Aquatru is a brand that has recently seen a huge surge in popularity. Aquatru’s filters can remove an impressive range of harmful contaminants from drinking water, thanks to the system’s reverse osmosis technology that’s advertised to completely eliminate more than 83 contaminants.
Though Aquatru might be “trending” at the moment, Berkey is one of the long-loved filtration brands that has built up a strong following of loyal customers over its years of operation. Many people opt for the Berkey for the simple fact that the brand has become trusted and well-established in the water filter industry, making it a good option for first-time buyers or skeptical customers who don’t want to waste their money.
They’re both countertop water filters, but when comparing Aquatru vs Big Berkey, that’s about where the similarities end. If you’re looking for a countertop water filter for your family and you’re not sure which to go for, this comparison of Aquatru vs Berkey water filters should help you to reach a decision.
Note: In this review, we’ve largely focused on Aquatru’s base model, the Aquatru Classic. However, we have mentioned features of Aquatru’s three upgrade models at various points in this guide.
Table of Contents
⚖️ Comparison Chart
|Certifications or Testing||NSF 42, 53, 58, 401, and P473||–|
|Filter Capacity||600 – 1,200 gallons||3,000 gallons/ filter|
|Holding Capacity||0.75 gallons||2.25 gallons|
|Discount||Our readers get 15% Click here for code||n/a|
💡 Filter Comparison
Berkey’s filters, called Black Berkey elements, are gravity water filters. This means that they don’t use water pressure or electricity to work, which is a big bonus if you’re planning to take the system on a vacation or use in an emergency.
The Berkey water filter elements come in sets of 2, though you can install up to 4 elements inside a system at one time. Each filter is made up of 6 different types of media, including a coconut shell carbon material, which uses the process of adsorption to trap contaminants in their tiny pores.
Berkey’s water filters work like typical gravity filters – when water is added to the top chamber of the system, it passes through the filters, which gradually allow water through while trapping the contaminants. The filtered water then comes out of the filters and into the bottom chamber of the system.
Aqua Tru has a 4-stage water filtration process that’s a little more complex than Berkey’s. You need to connect Aquatru’s water filter to an electricity source for it to work – it uses a 120-volt outlet, so the system really won’t contribute noticeably to your energy bills.
Water first passes through a mechanical pre-filter that removes sediment, before moving onto an activated carbon filter, like the Berkey’s, which uses adsorption to trap 99.9% of chlorine.
Next – and what makes the Aquatru completely different from Berkey’s offering – water passes through a reverse osmosis filter, which removes the bulk of contaminants from water, including heavy metals and trace pharmaceuticals. It finishes by passing through another activated carbon filter, this one made from coconut shell, which eliminates any remaining contaminants.
There are three Aquatru water filters altogether, and you’ll need to include them all in your system for it to operate. Aquatru’s reverse osmosis technology makes the tap water filtration process much quicker than Berkey’s.
Note: Aquatru also sells three system upgrades, including the Aquatru Alkaline Classic and the Aquatru Alkaline Connect. These two models feature an alkalizing remineralization filter that adds healthy minerals back into RO purified water.
🧫 What Contaminants Do They Remove?
Comparing the Aquatru water filter vs Berkey for contaminant removal, both can remove hundreds of contaminants, including lead, chlorine and pharmaceuticals.
Aquatru’s filters are also certified by IAPMO for NSF Standards 42, 53 and 58 for the removal of 83 specific contaminants. Keep in mind that these are just the contaminants the unit has been tested to remove – being a reverse osmosis system it will be removing hundreds more that were not specifically tested for. See the AquaTru performance data below:
|Ethylene Dibromide (Edb)||>99%|
|Chloroform (Surrogate Chemical)||95%|
|Chlorine Reduction, Free Available||97%|
|Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)||97.5%|
|Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)||97.5%|
Below is a full list of Berkey’s contaminant removal capabilities using the Black Berkey filter elements:
|1,2-Dichloro-1,1,2-trifluoroethane (CFC 123a)||99.90%|
|Aroclor (1016, 1221, 1232, 1242, 1248, 1254, 1260)||99.90%|
|Dichlorodifluoromethane (CFC 12)||99.90%|
|Dieldrin Diethyl phthalate||99.90%|
|Ethylene Dibromide (EDB)||99.90%|
|Halo acidic Acids (HAA5)||99.90%|
|Methyl tert-Butyl Ether (MTBE)||99.90%|
|Trichlorofluoromethane (CFC 11)||99.90%|
🚦 Performance Comparison
Berkey water filters are most well-known for their long-term reliability, not for their speed of water filtration. If you’re looking to filter water at home and want to gain immediate access to clean drinking water at any moment, the Berkey might not be the right choice for you. Being a gravity water filter, it takes roughly an hour for the Berkey to filter 3.5 gallons of water. While this is fairly speedy for a filter of its kind, it does mean you’ll need to wait a couple of minutes for a cup of water to be filtered.
But when looking at the overall performance of the Berkey water filter in terms of contaminants removed, there are plenty of positive things to say. Berkey is one of the most effective moderately-priced water filters available, with the ability to remove more than 200 contaminants using the adsorption process. It’s unlikely that you’ll find many filters at a similar cost that can remove as many contaminants, and as thoroughly.
Here’s a summary of the performance of Berkey water filter as assessed through our third-party laboratory analysis.
|Contaminant||Test 1 |
|Test 1 |
|% Reduction||Test 2 |
|Test 2 |
|Aluminum||0 PPM||1.44 PPM||n/a||0.052 PPM||0.069P PM||32.69%|
|Barium||0.0317 PPM||0 PPM||100%||0.0127 PPM||0 PPM||100%|
|Bromodichloromethane||0.00404 PPM||0 PPM||100%||ND||ND||ND|
|Calcium||ND||ND||ND||8.8 PPM||34.6 PPM||+293.18%|
|Chloride||ND||ND||ND||6.9 PPM||8.7 PPM||+26.09%|
|Chloroform||0.023 PPM||0 PPM||100%||0.0352 PPM||0 PPM||100%|
|Cobalt||0.0031 PPM||0.003 PPM||3.23%||ND||ND||ND|
|Copper||0.255 PPM||0 PPM||100%||0.0434 PPM||0 PPM||100%|
|Fluoride||0.2 PPM||0.1 PPM||50%||0.1 PPM||0 PPM||100%|
|Lead||0.0027 PPM||0 PPM||100%||0.0006 PPM||0 PPM||100%|
|Magnesium||ND||ND||ND||2.19 PPM||9.88 PPM||+351.14%|
|Manganese||0.0014 PPM||0 PPM||100%||0.001 PPM||0 PPM||100%|
|Potassium||ND||ND||ND||0 PPM||1.68 PPM||n/a|
|Sodium||ND||ND||ND||10.4 PPM||9.29 PPM||10.67%|
|Strontium||0.168 PPM||0 PPM||100%||0.062 PPM||0.138 PPM||+122.58%|
|Sulfate||16.6 PPM||1.6 PPM||90.36%||10 PPM||23 PPM||+130%|
|Total Coliforms||15 CFU/100mL||0 CFU/100mL||100%||ND||ND||ND|
|Total THMs||0.027039 PPM||0 PPM||100%||0.0352 PPM||0 PPM||100%|
Berkey’s Black Berkey elements have been independently tested for contaminant removal, and results back up the company’s claims: the filters are incredibly high-performing compared to other gravity filters of their kind. The only thing that would top Berkey’s current performance claims would be if the company was to become NSF certified, or even just tested to NSF Standards (which Berkey originally falsely claimed), rather than simply independently tested for contaminant removal.
One major benefit of the Aquatru, performance-wise, is that it has all the capabilities of a reverse osmosis system without the inflated cost of a typical RO system, or the effort of installation and maintenance. Using a 4-stage filter process, the Aquatru is one of the purest water filter systems available in countertop form today.
The multiple stages of water filtration in Aquatru’s system are its standout performance point. Tap water is filtered through multiple filters, which means it receives a much more thorough treatment than a single filter could offer. The Aquatru uses electricity to force gallons of water through the filtration system at a high speed, providing immediate filtered drinking water at the touch of a button.
A big performance bonus of the Aquatru unit, if you choose to upgrade to an applicable model, is that you can enjoy healthy alkaline water with added minerals. You don’t get the option of remineralization with the Berkey.
See our Aquatru laboratory testing data in the table below.
|Barium||0.014 PPM||0 PPM||100.00%|
|Calcium||23.9 PPM||0.7 PPM||97.07%|
|Chloride||9.2 PPM||0 PPM||100.00%|
|Copper||0.0525 PPM||0 PPM||100.00%|
|Fluoride||1.5 PPM||0 PPM||100.00%|
|Lead||0.0009 PPM||0 PPM||100.00%|
|Magnesium||6.08 PPM||0.36 PPM||94.08%|
|Molybdenum||0.0047 PPM||0 PPM||100.00%|
|Nitrate (as N)||2.1 PPM||0 PPM||100.00%|
|Phosphorus||1.1 PPM||0 PPM||100.00%|
|Sodium||9.91 PPM||0 PPM||100.00%|
|Strontium||0.108 PPM||0 PPM||100.00%|
|Sulfate||7.6 PPM||0 PPM||100.00%|
|Total Dissolved Solids||112 PPM||12 PPM||89.29%|
|Uranium||0.0182 PPM||0 PPM||100.00%|
|Zinc||0.559 PPM||0 PPM||100.00%|
But comparing Aquatru vs Berkey, not everything about the Aquatru’s performance is better. The filters have much shorter lifespans than Berkey’s, meaning you’ll need to spend more money and effort maintaining the Aquatru than you would for the Berkey. This is a performance flaw that does let the Aquatru down somewhat.
💲 Models & Upfront Cost
Berkey’s water filtration system comes in a variety of models, all of which cost several hundred dollars each. Though they may seem a little pricey, when you factor in just how long Berkey’s filters last for, and how reliable Berkey products tend to be, Berkey’s systems are actually a very good long-term investment.
Berkey’s current range of countertop water filters is as follows:
- The Travel Berkey (1.5 gallons)
- The Big Berkey (2.25 gallons)
- The Royal Berkey (3.25 gallons)
- The Imperial Berkey (4.5 gallons)
- The Crown Berkey (6 gallons)
- The Berkey Light, (2.75 gallons)
You can buy the Big Berkey, the most popular offering, for just less than $300. All of Berkey’s filters cost between around $250 and $360, which includes two filtration elements. You can also purchase another 2 elements along with your system of choice for an additional $100.
There is currently only one offering from Aquatru for countertop water filtration: the 4-stage Ultra Reverse Osmosis filtration system. The system is nearly twice as expensive as Berkey’s cheapest option, costing around $440.
There are four configurations of this unit:
- The Aquatru Classic – the standard configuration
- The Aquatru Connect – comes with WiFi connection and in-app information
- The Aquatru Alkaline Classic – comes with an alkalizing mineral-boost VOC filter
- The Aquatru Alkaline Connect – comes with WiFi and alkalizing mineral-boost VOC filter
The price difference between the cheapest unit (Classic) and the most expensive model (Alkaline Connect) is just $70, so you might be tempted to upgrade if any of these features appeal to you.
The company also sells some accessories to use alongside the system, including glass water bottles, a remineralization solution, and descaling powder. Additionally, you can buy an extra purified water tank for around $60, and a replacement tap water tank for around $40.
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📆 Filter Lifespan & Replacement Costs
Looking at the Berkey filter vs Aquatru for filter lifespan, Berkey’s filtration elements are a better value for money, costing around $120 for a set of 2, which will last for around four years or 6,000 gallons. You can also buy another 2 filters for around $240, which will last for 12,000 gallons or around 8 years, which is a pretty impressive statistic for any type of water filter.
Aquatru’s filters have much lower lifespans than Berkey’s, with the pre-filter lasting for 6 months, the VOC filter lasting 600 gallons or 12 months, and the reverse osmosis membrane lasting for two years or 1,200 gallons. Handily, the system will let you know when your filters need changing, and you’ll need to be prepared to set aside the cash for replacement filters if you want to enjoy the best tasting drinking water from each water filter.
At the moment, you can buy a one-year combo pack of filters for Aquatru’s system, including 2 pre-filters and a carbon filter (no RO filter), for around $70. You can buy the same pack, but with double the number of filters and a reverse osmosis membrane, for around $160. This is significantly costlier than the Berkey’s system, considering you’ll need to make this payment once every two years.
💬 Customer Reviews & Complaints
Looking at Berkey water filters reviews, there is mostly positivity from long-time fans.
Over Berkey’s years of being a popular water filter brand, systems like the Big Berkey have become well-known for their reliability and effectiveness, offering customers an easy way to cut down on plastic water bottle use.
Berkey’s filtration elements currently have a 4.7 star rating on Amazon, with customers praising them for their ability to remove an impressive range of contaminants.
The occasional water filter Berkey review is less positive, and the biggest issue with the company at the moment seems to be that the system contains rubber siphons and other small components. This is giving water a rubbery taste that some customers find unpleasant. The issue can be resolved by replacing the rubber components with stainless steel or silicone components,
Aquatru is less of an established brand, so it doesn’t have the hundreds of happy reviews dating years back like Berkey’s water filter does. But the majority of reviews that have come in for Aquatru’s countertop system so far are positive, showing that customers are satisfied with the performance and durability with the system.
The system has 4.1 star rating on Amazon out of nearly 400 reviews, and customers were pleased with how quiet and fast the filtration process is.
People were particularly happy with Aquatru’s simplified version of a standard under-sink reverse osmosis water filter, which typically needs to be installed by a plumber, and wastes water during the filtration process.
A number of issues with Aquatru’s filters seemed to relate to leaking or the machine failing to turn on, which most likely relates to failure to house the filters just right. But a number of customers did also mention that when problems did arise, they were approached by customer service representatives and the issues were fixed quickly, which is always a positive sign.
☑️ Pros and Cons of Aquatru vs Berkey
👍 Aquatru Pros:
Highly effective form of filtration
Reverse osmosis is one of the most popular forms of water filtration today, and this is largely because it’s the most effective. You’ll find it difficult to find a filtration method as thorough as reverse osmosis, and the added benefit of Aquatru’s system is that it eliminates the biggest common RO issue – water waste. Plus, two of Aquatru’s upgrade models also remineralize water, which Berkey doesn’t do.
Aquatru’s water purification system is NSF certified to Standards 42, 53, 58, and 401, for removal of lead, chlorine odor and tastes, and more. If you’re looking for evidence that Aquatru’s system works as advertised, you’ll find it in this certification.
Immediate water filtration
Providing you have Aquatru’s water filter switched on and filled with water, you can enjoy clean filtered water at the touch of a button. You could still experience the small annoyance of forgetting to refill the filter, but at least you know you can quickly fill the tank and press for clean water instantly.
Cheaper, hassle-free reverse osmosis option
If you love the sound of reverse osmosis filters, but don’t want to deal with the hassle of installation and the initial cost of most under-counter systems, Aquatru’s countertop system is a fantastic alternative. You’ll benefit from almost exactly the same experience at much more convenience to you.
👎 Aquatru Cons:
Needs electricity to run
While you can use Berkey’s filters in any situation, the same can’t be said for Aquatru’s reverse osmosis water filter. It needs to be connected to an electricity source to run, so you won’t be able to use it in an electricity-free zone. This shouldn’t be a massive issue unless you’re specially looking for a filter that can be used in a potential emergency.
Mostly plastic components
It may be a turn-off to you that Aquatru’s water filter is made from plastic components – even though the water tank is certified BPA free. Comparing Berkey vs Aquatru’s components, Berkey’s systems have a mostly stainless steel construction, which may make them more durable and easier to maintain.
👍 Berkey Pros:
Berkey’s filters have been on the market for many, many years now, and over that time, the brand has gained a massive following. Comparing Berkey vs Aquatru in terms of age and reputation, Berkey’s filters are the big winners.
Can be used in an emergency
You can use Berkey’s water filter systems immediately, with no need to connect them up to an electricity source or a water supply. This means you’d have access to filtered water at any time, including during travel or even in an emergency situation.
Variety of options
Berkey’s selection of water filtration systems means you never have to settle for something that doesn’t quite tick all the boxes. With filtration systems for all family sizes, plus a travel option and an option for smaller budgets, there’s a water filter to appeal to all audiences.
Cheaper to maintain
Comparing Berkey vs Aquatru’s water filter in terms of cost, Berkey’s systems are once again superior. You only need to change the filter elements after 6,000 gallons of use, while Aquatru’s filters require changing more frequently, at a higher long-term cost.
👎 Berkey Cons:
No NSF certification
Berkey’s water filter systems currently aren’t NSF certified or tested to NSF Standards – they’re just tested independently for contaminant removal. Customers who are new to Berkey’s concept would likely feel more incited to purchase a filter from the company if they knew that its products were backed by an industry-recognized certification.
Takes longer to filter
Being a gravity water filter, Berkey’s countertop system doesn’t offer an instant filtered water solution. This may present an issue if you’re looking for an instant thirst quencher, only to realize that you’ve forgotten to fill the chamber. But if you can get into a routine of checking the chamber and refilling it when it’s nearly empty, you’ll be fine.
🤔 Should I buy Berkey or Aquatru?
Is there a true winner in this Berkey vs Aquatru battle? It really depends on what you’re looking for. Berkey’s systems are well known for their reliability, durability and high quality components (excluding the small rubber components that are causing an issue with taste). It also helps from a first-time buyer perspective that Berkey’s products have been around for much longer, and, in that time, have built up quite an impressive loyal following.
But Aquatru’s filter has the major advantage of offering reverse osmosis without the hassle of a standard under sink RO filter, AND the option of additional remineralization. It’s slightly more expensive than Berkey’s offering when it comes to maintenance, but some would argue that that’s the price you pay for a purification filter of this kind. Another huge benefit of Aquatru’s filter is that it’s NSF certified for contaminant removal, while Berkey’s are simply third-party tested. There has been some debate about the quality of Aquatru’s components, but the majority of the customers are satisfied with the effectiveness of filtration.
The bottom line is that both of these filters offer seriously impressive contaminant removal, and for their own unique reasons, both are worth the investment.