Best Water Purifier Guide in India (2019): Do you really need it? Truth revealed

Best Water Purifier Guide in India (2019): Do you really need it? Truth revealed

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Contaminated water kills 1 in every 4 hours according to data from Central Bureau of Health Intelligence.

water-pollution

But is it fear mongering?

​Is this a ploy by the big brands to scare you and make you buy high priced products? After all, the water purifier market is touted to be a $4.1 billion industry in India by 2024.

Water purifiers are quite expensive. They entail a high maintenance cost. So do you really need to invest in one? Do they really provide health benefits?

This article will answer all your questions related to water purifiers. It will help you to select the best water purifier based on your needs and budget, whether you live in Bengaluru or Ludhiana or anywhere in India. 

I am writing this article with first hand experience of using multiple branded and non-branded water purifiers over more than 5 years.

I have spoken to many service engineers, both local and from the company. I wanted to share with you what I have learnt over the years to help you avoid the mistakes I made and also help you to select the best water purifier for your needs. 

1. Do you need a water purifier?

(i) What is total dissolved solids (TDS)?

​According to World HealthOrganization (WHO) TDS is defined as:

​"Total dissolved solids (TDS) is the term used to describe the inorganic salts and smallamounts of organic matter present in solution in water. The principal constituents are usuallycalcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium cations and carbonate, hydrogencarbonate,chloride, sulfate, and nitrate anions."

(ii) What is the acceptable TDS limit for drinking water? 

​Would you believe me if I told that you do NOT need a water purifier.

​But only if the water source in your area meets certain requirements.

According to Bureau of Indian Standards, the TDS of potable water is less than or equal to 500.  

tds-water

​But according to WHO, TDS levels for drinking water is much stringent. 

WHO-tds-limit

I would rather follow the stringent range of WHO, better to be safe than be sorry! So I have summarized the water purifier you need depending on the TDS leve

Table 1: Quick Water purifier selection guide based on TDS

TDS level (ppm)

Other impurities

Type of water purifier

<300

No mud or turbidity

Boil water

<300

Turbid water or tastes bad

>300

No mud or turbidity

UV water purifier

>300 and < 2000

Turbid water or tastes bad

>2000

Turbid water or tastes bad

Industrial grade water purifier

(iii) But my grandparents used mud pot and copper vessles

Yes of course! But your grand parents also had access to fresh water, populatin was less, and consequently pollution was less. Your grandparents would not have seen lakes catching fire.

This excellent video by LMES clarfies a lot of questions I had on using mud pot and copper vessels. Though it is in Tamil, the video is self explanatory. 

It clearly shows how copper vessels and mud pots cannot bring down the TDS of water. 

  • Copper vessels
  • Mud POTS

Copper Vessels: By all means use a copper vessel. However, it cannot remove the pollutants and microorganisms present in the polluted water. It can only enhance the water with Copper ions. Ideally, you can use it to store RO purified water.

One issue I would like to highlight is regarding copper water bottles. I am sure you would have seen green deposits at the bottom of copper vessels. These pertain to copper carbonate. While in a wide bottomed vessel it is easier to clean this, I imagine cleaning this up completely in a copper water bottle might be very difficult. Please bear this in mind.

2. Why you should read this guide for finding a suitable water purifier?

The water quality has deteriorated a lot over the years. More so in urban areasFinally, you think water purifier will provide you and your family with safe and pure water. 

So you take the plunge, visit few stores or better read reviews online. Now you are confused. 

Water purifiers are expensive! Maintenance cost is high. There are both positive reviews and negative reviews for every water purifier you checked

Do you know there are other important factors besides budget? Agreed, budget is important, in fact it is one of the top 5 factors. But it is not the only criterion. 

Okay, so what is the right question? This question has served me well not only with water purifiers but when I buy other products as well. Just that the criteria changes. 

"Which is the best water purifier for my needs given the water source in the area I live and the budget that I have, and also with minimum hassle before and after purchase?"

What is best for me may not be the best for you. If you notice, the question covers the top factors you should consider. 

Okay, now that we have asked a better question, let us go further and learn the basics about water purifier.

We recommend you to check out our Top water purifiers under various price ranges. 

  1. Water purifiers under Rs 15K.
  2. Top 5 water purifiers under Rs 10K.
  3. Top gravity water purifiers in India 

3. Top 3 water purifiers under Rs 15,000

Product
Key Features
Our Rating
1. Havells Max, 7L
Havells water purifier

1. Corner, wall mount or table top


2. Pre-filter included


3. 7-stage purification


4. Error alerts and indicators available

2. Kent Ace Mineral, 7L
Kent Ace water purifier

1. In-built TDS controller


2. Filter change and UV failure alarms


3. 3-years service included

3. Nasaka Tulip S2, 8L
Nasaka Tulip S2

1. Adds back minerals and maintains pH


2. TDS upto 2000


3. Cartridge replacement indicator


4. 6-stage purification

(i) Our Pick: Havells Max

In the sub-category of Best RO water purifier under Rs 15,000, Havells Max is a clear winner. 

We have tested this water purifier personally and spent more than 2 hours speaking to the executive who came for installation. 

We are very happy with the customer service, speed of installation, taste of water and maintenance cost. 

Though Havells is a new kid in the block, they are already getting good reviews. In fact, the head of local office called me few times before and after installation to confirm everything is fine. 

4. Top 3 water purifiers under Rs10,000

Product
Key Features
Our Rating
1. Nasaka Tulip N1, 8L
Nasaka Tulip

1. Adds back minerals and maintains pH


2. TDS upto 2000


3. Cartridge replacement indicator


4. 6-stage purification

2. Havells Plastic UV Plus, 8L
Havells plastic

1. Corner, wall mount or table top


2. Pre-filter included


3. 6-stage purification


4. Error alerts and indicators available

3. Kent Maxx, 7L
Kent Maxx

1. In-built TDS controller


2. Filter change and UV failure alarms


3. 3-years service included

(i) Our Pick: Nasaka Tulip N1, 8L

In the sub-category of Best RO water purifier under Rs 15,000, we would pick Nasaka Tulip N1 as a clear winner. 

​Nasakaa is a Japanese brand owned by Okaya Power group which also owns the famous Microtek inverter brand. It is predominantly a battery manufacturer but also produces water purifiers.

This is a fairly unknown brand in India but is a good performer. Hence, we have included this brand in our list.

​Our work does not end with helping you to select the best water purifier! We want you to know what happens next. Please see the below review.
amazon-installation

​Do you notice anything in the above comment?

Havells is good in other areas but not in installation.

This is exactly what I want you to avoid. Unlike the person who wrote this, you are a savvy consumer. ​​

​Most people do not know that some brands require you to call them for installation. All this information is available but hidden in the thick Amazon jungle. Hence, we have collated all information regarding installation in a helpful handbook!

  • ​Do you know HOW MUCH brands charge for installation? Avoid getting cheated!
  • ​Do you know HOW TO contact a brand for installation? Save valuable time​​​​​​!
  • ​Do you know WHICH BRANDS give a demo after purchase? Avoid surprises!​​​​​​

​​​If your answer​​​​​​is NO to any of the above questions, then you should read our e-book. 

Grab your FREE COPY of our helpful e-book NOW!

5. Electric water purifier buying guide

1. Have you looked at these before purchasing a water purifier?

  • Water source
  • Water pressure (especially in multi-storyed buildings)
  • After sales service
  • Cost (Initial and maintenance)
  • Warranty
  • Storage capacity
  • TDS controller
“The water source should be your primary criteria before shortlisting a water purifier. In fact, it will help you to decide if you even need a water purifier in the first place.”

2. What is your water source?

  • Municipal water: Total dissolved solids (TDS) of Municipal or Corporation water is usually around 500 or below. However, check the TDS in the water with the help of a TDS meter. If the taste of water is not good, you may go ahead and get a water purifier even if the TDS is around 500. A simple UV water purifier will also help.
  • Groundwater/Bore water: If you are one of those people who predominantly use groundwater for drinking purpose, then more often than not, we highly recommend a water purifier. This is because the TDS level in groundwater tends to be high, ranging between 500 to 2,000 or more than 2000 in certain areas.
  • Multiple sources: There are a few areas which do not have a reliable supply of groundwater. So they depend on municipal water as well as groundwater, both of which are stored in a sump (underground storage from where water is pumped up to an overhead storage tank). Again, due to the mixing of multiple water sources, we recommend that you use a water purifier
“RO+UV is the most common type of water purifier in the market as it removes dissolved solids as well as kill germs.”

3. Do you need electric or non-electric water purifier?

(i) Electric water purifiers:

  • Reverse Osmosis (RO): Reverse osmosis is the process by which a membrane separates dissolved particles or contaminants and water, making the water fit for consumption.
  • Ultraviolet rays (UV): In the context of water purifier, UV helps to kill harmful germs such as bacteria and virus.
  • Most water purifiers provide a combination of RO+UV+UF, some provide only RO+UV or only RO or only UF.
  • If water TDS level is below 500, generally huge investment in water purifiers is not recommended.
  • Simple boiling of water would be sufficient. As RO companies use lot of jargons, consumers are confused and also you would end up spending more money than is required.

(ii) Non-electric water purifiers:

  • Gravity-based (or) non-electric water purifiers: As the names suggests, these work without electricity. These essentially use gravity to purify water.
  • Typically they deploy Ultrafiltration (UF) process. UF membrane removes larger suspended particles, bacteria, virus etc. 
  • Some of them use chemicals such as Chlorine or Bromine. So 
  • So don't forget to read our in-depth article, Top things about gravity water purifiers you wish you knew to select the most suitable product for your use.  
At this point, you should have decided which type of water purifier you need. That is, whether you need an electric or non-electric water purifier. If not, the below infographic should quickly help you to decide what you need. Don't proceed until this is clear. 


4. But I heard RO treated water is not safe? Is it True?

You read that RO water removes all minerals, they reduce immunity and hence not advised to drink it.

This is a Googly! First of all, you wanted to purchase a water purifier to be healthy. Now, RO water purifier is making me unhealthy. Confused?

Don't worry! As with all things, consider the pros and cons. If you do a cost-benefit analysis, you will be able to make a better decision. Now, by cost I do not mean only the monetary aspect. It includes health, time, and mental aspect such peace of mind. 

Contaminated vs demineralized water? Choice is yours! 

This essentially boils down to the cost-benefit analysis between drinking polluted/contaminated water vs demineralized water.  

To tackle the issue arising from stripping of minerals, many water purifiers are equipped with mineralizers which add back essential minerals to the RO treated water. 

But with the additional feature cost also goes up. In budget water purifiers, you can also opt for TDS controllers. Read more about this in next section. 

Another moot point is, RO purified water is acidic. Are there alternatives? Read more about alkaline water in section 7 below. 

5. Anatomy of water purifiers

Sediment pre-filter: This is generally found outside the main RO unit in a separate encasement. It contains a microfilter or simply a micro spun (usually 5 microns) which acts as the first gateway and removes sediments or dust particles. This means that you need to change the pre-filter periodically. The time period could range from 3 months to 6 months depending on the quality of the water. It also increases the lifespan of the main membrane.

Activated carbon filter: This further purifies the water by removing chlorine, and also removes odour from water by trapping organic compounds and other volatile substances.

RO/UF membrane: The water so far has been pre-treated and now enters the most important part of the RO filter, the RO membrane. This is where the main action takes place. The membrane separates dissolved particles, ions, and some minerals allowing only pure water to pass through. It is debatable whether RO removes metals such as lead, arsenic, etc. But more importantly, RO removes essential minerals. Hence, ROs have additional cartridges. They add back minerals thus making it potable.

UV Filter: This is not really a filter but a UV lamp that kills harmful bacteria and virus in the water. It does not remove dissolved solids. Water needs to be purified before the UV lamp treats it. For this reason, it is always found after the RO membrane.

TDS Controller: This is a mechanical device that allows mixing of minerals as the RO water is stripped of essential minerals. You may be little surprised to know that the minerals come from tap water. So there is a slight mixing of tap water with RO water to restore the minerals. Weird? Yes, but these days there are additional cartridges to add back minerals.

Many RO devices are pre-fitted with TDS controller but some may not have. Check if this is available in the water purifier you choose. Do remember to backflush this once in few days.

Post carbon-filter: This further enhances the taste of the water and removes any odour if present.

Water Purification Stages
Image Source: http://upwatersystem.com/

The red dotted line above encompassing stage 2 to stage 8 is usually found enclosed in the main body of the water purifier. Whereas the stage 1, pre-filter is outside the main unit. This is just an illustration and it is not necessary that all cartridges will be present. For instance, if you selected only RO purifier, UV unit will not be present. However, sediment filter and pre-carbon filter are almost always present in all units.

Storage tank: This is where the final treated water is stored. There are water purifiers without storage tank also but generally not recommended. In case there is a power failure, it may not be effective. Various devices have different tank sizes. The most common being 7,8 or 9L but it is not uncommon to find heavier tanks. Do keep in mind, larger the storage tank size, heavier the unit would become. Moreover, it would occupy more space.

Other cartridges: As you read above in the TDS controller part, there is slight mixing of tap water with RO water to restore minerals. However, nowadays it is common to find an extra cartridge (usually between RO and UV cartridges) to add back essential minerals. Look for the term Mineralizer in the description of the product. You can learn more about the difference between TDS controller and Mineralizer.

Non-essential features (Read as higher cost):

Display unit: Some advance water purifiers are fitted with LED display units that shows time, the life of important filters, error in various components, auto flush to cleanse the membrane.

Smart touch enabled: This lets the user control the water purifier from a smartphone-operated through Bluetooth technology.

Hot water: Some devices have the provision to dispense hot water. Though generally, they recommend not to heat RO water or rather it is not necessary to heat RO water. Yet, there are few brands which have this provision.

6. Pro tips before and after installation

  • ​Pre-installation
  • ​Post-installation
  • ​Foremost thing is to be aware of the area available in the kitchen and availability of power outlet. If possible, a place for impure water outlet. If there is already a provision to take the pipe out through a window that will be great. Else, you can collect the impure water in a container and dispose it. This could be painful at times.
  • ​What to expect when you call a company for a demo? A demo simply means the person will check the TDS of the water, nothing more nothing less. Gone are the days when Eureka Forbes executive would come unannounced on a Sunday morning and will give a full demo. (Remember the old days when they used to demo vacuum cleaners!). However, it is essential that you call for a demo, not only to check the TDS but also ask them various questions. Hope this article helps you to ask meaningful questions.
  • Questions to ask include:
  1. Installation cost – usually free whether bought online or offline
  2. Maintenance cost per year – especially after the first year
  3. Warranty – Make a note of components that are covered by warranty and the time period? Some components are covered for 6 months, while others for 12 months
  4. Availability of EMI – tricky to get offline, easier to get online
  5. Whether a booster pump is needed if pressure is low (Especially if you live in apartments and in higher floors)
  6. Number of free services – usually they provide 2 or 3 free services in the first year
  7. Time to change the pre-filter – Kent pre-filters last a good 3 to 6 months
  • ​Check the range of ppm that the membrane would be able to handle. Most water purifiers are able to handle a TDS of 1000 or even 1500 very well. Most companies use their proprietary membrane. If the TDS of the source water is above 2000, do discuss this with the executive who comes for the demo. There are additional types of equipment they might suggest to bring down the TDS

7. What about Alkaline water?

Before we see if alkaline water is good or bad, first let us see what is alkaline water. 

Going back to basic school level Chemistry, alkaline water is nothing but water which has a pH greater than 7, typically around 8 or more.

So why is it marketed as the best for you? Are there any real benefits? 

The jury is still not out on this. But most people agree there are no significant benefits from drinking alkaline water. We won't delve into this topic, but we wanted our readers to be aware of this topic.

There are number of studies on this topic. At the moment, we agree with the conclusion that there is no significant benefits from drinking alkaline water. 

6. Top 3 non-electric water purifiers

Product
Key Features
Our Rating
1. Kent Gold, 20L
Kent Gold

1. Table top with large body


2. Does not use chemicals


3. Low maintenance cost


4. Regular cleaning needed

2. Tata Swach Cristella Plus, 18L
Tata Swach cristella

1. Does not use chemicals


2. Auto-shut off and water level indicator


3. Fuse indicates useful life of membrane


4. Only 2-stage purification

3. Livpure Brahma, 16L
Livpure Brahma

1. Adds b


2. TDS upto 2000


3. Cartridge replacement indicator


4. 6-stage purification

(i) Our Pick: Kent Gold/Gold Star

In the non-electric or gravity based water purifiers our pick is Kent Gold, 20L or Kent Gold Star, 22L. 

Kent does not use chemicals such as Chlorine in its non-electric water purifiers. The maintenance of Kent products are relatively easy compared to other brands and also less complicated. 

There are few brands which use chemicals such as Chlorine or Bromine. So make sure you read our comprehensive guide on gravity water purifiers. 

7. Non-electric (Gravity) water purifier buying guide

1. Criteria to keep in mind before purchasing a gravity water purifier

  • Water source
  • After sales service
  • Cost (Initial and maintenance)
  • Storage capacity
  • Use of chemicals
  • Life of membrane
  • 2. Components found in UF water purifier

    Pre-filter/mesh: This is the first level of removing impurities such dissolved particles.

    Activated carbon trap: The carbon traps chemicals and other impurities by absorption, and removes foul odour.

    Membrane: Finally, water passes through a UF membrane which removes all bacteria, microorganisms and cysts, allowing only pure water to flow through.

    There are some minor variations as some brands use chemicals such as chlorine and bromine to kill bacteria and further use a polisher to remove these chemicals.

    3. Maintaining your UF water purifier

    Although gravity water purifiers entail relatively low maintenance and low cost, there are few things you should remember to improve the life of the membrane.

    • Regular cleaning: Kent models require regular cleaning. This is mandatory because if not done the water flow would be obstructed. If you leave the mud to accumulate, it will also affect the life of the membrane. The below video shows in detail how to clean a Kent water purifier.
    • Besides cleaning the parts, it is important to clean the plastic body, at least once in a month. You could use a lemon to wipe the interior clean. Then rinse with water.
    • If the water has iron content, you will notice that the pre-filter/mesh would have turned to red colour. Do not worry, soak the mesh in vinegar for few hours, if possible overnight. And then clean wash it thoroughly and use.
    • Once you install the product, flush out at least two batches of water. Do not start using the purifier without doing this. This is to avoid the smell associated with the new unit.

    8. What is the maintenance cost of ro water purifiers? 

    High maintenance cost was a main reason why I did not buy a branded water purifier for a a long time. Why will buy a water purifier for Rs 15,000 and spend another Rs 5,000 on maintenance every year? This was my thought. 

    In any case I have managed well withougt AMC or annual maintenance contract. Let us look at how much you have to cough up for Havells water purifier. 

    (i) Maintenance cost of Havells water purifier

    havells-water-purifier-maintenance-cost
    havells-water-purifier-maintenance-cost

    For Havells Max/Pro models, you can see that it costs Rs 4,950 per year for maintenance. This covers replacement of sediment and mineral cartridges twice a year. It also covers RO membrane, activated carbon cartridge, and taste enhance once a year. 

    There are also discounts on the extended warranty when you purchase it within specified time period of purchase. For instance, there is a 22% discount for 2-year extended warranty if purchased within 30 days. 

    Personally, I do not buy these for any of the household products. I usually pay up from a fund I build for this purpose. It turns out to be cheaper generally. 

    For example, the mineral cartridge and sediment filter costs Rs 600 each. So if I have to replace them 2 times a year, it would amount to Rs 2,400. Carbon cartridge and taste enhancer at Rs 500 each would cost Rs 1,000 per year.

    So totally, I would be paying Rs 3,400 per year.

    Oh, you don't have to change RO membrane every year. For a TDS upto 1,000 it would last for 1.5 years or even 2 years. 

    But I leave the choice to you. This is  only for Havells brand. However, I know people who have spent much more on other brands. In some cases it justifies to buy AMC. Many times you will know this only in hindsight. 

    If you are lucky, the water purifier may not give problems, so you pay for reegular maintenance. However, if you are unlucky like this Quoran who replied to my answer you may end up spending more. Hence, he ended up buying AMC for subsequent years. 

    maintenance-cost-ro-water-purifier

    9. Conclusion

    Buying a water purifier is not rocket science. However, it can be very confusing with plenty of choices available in the market at various price points. 

    This guide will help you to pick the best water purifier based on your requirements and budget.

     There are few factors you need to keep in mind when you select a water filtration system for your home. 

    Some of the main factors are:

    • Water source
    • Water pressure (especially in multi-storyed buildings)
    • After sales service
    • Cost (Initial and maintenance)
    Since cost is one of the top 5 factors, we will help you to identify the most suitable water purifier for your needs.

    To select the water purifier for your need, we have handpicked the best water purifiers in separate articles

  • To select the best RO water purifier from the commonly used category, read the Best RO water purifiers in India under 15K.
  • Or if you are under strict budget, don't forget to check out Top 5 water purifiers under Rs 10K in India.
  • Don't forget to read our Top gravity water purifiers in India if the TDS of the water source is less than 300
  • Please let us know if we have missed anything. Welcome any feedback in the comments section. Thanks.

    12 thoughts on “Best Water Purifier Guide in India (2019): Do you really need it? Truth revealed”

    1. Good write-up on RO-based water purifiers. However, most cities get mixed-source water, i.e. municipal &/ ground/borewell water to supplement demand. But, I’ve been using a gravity-based water purifier for years, and find it sufficient. Of course, I never checked the TDS levels, but if the water is murky, usually before / during monsoons, I boil it and then put it in the water purifier, which suffices. All this RO+UV+UV_Mineralizer process is scare-mongering, perhaps at the behest of big-brands and MNCs who market such highly-priced products. Would be good if you could do a comparison of non-gravity (non-RO, only-UV, only-UF) water purifiers too.

      • Thanks Ramesh. You know what, right from young age I always drank boiled water. I am so prone to cough and cold, and even slight change in water affects me immediately. Even I was skeptical like you, we used to use gravity-based water purifier. But the water quality has deteriorated so much over last 15 years or so. RO has definitely helped me. But thanks for your suggestion, I will definitely do a comparison of gravity-based water purifiers. Check back in few days. Thank for the suggestion.

    2. Good write-up on things to look for in an RO Water Purifier ! However, in most cities the municipal water supply is low during summers, when water-tankers are pressed into service, which get their water from various sources, including ground-water. The same is the case at my place. Hence, I am considering a Water Purifier with RO+UV+UF+Mineralizer. Read elsewhere too that the RO process removes essential minerals as well, hence the need to add them back after the purifying process thru a Mineralizer, else the water may not be ‘mineral rich’ enough for consumption. On the flip side, I realized that people who get used to RO-water tend to have low-immunity to water-borne diseases. Hence, health-conscious people who get reasonably good quality municipal water, tend to opt for the gravity-based water purifiers which are also easier to install & maintain and have much lower operating costs (usually self-maintenance).

      • Hi Ramesh,

        Thanks. Have you checked the TDS of the water source. Since you mentioned water supplied by tanker, I would suggest that you get the TDS checked first. Yes, I would recommend RO+UV/UF+Minerlaizer. Interesting observation on the low-immunity. Have you seen this personally or can you give direct me to studies or examples? I am curious and also would help me to write about this in future for the benefit of readers. I have been using RO water for quite a few years. In fact, I am highly prone to cough and cold from even a slight change in water. However, I have so far been fine. Agree with you on the low cost and low maintenance of gravity-based water purifiers. But my only concern is the chemicals they add in metro water and gravity based water purifier may not do the best job in removing it. I am sure you know they use candles and not membranes. I have used one more than 10 years ago, but shifted later to RO purifier. Thanks again for the comments. It was very helpful.

    3. Nicely written so that even a layman could understand. Of course, the idea is to reach everyone. Strongly recommend my friends to look out for this article before they buy a water purifier.

    4. Pretty comprehensive and insightful. In fact I could relate to each and every step in your write-up, which made my decision making process pretty simple. I would strongly recommend people this to people who are looking to buy water purifiers but don’t know where to begin, what to look for and how to narrow down options.

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