In this article we're going to walk you through 4 easy steps to understand and choose the perfect Berkey Filter System to fit your needs.
Step 1: Understanding the Berkey Gravity Filtration System
Berkey water filter systems have an upper and a lower chamber and work via gravity. The source water (tap, well, pond, river, etc) is poured into the upper chamber where it's forced through the filters via gravity making its way into the lower, "purified water" chamber. The systems takes advantage of the extended time each water droplet is in contact with the filters and thus are able to achieve high performance filtration results that many other systems simply cannot match. These are counter top systems only, starting from the smallest Travel Berkey at 1.5 gallons (17" height) to the largest Crown Berkey at 6 gallons (30" height). The internal filtration elements, the Black Berkeys and the PF-2 fluoride filters (links list the contaminants removed), work in any of the system housing models we sell. This allows you to achieve the same high quality filtration results for each size system.
There are 6 system sizes in total (below), and all systems come standard with 2 of our newest generation black berkey filters in the upper chamber. The go berkey and sport berkey are also pictured on the right. Larger systems have the capacity to accommodate more upper and lower chamber filters thus increasing the speed of filtration. (See Flow Rate @ Full Expansion)
|System||Holding Capacity||Fully Expanded||Flow Rate @ Full Expansion|
|Travel Berkey||~ 1.5 Gallons||2 Elements(Filters)||~ 2.75 Gallons / Hr
|Berkey Light||~ 2.75 Gallons||4 Elements(Filters)||~ 7.5 Gallons / Hr
|Big Berkey||~ 2.25 Gallons||4 Elements(Filters)||~ 7.0 Gallons / Hr
|Royal Berkey||~ 3.25 Gallons||4 Elements(Filters)||~ 8.0 Gallons / Hr
|Imperial Berkey||~ 4.5 Gallons||6 Elements(Filters)||~ 16.5 Gallons / Hr
|Crown Berkey||~ 6.0 Gallons||8 Elements(Filters)||~ 26.0 Gallons / Hr
Step 2: Choosing a Berkey Water Filter Size
The golden rule for choosing a size is that bigger is usually better if you have the room in your home (counter, table, plant stand) or storage space. Put simply, the larger the system, the less often you need to refill it, which ultimately translates into convenience. In addition, the higher water volume in the upper chamber increases the pressure that is placed on the filters helping to push it through the filters faster while still maintaining the same high quality filtration results. The differences in cost between the various housing sizes is nominal when you consider that you will be using the same housing for 10-20+ years. Assuming a person drinks 8, eight ounce glasses of water/day, they will consume approximately 64 ounces/day (1/2 gallon). If you plan to use the system for cooking, you would also want to take this into account when sizing.
Here are some sizing guidelines:
Travel Berkey (1.5g) ~ 1-3 ppl
Big Berkey (2.25g) ~ 1-4 ppl
Berkey Light (2.75g) ~ 2-5 ppl
Royal Berkey (3.25g) ~ 2-6 ppl
Imperial Berkey (4.5g) ~ 4-8+ ppl
Crown Berkey (6g) ~ 6-12+ ppl
Step 3: Choosing Your Berkey Filters
Upper Chamber Filters
As mentioned above, all Berkey Water Filter systems require 2 upper chamber filters to operate and these come standard with each system purchase (2 Black Berkey filters). Increasing the amount of filters utilized in the upper chamber will not improve filtration quality, but will increase filtration speed and the volume of water that can be filtered. For example, increasing from 2 Black Berkey elements to 4 Black Berkey elements will approximately double your filtration speed and double the amount of volume that can be filtered; 6000 total gallons to 12000 total gallons.
While the Black Berkeys are sold standard with all our systems, you can still choose the Super Sterasyl Ceramic Filters for your upper chamber filters if desired. In fact, you may have seen the Berkey systems advertised with the Ceramic filters in stores or on the internet. These 2 types of filters are comparable in terms of cleaning and price, however, the Black Berkeys, being a newer design, are able to filter everything the ceramics do in addition to removing Lead, MTBE's and viruses. In addition, the Black Berkeys filter chlorine and bacteria (giardia, e-coli, etc) to higher degrees. The Black Berkey's also meet high ANSI/NSF log 7 standards as water purifiers and show off their prowess by being able to remove red food coloring from water. If interested, read this article for more information on the differences between the black berkey elements and ceramic filters.
* Black Berkey last approx 6000 gallons for a set of 2
* Super Sterasyl Ceramics last approx 1200 gallons per set of 2
Lower Chamber Filters (Fluoride and Arsenic Removal)
The lower chamber filters are referred to as PF filters. PF = Post Filtration. There are 2 types of PF filters. The PF-2's are specifically designed to work with the Black Berkeys, and the PF-4's are designed specifically to work with the Ceramic Filters. The PF filters are easily installed by screwing them onto the stem of the upper chamber elements so that they hang down into the lower chamber of any multi-filter Berkey Water Filter system.
PF filters are optional. If your municipality adds fluoride to your water, or you are concerned about arsenic seepage into your well, then adding the PF-2 Filters onto your black berkeys would be the choice to make. PF-4 Filters also remove fluoride and arsenic in addition to other chemicals that the upper chamber ceramics filters do not remove.
* PF-2 Filters (black berkeys) last 1000 Gallons or 2 Years, whichever comes first
* PF-4 Filters (white ceramic filters) last 6 months
Step 4: Understanding the Berkey Assembly
Watch this video of the Big Berkey