Input on whole home RO system from shallow well.

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Steam

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Good afternoon,

I am currently designing a whole home filtration system to supply water from a freshly dug well to my home. I’m looking for input and advice on what I have come up with so far, and was pointed to this sub forum for the system critiques.

My other thread regarding which pump setup to use to boost the pressure from the atmospheric tank to the home can be found here:

https://terrylove.com/forums/index....ble-setup-for-whole-house-booster-pump.83250/

The well specs are as follows:
A brand new 2” well has been dug to 65’. PH 7, Hardness 31, iron 0.4, sulphur 5+, slight tannin, TDS 599. The driller’s 1hp temp pump was pumping 23 gpm.

From there the plan is:
220v Gould j15s (with psidekick?) at well, 5-6’ above water table, pushing 150’ to home
Sediment filter
1.5 cube water softener
2000-4000 gpd reverse osmosis
~500 gallon atmospheric holding tank
Ozone in tank
Repressurization pump with psidekick
2 cube Calcite filter (highest gpm possible)
2 cube carbon backwashing filter (same)
UV filter
Line in to the home

The list above is in tentative order. Would you change it? This is my current plan, please let me know if you see anything that needs to be changed.
The pump sits about 5-6’ above the water table, next to the well, and will push water about 150’ to the filtration system (I will also be adding a tee for irrigation.)
The water will pass through a sediment filter, then water softener before going through the RO filter, which requires ~12gpm flow, and has between 50-75% efficiency.
From there the water depressurizes as it enters the atmospheric tank which will have an ozone bubbler to help the carbon filter with the sulphur.
At this point, I’m either going to do a submersible or standard booster pump which will repressurize the system to go through the calcite and carbon filters, and finally the UV filter and into the home.
The RO will be controlled by a float switch system, and the well pump will be on demand.
The well side *should* only run a few hours a day and in one or two cycles as it refills the storage tank, and also when the softener needs to be washed or irrigation use.
The house side will run whenever we need water, so it will cycle pretty often, and that’s where I currently am.

Does that setup make sense? Would you rearrange/change anything? This is probably the 4th or 5th time I’ve redesigned it, with input from my neighbor (25 acre hydroponics farm with full RO system), and three different water system companies.
 

Otto Mation

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Most folks around me that have whole house RO systems do not have softeners. I would think that would be one of the best benefits of a whole house RO, not having to buy and deal with salt. Those of us that do have softeners for the house use a smaller RO system for the kitchen.
 

ditttohead

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Softener pre-filtration is not typically needed for this application, the cost simply does not make sense most of the time. Why are you wanting to do whole house RO? Your water looks fairly easy to treat to an acceptable level. A drinking water RO would be recommended of course. Whole house RO is fine, just a little more complex than most people need.
 

Steam

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Hi Dittohead and Otto Mation, thank you for the reply. The thought process for the softener pre-RO is to help prevent scaling and prolong membrane life in the RO, as they’re pretty expensive. I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to include it, and may decide to wait until the first membrane change to see how long they last without it. Are you familiar with whole house RO? What level hardness do you believe is the tipping point between a softener and membrane life?

We chose whole house RO mostly out of peace of mind. There have been reports in our area over the years of water contamination from industrial and ag, and we don’t want to take any chances with our children. All of our neighbors have either RO or a several filter system to remove the sulphur, tannins, etc, and I personally prefer the results from the RO over the others. It’s probably overkill, and were it just me I’d probably drink straight out of the ground if it weren’t for the strong sulphur, but we don’t want to take that chance with the little guys.
 
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Otto Mation

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What level hardness do you believe is the tipping point between a softener and membrane life?

I'll leave the technical answer to the experts on this forum. That being said, our water has a hardness of around 175 GPG or about 3000 PPM. That is a lot. For the most part the folks that have whole home RO systems have a contract with a very large name water treatment company and they lease them. The unnamed water company services them every 3 months, if you call them, as part of the contract. What they do, I have no idea but it is whatever it takes to keep it running. The rates are exorbitant in my mind. The well is mine, the electricity to get out of the ground is mine and they want $375 per month to clean it. I don't think so.
 
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Steam

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Wow, that seems like really high hardness. The recommended maximum for our system is 60, so at half that I’m unsure if the softener is needed, which is why we may wait until the first filter change.

The RO system we’re looking at is between 2-3,100, depending on who we go with. Single or dual 4040’s, depending on 2 or 4500 gallons per day. At $375 per month, our system would pay for itself in just over 8 months. I’d rather buy :)
 

ditttohead

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You are totally justified, if you have concerns and a decent budget then a whole house RO is fine. I just hate to see companies that push them with scare tactics.

I design many different designs of whole house RO, from cheap junk to completely overkill. I prefer going to the middle with acceptable pricing, no junk, and very functional.

As to the softener, it is hard to justify for a multitude of reasons. Consider that softeners use salt to remove hardness which can greatly increase the membranes life. membranes used to be very expensive but now they are fairly inexpensive.

Now the fun math lesson :)

Hihger hardness means softeners use more salt, lower hardness less salt. Higher hardness softener is more important but the higher cost of salt, maintenance, the initial cost of the softener and the annoyance of filling the salt tank all have to be calculated.

No absolute math works for this equation but here is a simple example and I am sure someone will PM me to tell me that their experience is different... sigh, trust me I already know, I am just generalizing to try to explain the "softener or no softener".

4 people in a house use approximately 7200 gallons per month, with an RO that will up your water usage closer to 12,600 gallons per month.
12,600 gallons per month X 20 grains = 252,000 grains removal, /24,000 = about 10.5 cubic feet of capacity per month x 8 pounds per ft3 = 85 pounds of salt per month, or just over 2 bags of salt, now assuming salt in 40 pound bags is about $5-7 not including the time to drive to the store, drive it home etc, this is about $15 per month. The initial system cost adds another $700 minimum for a decent properly sized softener.

Now assuming membranes are $300 each, So at almost $200 a year in salt and another $700 up front, in order to double your membranes life from say 1 year to 2 years, hard to justify. You can also add an anti-scalant injection , while not as good as a true softener in most water conditions, it is still an excellent way to protect membranes, lets say this will cost about $0.0003 cents per gallon treated with an initial cost of $800 including 1,000,000 gallons worth of anti-scalant.

Sorry for the long post, just lots of information, and I am in no way opposed to softening ahead of RO membranes, many of the water samples I run through the design software require softening, but this is rare.

Decreasing the Ro efficiency can also greatly increase the membrane life, and since you are on a well and water is a renewable resource, in areas that have plenty of water this is rally not an issue.

Hope this is helpful,
 

ditttohead

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Wow, that seems like really high hardness. The recommended maximum for our system is 60, so at half that I’m unsure if the softener is needed, which is why we may wait until the first filter change.

The RO system we’re looking at is between 2-3,100, depending on who we go with. Single or dual 4040’s, depending on 2 or 4500 gallons per day. At $375 per month, our system would pay for itself in just over 8 months. I’d rather buy :)


Be careful, most of the online companies are trying to outdo each other by selling the lowest cost RO's. We build many of these and they are absolute garbage. Carbonator motors on 4x40's, line pressure, etc.
 
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