AquaTru vs Berkey • Complete & Unbiased 2020 Comparison

AquaTru vs Berkey, what’s the difference? Which water filtration system is better? Those are the two primary questions we answer for you in this article. The truth is that these systems are very different, and depending on your needs, you’ll most likely find that one is better than the other.

We previously reviewed both systems and have a clear understanding of their components and the quality of the filtered water they produce. In this article, we’ll take a look at the filters in both systems, how both systems work, current owner reviews, and share our thoughts.

Let’s start below with a comparison between the two systems.

Aquatru vs Berkey Water Filter Comparison

Before we look at some of the most key specs, let’s first consider how both of these systems work.

Aquatru is an electronic countertop reverse osmosis system. Berkey is a gravity-fed system that uses its “purification elements” that are made of high-grade coconut shell carbon and 5 other types of media.

While we are big fans of Berkey, the company is somewhat shady when it comes to being open about exactly what’s in its filters. However, we have a lot of experience reviewing and analyzing water filters. We’re confident these “5 other types of media” in a Black Berkey filter aren’t as thorough as a semipermeable reverse osmosis membrane.

In reality, Berkey filters are just incredibly efficient activated carbon filters because of their tiny pore size. For this reason, they often clog and need to be scraped with a vegetable peeler or 3M Scotch-Brite pad.

Below is a comparison chart with the key specs to consider.

Model AquaTru (90AT02AT01) Big Berkey (BK4X2-BB)
Filter Life Carbon Prefilter: 600 gallons or 6 months
RO Filter: 1200 gallons or 24 months
VOC Carbon Filter: 600 gallons or 12 months
3,000 gallons per filter
Price Per Gallon 22¢
Filter Media RO Membrane, Activated Carbon Activated Carbon + 5 Types of Media
Capacity 1 gallon (Filtered Water) 2.25 gallons (Filtered Water)
Flow Rate 4 to 5 gallons per hour 3.5 gallons per hour (2 Filters)
Dimensions 14” Tall x 14” Deep x 12” Wide 21″ Tall x 8.5″ Diameter
Weight 16 lbs 7 lbs
Primary Material Plastic Stainless Steel
WQA/NSF Certified No (Third-Party NSF Standards 42,53,58, and 401) No (Third-Party Tested to Meet NSF/ANSI 53)
Removes Chloramines? Yes Yes
Removes Fluoride? Yes (93.5%) Optional
Makes Alkaline Water No No
Negative ORP (Antioxidants) No No
BPA-Free Yes (BPA & BPS-Free) Yes
Magnetic Spigot No No
Warranty 1-Year Limited Warranty 6-Month Warranty
System Price View AquaTru Price at Amazon View Berkey Price at Berkey

Key Differences & Considerations

  • Considering the times we’re living in, the biggest drawback to the AquaTru water filter is that it relies on electricity. If you know what hits the fan, you’re out of luck with the AquaTru filter. Now, on the other hand, the Berkey is a gravity-fed water filtration system that works anywhere with fresh water.
  • One of the greatest advantages of the Berkey filter is that it’s made to purify all freshwater sources. As long as you’re not trying to purify saltwater, you can purify water anywhere, including from streams, lakes, and rivers.
  • At the time of this writing, the upfront cost of the AquaTru system is significantly higher, and it costs more per gallon of purified water with the AquaTru system, especially since it uses electricity.
  • All RO membranes create wastewater, though, the AquaTru system does have a low wastewater/filtered water ratio because the system utilizes an electric pump to increase efficiency.
  • The AquaTru system is more of a luxury countertop reverse osmosis system than a water filter with many uses like the Berkey.
  • Keep in mind, the AquaTru is just a 3-stage countertop reverse osmosis system with flashy marketing. The Berkey, on the other hand, is a unique water filtration system that has yet to be matched by a competitor. The usefulness of a Berkey water filter is a lot higher than an AquaTru system. What will you do if your AquaTru system breaks? If a component in the Berkey or in a standard RO system breaks, you simply replace the part. If the pump or any internal mechanisms break in the AquaTru system, you’ll most likely have to scrap the entire system.
  • Berkey filters do not remove essential minerals from your tap water. The RO membrane in the AquaTru system does strip minerals, resulting in a lower ppm/pH water than Berkey produces. Because of this, AquaTru sells minerals to add to its water to boost pH and enhance the taste. The truth is there are good alkaline RO systems with mineral filters that cost less and produce better-tasting filtered water without the need for drops.
  • AquaTru markets itself as a 4-stage RO system, but in reality, it’s a 3-stage system. There’s a carbon sediment prefilter (that the company counts as 2 stages), the RO membrane, and a polishing post carbon filter.

Who Wins?

In our opinion, Berkey is the clear winner in the Aquatru vs Berkey showdown. However, we do like RO water more than the water a Berkey makes because Berkey’s purification elements are not as powerful as an RO membrane. That’s why Berkey needs to sell attachments for fluoride removal, while an RO membrane removes most fluoride and everything else right out of the box.

Berkey Wins!

AquaTru vs Berkey Reviews

Now that you’ve considered our thoughts, let’s check out what current owners are saying about their systems. Below, we put together a list of the most important pros & cons of owning each system according to current owner reviews. If you’re still on the fence, the points below will make your final decision easier.

The Bad News

  • One of the biggest complaints about the Berkey system is the slow-running filter. There are tutorials online showing how to “prime” the Berkey filters before use, but people continue to run into slow filter problems. This is where the “potato peeler method” comes into play. Berkey owners actually use a vegetable peeler to skin back the Berkey purification elements. This method often takes care of the clogging issue, but it’s obviously not fun to do.
  • The AquaTru system is essentially an overpriced 3-stage countertop reverse osmosis system. People who don’t understand how RO works or who prefer the convenience of a countertop system are the people who often purchase the AquaTru system. Comparatively, there are premium RO systems sold by well-known water filtration brands that cost less.
  • When the AquaTru system breaks, that’s it, your money goes down the drain.
  • Enough leak reports about the AquaTru system to warrant concern.
  • Compared to a good RO system, the 1-gallon holding tank in the AquaTru system is very small. If you have multiple people in your household and plan to use RO water for other uses, it’s better to invest an RO system with a larger filtered water storage tank.
  • Customer service complaints about AquaTru giving canned responses to inquiries.
  • Another complaint about Berkey is the taste of the water going downhill after a few months of use. This goes back to what we mentioned earlier about preferring RO water over Berkey water.
  • Compared to a good RO system, the Berkey unit is expensive. It’s important to consider that the Berkey system is better for use outdoors or for survival scenarios than as a full-time home water filter.
  • Overall, both brands are less trustworthy than water filtration companies we trust the most such as APEC, iSpring, Home Master, and Express Water.

The Good News

  • Overall, most Berkey owners love their Berkey water filters. Comparatively, there are loads more complaints registered by AquaTru owners than Berkey owners. The key is to consider how you plan to use the Berkey system before you buy it to get the most out of it. For example, you own a cabin near a fresh water source, then the Berkey is awesome.
  • The AquaTru production rate is good at 100 to 125 GPD, though, you do need to manually fill the supply tank once it runs dry.
  • Fans of the AquaTru water filter certainly love the taste.
  • People who prefer to skip installing an under-sink RO system and want a semi-portable countertop RO system may like the convenience of the AquaTru system.
  • The Berkey system is undoubtedly one of the most powerful reverse osmosis alternatives on the market. The level of purification using mostly activated carbon is impressive.
  • Both systems offer a long filter life and are low-maintenance.

For more information on the AquaTru system, we recommend clicking here to read the most current reviews at Amazon. You’ll find that there’s a greater percentage of negative reports for the AquaTru water filter than the Berkey.

Replacement Filter Cost Comparison

One of the most important considerations to make before purchasing any water filtration system is the cost of replacement filters. Most Berkey systems use two of Berkey’s purification elements, though, there is the option to expand the system for faster filtration by adding more purification elements.

There’s also the option to add Berkey’s fluoride filter attachments, which slows the filtration rate. Overall, the AquaTru system does filter water faster with the help of an integrated permeate pump.

Black Berkey Filters

aquacrest vs berkey

If one thing is for sure, neither system offers cheap replacement filters. With Berkey, you may want to consider aftermarket Aquacrest replacement filters to save some bucks. With AquaTru, the company is charging a fairly reasonable price when compared to other companies such as APEC.

As far as filter life, Berkey does have an incredibly long advertised filter life of 3,000 gallons per Black Berkey filter. In other words, two filters have the capacity to filter up to 6,000 gallons, which is yet another reason why Berkey filters are great for survival scenarios.

Based on filter life, Black Berkey filters do cost less overall than AquaTru filters, and they last a lot longer. With the AquaTru system, you replace the sediment, RO, and post-carbon filters at different times during the year. Comparatively, you would have to drink 16.43 gallons of Berkey water daily for a year to need to replace the two filters even once annually.

Bottom Line

Since you made it this far, we’re confident that you know everything you need to know about these two systems to make the most informed buying decision. Overall, Berkey is the better and more useful system, though, we do like RO systems better overall. The difference is the AquaTru countertop water purifier is not one of our favorite reverse osmosis systems.

The AquaTru system is a 3-stage RO system built for convenience first, and there are too many moving internal parts for it to be worth the money due to the risk of said parts breaking. If your heart is set on an RO system, there are much better systems on the market for less money that offer additional filtration stages and superior RO membranes. Plus, it’s easier to pick up replacement filters & parts from a well-known RO brand that’s been in business for decades than the less-proven AquaTru.

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