Reverse Osmosis for Your Refrigerator: Is This a Good Idea?

Reverse Osmosis for Your Refrigerator: Is This a Good Idea?

In recent years, reverse osmosis technology has become more and more popular for household water treatment. This is because RO systems are able to remove a wide variety of contaminants from water, making it safe for drinking and other purposes. But did you know that you can also use a reverse osmosis system to treat the water in your refrigerator?

Reverse osmosis treated water can be used to supply your refrigerator’s water dispenser and ice maker. Connecting your RO system to your refrigerator requires some preplanning to ensure the water pressure and flow are adequate. You will also have to do some simple plumbing to connect it properly. Hiring a plumber to connect your refrigerator to a reverse osmosis system will ensure the work is done properly.

In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of using RO water for your fridge and provide some tips on how to get started.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis is a treatment technology where water is forced through a semi-permeable membrane. This process removes contaminants from the water, leaving behind clean, safe drinking water.

A reverse osmosis system can remove a wide variety of contaminants, including:

  • Bacteria
  • PFAS
  • Lead
  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • Industrial chemicals
  • Chlorine
  • Fluoride

Read my other articles about reverse osmosis.
The Definitive Guide to Whole House Reverse Osmosis Filter Systems
Complete Guide to Under-sink Reverse Osmosis Filters

Using Reverse Osmosis Water with Your Refrigerator

If you have a reverse osmosis system at your house, or you’re considering installing one, you may be wondering if you can use the treated water for your refrigerator. The answer is yes!

If you’re interested in using RO water for your refrigerator, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Reverse osmosis system performance requirements

If you are interested in using an RO system to treat your refrigerator water, there are a few parameters you should check before making a purchase. There are three key considerations when selecting a reverse osmosis system for your fridge:

  1. Water treatment capacity: Reverse osmosis systems are rated based on the volume of water they can treat. This is given in gallons per day (gpd) and represents the number of gallons of water the system can produce in a 24-hour period. A typical refrigerator needs at least 12 gpd, but a larger system will perform better.
  2. Pressure requirements: Most refrigerators need a minimum water supply pressure to operate properly. If the pressure is too low, the ice maker will make cubes that are smaller than normal, and the water dispenser will take a long time to deliver a glass of water.
  3. Water storage capacity: In addition to the water treatment capacity, you also need to consider the storage capacity of your RO system. A storage tank gives your refrigerator water dispenser a larger volume of treated water to draw from, so it can dispense water quickly to fill your glass.

Water pressure concerns

One of the biggest issues with using RO treated water for your refrigerator is the water pressure. Most RO systems discharge water at a pressure that is significantly lower than the pressure in your home. It’s very important that the discharge pressure from your RO system is adequate for your refrigerator.

Most refrigerators need a minimum water pressure of 40 to 60 pounds per square inch (psi). If the water pressure from the reverse osmosis system is less than 20 psi, your refrigerator won’t be able to make ice or dispense water.

If you have low water pressure, you can install a booster pump to increase the pressure. There are several brands of booster pumps available. The key is to find one that will deliver water to your refrigerator at around 50 psi.

Reverse osmosis and ice makers

Reverse osmosis treated water makes perfect ice. The ice is crystal clear and has no taste. This is because RO removes the impurities that can cause your ice to be cloudy.

The most important consideration for your refrigerator’s ice maker is the delivery pressure and water flow rate. You need at least 40 psi of pressure and a flow rate of no less than 0.5 gpm. Any less, and your ice cubes may be small and misshapen.

Connecting a Reverse Osmosis System to Your RefrigeratorUndersink RO connection to refrigerator

If you want to use reverse osmosis water with your refrigerator, you’ll need to properly connect it. This is a relatively easy process, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Step-by-step process

I connected my refrigerator to my reverse osmosis system. Before I hooked it up, I did a lot of research on reverse osmosis systems and my refrigerator. Here is the step-by-step process I used. Bear in mind that your refrigerator brand may have slightly different instructions, so be sure to consult your refrigerator’s manual.

Step 1: Select reverse osmosis system.

Match your refrigerator’s requirements with the RO filter. You need to know what the minimum water pressure requirement is – for my refrigerator it was 50 psi.

You also need to know what the optimum flow rate is. My fridge needs 1/3 gpm or more of water flow. Check your owner’s manual for the exact requirements for your refrigerator.

Step 2: Find location to install RO filter

RO System Installed in Basement
Installing the RO system in your basement offers free and easy access for maintenance.

Give some thought to where your RO filter should be installed. Ideally, it should be near your refrigerator and in a location that allows you easy access for maintenance and replacement of filters.

I decided to install my RO filter in my basement directly below my refrigerator. This location was close to my fridge, and it gave me easy access to the filter cartridge.

Other locations you can install your reverse osmosis system are in an adjacent cabinet, under your kitchen sink, or in your pantry.

Step 3: Connect RO filter to cold water line

Turn off the water supply to your house and shut off the power to your refrigerator. This is an important safety precaution that will prevent any accidents.

Next, locate the cold-water line coming into your fridge. Cut the line. If you have flexible tubing, you can use a pair of scissors. If you have metal tubing or piping, you’ll have to use a hacksaw.

Now, take the cold-water line and connect it to the “in” port on your RO filter. Next, connect the “out” port on your RO filter to the cold-water line leading into your refrigerator.

If your refrigerator isn’t connected to a water line yet, you’ll have to install a new line.

Step 4: Connect RO system to drain line

Reverse osmosis filters discharge the brine (concentrated contaminant water) to the drain. You’ll have to connect your RO filter to the drain line.

Depending on where you install the filter, you’ll have to determine the best way to make the connection. If you put the RO system under your sink, you can use the hardwater that came with it. If you’re installing the RO system in your basement, then you’ll need to purchase fittings and tubing to make the connection.

In most cases, you’ll need a tee fitting and some PVC tubing. You’ll also need to cut the drain line to install the new fittings.

Step 6: Install filter bypass plug

Once the reverse osmosis system is plumbed in, you’ll have to remove the filter from your refrigerator and install a bypass plug. Check your owner’s manual for how to install the plug.

Some people want to keep the filter in place because it removes chlorine and other impurities. However, the RO filter does a better job of this, so you don’t need the filter. In addition, this filter causes some pressure loss, which can reduce the flow of water to your ice maker.

Step 7: Purge the water line and adjust filter

Once everything is installed, turn on the water supply to your house and power up your refrigerator. Temporarily disconnect the water line from your refrigerator and direct it to a bucket.

Open the water supply valve to your reverse osmosis filter and let the water flow until it becomes clear. This may take 5 minutes.

Purging removes any air from the lines and flushes out any particles or debris that may have gotten into the lines during installation. Once the water is running clear, reconnect the line to your refrigerator.

DIY versus hiring a plumber

DIY kit for refrigerator connection to RO filter
Many DIY kits are available if you want to install the RO system yourself.

Many people like to do their own home improvement projects. If you’re comfortable working with tools and have some basic plumbing knowledge, you can probably connect an RO system to your refrigerator yourself.

However, if you’re not confident in your abilities or would rather not tackle the project yourself, it’s best to hire a professional plumber. They’ll be able to install the system quickly and ensure that it’s done correctly.

Pros and Cons of Using RO Water for Refrigerator

Using reverse osmosis water for your refrigerator has its pros and cons. Here’s a look at some of the potential benefits and drawbacks.

Benefits of RO water for refrigerator

Using reverse osmosis treated water with your refrigerator offers many benefits.

  1. Clear ice
  2. Removes contaminants
  3. No off taste
  4. Reduces mineral scaling

Disadvantages of RO water

There are some drawbacks to using RO water with your refrigerator.

  1. Low pressure problems
  2. Low volume problems
  3. Lack of taste
  4. May damage refrigerator

Refrigerator Brands and Reverse Osmosis

It’s possible to use reverse osmosis treated water with your refrigerator. However, you should check to see if your refrigerator manufacturer recommends using RO water.

Here is a rundown of available information on specific brands for your reference.

Samsung refrigerators and reverse osmosis

Samsung does not have an official policy on using reverse osmosis water with their refrigerators. They offer some general guidance on their website.

If your refrigerator has an internal water filter, you don’t need to use the fridge’s built-in filter. Samsung recommends not using both the reverse osmosis system and the internal water filter because it can result in low water pressure. This would result in slow water flow from the dispenser.

If you don’t want to use the built-in water filter, simply take it out. A plug is not required with most Samsung refrigerators because the filter housing has an automatic seal to prevent leaks.

LG refrigerators and reverse osmosis

LG refrigerators can be used with reverse osmosis systems as long as the water has adequate flow and pressure. As with most refrigerators, you’ll need to remove the internal water filter and install a bypass plug.

Check your owner’s manual for the pressure and flow requirements. If your RO filter can’t deliver the minimum pressure, you’ll run into a lot of problems.

GE refrigerators and reverse osmosis

General Electric offers specific guidance on using reverse osmosis systems with their refrigerators.

GE does not recommend using reverse osmosis with a refrigerator that has a Water by Culligan or SmartWater filtration system already installed. The water valve will not function if the water pressure is less than 40 psi.

They point out that the pressure from the reverse osmosis system will be approximately half the supply pressure coming into your house. Water pressure that is too low will produce smaller ice cubes and possibly hollow ice cubes. Both of these conditions increase the likelihood that the dispenser will become jammed.

Whirlpool refrigerators and reverse osmosis

Whirlpool recommends verifying the pressure output of your reverse osmosis system to confirm that it meets the minimum requirements. They point out that many homes have low water pressure to begin with. Installing a reverse osmosis system reduces the water pressure even further.

The main problem from using RO treated water with a Whirlpool refrigerator is small or thin ice cubes, low or no ice production, or slow or no water being dispensed.


Do refrigerators have reverse osmosis filters?

Most refrigerators do not have reverse osmosis filters. A handful of models from Samsung and LG offer an optional filter that can be installed, but it’s not the same as a reverse osmosis system. Most refrigerators have carbon and particle filters.

Does reverse osmosis water make clear ice?

Reverse osmosis treated water makes crystal clear ice. Water that is treated with reverse osmosis has very little dissolved solids in it. These solids come out of solution as water freezes which makes cloudy ice cubes.

Do I need a fridge filter with reverse osmosis?

No, a refrigerator filter is not necessary if you are treating your water with reverse osmosis. The RO filter removes the same contaminants as your fridge filter. In addition, the refrigerator filter will increase the pressure loss in the water supply line which can cause problems with water flow to the fridge.

Can reverse osmosis water damage my refrigerator?

Reverse osmosis will not damage most refrigerators. The main concern with RO water is it is considered to be “aggressive” because it does not have any ions in it. Many people point out that highly purified water tends to dissolve metal from copper and iron water pipes. Most refrigerators use plastic tubing on the water dispenser and ice maker. Check your owner’s manual for specific guidance on your model.

Final Take

Reverse osmosis systems are a great way to get clean, filtered water for your refrigerator. They remove impurities, including lead, chlorine, and other contaminants. If you’re interested in improving the quality of your water, an RO system is a good option to consider. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for your particular model of refrigerator.

Do you have a reverse osmosis system in your home? What kind of refrigerator do you have? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think! Thanks for reading!

Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children. You can also follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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