Reducing the volume of suspended particles will improve system performance in a variety of ways. By using a quality sediment filter, suspended particles will be captured before they have a chance to foul the much more expensive carbon blocks and membrane which will significantly lower the cost of running the RO system.
More importantly, selecting the right sediment filter will reduce the pressure drop. Every filter we add to the system will result in a loss in pressure feeding the membrane. Proper pressure is really important to proper membrane performance and low pressure is easily the most common issue when a RO system is not performing well.
A new high quality sediment filter will have very little impact on pressure. If you select the wrong size or neglect changing them suspended particles will pass through the filter and clog the more expensive carbon blocks further increasing the pressure drop, reduce system performance, decrease the carbon block life span and increase overall operating costs for the RO system.
How do you select the right one? The first step is to select the right micron size. A 1 micron filter is capable of capturing more suspended particles than a 5 micron filter, however, it's also going to clog faster which will increase pressure drop and reduce system performance so there needs to be a balance here.
Sediment less than 5 microns is really tiny and not all that common so in most cases 5 microns would be suitable and a good balance between performance and longevity of the filter. If you are looking for the best performance possible and don’t mind changing this single filter out a bit more often or really want to protect more expensive filters like chloramine carbon blocks a 1 micron filter might be the best option.
There is another option which can make this easier which is called a "depth filter." A legit depth filter has a true graded density which means it might have a couple hundred micron size on the outside and slowly get tighter and tighter as you get to the center. This translates to longer life and fewer change-outs than a standard sediment filter.
There are various qualities of depth sediment filters. Most of the imported versions claim to be "true graded density" but our testing has shown most are fairly questionable as to their effectiveness as a depth filter and they are much closer to a single density filter.
GE produces a higher quality depth sediment filter with a true graded density here in the USA and the difference can be felt in your hand. With their Purtrex brand you can feel a softer feel to the filter almost immediately. It has a woven feel to it and there is some flex to the filter when you squeeze it.
GE also produces a premium filter called the ROSave.Z which has a larger void volume and is specifically designed for use as a pretreatment filter for RO systems with optimal performance and filter longevity. You will immediately notice the filter just feels different in your hand and has a graded density you can literally feel as you squeeze it and there is an obvious flex to the filter created by the void volume and graded density of the filter.
The result is up to 50% lower pressure drop which increases membrane performance and the filter is capable of capturing up to twice as much sediment and suspended particles which reduces the need for filter change outs. If you are looking for the optimal performance balanced with as few change outs as possible and a low pressure drop the 1 micron ROSave.Z is likely the best choice.
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