Berkey water filter reviews

BEST OVERALL
Big Berkey BK4X2-BB-PF-2 Water Filter System

The Big Berkey BK4X2-BB-PF-2 is the most popular model from Berkey water systems and the only one that comes with a pair of Berkey’s fluoride filters.

It has earned many positive customer reviews due to its filtration efficiency and decent capacity which is why it’s our pick for the best overall Berkey water filter.

Disclosure: we may receive commissions from purchases made via our links at no additional costs to you.

Berkey is known for producing gravity-fed water filters which seem to fare well in the market due to their great filtration ability, high capacities and durability. The company offers 6 different models and, in this post, we’re going to look at 3 of them to see the levels of performance you can expect from them and where their weaknesses lie.  

1. Big Berkey BK4X2-BB-PF-2 Water Filter System

BEST Berkey Water Filter
Big Berkey BK4X2 Countertop Water Filter System with 2 Black Berkey Elements and 2 Fluoride Filters
  • Includes Big Berkey stainless steel housing (Upper, Lower, Lid and spigot etc.), 2 Black Berkey Filters, and 2 Fluoride Elements.
  • Holds 2.25 gallons of purified water. Designed for home use for 4 to 16 people
  • The Big Berkey is made with High Grade 304 Stainless Steel and measures 8.5"D x 21"H when assembled

Disclosure: we may receive commissions from purchases made via our links at no additional costs to you.

Pros

  • Removes a wide variety of contaminants 
  • Healthy minerals are retained in the water   
  • Filters have a long lifespan
  • Offers a decent storage capacity
  • Simple to set up and use

Cons 

  • Quite large – takes up significant countertop space
  • Filters water very slowly
  • Filters need frequent cleaning
  • Several reports of spigot leaking 

Design

The Big Berkey has a rather rustic design that looks fine but might not stand out much in most kitchens. What’s appealing though is the overall sturdiness of its stainless-steel construction which is similar to the other Berkey water filters (except the Berkey Light model). It can last longer than filters with plastic housing.

However, the spigot and lid handle are made of plastic. The handle is not a solid piece of plastic and the screw that attaches to it is short – it tends to come off easily. 

The entire unit is lightweight (about 7 pounds when empty) and portable because you don’t connect it to the faucet and the upper and lower chambers nest together for transport. You can easily move it around the house or take it with you for camping.

It’s bulky though, measuring 8.5D x 21H inches – you’ll need enough countertop/table space with sufficient height between it and the cabinet in order to fill the top chamber with water. If your kitchen is small, then you might want to consider the Travel Berkey which is a more discreet model.  

Filtration Performance

The Big Berkey’s filtration capabilities seem far more efficient compared to a standard countertop water filtration unit. The two black elements use microfiltration and adsorption techniques which makes them very effective at eliminating a wide range of contaminants present in the water. 

They’re able to filter off sediments (rust and silt), many different kinds of organic contaminants like bacteria and viruses, protozoa, parasites, cysts as well as inorganic materials and chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides – they’re reliable for filtering well water. 

Another area that these filters showed strong performance on is removing lead and heavy metals. They can reduce lead levels to 0.12 ug/L from as high as 170 ug/L, which is very impressive (the requirement of reducing lead by the NSF/ANSI certification is from 150 ug/L to around 10 ug/L or less). 

Chlorine and chloramine are equally removed by greater than 99.8% which as well exceeds the NSF/ANSI 95% reduction standard for chlorine. Many attested that the filtered water tastes great and has no foul odor. 

The two PF2 fluoride filters utilize activated alumina media which seem to perform well at removing arsenic and some heavy metal ions but are not that effective at getting rid of fluoride. We found that they only reduce 50-60% of the fluoride in the water yet they are rated to remove up to 95%. 

Capacity

The storage tank of the Big Berkey does have a generous capacity (2.25 gallons) – it can supply a small family of about 2 to 4 people with sufficient water for a day. 

The downside though is that it takes longer to process the water as it relies on gravity rather than pressure to push the water through the filtration media.  It can take up to 2 hours to filter the water when the top chamber is filled.

Moreover, the flow rate decreases as the water level also goes down in the top chamber, so you have to keep refilling it often to maintain the flow. You can’t as well tell the water level in the tanks since they are not transparent. 

The other issue is that the plastic spigot tends to leak where it attaches to the tank if the bevelled washer is not lined up and tightened properly. Plus, it’s positioned slightly above the bottom of the container, hence there is always some water left in the bottom which you can’t get out.

You can’t also leave the filtered water in the storage tank for more than 3 days because rust is likely to develop around the inside edge which can contaminate the water and add a weird metallic taste.

Installation and Maintenance

The Big Berkey is simple to assemble. It doesn’t attach to the sink faucet or the waterline, so there’s no plumbing needed. However, the black filters require priming (flushing them with water) to remove any lingering sediment before attaching them. 

Changing the filters is easy and you don’t have to do it often for the black Berky filters since they have a long lifespan – they need replacement after every 3 years or less. For the fluoride filters, you have to replace them every year.

The area that’s slightly tricky is cleaning. The black Berky filters get blocked quickly by particles and other contaminants, hence require frequent cleaning, otherwise, they take hours to filter water. Several users mentioned that the flow can slow down significantly, almost to a halt if you use the unit for a few months without cleaning. 

Should you buy the Big Berkey BK4X2-BB-PF-2?

The Big Berkey BK4X2-BB-PF-2 is a nice option to consider if your water supply is from the well. It’s good too for filtering municipal water. The filtration performance is great and the filters last longer than standard countertop water filters. However, keep in mind that it’s not NSF certified which is the same case with all the other Berkey models.

2. Royal Berkey RB4X2-BB Gravity-Fed Water Filter

Royal Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter with 2 Black Berkey Purification Elements
  • 3.25 GALLON CAPACITY- The portable Royal Berkey Purification System effortlessly purifies water for about 2-4 people each day. Add additional Black Berkey Purification Elements (the Royal Berkey System can hold a maximum of 4) to increase the flow rate. The system is just 23” tall and 9” in diameter.
  • POWERFUL PURIFICATION- Berkey systems equipped with Black Berkey Purification Elements purify water—not just filter it—by removing greater than 99.999% of viruses and greater than 99.9999% of pathogenic bacteria, while also removing or dramatically reducing protozoa (such as giardia and cryptosporidium), trihalomethanes, inorganic minerals, heavy metals (including arsenic, lead, mercury, chromium), pharmaceutical drugs (including caffeine, Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Progesterone, Triclosan),
  • ECONOMICAL, LONG-LASTING- A pair of Black Berkey Purification Elements lasts for up to 6,000 gallons before needing replacement. Each additional pair of elements (sold separately) adds an additional 6,000 gallons of purification power to your system. Black Berkey Purification Elements average just 2 cents per gallon of purified water.

Disclosure: we may receive commissions from purchases made via our links at no additional costs to you.

The Royal Berkey RB4X2-BB comes with a large storage tank that offers more capacity than the other two models on our list and this is the reason why we picked it for the best Berkey filter for big families.

Pros

  • Efficient at removing lead, chlorine, and microorganisms
  • Removes heavy metals and other common chemicals too
  • Large storage capacity for the filtered water
  • Simple to set up and filters last long

Cons

  • Bulkier than the other two models
  • The wing nuts tend to come loose
  • Doesn’t filter out fluoride and arsenic
  • Filters require frequent cleaning 
  • Flow is very slow and you can’t tell the water level

Design

The Royal Berkey has the same rustic design that’s common to all the other Berkey stainless-steel water filters. Measuring 9.5D x 24H inches, it’s larger than both the Big Berkey and Travel Berkey models hence takes up much more space but not as much as the Imperial or Crown Berkey. 

It doesn’t weigh a lot (about 8 pounds), so moving it around is easy and it can also be nested to make it convenient to transport. The shell, filters, spigot and the lid are all sturdy enough to hold up for years but the filter configuration is somewhat flimsy. 

The plastic threads are too thin and strip very easily, thereby the filters don’t always sit very stable inside the top chamber. The plastic nuts that hold them in place also tend to loosen which causes unfiltered water to seep through and contaminate the already filtered water. 

Filtration Performance

The Royal Berkey is no different from the Big Berkey when it comes to filtration performance. The only thing it’s unable to do is to remove fluoride and arsenic contaminants since it doesn’t come with the Berkey PF-2 fluoride filters, but you can purchase them separately. 

It has the two black Berky purifying filters which prove efficient at getting rid of microorganisms like parasites and bacteria as well as heavy metals, lead, chlorine, chloramine and harmful chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides. You can use it to filter well water just like the Big Berkey.

Capacity

What sets this model apart is its large storage capacity. You won’t be running out of filtered water frequently because you get a large 3.25-gallon storage tank which provides enough filtered water for 4 to 6 people. It’s the perfect upgrade from Big Berky if you have a large family but don’t want something too bulky like the Imperial Berkey model. 

Unfortunately, the filtered water is produced at the same slow pace (0.07GPM) and you always have to keep the upper chamber filled to maintain it. On the positive though, the spigot is not prone to leaking like that of the Big Berky. 

Installation and Maintenance

It doesn’t take long to set up this unit and the process is easy, plus the assembly instruction is very clear. Replacing the filters is a breeze too and you will only have to do it after every 3 years.

However, they require priming and regular cleaning to prevent clogging which can cause them not to work at all, especially if your water is high on contaminants.   

Should you buy the Royal Berkey RB4X2-BB? 

This is an option you can consider if you have a large family and your water has less fluoride contamination. It’s efficient for filtering both well and municipal water. 

3. Travel Berkey BT2X2-BB Gravity-Fed Water Filter

Travel Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter with 2 Black Berkey Purification Elements
  • 1.5 GALLON CAPACITY- The portable Travel Berkey Purification System effortlessly purifies water for about 1-3 people each day. The system is just 18” tall and 7.5” in diameter.
  • POWERFUL PURIFICATION- Berkey systems equipped with Black Berkey Purification Elements purify water—not just filter it—by removing greater than 99.999% of viruses and greater than 99.9999% of pathogenic bacteria, while also removing or dramatically reducing protozoa (such as giardia and cryptosporidium), trihalomethanes, inorganic minerals, heavy metals (including arsenic, lead, mercury, chromium), pharmaceutical drugs (including caffeine, Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Progesterone, Triclosan),
  • ECONOMICAL, LONG-LASTING- A pair of Black Berkey Purification Elements lasts for up to 6,000 gallons before needing replacement. Black Berkey Purification Elements average just 2 cents per gallon of purified water.

Disclosure: we may receive commissions from purchases made via our links at no additional costs to you.

If you don’t want a tall, wide metal water filter standing in the middle of your counter or kitchen, then Travel Berkey BT2X2-BB might suit you well. It’s the most compact model but offers the same level of performance as the others which is why it’s our best pick for travel and small kitchens. 

Pros

  • Filters out a lot of contaminants well
  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Setting it up and replacing the filters is easy

Cons

  • PF-2 fluoride filters are not included
  • Small storage capacity for filtered water
  • Takes long to filter the water
  • Spigot seems flimsy and can leak
  • There are cases of filters getting loose

Design

The Travel Berkey BT2X2-BB has a compact and portable design. It measures only 7.5D x 19.0H inches, making it ideal for use in kitchens with limited countertop space. 

It’s also a great option for travel or outdoor activities since it’s lightweight (6 pounds) and when nested it’s even much compact (7.5D x 11.0H inches) – it can easily fit into a suitcase or an airline carry-on bag. 

However, it faces the same problem as the Royal Berkey – the plastic threading on the filters is thin and tends to strip the washer that holds the filters in place causing them to become loose which leads to leaking of unfiltered water into the storage chamber.

Besides that, the plastic spigot appears to be flimsy. It can break off easily and there are reports that it even leaks in the area it attaches to the lower chamber.   

Filtration Performance

Although this model is smaller than the other two above, it still does deliver on performance. It’s only available with the two black Berky filters, therefore it’s able to efficiently get rid of all the contaminants that the Royal Berky can remove which makes it an equally great option for filtering either well or municipal water. 

There were few taste issues reported but the majority of users didn’t have this problem. Moreover, it’s compatible with Berkey’s PF-2 fluoride filters, so you can add them in case you have fluoridated water. 

Capacity

With a 1.5-gallon tank for collecting filtered water, the Travel Berkey doesn’t provide much storage capacity compared to the other options – it’s enough though for two adults. The unit takes long to filter water too, just like the others. 

It can take 1 or 2 hours to produce 2.75 gallons of filtered water. It’s easy for water to overflow as well when filling the top chamber since there’s no water level indicator. Several users also mentioned that some water usually remains in the top chamber hence ending up not filtered. 

Installation and Maintenance

You will not struggle at all to set up the unit or replace the filters. However, like the others, you will need to prime the filters before they can be used and clean them up frequently as they are equally susceptible to clogging. They do last long though (3 years).

Should you buy the Travel Berkey BT2X2-BB?

If your kitchen countertop is low on space or you want a portable Berkey filter for your RV or travelling, then this might be the best option for you. It’s lightweight, pretty compact and can fit well in a small space. 

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