Berkey Vs Reverse Osmosis: Which Is the Best Water Filter

In this article, we will discuss and compare the difference between two different types of filters: Reverse Osmosis vs Berkey. We’ll discuss what they are, their pros & cons, as well as which is better for your needs

Berkey Vs Reverse Osmosis

Either of these filter types will give you quality filtered water, there are differences in how they work, but one is not better than the other. When it comes down to choosing to buy a Big Berkey vs reverse osmosis, the choice really depends on which water filter will suit your needs best.

How Berkey Filters and a Reverse Osmosis Work

Reverse osmosis (RO) water filters work by using pressure to push water through a semi-permeable membrane with extremely small pores to remove impurities from it, v’s the Berkey filter system that relies entirely on gravity to draw from an upper chamber through a finely perforated membrane that catches or rejects particles depending on their size. The filtered water then collects in another lower chamber where it can be dispensed at your convenience!

Berkey water filter pro’s

  • The water that comes out is clean and clear of all particles
  • More affordable than other types of filters, such as reverse osmosis and UV purification systems
  • Can be installed in most areas without any major construction or renovations needed on your part (a plumber will need to come for installation but it’s a very quick process!)

Berkey water filter con’s

  • Filters slower than Reverse Osmosis which means you have to wait longer before the purified H20 can start flowing into your glass–sometimes up to three hours! (It doesn’t take this long if there are two Berkeys)
  • Berkey water filters take up quite a bit of bench space

Reverse Osmosis Filter Pro’s

  • Water flows quickly from the system and you can start drinking from it in as little as 15 minutes after initial installation, and instantaneously after that
  • Small units can be installed on your sink or countertop and don’t take up much space
  • Water flow rate is more than four times faster –meaning that the RO unit filters water quicker

Reverse Osmosis Filter Con’s

  • Much more expensive to purchase and install ($300-$500 for a good reverse osmosis system, up to $1,000+ for a full home filtration system)
  • Takes up lots of space under your sink, meaning less room for other things like dishes!

Berkey vs Reverse Osmosis Filtration Differences

When comparing the Berkey water filters to reverse osmosis filters it is important to understand how each filter works.

Reverse Osmosis filtration
Berkey water filter Inner side

The Big Berkey is fitted with 2 filters as standard with the option to add in an additional 2 filters for removal of fluoride and other dissolved chemicals.

Reverse osmosis filters usually have a minimum of 3 filter stages and up to 9 filter stages, each stage of the filtration is designed to remove specific contaminations.

Reverse osmosis filters often have a stage where the water is “re-mineralized” Berkey filters do not do this instead you would need to re-mineralize your water after it has been filtered.

Berkey vs Reverse Osmosis Which Removes More Contaminants

In terms of water filtration, Berkey and reverse osmosis filters are remarkably similar. Both have the ability to remove most of the commonly found contaminants such as bacteria and viruses; heavy metals; volatile organic compounds (VOCs) among others.


Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter

Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter

With 2 Black Berkey Purification Elements

  • Berkey claims that their proprietary black filters can even remove modern contaminants such as prescription and recreational drugs from the water.

Independent tests on Berkey black filters show they remove 99% of Chloramines and Chlorine. However, the best reverse osmosis filters will remove 99.95% of all contaminants. So the difference in the quality of filtration is very small.

So which one should you choose? The choice really depends on what your needs for filtration are! If you’re after a system with maximum contaminant removal capacity then reverse osmosis will be better suited for you–

If convenience is your priority over high-level performance then Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter with 2 Black Berkey Purification Elements will be the best option for you.

Berkey vs Reverse Osmosis Which Is Easier to Use

One of the key differences when it comes to Berkey vs reverse osmosis filters is Berkey filters are very simple, they have no moving parts, compared to reverse osmosis systems that often have pressure valves and complex multi-stage filters.

Berkey filters also don’t use electrical power to produce clean water that is completely devoid of contaminants, whereas reverse osmosis systems do often require electricity to operate.

Berkey vs Reverse Osmosis Which Is Faster?

Berkey vs Reverse Osmosis water volume comparison, which gives the fastest water delivery? Reverse osmosis is the clear winner.

Reverse osmosis filters are much faster than Berkey filters. Reverse Osmosis (RO) is almost instantaneous and can deliver a constant stream of filtered water, so they are better if you want to have large amounts of filtered water in a short time.

Because Berkey filters rely on gravity they can take hours to produce a few gallons of water. I am a huge fan of Berkey filters, but they are pretty slow compared to reverse osmosis filters.

Berkey vs Reverse Osmosis Which Filter Takes up the Most Space

This one is a little bit more difficult to get a clear winner because there are so many different reverse osmosis filters available, there are some really great compact countertop filters available that take up very little bench space at all.

And there are also large multistage reverse osmosis filters that take up lots of cabinet space.

Reverse Osmosis filters can be much bigger than a Berkey filter, but usually the large reverse osmosis filters are installed inside the kitchen cabinets, below the sink, or outside the house.

Berkey filters take don’t take up a lot of space, you will however need a dedicated area on your bench to keep a Berkey Filter.

Ease of Use and Portability

If you’re looking for something portable or don’t want to install anything permanent in your home then go with a Berkey filter, because one of the things many people love about Berkey filters is their portability and durability. Berkey filters are great to take away camping because unlike small reverse osmosis systems they don’t require any water pressure.

Another thing that people like about Berkey filters is the ease of use, they don’t require any electricity to operate vs a reverse osmosis filter that may need an electric pump and some water pressure to work.

Berkey filters do require a more hands-on approach, you need to monitor their water levels and require a second container, or hose from the kitchen faucet to fill them up, v’s Reverse osmosis filters, which require more initial work to set up, but once installed require very little maintenance at all.

The Berkey is portable, but a little cumbersome for quick camp trips, we have written a post on the best portable camping water filters available if you want something that is easy to take away.

Berkey vs Reverse Osmosis Summary

In summary, both Berkey Filters vs Reverse Osmosis systems have their pros and cons but deciding between them depends mostly on which is best for you. The most important difference is how much water pressure they require to work, with Berkey filters requiring no water pressure at all and reverse osmosis needing some. 


Big Berkey BK4X2 Countertop Water Filter System

Big Berkey BK4X2 Countertop Water Filter System

With 2 Black Berkey Elements and 2 Fluoride Filters

  • Another key consideration is the ease of use, while both are fairly easy to install, a Berkey filter requires a more hands-on approach vs the “set it up once and hardly touch” style that Reverse Osmosis offers.

Which filter do I recommend? Berkey filters or Reverse osmosis? Well that depends on what’s more important to you. If affordability is your main concern,

Then go with the Big Berkey BK4X2 Countertop Water Filter System with 2 Black Berkey Elements and 2 Fluoride Filters , although it will take a little longer for it to produce water than osmosis units and can’t purify as much at once.

On the flip side, if convenience takes priority in importance over costliness then a reverse osmosis filter might be better suited for your household of busy people!

There are some advantages going either way though so don’t feel like there needs to be one clear winner between these two different types of filtration systems-it really just comes down to your situation and personal preference!

What Are the Best Berkey Filters?

If you have decided a Berkey filter is the way to go then you have a few options and deciding between the different types can be difficult. Which one will best suit your needs?

Let’s take a look at some of the options!

If you want convenience and portability then your best choice is The Travel Berkey Water Filter with 2 Black Berkeys and 2 PF2 Fluoride Filters.

Best Overall



For use at home and all of those trips away from home or camping adventures.

If you have a larger household and need more water then the best choice for you is the Big Berkey BK4X2 Countertop Water Filter System with 2 Black Berkey Elements and 2 Fluoride Filters.

Best Overall

Big Berkey BK4X2 Countertop Water Filter System

With 2 Black Berkey Elements and 2 Fluoride Filters

The Big Bekey is great for larger households who need more water. It provides you with the ability to store 2.25 gallons of filtered water at a time, which means that it will be able to keep your family hydrated and healthy all day long!

If you have a really large family or just need to have more filtered water available then you should go for the Imperial Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter with 2 Black Berkey Purification Elements,

Best Overall

Imperial Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter

Imperial Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter

With 2 Black Berkey Purification Elements

Or the Royal Berkey 

Best Overall

Imperial Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter

Royal Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter

With 2 Black Berkey Purification Elements

You can order additional purification elements to speed up production too.

What Are the Best Reverse Osmosis Systems?

If you have decided that a reverse osmosis system is the way to go. Then we recommend you go check out our Top 10 Best Reverse Osmosis Comparison Chart.

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