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I love gravity-fed countertop water filters!
Why? Because they require no plumbing or electricity to run.
This makes gravity-fed water filters a completely autonomous system thar are perfect for off grid living, removing toxins from municipal water, and are handy for boil orders and emergency filtration situations.
In this article, I go over the three TOP gravity water filtration systems available on the market.
I also cover pretty much everything you need to know about these systems from off grid use to maintaining the filter and more.
If you are looking for a more robust system, then check out my guide to whole house well water filtration systems.
Let’s get started!
On this page:
Part One: Whole House Water Filtration System Reviews
- Product Overview Table
- Crown Berkey 6-gallon Water Filter and Purifier
- Propur Big Countertop Gravity Water Filter System
- Zen Water Systems Countertop Filtration
Part Two: Information about Whole House Water Filtration Systems
- How Does a Gravity-Fed Water Filter Container Work?
- Benefits of a Gravity-Fed Water Filter Container
- Drawbacks of a Gravity-Fed Water Filter Container
- Pitcher Water Filters vs Gravity-Fed Water Filter Containers
- Things to Consider when Purchasing a Gravity-Fed Water Filter Container
- Using a Gravity-Fed Water Filter Container Off Grid
- Prep and Maintenance of Gravity-Fed Water Filter
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The Crown Berkey is the best in class as it offers the highest capacity gravity-fed water system on the market. The filter removes bacteria AND viruses so it qualifies as an emergency filtration unit. It can also remove pharmaceuticals and flouride from your water.
best gravity-fed countertop water filter reviews
The Berkey water systems are well known as the best off grid filtration and purification countertop system available.
There has been extensive testing done on the output quality of the water and the company touts itself as the most powerful gravity filter currently on the market.
The Berkey calls their filters Black Berkey Elements. These water filter elements remove:
Fluoride – 99.9%
Viruses – 99.9%
Pathogenic Bacteria – 99.9%
Coliform and e-Coli – 99.9%
Pharmaceuticals – 99.5%
The Berkey also removes lead, arsenic, iron, mercury, chlorine, chloramine, pesticides, etc.
The Berkey can remove fluoride with an additional element which is called the Berkey PF-2 elements.
The company publishes its testing results which show all the contaminants eliminated and is far too long a list to put in this article. You can find this list here.
Users have reported that the unit is well manufactured and sturdy, although I do recommend to immediately upgrade to the stainless steel spigot as the plastic one can break.
As with any product, there are concerns and drawbacks that you will want to consider.
The first problem is the rubber stoppers and washers. Users complain that it makes the water taste rubbery. I am surprised that the manufacturer would even use these elements and I suggest immediately trading them out.
Plastic elements tend to break so upgrade to stainless steel immediately if applicable.
Another problem is the slow rate of filtering. Some users report that their filters clog up within days of use. This is a typical water filtration system problem if water has higher level of sediment, especially from well water and off grid systems.
I strongly recommend getting a whole house prefilter to clear up sediments and debris before running water through this unit.
The instructions are written poorly, and someone remarked that it seemed like a non-english speaker wrote them. I noticed this with the website too, lots of clunky writing on their website.
Many users have turned to YouTube for step by step instructions which works out well. I recommend this instructional video:
One final note that I want to make about the Berkey:
I have noticed some people saying the Berkey is a scam and that their test results have been doctored and question why Berkey will not comply to Iowa and California lead certifications. They have addressed this issue in an article that does a decent job discrediting the claims.
Although there are some with strong claims against Berkey, I cannot find any credible evidence that can be held against them. Other than the usual low reviews that practically all products get from defective systems to leaks, the majority of users have had a great experience with the Berkey and they have published their testing results on their website.
Overall, I recommend the Berkey for their powerful purification process to remove virtually all bacteria and viruses from their water. I also like that the unit is well made with high quality materials.
Propur rivals the Berkey water systems as its new ProOne G2.0 filter elements can remove viruses, bacteria, and cysts from water. This makes the unit compatible with filtering and purifying water in the wild.
The filters do not require priming which is a huge plus as some people have struggled with the finicky priming process.
Propur leaves good minerals in the water so the flavor is spot on. The filters are infused with silver that prevents the growth of bacteria.
Another thing I like about the Propur is that the fluoride removing element is infused with the main filter so you don’t have to purchase any additional filter for that benefit. However, because of this, the filters need to be changed out more often.
Propur touts that their filters can remove microplastics. What is a microplastic, anyway??
According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that break off into the environment. These pieces leach out chemicals such as phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA).
Sounds like stuff I don’t want in my water!
Propur’s ProOne G2.0 series “all-in-one” filters are NSF/ANSI -42 certified and you can find their in-depth water testing reports here.
Unfortunately, one big con to this filter is the reports of the unit rusting after a few months of purchase. This doesn’t seem to be a widespread problem but it would make me think twice about buying it.
I have also read reports that customer service is non-responsive. I do think the company has worked to remedy this issue as more recent users have had good customer support. Therefore, I rate it as a mixed bag.
Overall, there are things I do love about this filter such as the microplastics removal, built-in fluoride filter, and the use of silver for bacteria prevention. Just keep a lookout for any signs of early onset rust.
Zen Water filters totally rock. They are unique because they add holistic features that improve your health homeopathically.
In their filter, they include far infrared balls that promote growth and health of cells. It also ionizes the water which activates water molecules in cells and blood.
The water passes over a magnetic tip; magnetized water is thought to be cleansing and detoxifying to the body.
Stage 1: Micro-Ceramic Filter Dome. Compressed ceramic dome filters down to .2-.9 microns in size.
Stage 2: Silver Impregnated Granulated Activated Carbon. Removes chlorine, bad tastes and odors, radon, solvents, pesticides, herbicides, VOCs and many other man made chemicals. Silver prevents bacteria buildup.
Stage 3: Mineral Sand. Removes granular impurities.
Stage 4: Far Infrared Balls. Ionizes water and promotes cellular health.
Stage 5: Natural Zeolite. Absorbs cations, heavy metals, ammonium, organic contaminants, radioactive elements, and some bad odors.
Stage 6: Magnetic Tap. Magnetizes water.
When you get this filter, run a whole tank of water through the filter a few times before use. This gets the carbon, sand, and zeolite activated and going.
There are some drawbacks to the Zen Water Filter.
The first and most jarring drawback is that it does NOT filter out viruses! According to the Water Quality Association, the size of a virus is 0.004 to .1 microns in size. The ceramic pores of this unit are much too large to catch viruses.
Personally, I would set up a whole house UV water purifier to remove viruses for all my water, then you could use this filter at ease. I wouldn’t want to bathe in potentially pathogenic water anyways.
If you are on a municipal system, this is no problem as most municipal systems use both chlorine and UV light to kill viruses and bacteria. However, if a boil order would be put into place, you’d be S.O.L.
Another drawback is that the filter does not remove fluoride. Flouride gets completely dissolved into water and the technology of the filter simply cannot eliminate it. This is where a more expensive filter pays off.
Yet another thing I do not like is that I cannot find any water testing reports published anywhere. I emailed the company to see if they can send me a copy but I have yet to hear back.
Users have complained of algae beginning to grow, so I suggest keeping a keen eye out for any green in the tank. If it does grow, wash thoroughly with white vinegar to clean exterminate it.
Overall, if you are in a municipal system or have a purification system for your water in place and you don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Zen Water System is a great filter at a very affordable price.
How Does a Gravity-Fed Water Filter Container Work?
A gravity container filter uses the sheer force of gravity instead of water pressure to filter water. This eliminates the need for plumbing and electricity, which is great for an emergency or off grid situation.
The container is separated into an upper and lower chamber. Water is poured into the upper chamber and flows over the water filters to collect into the lower chamber.
The main filtration element that gravity filters are known for is the porcelain filter. Unlike standard porcelain, gravity water filters use specialized porcelain that has micro-fine pores so the smallest of viruses can be removed.
Because these types of filters can capture contaminants including bacteria, viruses, and cysts, water from wells and the wild can be drank after being filtered through these units.
Each system does vary and will have different types of additional proprietary filters installed.
Benefits of a Gravity-Fed Water Filter Container
The biggest benefit to these filters is being able to take water from the wild and make it drinkable. Just be sure to prefilter water so you don’t gunk up your unit with too much debris or sediment.
These units work well in a survival or emergency water situation. If your water gets shut down or you only have access to untreated water, these filtration systems can provide you with accessible drinking water without having to boil or use chemicals.
You do not need electricity or plumbing for this filtration system to work.
The filters come in various shapes and sizes which can accommodate being placed on a countertop and are easily transportable.
The water tastes wonderful; odors and bad tastes are completely removed.
Drawbacks of a Gravity-Fed Water Filter Container
The flow rate is pretty low on these filters. The typical gravity fed filter can provide from 2 to 6 gallons a day.
You do need to refill these filters manually, so make sure to keep on top of topping it off.
You will need to calculate how much drinking water you need before purchasing a unit. Make sure to see the output of these filters so it can match your family’s water usage.
There will be additional filters that will need periodic replacing and replacement parts can be expensive.
Pitcher Water Filters vs Gravity-Fed Water Filter Containers
You may be wondering if a standard water pitcher, such as a Brita or Zero Water pitcher, would work to get your drinking water clean enough.
The bottom line is that these pitcher filters are not going to be tough enough to filter water from the wild.
This is because these filters are not designed to eliminate bacteria and viruses, only sediments and chemicals.
However, pitcher water filters work decently enough to filter water from municipal sources.
I personally use the Zero Water Pitcher Filter in my camper when I am on a municipal source. I like this pitcher because it comes with a PPM tester so I can see how much contaminant is being filtered out of my water. I typically get .001 PPM readings after running through this filter; in one area my municipal water was reading at 112 PPM! Gross!
The main reason for purchasing a porcelain gravity water filter when on a municipal source is for emergencies. If you have a boil order you will need additional purification of your tap water. If your municipal water source gets shut off and you have access to wild water, you can use this system to make it potable.
Things to Consider when Purchasing a Gravity-Fed Water Filter Container
Capacity – calculate how much drinking water your family needs then purchase a filter accordingly.
Flow Rate – Depending on the system will depend on how fast or slow the water gets filtered. Typically, the slower the flow rate, the better the filtering job will be done as the water has to pass through smaller pores.
Contaminants removed – although most filters take out the most prominent contaminants, if you have a special water situation with a particular contaminant you may need to do additional research to make sure that filter will work for you.
Filter Changes – aside, from the ceramic element, there are typically additional filters in the system that will need more frequent changing. Make a note of how often you need to change those filters.
Using a Gravity-Fed Water Filter Container Off Grid
It is highly imperative to prefilter your water before running through your gravity fed water filter. Well water with high sediment levels and water from the wild with debris needs to be cleansed thoroughly or else you will clog your container filter quite quickly.
A whole house water filter will help keep your filters clean
A simple cheap whole house water filter will do the trick. I recommend if you are pumping water from the wild to build a screen enclosure around the pump to keep larger debris out before running through the prefiltering unit.
Make sure that when you purchase a filter, that it will filter out viruses too. Many filters can catch bacteria, but viruses are so teeny tiny that they can clear through filters which are only built to catch bacteria.
I suggest looking at test analyses for the unit you are looking to buy. I have included these test results in my reviews portion of this article.
If you haven’t built your off grid water system yet, check out my guide to building an off grid water system.
Prep And Maintenance For A Gravity Water Filter
There is a preparation period for these systems that require a priming process. This process is when the filtering elements become saturated with water. This may take up to a few days to complete, depending on the filter.
Some elements require initial water flow through the filtering elements; these need to be primed with water pressure from your faucet.
Follow all manufacturer directions to make sure you properly prime your filter.
Maintenance is easy for these units; filtering elements need to be cleaned periodically with a water rinse and a wipe down from a wet clean cloth.
NEVER EVER use soap or hot water! Soap will ruin the filters and need to be replaced.
Filters that need replacement will reduce the flow rate. Try to wash out these filters and if the flow rate does not improve it is time to replace them.
Gravity fed water filter containers are an innovative way to provide fresh drinking water to your family in normal times and times of emergency.
Being able to filter and purify water free of bacteria and viruses without electricity and plumbing makes this filtration system extremely versatile.
This could be a great solution for you in an off grid situation or to purify well water.
I hope you have enjoyed my Best Gravity-Fed Countertop Water Filter Reviews article!
Please let me know if you have any questions and if you have found this article helpful, I would love a share!
Have a wonderful day.
Hello, I am Regina! I am the creator and brain-child behind Maximum Off Grid.
My goal is to educate and inform people interested in becoming independent from the system.
I also provide valuable reviews on products and service that I research thoroughly and make quality recommendations.
I hope you are enjoying my website!