Best Berkey Water Filter Alternatives (Our Lab Testing)

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The best Berkey water filter alternatives have similar designs to the Big Berkey system but have better performance scores overall. These filters made our list for several reasons: many achieved better contaminant reduction scores than Berkey, most had better scores for design, and the majority had better scores for setup and maintenance. 

We’re able to evaluate all the water filters we review honestly because we conduct our own hands-on testing, using objective performance data to obtain our results. The testing for this guide was conducted by Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR), who has reviewed dozens of water filtration systems as Water Filter Guru’s CEO.

Our Testing & Selection Process

The Best Berkey Water Filter Alternatives

ProductAquaTru
AquaTru
Waterdrop King Tank
Waterdrop King Tank
Epic Pure Water Filter Dispenser
Epic Pure
Alexapure Pro
Alexapure Pro
RKIN U1
RKIN U1
ZeroWater 40 Cup Water Pitcher
ZeroWater
ProOne Big+
ProOne Big+
Score9.549.109.058.938.838.748.56
Price$449.00+$229.00+$75.00$279.95749.95$74.99229.95+
CertificationsNSF 42, 53, 58, 401, and P473NSF/ANSI 372Not certifiedNot CertifiedNSF 58 (in progress)NSF 42, 53NSF 42 (materials safety only)
Filter Capacity600 – 1,200 gallons3,000 gallons150 gallons200 gallons6, 12, 24 months25 gallonsCeramic + Carbon
Cost per Gallon$0.11$0.06$0.31$0.59$0.08$0.70$0.41
Warranty1 year1 yearLifetimeLifetime + 30-day return1 year90 days (vessels & TDS meters), 30 days (filters)1 year
Read ReviewAquatru reviewWaterdrop King Tank reviewEpic Pure reviewAlexapure Pro reviewRKIN U1 reviewZeroWater reviewProOne Big+ review

AquaTru Performance

The AquaTru reduced 100% of all the trace contaminants in our water, so it got the highest score we’ve ever awarded for a countertop water filter: 9.90. Lead, fluoride, strontium, uranium, molybdenum, and barium were all eliminated from our water.  

The system also scored a 9.90 for reducing aesthetic contaminants because it reduced 100% chlorine in our water, which effectively addressed poor tastes and odors associated with this chemical. 

One of the biggest draws of the AquaTru for us was that it’s IAPMO certified to NSF/ANSI Standards 42, 53, 58, 401, and P473 for the reduction of all 83 contaminants that AquaTru claims it can reduce. The Big Berkey only has third-party testing, so AquaTru is the better option if you see performance certifications as non-negotiable.  

This countertop RO system also received a better design score than Berkey (9.70 versus Berkey’s 7.80). We were pleased with its design quality, and it has a materials safety certification (as a component of its performance certifications) and an NSF 372 certification for lead-free design.  

The AquTru’s setup and maintenance scores of 10.00 and 9.75 were also better than Berkey’s (6.50 and 8.50). It’s a plug-and-play system that required minimal assembly, and we could flush the filters while they were in the unit, so we didn’t have the difficult filter priming experience that we had with Berkey

We replaced the filters according to the display screen reminders, and our anticipated ongoing spend was lower than for the Big Berkey ($0.11/ gallon versus Berkey’s $0.13 / gallon)

In our opinion, the AquaTru is the best Berkey alternative for folks who want to reduce as many tap water contaminants as possible with a performance-certified purification system. The only setback of AquaTru compared to Berkey is that, like all RO systems, it wastes water. But it’s more efficient than any other countertop RO unit we’ve testedit only wastes 1 gallon per 4 gallons purified.

CriteriaResults
Overall Score9.54
Health Related Contaminants9.90
Aesthetic Related Contaminants9.90
Performance CertificationCertified for 100% of reduction claims
Filtration Rate0.04 GPM
Component QualityOutstanding
Component CertificationCertified
SetupExceptional
Servicing RequirementsOutstanding
Costs$0.11/gallon
Warranty Length1 year
ShippingFree shipping
Returns30 days

Waterdrop King Tank Performance

We awarded the Waterdrop King Tank a 9.51 score for contaminant reduction. It eliminated the majority of contaminants with health effects in our water, including aluminum, chloroform, manganese, total THMs, and lead. It also reduced 100% chlorine, 93% copper, 40% barium, and 28% sulfate. 

Like Berkey, the King Tank only reduces fluoride with its dedicated fluoride filters (these were included with our purchase, whereas Berkey sells them at an extra cost). The system reduced 100% fluoride in our testing, and there was no aluminum leachingsomething we experienced with the Big Berkey

The King Tank’s 4 GPH filtration rate awarded it a 10.00 score in this category. It’s much faster than Berkey’s filtration rate, which we measured as 2.6 GPH, so it’s a good choice if you want faster access to filtered water. 

We also preferred the King Tank’s design to Berkey’s, awarding it a 9.40 score. It uses a steel/glass sight spigot (Berkey’s spigot is plastic), although there’s still some plastic in the dispenser nozzle. The unit is also IAPMO certified to NSF 372 for lead-free design – something Berkey doesn’t have. Plus, it has one of the lowest ongoing costs of all the Berkey alternatives we tested: just $0.06/ gallon.

We just had a couple of disappointments with this system: we had to prime the filters with the same tricky, time-consuming process that Berkey requires, and the unit isn’t performance certified.

We recommend the Waterdrop King Tank to anyone looking for the best Berkey alternative with the most similar durable steel design, which doesn’t waste water, reduce healthy minerals, or use electricity.

CriteriaResults
Overall Score9.10
Health Related Contaminants9.90
Aesthetic Related Contaminants9.90
Performance CertificationNot certified
Filtration Rate4 GPH
Component QualityExcellent
Component CertificationNSF/ANSI 372
SetupFailing
Servicing RequirementsWeak
Costs$0.06/gallon
Warranty Length1 year
ShippingFree shipping to lower 48
Returns30 days

Epic Pure Performance

The Epic Pure received a 9.00 for contaminant reduction. It performed similarly to the Waterdrop and Alexapure systems, reducing 100% uranium, copper, chlorine, and phosphorous, as well as 57% molybdenum, 41% barium, 27% fluoride, and 20% nitrate. 

Again, the Epic dispenser isn’t certified for contaminant reduction, which we were disappointed to see. 

But the system excelled in other areas. Its filtration rate of 2.23 GPH is pretty quick for a gravity-fed system, especially given that it uses just one small filter. Even Berkey’s filtration rate measured at 2.6 GPH in comparison, and that’s with two large Black Berkey elements. 

The Epic Pure dispenser also got better scores than Berkey in the setup and maintenance categories: 9.50 in both. Assembling the dispenser takes less than five minutes and requires no filter priming – we just filtered and discarded the first two batches of water (you only need to discard one batch from the dispenser). It’s easy to maintain, too: replacement filters also don’t need priming. The unit’s cost per gallon of $0.31 is pretty low, although it’s over twice the price of Berkey’s, and the 90-day filter lifespan is much shorter. 

Epic is also the only water filter company we reviewed that offers the same lifetime warranty as Berkey, and the only manufacturer to offer a lifetime returns policy (although some stipulations must be met).

We think the Epic Pure dispenser is ideally suited to folks who want a Berkey filter alternative that also uses gravity-fed filtration and rivals Berkey’s performance, but at a much lower cost.

CriteriaResults
Overall Score9.05
Health Related Contaminants9.30
Aesthetic Related Contaminants9.90
Performance CertificationNot certified for any reduction claims
Filtration Rate2.23 GPH
Component QualityGood
Component CertificationNot certified
SetupOutstanding
Servicing RequirementsOutstanding
Costs$0.31/gallon
Warranty LengthLifetime
ShippingFree shipping for the Clean Water Club only
ReturnsLifetime

Alexapure Pro Performance

The Alexapure Pro secured a score of 9.34 – the third-highest of all the Berkey alternatives we tested – for contaminant reduction. In our testing, it reduced 100% lead, chloroform, THMs, aluminum, copper, and manganese, as well as 43% barium and 16% sulfate. 

However, the concentrations of fluoride, magnesium, calcium, and strontium actually increased, and silver and potassium appeared when they weren’t present before. We think this was because we filtered 100 gallons of a different water source through the filters before conducting our test, but this still shows us that the Alexapure Pro didn’t effectively reduce fluoride – disappointing given that Alexapure claims it can do so. 

The Alexapure Pro also doesn’t have any performance certifications, which also affected its contaminant reduction category wasn’t any higher. 

However, minor setbacks aside, one standout feature of this system was its ease of setup and maintenance. We found it easier to assemble than Berkey or Waterdrop because its filters arrive pre-primed, saving us a lengthy job at home. 

Replacement filters had also been primed before being shipped to us, so maintenance was just as simple. The Alexapure Pro got a 9.00 score for setup and an 8.25 score for maintenance (this score was slightly lower because its ongoing cost of $0.59/ gallon was higher than its top competitors).

We think the Alexapure Pro is a great choice for folks who want to thoroughly filter their water (but aren’t bothered about fluoride reduction) with a stainless steel countertop filtration system that has a better design quality and is easier to assemble and maintain than the Big Berkey.

CriteriaResults
Overall Score8.93
Health Related Contaminants9.70
Aesthetic Related Contaminants9.90
Performance CertificationNot certified for any reduction claims
Filtration Rate1 GPH
Component QualityExceptional
Component CertificationNot Certified
SetupExcellent
Servicing RequirementsGood
Costs$0.59/gallon
Warranty Length1 year
ShippingFree shipping to lower 48
Returns30 days

RKIN U1 Performance

We awarded the RKIN U1 a 9.00 for contaminant reduction. It did better at reducing contaminants than most of the other Berkey substitutes, eliminating 100% fluoride, lead, uranium, chlorine, copper, zinc, and molybdenum, and greatly reducing barium, nitrate, and sulfate.

It would have obtained a higher score in this category if it wasn’t for the increase in strontium from 0.108 PPM to 2.42 PPM in our filtered water (most likely from the remineralization filter). It also lacks a performance certification.

The system received 10.00 and 9.75 scores in the setup and maintenance categories. It’s another plug-and-play system, like the AquaTru, and we could simply press a button to flush the filters rather than having to do it manually. 

The unit’s estimated ongoing cost is just $0.0809/gallon, making it cheaper to maintain than the Big Berkey, despite its higher upfront price tag.

Its 0.07 GPM filtration rate was less impressive compared to similar systems (we couldn’t compare this to it got the poorest score of 7.50 in this category.

As for design, we thought that the U1’s component quality was generally good, but it also got a slightly lower score of 7.50 here because it lacks a materials safety certification and is made predominantly from plastic. 

For us, the big selling point of the U1 was the fact that we could use it to dispense hot or cold water and deliver water exactly to our preferences with the different presets on the touchscreen control panel. We think the system is the most suitable Berkey substitute for folks who enjoy the latest gadgets and want the most feature-rich countertop water purification system. 

CriteriaResults
Overall Score8.83
Health Related Contaminants9.30
Aesthetic Related Contaminants9.90
Performance CertificationNot certified for any reduction claims
Filtration Rate0.07 GPM
Component QualityGood
Component CertificationNot certified
SetupExceptional
Servicing RequirementsOutstanding
Costs$0.08/gallon
Warranty Length1 year
ShippingFree shipping on orders over $175 to lower 48 states
Returns30 days

ZeroWater Performance

We awarded the ZeroWater Glass Dispenser an 8.34 score for contaminant reduction. According to our test data, it eliminated 100% fluoride, chlorine, uranium, barium, strontium, molybdenum, nitrate, and sulfate, as well as reducing 97% copper. 

The filter did better at reducing contaminants than many of its competitors, but its score was affected by one outcome: 3.4 PPB of chloroform was detected in our filtered water. This showed us that ZeroWater doesn’t effectively address disinfection byproducts.

We were impressed with the dispenser’s NSF Standard 42 and Standard 53 certifications for reducing chlorine taste and odors, mercury, lead, PFOA, PFOS, and hexavalent chromium. Many of the Berkey alternatives we tested aren’t certified at all. 

The 40-cup dispenser comes with a TDS meter, which we could use to check that the filter was performing properly (ZeroWater says it should reduce TDS down to 0). The user manual instructed us to replace the filter when the TDS meter reads 006, so it was easy to know when we needed to perform maintenance. 

The only letdown was that the filter life was significantly shorter than any other Berkey alternative we tested – it has a capacity of just 40 gallons – and its ongoing cost of $0.70/ gallon was over 5 times Berkey’s cost per gallon.

We had a better experience with ZeroWater when it came to filtration rate: the filter treated 0.391 gallons of water in just under 9 minutes, giving it a filtration speed of 2.62 GPH (not far off Berkey’s). It also got a high setup score (9.50) because it took less than 5 minutes to assemble, and was the only system we tested that required no filter priming, soaking, or flushing.

Brian next to the ZeroWater Glass Dispenser

We think the ZeroWater Glass Dispenser is ideal for folks who want a more attractive alternative to the Big Berkey, which is made from glass rather than stainless steel, and addresses many common contaminants with a performance-certified filter.

CriteriaResults
Overall Score8.74
Health Related Contaminants8.30
Aesthetic Related Contaminants9.90
Performance CertificationCertified for 25% of reduction claims
Filtration Rate2.62 GPH
Component QualityExceptional
Component CertificationFair
SetupOutstanding
Servicing RequirementsOutstanding
Costs$0.70/gallon
Warranty Length90 days for vessels & TDS meters, 30 days for filters
ShippingFree shipping on orders above $60 to continental US
ReturnsNo returns

ProOne Big+ Performance

The Big+ got a score of 8.44 for contaminant reduction. It did a great job eliminating 100% lead, copper, fluoride, aluminum, and manganese in our testing. But it reduced just 47% of total THMs and 56% chloroform, which impacted the quality of our filtered water. 

This ProOne unit should appeal to you if one of the reasons you were interested in the Berkey system was because of its ability to filter untreated water (Berkey’s microorganism reduction claims have recently been revoked). The Big+ can filter untreated surface water, and in our own testing, it eliminated all three bacteria types present in the river water we tested.

Again, though, the letdown for us was that the filter lacked a performance certification – this seems to be a common setback of stainless steel Berkey filter alternatives. 

Related: BOROUX legacy water filter review

The good news is that the ProOne Big+ got a better score than any stainless steel unit in the design category, with two scores of 10.00. We noted that it had the sturdiest design with the least amount of plastic – only the filter cartridges use plastic components. Plus, the filter has an NSF 42 certification for materials safety. 

We found the unit easier to set up than Berkey or Waterdrop, although not quite as easy as Alexapure. We didn’t have to prime the filters, which saved us a lot of time, but there was still a bit of work involved in scrubbing them under cold water with a scouring pad. The Big+ got a better maintenance score than any system, again because of the lack of filter priming, although its ongoing servicing cost of $0.41/ gallon wasn’t the lowest we’ve seen from the stainless steel systems.

The ProOne Big+ is our top recommended alternative to Berkey for filtering untreated water. It’s also ideal for anyone who wants the closest Berkey dupe without the expense of extra fluoride elements or the hassle of priming filters, and folks who value materials safety certifications and high-quality design materials. 

CriteriaResults
Overall Score8.56
Health Related Contaminants8.65
Aesthetic Related Contaminants9.90
Performance CertificationNot certified
Filtration Rate0.77 GPH
Component QualityExceptional
Component CertificationCertified
SetupGood
Servicing RequirementsGood
Costs$0.41/gallon
Warranty Length5 years
ShippingFree shipping on orders over $69.95 to the lower 48 states
Returns30 days
  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

6 thoughts on “Best Berkey Water Filter Alternatives (Our Lab Testing)”

  1. Avatar for Brian Campbell

    Do you know of a suitable substitute for the Berkey black filters? For some reason you can’t find them online from any reputable dealers.

  2. Avatar for Brian Campbell

    I have been using the Big Berkey for the past 4 years and have been very happy with the system although I after reading your article I am worried about the aluminum leaching from the filters. How can I test my filtered water for aluminum? Also, I am wanting to buy a very good system for my daughter who has moved into an older apartment complex in Orlando. It is city water but I am concerned about the older pipes. The problem is, she has very little counter space. Which would you recommend in this situation?

  3. Avatar for Brian Campbell

    Are the Alexapure Pro replacement filters compatible with Big Berkey system? Will the Alexapure filters fit? Should one of two Alexapure Pro filters in Big Berkey?

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