Table of Contents
- 1 🧾 Overview
- 2 🔔 Pros & Cons
- 3 💡 Features
- 4 🚦 Performance
- 5 🔧 Installation & Maintenance
- 6 📝 Filter Info
- 7 ❔ Frequently Asked Questions
The Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter is a portable water purification system that uses gravity to push water through the filter cartridge, removing contaminants.
The Big Berkey is different from the majority of countertop water filters in that you don’t need to attach it to your kitchen sink faucet – instead, you fill it with water and leave the filter to do the work, as you would with a pitcher.
You can store the Big Berkey wherever suits you most, which is a good thing, as the unit itself is much bigger than a countertop kitchen faucet filter. It’s made from stainless steel, and is 19.25” tall and 8.5”, so you’ll need quite a bit of side space to store it.
Because you don’t need to connect the Big Berkey to your faucet, it has the advantage of being a more portable option – but as it relies only on gravity to filter water, and not your home’s water pressure, whether it is actually as effective as faucet models is debatable.
❗️ Do you live in California? Learn about restrictions & how to get a Berkey in California here
🔔 Pros & Cons
- Filter “Elements” have a long lifespan of 6,000 gallons per pair
- Removes a wide range of contaminants from water
- Doesn’t need to be connected to a faucet
- Suitable for well water use
- Quite large – difficult to store out of sight
- Doesn’t filter water instantly
Stainless steel filter unit
The Big Berkey comes in a variety of different sizes, from tiny travel units to larger countertop systems. The unit we’re looking at in this review is 19.25” tall and 8.5” wide, and is designed to sit on your kitchen counter. It’s made from stainless steel, which does look a little practical and camping trip-esque, but it shouldn’t stand out too much in the majority of kitchens.
2 Black Berkey purification elements
As a larger filter unit, the Big Berkey comes with 2 Black Berkey purification elements, which, according to the manufacturer, have been tested in an EPA-approved laboratory and deemed to exceed the NSF/ANSI Standard 53. This essentially means the filter is effective at what it’s advertised to do – removing viruses and pathogenic bacteria, as well as reducing trihalomethanes, protozoa, certain inorganic minerals, and heavy metals.
As the Big Berkey requires no installation, the user manual contains more basic information about looking after the unit and changing the filters.
The Big Berkey is advertised by the manufacturer to work far more efficiently than a standard countertop unit with filters. This system uses “elements”, which are designed to filter and purify water at the same time. If you’re looking for a water filter that removes a wide range of contaminants, but you don’t want to pay for a reverse osmosis system, the Big Berkey isn’t a bad second choice.
👉 Read about Berkey vs reverse osmosis systems here
Keep in mind, though, that the Big Berkey doesn’t have the advantage of water pressure on its side. With a faucet water filter, the pressure of the water flowing out of the faucet pushes the water through the filters, filtering it more effectively. As the Big Berkey relies on gravity to filter water, there’s a risk that it may not work so well in filtering all the water in the unit.
You won’t be able to drink from filtered water immediately after filling the unit – expect to wait up to three hours for the unit with two filters to reduce the contaminants in water. With that said, the tank does have a good capacity, at 2.25 gallons. To put that into perspective, one person is recommended to drink half a gallon of water per day.
🔧 Installation & Maintenance
Installation for the Big Berkey is particularly easy, as there essentially is none.
The most you’ll need to do is flush out the filters to get rid of any lingering sediment that may give water an unpleasant taste. To do this, you just need to fill the tank to the brim, as you would to filter water for drinking, then leave the water to filter through the system for a couple of hours. Then drain away the water without drinking – use it for your pets or plants to prevent waste – and the unit is ready to use.
The system’s filters, branded by the manufacturer as Berkey Purification Elements, have a lifespan of up to 6,000 gallons per pair.
This is pretty impressive – you’ll find that in comparison, other filters only have a lifespan of roughly 500 to 700 gallons before you’ll need to replace them. If you don’t want to fuss about with regular filter replacements, you’ll be able to go for longer with the same filter when using the Big Berkey.
📝 Filter Info
The Big Berkey’s Purification Elements work slightly differently to a standard carbon filter that you’ll usually find in a countertop filtration unit. There are 2 elements included with this particular Big Berkey unit, and they are essentially microporous filters, which can filter off bacteria, viruses and other pathogens in the water.
The selling point of the Big Berkey’s filtration capabilities is that it doesn’t just filter water, it also purifies it.
According to the manufacturer, Big Berkey can reduce the majority of viruses and bacteria from water. It can also reduce the likes of protozoa, inorganic materials, heavy metals, pesticides, and larger sediment, like rust and silt.
This makes it a great filter for people looking to filter water from their private well system, or people whose municipal water is particularly high in a bad taste or odor-causing contaminant.
❔ Frequently Asked Questions
How often are filter changes required?
On average you can expect to replace your filters every six months. However this depends on a few factors such as the quality & content of the water in your home, how many filters you are using (2 or 4), and how many times per day you are filling up your filter.
How long can the water sit in the holding chamber after being filtered?
The manufacturer recommends you don’t let water sit in the holding chamber longer than 3 days. If this case, throw out the old water and re-filter a fresh batch
Does the Big Berkey affect the pH of the water?
No, pH of the filtered water is dependent on the pH of the source water
Does this filter remove fluoride?
Yes, but you will need PF-2 fluoride filters in the system
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