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.
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.
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.
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!