Big Berkey Review – The #1 Gravity Water Filtration System?

Author: Rory Mullan - Published: 2021/07/02 - Updated: 2022/06/06

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This product review features the Big Berkey gravity water filter.

While Berkey is a popular name in the water filtration industry, the Big Berkey is particularly sought after. The gravity filter system is ideal for a family of four and provides clean, tasteless, and odorless water consistently.

But do these features make the Big Berkey the perfect filter system that it’s claimed to be? Or are there any shortcomings to look out for?

Big Berkey Water Filter Review – Main Specs

Big Berkey Water Filter


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  • Water flow: Up to 7 gallons per hour
  • Water storage capacity: 2.25 gallons
  • Filter life: 3,000 gallons or 3 years, PF-2 fluoride filters last 1,000 gallons each
  • Estimated annual filter replacement cost: $40
  • NSF: 42 and 53
  • System dimensions: 19.25 x 8.5 inches, 9 lbs with 2 Black Berkey filters


At the beginning of our Big Berkey review, a few highlights:

Highly Effective Water Filtration

Here is a list of water contaminants the Big Berkey gravity water filter can remove: Viruses (>99.999%), bacteria (>99.9999%), disinfection byproducts and volatile organic compounds (removed up to below detectable levels), chlorine and chloramine (below detectable levels), cadmium (>99.7%), chromium 6 (>99.85%), lead (>99.9%), arsenic (>99.9%), pharmaceutical drugs (removed to >99.9%) and many more.

Ease of Use

There’s no installation and you just fill water into the top chamber and it comes at the bottom all nice and filtered – simple as that.

Fast Filtration

Up to 7 gallons of purified water per hour is pretty fast!

Long Filter Life

You get 3,000 gallons out of every filter cartridge which keeps maintenance requirements and ongoing expenses low.

Ideal in Case of Emergency

Gravity-based water filters require neither electricity nor external water pressure to function. Both may be gone in an emergency scenario.


  • The Big Berkey gravity water filter system sits easily on the countertop, not taking too much space. So, you can keep it close to your food prep spot and get immediate access to water when you need it.
  • System size is ideal for family use.
  • It has an easy-to-use design. You simply need to put in water at the top of the chamber and let it come out from the bottom – it’s as simple as that.
  • Using Black Berkey filter elements, the water filter can remove everything from chlorine, heavy metals and aluminum to pathogens and dirt from drinking water. As per the company’s test results, the filter’s efficacy is up to NSF Standard 42 & 53.
  • Moreover, you can increase filtration performance by adding PF-2 post filters that effectively remove up to 97% of arsenic and fluoride.
  • Like all Berkeys, the Big Berkey employs gravity to ensure a constant flow of water. Therefore, as you increase the input of water, the pressure and flow rate also increases. Owing to this, you have greater control over the flow rate.
  • If you use all of the four filtration slots, you can enjoy a flow rate of up to seven gallons per hour, which is quite sufficient for mid-sized family.
  • As for the lower reservoir of the water filter system, it can hold up to 2.25 gallons of purified water, meaning there’s always water to be pumped out whether you need to fill a pot for cooking or a cup to make your morning tea.
  • Even better, upgrading is a breeze with Berkey filters. Since all the different system sizes (there are 6) from the company use the same elements, you can use the older ones in your new units too. It saves money and prevents waste.
  • The company’s filters last for years to come since they can filter up to 3,000 gallons of water easily. Therefore, you don’t have to replace the filters frequently.
  • Although the filter’s cost will increase when you use the additional fluoride elements, the resulting water will still be much cheaper than bottled water.
  • More importantly, the Big Berkey gravity filter sports a 304 stainless steel finish, which is an assurance of its quality and longevity.
  • Since there’s no electric power supply, the water filter will not raise your utility bill. Additionally, you can get access to clean drinking water even in case of a power cut.


Like every other water filtration system the Big Berkey, too, has its drawbacks.

  • One is the spigot prone to leaking.
  • Make sure you don’t overfill the lower chamber since filtration does not halt even when it’s full. So, you might end up flooding your kitchen.
  • You can’t check the remaining purified water without lifting the top chamber in the standard version.
  • Since you have to reprime the filers frequently, it might be bothersome for some people. Likewise, if the PF-2 fluoride elements are not reconditioned properly, they cause cloudiness in the drinking water.


Assembling the Big Berkey is straightforward since no plumbing is required. You can follow the instructions given below without using any tools:

  1. Start by attaching the lib knob.
  2. Then, insert a washer onto the spigot’s threaded part and insert the spigot into the lower chamber’s hole. Fix it into place by moving it in a nine-o-clock position.
  3. In the lower chamber, insert a washer into the spigot’s threaded part. Secure the spigot in place using a nut.
  4. Now, while holding the nut on the inside, turn the spigot so that it’s upright.
  5. Look for the holes you don’t intend on using and install the plugs into them.
  6. After priming the filter elements (explained below), use wing nuts and washers to install them into the upper chamber. Make sure you’re not making it too tight.
  7. Put the upper chamber onto the lower one and fill it with water.
  8. Finally, put the lid on the top.

Filter Priming

You must prime Berkey’s Black filters before using them. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Look for the priming button and press it onto the element’s threaded stem.
  2. Then, press the Berkey filter against the faucet with the priming button.
  3. Now, turn the cold water on, letting it flow into the filter.
  4. A while later, you’ll notice water running down the side of the filter.
  5. Wait for a few seconds and do the same with the other elements.

PF-2 Priming

If you have installed PF-2 filter elements, prime them like this:

  1. Use dish soap to wash the filter from the outside.
  2. Take off the blue cap from each end and put the priming button on one of the ends.
  3. While pressing the button against the faucet, turn on cold water.
  4. Let the water run out of the other end so that it rinses away any dust or dirt.
  5. In a few minutes, the water should start running crystal clear. Repeat on the other side after turning the filter upside down.


Make sure you clean the filter elements at least once every month or more often, depending on your frequency of use and water quality. You want to remove the outside layer using a scouring pad or something similar. After cleaning the elements, reprime.

Additionally, use dish soap to clean the unit’s lower chamber. If your area gets hard water, check for clogging in the spigot every once in a while. You can open up the clogged space by

What’s Included

The package contains:

  • Upper and lower 304 stainless steel chambers
  • Lid with handle
  • Two purification elements
  • Wing nuts
  • Washers
  • Priming button
  • Rubber gasket
  • Plastic spigot

Big Berkey Review – Conclusion & Best For

To wrap up, we have to say that the Big Berkey gravity water filter system is nothing short of extraordinary in terms of removing pathogens, heavy metals and chemicals etc from drinking water. Additionally, it has a space-saving design that makes it ideal for placing in the kitchen for a family home.

If you don’t mind the frequent repriming, you need to get your hands on this filter.

If you have questions about our Big Berkey water filter review please leave a comment below!

Further Reading


    Meet Rory Mullan

    Rory Mullan Rory has joined the Water Masterz team as a contributing writer. He has covered all sorts of topics in the last several years.

    Outside of his writing work, Rory enjoys photographing the Irish landscape and making music!

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