How-To

How to Hack RWPFE Water Filters for Your GE Fridge

Tired of paying $54 every six months for a GE brand filter? Here’s how to get generic filters to work.

About six months ago, I got a brand new GE Cafe fridge from Lowes. It was the CFE28TSHSS model with French doors and a freezer drawer and a completely unnecessary touchscreen on the front. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t really need my fridge to be smarter than me. I hardly ever use the touchscreen, except for the one time I uploaded some photos onto it from a USB drive. I came to the conclusion that the fridge’s smartness was of no benefit to me.

Then I got a funny email from GE. And I realized that the high tech nature of my fridge was never meant to benefit me.

Here’s the email:

Yep, that’s a little pushy there GE. And oddly menacing?

You have 8 days to buy one of our fine filters. It’d be a shame if there were an… accident with your old filter. So, I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse.

For real, it’s an offer you CAN’T refuse. The offer: buy one of their RWPFE filters for $50 every six months, or they shut off your water.

In situations like these, I planned to do what I did with my old fridge. That is, say to heck with these overpriced name brand filters and get a generic one for half the price.

But then I got to googling for a cheap knockoff, and I found something troubling.

You see, GE made a recent change to their water filters. GE fridges used to use RPWF filters. But my fridge requires RPWFE.

Um Jack…. What does the E stand for?

Great question reader. I’m glad you asked!

It’s EVIL. The E stands for evil.

RWPF vs. RPWFE GE Water Filters

The difference between RWPF and RPWFE is that the RPWFE has a freaking RFID chip on it. The fridge reads the RFID chip off your filter, and if your filter is either older than 6 months or not a genuine GE RPWFE filter, it’s all “I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t dispense any water for you right now.”

Now, to be fair, GE does give you a bypass cartridge that lets you get unfiltered water for free (you didn’t throw that thing away, did you?).

But come on.

There has to be a way to hack this thing. Right? Right.

You can hack your GE fridge to either let you keep using your old filter (not recommended, they get real glommed up after a while which defeats the entire purpose of a water filter) or use an off brand filter.

Not only can you hack your GE fridge, I think you should. And you should tell your friends. Because GE forcing you to buy a $54 filter is wrong.

How to Use Generic Filters in a GE Cafe Fridge

The secret lies in the RFID chip on your bypass filter. That’s the little white torpedo looking thing that was installed in your fridge when you first got it. I really hope you didn’t throw it away. You can probably order another one from the Mob GE if you lost it.

The filter bypass and the RPWFE filter are very adamant that you orient the filter correctly. They are prominently labeled BACK and FRONT.

Why does it matter so much? Because the “back” is where the RFID chip is hiding.

Peekaboo!

Slip a flathead screwdriver under that sucker on your filter bypass, and it’ll come fluttering off like a rose petal.

Now, you can do three things here. If you can tolerate some trial and error, you can try taping the thing directly into your fridge where it would normally meet up when the filter is installed. You have to get in just the right spot, so the fridge picks it up. If you do that, you’re set for life.

Or, you can tape it onto the front of an expired RPWFE GE water filter, install it backward, and then keep using it (again, not recommended for too much longer than six months). This too may take some trial and error. Make sure you orient it correctly. There’s an up and a down to the RFID chip. Take a picture of it before you remove it from the bypass, so you don’t forget how it goes. There was a little clear bump on mine that helped.

This too may take some trial and error. Make sure you orient it correctly. There’s an up and a down to the RFID chip. Take a picture of it before you remove it from the bypass, so you don’t forget how it goes. There was a little clear bump on mine that helped.

 

Or, you can tape it to the corresponding spot on a generic filter and reinstall it.

When you do this successfully, your fridge will detect that the bypass is installed and will tell you that you are drinking unfiltered water.

If you get the RFID chip taped to the wrong spot, or you try it without a RFID chip, it’ll say that there’s a possible “leak detected” because the filter may be installed incorrectly. Yeah, I get it, GE. You’re doing it for our own good and totally not holding our water ransom for $54.

Where to Buy Generic GE Fridge Filters

So, you’ve got your GE fridge successfully hacked? Good. Now, go give your money to someone other than GE. You can get RWPF compatible filters off of Amazon for $15 each.

Nope, scratch that, I found some for even less. These Waterdrop WD-RPWF filters were $24 for 2 when I bought them.

I’m so mad.

Conclusion and Disclaimer

Look, I was just kidding about all this. I don’t think you should try to defeat proprietary technology that GE installed to keep us safe and leak free and our water tasting clean and fresh. And GE has every right to charge whatever they want for a part that they make. I really don’t think you should alter your filters or try to trick your fridge. That may void the warranty and lead to subpar water. Even if it saves you tons of money. Tons of money.

Really.


34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Kixfan  

    I laughed way too hard at this story! LMAO!!

  2. shaz  

    I just HAD to read this, even though I don’t have this fridge. It makes me want to NEVER buy one or anything remotely like it! I’ll stick the good old fashioned non-smart appliances. _I_ tell you what to do, fridge, ya hear? LOL

  3. Dan Winfield  

    I installed the filter as suggested & the water flow is fine; however, that little red warning pops up saying: “expired 15 days ago” … is this ok or did I do something incorrectly? Thanks!

  4. Dan Winfield  

    Hi … I installed the non-GE filters & all seems to be working fine. However, the little red lettering stays saying that my filter is expired for so many days is still there. Is this normal or did I do something wrong? Thanks!

    • Did you take the chip off your old filter or from a bypass? Shouldn’t really matter if the expired notice is still there but you swapped a new filter. You’ll just have to set up some other reminder to change it when it goes bad.

      • Dan Winfield  

        Hi Jack … I don’t have a problem with the “expired notice” but I want to make sure that I am getting filtered water. If water is still coming through does this mean that my filter is working? Thanks!

  5. Ken  

    I have had the expired warning for a while (at least 99 days for sure). Water keeps coming out so I didn’t care. What I am trying to figure out online is whether I can buy the RPWF filters and take the chip off my expired RPWFE? Or is that chip permanently expired now? I have no idea where the bypass filter is from when they came to install.

    • The chip is permanently expired. I’m not sure exactly how it works. The fridge must remember certain chips.

      • Eric D.  

        I wonder if we reset the fridge if it will forget the RFID chip. Unless it takes special software on a laptop to do that (if the memory is non-volatile).

  6. Tammy  

    Genius! Thank you for saving me big bucks!

  7. Mike  

    Thanks, this is a great guide. My GE fridge does not have a water filter, but I discovered that there are filters you can easily splice right into the plastic hose supplying the water to the fridge. AFAIK they are even cheaper! All you would have to do is put in the bypass and you would be good to go.

  8. Shawn  

    Very useful Jack, thanks. I also bought a GE Cafe six months ago, and I’m only now discovering the scam that is GE’s water filter replacement policy. I had considered using the RFID chip from the bypass plug as a permanent workaround when I found your post. My only hesitation is this: how do you know for sure that the water is actually passing through the cheaper filter with the bypass plug RFID? Since the water doesn’t move through the plug, is it possible that the fridge would also “bypass” a cheaper filter that it identifies as the plug? I suppose you could be sure the cheap filter is being used if the first few pints of water have dark charcoal particulate floating around in them, but I thought I’d ask before trying the hack myself.

    Thanks again!

    • Jlynn  

      Great question! I wish someone would answer this….It’s got me really curious.

    • I think the water line just works by pressure. If there’s nowhere for the water to go (Bypass), it just moves on. If there’s a filter there, it goes in. If a “leak is detected” (non-proprietary filter), then the water function shuts down.

      I’m changing my filter this weekend. I’ll see if there’s water inside of the one i’ve had in the for a month.

      • Jessa Shuckhart  

        Thanks!

      • Ok I changed my filter just now.

        1. I weighed the generic filter that was previously installed in the fridge and it was twice as heavy, indicating that it was filled with water.
        2. I moved the bypass chip over to my new filter and it worked just fine.
        3. When I first started flushing the filter, a HUGE burst of water blasted out of the line, getting water everywhere. According to the literature that comes with the filter, some “sputtering” is normal for the first 24 to 36 hours. Understatement of the year. I flushed about 2 gallons of water through and resumed normal water usage.
        4. I set a reminder for myself to do this again in 6 months. So far so good!

  9. Louis  

    I have an improvement to this idea:

    Step 1: Purchase generic RPWF filters
    Step 2: Take the RFID off of my used filter and exchange it with someone else who also has a used filter
    Step 3: Place the RFID from someone else’s used filter on my generic RPWF filter and install
    Step 4: Repeat the process 6 months later with another RFID from a different used filter

    If I can stick your RFID on my generic filter, my fridge would not reject it since it would not recognize that RFID as being used and vice versa. Let me know if anyone is interested in making an exchange.

    • Sounds like a good idea for a Website – “Shipmeyourfilter.com” 😉

      • dm3  

        replacing filters in refrigerators … first world problems

  10. HaZ  

    This is the type-A, full color LCD screen (guess you can upload photo and work as digital frame?). When you use bypass (or just the RFID tag), you cannot hide GE’s insult of “not filtering” on screen. Just like you cannot put a tape on your TV screen.

    If you have type-B panel (cheaper, fixed digits LCD), then you are in luck: you can remove the LCD panel and cover the “not filtering” line with black tape, thus fully get rid of GE’s insult while saving money.

    It’s ok i get insult from an appliance everyday. But GE’s “revenue enhancement” experts wanted to insult my house guests as well, which is totally evil. If you must buy GE, don’t want to pay ransom, and keep your dignity, get a type-B.

  11. Lizz  

    Just tried this and I found a trick…I peeled back red “back” label on bypass filter. After removing chip, I put scotch tape in back. I lined up the chip where it would have iriginally gone and used the “back” label to lightly keep it in place. I then put the bypass back in and shut it. The scotch tape stuck to the fridge with the chip inside and it was perfectly placed! I almost wasted way too much money since I accidentally bought wrong filters.

  12. Sarah Senecal  

    Um… you’re awesome. Entertaining and informative. Kudos

  13. PopcornSally  

    I have the cheaper model GE refrigerator without the LED panel but it still wants a RPWFE filter to make ice. My fridge did not come with the “blank” for bypassing, however, I found a blurb in the manual that says you can order a free one from GE by calling 800-GECARES. I’m going to do that so I can get the RFID chip and use generic filters. Thanks for the article–hope my info can help someone else stick it to the man.

  14. Bob  

    I bet if you use two chips alternating them with generic filters, the fridge will work fine. What are the chances there is a memory, or that GE keeps coming up with unique codes? What if you actually bought OE filters from GE and just happen to stumble upon one with a code you already used?

  15. Jim McMill  

    This is the scam that was originated by Samsung (and then with Hewlett Packard) to required “chipped” toner and ink cartridges for their printers.

    I believed this got some action from consumer-oriented state Attorneys General, and firmware was installed in these printers to allow the use of aftermarket cartridges.

    GE should expect the same kind of action. This is a straight-up scam.

  16. Mo  

    If we ever meet, I owe you a beer or two.

    My fridge now just says “Not filtering water” in little letters when it’s dispensing.

    Bypass filter was $26 and change delivered. I’m money ahead on the first filter change.

  17. Enzo Chiapet  

    Couldn’t have written this article any better myself.

    Like an idiot, I tossed the bypass plug that came with my new GE refrigerator (model GFE26GMKGES) and now that my filter warning light has expired and learning a GE RPFWE is around $50 a pop, I too said no F’n way.

    Funny, couldn’t find the bypass plug (GE part AP5986463) on their website but AppliancePartsPros had it for $23 and it’s on its way to my home to start the hack. Concurrently, ordered the Waterdrop Plus RPWF (Not RPWFE) 2 Pack on Amazon for $36. These filters should easily go 6-months, and at $18/each this hack is well worth it!

    GE should spend more engineering time into making sure their ice dipenser actually dispenses ice (mine doesn’t because the ice is always stuck together in the 6-cube chucks)… rather than being creative in the nickle-n-dime servicing costs via these damn RFID filters.

  18. lynell  

    https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/GettingStarted?NextQID=251&Url=%23%26panel1-9#crnt

    We’ve had our chip filtered fridge five months and it’s got 4 days for replacement message…ick! I went to Federal Trade Commission and sent a complaint (takes less than 2 minutes). They pay attention to an issue when many people complain, so I’m asking all of you to do the same and ask your friends/family to also complain. This is wrong!

    We bought a house with builder (choice), not ours. I would NEVER buy a GE product after all the bad experiences I’ve encountered in my life. We weren’t given an option. Had to have an immediate repair upon moving in – fridge had loose wires hanging out the water dispenser! Also have had a repair service appt. on microwave that was hotter than snot!

  19. Philip  

    Just followed this hack and it worked like a charm. One thing different was I unscrewed the little plastic bracket that holds the RFID chip and then I lined up my bypass RFID exactly on the outside of the bracket. The bracket holds all the electronic circuit board. Worked like a charm. Although the fridge now says Unfiltered Water, we replace our non-RFID filters every 6 months so we know our water is clean and filtered. Thanks Jack for a very well written article.

  20. annonymous  

    Serious, you da man! I would do this hack myself, but that would be wrong 😉 BTW, be careful not to damage the RFID chip from the bypass plug, they are fragile.

  21. P. Meebers  

    Same problem with my GE. I believe that the smart part of the refrigerator remembers the last 2 or maybe 3 unique RFID chip numbers. So with that in mind, I am saving the chips from expired ones and will be able to use them again in 1.5 years with a rotation. This should allow the RPWF filter to be used every 6 months with a rotation RFID from past filters. ??

    P.S. Thanks for showing the location of the RFID chip, I have a “chip” of some kind glued on my filters that now I realize that is for theft purposes??

  22. Alesha  

    This is phenomenal. I did what you said and it worked! Everything you said was true. What’s hilarious is that I pulled the chip off of the old GE filter that had expired and – just for fun – put the chip-less filter in the fridge. Sure enough, it said “leak detected” after the chip was removed. Couldn’t believe it lol! Thanks for the help – was so so angry lol. Thank you so much for this!!

    • Thnx for the comment. Glad it was helpful for you. Welcome to gP Alesha.

      -S

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