Water has a key role in our body as it’s an essential nutrient and every system in the body, ranging from cells to vital organs, needs water to function. Moreover, water is also responsible for carrying nutrients to the cells in our body and helps the body assimilate vitamins, minerals, glucose, and other substances.
But sometimes water may contain unhealthy compounds such as pharmaceutical residues, PFCs, pesticides and heavy metals. Even though this may sound disturbing, the good news is that you can remove harmful contaminants with the help of a water filter.
Choosing a water filter for your home is not always an easy task because there are lots of factors to take into account. While there are multiple water filter choices out there, two of the most popular options are Berkey countertop water filters and reverse osmosis filters.
Let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of Berkey purification filters and reverse osmosis filters so you can easily decide which choice is better for your home.
How Does a Berkey Water Filter Work?
Berkey countertop filters have become popular in recent years because they are a cost-effective water filtration solution that doesn’t require installation. These systems sit on the countertop and filter water gradually over a period of time.
Berkey filters are cylindrical units made from stainless steel and feature two chambers one above the other. When you add water to the top chamber, it passes through the purification elements inside the filter, which trap any contaminants so only clean, purified water reaches the lower chamber.
These filters employ two technologies to filter water: microfiltration and adsorption. Microfiltration works by using microscopic pores in the filters that are small enough to block contaminants but large enough to allow water molecules to pass through. The adsorption part refers to eliminate lots of contaminants from the water with the help of gravity that pulls them down through the system.
Advantages of Berkey Water Filters
- No need for water supply or electricity. Berkey filtration systems don’t require connection to water or electricity, which makes them suitable for a wide variety of situations. You can use them at home or when you’re on vacation, and because they don’t require electricity or a constant water supply, they will continue to work in the event of a power cut or issues with your water supply.
- Remove a broad range of contaminant. Not all countertop water systems can filter microorganisms and fluoride, but Berkey filtration systems can do this and more. These filtration elements are some of the best countertop systems available on the market when it comes to the number of contaminants they can remove.
- Portable. Berkey filtration systems come in multiple sizes to fit the needs of any family. Because they are portable, you can move them from one place to another easily, for example to take them with you on a road trip vacation or put one in a dorm room.
Disadvantages of Berkey Water Filters
- Not NSF certified. One of the biggest letdowns of Berkey’s water filtration systems is that they are not NSF certified. The results obtained when filtering water with Berkey’s systems are tested privately by an independent manufacturer, but many customers would trust Berkey’s more if they managed to get an NSF certification.
- Filters needs to be primed. Before using the filtration system for the first time, you need to prime the Berkey filter, which can get a bit overwhelming especially for the first time. Every system comes with a priming tool and the learning curve can be a bit much because you need to figure out the right amount of water pressure.
- Large presence. Berkey filters are indeed visible, especially if you have the larger sizes, and they will immediately draw attention. Smaller models might be a good choice for situations where you don’t have enough room for a full-sized Berkey’s, but this comes with the drawback of having to refill it more often.
- Manual refilling. As they are not connected to a water supply, you need to refill the upper chamber of Berkey filters manually. The system relies on the gravity of the water for filtration, which means that the entire process is rather slow.
- Leaks. Many of the users who tested and reviewed Berkey’s filters mentioned that they are prone to leaking. This usually happens after a couple of years of use, and the leaks may originate from the faucet and sometimes even from the upper chamber.
- Slow filtering. Because it’s basically a gravity filter, the Berkey is slow and the drip process can take quite some time. If you forget to top it up, you have to stand by it and wait for the water to get filtered. With a Berkey’s water filter, you don’t have instant access to filtered water.
- Rubbery taste. Some of the people who reviewed Berkey’s filters mentioned that the rubber components that are used in the filtration system give the water a rubbery taste. A solution to this problem is to change the rubber components with silicone washers that are available from the manufacturer themselves.
How Do Reverse Osmosis Filters Work?
Reverse osmosis filters remove contaminants from unfiltered water with the help of a prefilter, and then they force water through a reverse osmosis semipermeable membrane that can remove dissolved solids. When the water exists this membrane, it passes through a pass filter before entering a dedicated faucet. Different reverse osmosis systems have various stages of filtration depending on the number of prefilters and postfilters.
Filtering water via reverse osmosis is much quicker than using Berkey’s systems, and if the water pressure in your home is adequate, you should have access to clean, filtered water in about a second. This is because water that flows through your plumbing starts passing through the reverse osmosis system as soon as you turn on your faucet.
Advantages of Reverse Osmosis Filters
- Extra thorough filtration. Reverse osmosis filters provide the most thorough filtration of all systems designed for home use. They are an ideal choice for homes with a high level of TDS in the water, because there’s not much they can’t remove.
- Long–lasting systems. The average reverse osmosis system can last for up to 15 years, provided you change the membrane and filter elements according to the instructions provide by the manufacturer. You should expect the filter elements to the last between 6 months and 2 years.
- Easy to maintain. Even though they need to be installed before use, reverse osmosis systems are easy to maintain, as all you need to do is replace the semipermeable membrane and the water filter cartridges periodically as instructed by the manufacturer.
Disadvantages of Reverse Osmosis Filters
- They remove beneficial minerals. Besides filtering out a wide range of contaminants, reverse osmosis filters also remove beneficial minerals from the water. Several studies have shown that reverse osmosis systems remove between 92 and 99% of the calcium and magnesium found in water. This means that it’s important to make sure your family gets these mineral from elsewhere if you install this type of filtration system in your home.
- Cost. A reverse osmosis filtering system generally costs more than a countertop filtration option. You also need to factor in the cost of water filter elements and semipermeable membrane, which will require regular replacement.
- Wastes water. The reverse osmosis process wastes water and it’s not something that you can change. This is basically the only letdown performance wise when it comes to reverse osmosis filters. The waste happens because the as water is forced through the membrane, the wastewater gets flushed down the drain. As a result, your water consumption may be higher when using reverse osmosis filters.
What Contaminants Do the Filters Remove?
Berkey water filters eliminate a wide range of contaminants, with some of the most common including heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, herbicides, pesticides, pathogenic bacteria, and viruses. They can also reduce the levels of fluoride in the water, but tests have shown that the efficiency of removing fluoride isn’t the same after a few hundred gallons.
Berkey filters work on rust and sediments, but also remove chlorine and chloramine, which is especially important if your home receives water from the city. This is because in most cases, municipalities add chlorine to the water they distribute to residents. By eliminating chlorine, Berkey filters eliminate bad tastes and smell from the water. Unlike reverse osmosis filters, Berkey systems use carbon based filters so they don’t filter out minerals from the water.
Reverse osmosis systems do a better job at removing contaminants from water and the process of eliminating common contaminants such as chlorine, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides and more is more thorough.
The semipermeable membrane of reverse osmosis filters eliminates contaminants and the system flushes them down the drain, so you’re only left with healthy, clean, great tasting water. Many of the systems use additional filters such as sediment filters or carbon that improve the filtration process.
By eliminating contaminants, water filters greatly improve the taste, odor, and appearance of the water. As a result, the water is better not only for drinking, but you’ll also notice that you get a better taste when you’re using it for cooking. Some of the chemicals that are purposely added to tap water, such as chlorine and fluoride usually have an unpleasant odor and taste. By filtering your water, you can transform it into something delicious and never buy bottled water again.
Which Filters Are More Affordable?
The upfront cost of Berkey’s filters ranges between $250 and $360, depending on the size you opt for. These systems come in multiple sizes, ranging from travel models that can hold up to 1.5 gallons of water to large ones that are suitable for those who want to be able to have up to 6 gallons of filtered water available. The latter are a good choice if you have a large family.
The upfront costs for reverse osmosis systems are higher and you can expect to pay anything between $300 and $1,000 for an entire home reverse osmosis system. When it comes to designs, you can typically choose from under-sink and whole home reverse osmosis systems.
Under sink models connect to the cold water line and as their name suggests, you need to place them under the kitchen sink. While these systems can be fairly bulky, they are the cheapest option. Whole home systems are installed at your home’s water point of entry and they have a larger capacity. This means that all the water in your home will be filtered, but this comes at an extra cost, as these systems are the most expensive of them all.
Berkey’s filtration systems can offer you 6,000 gallons per pair before you need to replace them, which means that you shouldn’t need to buy new filters for approximately four years. However, when you have to replace them, you should expect the filters to be on the expensive side, with a price tag of around $120 per pair.
On the other hand, reverse osmosis filters generally last for two years before you need to replace them. They don’t require too much maintenance, but unlike in the case of Berkey’s systems, you’ll also need to replace the semipermeable membrane as well, which makes these systems more difficult to maintain.
The good news is that the replacement filters and membranes for reverse osmosis systems are cheaper than those for Berkey’s systems, which means that even though you need to replace them more often, the overall costs will end up to be similar.
Which filter is easier to install?
Berkey filters are easier to install because you don’t need to hook them up to a water source. Instead, you just have to prime the filters according to the instructions by flushing them with water.
You can then place the black filters in the upper chamber, secure them install the optional fluoride filters, and attach the spigot to the lower chamber. Once that’s done, you can place the upper chamber on top of the lower one and the filter is ready for use.
In the case of reverse osmosis systems, the installation process is a bit more difficult. Some models are easier to install than others, but the good news is that you don’t necessarily need the help of a plumber to install an under sink reverse osmosis filter.
Most models go under the kitchen sink and each unit contains up to five different canisters for filtration. Each of them tackles a separate group of contaminants and you also get a storage tank for the purified water. Before purchasing a reverse osmosis system, it’s important to make sure it fits under your sink. Some models can also be installed in other locations such as a utility room or a garage.
The installation process may differ from one model to another, but basically, you need to install a sink spigot, position the tank, mount the filter assembly, attach the water line, connect the drain, and finally perform a pressure test to check if the system is working properly.
Which Option Is Better?
Reverse osmosis filters are a better choice than Berkey’s water filters for most users. This is because they are typically NSF certified, something that Berkey’s can’t offer, and they filter water more thoroughly. Moreover, reverse osmosis systems won’t go in the way as you don’t have to keep them on the countertop like in the case of Berkey’s ones. While they may require a bit more work to install, you won’t see the filters again if you don’t look under the sink.
With reverse osmosis systems, you can have instant access to filtered water any time you want. There’s no need to wait by the filter to do its job with the help of gravity — reverse osmosis filters give you perfectly filtered water that’s delicious for drinking and cooking with a simple faucet switch.
Finally, reverse osmosis filters do a more thorough job when it comes to filtration itself. They are super effective and remove up to 99.9% of contaminants, including pesticides, herbicides, bacteria, viruses, sediment, heavy metals, arsenic, sulfate, turbidity, hardness and more.
Is Reverse Osmosis a Recent Invention?
The reverse osmosis process is not quite new, as municipalities in the U.S. and across many other countries in the world started to use this process as a water filtration method since the late 70s. As time passes, household filters have evolved and they started to incorporate the reverse osmosis technology.
You may wonder why you still need a reverse osmosis system if the water coming from your taps is already filtered by the municipality. The answer is a simple one: the water that’s filtered at an industrial level still retains a good deal of contaminants. Plus, depending on the place you’re living in the overall quality of the water leaves a lot to be desired, but this can be corrected with a home filtration system.
What Are Some Additional Benefits of Water Filtration?
Besides giving you better quality water to drink, installing a water filtration system in your home comes with additional benefits. For starters, it encourages the entire family to start drinking tap water again, which has an important impact on the environment. Because you have easy access to quality water in your home, you’re likely to use less bottled water, so you’ll stop contributing to what is already one of the biggest sources of plastic pollution in the world.
Having access to filtered water in your home also encourages the entire family to drink more water. Statistics have shown that families that get a good filtration system in their home start drinking more water every day. This is vital for health, considering that most people don’t drink the necessary amount of water their body needs to function properly.
If you have decided that reverse osmosis is the right choice for your home, have a look at the Micromax 7000 from The Good For Company, which offers the best water possible right from your tap. With this filter, you can enjoy 50+ gallons of pure water every day and eliminate plastic bottle use from your life.
The Micromax 7000 is NSF tested and certified and removes odor-causing contaminants and heavy metals so your entire family can enjoy the best tasting water you’ve ever had.