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What Does GPD (Reverse Osmosis) Mean For Water Treatment?


Understanding Reverse Osmosis Systems and How GPD Measures Their Capacity
Understanding Reverse Osmosis Systems and How GPD Measures Their Capacity

Understanding Reverse Osmosis Systems and How GPD Measures Their Capacity

Reverse osmosis (RO) is a water treatment process that uses a semi-permeable membrane to remove contaminants from water. This advanced filtration method is effective at eliminating harmful substances like heavy metals, bacteria, salts, pesticides, and other impurities that standard filtration cannot.


RO systems are measured by how many gallons per day (GPD) they can produce of clean, filtered water. The GPD rating gives consumers an idea of what size system they need for their home or business based on their expected water usage and demand. Below we’ll explore what GPD means in further detail for those considering reverse osmosis systems for their water treatment needs.


How Does Reverse Osmosis Filtration Work?

In the RO process, pressure is used to force water through a semi-permeable membrane that filters out contaminants. Water molecules are small enough to pass through the microscopic pores of the membrane, while larger molecules like salts, metals, bacteria and other substances get caught on the membrane and flushed out through a drain line.


The resulting filtered water, known as permeate, then flows through into a storage tank. The level of contaminant rejection by the RO membrane is exceptionally high, removing up to 99% of dissolved impurities for extremely clean water enriched in purity.


RO technology can desalinate seawater, filter bacteria and viruses harmful to human health, remove pesticides and pharmaceutical residue, eliminate heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury and chromium 6, soften hard water, and more for both residential and commercial applications.


What Does GPD Stand For?

When shopping for a reverse osmosis system, you’ll notice the capacity is measured in:


GPD = Gallons Per Day


This refers to how many gallons of clean, filtered water a RO unit can produce per 24 hour period while operating at optimum efficiency.

GPD capacity will be based on factors like:


  • Feed Water Pressure & Temperature - Higher pressure allows more water to overcome the RO membrane, while colder feed water temps improve production

  • Water Salinity/Contaminants - Treating brackish or sea water is slower than standard filtration

  • Membrane Size - Larger membranes filter higher volumes than smaller ones

  • Pumping Rate - Some systems use a booster pump to increase GPD


Most residential RO systems have capacities between 25 to 100 GPD, while light commercial systems start around 200 to 300 GPD. Heavy duty commercial RO’s with large membranes can filter from 1,000 up to 100,000+ GPD depending on the application.


How to Determine What GPD You Need

Choosing the appropriate GPD RO system starts with estimating your water usage needs:


Residential Reverse Osmosis GPD

For home use, consider how many people are in your household and your total water utilization across drinking, cooking, bathing, laundry, etc.

As a general rule of thumb:


  • 25-50 GPD - Small household, single person or supplemental filtration

  • 50-75 GPD - 2 to 3 people, moderate usage

  • 75-100+ GPD - Large family, heavy utilization


Keep in mind that actual production capacity depends on your home’s water pressure, temperature and other variables.


Commercial Reverse Osmosis GPD

For commercial settings, carefully evaluate your business’ expected water demand based on equipment, facility size, customers served, shifts worked, and other unique considerations.


Some guidelines:


  • 200-300 GPD - Small office, dental/medical office, supplement existing system

  • 300-1,000 GPD - Restaurant, brewery, salon, light commercial

  • 1,000-10,000+ GPD - Manufacturing, auto shop, light industrial

  • 10,000-100,000+ - Heavy industry, oil & gas, desalination


It’s often smart to oversize instead of undersize commercial systems to account for future business growth and peak usage periods. Our team can help you property size a custom commercial water treatment system.


Why GPD Matters for Performance & Cost

The daily gallons filtered by an RO unit has implications for both system performance and operating costs that customers should consider:


Insufficient GPD Rating = Water Shortages

Undersizing your GPD capacity relative to actual demand will inevitably lead to water shortages and restrictions during periods of peak use.

Running out of water is not only inconvenient, it can severely disrupt business operations and impact health/safety when adequate volumes are not available. This applies to applications like medical clinics, restaurants, breweries, industries and more.


Oversized GPD = Higher Operating Costs

When correctly matched to your actual usage, reverse osmosis systems run most energy efficient and cost effective.


But purchasing an oversized GPD substantially beyond your needs will waste water through unnecessary flushing and require more frequent and costly filter replacements.


Aqua-Wise technicians evaluate unique requirements to right-size RO capacity based on contaminant treatment needs and estimated water demand.


Reverse Osmosis Applications Based on GPD

Reverse osmosis systems are extremely versatile and can be implemented across residential, commercial and industrial settings. Here are some of the most common RO applications sized by typical GPD capacity:


Whole House Water Filtration

Whole house units treat 100% of the water entering a residential or commercial site for contaminant-free water from every faucet. Capacities span small homes up to large industrial sites:


  • 50-100 GPD - Small households

  • 200-1,000 GPD - Commercial buildings, offices

  • 1,000-100,000+ GPD - Manufacturing, processing plants


The AquaBlue Whole House Filter System is an excellent option for whole building water treatment.


Drinking Water Purification

Point-of-use drinking water systems generate premium quality purified water for direct consumption. Output is relatively low compared to total site usage.


  • 25-100 GPD - Home and Office

  • 100-500 GPD - Restaurant drinking fountains & soda machines

  • 500-1,000+ GPD - Bottled water filling stations


The AquaRevive Reverse Osmosis System creates crisp tasting mineral water free of contaminants.


Manufacturing & Industrial

Reverse osmosis is widely used in manufacturing operations that require extremely pure water - from food/beverage production to pharmaceuticals and microelectronics that demand water filtered to microscopic levels.


  • 500-10,000 GPD - Light manufacturing washing equipment, parts cleaning

  • 10,000-50,000 GPD - Heavy fabrication rinsing sensitive materials/electronics

  • 50,000-500,000+ GPD - Pharmaceutical, power plants, mines


AquaPurity Industrial & Commercial RO Systems reliably generate spot-free rinse water for precision manufacturing.

As you can see, GPD requirements span an enormous range based on the end-use application and scale of water demand.


Trust Aqua-Wise for Your RO System GPD Sizing & Installation

With over 20 years experience specializing in reverse osmosis for Tampa area residential and commercial customers, Aqua-Wise Water Treatment Solutions has the expertise to properly size and implement your RO system based on accurately calculated GPD and filtration requirements.


We carry a full range of capacities across trusted brands like the HydroClear Ozone Generator and work with industrial clients requiring massive customized RO membrane systems filtering over 100,000 gallons daily.


Schedule Your FREE Water Test Today: 727-236-7161 to speak with one of our certified water treatment specialists about determining your ideal RO system GPD sizing, top models for your application and budget, installation, maintenance and responsive support. Rely on Aqua-Wise for crystal clear water purification!


Additional Water Treatment Resources:

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