Reverse Osmosis good, bad, and ugly?

About ten days ago I decided to replace my 10 year old Culligan reverse osmosis system (that costs $20/mo and is close to 10 years old now)with something modern hopefully better and cheaper. My only issues with the current system are the monthly charges and water flow rates a bit less than I would like. After 10 days of surfing, googling, reading ebay ads and other web sites I am almost ready to buy.
If there is a good place on the web to fully discuss Water filtration and reverse osmosis systems, I have yet to find it. Many sites are good but limited, Waternet.com for example has a forum for water treatment professionals that seem happy enought to split any technical hairs brought up, but they don't like to talk about who makes a good product or who sells it cheap. Other sites do well in explaining all the nuts and bolts. I am posting here to get a few consumer issues out in the open, and get some experienced comments.
Good. Reverse osmosis water systems are now a mature technology, and good systems are fairly cheap and easy to install. A basic system consists of two or three filter bodies that accept a variety of standard sized 10" filters, the RO membrane, a storage tank, and the various plumbing bits to hook up to the cold water line and the drain, plus a faucet if desired (I just use the fridge for now). Three extra goodies are worth talking about, permeate pump, watergap faucet, and a disposal drain.
Aquatec makes the Permeate Pump, visit them if you want more detail, but the important bit is that it costs about $70, and is powered by the pressure difference between the waste outlet of the RO unit (house water pressure) and the drain (no pressure)and pumps the RO water into the storage tank. This does three really good things; storage tank pressure is close to house water pressure (about double a regular system), RO membrane differential pressure also about double (better filtering, higher flow rates), less waste water down the drain (mostly due to filter flow).
Watergap is made by Arrowhead Brass, and its a kinda pricey faucet ($50 to $100 about), but it combines a water filter faucet with a dishwasher airgap so you don't need to drill a hole in the sink to use get filtered water. Has me dancing in circles, one caveat, current production is suppose to work fine with a RO unit, but older units that some net sellers have say don't use on RO.
http://www.ecotech-dla.com/dla-d.htm makes a $6 universal drain line adapter that may be easier to install in the dishwasher to garbage disposal line than the older saddle adapter to a drain pipe.
Bad. Price and quality information doesn't seem to exist. Ebay is cheapest, local "water" professionals maybe the highest, and indeed what you "need" may vary a LOT depending on local water conditions, especially well water that has a high level of something you want removed like iron (really just means one more filter body with some kind of resin bed like a water softener uses sort of). Even with a lot of items normalized, connector choices and the plumbing adapters can shift the price a LOT, some maybe easier to use, or more durable, but the only discussion I see are from vendors selling their own stuff. Hopefully some of you here will have some suggestions. Lacking that Costco sells a system by Watt with a permeate filter for about $270, and is great if anything ever goes wrong.
Ugly. I just know somebody is going to try and drag this thread into a pointless discussion on the merits or lack of drinking RO water.
Zero waste. I wrangled with this and decided against zero waste. Permeate pump and a AC booster pump cost about the same to buy, with likely a lower lifetime cost on the permeate pump since its a pretty simple device and uses no power. Issues to me are 10 gals or so a day of waste water, vs no extra AC outlet handy under the sink, and perhaps false concerns about pumping 10 or so gal per day of cold water down the hot water line to the water heater, and the same amount of hot water out of the water heater into the cold line (its a loop). This is exactly opposite to the trick of putting a pump with a thermal switch on the farthest faucet that pumps water from the hot to the cold line, so that water doesn't go down the drain while you wait for hot water to come out.
Thanks for your help, and I hope some good info gets into this thread.
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RO are usualy overkill unless you have a proven contaminent other filters can`t handle, you are removing minerals you need with RO and waste water.
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On Tue, 12 Jul 2005 06:56:18 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (m Ransley) wrote:

I am a big RO fan, but I am on a well with water of varying quality, depending on time of year. I would agree they may be overkill on a municipal system but YMMV.
Don't ignore Sams/Costco for a cheap undercounter unit.
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Knowing which filtration system is right for you isn't possible until you determine what's wrong with your water, if anything. Reverse osmosis is great for removing some things but not others, e.g. chloramines.
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Most people on city water would be FINE with a simple inline filter like they sell for icemakers in the fridge, cost no more than about $20 with a bit of shopping and pretty much clears up all the taste issues.
Softwater, love it or hate it, my skin and my family like it. It can put a bit of salt in the water, most of the time not, but once in a while it does.
The 4 to 6 stage filters I am looking at remove everything of any concern to me, be it health related, or just calcium on the coffee maker.
RO water is like softwater, once you get used to it, you either love it or hate it. We like it and use it for all beverages and cooking. Except my son who likes water from the bathroom sink.
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Your "most" and "all" claims are debatable. Here in my part of the country, municipal water is so bad they have to add tons of chloramines just to make it pass state health standards. It smells and tastes like overchlorinated pond scum.
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The right filters and you can drink tasty water from a sewer line. For the water you describe the minimum I would use is a two stage filter, one for the big chunks, and carbon for taste. With a decent quality 6 stage RO selling for $260 at costco, and tap water I have no serious issues of any kind with, it isn't a great leap for me to make. With regular filter changes and a 10+ year system life, its like $3 a month for all the clean tasty water I want.
Isn't "most" weaselly enough? My point is that I am not looking for some nitpicking debate. All I really wanted to know is if poeple who buy the $59 RO units on ebay and give the seller 100% positive feedback are getting a much better deal than if I buy the unit at Costco, and to make a post that puts up a summary of the information I have found via lots of looking around.
My goal, and the way usenet used to work is that I could put up the information I had found so far, and get that information refined from knowledgable actuall users or people in the field of expertise. Diluting information with noise may be fun for the idle, but it takes much of the value out of usenet.
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Rick wrote:

Consider a Megahome or Kenmore countertop distiller for $100. If you feed it soft water, it will be easy to clean.
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Have you looked at http://www.waterfiltersonline.com/ ( I'm not affiliated etc,etc,blah blah) I have been slowly replacing my GE r/o system with parts from there. Another thing that permeate pumps do is make the shutoff work on low pressure domestic wells. If your well pressure tank only gets to 50-60 at the top end then the r/o will constantly run.
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