ZeroWater vs Berkey: Which System is Best in 2024?

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If you’re looking for a water filtration system for your home, it’s likely that Berkey’s countertop water filter system has caught your attention. It’s one of the most popular water filtration offerings of the decade – but that doesn’t automatically mean that it’s the best.

You only have to search a little longer to come across the Zero Water filter. This water filter pitcher uses gravity to filter water, just like the Berkey water filter. But aside from their similar filtration methods, these two filters are really quite different.

This guide will compare the Berkey water filter vs Zero Water, considering the unique features of each system that sets them apart.

⚖️ Comparison Chart

berkey system

Big Berkey

  • Filter: Black Berkey elements
  • Capacity: 2.25 gallons
  • Contaminants removed: 203
  • Filter lifespan: 6,000 gallons
  • Warranty: 6 months
  • Price:
ZeroWater 10 Cup review

ZeroWater Pitcher

  • Filter: 5 stages
  • Capacity: 10 cups
  • Contaminants removed: 23
  • Filter lifespan: 3-5 months
  • Warranty: 90 days
  • Price:

💡 Filter Comparison

Berkey Filters

Berkey’s water filtration system uses up to 4 Black Berkey elements; a system typically contains 2 elements, but you can include another 2 for an additional cost. Being gravity water filters, the filter elements rely on the power of gravity to filter water. The system isn’t connected to electricity or a water supply.

Each of Berkey’s elements are made up of 6 different types of media. The construction includes coconut shell carbon filtration media, which, in the process of adsorption, traps contaminants in its tiny pores and prevents them from passing through the filter with the water particles.

Berkey water filters are made up of two chambers, one on top of the other. You fill the chamber at the top with tap water, then wait for it to gradually pass into the bottom chamber, filtered and ready to drink. The systems have a stainless steel construction that makes them durable and prevents rusting or any other surface damage.

berkey replacement filters

Zero Water Filters

Looking at the Zero Water Filter vs Berkey water filter systems on the surface, both filters seem fairly similar. Like Berkey, Zero Water’s filters are gravity water filters, and send water through 5 stages of filtration to remove more than 99% of dissolved solids, including heavy metals.

The multiple stages of the water filter system include a coarse filter screen, a foam distributer, a carbon and oxidation reduction alloy, an ion exchange resin, and an ultra-fine screen and non-woven membrane. More on what these do, and how they offer the most effective filtration, later.

Unlike the Berkey water filter, the ZeroWater Filter’s construction is a lot more compact and simplified. Rather than consisting of a two stainless steel tanks in one, the the system is a pitcher, with a filter that sits just inside the unit, attached to the underside of the lid. When you add water to the pitcher, the filter system gradually filters it over a period of several minutes.

Zerowater 5-stage filter
ZeroWater 5-stage filters

🧫 What Contaminants Do They Remove?

Zero Water and Berkey are well-known for their impressive contaminant removal capabilities. Both can remove heavy metals, chlorine and other chemicals, fluoride, and much more. Berkey’s water filter systems are advertised to remove more contaminants than Zero Water – more than 200 – but Zero Water has the advantage of being NSF certified, while Berkey’s claims are only backed by independent lab testing.

To see a full list of contaminants removed by each filter, click here:

🚦 Performance Comparison


Berkey water filters are favored for their long-term reliability, and as far as durability is concerned, you will struggle to find a better-performing filter. The filter elements are designed to purify even the most contaminant-ridden drinking water, and you shouldn’t find that the speed of filtration is affected by water with a high level of TDS.

On the subject of speed, however, don’t expert Berkey’s filters for water to work as quickly as a faucet or a whole-house filter, as they don’t have the power of water pressure or electricity to speed up the water flow. While the Berkey water filters are unquestionably thorough, as gravity water filters, they’re not designed to provide you with instant filtered water.

One thing to note about Berkey’s performance is that while there are hundreds of customer reviews from satisfied customers to back up the company’s claims about contaminant removal, Berkey’s products aren’t currently NSF certified.

Explore the table below to access our third-party laboratory testing data for Berkey.

ContaminantMeasurementTest 1
Test 1
% ChangeTest 2
Test 2
% Change
Total ColiformsCFU/100mL150-100%NDNDND
Total THMsPPB27.040-100%0.03520-100%
Berkey countertop filter

Zero Water

Zero Water, on the other hand, is NSF certified for Standards 42 and 53, the reduction of chlorine, taste and odor, and lead. Not only that, but the company is so confident in the ZeroWater filters’ ability to remove contaminants that each water filter pitcher is sold with a water quality meter free of charge, which you can use to measure the number of TDS (total dissolved solids) in your water before and after filtration.

With five stages of filtration compacted into a relatively small filter, the Zero Water was built to provide the most thorough filtration possible for a pitcher of its kind. When water comes into contact with the filter, it first flows through a filter screen, that removes rust and dust. The second stage of the filter, the foam distributer, removes any suspended solids that haven’t already been removed, and the third stage, the carbon oxidation reduction alloy, filters out organic contaminants, including some metals and chemicals.

The fourth stage of the filter is an ion exchange resin, which filters out inorganic compounds. Finally, water passes through a non-woven membrane and ultra-fine screen, which removes any leftover suspended solids. Considering the majority of gravity water filters only consist of one or two filtration stages, the Zero Water definitely has plenty of appeal.

Like the Berkey water filter systems, the Zero Water filtration system isn’t designed to quickly filter water – and because it has more filter stages than other gravity water filters, you should expect it to take roughly twice as long. A new Zero Water filter takes just under 2 minutes to filter a cup of drinking water. If your water has high levels of total dissolved solids, it may take even longer than this.

💲 Models & Upfront Cost

Berkey models

All of the Berkey water filters are cylindrical in shape and made from stainless steel, apart from Berkey’s light option, a more affordable filtration system that has a BPA-free plastic construction. The most popular system for small-to-medium families is the Big Berkey, which costs just less than $300, including two Black Berkey filtration elements.

Berkey’s current range of countertop water filters is as follows:

berkey sizes

Zero Water models

Zero Water also offers a variety of water filter models in a number of different shapes and sizes. Looking at Berkey vs Zero Water filter in terms of product offering, both brands offer a good variety of models to suit a variety of budgets and requirements. The 6-Cup Pitcher is the cheapest option at around $20, while its most expensive option is the Bottle Filtration System, at around $70.

The full range of Zero Water models is as follows:

zerowater models

📆 Filter Lifespan & Replacement Costs

Berkey filters

One of Berkey filters’ biggest selling points is their filter life. Two of Berkey’s filtration elements have a 6,000 gallon lifespan, which, for an average family of four, should last for roughly four years before they need replacing. If you buy another two Berkey water filter elements and fit them into your system, you double the filter life of all four elements, giving you even longer before replacements are needed.

Their long lifespan completely justifies the cost of a set of two Berkey water filter elements, which comes in at around $120. Four filters cost around $240, and considering that’s a payment you’d only have to worry about around once every eight years, it’s more than worth the investment.

Brian holding the black berkey filter element

Zero Water filters

A set of two Zero Water filters costs around $30, and each is advertised to have a lifespan of between 3 and 5 months. That means you’ll pay roughly $180 in 2.5 years if you were to consistently buy and use the Zero Water filters in this time. It’s not a bad price to pay for a water filter, especially one that has five filtration stages and does such a thorough job, but you can pay less for other big brands.

💬 Customer Reviews & Complaints


Customers have rated the Berkey water filter elements 4.7 out of 5 on Amazon, and many users have praised Berkey for offering a system that is designed to work even with water containing fluoride and other difficult-to-remove contaminants.

The Berkey water filter is a customer favorite, and users generally agree that the filter for water systems are timeless and reliable, with a durable construction, long-lasting filter elements, and a good range of size options.

The only common complaint about the Berkey is that it contains rubber siphons that some people say affects the taste of water. One customer resolved this issue by purchasing silicone siphons in place of the rubber, but this is such a trending complaint that it’s likely Berkey will work to fix the issue from manufacturing standpoint soon.

Zero Water

Zero Water’s filter of water cartridges have more than 21,000 Amazon reviews, and an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.

Satisfied customers noted that Zero Water filters were much more effective than PUR and Brita, two major competitors of the brand, in terms of contaminant removal, with Zero Water being the only brand to measure at 000 parts per million (ppm).

Customers were also happy with the taste of the filtered water, which some people said tasted better than bottled water.

A number of customers mentioned that the filter has a bad smell, but this seems to be because of the trapped contaminants in the media, and shouldn’t affect water taste. Some people also complained about how often they had to change the Zero Water filter, with many people saying the filter didn’t last as long as the advertised 4 months. One customer suggested buying a filter from a competitor brand, filtering out the worst of the contaminants, then using Zero Water’s filter to get the ppm right down to 000.

Brian assembling the ZeroWater 12 cup

☑️ Pros and Cons of Zero Water vs Berkey

👍 Berkey – What We Liked

Long-lasting filtration

Looking at the Big Berkey vs Zero Water for lifespan, Berkey’s filters are obvious winners. You can get years of use out of Berkey’s filtration elements before you need to worry about changing them, which cuts down on maintenance massively.

Bigger unit

Berkey’s systems come in a range of different sizes, but all are a lot bigger than the water pitcher filters offered by Zero Water. This gives the systems the advantage of needing fewer top-ups over the same period of time.

👎 Berkey – What We Didn’t Like

No NSF certification

Customers who are new to Berkey’s systems would feel a lot more inclined to buy from the company if they had an NSF certification – or at least testing to NSF Standards – to back up their claims.

👍 ZeroWater – What We Liked

NSF certified

Where Berkey’s systems are lacking, Zero Water filters are NSF certified to Standards 53 and 42, for the removal of chlorine and lead.

Easy to store and carry

Being relatively small water pitchers, the Zero Water systems are ideal for taking with you to the office, packing in your suitcase, or putting out of sight in a confined cupboard space.

👎 ZeroWater – What We Didn’t Like

Filters need replacing regularly

Though the filters are designed to last for up to 4 months, some customers found that they needed replacing every 2 months or less.

Costlier long-term

Because the filters need to be replaced more regularly, when compared to Berkey’s filters, maintenance comes at a higher cost in the long run.

Filtreting tap water with ZeroWater 12 cup

🤔 Should I buy Berkey or Zero Water?

Looking at the Zero Water filter vs Berkey, the big question is: is one really better than the other?

The answer is that it depends on what you’re looking for. Both systems have their pros and cons. Zero Water is a better option for you if you’re happy to shell out for new filters every few months or so, whereas Berkey’s systems tend to be a lower-maintenance, more cost-effective option that are well suited for long-term use.

In terms of contaminant removal, Zero Water offers its 5 stages of filtration and NSF certification. But the evidence of Berkey’s systems’ effectiveness is plentiful – you can find it in the brand’s hundreds of product reviews.

Related: Zerowater and AquaTru comparison

  • 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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