Waterdrop vs Berkey: Objective & Data-Driven Comparison

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Waterdrop and Berkey sell two similar-looking stainless steel countertop water filtration systems. 

Here, we compare the Waterdrop King Tank and the Big Berkey side-by-side, based on our personal hands-on testing of both products, to help you find the right model for your needs.

Berkey and Waterdrop filters look almost identical at a glance. They’re both cylindrical systems with two stacked chambers and a spigot for dispensing filtered water out of the bottom. Both units use gravity to send water through the filters, removing common contaminants and improving its quality for drinking. 

Berkey is the more expensive system by quite a stretch, but both are pretty affordable to maintain in the long run, and both did a great job at removing most contaminants from our water. We had issues with aluminum oxide leaching from the Big Berkey’s fluoride filters, and several contaminants actually increased in our water in both testing scenarios. 

📊 Our Testing Data

We used 6 main criteria to test and rank the Waterdrop King Tank and Big Berkey systems. We’ve shared our scores for both systems across all these criteria in the table below. 

FactorWaterdrop King TankBerkey
Contaminant Reduction9.518.85
Filtration Rate10.0010.00
Design9.407.80
Setup6.506.50
Maintenance8.508.50
Company8.659.10

This next table gives a more detailed insight into the data behind each of our testing criteria. We combined these data to reach our final scores. 

FactorWaterdrop King TankBerkeyWinner
Overall Score9.108.60Waterdrop
Health Related Contaminants9.909.30Waterdrop
Aesthetic Related Contaminants9.906.70Waterdrop
Performance CertificationnonenoneTie
Filtration Rate4 GPH2.6 GPHWaterdrop
Component QualityExcellentExcellentTie
Component CertificationNSF 372noneWaterdrop
SetupFailingFailingTie
Servicing RequirementsWeakWeakTie
Costs$0.06/ gallon$0.13/ gallonWaterdrop
CompanyGoodExcellentBerkey

🚰 Contaminant Reduction

To compare Waterdrop and Berkey for contaminant reduction, we tested our water before and after filtering it in the King Tank and Big Berkey systems. We also accessed NSF, IAMPO, and WQA directories to see if the filters had NSF certifications for contaminant removal

Our Lab Test Results

Our testing priority was to see what the Waterdrop and Berkey filters could remove from our water. 

The Big Berkey can be used to filter both treated city water and untreated surface water, so we conducted two tests for the system: 

  • One testing its ability to filter our home’s tap water 
  • One using river water from our Colorado testing location

The user manual for the Waterdrop King Tank explicitly states that it can only be used to filter water that has been adequately disinfected, so we only tested this system with our municipal water. 

You can see which contaminants our source water contained, and the % of contaminants removed by the Waterdrop and Berkey systems, in the table below.  

ContaminantMeasurementWaterdrop Pre-FiltrationWaterdrop Post-Filtration% ChangeBerkey Test 1 Pre-FiltrationBerkey Test 1 Post-Filtration% ChangeBerkey Test 2 Pre-FiltrationBerkey Test 2 Post-Filtration% Change
AluminumPPM0.0520-100%01.44n/a0.0520.06933%
BariumPPM0.01270.0075-41%0.03170-100%0.01270-100%
BromodichloromethanePPBNDNDND0.004040-100%NDNDND
CalciumPPM8.815.778%NDNDND8.834.6293%
ChloridePPM6.96.4-7%NDNDND6.98.726%
ChloroformPPB0.03520-100%0.0230-100%0.03520-100%
CobaltPPMNDNDND0.00310.003-3%NDNDND
CopperPPM0.04340.003-93%0.2550-100%0.04340-100%
FluoridePPM0.10-100%0.20.1-50%0.10-100%
IronPPMNDNDND0.1PPM0.03NDNDNDND
LeadPPM0.00060-100%0.00270-100%0.00060-100%
MagnesiumPPM2.193.9982%NDNDND2.199.88351%
ManganesePPM0.0010-100%0.00140-100%0.0010-100%
PotassiumPPMNDNDNDNDNDND01.68n/a
SodiumPPM10.410.73%NDNDND10.49.29-11%
StrontiumPPM0.0620.07623%0.1680-100%0.0620.138123%
SulfatePPM107.2-28%16.61.6-90%1023130%
Total ColiformsCFU/100mLNDNDND150-100%NDNDND
Total THMsPPB0.03520-100%0.0270390-100%0.03520-100%

We awarded both systems similar scores for contaminant reduction, but Waterdrop was the better-performing system overall because it had a better score for removing aesthetic contaminants from our water. 

Health-Related Contaminants

The Waterdrop King Tank’s score for removing health-related contaminants was based solely on our city water test. 

Berkey’s score was influenced by its performance in our city water test and its ability to remove bacteria from our river water sample. 

Our City Water Test

Waterdrop got the slightly better result for removing health-related contaminants from our city water. 

Our post-filtration test results showed us that the Waterdrop King Tank removed 100% lead, chloroform and total THMs (two disinfection byproducts), aluminum, and manganese.

Waterdrop king tank lead and manganese detection
Waterdrop king tank disinfection byproducts detection

It also eliminated fluoride (it uses separate fluoride filters), and reduced 93% copper, 40% barium, and 28% sulfate. 

Waterdrop king tank other contaminants with possible health effects detection
Waterdrop king tank sulfate detection

Unexpectedly, our water’s strontium levels actually increased by 22% post-filtration. We spoke to the lab and concluded that this anomaly was a result of using a different water source to prime the filters, which contained elevated levels of a handful of ions – hence why concentrations were higher in our filtered water. 

Waterdrop king tank strontium detection

We tested the Big Berkey twice for health-related contaminants due to an issue we experienced in our first test, so Berkey’s score is an average of the two scores we obtained. 

In our first test, the Big Berkey performed very similarly to the Waterdrop King Tank, removing 100% lead, disinfection byproducts, and manganese. It also removed 100% copper and barium, and reduced cobalt by 3.23%.

Berkey test 1 contaminants exceeding the hgl detection
Berkey contaminants detected with health effects test 1 manganese
Berkey test 1 contaminants detected with health effects copper and barium

But we discovered that our filtered water contained dangerously elevated levels of aluminum – 1.4 PPM, compared to the Tap Score HGL of 0.6 PPM – and we were concerned that aluminum oxide was leaching from the alumina filtration media in the Berkey fluoride filters. Our water’s fluoride levels were also only reduced by 50% when we tested the filters the first time, which seemed odd given that Berkey claims they can remove up to 99.99%. 

Berkey test 1 fluoride & aluminum detection

So we bought a new set of fluoride filters, ensured that we followed the priming and installation instructions very carefully, and redid the test. This time, only 0.069 PPM of aluminum was detected in our filtered water (a 32% increase but within the HGL this time), and the filters removed 100% fluoride. 

Berkey aluminum detection test 1 vs test2
Berkey test 1 and test 2 fluoride detection

Potassium and sodium also increased substantially in our post-filtered water. Again, we think this is because the water we used to prime the filters contained higher concentrations of these contaminants, since this was an anomaly we experienced with a series of countertop filters that we tested at the same time. 

Our River Water Test

We gave Berkey the highest score in our river water test because it removed 100% total coliform (a group of bacteria that indicate the presence of harmful bacteria strains) from our test water, which was exactly what we were looking for. 

Berkey river water test coliform detection

The Berkey filters also greatly reduced the traces of iron present in the untreated surface water. 

Berkey river water test iron detection

Aesthetic Contaminants

Both the Waterdrop King Tank and the Big Berkey did a great job of removing 100% chlorine (one of the most common aesthetic contaminants) from our water. 

But Waterdrop got the better score in this testing category because Berkey’s score was pulled down by our test 1 results, when elevated aluminum levels were present in our filtered water. This increased the water’s pH to 8.7, which affected its aesthetic score.

Certifications

We look for performance certifications as proof that a water filter can remove contaminants from water as claimed by the manufacturer. 

Unfortunately, neither Waterdrop nor Berkey have obtained certifications from the NSF, IAMPO, or the WQA for their filters. 

Berkey has been independently tested and third-party testing data is available online, but we couldn’t even find testing information on Waterdrop’s website, which is a shame – we know that many folks won’t buy a water filter without this information. 

🚦Filtration Rate

As gravity filters, the Waterdrop King Tank and the Big Berkey system filter water more gradually. The speed of filtration in a gravity-fed system is measured in gallons per hour (GPH). 

For both systems, we set a timer to deduce how long it took for them to filter our water. We then compared their filtration rates with the average rates for gravity-fed systems. 

You can see how the filters compare for speed of filtration in the table below. 

ProductFiltration Rate ScoreFiltration Rate
Waterdrop King Tank10.004 GPH
Berkey10.002.6 GPH

Waterdrop did best here – the King Tank had a filtration rate of 4 GPH with two black elements and two white fluoride elements. 

But Berkey’s filtration rate was also pretty quick for a gravity filter. We measured a filtration rate of 2.6 GPH using the two black filters and two fluoride filters.

Filling a glass from a Berkey filter

Both systems are faster than average compared to other countertop water filters. Most other systems we’ve reviewed so far had a filtration rate of less than 1 GPH. 

💲 Upfront Cost

Here are the different model options and their costs currently available for the Waterdrop King Tank:

  • Waterdrop King Tank with two black elements and two white fluoride filters –  $299.00 
  • Waterdrop King Tank with just the two black elements (no fluoride filters) – $249.00
  • Waterdrop King Tank with four filters and no stand – $249.00
  • Waterdrop King Tank with just the two black filters and no stand – $229.00

The Big Berkey is more expensive at $447, which only includes the upfront cost of two Black Berkey filters. If you want to remove fluoride from your water, you’ll need to pay $99.99 extra for a pair of fluoride filters.

There are a few different Berkey distributors, and the price can vary from one distributor to another. We found pricing information from BigBerkeyWaterFilters.com, which is one of the most popular Berkey distributors today.

The Waterdrop King Tank is the most affordable system, given that the system with the fluoride filters is $147 less than the Berkey with just the Black Berkey filter elements

ProductInitial PriceFilters IncludedAdditional Filter PriceTotal Price (with 2 filters)
Waterdrop King Tank$2292 filters$79 (two black filters), $55 (two fluoride filters)$249 (with stand)
Berkey$4472 filters$99.99$447

📐 Design

We awarded the design scores for the Waterdrop and Berkey systems by consolidating the data from two testing sub-categories: 

  • The quality of the components, based on our own experience using them
  • Whether or not the systems had materials safety certifications

Check out Waterdrop and Berkey’s overall scores, and the data that influenced them, in the table below.

ProductDesign ScoreComponent QualityMaterials Safety
Waterdrop King Tank9.40ExcellentCertified
Berkey7.80ExcellentNot certified

Both systems got identical scores for design, although we awarded these scores due to unique observations we made for each system’s component quality. 

Filter Models

Berkey currently sells 6 filters in its gravity water filtration system range: 

All the Berkey countertop water filters are made from stainless steel apart from the Berkey Light, which is made from BPA-free plastic. 

Berkey size options

Waterdrop only sells the stainless steel King Tank unit in just one size, with or without a stainless steel stand. 

Component Quality 

The Waterdrop King Tank and the Big Berkey use similar components, but both have their own design setbacks that brought down their scores slightly in our testing. 

Waterdrop’s main letdown was that we thought the unit seemed thinner and a bit more flimsy compared to other similar systems. The steel/glass sight spigot was really useful and helped to prevent a design flaw that we noticed with Berkey (see below), but we were disappointed to see that it had a plastic dispenser piece.

Unboxing Waterdrop King tank gravity water filter

The Big Berkey felt sturdier and stronger than the Waterdrop system, but it comes with a plastic spigot (you can upgrade to a stainless steel spigot, but it costs extra). The included spigot also isn’t a sight spigot, so we had no way to view the water level in the bottom chamber. That caused us to overfill the top chamber as we didn’t know the bottom chamber was full, and water leaked out of the gap between the two chambers. 

Since both units are made from stainless steel, neither should rust. We didn’t notice any rusting during our testing period, but we did see some Amazon reviews that mentioned corrosion or rust marks in the tanks. Amazon reviews can easily be manipulated, so we can’t confirm the legitimacy of these claims. 

Filter Materials

While they both use separate black filters and fluoride filters, the Waterdrop and Berkey filters have different media designs. 

The black filters in the Waterdrop King Tank use a combination of pp cotton and coconut shell activated carbon. There’s not a whole lot of information on what the fluoride filters are made of, but we think they’re made from a cation exchange resin and activated carbon media (no mention of activated alumina).  

Waterdrop king tank water filter elements installed

Berkey’s main filters are made from activated carbon and five additional media (only the ion exchange resin is disclosed). The fluoride filters have a plastic housing containing activated alumina. We have concerns about their safety given how easily they leached aluminum oxide into our water in test 1. But there’s no way for us to know whether the first filters we used were faulty. 

Unboxing new black berkey filter elements

Materials Safety Certification

Alongside performance certifications, manufacturers can obtain certification for materials safety, proving that their filter elements or the units themselves are made from safe materials. 

Berkey hasn’t obtained a materials safety certification, so it got the poorer score from us in this category. The Waterdrop King Tank is NSF 372 certified for lead-free design by IAPMO.

⚙️ Setup

We compared the time it took to install the Waterdrop King Tank and Big Berkey, and the ease of setup for both systems. 

The table below highlights our setup score and setup time for both units.

ProductSetup ScoreSetup Time
Waterdrop King Tank6.501 hour
Big Berkey6.501 hour and 20 minutes

We found the setup process fairly arduous and time-consuming for both systems. 

Both the Waterdrop and Berkey units can be DIY assembled – you don’t need specialized knowledge for the job. But both systems require a tedious, time-consuming filter priming process.  

The systems both come with similar equipment for priming the filters. Getting a seal with the tan priming washer on our faucet was unnecessarily difficult, and we found that the blue priming nipple could only be used with older faucets. Neither priming option could be used with a  modern faucet, like a spray or pullout faucet. 

Priming all 4 filters took us an hour. Setting up the units themselves was the quicker, simpler job, taking us less than 20 minutes. We wish that the filters in the Berkey and Waterdrop units arrived pre-primed or just needed a quick cleaning process, like the filters in the ProOne Big+, the Alexapure Pro, and other similar countertop gravity filtration systems we’ve tested. 

🔧 Maintenance

To assess the Waterdrop and Berkey systems in this category, we evaluated their maintenance requirements and ownership costs for the filters. 

We’ve shared our maintenance scores for both systems in this table.

ProductMaintenance ScoreServicing RequirementsCosts
Waterdrop King Tank8.50Weak$0.06/gallon
Berkey8.50Weak$0.13/gallon

Waterdrop and Berkey were equal in this category – both required us to spend a lot of time on the filter change process, but both are pretty affordable to maintain in the long run. 

Servicing Requirements 

The most important servicing requirement for the Waterdrop King Tank and the Big Berkey is replacing the filters. 

Changing the filters was a hassle for both systems because they both needed to be primed, using the same process as with the initial filters.

We had an additional maintenance task to remember for the Berkey filters: cleaning them with a Scotch Brite pad every 3-6 months, or whenever we noticed a decrease in the speed of filtration. We found this job a bit annoying, but of course we did it – we wanted to extend the filter lifespan for as long as possible so we could avoid having to prime a new set of filters.

We also cleaned both systems about once a week. We just used warm water and soap – specialist equipment or cleaners aren’t needed – but we did struggle to fit the chambers in our kitchen sink. We also struggled to clean the sight spigot that came with the Waterdrop King Tank. 

Maintenance Costs

Both Berkey and Waterdrop impressed us with their affordable long-term maintenance costs.

Based on the cost of the filters in the Waterdrop King Tank and their predicted lifespans, we worked out that their overall cost per gallon is $0.06. Here’s a breakdown of the cost per gallon of each of the filters: 

  • Black filters: $0.01/ gallon
  • White (fluoride) filters: $0.05/ gallon

We did the same to work out the cost per gallon overall for both Berkey filters: $0.13. Our cost per gallon estimates for the separate filter elements are:

  • Black Berkey elements: $0.034/gallon
  • Fluoride filters: $0.09/gallon

That makes both the Berkey and Waterdrop filtration systems really affordable compared to other gravity countertop water filtration systems. Generally, the filters in these systems have an overall cost per gallon of around $0.25-$0.45. 

Note: we have to trust the manufacturers that their filters last as long as advertised. We’ll update this review when we’ve used the filters until they need replacing, so we can comment on how long they actually lasted for us and how this affected their cost per gallon. 

🏢 Company

In this category, we evaluated how Waterdrop and Berkey compare as companies, based on their warranty offerings and their shipping and returns policies. 

Note: We assessed one of the biggest Berkey distributors, BigBerkeyWaterFilters.com, since Berkey filters aren’t sold directly by the manufacturer.

You can find our company scores for Waterdrop and Berkey and the data that these were based on in the table below. 

ProductCompany ScoreWarranty LengthShippingReturns
Waterdrop King Tank8.651 yearFree shipping to most states with Economy Shipping or Standard Shipping30 days
Berkey9.10LifetimeFree shipping on orders over $99. to the lower 48 states30 days

Berkey got the highest overall score because of the longer warranty offered by BigBerkeyWaterFilters.com.

Warranty Length 

Waterdrop provides a 1-year warranty for the King Tank, while BigBerkeyWaterFilters.com offers a lifetime warranty for Berkey systems. 

BigBerkeyWaterFilters.com has the best offering hands-down here – Waterdrop’s is on the lower end of what we see for countertop gravity filtration systems. 

Shipping 

The Waterdrop King Tank is shipped for free to most states with Economy Shipping or Standard Shipping (free for orders over $200). There are just a few exceptions – Waterdrop currently doesn’t ship to Alaska, American Samoa, Hawaii, Guam, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

BigBerkeyWaterFilters.com offers free shipping to customers who live in one of the lower 48 states. The catch is that you have to spend at least $99 to be eligible for free shipping, but Berkey systems and filters cost more than this anyway. Berkey does ship to Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada, but customers will have to cover a shipping fee regardless of what they spend. 

That puts Waterdrop slightly ahead of Berkey for shipping. 

Returns

Both Waterdrop and Berkey products are backed by a 30-day returns policy, which is the standard for countertop gravity-fed water filters. 

That means both sellers are equal in this sub-category. 

⛔️ System Setbacks & Flaws

We noted a few specific setbacks and flaws for the Big Berkey and the Waterdrop King Tank, and we’ve compared them here. 

Waterdrop Setbacks

  • Not performance certified – Waterdrop’s King Tank isn’t certified by the NSF, IAMPO, or WQA for its performance. 
  • No third-party testing – We couldn’t even find third-party testing for the Waterdrop King Tank. Given that it did a great job of removing most contaminants from our water, we think Waterdrop really undersells the King Tank by failing to share testing info.
  • Filters need priming – The priming process for Waterdrop’s filters is time-consuming.  
  • Only one model/size available – The Waterdrop King Tank is available in just one 2.25-gallon size and just one stainless steel finish.
Waterdrop king tank water filter system on countertop

Berkey Setbacks

  • Expensive – The Big Berkey is a good deal more expensive than the Waterdrop King Tank, and that’s before we even add the price of the fluoride filters.
  • Overflow risk – Berkey systems don’t come with a sight spigot like Waterdrop. There’s a risk of overflow because you can’t see the water level in the bottom chamber.
  • Not certified – While Berkey has third-party certifications, its filters aren’t officially certified. 
  • Filters need priming – Priming the Berkey filters is the same arduous process as it is with Waterdrop filters.  
  • Aluminum oxide leaching issue with fluoride filters – Aluminum oxide leached from the PF2 fluoride filters in our first test.
Brian removing the upper tank of Big Berkey

🆚 Waterdrop or Berkey: Which One’s for You?

Although they’re similar, we think the Waterdrop and Berkey might suit you best in specific circumstances.

Choose the Waterdrop King Tank If:

You want to spend less money upfront on a system that comes with a few additional features, including a stand and a stainless steel/glass sight spigot. 
You’re keen to remove fluoride from your drinking water without the potential for aluminum oxide leaching. 
You just want to get the best results from a filtration system that’s only intended for use with city water.

We Think the Big Berkey is Best For: 

Folks who want the option of being able to filter both treated municipal water and untreated surface water. 
Anyone who wants to minimize filter changes by opting for a system with a (reportedly) very long filter life. 
People who value long warranties or third-party evidence of performance testing.
  • 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.

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