2019’s Big Berkey Countertop Gravity Water Filter System Review

    Big Berkey Reviews

    Big Berkey - Most Popular Berkey System

    •    Price: $$
    •    Serving: 1-4 People
    •    Capacity: 3,000 Gallons
    •    Annual Costs: ~$20-40
    •    Flow Rate: ~7.0 Gallons/h

    The Big Berkey is the most popular of all Berkey water filtration systems. It provides clean and pure water with no taste (as it’s supposed to) for up to 4 people.

    When employing all 4 filter slots, the system’s maximum flow rate is approx. 7 gallons per hour – that means only when the upper chamber is filled to the top.

    Because since Berkey systems rely on gravity to push the source water through their filter elements, the more water you pour inside, the higher the pressure and therefore flow rate is going to be.

    The lower reservoir that collects the purified water can hold as much as 2.25 gallons.

    What contaminants does the Big Berkey remove?

    Examining the test results provided by New Millennium Concepts, ltd., the manufacturer of Berkey, it looks like their Black filter elements remove everything you can think of: From aluminum and heavy metals like lead to waterborne pathogens, chlorine, VOCs – you name it.

    According to the company, the test results exceed NSF Standard 53 requirements.

    If you also want to eliminate more than 97% fluoride and arsenic, consider purchasing the optional PF-2 post-filters.

    What We Like

    The Big Berkey takes care of all of your cooking and drinking water needs having the perfect size for home use. It’s not too big to not fit on your countertop and still large enough to provide enough water for a whole family without long waiting times.

    We also like its simple design that makes the system so easy to use. All you need to do is fill water into the top chamber and wait till it comes out at the bottom.

    And in case you wonder, yes, all Berkey systems use the same filter elements. So if you ever want to upgrade (or downgrade) your unit, you can still use your old ones until they have reached their capacity to save money.

    Speaking of money, 1 gallon of Berkey-purified drinking water costs you less than $0.02. This is because the filters have high capacities (about 3,000 gallons) and can last for years.

    Only when you decide to use the additional fluoride elements will your costs increase to $0.08 per gallon – still a lot cheaper than what you pay for bottled water.

    What’s more, the Big Berkey will not remove any healthy minerals from your water (and thus not reduce TDS reading).

    In addition, we like the stainless steel looks. 304 stainless steel also stands for longevity.

    Another benefit is that Berkey systems do not run on electricity which again will save you money and is the best solution in a SHTF scenario. Plus you can use more or less any water source as your feed supply.

    Big Berkey Water Filter Reviews

    Assembly + Filter Priming

    The Big Berkey does not require any plumbing to set up. In fact, assembling the unit does not even involve the use of tools. This allows you to stay flexible and move the system around wherever you want.

    In case you miss clear directions, this is what you need to do:

    Please note: Remember to wash your hands before proceeding.

    Setting Things Up

    1. Attach the lib knob.
    2. Insert a washer onto the threaded part of the spigot.
    3. Insert the spigot into the hole of the lower chamber turning it to 9 o’clock position.
    4. Insert a washer to the threaded part of the spigot inside the lower chamber.
    5. Secure the spigot with a nut.
    6. Hold the nut from the inside and turn the spigot into upright position.
    7. Install the plugs into the holes that you are not going to use.
    8. Prime the filter elements.
    9. Install filters to holes in the upper chamber using washers and wing nuts. Be careful to not overtighten.
    10. Place the upper chamber on top of the lower chamber.
    11. Fill the upper chamber with water.
    12. Place the lid on top.

    Video

    Filter Priming

    Black Berkey elements require priming before use. Don’t worry, this sounds more complicated than it really is…

    1. Locate the circular priming button contained in the box.
    2. Press the button onto the threaded stem of the element.
    3. Carefully press the filter with the priming button on top against your kitchen faucet.
    4. Slowly turn on the cold water to allow it to flow inside.
    5. After a moment the water will start to run down the filter side.
    6. Wait another 5 seconds and repeat the process with the next element.

    For PF-2 fluoride elements the priming (or purging) goes like this:

    1. Wash the exterior with mild dish soap.
    2. Remove the blue caps from both ends.
    3. Place the priming button on top of the filter. Which end you choose doesn’t matter.
    4. Press the purging button up against your faucet.
    5. Slowly turn on the cold water.
    6. Wait until water starts to come out of the other end to rinse away any residual process dust from the media.
    7. Allow the water to discharge until it becomes clear. This may actually take a few minutes.
    8. Turn the filter upside down and repeat.

    You may need to purge each element more than once in each direction.

    The Package (Parts)

    • Upper AISI 304 stainless steel chamber
    • Lower AISI 304 stainless steel chamber
    • 2x Black Berkey purification elements
    • 2x wing nuts
    • 2x washers
    • Priming button
    • Stainless steel lid with handle
    • Plastic spigot
    • Rubber gasket

    Maintenance

    In order to keep your Big Berkey in good shape, remember that you have to clean the filter elements from time to time. The frequency depends on your feed water quality and how much sediment and turbidity it contains. A good rule of thumb is about once a month or whenever you notice a significant drop in filtration speed.

    To start the cleaning ritual, remove the elements and scrub them with a brush or scouring pad to rub off the outside layer that has absorbed all the impurities. This shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. When done, re-prime each filter before reinstalling.

    Instead of a brush or scouring pad, you can also use a vegetable peeler and carefully peel away the outside layer under running water.

    For reasons of hygiene, you might also want to wash out the lower chamber with soapy dishwater every once in a while. And if you live in an area with very hard water, the spigot might clog up so that you will have to remove it and soak it in vinegar to get off all the scale.

    What We Don’t Like | Problems

    Like every other water filtration system the Big Berkey, too, has its drawbacks:

    • The replacement elements are not exactly cheap. On the upside, they will last much longer than most cartridges sold by the competition.
    • The filtration does not stop once the lower chamber is full. So be careful not to overfill it and cause a flood.
    • With the standard version, there is no easy way to check how much purified water is left in the lower reservoir. You have to lift the top chamber and peek.
    • For some customers the plastic spigot started leaking.
    • The frequent re-priming can get tiresome. This also applies to the PF-2 fluoride elements that may add cloudiness or unpleasant taste to your water when not properly (re)conditioned.

    Our Verdict

    It’s not a surprised that the Big Berkey is the most sought after countertop water filtration system out there. It’s easy to assemble and use, low in maintenance, and very effective at removing impurities to provide drinking water of superb quality. That’s 4.5 stars from us!

    Looking for More Berkey Information & Reviews?

    This was not exactly what you were looking for? No problem! You can find more Berkey water filter reviews here.

    Of course, we also have many more countertop (gravity) water filter reviews in store for you!

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    This completes our Big Berkey water filter review. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

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