Why I just switched my water filter to a Berkey.

Last year, I wrote a post about why I chose the Aquacera Countertop SS as my water filter. In that post, I told the story of how I almost bought a Berkey but went with the Aquacera because of its smaller size. In this post, I describe why I've now switched to the Berkey.

Here's a quick video to accompany the post:

My goals when I bought the Aquacera SS, which remain largely the same now, were as follows:

  • Good filtration that includes fluoride among the substances it removes from my water.
  • A low price per gallon.
  • Something that doesn't take up too much space.

The Berkey Has a Low Price Per Gallon of Water

The two leading filters for me were the Berkey and the Aquacera. The Berkey costs 1.8 cents per gallon without fluoride filtration and 7.2 cents per gallon with fluoride filtration, assuming you use it to maximal capacity. I estimated that at the rate I use water I would pay approximately 18 cents per gallon, since the filters need to be replaced every so often regardless of usage. The Aquacera SS filters fluoride by default and it costs 6 cents per gallon when used at maximal capacity or 40 cents per gallon at my usage rate. At maximum usage, the Berkey is slightly more expensive than the Aquacera, but at a low usage rate, it's less than half the price. 18 cents per gallon is dirt cheap compared to something like spring water.

The Risk of Spillage is Low With the Berkey

I went with the Aquacera because I simply had no room for the Berkey. I recently moved, however, and went Berkey. I'm loving it.

One of the things I really hated about the Aquacera was the flow rate. It filters the water and dispenses it at the same time. So it would take minutes to fill up a glass. You can, of course, mitigate this by filling up a whole pitcher of water at a time. But that has it's own downside: either you spend twenty minutes watching it fill up, or you risk letting it overfill and spill all over the place.

The Berkey doesn't have that problem. It filters the water from an upper reservoir into a lower reservoir that serves as a holding tank. I use the “water view spigot,” which allows you to see at a glance how much water is in the lower reservoir. You can safely add whatever is left over to the top reservoir without any risk of spillage.

The Berkey sight glass spigot

In other words, if the lower reservoir is 25% full, you can fill the top reservoir up to 75% full and leave it alone without worrying about it. The top reservoir sits nested into the lower reservoir a half inch deep, which means you'd have to substantially overfill the top reservoir for anything to spill. Even if you do, all that would spill is the excess.

By contrast, if you let the Aquacera run for a while into your pitcher while you forgot about it, you'd be wiping up your floor with all the towels in your closet.

A Faster Flow Rate With the Berkey

Since the Berkey retains the filtered water in the lower reservoir for on-demand use, the flow rate while serving yourself is not limited by the filtration rate. So it's fast.

This is the flow rate of my Berkey now that it's a little over a month old:

The Berkey Works With Any Sink

One of the reasons for going with the Aquacera that I cited in my old post was that since it was smaller it should be way easier to move. In hindsight, no. It only works with a sink that doesn't have a spray faucet. In my current apartment, because of the sink I have, I couldn't use it even if I wanted to. By contrast, the Berkey doesn't connect to your plumbing in any way at all, so as long as you can move water from point A to point B you can use it anywhere.

Making The Berkey Fit Under the Cabinet

One of the reasons I skipped on the Berkey the first time around is because it wouldn't fit under my counters. In my new place, it almost fits with the knob that Berkey provides, but not quite. Fortunately, you can simply not put the knob on the lid. Honestly, the knob is completely unnecessary. I've just covered the hole with a piece of tape on each side. I wish Berkey would make a smaller knob and at some point I may replace it with a little screw and nut. Aesthetically, I almost never see the tape because I'm rarely looking directly down on the lid from above, so it looks great on the counter.

The Travel Berkey under the cabinet

Making Sure You Have Enough Water

The “travel Berkey” (which I would never, ever travel with…) makes a perfect amount of water for me on my own, with some left over. If you happen to drink a lot of water, or if you have guests or a family, I would recommend keeping a reserve of water in a pitcher. I use this Karafu pitcher I bought on Amazon for that purpose. You can maximize the work the Berkey is doing by always emptying out the lower reservoir into the pitcher so that you can fit more water in the top. In particular, if you fill up the pitcher before bed it will filter a full load while you're sleeping and you'll wake up to plenty of water.

If you have a family, I'd recommend something bigger, like the Big Berkey.

Putting Your Berkey in the Right Place

One of the things I love about the Berkey is that the spigot is just high enough that if you push it back along the counter the spigot won't drag. I keep mine right by the sink. When I'm not using it, I push it to the back of the counter so it's out of the way. That makes it easy to draw water from it over the sink where there's no risk of spilling. Since my faucet is on a hose line, I can take it out and direct it straight into the top reservoir of my Berkey when refilling. Your setup might be different than mine, but I suspect for most people right by the sink is the perfect place.


The Travel Berkey over the sink.
Keeping your Berkey near the sink allows you to slide it into position when dispensing water to minimize any risk of spillage.
The Travel Berkey being filled.
Keeping your Berkey by the sink also allows really easy refilling.

My Berkey Setup and Accessories

Here's what I have, in total:

  • The Travel Berkey.
  • The fluoride filters.
  • The site glass spigot.
  • A Boroux glass water bottle as an optional free gift.

I transfer water from the Berkey to a Karafu pitcher whenever the pitcher runs low to keep the Berkey running and the water supply topped off.

What Do You Use?

Have better ideas? Or just different ones? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. This is probably an anomaly, but we have tried a Berkey with the fluoride twice, and both times the water has made us crazy anxious (all four adults in household). We stop using it and it goes away, and then start drinking it again and it returns. If you have any ideas, we would love them. (We really want to use the Berkey. We get the same thing from any kind of sea salt as well and can’t figure it out.)

  2. I have had a Berkey for well over a decade, and we have enjoyed having it. I am considering replacing it with an AquaTru now, and wonder if you ever looked at them, Chris? I found out about them because it’s the only water filter Erin Brockovich has ever endorsed, as well as some other people I follow in the natural health field (like Dr. Mark Hyman). It is a unique system, and I would love your thoughts on it.

  3. I felt the SAME way as you until i had numerous bad experiences with berkey. Now I’m searching for a different company. I’ve owned berkey for 6 yrs. it’s just me and my two kids under age 8. Our filters ALWAYS fail at 2yr Mark. Always -and we only drink one gallon a day!! I never knew they came with a 2 yr warranty. New millenium(berkey) doesn’t keep receipts on file. Great. So this November of 2018 my filters failed the red dye test. I had JUST bought new Flouride filters. In the past 5 months i have had FIVE replacement filters fail the red dye test. I’ve asked if they would send me new Flouride filters to replace the ones that i just wastes. They said no. No compensation for any of my inconvenience. And the last straw is this last filter they sent it appeared as though the top was sliced off and glued back on. I’m so fed up with berkey. The company SUCKS with customer service and since November of 2018 they must not have quality control bc the filters aren’t passing the red dye test. Does quality control even exist within this company? Signed, very disgruntled mother who keeps getting screwed by berkey with no apologies.

    1. Sorry you have had a bad experience Crystal. The dealer you have purchased from will always keep your receipt on file. That information is then provided to NMCL in the event of a warranty claim as your proof of purchase for replacement of any filters. As for the red food coloring test, these are only for the black berkeys and not for the fluoride filters. If you run this test, you will always want to remove the fluoride filters, so that any red that comes through a failed black berkey does not get into your fluoride filter. We have not noticed any issues with quality control and we thousands of black berkey filters a year, so if you decide to give Berkey another shot, we recommend your connect with one of our customer service reps to make sure all tests are being performed properly.

  4. It’s such an informative article.thanks for sharing this.here you had described the benefits of using Berkey filters. It seems beneficial to me.will you please tell me the running price of it? Thanks in advance.. 🙂

  5. Have you had your water tested? I’ve seen many poster say their filtered water still contained fluoride. I have a new, unopened Berkey I will not use. I need the fluoride out of my water.

  6. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your thorough review. It helped me to choose the water filter (Berkey) for my family.
    However, I’m now worried about the mineral filtration out of the water.
    I guess the filter takes out most of the minerals. Is my family at risk for magnesium deficiency? how should I address this risk?

    Fruits and vegetables are not a great source for magnesium in my country, since most of the crops are irrigated with recycled water…

  7. My husband and I just installed a whole house water softener and filtration system. Our drinking water is filtered by reverse osmosis. We have since read a lot about RO water being acidic and bad for you. Do you or any readers have any insight and thoughts on this?

  8. The price alone is a good reason to switch if you’re already using something like a Brita filter. Yeah the upfront cost is pretty high but after the initial investment, the price of filters/etc is actually cheaper than it is with old fashioned pitcher filters. And then of course the water is cleaner and better… so if you can get over the initial investment (and you have somewhere in your kitchen to put the giant Berkey filter) then it’s totally worth it.

  9. There has to be something higher-end for travel out there, that isn’t plastic, that has a fluoride filter, maybe digitalized that reports data on the quality of the filter life?

  10. Hello Chris

    Are you still happy with this product?
    I’ve read a lot of negative reviews on amazon, approximately 22% of people give this product a 1 star rating due to filter failure and leakages.

  11. Hi.
    I read an article by dr Lawrence Wilson ” water for health and longevity”. For tap water he recommended using a carbon filter only. He said that adding a fluoride filter damaged the water. Can you shed any light on this?
    Thank you

  12. Excellent review of the Berkey water purifier. I was impressed with the simplicity of the set up and the ease of portability of the Travel Berkey. I purchase one last year and I have been using the Berkey water filter at home and on the road, especially, when I am on the job traveling. I use it in my hotel rooms to purify the tap water, rather than buying bottled mineral water which saved me heaps of money and the environment. Recently, I traveled to Asia to work. I brought my Travel Berkey but it got damaged after an accidental drop, but lucky for me, I was able to order the spare parts of a Malaysian store while I was there. Fantastic and friendly service from http://www.berkeywater.my
    Great product!!!

  13. I now use the Big Berkey that I bought from http://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/. I was using the ProPur until I read Mike Adams’ report on gravity water filtration systems at http://www.waterfilterlabs.com/. Mike also sells it on sale occasionally at his store at http://www.naturalnews.com.

    I didn’t want to take up counter space – and I wanted to get a Big Berkey which is too heavy to move around – so I keep it on a wheeled cart I put together with components I bought on sale from http://www.shelving.com.

    1. Hi Gopika! Actually, Mike Adams is an affiliate of berkey and there may be some biases and falsifications on that report. Propur lab reports are certified and independently tested by an EPA-certified lab. Another thing about Propur is that they don’t require any add-ons that are costly and may reduce flow rate to remove fluoride.

  14. We love our Berkey. We have heard so many people complain that they run out of water too quickly, but we find if we replace what we take out with more water, we always have enough. The sight glass spigot is worth every penny and also helps us monitor how much water we have. I always hear people say they love their undercounter systems, but we live in earthquake country and we love knowing that if something were to happen, we would still have a way to clean our water….no matter where we have to take it from.

  15. For me the best way to get the cleanest water is a water distiller. Just let it working overnight, add a pinch of organic sea salt while vortexing it a bit with a stirrer.. and voilá!! Unmatched filtered water quality.

  16. It’s great to read this review, because I too am very happy with the Travel Berkey with site glass spigot that I purchased several years ago. I also purchased the metal stand that Berkey sells to raise everything several inches above my counter top . I use the filtered water for myself and my cat.

  17. Darn auto correct. Moderator can I edit my comment? Or can you at least change birthday to Berkey please. Thankyou

  18. I had a Berkey for many years. Something changed in their filter manufacturing and filter after filter was defective where the stem goes into the filter. After a short time you cannot lock it down and therefore dirty water leaks through. By the time you pay return shipping and get their so-called prorated on the bad filter it’s cost you as much as buying a new one. In less than 2 years I have four filters go bad and I wasn’t the only one with the problem there many many comments out there. So all I can say is I think they’ve gone to China for manufacturing so beware. There’s also a lot of lab stuff out there saying that the fluoride filter does not work past more than say 50 gallons.

  19. We’ve had a Berkey for several years and we still love it. We use the water for making ice and cooking as well as for drinking water. Only problem we have is sometimes we fill it too full and it drips out where the fill and collection tanks join and gets all over the counter top. We’re trying to get smarter about that. Thanks for validating our choice of water filters.

  20. I read your first blogpost on water filters when you posted it on August 7 of last year, and bought the Travel Berkey that same week, since we don’t have any counter space issues, and we love it, and the we haven’t changed the filters in that almost-a-year (we also got the optional fluoride filters.) So, as compared the the Britta and PUR we were using before (which have plastic pitchers and don’t filter fluoride) we’ve probably saved the price of the Berkey in filter cartridge savings alone. Highly recommended.

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