Access to clean water is important whether you live in a traditional home or a home on wheels. Kait and I have been using the Berkey water filtration system for over eight years to get rid of harmful chemicals. I hope you find this Berkey water filter review helpful in your search for the best water filter system.
Note: Travel Berkey and select sizes are back in stock on Berkey’s website.
Berkey Water Filter Review
Why Use a Water Filter System?
When we purchased the Berkey water filter, we were living in a traditional home in the suburbs of Los Angeles. As with most major metropolitan cities, the water is treated with a variety of chemicals, including fluoride. In order to remove the fluoride and other unwanted chemicals from the water, we needed a water filtration system.
After months of research, we found many options to choose from – built-in water filtration systems with reverse osmosis to water pitchers with a carbon filter and everything in between. We ended up going with the Berkey water purification system because it fit all our needs.
Since we started traveling full time, we’ve realized that access to clean water is not always possible. We’ve been to areas with boil alerts due to contamination in the water supply or camped in places where the only water supply is a nearby stream or lake. The benefit of having the Berkey purification water system is that we can fill it with water from any source and have safe drinking water.
During a natural disaster or amid concerns of supply shortages where the shelves are wiped clean of bottled water, as long as we have a water source, we can fill the Berkey and have fresh water whenever we need it.
Berkey Water Filter Sizes
Berkey is a countertop water filter system that comes in a variety of sizes.
Big Berkey is the most popular size, with a storage capacity of 2.1 gallons
Travel Berkey is the one we have, with a storage capacity of 1.5 gallons
Depending on the size of your kitchen, finding room for the Berkey could be a challenge. Berkeys range from 19″-23″ tall. The average space between the countertop and cabinet is 18″. Make sure to find an open space with enough height to fill the top portion with unfiltered water.
We find the 1.5 gallon storage capacity of the Travel Berkey works well for two adults. Just remember to refill the top chamber with water.
It does take some time for the purified water to filter through. According to the website, the Travel Berkey can produce “up to 2.75 gallons of purified drinking water per hour.” After eight years of continuous use in a traditional home and in RVs, we are very satisfied with our Berkey.
How Does the Berkey Filter Water?
The Berkey consists of two main chambers/cylinders. The top chamber is where you pour in the water for filtering. Inside the chamber are the black Berkey filters, the heart of their water filtration system. The water flows through these filters into the lower chamber, the reservoir for the filtered water. Note: Depending on the size of your Berkey, there can be up to 4 filters inside this chamber.
More Information: Water Filter vs. Water Purifier
Black Berkey Filters remove chemicals, bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, fertilizers and a long list of additional contaminants from tap water – while keeping the good minerals in. We found other systems that removed all of the minerals in the water (which is unhealthy), but didn’t remove the harmful bacteria and viruses. Bacteria and viruses may not be an issue with tap water, but in a situation where the water is compromised, the Berkey will purify the water.
More Information: How to Clean Black Berkey Filter.
Fluoride Water Filter
If you have fluoridated water, you can add fluoride water filters to your Berkey. The fluoride filters sit in the lower chamber. Once the water flows through the top chamber, it flows into the fluoride chamber before making its way to the lower chamber.
More Information: Benefits of Berkey Filters
Note: We found when using the fluoride filters, the water filtered much slower than not using them.
Berkey Set Up
It takes me an hour to setup the Berkey. In the box the Berkey doesn’t look like much – two stainless steel cylinders, some filters and fittings. The system arrived well packaged with a variety of detailed instructions that make setup easy but time consuming.
First step is to clean everything thoroughly. Next step is to put together pieces like the water spout and lid. The time consuming step is priming all the filters. I highly recommend buying the priming tool if it doesn’t come with your Berkey purchase. It made my life much easier and avoid any issues with not properly priming the filters.
The primed filters fit in the top chamber via nuts and rubber washers. To ensure everything is tight and filtering properly, put some red food coloring into the water (one tsp for every gallon). Check the filtered water to make sure it’s clear. Note: When screwing the fittings for the filters onto the top chamber, they will be saturated with water from priming and will start to drip. This is fine. Just don’t let the filters sit for too long or they will need to be re-primed.
Once the Berkey is assembled, add water to the top chamber and run a few gallons through. We noticed that the first couple gallons had a bit of a taste to it, most likely from the filters. We added the fluoride filters when we first started using the Berkey. Today, our Travel Berkey is setup with the black Berkey filters.
Note: Fluoride filters aren’t needed if your water isn’t treated with fluoride.
Berkey Water Tastes Great!
It’s difficult to describe the change in taste of the water, but it tastes better. We use the water for everything and have noticed a difference in the taste of coffee and tea. Before heading out for the day, we always fill our water bottles with Berkey water. We also give Berkey water to our dog and use it for brushing our teeth.
How Long Will Berkey Filters Last?
Berkey’s website states that you can determine the approximate life of your filter(s). Take the number of filters in your specific unit (we have two) and multiple that by 3000 and that will give you the total life in gallons that your filters have. With a total of 6000 total life gallons at a consumption of 2 gallons per day, our filters should last about 8 years.
Is Berkey Worth the Money?
Despite some short comings, we highly recommend the Berkey water filtration system. The initial cost is high, but it’s worth the money considering how long the filters will last. At about $100 per set for replacement filters, it’s a good investment.
The Berkey also provides peace of mind during an emergency. If we need to use pool or stream water, we know the Berkey will filter that water so it’s safe for us to drink.
What We Don’t Like About Our Berkey
Water level indicator is not included. The only way to figure out how much water is left is to guess based on the flow rate through the standard spigot. The flow rate is fairly slow when the bottom reservoir is close to empty. You can Purchase a Water View Spigot.
It can be easy to overfill the Berkey. When this happens, a slow drip of water starts at the point where the top and bottom chambers connect.
Best Berkey for Travelers/RVers
Travel Berkey is the size we recommend to fellow travelers and RVers. It’s compact and fits well in a tiny space. It’s also the size we’ve used for over eight years.
If you found this review helpful and decide to purchase the Berkey, please consider ordering through our Berkey affiliate link. There is no additional fee for the buyer and in return we receive a small percentage of the sale. Thanks for your support! We really appreciate it.
Disclosure: This review represents our own opinions of the products. We were not compensated in anyway for this review and purchased all of the Berkey products referenced with our own money.