the same cost as a standalone carbon filter that will not remove inorganic compounds. It’s a whole lot cheaper than only buying bottled water, that is filtered using the same reverse osmosis process that the iSpring would provide at your house.
The iSpring RCC7 (5-stage model) comes with the following filters and accessories:
- Sediment & Rust Pre-filter
- Two Carbon Pre-Filters to remove chlorine, disinfection by-products, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Reverse Osmosis Membrane
- Inline Carbon Polishing Post-Membrane Filter To Remove Any Potential Tastes & Odors From Storage Tank
- Brushed Nickel Lead-Free Faucet
- 3 Gallon Metal Storage Tank For Filtered Water
- Automatic Shut-Off Valve When Storage Tank Become Full & Leak Detector
- Changing Wrenches To Replace Filters
- Food-Grade Plastic Tubing
- Quick Connect Fittings To Make Installation & Filter Replacement Easy
If this important to you, nearly all of the RCC7 is produced and assembled in the USA! I checked with iSpring customer service, who said the sediment filter is imported from Taiwan. Otherwise the remaining filters and system are made domestically.
To me this is a huge plus because American quality is really important in the water filter market (in addition to creating local jobs). Although mass production is a contributing factor, cheaper systems made overseas are more prone to leaks and also have a shorter lifespan.
Since 2014, the RCC7 also has a waste water ratio of 2 waste gallons:1 filtered gallon. This is a great ratio and similar to other high-quality systems with the average ratio of 3:1.
How The iSpring RCC7 Filtration Process Works
The iSpring RCC7 works similar to any under sink or countertop filtration system, whether it’s reverse osmosis or carbon. Below is an illustration from iSpring to show just what is removed from the water at each filtration stage:
A carbon-only system will only filter water through Stage 3. This means that heavy metals & fluoride do not get removed from your water. Depending on the quality of the carbon filters, fluoride & heavy metals can be reduced but are still present at noticeable levels.
As the above graphic helps illustrate with the 5-stage process, the membrane removes fluoride (up to 96%), heavy metals, and germs. The reverse osmosis membrane removes any total dissolved solid larger than .0001 microns (that’s really small), although one downside of RO is healthy minerals also get removed. The Stage 5 filter is a polishing filter that will remove any bad taste or odor that might have been picked up in the storage tank, so the water tastes great when it comes out of the faucet.
Why Do I Need Carbon Filters For A Reverse Osmosis System?
Call me naive, but when I first started looking into reverse osmosis for my family, I was puzzled with the same question. I thought the membrane filtered everything. Initially designed for cost-effective desalination, the reverse osmosis membrane is composed of thin plastic and is great at removing any inorganic, ionic compound that is larger than .0001 microns. However the membrane will get destroyed by chlorine & it’s byproducts, plus the membrane isn’t as effective at removing organic compounds like fertilizers or pesticides. So the carbon filters are absolutely essential.
What If I Have Chloramines?
More water utilities, thankfully not a majority of utilities, are using chloramines instead of chlorine to disinfect water supplies for various reasons. If your water supply has these, you will need to use catalyzed carbon instead of the standard carbon filters that come with the RCC7 or purchase a 6-stage de-ionization filter (approximately $240) as the ammonia component of chloramines passes through standard carbon and the RO membrane with minimal resistance.
You might be able to find some catalyzed carbon filters on the market for a 5-stage system. The size dimensions are 10″ Length x 2.5″ width. But I recommend contacting iSpring Customer Service to ensure you purchase the correct product the first time.
iSpring Product Specs
Another big question is the size specifications of the iSpring filter housing & storage tank. After all, if this is all supposed to fit under the kitchen sink, will there be space for what is under your sink already?
The filter housing is designed to be hung on a cabinet wall. If space is at a premium, people have installed the filters on the countertop, in an adjacent room, or in the basement. Installation in an alternate location might require the purchases of additional tubing and/or the assistance of a professional plumber.
Dimensions for the filter housing is 14.5″ wide x 6″ deep x 18″ height.
The RCC7 comes with a standard 3.2 gallon tank. If you need a larger tank you can upgrade to a 4 or 11 gallon storage tank.
Product dimensions for the 3.2 gallon tank is 11″ wide x 11″ deep x 14″ height.
The storage tank is metal but the water is kept in a plastic BPA-free liner. So the water never comes into contact with the metal. The top lever on the tank is the tank shut-off valve.
A daunting task for some is the ease of installation of this system. iSpring allots approximately two hours to install the system. Although some owners have said they installed the system in 45 minutes. If you have zero plumbing experience, you might want to hire a plumber.
Below is an installation video produced by iSpring that will help clarify the installation process:
I hope the video has helped you understand how easy (or hard) it is to install the system. It is for a 6-stage filtration system, but is sufficient to the installation of a 5-stage system as well.
Different RCC7 Models Available
There are a couple different models of the RCC7 available that cater to individual needs.
The base model is, of course, the iSpring RCC7 5-stage system that sells for approximately $188.
If you want iSpring to restore healthy minerals in the water after passing through the RO membrane, then the 6-stage alkaline filter (approximately $220) is your best bet. *To restore healthy minerals yourself, you can also add one teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt per filtered gallon.
For chloramine removal or aquarium reefs, the 6-stage de-ionization filter will be your best bet for approximately $238.
An additional add-on to any model is the ice maker kit (approximately $20) that includes 20 feet of tubing to provide your fridge with filtered water to make cleaner ice as well.
Also if your water pressure is below 45 psi, you will need to purchase a booster pump to your system in order to properly and efficiently filter water. Depending on your exact pressure, there are non-electric permeate pumps & electric models available.
Don’t you hate when a product has a low initial cost, but steep ongoing costs. Replacement filters are rather economical and here is the recommended replacement intervals and costs.
You will alternate paying $35 or $70 on average each year for the following replacement schedule:
Sediment & Carbon Pre-Filters replaced every 6 months & polishing post-filter replaced ever 9-12months.
The RO membrane needs to be replaced every two years and costs approximately $35.
*You might be able to get a package deal with a two or three year quantity of filters for additional savings.
**If you have inferior water quality, you might have to replace your filters more frequently.
iSpring RCC7 Pros & Cons
It’s time to summarize what I like & dislike about the system:
What I Like
- Affordable, high-quality system for under $200.
- Higher filtration capacity than some competitors at a slightly lower price.
- Replacement filters are reasonably priced
- Clear Plastic Housing For Sediment Filter (Unique to iSpring) to see if sediment filter gets clogged sooner than 6 months.
- Good user reviews from users. iSpring has also published system updates to address previous design flaws
What I Dislike
- Stage 2 carbon filter is loose, activated carbon & Stage 3 is solid block carbon. This probably helps iSpring attain 75 GPD filtration capability but block carbon (competitors have two block carbon filters) is more effective at removing contaminants but requires more time to filter water.
- Compared to more expensive models, iSpring has more reviews of people that complained about leaks. There are significantly fewer complaints since the latest updates in 2014.
There is a lot to like about the iSpring. I think it is a good buy and you will be pleased with the system. With anything, you should only choose a system you are happy with. Two other comparable systems are produced by APEC and HomeMaster. All three brands are nearly identical, but have some small differences within their products.
In closing, you should choose the system that feels right in your gut. If you choose iSpring, I think you will be pleased.
Have you used iSpring or another filter in the past? What were your experiences?