Berkey Water Filter Review (Updated for 2022)

One of the most reputable brands of water filter systems is Berkey Water Filters. I was gifted a Royal Berkey Water Filter almost a decade ago and we’re still using it to filter our tap water. It does the best job at removing contaminants from our water, and it’s really just the best filter on the market for home use.

Royal Berkey Water Filter on counter with label reading, "Berkey Water Filter Systems Review."

Read my full review to learn why we use a Berkey water filter, and why you’ll love it too. Because I love them so much, I’m an affiliate for Berkey, so I’ll earn a small commission if you make purchases through my links.

Why I Wanted to Replace Our Reverse Osmosis Filter

When I first started shopping for the best home water filter a decade ago, I did a lot of studying. We already had a reverse osmosis system, but did you know reverse osmosis systems actually remove beneficial minerals from your water? I wanted to find a filter that would remove the bad stuff but keep the good.

Our RO system also relied on electricity to filter our water, which was a huge negative factor for me. In emergency situations and natural disasters, our current water purification system would be useless.

And, since we live in the mountains in the middle of a national forest, we experience frequent power outages during the winter due to weather and during the summer due to fires. We needed a filter that would operate without electricity so we’d always have access to clean water.

That’s when I learned about Berkey Water Filters, which are made by New Millennium Concepts. They filter out all of the bad stuff, but you still get to keep the minerals that your body needs from your water. And they use gravity to filter the water, so there’s no electricity needed.

It works great to filter contaminated water no matter your home’s water source, whether that’s city water or well water! You can even use it to filter lake and stream water in emergencies.

How Effective are Berkey Water Filters?

Berkey Filters remove more than 200 contaminants at a rate of 99.99%. They’ve been through extensive testing* to be sure the black Berkey purification elements remove harmful chemicals and contaminants from the water while leaving the beneficial minerals that your body uses (see the full list of contaminants removed).

Two Black Berkey filters on white table.

On each product page, you can review the test results yourself, but here are the basics for the contaminants that the black filters remove:

  • Heavy metals
  • Pathogenic bacteria
  • Organic solvents
  • Pharmaceuticals

The standard setup does not remove fluoride, but you can add up to 4 Fluoride and Arsenic Filters to the lower chamber of this system if you want to be able to remove those contaminants from your drinking water.

Berkey Fluoride and Arsenic Filters on white table.

* The Black Berkey purification element formulation has been tested by State and EPA accredited laboratories to exceed NSF/ANSI Standard 53 but has not yet been certified.

The Berkey Filter is Made From Quality Materials

The Royal Berkey Water Filter System is made of polished 304 stainless steel unlike filter pitchers. I have found it to be very durable and hold up to a lot of use over the years. All of the Berkey filters are made from this material, except for the Berkey Light, which is made from plastic.

One negative of the stainless steel filter housing is that it definitely shows fingerprints so it has to be wiped down regularly. A good microfiber cloth polishes it up the best.

Berkey water filter on kitchen counter next to kitchen sink.
Our Royal Berkey Water Filter still polishes up nicely after a decade of use!

The filtering elements themselves are high quality too. You only need to replace the black Berkey elements every 2 years or 6,000 gallons. You can actually clean them up to 100 times before replacing them! That’s pretty awesome.

The Fluoride filters, on the other hand, last for 1,000 gallons of water or one year.

Add Purification Elements to Filter More Water

The Berkey systems typically come with 2 Black Berkey purification elements. However, you can expand it to 4 purification elements (and even 8 in the largest model). Adding more elements will increase how fast your Berkey filters water as well as how much water you can filter before replacing them.

Two black Berkey filters installed in Royal Berkey water filter.
Two Black Berkey Filters installed in the upper chamber of a Berkey Water Filter.

Each single Black Berkey purification element can filter up to 3,000 gallons of water, so a 2-element system can filter 6,000 gallons. Adding more filters will increase that number, so with a 4-element system, you can filter 12,000 gallons and with the 8-filter system you can filter 24,000 gallons!

As far as the filtering flow rate goes, with the standard 2 elements, it can purify up to 1 gallon of water per hour. If you upgrade to 4 elements, it allows you to purify up to 2 gallons per hour. The largest system with 8 elements allows you to filter up to 4 gallons per hour.

So you can see how easy it is to slightly modify your Berkey setup to filter more water faster before you have to replace the filtering elements.

Which Berkey Model is Best?

There are several different sizes of Berkey water filtration systems that hold anywhere from 1 quart to 6 gallons, so there’s a good option no matter how much water you use each day.

Since Berkey water filters sit on the kitchen counter, you want to make sure you have enough counter space for the model you choose. The Royal Berkey system works great for our family of 4. However, if we had more space, the main reason I’d upgrade to the Crown Berkey system is because we go through a lot of water compared to most families.

Here are some basics about the popular Berkey models to help you find one that will filter enough water for your family with the space you have available.

ModelHoldsSizeIdeal ForPriceShop
Travel Berkey Filter1.5 gallons19”h x 7.5”w1-3 people$345+ Order
Big Berkey Filter2.25 gallons21”h x 8.5”w1-4 people$387+ Order
Berkey Light Filter2.75 gallons28”h x 9”w2-5 people$305+ Order
Royal Berkey Filter3.25 gallons24”h x 9.5”w2-5 people$430+ Order
Imperial Berkey Filter4.5 gallons27”h x 10”w4-8+ people$475+ Order
Crown Berkey Filter6 gallons31”h x 11”w6-12+ people$504+ Order
Go Berkey Kit1 quart14”h x 4”w1 person$234+ Order

If you still don’t know what system to choose, use the Calculator on the Berkey Filters website to help you choose the right model.

Are Berkey Filters Worth the Cost?

I know a lot of people look at the initial cost of a Berkey system and wonder is a Berkey filter worth it? If you break it down this way, you’ll see it’s actually quite inexpensive…

Let’s say your family goes through 1,000 gallons of drinking water per year. Your initial cost for a Big Berkey Filter System (the most popular model) with added fluoride filters, for example, would be $467. The first year, you’d pay $0.47 per gallon, which is less than buying bottled water.

The second year, though, your cost is only about $80 to replace the fluoride filters (they have to be replaced every year or 1,000 gallons). So, if you go through 1,000 gallons again, you’d pay $0.08 per gallon in the second year.

The third year, you’d need to replace the black Berkey filters (they have to be replaced every 2 years or 6,000 gallons) and the fluoride/arsenic filters. So your cost for 1,000 gallons would be about $0.24 in the third year.

And that same pattern would repeat in the fourth and fifth years… $0.08 per gallon in the fourth year and $0.24 in the fifth year. This pattern would continue repeating for all of the years you use your Berkey.

If you want to average that cost out over the first 3 years with a Big Berkey system and replacement filters, you’d pay $0.21 per gallon for 3,000 gallons of water. Of course those prices will vary a little if you use more or less water than that per year.

Any amount over 1,000 gallons per year, and your cost goes down; use less and your cost goes up. No matter which way you look at it, using a Berkey is far cheaper than bottled water, and the water quality is much better as well.

Another reason I feel it’s the best water filter is that it’s a very low maintenance. The only maintenance you really need to do with a Berkey water purification system is to replace the filters and keep the system clean.

Fortunately, you can clean the Black Berkey Filters up to 100 times before they have to be replaced. That’s a huge benefit if your family goes through a lot of water.

Are Berkey Filters Easy to Set Up?

Getting the system set up is relatively easy (see full directions on Berkey Filters website or watch the following video).

Like I said, there is no electricity needed. The black filter elements are gravity water filters so you can set your system up in an area that’s convenient for you. Ours is set up right next to the sink so it’s easy to refill.

To get it set up, the first thing you do is to wash everything out really well to make sure you’re starting with a clean environment. Then you attach the handle to the lid and the spigot to the bottom chamber. Screw the black filter elements to the top chamber and cap off the 2 holes where you can expand the system unless you’ve purchased the extra filter pieces.

Turn your Berkey filter upside down, and install the Fluoride and Arsenic Filters to the bottom of the upper chamber according to the directions.

Two fluoride and arsenic filters being installed in a Royal Berkey Water Filter.

Then place the upper chamber on top of the lower chamber and fill it with regular tap water. Put the lid on and wait about an hour and you’ll have clean drinking water!

And, by the way, if you don’t like the idea of a plastic spigot, you can actually upgrade to a stainless steel spigot for most models.

How Long Do Berkey Filters Last?

Berkey Filters last for a long time. We’ve had ours for over a decade, and while it’s scratched up a bit from tons of use, it’s still going strong. So it’s not surprising that the stainless steel shells actually have a lifetime warranty when purchased from Berkey Filters.

The classic black Berkey filters themselves have a 2-year warranty, prorated in 6-month periods. The Fluoride and Arsenic Filters have a 6-month warranty.

Does Berkey Have a Shower Filter?

Since you’re filtering your drinking water, it’s a good idea to filter your shower water too. We have a Berkey shower filter installed in our bathroom to ensure good water quality.

One of the first things I noticed when we installed it is how amazing my hair felt after washing it with filtered water. It’s one of the best investments we’ve made, and I highly recommend adding one to your order.

It’s about time for me to replace our shower head filter, and I’ll definitely be replacing it with another Berkey water filtration system even though there are other shower head water purifiers. I just trust the quality of Berkey the most!

Best Place to Buy a Berkey Water Filter?

My favorite place to recommend is the Berkey Filters website. They’re a family owned and operated business based in the United States and they have great customer service. They’re the largest Berkey dealer in the US and and often have Berkey systems on sale. They truly have a passion for water quality, so I love working with them.

I hope this Berkey water filter review helped you understand all the reasons why Berkey is the best choice for a countertop water filter. With your Berkey water system, you’ll always have purified drinking water no matter how contaminated your local water supply is.

And now that you have the peace of mind in knowing what the best water filter is, you need to know how to choose the best water bottle for everyday use too! That way you always have purified water with a fresh water taste, whether you’re at home or on the go.

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