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Berkey vs Zerowater: Which one is the best for 2021?

By Austin Armstrong April 28, 2021

Berkey vs Zerowater: Which one is the best for 2021?

 



If you are new to the world of consumer-grade water filtration, there is a steep learning curve. The good news is: Certain products stand out above the others in terms of value and performance. One might assume that when it comes to water filtration, as in most markets, you get what you pay for. For some strange reason, that is not the case.

For this comparison, we consider Berkey vs. Zerowater. Berkey has a number of gravity-fed towers that all use the same charcoal filter, so it doesn’t matter much which one we choose. Likewise, Zerowater offers several products that all use the same filter. But we ask that you keep reading to the end, as the conclusion about which is better might surprise you.

Berkey vs. Zerowater: What Contaminants Do They Remove?

For specific performance-related data on these two products, we went directly to the companies. Zerowater provides some data on the contaminants it filters, and how much. They offer a number of products, including dispensers and pitchers, which use one of three different kinds of filters. However, their filters only differ with respect to size. Berkey’s website provides the data used here for this side-by-side comparison. 

Filtration Efficiency (%)

 

Contaminant The Water Machine ZeroWater Filter
Flouride 99.9 91
Bacteria 99.9999 n/a
Coliform and e-Coli 99.9
n/a
Viruses 99.999
n/a
Lead 99.9 99
Arsenic 99.9 85
Iron 99.9 99.9
Mercury 99.9 91
Chlorine 99.9* 99
Trihalomethanes (THMs) 99.8* n/a
Chloramines 99.9* n/a
Pharmaceuticals 99.9*
n/a
Acetaminophen 99.9 n/a
Ibuprofen 99.9
n/a
Naproxen 99.9
n/a
Atenolol -
n/a
Carbamazepine 99.9
n/a
Meprobamate -
n/a
Phenytoin -
n/a
Trimethoprim 99.9
n/a
10 other drugs 99.9 n/a
Petroleum Contaminants 99.9*
n/a
Benzine -
n/a
Ethylbenzene - n/a***
VOCs 99.9* ***
Methylcyclohexane-Methane 99.9* n/a
P-Dichlorobenzene -
n/a
Tetrachloroethylene -
n/a
Nonylphenols
n/a
Bisphenol-A 99.9
n/a
4-para-Nonylphenol 99.9
n/a
Pesticides 99.9*
n/a
Endrin -
n/a
Carbon Tetrachloride -
n/a
Atrazine 99.9
n/a
Simazine -
n/a
Linuron -
n/a
Metolachlor -
n/a
Heavy Metals 99.1
Aluminum 99 n/a
Antimony 99.9 96
Barium 80

99.9

Beryllium 99.9 97
Bismuth 99.9 n/a
Cadmium 99.7
n/a
Cobalt 95 n/a
Chromium 99.9 n/a
Chromium-6 99.85 99
Copper 99.9 99.9
Iron 99.9 n/a
Molybdenum 90 n/a
Nickel 99.9 n/a
Vanadium 87.5 n/a
Zinc 99.9 99.9
Uranium 97 n/a
Gross Alpha Emitter 98.7 n/a

 

n/a - Manufacturer provided no percentage for what portion was removed

* Berkey reduced chemicals in these categories to undetectable levels. Although some of them were specifically tested for, none were found.

Disclaimer: The figures for Zerowater came from a specific study in which prominent amounts of each contaminant were added to forty gallons of water, which was then poured through the filter 20 gallons at a time, and then tested. This explains the two columns, as the numbers were run once after 20 gallons, and again after 40 gallons. [Note: Although some of the metals and compounds included in Zerowater’s testing were not included in testing for Berkey, these substances were of comparable size to those removed by Berkey’s filter.] 

The Results

Based on these findings, Berkey cleans your water at a molecular level. Unlike Zerowater, Berkey offers a water purifier, not a filter. The standards for water purification are much higher than for filtration. Berkey not only removes a wide array of contaminants, such as pesticides, petroleum compounds, pathogens (bacteria and viruses), and pharmaceuticals, it removes many of them to levels so low that they do not register in the test. Meanwhile, Zerowater avoids making any substantive claims about removing dangerous bacteria and viruses. That reason alone makes Berkey the superior product with respect to filtration efficiency. But if you need further persuasion, just look at the numbers above.

Models and Costs

Cost Comparison: Berkey vs. Zerowater

Next, we compare the costs of these two systems. To get started, here is some cost information from the companies’ websites:

Berkey

Big Berkey Water Filter 278.99
Replacement Filters 120.00

 

​Zerowater

20-cup Water Filter Dispenser 19.99
Replacement Filters (6-pack) 19.64


To accurately assess the cost of using these filters over the long term, we need to know how long the filters last. We list that here:

Berkey's charcoal filters (1 pair) 6000 Gallons (approx. 11 years)*
Zerowater's Filter

20-25 Gallons (approx. 2 weeks)*

* assumes that owner(s) use 1.5 gallons/day

When you purchase the Big Berkey system, it comes with a set of filters which will filter 6000 gallons of water. That’s about 11 years of use. To get the same volume and longevity from your Zerowater system, you will need to buy some replacement filters. 

How many replacement filters would you need to get to 6000 gallons? Let’s assume that each filter will produce 25 gallons of water. You’ll need 4 filters to reach 100 gallons, 40 to reach 1000, and 240 to reach 6000 gallons. In other words, to get the same amount of clean water from a Zerowater product that you would from Berkey, you will need to change the filter 240 times.

Knowing this, here’s the cost breakdown:

Zerowater 20-cup Dispenser     $32.99

240 replacement filters (bought as 40 6-packs) $2799.60

TL $2832.59

By comparison, the Big Berkey looks like this:

Big Berkey (includes 1 set of filters)   $278.00

So then, when you purchase Berkey’s system, you are already saving $2554.59 on your first 6000 gallons of water!! Keep in mind, you are also buying a higher quality of drinking water. Once again, Berkey’s system not only saves you $2500 in filter costs, it also provides a higher level of protection for your household from contamination.

On top of that, Zerowater expects you to change the filter about every 25 gallons of water. The products come with a meter that shows you when it is time to change the filter, but do you really want to change them that often? Are you happy with throwing away 240 used plastic filters just so that you can get 6000 gallons of drinking water? 

Pros and Cons

Zerowater

For a relatively small upfront cost, Zerowater provides a simple product that will remove some contaminants from your municipal water. Just remember, if you’re using 1.5 gallons per day, it will only be two weeks before you have to replace the filter. Each filter costs $12.50, so if you buy 24 filters per year, you will spend about $300/year on replacement filters. That’s more than the cost of Berkey’s system. And you won’t get anywhere near the level of quality in your water.

Berkey

Berkey charges a significant upfront cost ($278.00) for its Big Berkey system; you can pay a little bit more or less for a similar system that holds more or less water while still using the same filter. And that price includes your first set of filters, which will provide you 6000 gallons of water, assuming that you keep them clean. After that, the next pair will cost you $120. That’s not bad.

In addition to saving a lot of money, Berkey’s system will provide your household with the highest quality of drinking water available on the market. Berkey’s system works at the molecular level to remove impurities that most people are completely unaware of. And Berkey reduces them to levels so low that they can’t be detected. When comparing these two systems, one stands head and shoulders above the other, and that system is Berkey.

Which product should I buy? Berkey, or Zerowater? 

Neither! Buy The Water Machine!

Wait, what? Why is The Water Machine in this comparison? Excellent question. It is true that Berkey defeats Zerowater in this product comparison. In fact, Berkey beats just about everything on the market. However, The Water Machine is just a bit better. 

The Water Machine uses the exact same filtering process as Berkey. As in, you will be getting the exact same level of purity, and 6000 gallons of it. However, The Water Machine beats Berkey in a few other areas. Those areas are: Cost, utility, and taste. Let’s take these one at a time:

Cost

Let’s revisit our cost numbers from earlier:

Berkey

Big Berkey Water Filter $278.00

Replacement Filters   120.00


The Water Machine

The Water Machine $299.99

Replacement Filters     74.99

What stands out? Although The Water Machine costs slightly more, it holds 3 gallons of water, while Big Berkey holds 2.5 gallons. Other products in Berkeys line hold more and cost more than The Water Machine. So The Water Machine is comparable in size and cost to Berkey’s other products. The real difference is the cost of replacement filters.

The Water Machine charges $42 less per pair of filters than Berkey. However, whenever you find The Water Machine (i.e. the company) four new customers, they send you a free pair of replacement filters. So with just a little bit of word-of-mouth, you should be able to avoid spending any more money on your system!

Utility

Both Berkey and The Water Machine use a two-tank system; one tank sits on top, and drains through the filters into the lower tank. However, Berkey’s seven towers are all made of either metal or plastic, while The Water Machine is made of hammered glass. The glass design makes it easier to see how clean the tanks are. So you will know more easily when it is time to clean the system. Also, glass is easier to clean. 

Taste

Any time you store water in a plastic tank, it will eventually begin to taste like plastic. If you have ever purchased water in a plastic jug, you may have experienced this. Likewise, any time you store water in a metal tank, you can end up with a metallic taste in your water. 

Berkey’s design unfortunately means that the filtered water will end up sitting in one of these two kinds of tanks. However, because The Water Machine is made of glass, the filtered water will taste fresh no matter how many days you leave it sitting around. If you want fresh-tasting water, don’t think too long! Choose The Water Machine!

The Water Machine is your Best Option for Pure Drinking Water, Bar None

The Water Machine is a water purification system for your home. It does not require electricity to operate, which makes it ideal in a crisis situation, when you need clean water. It purifies your water to a higher standard than its competitors, and the glass design preserves its fresh taste and is easy to clean. One would think that the water purification system that produces the highest quality of drinking water would be the most expensive. Ironically, it's the least expensive product on the market! 

Click on our product information page to get more information about this incredible system, and add it to your shopping cart. Just think: In another five years, you will still be enjoying fresh-tasting, pure drinking water, without spending another dime.

 

 


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