Berkey vs. ZeroWater Filters

People everywhere are concerned about what is in their drinking water. Chemicals like chloramine, dissolved metals, and microplastics are just a few of the unseen contaminants that could be floating around in the water you drink. That’s why home-use water filters, like Berkey and ZeroWater, have become common household items. Depending on your specific needs, some water filters may prove to be better than others. In this comparison, we review the features, costs, and the pros and cons of each brand.

Berkey vs Zerowater filters

Berkey Water Filters Options

Berkey Water Filtration systems come in a variety of sizes to accommodate from one person to eight people or more. All Berkey water filters are made from high-quality stainless steel. While the initial cost of a Berkey water filter may seem expensive, the cost over time is extremely affordable and more so as each filter lasts 3000 gallons, or 6000 gallons for a pair of filters that come standard with every system. For example, the Big Berkey, which is roughly the same size as the ZeroWater 40 Cup Pitcher, is only $0.05 per gallon after using it for 6000 gallons compared to $0.39 for the ZeroWater product. Below, you can compare Berkey water filters currently available and their parameters including weight, size, cost, and construction material, plus a price per gallon comparison..

Berkey Water Filters # of People Capacitiy Weight Size Cost ¢ Per Gallons
Travel Berkey 1-3 1.5 Gallons 6lbs 19 in $249
Big Berkey 1-4 2.25 Gallons 7lbs 21 in $278
Royal Berkey 2-6 3.25 Gallons 8lbs 24 in $305
Imperial Berkey 6-10 4.5 Gallons 10lbs 27 in $335
Crown Berkey 8+ 6 Gallons 12lbs 31 in $360

ZeroWater Filter Options

ZeroWater filters, with the exception of the 40-Cup Dispenser made from glass, are constructed from BPA free plastic. In the chart below, we break down the ZeroWater filters available including weight, size, cost, and construction material. Initially, the cost is inexpensive, but the price per gallon gets steep rather quickly. For example, the 40-Cup pitcher can last up to 40 gallons with one filter. To last 6000 gallons, you need to change the filter 150 times. If you buy the 2-pack sets of filters it would cost $2249.25 just on filters, with a grand total of $2324.25. This is a best-case scenario if your filter lasts 40 gallons because the majority of US tap water will get between 25 and 40 gallons per filter. The costs go up even more if it filters less than 40 gallons per filter and already, it’s over ten times the cost of the Big Berkey.

ZeroWater Filters Weight Height Material Cost ¢ Per Gallon
7 Cup Pitcher 2.24lbs 9.5 in Plastic $21.99 38¢
10 Cup Pitcher 2.8lbs 10.25 in Plastic $32.99 38¢
12 Cup Pitcher 3lbs 11 in Plastic $37.99 38¢
30 Cup Filter Jug 4lbs 10.625 in Plastic $39.99 38¢
40 Cup Water Dispenser 9.2lbs 19.8 in  Glass $74.99 39¢
Berkey In Kitchen

Black Berkey Purification Filter vs. ZeroWater 5-Stage Filter

ZeroWater filters use a 5 compartment filtration system where each component removes suspended solids, metals, and chemicals. While this brand may boast about its superiority because of the 5 stage system, consumer reports indicate that the complexity of the filtration system’s design can lead to leaking and possible mold growth.

Both Berkey and ZeroWater filters can remove over 95% of most dissolved solids including lead. However, Berkey’s black filters are more efficient with fewer moving parts, resulting in fewer breakages or malfunctions.

Black Berkey filters filter water with a specialized purification process. It starts with a construct made up of six, different media types that create a matrix of microscopic pores. These pores are so small it makes it difficult for contaminants like bacteria, sedimentary material and parasites to travel through them, so they get stuck and are filtered out of your water in a process called microfiltration. Then, the process incorporates adsorption and absorption, which creates an ionic barrier. It can filter out contaminants such as viruses, iodine and chlorine, and is possible thanks to the microporous filter. After that, heavy minerals are removed through a process called ion exchange, which causes heavy minerals to bond to the media.  It is important to note that the filters, however, are not designed to remove beneficial (ionic) minerals from your water supply. Finally, because the gravity method allows water molecules to go through all of these methods for a little longer, it allows more contaminants to be filtered out compared to other water filtration methods. All of these scientific processes combined along with simple care makes Berkey stand out compared to the competition.

Even though the design has remained largely unchanged for decades, Berkey’s water filtration elements continue to outperform most of the competition and have not been replicated.

Contaminants in Water

Invisible minerals found in water are referred to as Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). Dissolved solids like sediment, rust, calcium, magnesium, mercury, iron, and salt may be present in your drinking water from the rock and soil that it passes through underground. Heavy metals like lead, nickel, and copper, can leach into drinking water from pipes

Additional contaminants could include pesticides, nitrogen, bacteria, parasites, microorganisms, and even coliform (E.coli). It is important to understand, that contaminants that do not have a charge (IE bacteria, microorganisms & coliform) will not be detected with a TDS water test but will be detected through official lab testing.

Water Testing and Reports

The Berkey Water Filter can provide clean, safe drinking water from just about anywhere — from municipal sources all the way to stagnant pond water. The Black Berkey Filters have been independently tested and exceed the NSF standard. Additionally, the Berkey filter set a new filtration standard, the purification standard, which exceeds typical filtration standards by removing more pathogenic bacteria (99.9999999%) as well as viruses (99.999%). See Berkey publishes lab results.

ZeroWater provides a TDS detector so that you can test your drinking water source before and after filtration, for total dissolved solids only. TDS detectors can also be purchased online, but it’s recommended to use official lab test results instead, see above note in Contaminants in Water section. Additionally, a low reading on a TDS filter is not always a good indicator of water quality since it means that beneficial minerals are not present in the water. 

You can access your local water quality reports and laboratory results in order to learn which contaminants are in your tap water. Websites like www.ewg.org/tapwater can also be helpful in determining your water quality. Learning which contaminants are in your water source can guide you to what water filter is best for your needs.

Water Filter Contaminants Removed  Purification Speed Testing Certifications Warranty

Berkey

200+ Including: Bacteria, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Microplastics, Microplastics, Microorganisms, Lead, Peticides, Pharmaceuticals, Contaminants, Sulfides, Viruses 3.5 to 7 gallons per hour Exceed EPA and ANSI/NSF (std. 42 &53) protocol 100% Lifetime Warranty (see below)
ZeroWater Bacteria, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Microplastics, Lead, Salts, Sulfides 1.5 gallons per hour NSF International

90 Day Warranty (see below)

Warranty

Berkey and ZeroWater filter systems both have a warranty, although Berkey’s warranty is substantially better. Berkey Filters offers a 100% guaranteed lifetime warranty on their systems. Berkey backs their product 100% from manufacturing materials and workmanship (ie: faulty washers, spigot, bolts, etc.). This lifetime guarantee does not replace or repair water filters or parts that are broken from misuse or accidental damage that may occur from the user, but the Black Berkey filters have a 2 year prorated (6-month interval) warranty.

ZeroWater only backs their product for essentially 3 months and warrants its product to be free from manufacturing defects for 90 days from the date of purchase. The warranty is only viable if the ZeroWater filter was used in compliance as recommended in the owner’s manual.

Choosing a Water Filter

A water filter can help ease your concerns and provide you with pure water to drink. Berkey water purification systems can hold and filter more water in comparison to ZeroWater pitcher filters. ZeroWater filters have a complicated filter system that could malfunction more than the carbon block filter of a Berkey water filter. Plus, Berkey water purification systems are made in the USA and provide a 100% guarantee on manufactured parts. When you factor in the cost over time, Berkey water filters are the ideal choice.