Both Berkey and Brita have established themselves as authorities in the water filter industry, with a combined 100 years of experience between the two companies. They both make many different high-quality filtration products, but which brand is the best?
To find out which one reigns superior, we compared the key specifications of the most popular products from each brand – the Big Berkey and the Brita Grand.
Table of Contents
Final Summary – Berkey vs Brita Water Filters
Both of these products are great, but we believe the Big Berkey slightly wins out due to the higher number of contaminants removed, the longer filter lifespans, and the higher capacity.
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These are the main points we used to compare the two models:
|Big Berkey||Brita Grand|
|Filter Lifespan||4-7 years||6 months|
|Filtration Rate||3.5 gallons per hour||5 mins per fill-up|
Berkey vs Brita Overview
The Brita Grand and the Big Berkey both work to filter your water, but they are very different products. Here are the main things you need to know about each filter.
The Big Berkey is a countertop filter that works via gravity filtration. The unit is 8.5 inches in diameter by 19.25 inches tall, and it has a spigot on the bottom that dispenses purified water. To use it, you fill up the compartment on the top and wait for the water to pass through the filter below. The purified water then gathers in the lower holding compartment.
The Big Berkey can hold 2.25 gallons of filtered water, and there’s an optional stand that you can purchase to elevate the spigot for easier pouring. While technically portable, the model is still a bit bulky and Berkey makes other products that are better suited for traveling.
All Berkey countertop systems use the Black Berkey filters. These filters combine activated carbon and ion exchange technology with microfiltration, and utilize a proprietary blend of five different filtration medias.
The Brita Grand is a water pitcher filter that also works via gravity filtration. The pitcher is 11.94 inches long by 7.38 inches wide and 17.58 inches tall, and it comes equipped with a handle and spout for easy pouring. Using the pitcher is very similar to using the Big Berkey – you fill up the compartment at the top with unfiltered water and wait for it to pass into the main compartment of the pitcher.
Where the Brita Grand differs is that you need to fill up the top chamber several times in order to fill the pitcher with purified water, and it only has a 10-cup or 0.63 gallon capacity. However, the pitcher is more easily portable and can also be stored in the refrigerator for easy access to chilled water.
Brita makes multiple different filters for their water pitchers, and the Grand comes equipped with their Standard filter. Our recommendation is to ditch it and purchase the Brita Longlast+ filter instead. The Longlast+ filter uses pleated fiber and a proprietary blend of filtration medias to remove contaminants, and compared to the Standard filter it both works better and lasts longer.
Now let’s look at the details for each filter to see how each one performs. We specifically targeted their contaminants removed, filter lifespans, durability, filtration rates, and certifications.
The following chart shows how Brita and Berkey’s filters perform on different classes of contaminants.
|Brita Longlast+||Black Berkey|
|Semi-Volatile Organic Chemicals||0||52|
|Disinfectants (Including Chlorine and Chloramine)||1||3|
|Inorganic Chemicals (Including Heavy Metals||4||24|
|Microbial Cyst Reduction||X||✓|
Berkey by far outperforms Brita when it comes to the number of contaminants removed across all classes. Having said that, the Brita Longlast+ works on some pharmaceuticals that the Black Berkey does not like estrone, meprobamate, and phenytoin.
It’s worth noting, though, that the Black Berkey filters remove higher percentages of the same contaminants. For example, the Brita Longlast+ filters only remove 96% of carbamazepine, while the Black Berkey filters remove 99.9%.
Do you really need a filter that works on 232 contaminants, or is 30 good enough? There’s one surefire way to find out, and that’s to get your water tested. Having your water professionally tested will tell you exactly what contaminants are present in what amounts. This will help you make a better decision for your specific filtration needs, and you may find that you don’t actually need the full 232-contaminant-removing capabilities of Berkey filters.
Filter Lifespan & Durability
The Brita Longlast+ filter is rated for 120 gallons, which translates to about a 6-month lifespan. The Brita Grand comes with an LED indicator that lets you know when the filter is approaching the end of its life, and filter replacement is quick and easy. Brita also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 90-day warranty on their products, which protects you from any manufacturer defects.
The Black Berkey filters are rated for 3,000 gallons each, and you can get the Big Berkey fitted with either two or four filters. This means a 2-filter model will go for 4-7 years before needing to be replaced depending on your usage. Berkey also has lifetime warranties on all of their products, which is an added bonus.
The Big Berkey with two filters has a filtration rate of 3.5 gallons per hour, which means it will take roughly 36 minutes to completely fill the storage tank.
Compare this with the Brita Grand, which only takes five minutes to filter a round of water using the Longlast+ filter. Keep in mind that it will take multiple fill-ups to completely fill the pitcher with filtered water, however it will still take less time than filling the Big Berkey.
The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and the Water Quality Association (WQA) are two independent organizations that test and certify water filters for their performance on certain quality standards.
The Brita Longlast+ filer has been WQA certified for NSF/ANSI standards 42, which means it improves the taste and odor of water, 53, which means it removes contaminants with detrimental health effects, and 401, which means it removes emerging contaminants with potential health effects.
The Black Berkey filter has not been NSF or WQA certified, however it has been independently tested by Envirotek Laboratories and found to be in compliance with NSF/ANSI standards 42 and 53.
Unless you’re Bill or Melinda Gates, cost is likely going to factor into your decision on a water filtration system. The Big Berkey is $278 for the 2-filter system and $388 for the 4-filter system, and the Black Berkey filters are $128 for a 2-pack.
The Brita Grand, on the other hand, is only $32.99 for the pitcher that comes with the Standard filter, and the Longlast+ filters are $29.99 for a 2-pack.
Costs Over Time
While the Brita Grand is definitely the less-expensive option up front, the costs can creep up over time. For example, over a 10-year period you’ll go through 20 Longlast+ filters, which costs $300 plus the $33 pitcher, or $333 total.
The Big Berkey is a more expensive investment, but over the same 10 years you’ll only have to replace the filters once. This means you’ll spend $128 plus the $278 filter, or $406 total.
The difference between the two becomes even more negligible the longer you use them, especially if you end up having to replace the Brita pitcher itself for any reason in that time.
Types of Models Each Company Offers
Brita makes 11 different water filter pitchers and four different filters for them. Brita also makes larger water dispensers that are more similar to countertop systems, and they also have a popular line of faucet filters. Finally, they offer a water bottle with a built-in filter.
In comparison, Berkey makes five other models of countertop filtration systems including the Travel Berkey, which is the aforementioned portable option. They make two different shower head filters as well, and they also have their own water bottle filter.
Customer Reviews and Complaints Consensus
The Big Berkey has a 4.7 out of 5 star rating. The main customer complaints are that there can be a rubbery taste to the water and that the stainless steel housing starts to rust after a while.
The Brita Grand also has a 4.7 out of 5 star rating with 4x as many reviews. The main customer complaints are that the lid is constantly falling off and the plastic pitcher body is brittle.
Pros & Cons
In summary, these are the main pros and cons of each model.
Big Berkey Pros
- More contaminants removed
- Lifetime warranty
- Higher gallon capacity
- Longer-lasting filters
Big Berkey Cons
- Not certified
- More expensive up front
- Slower filtration rate
- Customers report bad taste and rusting
Brita Grand Pros
- Less expensive up front
- Fast filtration rate
- WQA certified
- Less expensive up front
Brita Grand Cons
- Not as many contaminants removed
- Only 90-day warranty
- Lower capacity
- Filters don’t last as long
- Must purchase Longlast+ filter separately
- Customers report brittle plastic and a faulty lid
Both the Big Berkey and the Brita Grand are excellent gravity water filters by long-established and trusted companies.
The Brita Grand is best for those who want a cheaper and more portable filter and have fewer contaminants in their water, while the Big Berkey is best for water with more impurities in households that have a higher daily usage.
If you like Berkey, you can also check out our Berkey water filter reviews guide.