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Berkey vs. Brita Water Filters: 10 Differences & How to Choose

Berkey and Brita are two of the most popular water filter brands.

But what’s the difference? Which brand is better?

In this comparison of Berkey vs. Brita, you’ll get an in-depth look at the features that set these brands apart. I break down their effectiveness, design, filter lifespan, price, and much more.

By the end, you’ll know which water filter is right for your home.

Use the links below to navigate this comparison:

Berkey vs. Brita: Comparison Chart

Use the chart below to quickly compare Brita vs. Berkey.

Product OfferingsStainless steel systems, shower filters, replacement filters, accessoriesPitchers, dispensers, bottles, faucet systems, filter replacements
EffectivenessRemoves 99.0-99.9% of contaminants (unverified)Removes 87.0-99.9% of contaminants
ANSI/NSF CertificationNoYes
DesignGravity-fed polished stainless steel (or co-polyester) filtration systemSingle-filter plastic pitchers for small-volume filtration
Number of Filters2-8  1
Filter Lifespan3,000 gallons per filter40 – 120 gallons (varies by filter)
Warranty6 months to a lifetime (varies by product)1-year
Price$$$-$$$$ (Amazon)$-$$ (Amazon)
Top Reasons to BuyLarge capacity; filters last longEasy to use and store; ANSI/NSF certified
Top Reasons to NOT BuyExpensive; hard to clean; slow flow; Not ANSI/NSF certifiedClogged filters; short filter lifespan; limited capacity

Difference 1: Product Offerings

While Brita and Berkey both offer high-end water filtration systems, their actual product offerings are quite different.

Here’s an overview of each brand’s product lineup:

Brita Product Lines

Brita’s products vary in design — some are portable, like water bottles, while others are meant to attach to your faucet or shower. They are also generally more affordable than Berkey’s larger systems.

Let’s take a closer look at each product:

  • Filtration Pitchers: Brita’s filtration pitchers filter smaller amounts of water simultaneously. They can be refilled quickly and are designed to be placed inside a standard refrigerator. The pitchers are available in 6, 10, or 12-cup capacities and can be used with either a standard Brita filter or a Brita Elite Filter. Some come equipped with a digital filter indicator to notify you when to replace the filter.
Brita Large Water Filter Pitcher for Tap and Drinking Water with 1 Standard Filter, Lasts 2 Months, 10-Cup Capacity, BPA Free, White (Design May Vary)
  • Filtration Dispensers: Dispensers function similarly to Brita’s pitchers but have a much larger capacity (25-27 cups). And instead of pouring water from the top, the water is released through a spigot on the bottom. Many dispensers can fit on a refrigerator shelf. Depending on the model, they can be used with the Standard, Elite, or Stream filter.
Brita XL Water Filter Dispenser for Tap and Drinking Water with 1 Standard Filter, Lasts 2 Months, 27-Cup Capacity, BPA Free, Grey
  • Filtration Bottles: Brita’s portable water bottles have a filter built right into their center, making them perfect for on-the-go use. Bottles are available in 20, 26, and 32-ounce capacities and include one filter. They’re available in multiple colors and materials, including hard-sided plastic and stainless steel.
Brita Insulated Filtered Water Bottle with Straw, Reusable, BPA Free Plastic, Night Sky, 26 Ounce
  • Faucet Systems: Brita’s faucet systems are small attachments that easily twist onto your kitchen faucet and allow you to begin filtering out your tap water immediately. Some models, like the Complete Faucet System, include an electronic filter replacement indicator and multiple spray options.
Brita Water Filter for Sink, Faucet Mount Water Filtration System for Tap Water with 1 Replacement Filter, Reduces 99% of Lead, Chrome
  • Replacement Filters: Brita provides a variety of replacement filters for each of its product lines. Each filter lasts for about 40-100 gallons of water on average. More on filter lifespan later in the comparison.

Learn more about all Brita products on Brita.com or Amazon.

Berkey Product Lines

Berkey’s primary product is its Steel Water Filtration Systems. Berkey also offers the Berkey Light, a more affordable and lightweight version of their popular stainless steel systems.

Berkey water filter system
Berkey water filter system

To see the different options side-by-side, check out the chart below:

Swipe to view the entire chart on mobile.

Travel BerkeyBig BerkeyRoyal BerkeyImperial BerkeyBerkey Light
Capacity1.5 gallons2.25 gallons3.25 gallons4.5 gallons2.75 gallons
Filters Included22222
Maximum Filters44464
Filtration Rate2.75 gallons per hour7 gallons per hour8 gallons per hour21.5 gallons per hour7.5 gallons per hour
ContainerPolished stainless steelPolished stainless steelPolished stainless steelPolished stainless steelCo-polyester
Dimensions7.5″ x 19″8.5″ x 21″9.5″ x 24″10″ x 27″9″ x 28″
Empty Weight6 lb7 lb8 lb10 lb6 lb

Difference 2: Effectiveness

The most critical factor to consider when choosing a water filter is whether it effectively removes contaminants from your water. But before I share the results of each brand’s tests, it’s important to understand how they’re tested.

Tests conducted by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) are considered the gold standard when evaluating the effectiveness and safety of a water filter.

NSF/ANSI certifications help consumers compare and contrast water filters to make an informed purchasing decision. A product must meet rigorous standards to receive these certifications, and they’re the best way to determine how well a water filter can remove contaminants.

Berkey does not have ANSI/NSF certifications. Instead, the company reports test results from an independent third-party source (Envirotek Lab). According to its filtration reports, Berkey systems filter out more than 99.9% of heavy metals like lead, mercury, manganese, arsenic, and chromium. It also reports more than a 99.9% reduction in cadmium.

While the claims seem impressive, the filters may be less effective than Berkey claims. Since Berkey’s systems are not ANSI/NSF certified, there’s no way of knowing whether the standards of the third-party tests are consistent or accurate.

Brita’s Longlast filters have an ANSI/NSF Standard 53 certification (known as the “Health Effects” standard), which shows a 99.5% reduction in lead, a 93.4% reduction in mercury, and a 97.4% reduction in cadmium.

The upgraded Longlast+ filters produce a 99.5% reduction in lead, a 95.5% reduction in mercury, and an impressive 99.2% reduction in Cadmium pH 8.5 according to the same ANSI/NSF Standard 53 test standards.

Finally, Brita’s faucet filters remove more than 99.3% of lead and an over 99% reduction in asbestos, suggesting it’s incredibly effective at removing contaminants and heavy metals.

Remember, even though Brita may not look as good on paper as the Berkey reports, its test results are far more reliable, given that Brita has ANSI/NSF certifications.

You can search through the full test results at the links below.

Difference 3: Set Up and Ease of Use

Brita’s water filtration offerings are easy to set up and use. Setting up their dispensers, bottles, and pitchers is as simple as attaching a filter and filling the system with water. The Brita faucet system screws on your faucet and is ready to use immediately.

Brita’s systems are also easy to fill. In most cases, you bring the pitcher, dispenser, or bottle to your faucet and fill it.

Berkey systems are more challenging to set up. They’re bulky and heavier than Brita systems — even the travel size Berkey weighs 6 pounds when empty.

Berkey systems also require more assembly. In fact, the official assembly video is over 11 minutes long.

You need to install the water spigot to the base with a washer, nut, and gasket, which requires an adjustable wrench.

Berkey plastic spigot
Berkey plastic spigot

Then, the filter needs to be installed into the base before water can be added. Finally, you’ll need to add water to the top portion of the base and attach the lid.

Berkey Black water filter
Berkey Black water filter

Since the Berkey system sits on your countertop and can be anywhere from 19-31 inches high, you may need the help of a stool or a faucet with a long hose to fill it (depending on the size you choose).

Difference 4: Space

Berkey systems are designed to sit on your counter, but they can range in size from 19 to 31 inches tall, which can be difficult to accommodate in some kitchens.

Measuring the height of a Berkey water filter system
Measuring the height of a Berkey water filter system

To ensure your kitchen has enough space, you’ll need to measure the height between your counter and upper cabinets. If there isn’t enough clearance for the Berkey system, you may need to keep it on a table in another room.

Measuring the diameter of a Berkey water filter system
Measuring the diameter of a Berkey water filter system

If you can’t fit the Berkey next to your sink, you’ll need to fill it using a water pitcher —  an extra step you don’t need to do with Brita. Not to mention, Berkey filters can be quite an eyesore, especially in smaller kitchens.

Most of Brita’s offerings, like its pitchers and dispensers, are designed to fit inside your fridge. Since these products are more compact, finding space for them is rarely an issue.

Difference 5: Design

Brita’s water filtration systems are small and portable. These pitchers, bottles, faucet attachments, and dispensers have a simple design and are primarily made from affordable plastics.

Brita Large Water Filter Pitcher for Tap and Drinking Water with SmartLight Filter Change Indicator + 1 Standard Filter, Lasts 2 Months, 10-Cup Capacity, Black

Berkey, however, is a gravity-fed filtration system. It is much larger and holds significantly more water. For example, the Imperial Berkey model holds up to 4.5 gallons, much more than any Brita pitcher or dispenser (Brita’s largest dispenser holds 27 cups or just under two gallons).

Berkey systems are also made from different materials — most models are made with stainless steel; however, the Berkey Light model is made from plastic.

Difference 6: Number of Filters

Because Brita’s filtration systems are smaller, they only require one filter.

Berkey’s systems are much larger and require more filters at once. Its smallest systems only require two filters, but the largest systems need eight filters at a time.

Berkey water filters
Berkey water filters

Difference 7: Filter Lifespan

Different Brita filter models have different lifespans, ranging between 40 and 120 gallons.

Brita’s Stream and Standard filters should be replaced after 40 gallons. For most households, that means they last about a month or two. The same goes for Brita’s Premium Filtering water bottles.

The Brita Elite™ blue filter lasts 120 gallons, which should be about six months for most households. Brita’s water faucet system filters must be replaced every 100 gallons or around four months.

According to Berkey, its water filters are good for around 3,000 gallons. So if you’re using two filters, you won’t need to replace them until they’ve cleaned 6,000 gallons of water. Berkey is a much better option if you want to avoid the hassle of frequently replacing filters.

Difference 8: Warranty

Berkey offers a much more generous warranty on its filtration systems. The stainless steel housing unit and its spigot, washers, hole plugs, knob, and wingnuts are covered by a lifetime warranty.

Berkey filters, also called Black Berkey Elements, come with a 2-year warranty. The fluoride filters have a 6-month warranty.

By contrast, Brita’s warranty policy is more limiting. Brita offers a 30-day unconditional 100% money-back guarantee and a 1-year warranty on its products, regardless of the model.

Difference 9: Price

The upfront cost of Brita systems is significantly less than Berkey. Brita’s popular dispensers, faucet mounts, and pitchers cost anywhere from $20 to $50.

By comparison, there are no budget-friendly Berkey filtration systems; each is an investment. They also require more filters than Brita, which can add to the upfront cost.

However, a significant advantage with Berkey is that you only have to change the filters every ten years or so, meaning you pay less in the long run for filters.

You also pay less per gallon with Berkey systems. For example, a replacement Berkey filter that costs $83 can filter up to 3000 gallons of water — less than 3 cents per gallon. A Brita pitcher replacement filter can sometimes cost as low as $5 but only filters 40 gallons, which is over 12 cents per gallon.

In the long term, you’ll save money with a Berkey, but the break-even point depends on how much water you filter.

The key point: Berkey is a much better value if you plan to use your water filtration system consistently for many years.

The chart below shows the current prices of both brands’ most popular products. Click the prices to view each item on Amazon.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Difference 10: Common Complaints

While both brands get their fair share of praise, both have downsides. Here’s a rundown of the most common complaints:

Brita Complaints

  • Effectiveness: Brita filters are less effective than many other water filters on the market. According to the New York Times, Brita’s standard filter only has five ANSI/NSF certifications, meaning it’s much less effective than other filters. However, Brita’s Elite™ blue filter has over 30 ANSI/NSF certifications, which indicates a much more effective filter.
  • Filter clogs: Brita filters are notorious for clogging. Annoyingly, the clog can mean that the water comes out of a Brita filter slowly or not at all. The upgraded Longlast+ filters perform slightly better.
  • Filter lifetime: Brita filters don’t last long. Filters that are only good for up to 40 gallons will need to be replaced every month or two, even for small families. The Longlast+ filters can be used for six months at most.

Berkey Complaints

  • System price: One of the biggest complaints about Berkey systems is the high price. Berkey water filtration systems are a significant upfront investment, even if they may save you money in the long term.
  • Difficult to clean: Berkey systems are large, and due to their size, they can be challenging to clean. The system won’t fit in most sinks. And since the systems are hard to clean, some customers complain of mold growth.
  • No NSF/ANSI Certification: Berkey uses an independent lab they claim is more comprehensive and cost-efficient. However, NSF/ANSI is the industry standard, so not having that certification does not instill confidence in some customers.
  • Slow flow: Water is slow to come out. The system is gravity-fed, so the lower the water level, the less force there is to push water through.

Bottom Line: Should You Buy a Berkey or Brita Water Filter?

Berkey and Brita are two trusted brands in the water filtration industry, but their systems couldn’t be more different.

The right filtration system for you depends on your lifestyle, how much water you intend to filter, and your budget.

You should buy a Berkey filtration system if you want:

  • A high-capacity filtration system that can handle large amounts of water
  • A filtration system that thoroughly removes heavy metals and other contaminants
  • A water filter that will last for years, so you don’t have to keep continuously replacing it
  • A filter that will save you money over months and years of use

However, you should buy a Brita filter system if you want:

  • Small and portable filters that can easily be stowed in your fridge
  • A filtration system that is incredibly easy to set up
  • A budget-friendly filtration option
  • ANSI/NSF-certified filters that you can trust

Bottom line — Brita focuses on small and portable pitchers, while Berkey’s main offering is its large gravity-fed countertop filters. The countertop filters take up more space and are considerably more expensive, but you don’t have to refill them as often, and the filters last significantly longer.

Learn more about both brands and compare current prices at the links below:

Update: Berkey Sues the EPA

In August 2023, Berkey filed a lawsuit against the EPA. You can read Berkey’s full press release here. Below is a summary of the details and what it means for Berkey in the future. 

  • Lawsuit Filed Against EPA: NMCL and the James B. Shepherd Trust, owners of Berkey Water Systems, filed a lawsuit against the EPA. They seek to stop the EPA’s treatment of Berkey Water Filters as pesticides, arguing it’s an unjustified and arbitrary decision.
  • EPA’s Controversial Decision: The EPA has suddenly decided to register Berkey’s water filters as pesticides under FIFRA, a law that regulates chemical pesticides. Berkey argues that their filters do not fit this definition and that the EPA’s decision is inconsistent with the law. This move marks a dramatic shift after more than 20 years of the filters being sold as a safe and effective product for cleaning water.
  • Potential Impact of EPA’s Interpretation: The new EPA decision can lead to removing Berkey filters from the market, threatening jobs, and possibly introducing untested knockoff filters. If you own a Berkey, this could directly affect you.
  • Consequences of Pesticide Classification: This reclassification imposes numerous regulations and requirements, such as labeling the product as a hazardous material. These labels can be alarming to customers, and the pesticide registration process is expensive and time-consuming.
  • Berkey’s Efforts to Comply with EPA: Berkey originally agreed to have their filters classified as “treated devices” due to incorporating silver (a registered pesticide) in the filter media. The EPA reinterpreted this agreement, reclassifying Berkey filters as pesticides without proper legal procedure.
  • Legal Proceedings to Challenge EPA: Berkey is now taking legal action against the EPA. They argue that the EPA should follow proper procedures before enforcing these new classifications. It’s a critical legal battle that could have long-term effects on the industry.
  • EPA’s History and Potential Impact: The EPA has regulated pesticides for many years, but this move against Berkey is new and unexpected. It could affect not only Berkey’s business but also other companies in the industry, with potential consequences for employees and consumers alike.

I’ll update this article as new information becomes available.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He began his career in marketing, managing campaigns for dozens of Fortune 500 brands. In 2018, Andrew founded Prudent Reviews and has since reviewed 600+ products. When he’s not testing the latest cookware, kitchen knives, and appliances, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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