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Berkey vs. Brita – Differences and Comparison

Scott Winfield
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by Scott Winfield

Berkey and Brita are well-known water filtration brands, each with a distinct focus.

Berkey specializes in countertop water treatment devices using gravity filtration, while Brita focuses on small water filtration items, such as water filter pitchers, dispensers, and faucet-mount systems.

The brands’ filtration technologies are drastically different, leading to substantial variations in key features such as contaminant reduction and filtration capacity. These differences are also reflected in the brands’ product prices and warranty options.

Berkey vs Brita - Differences and Comparison

Yet, despite their differences, both brands are popular choices for water treatment solutions.

In this article, we’ll review both brands, exploring their filtration technologies and product catalogs. Then, we’ll compare Big Berkey and Brita Hub, the brands’ flagship countertop devices.

Berkey Overview

Berkey Countertop Gravity Filter

Berkey is an all-American family-owned business that originated in Pueblo, Colorado, in the 1990s. Despite its rapid success, the company remains a family-owned business.

But what makes Berkey so special?

The answer lies in the brand’s proprietary filtration technology called Black Berkey Elements.

Black Berkey Elements is a default two-filter setup present in all Berkey water filtration units except for the shower filter.

This setup allows for an extremely robust contaminant removal ratio against over 200 impurities and a large filtration capacity of 3,000 gallons, which makes the products that feature it attractive to consumers.

While the brand doesn’t disclose all the specifics of its state-of-the-art technology, we do know it operates on three basic principles:

  • The unique placement of filtration media: Black Berkey Elements utilizes a unique blend of six filtration media. The brand describes their placement inside the filter cartridges as a “tortuous path,” meaning the filter media creates microscopic hallways full of twists and turns. This placement has two significant advantages. First, it increases the likelihood of contaminants encountering the filter media and being eliminated. Second, it prolongs the contact time between the media and the water passing through, which increases effectiveness. This principle is what sets Berkey apart from other water filtration brands.
  • Absorption: Absorption is a widely used water treatment method that attracts and binds electrically-charged contaminants, especially heavy metals with an ionic structure. Berkey stands out from its competitors by using cartridges with loose granules that have strong absorptive capacities. In addition, Black Berkey Elements’ absorptive bonds last-longer than those of its competitors, providing an impressive filtration capacity of 3,000 gallons.
  • Adsorption: The internal walls of the Black Berkey Elements are covered with an adsorptive charge, creating tension between impurities with an electrostatic surface charge (like viruses). This helps the unit effectively eliminate these impurities.

Not only does this tech eliminate contaminants very effectively, but it does it while retaining essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium in the water it’s treating. Considering absorption typically removes these minerals, that’s a big plus.

What’s not a plus for many consumers is that Black Berkey Elements also retains fluoride, which some Americans prefer to avoid in their water. To address this, Berkey offers special filters that reduce fluoride levels by 97%. However, these fluoride filters come at an additional cost.

Lastly, Black Berkey Elements has no certifications issued by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF). Still, several independent laboratories have tested the filter against standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency and have published performance data sheets that act as scientific proof of the manufacturer’s claims.

A List of Berkey Water Filtration Products

Berkey offers a single shower filter designed to remove particles that affect water color and odor, such as sediment, chlorine, and chloramines.

Except for the one shower filter, all Berkey products are countertop gravity filtration devices in various sizes.

  • Big Berkey: The brand’s flagship item, Big Berkey, targets an average family of two to four. It has a 2.25-gallon water capacity and can house up to four Black Berkey Elements or Berkey fluoride filter cartridges.
  • Royal Berkey: With its water capacity of 3.25 gallons, Royal Berkey is ideal for families with up to six members. It holds up to four cartridges.
  • Imperial Berkey: With its 4.5-gallon water storage and six-filter cartridge capacity, Imperial Berkey is designed for big households (6-10 people).
  • Crown Berkey: Crown Berkey has the highest water capacity thanks to its 6-gallon container. It also has eight filter housings. If you have a small office or live in a multi-family home, this unit is the right choice for you.
  • Travel Berkey: Travel Berkey is the smallest Berkey countertop unit with its 1.5-gallon water and two-filter cartridge capacity. As can be deduced from the product name, it’s ideal for use in recreational vehicles and while camping.
  • Berkey Light: All the Berkey units listed above are made of stainless steel, so they’re heavy. Berkey Light, on the other hand, is made of BPA-free plastic, and it’s the most lightweight Berkey item. Despite its light weight, it has a 2.75-gallon capacity, ideal for families of four or five.

Big Berkey is the most popular product in the Berkey catalog because it’s compact and just right for families of average size, so it has the broadest appeal.

Brita Overview

Brita Filters

Brita is a German brand founded in 1966. Nowadays, its water filtration items are available worldwide — you can purchase a Brita item online or find them in local supermarkets.

Besides accessibility, Brita’s global recognition can be attributed to three basic concepts: affordability (or cost-efficiency), versatility, and reliability.

Brita’s filtration products are among the most affordable in the industry. For instance, while a Clearly Filtered water pitcher costs more than $80, you can purchase a Brita pitcher for less than $30.

In addition, Brita offers a wide variety of water filtration items. As of mid-2023, the brand’s catalog includes four water bottles, four faucet-mount systems, thirteen water filter pitchers, three water filter dispensers, and one countertop filtration device model. This variety allows customers to choose the products that best suit their needs.

What’s better is the brand has six different filter models. Three of these filters can be used only with one filtration device:

  • Brita faucet filter: Brita’s faucet filter is a blend of absorbent ion exchange properties, activated carbon, and non-woven mesh media. This filter is designed to reduce aesthetic nuisances such as taste, color, odor, and chlorine, a number of heavy metals, including lead, mercury, and asbestos, and chemical compounds like microplastics and pharmaceuticals. It complies with NSF/ANSI Standards 42 (for aesthetic nuisances), 53 (for heavy metals), and 401 (for chemical compounds).
  • Brita bottle filter: Engineered for Brita bottles, the filter removes aesthetic nuisances and sediment. It’s ideal for those who fill their bottle with tap water.
  • Brita Hub: The brand’s latest innovation is the Brita Hub filter. It’s exclusively produced for the brand’s new countertop filtration device, which is also called the Brita Hub. Additionally, it’s the most robust Brita filter model. Thanks to its proprietary technology, it removes more than 70 contaminants and has NSF/ANSI 42, 53, and 401 certifications.

While this is not relevant if we’re comparing Brita to Berkey countertop units, Brita’s expertise is in small and low-cost filtration items such as water filter pitchers and dispensers. The brand has three different filtration options suitable for these devices:

  • Brita Stream: Fit for use in all Brita pitchers and dispensers, Brita Stream removes only aesthetic nuisances and trichlorobenzene. It has an NSF/ANSI 42 certification for the former and an NSF/ANSI 53 certification for the latter.
  • Brita Standard: It can be used in all Brita pitchers and dispensers except in the Stream models. It’s a stronger filter than Brita Stream as it removes four heavy metals and aesthetic nuisances: cadmium, copper, mercury, and zinc. It has NSF/ANSI 42 and 53 certifications.
  • Brita Elite/Longlast+: It has a filter life of 120 gallons, which is 80 gallons more than the Brita Stream and Standard. It also removes more heavy metals than the Standard filter, including lead and asbestos, and it’s effective against chemical compounds like PFAS, microplastics, and pharmaceuticals. It has NSF/ANSI 42, 53, and 401 certifications.

The brand provides performance data sheets for all its filter types.

A List of Brita Water Filtration Products

Brita’s catalog consists of the following items:

  • Brita bottles: Brita has four water bottles in different shapes, colors, and sizes. The size options are 20oz, 26oz, 32oz, and 36oz. These items are compatible only with Brita bottle filters, and thus, they only remove aesthetic nuisances. The most popular pick is the 36oz model.
  • Faucet-mount systems: Brita has four faucet-mount water filtration systems in its catalog: Basic, Basic with Two Filters, Complete, and Complete with Two Filters. These systems utilize Brita faucet filters and can remove aesthetic nuisances, heavy metals, and chemical compounds from water with remarkable reduction rates. Customers prefer the Brita Complete Faucet Filtration System with Two Filters because it filters the water more thoroughly when compared to other models, and its two-filter setup prolongs the product’s filter life.
  • Water filter pitchers: You’ve probably seen a Brita water pitcher because these items are everywhere. The brand has thirteen water pitcher models in its catalog: 6-cup Denali Elite, 6-cup Denali Standard, 10-cup Tahoe Standard, 10-cup Tahoe Elite, 10-cup Wave, 10-cup Champlain Standard, 10-cup Huron Elite, 10-cup Huron Standard, 6-cup Space-Saver, 10-cup Pacifica, 10-cup Rapids Stream, 10-Cup Lake, and 12-cup Cascade. These pitchers come with either 40-gallon capacity Standard or Stream filters, but you can replace those filters with Elite/Longlast+ ones. The Rapids Stream and Wave models are the most popular products in this category.
  • Water filter dispensers: If you want a Brita water filter dispenser, you have three options: 27-cup UltraMax with Elite Filter, 27-cup UltraMax with Standard Filter, and 25-cup UltraSlim with Stream Filter. Among those, the UltraMax Elite model is the best and most popular since it comes with an Elite/Longlast+ filter and a 27-cup water capacity.
  • Brita Hub Instant Powerful Countertop Filtration: The Brita Hub is the latest jewel in the brand’s books. Thanks to the robust Brita Hub filter, the device removes more than 70 contaminants with impressive success rates.

Brita Hub Instant Powerful Countertop Filtration vs. Big Berkey

If you’re in the market for a countertop filtration unit, it’s likely that you’ll consider Brita and Berkey at some point. After all, the former is one of the most famous brands globally, and the latter is often recommended by experts — including us.

Both brands offer decent, if not great, items — the Brita Hub and Big Berkey. However, these two countertop units have major differences in key aspects such as water capacity, filtration technology, number of removed contaminants, filtration capacity, and warranty.

Now, let’s find out what the devices offer in these key water filtration aspects and which suits your needs better.

Appearance, Size, and Water Capacity

The Brita Hub is an electrical device that needs to be plugged in. It has a sleek gray body, a transparent water reservoir, housing for your jug or glass, a dispenser up top, water level and filter life indicators, and buttons for dispensing water in different quantities (12oz or 20oz). Despite its metallic look, the unit’s made from BPA-free plastic.

Big Berkey, on the other hand, doesn’t need electricity to work, and it has no buttons or indicators. It has a cylindrical stainless steel body with a BPA-free plastic spigot.

The Brita Hub is 14.4 inches high, 7.5 inches wide, and 11.4 inches long, weighing 7.9 lbs. Big Berkey has an 8.5-inch diameter, 21-inch height, and 7 lbs weight.

So, the Brita Hub seems the right option if your priorities are compactness or a modern look on your countertop.

However, the Brita Hub has a water capacity of 12 cups, equalling 0.75 gallons. Big Berkey has a 2.25-gallon water container. So, if you have a family of four or more and don’t want to repeatedly fill your filtration device with unfiltered water, Big Berkey is the obvious pick.

Filtration Technology and Contaminants Removed

Black Berkey Elements is a gravity filter, so it may take hours for the water to pass through its cartridges. Although this method takes longer than the Brita Hub’s proprietary instant filtration, it also means the filtration is more thorough.

That reflects on the number of contaminants the devices remove. While Big Berkey is effective against over 200 impurities, the Brita Hub removes only 70.

For instance, the Brita Hub doesn’t remove any heavy metals except for lead and mercury. Big Berkey, in contrast, is effective against almost all hazardous heavy metals: lead, mercury, copper, cadmium, antimony, hexavalent chromium, cobalt, barium, and so on.

In addition, Big Berkey removes petroleum and oil byproducts, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pharmaceuticals, herbicides, and pesticides. The only contaminants the Brita Hub is effective against in these categories are pharmaceuticals and some VOCs.

Similarly, Big Berkey has better overall contaminant reduction rates than the Brita Hub. Let’s take the most common tap water impurity, chlorine, as an example. While Big Berkey reduces this disinfection chemical by 99.9%, that number is 98.7% with the Brita Hub.

Big Berkey’s superiority is even more evident in disinfection byproducts such as total trihalomethanes (TTHMs). It reduces TTHMs in water by at least 99.8%, while its Brita counterpart does it with a success rate of 95%.

Black Berkey Elements is extremely capable against perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS/PFOA) with a minimum reduction rate of 99.9%. The Brita Hub reduces these by an average of 95.5%.

To sum up, Big Berkey is far superior to the Brita Hub when it comes to filtration technology and contaminant removal.

Filtration Capacity and Maintenance Requirements

Black Berkey Elements’ superiority to the Brita Hub continues with its filtration capacity.

Berkey comes in a default two-cartridge setup with a 3,000-gallon capacity, while Brita has a 120-gallon filter life. This means the two products are vastly different when it comes to how long they can last before requiring a filter replacement — Big Berkey can go on for one to two years, and the Brita Hub will only last a few months.

Additionally, Big Berkey can house up to four Black Berkey Elements, meaning you may double its filtration capacity to 6,000 gallons, should you wish so. There’s no such possibility with the Brita Hub.

When it comes to cleaning, Big Berkey’s non-technological setup is another selling point. While the Brita Hub has lots of bits and pieces that need to be cleaned rigorously, Big Berkey has only two water containers that you need to dust with a soft cloth or sponge once per month.

Lastly, remember that the Brita Hub is an electronic device, so water ending up where it shouldn’t during the cleaning will result in complications that the warranty won’t cover.

The key takeaway from this comparison is that Big Berkey will save you many headaches in filter replacement and cleaning.

Warranty and Price

The Brita Hub is a complicated device with electronic parts and many removable pieces. Yet, the brand offers only two years of warranty for its product, which is inadequate.

Berkey, on the other hand, is pretty generous with the lifetime warranty it offers for Big Berkey.

Of course, Berkey’s overall superiority in filtration technology, capacity, and warranty means it’ll cost you much more than the Brita Hub. And yes, at $367, it’s more than double what you’d spend on the Brita Hub at $179.99.

The divide is even wider in replacement filters. While a two-cartridge Black Berkey Elements setup costs $166, a Brita Hub replacement filter is only $29.99.

However, considering you’ll need to replace the Black Berkey Elements once every one or two years and the Brita Hub only lasts for a couple of months, ultimately, Big Berkey might be the more economical choice.

Our Verdict

Big Berkey is a much better countertop filtration item than the Brita Hub thanks to its water capacity, industry-leading filtration technology, the higher number of removed contaminants, the superior reduction rates, impressive filtration capacity, and lifetime warranty.

Comparison Table

Key Attributes/ProductsBrita HubBig Berkey
MaterialBPA-free plasticStainless steel
Water capacity0.75 gallons2.25 gallons
Filtration technologyProprietary Brita Hub filterBlack Berkey Elements with microfiltration, absorption, adsorption, and prolonged contact time
Contaminants removed70+ contaminants200+ contaminants
NSF certificationsNSF/ANSI Standards 42, 53, and 401Not certified (but independently tested against NSF and EPA standards)
Filtration capacity120 gallons / 1-2 months3,000 gallons / 1-2 years
SizeH: 14.4”, W: 7.5”, L: 11.4”Diameter: 8.5 inches, Length: 21 inches
Weight7.9 lbs7 lbs
WarrantyTwo yearsLifetime
Price$179.99$367
Replacement Filter Price$29.99$166

Conclusion

Brita and Berkey are industry leaders in the water filtration niche, but despite Brita’s immense popularity, its most potent filter pales in comparison to Berkey’s flagship product, Big Berkey.

Big Berkey is a less compact countertop unit than the Brita Hub, but it has more water capacity (2.25 gallons to 0.75 gallons). Although it’s made of stainless steel, it’s also lighter.

But where Big Berkey truly shines is in its filtration technology and capacity. Thanks to the robustness of its filtration technology, it removes more than 200 contaminants with remarkable success rates at a 3,000-gallon capacity. The Brita Hub is effective against only 70 contaminants with lesser success rates and a humble 120-gallon capacity.

Not only that, but Brita’s two-year warranty can’t hold a candle to Big Berkey’s lifetime warranty. And even though the Brita Hub seems like less of an investment at first glance, when you consider its filter life and replacement filter price, Big Berkey is actually the far more sensible pick.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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