In a world ruled by soft drinks, energy drinks, and health drinks, there's a profound pleasure in a cool glass of crisp, pure water. No sugar, no additives, just natural hydration.
Water might be a humble beverage, but it's also the source of all life on our planet!
Are you looking to cut out the hyper-sugary soft drinks from your diet?
Or maybe you’re worried about the quality of the water your children are drinking?
Either way, you may be considering a water filter system for your home.
Countertop filter systems like the ones in this article let gravity do the work, there’s no plumbing or electricity required.
These filter systems will keep on trucking even in power outages and other emergency situations where clean water can otherwise come at a premium. I know I've been caught out when the water goes off, but with one of these on the countertop, you'll have fresh water for days!
Let’s take a look at two of the top models on the market – Propur (now rebranded as ProOne)’s Big Countertop Gravity Water Filter System and Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter.
Propur vs Berkey Filters – The Quick Comparison
We’re putting these two gravity-fed filters head-to-head. Let’s have a look at the stats:
Aside from a few differences in design and additional features, the main point of separation between these two water filter systems is the type of filter they’ve employed. Propur have used a ceramic filter – less durable, but more effective at removing fluoride from your water supply.
Berkey has chosen to go with a carbon filter – in possession of an exceptionally long lifespan, but at a cost of certain filtering functions. Read on for an in-depth exploration of these two fantastic filtering devices.
Aesthetics and Design – Propur Wins For Its Elegant Form
In an emergency situation it doesn’t matter how your water filter system looks – what’s important is that you and your family have clean drinking water.
However, these water filter systems are designed for countertop use too, meaning they may well be a permanent fixture in your home. I don’t know about you, but I don't want an eyesore on my kitchen counter.
Let’s see how these water filter systems stack up in the design department.
Both products come in a slick stainless steel that should fit comfortably into any modern kitchen. And with embossed logos advertising the branding of both products, you know you have the real deal.
Berkey’s textured dark plastic faucet matches the handle, but compared to Propur’s stainless steel faucet it looks somewhat cheap. Propur’s steel faucet gives a clean finish and has a better overall look, I think.
When it comes to size, both products are branded as big. But for a filter to water the whole family, who comes out on top?
Propur’s idea of a big filter system beats Berkey’s: Big Berkey gravity-fed water filter is actually the equivalent of Propur’s Travel system. Propur’s Big has a 2.75 gallon capacity compared to Berkey’s 2.25.
The Big model stands at 19.5” in Berkey’s range, whereas Propur’s Big model comes in at a towering 22.5”. If you’re concerned about squeezing a water filter system under cabinets on your countertop, Berkey could be a better fit.
However, Berkey’s range is slightly more squat, whereas Propur gravity water filter systems stand taller and slimmer. As a matter of taste, this narrower design strikes me as quite elegant and could appear as a more attractive appliance in your kitchen.
Construction Materials – Propur Big Wins For Quality Components
Aside from the filters – carbon and ceramic respectively – there are a number of other materials used in the construction of these water filter systems.
The outer chassis for both is stainless steel, whilst rubber and plastic are integrated into interior components.
The stainless steel outer of each of these products gives it a professional look, but it’s functional too. Stainless steel is wipe-clean and doesn’t harbor smells or stains. If you leave water resting in the lower tank for a few days, it can become stale – but a simple rinse will get you ready to go again.
When it comes to water purity, the standard in plastics is to use BPA-free materials. Bisphenol A, known as BPA (an industrial chemical that can seep out of plastics and into food and water, and it’s particularly harmful to children). You’ll be pleased to hear that all the plastics in both products are certified as BPA-free, ensuring your water isn’t being contaminated even as it's purified.
Each product uses rubber washers and stoppers to seal the components that screw together, making your water filter system watertight where it needs to be. Some users of Berkey’s system have reported a subtle but unmistakable trace of rubber in the taste of their filtered water. That sounds pretty gross to me.
Whilst there’s no evidence that this could make the water output unsafe to drink, it certainly undermines the crystal-pure sensation you’re looking for from filtered water. Replacing the rubber components with silicon eliminates this problem, but it can be hard to find a fitting product and besides, who wants the hassle when you’ve paid through the nose for a filter system of this caliber?
Whilst Propur’s stoppers and washers are also made from rubber, there’s never been an impact on the flavor of the filtered product. A higher grade of rubber has been used that’s less susceptible to wear and tear. In terms of materials, I'll give Propur the rubber stamp!
Filters – It’s A Trade-Off
In the battle of the filters, who wins?
As I noted, before you can use your Berkey water filter system, you'll need to prime the carbon filter. Although it adds five minutes to your set up time, these carbon filters are extraordinarily long-lasting: Berkey's carbon filters will last up to 11 years, purifying 6000 gallons of water before they're worn out.
You could purify a bath every day for nine months (but why would you?).
Propur's ceramic filters might need a quick scrub, but the ceramic doesn't need to be primed. However, these filters aren't as durable as the carbon counterpart. You’re going to have to change these guys every year to keep your water fresh and pure.
Clearly, it’s a trade-off. Propur has invested in a filter that removes fluoride and has NSF certification as we'll see in the next section, but unfortunately, these materials simply aren't as durable as Berkey's carbon filter.
Purification Specs – Propur Wins For Fluoride Filtering
Some impurities, such as metal content, are easily tasted but harmful bacteria won’t have any effect on the flavor of your water – that’s when you need to put your faith in your water filter system.
When I purify river water on camping trips, any doubt at all about the quality of my filter leaves me second-guessing my stomach all day. Thinking about drinking impure water makes me sick! So, I need a brand I can trust.
Each of these brands boasts of powerful purification, but thanks to a different approach to filter materials they offer slightly differing specs.
In either case, you can be sure that your water comes out free from heavy metals, pesticides and pharmaceuticals.
The portable versions of these gravity-fed filters are designed for use at campsites and off-grid cabins – bacteria and beasties such as giardia-carrying protozoa are also filtered out, meaning you’ll have safe drinking water wherever you are.
Berkey also offers the additional security from promising that a whopping 99.99% of viruses are extracted through their filter system!
Another key contaminant in our water supply is fluoride. So how do these systems match up when it comes to that?
Only Propur’s water filter system – with its ceramic filters – can remove fluoride from your water. Personally, I like to have a choice about what I’m putting in my body and so this additional filtering property makes Propur stand out.
Berkey offers an add-on filter for fluoride that we’ll take a look at later, but if you’re looking for a water filter system for your household water supply, you might want fluoride filtering as standard.
|Contaminant||Propur Big||Big Berkey|
Certification – Propur Goes All The Way
When it comes to purification, whose word are you going to take? Whilst Berkey and Propur are both well-established brands in the filtering business, I prefer independent testing and external certification so I know what my family and I are drinking.
Berkey and Propur both recognize the merit of an independent source and as such they’ve invested in third-party testing. Propur have placed these reports on their website for all to see, leaving no doubt about their filtering claims. Berkey are also transparent about their independent lab test results.
However, as valuable as an independent laboratory’s report is, without a background in biochemistry these reports are fairly cryptic…If you’re like me, and science was left behind in high school, you’ll look to an authority on public health for help in interpreting these results.
This is where Berkey falls down: NSF certification is the gold star in purity and whilst Propur have worked with NSF to achieve this certification, Berkey claims that the process of attaining NSF recognition is too costly. Whilst that might keep the prices down, it comes at a cost to the customer as it leaves doubt in my mind as to the efficacy of Berkey’s filtering system.
Although Berkey’s long-standing reputation in the water purification industry speaks for itself, I liked the additional professionalism demonstrated by Propur by going all the way with public health bodies like NSF.
Travel – Berkey Offers Better Options
Traveling can be hectic and the last thing you want to worry about is contracting an exotic disease through your drinking water.
Whether you're touring South East Asia or taking time out from urban life at the campsite, clean drinking water lets you fully immerse yourself in your trip.
As I’ve mentioned, both these products come in a number of sizes and at the bottom end they advertise their products as portable. Berkey's Travel filter has a 1.5 gallon capacity, whilst Propur's smallest offering filters 2.25 gallons – equivalent to what Berkey advertises as a Big filter system.
The difference in size is an inch in every direction, subtle enough that it won't impact your packing. However, the Berkey Travel filter weighs in at 6 lbs (empty), 50% lighter than Propur's smallest filter. Traveling light indeed!
When it comes to claims of “portability”, Berkey's streamlined filter is noticeably easier to transport. The 1.5 gallon capacity should be adequate for two people daily, and you will really appreciate how easy it was to get around.
Additionally, a travel filter is less likely to be used for US tap water, diminishing the value of a fluoride filter. This reduces the gap in functionality between Propur's ceramic filter and Berkey's carbon option for me.
Pricing – Propur Wins On Price, But Don’t Forget To Factor In Filters
With four models to choose from in Propur's range of water filter systems and five in Berkey's, prices vary.
Across their products, Propur's range is slightly cheaper than Berkey's – but you have to factor in the additional annual cost of new ceramic filters with Propur's water filter systems. If fluoride filtering is important to you, you'll be shelling out for additional filters with a Berkey system too. When it comes to each brand’s Big water filter system, Propur offers the most affordable option, despite boasting a larger capacity.
Aside from buying new filters, however, Propur's range appears more complete. You'll get a convenient stand, and their rubber components are of superior quality. The lifetime cost of a Propur water filter system is likely to exceed that of a Berkey, but in the short term it's a guaranteed saver.
Why Choose Propur Countertop Gravity Water Filter System
From build quality to inherent fluoride filtering, Propur's Countertop Gravity Water Filtering System is the full package.
Whilst replacing the filters annually might hurt your wallet, if you're concerned about filtering fluoride from your water supply then Propur's ceramic filters are a no-brainer. Plus, because Propur have gone the extra mile to attain NSF certification, they leave no doubt about the efficacy and quality of the product.
For me, this filter system ticks all the boxes for home use.
Why Choose Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter
Berkey are also a dependable brand in the water filter game and, despite a lack of official certification, they have the lab tests to prove it.
For home use, Berkey's water filter systems seem incomplete – home tap water is where you'll miss that fluoride filtering, and not including a stand for the system feels like a lack of attention to detail.
However, Berkey's portable model is lighter and more compact than anything in the Propur range, and since their carbon filters are so durable you can go years without having to update your system.
If you're looking for a water filter system you can take anywhere, Berkey's Travel water filter system could be the way to go… but if we’re just talking about the Big Countertop version of each product, you know where my allegiances lie!
Final Thoughts on Big Berkey vs Propur Big…
If you're a homebody, my pick is Propur's Big Countertop Gravity Water Filter System – the taste is great, and the fluoride filter is handy at home. But if you're a wandering soul in need of a watering hole, consider Berkey's portable system.
Whatever you choose, once you start enjoying purified water at home and on your travels, you'll make a splash anywhere you go!