big berkey key features overview pros and cons

Big Berkey water filters are the most popular water filter in the Berkey range for homes and small families. They are the ideal size for households of 1-4 people and provide 2.25 gallons of freshly filtered, great-tasting water per cycle.

The Big Berkey is incredibly easy to assemble and use. It is a gravity-fed filtration system and doesn’t require any connections. This means it doesn’t need to be connected to your kitchen faucet or an electrical power source. It is a portable stand-alone unit and can be placed anywhere you wish.

And, better still, it’s a highly impressive water filter. The Berkey Big removes over 200 contaminants from water including viruses, bacteria, and toxic chemicals. The filters are long-lasting and outperform most of Berkey’s competitors. For more, check out our independent Big Berkey review below.


The Big Berkey is a stainless steel gravity-fed water filter. It consists of two water chambers – one stacked on top of the other. The upper chamber contains two Black Berkey water filters. All you have to do is add your source water to the upper chamber and allow gravity do the rest.

Big Berkey Water Filters

This water filter is the most popular device in the Berkey range for a reason. But is it the right water filter for you? What are its key features? What are the key pros and cons? Is there a better option out there for your needs? This Big Berkey independent review will cover everything you need to know and equip you to make the right decision for your home.


Key Features
• Pros & Cons
Should You Buy One?
Big Berkey Specifications


big berkey water filters review

Let’s take a closer look at the key features of the Berkey Big water filter.


The Big Berkey water filter consists of two stainless steel water chambers fitted with water filters and a spigot for dispensing water from the lower chamber. The two-chamber pots are stacked one on top of the other.

Unfiltered water is added to the upper chamber and gravity pulls it through the water filter system. The clean filtered water is collected in the lower chamber.

The Big Berkey is a gravity-fed water filter and requires no electricity or plumbing installation. It is incredibly easy to use.  Let’s take a close look at its materials of construction, water capacity, and dimensions.


The Berkey Big water filter is made from 304 AISI stainless steel and is completely BPA-free. The unit is robust and feels highly durable. The stainless steel has a high polish finish that gives it a sleek look that would complement any kitchen.

  • Material: 304 AISI Stainless Steel
  • Finish: High Polish Stainless Steel
  • Dispensing Spigot: BPA Free



The Big Berkey has a 2.25-gallon capacity. This is the maximum volume of water it can produce in a single cycle. This is the ideal capacity for a small to medium-sized family and will produce enough filtered water in one cycle for 1-4 people per day.

Unfiltered water is added to the upper chamber and gravity pulls the water down to the lower collection chamber. It passes through a high-performance water filtration system as it moves from one chamber to the other. It takes over one hour to filter a full 2.25-gallon tank of water.

  • Capacity: 2.25 Gallons (8.5 Liters)



The Berkey Big stands eight and a half inches wide and 21 inches tall when assembled and in operation. When it’s not in use the chambers can be nested together which reduces its height to just 13” inches. This makes it ideal for storing away in a cupboard or taking on the road if you need a portable water filter.

The footprint of the Big Berkey is relatively compact and is no bigger than a regular coffee machine. It will fit well on most kitchen countertops. And, because it does not require an electrical or plumbing collection it can be moved and repositioned anywhere in your home. The device weighs just 7 lbs when it does not contain any water.

  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.5 x 21.0 inches (21.6 x 21.6 x 53.3 centimeters)
  • Empty Weight: 7 lbs (3.18 kilograms)
  • Full Weight: 25.76 lbs (lower chamber full)


The Berkley big is incredibly easy to use. It is a gravity-fed water filtration system. This means it requires no electrical or plumbing connections. It can be positioned anywhere in your home or even taken on the road.

lady making a hand gesture and smiling

All you have to do is add unfiltered water to the top chamber and sit back and allow gravity take care of the rest. As the water moves from the upper to the lower chamber it passes through the high-performance Berkey Black water filters.


Assembling the Berkey Big is a simple process. We began by rinsing and washing the parts as they came out of the box. Then we followed the instructions in the user manual supplied. Everything goes together by hand and you won’t need any tools. The individual parts fit neatly together and are held in place by rubber gaskets and hand-tightened plastic wing nuts.

The entire set-up takes about 30-40 minutes when you’re doing it for the first time and learning as you go. The filters need to be primed before they are installed inside the chamber and this takes a little time. Don’t worry, it’s not complicated.


You’ll have to prime the filters before they are first used. Priming saturates the filtration media, removes air, and cleans away any debris from the manufacturing process. All you have to do is attach the filter to your water faucet using the blue silicone connection device provided.

Then gently turn on your faucet and run water through the filters. The whole process takes 5-8 minutes for both filters. Need some help getting your water filter set up? Check out Berkey Filter’s how-to video below.


The Berkey Big comes with two Black Berkey filters supplied as standard. You have the option to upgrade to a four-filter unit by bundling in two additional filters – but the device works just fine with two. There’s also an option to add two fluoride filters that attach to the bottom of the standard black filters and sit in the bottom chamber of the system.

woman drinking water filtered from a big berkey


The Berkey Big comes with two high-performance Black Berkey water filters. And, there is room to install two more filters if you want to supercharge your device. Adding additional filters will speed up the filtration process and increase its expected lifespan.

  • Dimensions: 2.25″ x 2.25″ x 9.75″ inches
  • Material: Includes Carbon Composite & High-Grade Coconut Shell
  • Lifespan: 3,000 gallons per filter, or 6,000 gallon per pair



The Berkey Big includes the option of installing a secondary water fluoride filtration step. The filters are not included as standard but if you live in an area with water that has a high fluoride content then these filters are a great addition.

The fluoride filters attach directly to the bottom of the standard filters and reside in the lower chamber. Berkey claims these filters remove up to 97% of fluoride from water, including sodium fluorosilicate, sodium fluoride, fluorosilicic acid, and other materials. See below for further information on the Berkey fluoride filters.

  • Dimensions: 2.25″ x 2.25″ x 6″ inches
  • Material: BPA free non-leaching polypropylene (number 5)
  • Lifespan: 1,000 gallons of water per pair, or one year (whichever comes first)


The Berkey Black water filters perform incredibly well. If you are looking to add a high-performance water filtration system to your home that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg – then the Berkey Big is an excellent option. The filtered water is crystal clear and tastes great.

woman testing water in a lab

Berkey states the filters have been tested by state and EPA-accredited laboratories including the Department of Toxicology, University of Phoenix, and Spectrum Labs. And, the published data is highly impressive. Let’s take a closer look at how the filters perform and the contaminants they remove.


  • Bacteria: 99.9%
  • Viruses: 99.9%
  • Chloramine: below detectable laboratory limit
  • Trihalomethanes: 99.8%
  • Pharmaceuticals: 99.9%
  • Most heavy metals
  • Pesticides: below detectable laboratory limit



  • Flouride: Up to 97%
    – Sodium Fluoride
    – Sodium Fluorosilicate
    – Fluorosilicic Acid 1
  • Pre-oxidized Arsenic III and Arsenic V
  • Methyl Tert-Butyl Ether
  • Other Heavy Metals


The Black Berkey filters require some maintenance during their lifecycle. To keep your Berky Big in good working order you will have to periodically remove and clean the filters. It’s a simple process and took us no longer than 5-10 minutes.

man drinking a glass of water

During their working life cycle, the filters accumulate sediment on their outer surface as they filter your water. As the layer of sediment builds up the filtration performance will be negatively affected and you’ll notice it takes longer to filter a chamber of water. Cleaning the filters is easy.

Once removed you should gently rub the outside of the filters under a running tap using a scouring pad. This will dislodge any particles that have become attached to the filtration media. Once the filters are clean you should reprime them using the same technique during assembly.

Before you reinstall your newly cleaned filters we recommend you take this opportunity to clean both the upper and lower chamber pots. You should wash them using a sponge, washing up liquid, and some warm water. Then thoroughly rinse everything in cold water before reassembling.  Note, it is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the big bertha water filter.


How long do the filters last in the Berkey Big water filter? Let’s take a look at how long you can expect both the Black Berkey and Flouride filters to serve you and your family. And, where to pick up your Big Berkey replacement filters.


The lifespan of the filters will depend on how many you have installed in the device. You have two set-ups to choose from with the Berkey Big. You can use either a 2-filter or 4-filter arrangement. And, you can expect a 4-filter set-up to last twice as long as a 2-filter arrangement, see below.


  • 2 Filters: 6,000 gallons
  • 4 Filters: 12,000 gallons



  • 2 Filters: Up to 1,000 gallons
  • 4 Filters: Up to 2,000 gallons



Once the filters have reached the end of their life cycle they should be disposed of and replaced. If you are using fluoride filters you will notice this has to be done more often than for the standard Black Berkey filters. We estimate the black filters will need to be replaced every 18-24 months under regular usage. The fluoride filters – more often.

To order your replacement filters simply visit Berkey’s online store and place an order. The Black Berkey filters are available for approximately $170 per pair and the Flouride filters for $80 per pair. We feel $170 for 6,000 gallons of freshly filtered water is a bargain.


Ok, now we know all about the Berkey Big water filers and how they work – let’s take a look at what’s in the box. Here’s what you get when you first open your Berkey Big doubled-boxed parcel.

water pouring into a glass from a height


  • Stainless Steel Water Chambers x 2
  • Stainless Steel Lid x 1
  • Black Berkey Filter Elements x 2
  • Washers x 2
  • Rubber Gasket x 1
  • Assembly Wing Nuts x 2
  • Silicone Priming Faucet Connector x 1
  • Plastic Dispensing Spigot x 1


The Big Berkey comes with a Berkey Care lifetime warranty. There is no need to register for the warranty on purchase, all you need is our order number. The warranty covers defects in materials or workmanship on the following parts – the stainless steel chambers, spigot dispenser, washers, plugs, and wing-nuts.

The Black Berkey filter elements are covered under a separate 2-year warranty. This warranty covers defects in workmanship and materials. If you need to reach out to Berkey in relation to a faulty product or part you should contact their customer service department.


What about payment, shipping, and returns? We’ve gone through the small print so you don’t have to. See below for everything you need to know about ordering Big Berkey water filters.


Berkey offers a flexible payment option that allows you to in 4 interest-free installments rather than upfront and all in one.


They offer free express shipping on all orders including the Big Berkey water filters. However, they do not ship to California or Iowa.


Berkey offers a 30-day return policy. To initiate a product return process you should contact the company’s customer service department.


What are the pros and cons of the Big Berkey gravity water filter? Is it a good fit for your needs? Below we run you through the key benefits and disadvantages of the Berkey Big water filter.

alkaline water in a glass with ice


What are the advantages of the Big Berkey filter? What are the key benefits can you expect from adding one to your home?


The stand-out advantage of the Big Berkley filter is its excellent water filtration performance. If you are looking for a water filter that performs at a consistently high level and has the paperwork to back it up – then Big Berkey water filters are an excellent option.


These water filters require zero electrical or plumbing installation. They sit independently on any surface and have no electrical or water connections attached. This means they can be moved to any place at any time. There are no installation requirements and you won’t have to get a tradesman in to get set up.


Gravity-fed water filters couldn’t be easier to operate. Add water to the upper chamber. Allow gravity to pull it through the filter element. And, collect the filtered water in the lower chamber.


Another great advantage of the Big Berkey is the extra-long life of its black filters. Each filter is rated to filter 3,000 gallons of water. That means a Big Berkey with a setup of two filters will filter 6,000 gallons. And, a four-filter arrangement will have an expected lifespan of 12,000 gallons of filtered water.


Big Berkey water filters are portable devices. They can be packed up, moved, and used in any location. They can even be taken on the road and used on hiking trips. All you need is access to a water source and a flat surface to stand the device on.  For fixed devices check out the best undersink reverse osmosis water filters.


Big Berkey water filters can be used to remove up to 97% of fluoride filters from your source water. The device includes a facility to attach fluoride filters to the standard black filter elements. Flouride filters are optional and do not come as standard with the Berkey Big water filter.


The Big Berkey comes with a Berkey Care lifetime warranty covering defects on the stainless steel reservoirs, plastic spigot, plugs, washers, and wing-nuts. The Black Berkey filter elements are covered by a 2-year warranty.


The Big Berkey just looks great. The high polished stainless steel finish is sleek and stylish. While the high-performance filters take care of business on the inside. The eye-catching exterior ensures it complements its surroundings wherever you choose to place it.


Next up in this Big Berkey water filter review we need to take a look at the disadvantages. What are the key drawbacks of this gravity-fed water filter system?

man drinking a glass of filtered water


The Big Berkey water filters have to be periodically cleaned. The standard black water filters need to be removed from the system and scrubbed to remove sediment from the surface area. This has to be performed approximately every few months – depending on usage.


The fluoride filters are not included as standard and are available at an extra cost. If you live in an area with high fluoride content you’ll have to fork out extra dollars to get them included in your bundle. Currently, the fluoride filters are retailing at $80 per pair.


The filters need to be replaced when they reach the end of their life cycle. This is the case with all water filters and not just Berkey. Water filters have a limited lifespan and these Berkey filters are no different. Once they have reached the end of their working life they must be removed and replaced with new ones.


The lower chamber can overflow. This is something we found out the hard way. There is no auto shut-off when the lower chamber reaches capacity and if there is still water in the upper chamber it will continue to filter through. You need to ensure you don’t add too much water to the upper chamber.


And here lies the next problem – there’s no way to visually check how much water is in the lower chamber. There’s no visible water level. You’ll have to remove the upper chamber to see how much water remains in the lower chamber. Berkey sells a sight glass spigot to resolve this issue – but it costs a whopping $50.


The Big Berkey is a gravity-fed system, so it can take 1-2 hours to filter a full 2.25-gallon chamber. There is no electrical pump on-hand to push water through the system. Our advice is to top up with source water at night before you go to bed. That way you’ll have a full chamber of filtered water in the morning to start your day.


The Berkey Big has a compact footprint with a diameter of just 8.5” inches. However, when in use it is quite tall and measures 21” inches high. This may be too tall for some people’s counter tops. The good news is when it’s not in use the chambers nest together more neatly and have a reduced height of just 13” inches.


The key question is – should you buy one of these Big Berkey filters? Is it the best water filtration system for you and your home? The Big Berkey is an excellent choice if you want an easy-to-use and affordable domestic water filtration device. It performs superbly well and removes all the nasty water contaminants you should be concerned about. And, it’s a much cheaper option compared to installing an in-line reverse osmosis filtration device.

lady drinking berkey big filtered water

In terms of capacity, we recommend the Big Berkey for homes of 1-4 people. It produces 2.25 gallons of filtered water per cycle. Bear in mind, it can take over an hour to filter a full tank as the Berkey relies on gravity and doesn’t use a pump to speed up the process. If you think you need more or less water per batch – check out the table below to compare against the full Berkey Range.




a glass of ionized water

The Big Berkey is the most popular water filter in the Berkey range for a reason – it’s easy to use, affordable, and delivers excellent results. This gravity fed water filter requires no electrical or plumbing connections. It is a portable, stand-alone device that can be positioned anywhere. You can even take it on the road and filter water on a hiking trip.

The performance data is highly impressive and has been certified by several independent third-party labs. The Big Berkey removes over 200 contaminants including bacteria, viruses, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and heavy metals. And, you have an option of adding to fluoride filters, (at an additional cost), that remove up to 97% of fluoride content.

The filter produces 2.25 gallons of filtered water per cycle making it an ideal choice for homes and families with 1-4 people. If you need something bigger you should check out the Royal, Imperial, or Crown Berkey water filters. The Big Berkey comes with a Berkey Care lifetime warranty and free express shipping on all orders across the US, except to California or Iowa.

A flexible payment option allows you to spread the payment out over 4 interest-free installments. If you want a reliable, high-performance water filter, that provides bang for your buck – you won’t do much better than the Big Berkey Water Filter.


Here’s a round-up of the questions we get asked when covering the Big Berkey review. If there’s anything we’ve left out or anything you want to ask us – get in touch. Check out our contact page, there’s a link at the foot of this page.

Does The Big Berkey Remove Lead From Water?

Yes, the Big Berkey’s Black Filters remove up to 99.9% of lead.

Does The Big Berkey Soften Hard Water?

No, the Big Berkey does not soften hard water. To soften hard water you will need a water softener. The Big Berkey is a water filter. It removes impurities.




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