Berkey has been a trusted name in water filtration for years while AquaTru is riding the wave of their recent popularity.
Do you go with the familiar, tried-and-true brand, or the exciting and promising newcomer?
It’s a question that consumers often face when looking to make a new purchase, and one that can be difficult to answer.
We’ve made it a little easier for you by taking the most popular product from each brand – the Big Berkey and the AquaTru Countertop Water Purifier – and comparing them head-to-head on their specifications and performance. That way you can feel confident that you found the best countertop filter for your home’s needs.
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Final Summary – AquaTru vs Berkey – Which Should You Get?
Due to the high number of contaminants filtered and the great price, we believe the Big Berkey is the best countertop water filter despite having a lower filtration rate.
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Each product has its strengths and drawbacks, and these are the main features we looked at when comparing the two:
|AquaTru Countertop Purifier||Big Berkey|
|Filter Lifespan||1-2 years||10 years|
|Storage Capacity||0.75 gallons||2.25 gallons|
AquaTru vs Berkey Countertop Filter Overview
The Big Berkey is the most popular countertop filter from Berkey, while the AquaTru Countertop Water Purifier is actually the only system currently available from AquaTru.
We’ll break down how each product works and the filters it uses before diving deeper into the specifications for each one.
AquaTru Countertop Purifier
The Aquatru uses a 4-stage filtration process with a combined sediment and carbon pre-filter (the first two stages), a reverse osmosis (RO) filter, and an activated carbon post-filter. The filters come in three separate cartridges that will need to be individually replaced, and each have their own indicator lights to let you know when they need to be changed.
To use it, you fill up the tap water tank on the back side of the unit and then the water runs through each of the 3 filter cartridges. The purified water collects in the front holding tank, which is removable for storage i.e. in the fridge.
The system is 14 x 12 x 14 inches, which makes it both small enough to fit comfortably on your countertop as well as portable. It does require power to operate, but there is no installation needed.
With carbon composite and a proprietary blend of five other medias, the Berkey filter combines microfiltration with activated carbon and ion exchange filtration. Everything is housed in a single Black Berkey filter cartridge, and the system comes in two different sizes – one that takes two filter cartridges and one that takes four.
To use it, you fill up the tank at the top and the weight of the water combined with gravity forces the water through the filter cartridges. This makes it a gravity filtration system, and the purified water collects in the storage container below.
This filter is 19.25 inches tall by 8.5 inches in diameter, and you can get an optional stand to elevate it for easier pouring from the spout below. While it’s small enough to be portable, the storage compartment is not removable on this product. It does not require electricity to operate, however, and there is likewise no installation needed.
Now let’s see how each of these products stack up when compared on qualities like the contaminants they remove, their filtration rates, their filter lifespans and capacities, and other specifications.
The following chart shows how AquaTru and Berkey’s filters perform on different classes of contaminants.
|AquaTru Countertop Purifier||Big Berkey|
|Semi-Volatile Organic Chemicals||2||52|
|Disinfectants (Including Chlorine and Chloramine)||2||3|
|Inorganic Chemicals (Including Heavy Metals)||11||24|
|Total Dissolved Solids||✓||X|
|Microbial Cyst Reduction||✓||✓|
The Big Berkey is the clear winner when comparing the number of contaminants removed, with 232 compared to 83 for AquaTru. The Big Berkey reduces bacteria including coliforms as well as petroleum products, both of which the AquaTru Countertop Purifier does not work on. As for the other contaminants, there is not a single category where the AquaTru Countertop Purifier outperforms the Big Berkey.
There are some contaminants that the AquaTru model removes that the Big Berkey doesn’t, including the herbicide linuron and the pharmaceutical atenolol. The most notable of these contaminants are Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), or the dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium that contribute to water hardness.
The AquaTru Countertop Purifier is rated to reduce TDS by 87.1% for up to 10 grains per gallon (the standard measure of TDS). While this will improve the hardness of your water, the AquaTrue Countertop Purifier is not a water softening system by design. If you have problems with hard water or if your water has more than 10 grains per gallon of TDS, you’ll get better performance out of a true water softening system.
While Berkey comes out on top with their number of contaminants removed, you may not actually need that caliber of filtration power. By getting your water tested you can find out which contaminants are present in your water, and choose the system that will best meet those needs.
You can see our recommendations for the best water testing kits here.
Filter Lifespan and Capacity
The capacity of each filter refers to the number of gallons of water it can filter before needing to be replaced. For countertop filters, depending on your household size and usage you can expect a filter to last for one month per every 40 gallon capacity.
For the AquaTru system, the sediment and carbon pre-filter and activated carbon post-filters both have a 600 gallon capacity, which should mean a roughly year-long lifespan. The RO filter has a 1,200 gallon capacity, which means it should last for around two years before needing to be replaced. The AquaTru Countertop Purifier also comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The Black Berkey filters have a 3,000 gallon capacity each, or about six years, so for a 2-filter system you’ll only need to replace them every 10-12 years. If you go with the 4-filter system, they’ll last for twice as long. The Big Berkey also has a lifetime warranty for the filter housing and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Filtration Rate and Storage Capacity
The AquaTru Countertop Purifier holding tank stores up to three quarts of purified water. AquaTru also sells accessory holding tanks so that you can move one to the fridge or bring it with you while another one filters. According to other customers who have bought the AquaTru system, it takes about five minutes to fill a tank.
On the other hand, the Big Berkey has a much larger 2.25 gallon storage capacity, but there’s no option to remove the tank or use an additional one. A two-filter system can also only filter 3.75 gallons per hour, which is a much slower filtration rate.
The AquaTru Countertop Purifier has been independently certified by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Official (IAPMO) for NSF/ANSI standard 58 – which means the RO filter is certified to work sufficiently against EPA-regulated contaminants.
It’s also certified for standard 42 – which means the system improves the aesthetic quality of water, standard 53 – which means it reduces contaminants with known health effects, and standard 401 – which means it reduces emerging contaminants with potential health effects. Finally, it has been certified for standard P473 – which means it reduces both PFOA and PFOS.
The Big Berkey, on the other hand, has been independently tested for NSF/ANSI standards 53 and 42 but has not been certified.
The AquaTru Countertop Purifier is $449 for the whole system, which includes the three filter stages. The pre-filter is $19.95, the RO filter is $49.95, and the post-filter is $29.95. You can get an additional purified water tank for $50 if you’d like, and AquaTru also sells replacement AC adapter cords and tap water tanks.
The Big Berkey is $278 for a 2-filter system, and $388 for a 4-filter system. The Black Berkey replacement filters are $120 for a set of two, and you can get a stainless steel stand for the filter for $35.15.
Costs Over Time
Berkey is the more cost-effective option up front, and it also wins out over time. For a two-filter system, in a worst case scenario you’ll need to replace the filters once over a five year period. That means your maximum cost for five years is $278 + $120, or $398 total.
For the AquaTru, you’re starting out at $449 and then you’ll need to replace the pre- and post-filters every six months as well as the RO filter yearly. AquaTru sells two-year filter replacement packs at $149.95, so for five years you’ll spend $449 + $150 + $150 or $749 total.
Types of Models Each Company Offers
If you’re not sold on the Big Berkey, Berkey has a wide variety of other products to consider. They make five other countertop filter systems including the Travel Berkey that is made to be portable, and they also offer in-line shower filters as well as a filtered water bottle.
As mentioned, if you aren’t sure about the AquaTru model you’re going to have to look at other brands. The AquaTru Countertop Purifier is currently the only water filter system they sell.
Customer Reviews and Complaints
The AquaTru system has a 4.3 out of 5 star rating on Amazon with 461 ratings. 75% of the ratings are 5-stars, while 11% of the ratings are 1-star. By far the most common complaint targets the quality of the product – the majority of negative reviews said that the filter didn’t last through the 1-year warranty period. Many people even said that it only lasted two months.
On the other hand, the Big Berkey has a 4.7 out of 5 star rating on Amazon with 1,628 ratings. 86% of the ratings are 5-stars, while only 4% are 1-star. The most common complaints for this model were a bad rubber taste to the filtered water, and complaints that there didn’t seem to be a change in water quality.
Pros and Cons
In summary, here are the biggest pros and cons associated with each countertop water filter system.
AquaTru Countertop Purifier Pros
- Removes 83 different contaminants
- Removes TDS
- Fast filtration rate
- IAPMO certified for five standards
- Removable storage tank
- 4.3 out of 5 star rating
- 1-year warranty and 30-day money-back guarantee
AquaTru Countertop Purifier Cons
- Small filtered water holding capacity
- Shorter filter lifespan
- More expensive up front and over time
- Lesser-known brand
- Multiple reports of it breaking soon after purchase
Big Berkey Pros
- Removes 232 different contaminants
- Long filter lifespan
- Large filtered water holding capacity
- More cost effective
- Well-known and respected brand
- 4.7 out of 5 star rating
- Lifetime warranty with a 30-day money-back guarantee
Big Berkey Cons
- Slow filtration rate
- Storage tank cannot be removed
- Does not work on TDS
- Has not been 3rd party certified
- Multiple reports of the filter leaving behind a rubber taste or not seeming to work well
The Big Berkey countertop filter and the AquaTru Countertop Water Purifier both offer unique advantages and disadvantages. The Big Berkey removes more contaminants and is more budget-friendly, while the AquaTru Countertop Purifier produces filtered water faster with more versatility.
The best countertop water filter for you is going to depend on your home’s specific needs, but for the number of contaminants removed and the price we believe the Big Berkey edges out AquaTru in this comparison.
If you’re still on the fence and like Berkey products, check out our Berkey water filter system reviews page.