Which water filter size is right for me?

When determining the best size of water filter for your family or group, please keep in mind that Berkeys produce exceptional water quality, but the gravity filtration process takes time. If you run out of purified water, you will have to wait a little while before more water is produced.

As such, your first consideration should be to purchase a water purification system that has enough holding capacity to meet your group’s needs during peak hours.  For example, you don’t want to run out of water during mealtime or when you have a group of friends over on a hot summer day.  In an office setting or a yoga studio, you don’t want to run out of drinking water during break time when everyone will want to fill a glass or water bottle within a short timeframe. As a rule of thumb, you don’t want to have to fill your Berkey more than twice a day to suit your needs. 


Summary of water filter sizes and uses

Regardless of size, all Berkey Water Filtration Systems produce safepure drinking water that surpasses the strictest filtration and purification standards in the industry.  The only thing that changes from one water filter model to the next is the holding capacity of the system.

  • The compact Travel Berkey water filter is ideal for daily use by 1-2 people who use water primarily for drinking, or when space is very limited.  For people who cook a lot, a system with a larger holding capacity might be a better option

  • The Big Berkey (1-4 people) and Royal Berkey (2-6 people) are our 2 most popular sizes for home use and small offices.

  • The Imperial Berkey and Crown Berkey water filter systems are suitable for big active families, mid to large-size offices, cafés & restaurants, fitness, and yoga studios, waiting rooms, clinics, and anywhere else water is made available for clients.  This is a much cheaper and ecological alternative to bottled water!

  • If you will be using your Berkey water filter somewhere where there is no potable water (for example at the cottage), you may also wish to opt for the larger Imperial Berkey or Crown Berkey to always have a sufficient amount of clean water on hand for drinking, cooking, personal hygiene, etc.

  • If you are traveling to foreign countries, the Go Berkey Kit can easily fit in your suitcase, providing you with safe drinking water wherever you go. If you are traveling by land, a Travel Berkey or Big Berkey can also easily fit in the trunk or your car or in an RV when you are camping.  Keep the box for easy transport!

  • The portable water filter - Sports Berkey bottle can be used to purify water wherever you go and from whatever source you find.  Whether you are at work, on the go, hiking, camping or traveling in distant lands, the Sports Berkey will ensure that you always have access to safe, clean drinking water wherever you are.

  • For outdoor activities and sporting events, the BPA-free plastic Berkey Light may be a good option, as it is inexpensive, lightweight and rugged.

Water filter Comparison Chart

Berkey Comparison Chart

** Important information about flow rates

Since Berkey Water Filtration Systems work on the basis of gravity, the amount of water in the upper chamber will have a direct impact on the flow rate.  The higher the water column, the more pressure there is to force water through the micropores of the Black Berkey purification elements and as such, the faster the flow rate.  This explains why the maximum flow rate on a Travel Berkey water filter with 2 elements, for example, is less than that of a Royal Berkey with 2 elements.

Furthermore, for all units and configurations, flow rate will always be faster when the upper chamber is completely full than when it is 1/2 or 3/4 empty.   The indicated flow rate in the table reflects the maximum flow rate when the upper chamber is kept full, for example when maximum water output is required during emergencies.  However, the average flow rate to completely empty the upper chamber into the lower chamber will be slower than the maximum flow rates indicated in the table above.

Finally, keep in mind that the addition of Fluoride Water Filters Removal will reduce the flow rate of your Berkey System by 15-20%.  It will also reduce the holding capacity of the lower reservoir because each PF-2 filter displaces the equivalent of about 350 ml of water.

A word of advice on water filters:  Don’t buy too small!  

If properly maintained, your stainless steel Berkey housing water filter will last a lifetime.  So when choosing your Berkey System, think about your future water needs, not just your present needs.  What will your water requirements look like in 5 or 10 years?  Will your family grow?  Will your living arrangements change?

The price difference between a Travel water filter and a Big Berkey, or a Big and a Royal Berkey, for example, is negligible over the lifetime of the product.  Also, the Travel Berkey does not allow for filter expansion - you will always be limited to 2 Black Berkey elements - whereas the larger models can accommodate 4, 6 or even 8 elements, thus increasing flow rate.

If you are hesitating between 2 sizes, it’s often best to choose the larger system to give yourself more options in the future.  That way, you’ll never run out of Berkey water that you’ll grow to love!

    How many BLACK BERKEY® water filter elements do I need?

    All Berkey Systems, with the exception of the Go Berkey water filter, come standard with two (2) Black Berkey elements.  The Big Berkey and larger systems allow users to add 2, 4 or 6 more filters depending on the model.  Adding extra filters will increase the flow rate at which your Berkey produces purified water.  It will not, however, improve the quality of the purified water as Berkey water is already 99.9% contaminant-free, regardless of the number of filters used. 

    The number of elements you need is based on whether you are a normal or a heavy water user. First, determine for which of the following you will use your Berkey water.

    • Drinking water only
    • Drinking water and cooking
    • Basic hygiene if no potable water
    • Plants and sprouts
    • Pets
    • Other uses

    Keep in mind that once you have unlimited access to safecontaminant-free drinking water, your usage of water will probably increase, as it does for the majority of new Berkey water filter users. Why not give the best possible water to your pets and plants? After all, they are also living beings!

    Adding extra Black Berkey elements will also increase the filter life of the system. 

    Each black Berkey element can treat as much as 3000 gallons or 11,350 liters, so 2 elements can treat 6000 gallons before replacement, 4 elements can treat 12,000 gallons, and so on. You're just buying extra water filters now instead of later, and saving money in doing so.   

    Should I choose a stainless steel Berkey or a plastic Berkey?

    All Berkey System housings, with the exception of the Berkey Light, are produced using the highest quality food grade AISI 304 polished stainless steel, known for its high corrosion and heat-resistant properties.

    Advantages of stainless steel water filter over plastic:

    • Stainless steel Berkeys water filter come in many different sizes

    • Stainless steel is extremely durable and can last a lifetime

    • Stainless steel is easy to maintain

    • Stainless steel will not break or crack if dropped accidentally (it might dent, but this generally does not impact the integrity of the product, only the aesthetics)

    • Stainless steel will not leach chemical compounds into the water

    • Stainless steel won’t let in light, preventing potential algae growth in the chambers

    • All stainless steel Berkeys are designed to allow the upper chamber to be nested in the lower chamber when not in use.  This reduces height and volume for convenient and compact storage and transportation.

    • Berkey also offers a BPA/BPS-free food-grade plastic model called the Berkey Light which might appeal to some users.

    Advantages of plastic water filter over stainless steel:

    • Lower cost than stainless steel

    • Berkey Light water filter is elegantly designed to look good in any setting

    • Plastic allows user to see water level in the upper and lower chambers

    • Lightweight, good for use in rugged situations such as outdoors and sporting activities

    • Resistant to breaks and dents

    • Included base raises unit to easily place glass under the spigot

    N.B. Unlike the stainless steel models, the two plastic Berkey Light chambers do not nest inside one another, as such they take up more space during transport.

    Which optional Berkey water purifier accessories should I consider?

    • The Black Berkey Primer is a very convenient accessory that is a must-have for emergency preparedness or to use your Berkey water filter where treated water is unavailable.  The Primer also makes priming your Black Berkey elements much easier at home if you have a kitchen faucet with a shower attachment or a small sink.  Sometimes, it is difficult to create a seal between the priming button and certain faucets, making the priming procedure very difficult, and that is when the Black Berkey Primer comes in handy.  The flow direction of the Primer can also be reversed to empty water from Black Berkey filters prior to storing them.
    • The Sight Glass Spigot allows you to get an instant reading of how much water is left in the lower chamber of your Berkey® water filtration system without the need to lift the upper chamber. This means that you never run out of purified drinking water and you never cause the system to overflow by over-filling the upper chamber.
    • This Stainless Steel Spigot can be used to substitute the black plastic spigot that comes standard with stainless steel Berkey systems.  This optional spigot is made of the highest food grade 304 stainless and features a fast flow rate and a quarter turn ball-valve design, for secure and easy access.

    • The Stainless Wire Stand raises your Berkey 5 inches up off the counter, allowing you to easily fit a cup or container beneath the spigot.

    • The Sport Berkey Bottle is the ideal travel companion, allowing you to produce purified Berkey water wherever you go, whether at work, hiking, or during foreign travel.  The Sport Berkey includes a small version of the Black Berkey element with all the same powerful purification capacity.

    • The Berkey Shower water Filter protects your skin and hair from daily exposure to large amounts of chlorine and other contaminants found in water.  The filter reduces chemical absorption through dilated pores and vapor inhalation under a hot shower.  Can be used with your existing shower head or purchased with the optional massage shower head.