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Thread: NOOB getting RO -- Practical Considerations

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2022
    Essex Junction, VT

    Default NOOB getting RO -- Practical Considerations

    2024 will be my 4th year. My 3rd year made it clear that getting into RO is the top priority of any investment I can make.
    I'm 99% sure I'll go with R.O. Bucket because as much as I love DIY, I think the savings would be small and I hear nothing but awesome with R.O. Bucket support and I'd like to support that and be supported by it.
    I've been reading up on the documentation on the RO Bucket website and a few questions have emerged.

    The main one is, what do you backyarders all do for temperature control, especially between uses, especially those who don't really have a shelter? It sounds like the membrane stays wet all season (and maybe all off-season?), and thus must be prevented from freezing, and also best not to get too hot? The documentation suggests putting the prefilter in the fridge. Is this where you might put the membrane as well for the night, to keep it cold but not frozen? Or maybe build an insulated shelter for it? Or am I way overthinking this and you just bring the unit inside and don't worry about keeping it cold?

    I guess that's really the one question. Temp control of the membrane between uses. What do you do?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Walpole, NH


    Get a hold of Carl, the RO Bucket owner. He can answer most of your questions and is extremely helpful. He will give you advice as to what is best to do and what others have done. I have been very pleased when I have reached out to him with questions about my RO.
    Sugaring for 45+ years
    New Sugarhouse 14'x32'
    New to Me Algier 2'x8' wood fired evaporator
    2022 added a used RB25 RO Bucket
    250 mostly Sugar Maples, 15% Soft Maples. Currently,(110on 3/16" and 125 on Shurflo 4008 vacuum, 15 gravity), (16,000 before being disabled)
    1947 Farmall H and Wagon with gathering tank
    2012 Kubota with forks to move wood around

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    North Grenville, Ontario


    Basically you just need to keep the unit from freezing. I keep our RO room a couple degrees above freezing. My theory is Zny bacteria in it is gonna grow faster the warmer it is.
    I would just bring it inside at night and keep the unit in the basement. It’s a bucket. Nice and easy.
    As for the pre filter. I’d just throw it out and use a new one every boil. If you look on Amazon you can get 50 packs where it works out to like $1.50 for a filter.
    600 taps on vacuum
    Lapierre mechanical Releaser
    CDL electric releaser
    2.5 x 10 CDL Venturi ( new for the 2024 season )
    Home made modulating auto draw off
    Homemade RO 2 x 4" membranes
    CDL 16 x 16 bottler
    Wesfab 7" filter press
    Delaval 73 vacuum pumps

    12 hives of bees

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Murrysville, Pennsylvania


    Agreed on 1 time use for sap pre-filter.

    Can reuse permeate rinse pre-filters multiple times. Put in ziplock bag in fridge between uses.

    As for temp control to prevent freezing, I built mine into coolers and use a silicon strip heater and temp controller to keep it at ~36F.

    Bunch of videos on multiple builds I've done and how to use these ROs here:
    D. Roseum
    ~100 taps on 3/16 custom temp controlled vacuum; shurflo vacuum #2; custom nat gas evap with auto-drawoff and tank level gas shut-off controller; homemade RO #1; homemade RO #2; SL SS filter press
    2021: 27.1 gallons
    2022: 35 gallons

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Noblesville Indiana


    I've used an RB-5 for the last 4 years (12 taps). Not sure what size you are thinking of purchasing. Mine is truly a bucket (purchased from Carl) and is kept indoors or on the enclosed back porch (if not freezing) during the season. I keep the pre-filter in the refridgerator between uses (one pre-filter for the season as I only RO about 100 gallons of sap in a season). In use, the RO bucket sits on the kitchen counter (very understanding wife!). After a session and cleaning, the pre-filter goes back in the refridgerator in a bag labeled "pre-filter" and the pre-filter that gets used in the flush cycle is in a bag labeled "flush". The bucket itself (with the membrane) either goes on the back porch (completely enclosed) if it is not too cold or in a corner of the kitchen if it would freeze on the back porch. At the end of the season, the unit sits in a spare bedroom for a couple of weeks with the lid off to make sure that the pump and lines are completely dry and then the lid goes on and the unit is moved to the basement storeroom until the next season. The end of the season cleaning process leaves the membrane wet. Hope this helps. The RO has been a real benefit for my very small backyard operation.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Upper Valley, NH


    Lots of good advice here. I had multiple versions of the RO Bucket before upgrading to a 2 post 4x40 system. I would replace the pre filter every boil (as someone noted, a case of 50 is cheap, and the quality of your concentrate going-in leads to better quality syrup in the end). I would do a 1/2 rinse with the old prefilter, replace it with the new, and then finish the rinse with the new filter (always using RO water NEVER chlorinated water as that will wreck your membrane). As for temps, just don't let it freeze. The colder you keep the system, the better. I kept mine in the garage as it always seemed to be just above freezing. If it was going to be an extended hard freeze, into the basement it went (the bucket is easy to carry around). I will say, though, that if you are going for multiple membranes, I recommend getting the kit and building it on a board as that makes the pre-filter MUCH easier to remove and install, and fixing inevitable leaks easier as well. Wash the system at the end of the season and store it in a cool place (basement). If you want to rinse it every few months, that can help, but if you only have chlorinated water, replace the pre filter with an activated carbon filter and that will protect your membrane(s). Once you use it a few times, you will see how simple it is. Carl is great to work with...just reach out to him and he will answer your questions!
    Last edited by 30AcreWoods; 10-10-2023 at 11:02 PM.
    2023: Award Winning Maple Syrup and Honey!
    2023: 200 Taps on 3/16" "natural vac"
    2022: 150 Taps on 3/16" "natural vac"
    2022: Lapierre Vision 2x6 with Preheater & Marcland Autodraw
    2022: Brand new post and beam sugar house
    2022: 4"x40" RO
    Kubota L4701, Kubota BX2380
    2 Black Rescue Dogs, 2 Livestock Guardian Dogs, Many Bee Hives, A Flock of Icelandic Chickens
    30 Acres of Wooded Bliss
    vikingmadeforge: Artist Blacksmithing & Bladesmithing

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    NEK vermont


    I keep my ro20 in a foam lined box built under a stainless steel table. For heat i use a 20w seedling mat connected to a controller set to 40d. This is good down to about zero deg f. Off season i take the unit into the house. Id send photos if i could figure out how. You need 120v for my system btw. Works great.
    12x24 sugarhouse 2x4 drop flue
    2020. 211 taps on 3/16”gravity with flojet g80 air driven pumps
    2021. 250 taps 4 flojet g80
    2022 275 taps on 3/16 gravity to two g80 vacuum stations
    2023. 320 taps 5 g80 pumps
    2024. Refurbed homemade 2 post 4040 All stainless sap storage and handling

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2017


    Happened to see this post a little late. You can't go wrong with the RO Bucket. I had Carl build me a system I could add on to in the future. He's great to deal with and responds to your questions quickly. All of the above answers to your questions are great. One thing I will add is, be prepared for lots of water! You will be playing around with the flow coming out of the concentrate line for a while until you get the hang of it. I use a couple cups to fill to find that perfect 50/50 split so they fill evenly. I added shut off valves to my lines so I can make changes, move things around or just pause the whole process for a while without spraying water and concentrate everywhere. Have clean plastic buckets at the ready. If you have 30 gallons of sap, you're going to have 15 gallons of permeate. If you have 50 gallons of sap, you're going to have 25 gallons of permeate. You're going to want to keep that permeate for flushing out the membrane. Being prepared for all that water was the biggest issue for me the first time I used it. Clean buckets and a couple towls on hand will help. I also use translucent containers so I can just glance at them while they're filling to make sure I'm still getting the 50/50 split. Things change, at least for me. I can do other things while it's running, but I can't just set it, walk away, and expect it to remain 50/50.
    You'll be happy you bought one. Saves a lot of time and cordwood for sure!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Oneida NY


    The only part I question is using the same prefilter all season, certainly not suggested.
    Dave Klish, I recently ordered a 2x6 wood fired evaporator from A&A Sheet Metal which I will be converting to oil fired
    Now have solar, 2x6 finish pan, 5 bank 7x7 filter press, large water jacketed bottler, and tankless water heater.
    Recently bought another Gingerich RO, this one was a 125, but a second membrane was added thus is a 250, like I had.
    After running a 2x3, a 2x6, 3x8 tapping from 79 taps up to 1320 all woodfired, now I'm going to a 2x6 oil fired and a 200-425 taps.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2015


    Quote Originally Posted by maple flats View Post
    The only part I question is using the same prefilter all season, certainly not suggested.
    I agree. Sometimes if the sap it reallyclean mid-season sap I'll use the pre-filters for a second run but all season is a bad ideal. you can play around with it but best practice is new every use.

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