Filtered water coolers connect directly to a city water line to provide drinking water without the hassle of jugs. Most filtered water coolers resemble standard water coolers with a red and blue spout for serving heated and cooled water respectively.
Many people no longer drink or cook with tap water due to odors and contaminants. One alternative is to buy bottled water from the grocery store, but this can become expensive. It is also a lot of work to lug water home and can become impractical if buying for a large family. Another alternative is to use a delivery service. While more convenient than buying water at the grocery store, delivered water is also expensive, and the large 5-gallon (18.9 liter) jugs weigh close to 40 pounds (18 kilograms) each. Lifting these atop the dispenser can be tough, and the jugs take up a lot of space.
For these and other reasons, many people have turned to filtered water coolers. A filtered water cooler can sit on a counter top or stand next to the refrigerator, depending on the model. A line runs directly to the unit to supply it with water. Most filtered water coolers have a small internal reservoir to hold filtered water ready for drinking or cooking.
Filtered water coolers come with varying types of filtration systems. Many are categorized in terms of stages, while some are reverse osmosis (RO) filtered water coolers:
- Stage one filter: sediment filter traps silt, cysts and Giardia.
- Stage two filter: carbon filter traps organic smells and odors, chlorine, and pesticides.
- Stage three filter: membrane filter removes bacteria, viruses, parasites, hardness and salts.
- Stage four filter: mineralizing filter removes heavy metals.
- Reverse Osmosis (RO): extremely refined membrane filtration system removes everything from water, including healthy trace minerals. Resultant water is 100% pure.
Most filtered water coolers are at least two-stage filters, removing silt, odors, chlorine and many types of pesticides and herbicides. While this is sufficient filtration for many people, others prefer their water to be softened as well, as offered in three-stage filtration. Four-stage filtered water coolers provide very pure water, while leaving trace minerals that allow some taste and health properties beyond simple hydration. Reverse osmosis is the most advanced filtration of all, resulting in absolutely pure water.
Note that RO filtered water coolers require a line to drain. Creating RO water involves pushing water through a series of extremely fine membranes. Only the purest water can make it through the final membrane, causing considerable runoff.
Depending on the hardness of the water in your area and the RO system in your unit, it can take up to ten gallons of city water or more to yield a single gallon of reverse osmosis water. For this reason, some people route discarded water to a washing machine instead, where it collects to do laundry, or to a large reservoir, where it is used to water the lawn. Otherwise, a lot of water literally goes down the drain, and the water bill can climb unexpectedly high.
Filtered water coolers vary in price according to model, filtration capability and other features. Internal filters need periodic replacement and require more frequent replacement in areas where water has more contaminants. Before purchasing a unit, be sure that filters are reasonably priced and easily available and that the system produces the degree of filtration desired. Then enjoy filtered water for cooking and drinking without ever having to buy bottled water again!