Water Purifier- Rent vs Buy Analysis, hidden costs - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Water Purifier- Rent vs Buy Analysis, hidden costs

Everything is available on rent these days. Bikes, cars, furniture and home appliances included. Water purifiers are now being given on rent and this post is to help you decide if you should buy one or simply rent a water filter for your home.

Why do we need water purifiers? Indian cities do not supply potable water unlike some countries (like Singapore) where tap water is fit for drink. Though water supplied by municipalities is purified to some extent, most of us are not confident drinking it as is.

Alternatives to installing water filters:

  • Buy water from water tanker- about 700-1000 Rs for a truck (1000 litres) (this goes up to 4000-5000 Rs during peak summer in case of private water truck suppliers). You can possibly manage for about a week with this much water (for a small family)- that is INR 4000 to 20000 per month. You may still have to purify it as the water is stored in sump, pumped to overhead tank and received in a tap,during which it may get contaminated again.
  • Buy bubble water cans- INR 40-50 per can (20 litres). You will mostly need 1 can every 2 days for a family of four using it for drinking and cooking only- that is 15 cans a month, roughly 2500 Rs per month. You have to conserve water and wait till delivery boy brings fresh supply, if you run out.
  • Have your own well/borewell. If you are lucky to have an own well inside your compound, you are lucky. But depending on location, well water may be hard water or may carry impurities like mud. Water levels may drop in summer forcing need for external water. So you may still need a water filter.

Once you decide you need  a water filter, you've to decide which type.

Simplest of water filters are gravity based filters with basic sediment filters- like a lime candle or branded filters. These cost around INR 1500-3500 depending on brand, size, features etc. I have written about Butterfly brand stainless steel gravity filter in this post. Pureit, Kent and other popular brands also have basic gravity filters.

RO Systems are next most popular water purifier systems. RO or Reverse Osmosis systems come with multiple filters- first one is sediment filter that separates larger impurities like mud and there will be 2 or 3 more filters to treat the water further. This system needs electricity, installation and periodic maintenance. But it can give continuous supply of purified water, hence preferred by most homes.

#

Type

Popular brands

Pros

Cons

1

Gravity

Butterfly (Stainless steel)

Kent

Pureit

Tata Swatch

Cheap (INR 1500-3000)

Easy maintenance

Portable (no installation needed)

Need manual top up of water

Can’t treat hard water

Works well only to filter larger impurities, not 100% perfect

2

RO+UV+ TDS Filters

Aquaguard

Kent

Connected to tap, so non stop functioning

Processes hard water

High on maintenance

Installation & electricity needed

Water wastage (about 30%)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RO systems cost from 10000-25000 INR depending on brand and features. Now if you are not comfortable spending this much upfront, you can think of renting a water purifier. There are many companies renting a water purifier, like Livpure. 

Advantages of renting a water purifier

Disadvantages of renting water purifier

Saves major spend upfront and maintenance cost

You don’t own it. After 3-4 years you would have paid as much as a new one in rental still own nothing

Good way to try a brand/type of purifier for short term and then decide if it is good to buy

Minimum 1 year commitment required by most companies. You can’t rent it just for 3 months in summer

Ideal for those to keep moving cities- saves transport n refitting cost

Some companies may not honor maintenance commitments after getting yearly rent in advance. Then you’ve to wait, follow up

 

Beware of usage limit. Rental companies put a usage limit (100-200 litres per month) and charge for excess usage.(2-3 Rs per litre)


The commercial ads of water purifier rental companies cleverly hide usage limit and per litre charge for extra usage. Let us compare the cost of ownership for buy vs rent.

#

Factor

Non Branded RO System

Branded RO System

Rental Model 1 (4 liters/day only

Rental Model 2 (20 liters/ day)

1

Initial purchase cost

12000

20000

4000 (first year rental)

8100 (first year rental)

2

First year maintenance

3 sediment filter replacement at about INR 600-1000

3 sediment filter replacement at about INR 1000-1500 or AMC

None

None

2

Second year maintenance

1000

1500

4000 (2nd year rental)

8100

3

3rd year maintenance

1000+ 1000 (possible membrane replacements)

2500/AMC

4000 (3rd year rental)

8100

4

4th year rental

2000

2500

4000

8100

 

Total

18000

28000

16000 + Excess usage charge at Rs 3.5/litre

32400 + Excess usage charge

As you see in above table, buying an unbranded RO will take about 4 years to break even if you consume only about 4 liters per day, which is not practical. From 5th year onwards owning an RO system begins to pay off. But there're lot of variable. Most likely you will need more water- like 200-300 liters per month, that would cost more- like 600-900 Rs per month. It is more economical to take a 20 litre bubble can at 40 Rs instead of paying 3 Rs per litre to RO company in addition to rental.

If you want to use unlimited water, then owning a purifier is best way forward. It will payback within 2 years compared to any rental scheme.

-Depending on quality of water, equipment etc maintenance cost may vary. Sometimes membranes, motors need replacement costing more money. If you are lucky your actual maintenance could be lot less as well.

- AMC is also a tricky part. Many companies take money upfront in the name of AMC. Brands like Kent charge between 1000 to 4000 Rs an year for AMC- depending on what is covered (electricals, non electricals etc). But lots of people complain that after sales service is not prompt even when AMC has been paid in advance. You will be left high n dry if companies take several days to attend to your complaint and fix the issue. Same issue can also occur with rentals. While rental companies claim all maintenance is included, how promptly they address your concerns need to be seen.

- Rental looks attractive without usage limit. But most RO purifier rental companies enforce a monthly usage limit and charge extra for excess usage. This kind of completely spoils the equation. Refer table below. 120 litres per month is 4 litres per day- just 1 litre per day per person for a family of four- not enough adequate for drinking- let alone cooking and other usage.

Above is rental plans and usage limits for livpure. DrinkPrime is another company renting water purifiers. Their rental and usage limits are as below

Initially I wondered how it is possible for rental firms to offer purifier on rent for so less. Then I saw the usage limit and figured out. Additional usage charge is where RO water purifier rental companies make money. Need to check if this is calculated as per inlet water or output water (Purifiers waste about 30% water in purification process, so if counted at inlet, your consumption will be more).

How much purified water would a family of four need per day?

  • Drinking: About 1-2 liters per day per person in summer - 4 to 8 litres
  • Juice/Buttermilk or various other drinks etc: About 1-2 liters per day
  • Cooking Rice, Sambar etc: 2-5 liters per day
  • Washing fruits, vegetables, rice,soaking grams: 2-5 liters per day
  • Other unplanned usage- guests coming, taking water to school/office etc: 2 litre
  • Total: 15 to 20 liters per day. Maybe 10 litres if you use very cautiously. Only a family of 2 might be able to manage in under 4 litres (free usage under most rental schemes) by a heavily rationed usage.
Obviously the 4 liter per day usage limit enforced by water purifier rental companies is not viable. You will end up using more, however much you try to ration water usage. For normal usage you will need  to shell out INR 700 per month or about 8000+ per year. At this rate within 2 years you will pay more than what it would have cost you to own a purifier.

In addition to above if you need hot water for bathing and water at your home is hard water, heating it will leave lots of deposits- thus you may be promoted to use purified water for bathing as well.

Rental companies put these limits because more the usage, higher the need to replace filters and membranes and lesser the life of their purifiers.

So while rental company advertisement looks tempting, do the math for your usage-particularly on your consumption level and corresponding rental/excess usage charges or cost of appropriate AMC.

If you can't afford to buy a 25-30k water purifier system in one go, you can also buy it on EMI. You have to compare if EMI expense + maintenance works out better than renting or not. Interest amount will be 10-20% more over a span of 2-3 years but might work out cheaper than rental+ excessive usage charges.
May be the best way is a combination-have a generic gravity filter for usages like cleaning vegetables and use RO system output for drinking and cooking?

What are your thoughts? Have you rented a water purifier? How much are you spending on maintenance of your home RO system? Do let us know in comments.

2 comments:

  1. Selecting water purifier for home-use is tough task. There are so many varieties of different brands. Sometimes, we tend to feel if these water purifiers really does good to us. Your post should help anybody to decide on selecting the water purifiers as per their requirements and budget.

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