AquaBelle RO-HM-WA5 Reverse Osmosis System
The AquaBelle RO filter system is an excellent example of some of the effective RO systems available in the market today.
Reverse osmosis systems are one of the best ways of purifying drinking water at home. With more than 99% effectiveness, an RO system removes pretty much all the contaminants from the water, including tough ones such as heavy metals, microbial, and viruses – unlike ordinary carbon-based filters, which are only able to filter out chlorine and other chemicals.
The AquaBelle RO heavy metal filter system is an excellent example of some of the effective RO systems available in the market today. AquaBelle itself is a fairly well-known brand in the RO space. They have been around since 1988, and their area of focus is manufacturing residential and commercial water purification systems.
This 5-stage RO system is one of several options they offer, and it’s slightly unique compared to the other ordinary RO systems because it’s been purposely designed to deal with water that’s heavily contaminated by heavy metals and high TDS. It does remove all the other contaminants (sediments, chemicals, and microorganisms) just as effectively as any RO system you would find in the market.
There’s more about it in terms of performance, capacity, and ease of installation, and we’re going to cover all of it in this in-depth review, including the good and the bad. So, let’s get started.
This AquaBelle RO-HM-WA5 RO system has five filtration stages: a sediment filter, an activated carbon filter, a ceramic carbon filter, an RO membrane, and an activated carbon post-filter. Together, these five filters remove more than 100 different contaminants that include all the common heavy metals, microorganisms, and over 50 different chemical substances that the EPA has found to be potential carcinogens.
The first stage is a sediment filter which is made using polypropylene. It removes all the fine particles and sediments present in the water down to 5 microns – silt, sand, dust, sludge, and even tiny rust particles from worn pipes get cleared out from the water supply at this stage.
In the second stage, the water goes through a 1-micron activated carbon filter which traps most of the chemical contaminants present in the water. It removes chlorine, chloramine, pesticides, and many other chemical compounds. It not only significantly reduce/remove the chemical contaminants but also gets rid of the foul smell and taste caused by these chemicals.
The third stage features the specially designed ceramic carbon filter, which has a 0.5-micron rating and has been effectively blended with an oxidation media. This is the unique part about this AquaBelle RO-HM-WA5 RO system because it’s a special filter that’s purposely designed for filtering out heavy metals, a job which it does so well.
The filter is able to clear out up to 98% of lead, mercury, and cadmium. It equally removes arsenic (96%), barium (96%), cyanide (95%), copper (99%), silver (97%), nickel (up to 99%), and many other metals that might be lurking in the water.
It basically outperforms granular activated carbon filters and carbon block filters in both effectiveness and capacity. It also removes the chemical compounds that the activated carbon filter might not have trapped in the second stage.
The fourth stage of the filtration process consists of the RO membrane, which comprises many tiny pores that filter the water on a molecular level. In this stage, up to 98% of all dissolved solids, both organic and inorganic, including salts (nitrates, sulfates, phosphates, etc.), minerals (calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium), and metals get removed from the water. Iron (98%), manganese (99%), and fluoride (96%) are equally removed at this stage.
The RO membrane also filters out microorganisms such as giardia and cryptosporidium cysts. Moreover, the combination of the activated carbon filter, ceramic carbon filter, and the RO membrane enables this AquaBelle RO-HM-WA5 system to clear out over 50 different chemical compounds, including pesticides, herbicides, VOCs, and pharmaceuticals – atrazine, benzene, styrene, toluene, PCB’s, TCB’s, and THM’s are just some of these chemicals removed by the four filters.
All the impurities trapped by the membrane are flushed down the drain, and the treated water then enters the RO storage tank.
The treated water goes through another activated carbon media from the tank, which serves as the post-filter and helps to polish the water on its way to the faucet. It gets rid of any residual chlorine/chemical taste and odor as well as any sediments or particles that might have been picked from the RO tank.
The water you get from the faucet is clear and very clean, with no foul taste or smell whatsoever. The system works effectively on both municipal and groundwater supplies. It’s, particularly, a perfect option for filtering water that’s highly contaminated by heavy metals or has high TDS levels. It works effectively too, in removing fluoride and chemical contaminants, besides just the usual chlorine taste and smell.
Filtration Capacity and Efficiency
The Aqua Belle RO system can process up to 75 gallons of water per day which is an adequate capacity to meet the water needs of medium-sized to large families with average daily water usage. Most standard RO systems tend to have a maximum production rate of 50 GPD. Therefore, if you have a small family and your daily water usage is high, this will be ideal.
The system comes with a holding tank with a capacity of around 3.2 gallons which is pretty much the standard capacity of most RO holding tanks. It’s decent enough to ensure you get a steady supply of water, plus the tank is equipped with an automatic shut-off valve, so the system stops once the tank is full.
In terms of efficiency, the Aqua Belle RO system doesn’t really perform so well. It wastes about 3 to 4 gallons of water to generate one gallon of clean water. This is the same ratio you would get from a standard RO system, meaning that you can expect your monthly water cost to go up when you have this system installed.
It can comfortably withstand pressures of up to 125 psi, so you can install a booster pump if your feed water pressure is low.
Setup and Maintenance
As an under-sink system, the Aqua Belle RO system connects to your incoming cold-water line right under the sink, and it comes with its dedicated faucet for dispensing the purified water.
The installation does need some plumbing or DIY skills because you’ll have to drill a hole for mounting the faucet on your sink if you don’t have one already drilled. Moreover, you may have to alter your plumbing system a little bit, like drilling a hole into your kitchen drainpipe to install the drain clamp, which is probably the most challenging part of the installation process.
The filters aren’t designed to sit on the floor either. You have to mount them on the wall in your under-sink cabinet using the provided bracket. So, you’ll definitely need some basic DIY skills to do all these, or at least avoid damaging the RO system or your plumbing system. If you are unsure of your skills, hiring a plumber to do the installation will save you much trouble.
All the hardware, parts, and accessories needed to set up the system are provided in the package, including 3/8-inch quick connect fittings with color pipes and a canister wrench for tightening and untightening the filter housings in the mounting bracket. An installation manual is equally provided with the system to take you through the whole process.
You should note that this system can only be connected to the cold water supply line – running hot water through it will certainly damage the filters. Also, as mentioned earlier, it can only withstand a maximum pressure of 125 psi.
There’s little to do with regard to maintenance. You are only required to change the filters after some time which is not a difficult process at all as it’s a matter of unscrewing the filter housings, removing the old filter cartridge, putting in the new one, and then screwing back the housings. How often you have to replace the filters will solely depend on your water supply quality and usage level.
The ideal water condition recommended by the manufacturer is a maximum TDS level of 1800 ppm, the maximum iron content of 0.4 ppm, maximum water hardness level of 17 gr/gal, hydrogen sulfide level of 0.05 ppm, and maximum manganese level of 0.1 ppm.
If your water supply meets these conditions, then you would only need to change the filters once a year – except for the sediment filter, which you may have to change after every six months if your water supply has lots of sediments. The RO membrane can last much longer on relatively good water – you may only have to change it after at least two years.
The only unfortunate thing is that there’s no alarm or other way (like a filter life indicator) to let you know when the filters need changing. The only way to know is when there’s a drop in the flow rate of the water, which isn’t quite reliable as it can be a result of many factors. However, you can invest in a TDS meter and keep track of the amount of TDS in your water so that you can be able to replace the filters on time.
The overall quality of the entire unit is quite good. There are no reports of leakages in the filter housings or any of the other connection points. The housings are made of sturdy and durable plastic material, while the mounting bracket that holds them is metal and pretty solid. The provided faucet seems sturdy and durable too. The whole system is relatively compact once set up, hence it would fit inside most standard under sink cabinets.
The Aqua Belle RO system is a very suitable option if you are looking for an RO system that can effectively eliminate heavy metals. If your water supply has high amounts of TDS, then it would be the right system for you too.
We would also recommend it for filtering out fluoride and chlorine from a municipal water supply or generally filtering water with high chemical contaminants.
Its high production rate of 75 gallons of clean water a day makes it a great option for small to large families with average daily water usage. The only major downside is that it does waste a lot of water (up to four gallons per gallon of purified water) to generate clean water.
Aqua Belle offers a 1-year limited warranty on the system, which is pretty decent. Their customer service is good too, so you can get help fast in case of any questions or problems with the system.
Things we like
- Has a large capacity rated at 75 gallons per day
- Comes with a 3.2-gallon pressurized water tank
- Provides maximum water pressure up to 125 psi
- Removes most contaminants to enhance water quality
- There aren’t any complaints about leaking issues
- Backed by a one-year manufacturer’s warranty
Things we don't like
- Waste 3 gallons of water for every gallon of pure water
- A little challenging to install by yourself