Best reverse osmosis faucet replacement

Having a reverse osmosis faucet is necessary in owning a RO system at home. Unfortunately, it is also the part that is likely to be replaced (the other being the pipes or tubing!).  The good news is that a reverse osmosis faucet is not expensive and can be purchased for cheap. Here are some of the better models that I have considered in the past when I was replacing mine. Hopefully, this will help you in your own research about a reverse osmosis faucet replacement.

Reverse osmosis faucet comparison

For readers who want a quick summary, here is a comparison chart to help you along. For more detailed reviews, continue to read below.

Brand Air Gap NSF Standard Lead Free
Watts Premier 116101 Yes Yes Yes
APEC No Yes Yes
Crystal clear faucet No Not stated Unknown

*Prices may be subjected to changes based on different stores, promotions etc.


Reverse osmosis faucet buying guide

Before recommending you the models, it is best to understand what to look for when looking for a faucet replacement. Below is what I considered to be the most important to ensure a smooth transition with out any future problems.

  • Air gap is required: Basically, a faucet will mention whether it is a air gap or non air gap model. The former means that it has preventive measures to avoid the water flowing backwards into the reverse osmosis tank and contaminating it.  A faucet without an air gap will require constant pressure to avoid back flow of water. This requires another installation trip that I want to avoid. Hence, my most important feature to look for is to have an air gap since my existing faucet has one.  Note that you need to check your own set up to see if an air gap is necessary. 2 holes = no air gaps. 3 holes means you need an air gap. Mine is three.
  • Non lead pipes: I prefer my faucet to contain zero lead materials. Granted. Most of the houses build in and before the 1980s probably used lead pipes but since my house is new, I want to keep everything lead free when it comes to drinking water.
  • Finishing: This is not for me but my wife prefers something that matches the current sink colors. Most reverse osmosis faucets come in either brushed nickel or chrome. There are slight differences in these colors so do take a closer look before you purchase.


Editor Choice: Watts Premiere 116101 faucet is my personal best choice

Reverse osmosis faucet replacement 1This Watts Premier 116101 is the model that I have purchased after considering all others. I am not saying it is the best in every single dimension but for my needs, there is no other better choice.

The most important thing is that it has an air gap, which saves me the trouble of doing any additional installation work, just to ensure there is no back flow of water into the reverse osmosis systems. If you don’t need an air gap, you need to buy the 116102 model instead.

The quality is pretty high as it is made of brushed nickel. It also comes in multiple colors so it was easy for the wife the pick the option that matches our kitchen sink. You know how women like these things to be perfect!

Design wise, the faucet has 3 different ways to control water. For continuous flow, simply push the lever up. For filling up glasses, simply press and hold to avoid wasting water. The central position is to stop any water flow.

I have used this for a couple of months now and it still works flawlessly. The only flaw was the lack of clear instruction. I had to watch a youtube video to know how to install this properly. Other than this, my family was happy with the purchase.

On a side note, there are 2 models for the Watts 116101. The older version has a flat top while the new one has a rounded dome. They work essentially on the same mechanics and are different for the design.


APEC reverse osmosis faucet review

APEC reverse osmosis faucet reviewAPEC is famous for its RO water filter system. In fact, I recommended one of its model as having the best counterop reverse osmosis system in the market during my previous write up. Hence, I am always looking to examine its reverse osmosis accessories to see if they are any good. If not for the fact that I need a air gap faucet, the APEC model would be my editor’s choice.

Being a RO company, the APEC has always ensure a chemical free drinking system and this applies to its faucet as well. It is made with no lead materials and has achieved NSF Certified Standard No.61, which is a standard for sanitation and safety.  If you already have an APEC Ro system, buying this is a non brainer.

The build quality is very good. There are no leaks, drips etc that might happen with poorer quality faucets which might be cheaper. Installing it is pretty easy, from the video I have seen on Youtube so it shouldn’t pose any big problems for you. Overall, I think it should last pretty long based its build quality.

Design wise, it is sleek and the brushed nickel finish makes it looks extremely elegant in the kitchen. Your wife will have no complaints about it being ugly or otherwise. Operating it is a simple up down switch.

In summary, this is just a great product, and would be my choice if not for the air gap issue.


Crystal Clear reverse osmosis faucet review

RO faucet replacementCrystal clear faucet is another great choice for a non air gap faucet.  According to the reviews, it works pretty well without leaks or drips. The finishing is high quality and look very polished from a design perspective.

The reason I didn’t buy this is because: (i) I want a reverse osmosis faucet with air gap and (ii) it didn’t state clearly whether it is meeting NFS standard for sanitation.  More importantly, I am not sure if it contains zero lead. All these unknown is what makes me rates is below the APEC model.

Another negative aspect is the lack of clear instructions on how to install this thing. I have read some reviews stating how much of a hard time they had because the instructions givens is so minimal that it might as well be useless. Of course, if you are good at DIY plumping, this should be a no brainer but for those who are not, prepare to watch some youtube videos!

Despite these short comings, it still perform much better than those plastic faucets which I don’t recommend any of you to purchase. They might be cheap but they can also cause a lot of problems like leaking etc. It is better, IMHO, to spend a bit more but get a high quality product that can last you for years.

Hot and Cold Reverse Osmosis Faucet

In order to have both hot and cold water delivered through your reverse osmosis system, you’ll need to install a special faucet with both hot and cold capabilities. These faucets are easy to detect since they have at least two handles or knobs and they should specifically say if they’re “Reverse Osmosis Safe”. Most of the faucets with this function are plastic however some companies are offering metal versions that look like a traditional faucet and that will blend with the other plumbing fixtures in your home.

Reverse Osmosis Faucet with an Air Gap

Reverse Osmosis faucets with an air gap differ from the standard faucet in both installment and functionality. The air gap faucet serves the purpose of preventing a stopped-up sink drain from expelling water backward into the unit. This is accomplished by routing the water upward instead into a small basin that’s built into the base of the faucet. Expelled water then flows to the other side of the faucet stem and into a hole and then a tube by gravity ultimately creating a siphon break for the drain line. Since water back-up is a frequent issue with reverse osmosis systems, some plumbing codes require an air gap faucet if a reverse osmosis system is going to be used.

Faucets with an air gap do however have their downsides one being that they require three tubes instead of the typical single tube due to the redirecting of water drainage. Therefore, the faucet itself has a wider base and will need a larger hole in the sink and slightly more complicated installation. Many people have also complained that the faucet is noisier than standard faucets.

Typically, air gap faucets are most commonly used for reverse osmosis systems that are installed under a kitchen sink. They’re not recommended if the system is not installed near the faucet since it would be difficult to have it connected to the drain line. For these systems, it would be better to use an external air gap device or a check valve to discourage the backing up of water.


Types of Materials for Reverse Osmosis Faucets

Reverse Osmosis faucets come in a variety of finishes or materials so that you can easily match them to your other plumbing fixtures for consistency. The exact options vary depending on which faucet you choose, but the most common options are:


Hot and Cold Reverse Osmosis Faucet

The dual purpose RO faucet is designed to work with both the hot and cold water tap to give an easy flow of the hot/filtered water.

Most of the 2-in-1 faucets are universal in design and able to work with most types of water filtration systems. The installation is relatively easy and relies on an independent tube to deliver the RO water and a standard connection to connect to a hot tank to deliver both the cold and hot water through a single faucet.

They are a great choice to install in kitchens where it isn’t practical to add a second faucet to use with the filtered water system.  A great feature is a 360° swivel spout to make it easier to use with a double sink, while a self-closing hot handle is a useful safety attribute.

Also, they give useful flexibility in style choices and include European, contemporary and classic designs in a range of colors to easily complement the existing sink hardware. However, they don’t work with all hot tanks, so it is important to make sure the preferred faucet has the connections to match your equipment at home.


Reverse Osmosis Faucet with Air Gap

The RO faucet with air-gap is a step up from the standard non-air gap unit. This type of faucet is intended to be used with the under-sink reverse osmosis units. It isn’t necessary to use the air-gap faucets with filters because there is no practical need to have the air gap in place.

The role of the air-gap faucet is to act much like a standard faucet to deliver the crisp water from the reverse osmosis unit, but also to create a useful air gap in the drainage system of the RO unit.

The air-gap faucet is built with an actual siphon break that connects to the reverse osmosis system to prevent the drain water flowing back from the regular household drainage system and into the RO unit. This air gap is a preventive measure that takes place between the sink drain and system itself.

By preventing the backward flow of water, it stops any contaminant of the freshly cleansed water. This is essential in the event of the backup or clogged sink drain that would otherwise pull dirty water into the reverse osmosis tank. A system without the air-gap RO faucet can easily contaminate the membrane and cause damage to the unit.

Even though there is extra tubing to consider in the installation process, the setup is still relatively straightforward and easily completed by the DIYer with minimal basic skills.

On the other hand, the non air-gap faucet is only designed with a single drain line that connects the RO unit to the faucet. Any back-flow in this setup only has the option of traveling to the reverse osmosis system itself. If using the non air-gap faucet it is essential have constant pressure to minimize the risk of back-flow of dirty water.


Types of Materials: Brushed Nickel, Chrome & Bronze

The reverse osmosis system faucets come in many different finishes and styles. The most common are either chrome (brushed and polished) or brushed nickel. But, there are always slight variations in color so it is essential to carefully inspect the faucets before deciding to purchase.

Beyond the two most popular options, the RO faucets can also include powder-coated decorative colors like gray, red, black and white, as well as antique brass, bronze and gold-plated units.

Here is an overview of the major types of materials:


Brushed nickel

Brushed nickel is a soft metallic with the ability to go with virtually every style in the kitchen.

Benefits: This material is appreciated for standing the test of time and has no problem in maintaining its finish. It is highly durable and the finish will stay like-new for a lot longer compared to chrome and oil-rubbed bronze. A great quality is not showing water spots, fingerprints or wear. The versatile finish means it easily complements most fixtures and accessories. However, it isn’t the most practical choice for the kitchen with a stainless steel sink; it is more likely to simply blend in and not create a statement piece. The RO faucets in brushed nickel are relatively inexpensive. Even though it may cost more than chrome, it is more attractive price wise than oil-rubbed bronze.



Chrome is one of the most versatile options for the RO faucet.

Benefits: Out of the top choices, chrome is likely to be listed as the least expensive option. Chrome is really easy to clean and maintain, and its natural shine is certain to stand out in the kitchen. Beyond its durability, this material is fairly easy to match with other fixtures and accessories. A slight downside is the issue with fingerprints and water spots constantly showing after every use.


Bronze – Oil-rubbed

The oil-rubbed bronze has the ability to give a completely different look to the modern aesthetics of brushed nickel and chrome. This material will leave the kitchen with a more traditional feel and look.

Benefits: Oil-rubbed bronze is easy to find, easy to clean and durable. It is simple to match with other fixtures and accessories in the home. Plus, it is less likely to show the fingerprint marks or water spots after use. However, this material is sure to be more expensive than alternatives like brushed nickel and chrome.


Bronze – Satin

The satin bronze RO faucets are left with a nice, smooth finish that is likely to sit between oil-rubbed bronze and copper.

Benefits: This is a further material that is easy to clean and maintain (fingerprint marks and water spots don’t show), while being extremely durable to stand up to most day-to-day abuse in the kitchen. It makes a highly attractive alternative to installing a copper faucet, and is a lot lighter compared to the oil-rubbed bronze. However, this type of bronze isn’t the easiest to match with other kitchen hardware and can be a little expensive and difficult to find.



Hope this article has helped you to find the best reverse osmosis faucet replacement. Do note that it does not include the actual RO system. If you need help in that, please read my best reverse osmosis system for 2015 article.

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