ProOne (formerly Propur) and Berkey are two of the biggest names in the water filter industry. With both being fierce competitors, it’s likely that if Berkey has done it, ProOne has done it too.
In many senses, when we look at ProOne vs Berkey, there are lots of similarities between the two brands. But their slightly varied styles and filtration offerings are what make them unique in their own right, and, ultimately, what will help you decide which brand is right for you.
📖 TL;DR Propur vs Berkey – Which is the Best?
Plus, ProOne’s system is officially NSF certified for its improvement of aesthetic effects, while Berkey’s filters are only tested to NSF standards. Then there’s the whole issue with Berkey filters being banned in California, due to the manufacturer’s lack of official certifications and secrecy around its filter construction.
If you want a cheaper, better option, the ProOne filter is your best bet.
Table of Contents
⚖️ Comparison Chart
💡 Filter Comparison
Both Berkey and ProOne use a gravity filter, and both remove 200+ contaminants, which is why Berkey vs ProOne filter elements are so often compared. This type of filter uses the power of gravity to pull water through tiny holes in the filter media, trapping contaminants and effectively cleaning the water. Though the Berkey and ProOne water filters have the same general function, they do work slightly differently.
In this review, we’ll be focusing on Berkey’s Black Berkey elements and the ProOne G2.0 filter.
Black Berkey Elements
The Black Berkey elements are gravity filters that are sold in sets of 2. Independent lab testing by several EPA-accredited laboratories shows that the Black Berkey filters greatly reduce pathogens, chemicals, radiological contaminants, and organic impurities (more on that below). The Black Berkey filters contain tiny micropores that trap contaminants as water flows into the lower chamber of the gravity water filter.
💡 It’s important to note that Berkey doesn’t disclose its filter media, so we don’t know whether the manufacturer uses proven technology or a proprietary design to filter contaminants.
To quickly highlight some of Berkey’s additional filter systems, the brand also sells a fluoride reduction filter that can be threaded directly onto the Black Berkey elements; a 20,000-gallon shower filter for washing in clean water; and a sport gravity filter that fits in the Berkey water bottle.
Propur’s ProOne filter is an economical, easy-clean gravity filter, which is designed to target contaminants often found in well water or outdoor lakes and streams – as well as those found in tap water. NSF lab testing on Propur’s behalf has found the ProOne filter capable of reducing or removing more than 200 contaminants.
We know exactly what type of media the ProOne filter uses: ceramic filter media. This type of media is one of the oldest and most proven filter technologies, and numerous studies (including this one) cite that ceramic filtration has the best contaminant removal efficiency, especially when it comes to microbiological impurities.
Alongside the ProOne, there are several other Propur water filters: The ProMax filter for countertop and under-counter filters, and the ProOne G2.0 Slimline. There’s also an Inline Connect FS10 filter that uses ProMax technology, a refrigerator filter, and a range of ProMaxTM shower filters.
🧫 What Contaminants Do They Remove?
Looking at water filtration, both the Berkey filters and the ProOne filters are advertised to remove a broad range of more than 200 contaminants from water. Included in these claims are common drinking water impurities like chlorine, lead and VOCs, as well as well water contaminants like bacteria, viruses and algae.
📌 How does advertising compare to real facts? When we added up ProOne’s removed contaminants, we reached a total of 275. Berkey, on the other hand, removes 203 contaminants – so in this battle, ProOne wins.
Let’s discuss and compare a few notable contaminants removed by these filters.
- Lead – it’s one of the most dangerous contaminants, and both filters are equal on this front, removing 99.9% of the metal.
- Free chlorine – again, the filters are equally matched in chlorine removal, reducing this contaminant by 99.9%.
- Mercury – nothing new here – both filters remove mercury to 99.9%.
- Glyphosate – ProOne comes out on top here, removing 100% of this volatile organic compound, while Berkey removes it to “below lab detectable levels”. We’d prefer an actual number from Berkey.
- Fluoride – again, ProOne wins this one, removing 97.5% of this mineral. As for Berkey, you’ll need to buy a separate filter to remove fluoride.
- Arsenic – Although Berkey shows a higher removal rate, up to 99.9% this is the same separate filter as the fluoride removal filter. ProOne removes 99.7%
- Viruses and bacteria – ProOne removes up to 99.99% of viruses and up to 99.999% of bacteria, while Berkey removes 99.999% of viruses and 99.9999999% of pathogenic bacteria.
Wondering where we pulled this information from? Here are links for the full list of contaminants removed by each:
- Full list of contaminants removed by Berkey filters
- Full list of contaminants removed by Propur filters
🚦 Performance Comparison
When comparing Berkey water filter vs Propur for performance, things get interesting. Propur water filters provide near-identical water filtration to Berkey, but with some differences. Let’s take a look.
The Black Berkey elements offer an impeccable quality of filtration, removing more than 200 impurities from water at a speedy rate for a gravity water filter. A Big Berkey filter that contains the recommended 2 Black Berkey elements can filter water at a flow rate of 3.5 gallons per hour – though as the water goes down, the flow rate also decreases, so you might want to keep topping up with water for a faster job.
There’s room in most Big Berkey filtration units to add another 2 Black Berkey elements, which roughly doubles the speed of the water filtration process and doubles the lifespan of each individual filter.
If you’re looking for evidence that the Black Berkey filters work as advertised, you’ll find it in t the manufacturer’s testing to NSF Standard 53, for contaminants with known adverse health effects. But sadly, Berkey has no official NSF certifications.
Propur’s ProOne rivals Berkey’s performance, offering similarly high-quality filtration that’s backed by laboratory test results available online.
In terms of flow rate, it takes the ProOne 6 to 7 hours to produce approximately 3 gallons of clean water using 1 filter, which is over three times as long as the Black Berkey elements – but remember that we’re talking about only one filter here, and the Black Berkey measurements may not be entirely accurate as they measure the speed of filtration when the water chamber is full. Like the Big Berkey, you can add an additional filter to speed up the process if you like, so when comparing Big Berkey vs Propur here, there’s not much difference.
The ProOne filter also has professional testing to back its performance claims, for the reduction of a range of harmful contaminants including chlorine, taste and odor. Not forgetting that the ProOne filter is certified to NSF 42 for improvement of aesthetic effects (taste and smell). If official certifications are important to you, the ProOne filter is your winner in this Berkey vs Propur comparison.
💲 Models & Upfront Cost
The Black Berkey elements cost around $165 for a set of 2, providing water filtration for between 1 and 5 years (depending on daily water usage), but, of course, you’ll need to buy a filtration system to use the filters in.
The most popular of the Berkey water filter systems is the Big Berkey, a 2.25 gallon system that costs just shy of $400 with 2 initial Black Berkey filters included. You can pay a little extra, around $550, for an extra 2 Berkey filters to be included with the system, which will double the lifespan of all filters. Berkey occasionally has sales knocking the price down by $10 or $20; nothing worth waiting around for.
This Big Berkey combines an upper and lower chamber, connected by the Black Berkey filter elements. All of the Berkey countertop gravity water filters are stainless steel, apart from the Berkey Light, which is made from BPA-free food-grade polyester.
To note a few more Berkey filter systems that use the Black Berkey elements, there’s:
- 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)
The upfront cost of two ProOne G2.0 filter elements is around $130-$160, depending on which size you choose. The 5-inch filter is designed to fit in the Traveler and Scout units, and the 7-inch filter fits in the Big units.
There are several Propur water systems that use the ProOne filter elements, the most popular being the Propur Big. This filtration system has a 2.75 gallon capacity and costs just under $300. Comparing Berkey vs Propur, when examining the Propur Big alongside Berkey’s 2.25 gallon Big Berkey at around $400, the Propur comes out as the cheaper of the two, with a better price-per-gallon water filtration capacity.
Like the Berkey gravity water filters, Propur’s range of filtration systems are constructed from 304 stainless steel that’s resistant to corrosion and oxidation. The design of the Propur’s units is near-identical to the Berkey’s, with a top chamber and a bottom chamber, and a water filtration element separating the two.
Alongside the Propur Big, there’s also:
The verdict? In this area of the Berkey vs Propur comparison, Propur comes out on top, with slightly cheaper (by up to $30) filters.
Though Berkey has a couple more choices than the ProOne, including its penny-saving Light system, you’re still pretty well covered with size options with both manufacturers, and both offer an option for travel.
📆 Filter Lifespan & Replacement Costs
A pack of 2 Black Berkey Elements last for approximately 6,000 gallons. It’s difficult to put a time frame to this, as it depends on how much water you use from the filter, and therefore how many times you top the filter up per day.
Imagining that you had 5 family members, all drinking a gallon of clean water a day, your Black Berkey elements would last roughly 1,200 days, or 3 years and a couple of months. If you use less filtered water than 5 gallons per day, you’ll get longer out of your elements.
The Propur ProOne filters are sold individually at different prices for different sizes. You can fit up to three filter elements in the Propur gravity filter unit.
According to the manufacturer, two ProOne filters last about 12 months, while three filter elements last up to 18 months. Although, in the case of ProOne, the filter elements are made from ceramic material, which theoretically lasts forever. Just rinse the filters when they get clogged to remove the buildup of contaminants. Replace the filters if rinsing doesn’t help.
📌 What’s our verdict on this Berkey vs Propur comparison? Berkey technically has the longest lifespan, but since both filters provide clean water at such a low long-term cost, we don’t think there’s a clear winner here.
💬 Customer Reviews & Complaints
The Berkey filter elements have a lot of internet fans. On Amazon, the Big Berkey currently has a 4.7-star rating, based on more than 3,000 reviews.
People commented that they were happy with the quality of the water container, and appreciated the fact that it helped them to live a more plastic-free lifestyle.
The biggest common complaint about the Berkey gravity water system is the rubber smell and taste that some users experience from using the system. This is caused by the unit’s rubber washers and stopper. A simple solution, if the rubber taste is noticeable to you, is to throw out the rubber washers and replace them with silicone washers, which you can buy online. As for the stopper, Berkey sells a stainless steel spigot that won’t give water a rubbery taste.
Another issue that some users brought up was that setup was a little tricky, because the instructions that come with it don’t have a good diagram showing the exact valve placements, which makes it easy to go wrong. However, there are plenty of installation videos online that do a better job at explaining setup than the paper instructions.
Propur’s Big Gravity water filter has an Amazon rating of 4.5 stars, based on just over 200 reviews. Is it concerning that fewer customers have bought the ProOne filter? No, since Berkey has a huge marketing budget, so it makes sense that more people know about the Big Berkey.
As with the Big Berkey, customers praise the Propur for being able to provide them with clean water and a plastic bottle-free alternative for drinking water, giving their tap water a much better taste.
Many users pointed out the importance of carefully following the instructions when setting up the Propur filter, including cleaning the filters before connecting them.
Some people had worked out their savings from using the Propur water filtration elements, and had found that though the system was expensive to buy upfront, it was more than worth the investment.
One complaint about the Propur is that it rusts, despite being “stainless steel”. One customer seemed to think that some Propur systems are made of better-quality metal than others, as after buying one themselves and gifting another to a family member, the family member’s “cheap” metal tank became rusty on the bottom after 3 weeks.
Another relatively common complaint is that when water filters from the top tank to the bottom, a small amount remains in the top tank, which needs to be emptied out before refilling.
☑️ Pros and Cons of Berkey vs ProOne
👍 Berkey – What We Liked
- Stainless steel build: The Berkey is made from stainless steel, which, unlike the Propur, has no customers questioning its durability. Berkey gravity filters don’t rust and are designed for years of regular daily use.
- Filters can be cleaned: The problem with a lot of water filters is that once they get clogged up with contaminants, you need to replace them immediately. With the Berkey, you can clean the filters from time to time, which prevents the flow from getting too slow. You just need to make sure to re-prime them before you use them again.
- Filters out an impressive range of contaminants: The Berkey is one of the best gravity water filters when it comes to the sheer number of contaminants it can remove. It reduces tens of contaminants (over 200).
- Relatively portable: You can easily move the unit around and take it with you on your travels. There’s a Berkey Travel filtration unit that’s designed specifically for taking with you on the go.
- Optional fluoride reduction: A major benefit of the Berkey unit is that it reduces fluoride, provided you purchase the optional fluoride filters at an extra cost. It’s just a shame that these filter elements don’t come as a free addition to the standard filtration elements.
👎 Berkey – What We Didn’t Like
- Need repriming after a break in filtration: If you don’t use your Berkey unit for a while, you’ll need to remove the filters from the unit. Then, when you return, you need to prime the filters again. You don’t have to do this with the ProOne filters.
- Expensive upfront cost: Berkey is more expensive than Propur, probably because it’s the biggest name in the gravity water filter industry. If you’ve never tried a Berkey filter before, you might be unwilling to shell out hundreds of dollars for one.
- No NSF certification: Berkey water filters have only been third-party tested against NSF Standards, and don’t have an official certification, which has led to some dubious customers questioning the legitimacy of the filters. An NSF certification would help Berkey to offer reassurance to their customers that their water filtration claims are backed up by a genuine certification.
👍 ProOne – What We Liked
- Cheaper than Berkey: Propur water filters are cheaper than Berkey, and you pay less to get more. If you’re buying on a budget, the Propur filters are the best option for you.
- Officially NSF certified: The ProOne filters have an official NSF certification to Standard 42. While this certification is only for aesthetic effects, it’s promising to see that it ticks at least one of the NSF’s boxes.
- Removes more contaminants than Berkey: In the battle of the gravity filters, the ProOne filter removes around 70 more contaminants than the Berkey. If you want to remove as many impurities as possible from your water, you know which filter to choose.
- Removes fluoride at no additional cost: The Propur element removes fluoride – and you don’t need to buy an add-on filtration element alongside the main element to benefit from this. This is another cost-saving advantage when compared to Berkey.
- Portable options: Like the Berkey, the Propur has its own travel filtration system that is specifically designed with portability in mind. Because the Propur doesn’t have to be connected up to your plumbing, you can take it with you on your travels.
👎 ProOne – What We Didn’t Like
- Filters don’t last as long: Propur’s filters don’t last as long as the Berkey water filters, according to ProOne’s marketing literature. Keep in mind, though, that you can also clean the ProOne elements to extend their lifespan, and you can still get two, three, or even four years of use from the filters, depending on your daily water usage.
- Questionable quality of “stainless steel”: Though not all customers have complained about the ProOne filter’s “stainless steel” construction, there have been enough reviews to bring the issue to our attention.
❔ Should I Buy Propur or Berkey?
When it comes down to it, the Propur is essentially a lower-cost version of the Berkey, capable of removing more contaminants and with an official NSF certification for improving water taste and smell.
Choosing a winner between Berkey vs Propur is difficult. Both filters are incredibly popular. In terms of brand recognition and volume of customer feedback, Berkey just comes out on top. But in our eyes, Propur is the winner.
Despite having a smaller marketing budget, Propur impressed us with its more affordable, thorough, filtration solutions. The ProOne filter is especially ideal for filtering untreated surface water like lake or stream water, since we know it uses a trusted ceramic media that’s capable of bacteria removal. As for Berkey, we still don’t know what materials are used in the brand’s filter elements.
Our final piece of advice: just because more customers are buying the Berkey filters, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best!