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A Stainless or Plastic Berkey Water Filter?

Should I choose a stainless berkey water filter, like the Big Berkey or Royal Berkey, or should I choose a plastic system, like the Berkey Light? This is one of the more common Berkey questions that gets asked by our customers. The answer is... well there is no right answer. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of systems and the customer's final decision will depend upon where their priorities lie. Below are the 6 major factors one should consider.

1. Appearance - Many consider the stainless to be a "sharper" looking system. If you have a kitchen with stainless steel appliances, the stainless system will most likely match better than the plastic. However, the plastic system provides a visual experience allowing the customer to watch each drop of filtration take place. Many customers enjoy this. Advantage: Stainless Berkey Water Filter

2. Cost - The stainless is more expensive simply due to the raw materials used. Steel costs more than plastic. However the housing is the only difference between the two types of systems, and filtration quality is exactly the same. Here's the unit cost per gallon for 3 comparable systems: Berkey Light (2.75 gal) = $84/gal, Big Berkey (2.25 gal) = $115/gal, Royal Berkey (3.25 gal) = $102/gal. As you can see, you get the most gallon for your money with the berkey light plastic version.  Advantage: Plastic Berkey Water Filter

3. Viewable Water Level - One advantage of the Berkey Light is that you are able to see the level of water simply by taking a quick glance. This helps you know when it's time to add more water to the upper chamber for filtering. The stainless systems, being opaque, do not have this advantage. However, we do sell an upgraded spigot called the waterview spigot. This has a tube indicator that shows where the water level is, very similar to the waterview spigots used on large tea and coffee containers found at restaurants, hotels, receptions, etc.  Advantage: Plastic Berkey Water Filter

4. Portability - The upper chamber of the stainless system flips upside down and nests into the lower chamber of the system. This reduces it's size for traveling by about 35%. The berkey light does not have this nesting capability and thus is a little bulkier to transport. Advantage: Stainless Berkey Water Filter

5. Durability - Both system are designed to be durable. The berkey light is made of a tough plastic and we have many customers who are using their original system purchased more than 10 years ago when it debuted. The stainless is just a smidge thinner than a stainless steel pot, but would dent if dropped or took a direct blow from an object. Similarly, many customers are using their original stainless system they purchased 15+ years ago. Advantage: Neither

6. Safety - Both the stainless steel and the plastic used for the berkey light are made with food grade material. The stainless steel used is a high quality 304 stainless steel and the plastic used is a non-BPA copolyester. Advantage: Neither

Regardless of your choice, we feel you will be happy with either berkey water filter option. We rarely have customers who contact us for a housing exchange, but since they are interchangeable, it should be known that this is also an option if you are unhappy with your decision. We would either refund or charge the difference between the two housings and then charge a warehouse-mandated 15% restocking fee for the returned system.

13 thoughts on “A Stainless or Plastic Berkey Water Filter?”

  • Steve Blakemore
    Steve Blakemore July 15, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I recently purchased a Big Berkey with the black filters which filter up to 6,000 gallons before you need to replace them. My question is wtshtf does it filter "brackish" water? Salt water?
    Thank you.

    Steve Blakemore

  • steve

    What is the difference between the black and the ciramic filters?

    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Steve -

      Here you go:


  • marion

    Is the big Berkey made of 100% stainless steel? I am not sure what 304 Stainless Steel means. It would be great to clarify in your description.

    Thank you


  • Kathleen S Larsen
    Kathleen S Larsen September 18, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Dear Berkey CEO
    I am so excited hearing about your products. I do not own one ordering immediately after writing you. These filtration systems are exactly what I have been looking for. Beyond my own personal needs for outstanding water purifiers; I have been dreaming of finding work that will offer me the ability to create a living wage...and...will offer the opportunity to make a difference in our world.
    Please advise if you offer franchise, dealership or representative opportunities. I am currently employed and will be glad to forward my resume along with an action plan. You or your representative may contact me at my email to continue this inquiry.
    Thank you.
    Best regards,
    Kathleen S Larsen

  • john clas

    new owner (big berkey) about a week delivery, was packed nicely, i am impressed with the quality of everything. i am in st pete florida and have had to buy water at walmart(refills) for several years since they changed the water supply here. if i drink tap water i am in the bathroom in a half hour with a vengeance. so yesterday was my first test. did all according to directions and had my first water last night. tasted a bit different but fine and i attribute that to something that was NOT in the water rather than a taste ADDED to the water. anyway, no problems with my drinking berkey water. is nice to buy a quality product that actually works...thanks Berkey team.

  • T. Ambriel G.
    T. Ambriel G. July 25, 2012 at 1:52 am

    What’s wrong with Fracking IMHO?

    There are many reasons why fracking is bad for our environment, bad for our health and bad for our communities; air pollution, threat to lakes, streams and rivers, increase incidences of earthquakes; threat to the economy; danger of toxic chemicals being spread by ever increasing floods, danger to our food supply severe health impacts, mortgages problems; threat to the social welfare of our communities; toxic waste water and water contamination and risk of cancer epidemics.

    Don't believe? Please google "people's fracking stories." and you'll get over 35 Million results. With all due respect to professional frackers out there, if you promote fracking or try to convince the public that fracking is not dangerous, it's time to have your heads examined because your brains are fracked!

  • Cheryl

    Your site was recommended to me and I like the idea of these filters. Our water has arsenic and God only knows what else so we buy bottled water. I was looking for a filter system so I could cut out the plastic bottle and I noticed you have plastic as well. Why is yours safer than other plastic bottles?

    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Cheryl -

      The berkey light uses a non-leeching, non-BPA colyester. If you have concerns about all plastic in general however, we recommend a stainless system.


  • Andy

    Hi Dan,

    I've been buying water that uses Reverse Osmosis to purify the water, and recently it appears that the RO process does more harm than good and I also just found out that the company I've been going to does not re-mineralize the water (which I don't think most of them do) so I've been looking at filtered water for the past little while.

    I just found Berkey through some search today and have been researching for the past little while and now I have relatively small question. I realize both the stainless steel and plastic one are food grade, are the spigots the same material? Also, if I decide to go with the plastic one, the LED upgrade is just a light right? would it do anything to the water? (good or bad)


    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Andy -

      The berkey light is for aesthetics only and does not improve or worsen the water quality. The spigots are good grade also.


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