Over 250,000 people in the US live off the grid. And it’s no wonder that households are looking for ways to cut back. With the cost of living rising, building a self-sustaining lifestyle is one of the best ways to save money.
However, it comes with its fair share of challenges. Finding land, creating enough electricity, and disposing of waste are all critical decisions.
But there’s one area where we've got you covered – the best off grid water filter.
Gravity filters are an affordable solution. Why are they the best choice, and which is the best gravity water filter?
That’s what we're here to help you with. Some of the suggestions below can turn the most stagnant outdoor water source into safe drinking water for your family. Others are less heavy duty, but more affordable.
It'll be one of your most important off grid supplies, so we're here to help you invest wisely! But first, why should you choose a gravity filter system over the other options?
Why Use a Gravity Filter for Off-Grid Living?
There are many ways to filter water, all with their own merits and drawbacks. Here's a summary of the most popular choices.
Boiling is an effective way to clean water. However, it is often expensive, requiring a constant heat source. Typically it can only be done in small batches at a time.
Further, the boiling process can't remove contaminating particles, only kill living contaminants. For this reason, it is best combined with another filtration method. Or, skip this one all together.
Distillation takes boiling water one step further. Instead of drinking boiled water, distillation systems collect the steam created by heating it.
Slower versions of the system use solar power instead. This gradually heats the water to condensation, which is a cheaper option.
UV Filtration systems use UV light to clean your water. This is an effective method for destroying living contaminants in your water. Bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms are killed when exposed to the UV light.
These systems however are not enough to completely clean water. They only deal with microorganisms, not non-living contaminants such as lead or fluoride.
Solar Water Purification
Similar to UV filtration but less effective, this method uses light from the sun to clean your water. It’s a slow process, and not enough on its own.
Bought or homemade, sand filtration systems effectively remove manmade and natural contaminants. For that reason, they are often used by cities as their main method of tap water filtration.
They essentially work as a gravity filter, allowing the water to drip through the sand.
Sometimes though, these systems are referred to as "slow sand filters." As the name suggests, their flow rate is considerably less than other options. Also, they can be bulky and not suited to kitchen countertops like other gravity filters.
Homemade versions are cost-effective. But their slow and bulky nature is likely not the best choice for easily accessible drinking water in your off-grid home.
Gravity Filters - The Best Off Grid Water Filter
A gravity filter is superior to these other options. The most effective gravity water filter systems remove all microorganisms as well as other contaminating particles. However, it's much faster and more cost-effective than even distillation.
Once you have a gravity filter, all you have to do is pour water in the top and wait for the filters to work their magic. Often, you can increase filtration speeds by adding extra filters to the system.
It doesn't require electricity to run. The only cost after purchase is occasionally replacing the filtration elements. And some models fit comfortably on your kitchen counter!
Each brand works at different speeds, in varying quantities, and to different levels of effectiveness. Overall though, gravity systems are the best off-grid water filter.
Berkey Water Filters
The Berkey name is synonymous with clean water. Its products set the standard for off-grid water filtration.
Its systems use a six-media filter. This design stops all pollutants from passing through, leaving you with perfect drinking water. However, it's advanced enough that it doesn't remove the minerals that are beneficial for your body!
Berkey's “Black Berkey Purification Elements” are so powerful that they can remove red food coloring from water. They are safe and strong enough to filter even stagnant pond water into drinking water.
Notably, Berkey filters remove 99.9% of lead with its filters. This makes it the first most effective lead-removing gravity water filter on the market.
If you are filtering city water, you can even buy an add-on that keeps fluoride and arsenic out of the water.
Berkey filters also come in various sizes and designs to suit your needs.
The Crown Berkey water filter is the biggest water filter Berkey offers. It can purify up to six gallons of water at a time – much more than the average household needs. This volume can serve up to 12 people for average daily water usage.
The Imperial Berkey water filter model can hold 4.5 gallons, purifying at a minimum speed of 5.5 gallons per hour. But, if you install additional purification elements, this number can increase.
Despite its generous capacity, it can fit comfortably on a countertop!
The Royal Berkey water filter holds 3.25 gallons of water. It can filter between 4 and 8 gallons per hour, depending on if additional filtration elements are added.
This is the perfect size for larger households, and plenty for your average family.
One of the most popular models, the Big Berkey water filter can contain 2.25 gallons of water, and filter up to 3.5 per hour. Without installing any extra elements, this is the perfect size water filter for an average household.
A more versatile model, the Travel Berkey water filter is designed for adventures. Its lightweight and compact design make it transportable in a suitcase or even a rucksack!
It can only hold 1.5 gallons of water at a time, filtering at a speed of 2.75 per hour. But for a solo or duo trip, that's plenty.
Aptly named the Go Berkey water filter, this system is always ready to go! Designed for short day trips, such as hiking and cycling, it can contain one quart of water or about a liter.
Aquacera Water Systems
Aquacera's products vary greatly, catering to everything from offices to off-grid living. Their solutions include whole-house systems and faucet purifiers.
At the moment, they only offer one gravity water purifier for off-grid living. Introducing the Terra2 Stoneware Gravity System!
Terra2 Stoneware Gravity System
This gravity water filtration system uses ceramic filters. These remove contaminants from water without removing beneficial minerals.
Their ceramic filters remove more than 90% of fluoride from water. And that is without needing extra filtration elements.
But its total raw water volume is only 1 gallon.
They advertise the system as being for “at home or at work.” The system though would work for off-grid living. That is, if the capacity is enough for your household.
The flow rate is less than the Big Berkey's 3.5 gallons of water per hour. But it is enough to serve a small household.
The various filters available with this model only need replacing once a year. They also don’t require priming. However, not all of them work for filtering untreated water.
So for off-grid living, make sure to choose either the CeraPlus or CeraMetix ceramic filters.
To begin with, all Terra2 Stoneware Gravity Systems come with a CeraSyl ceramic shell. This effectively removes unwanted sediment from water. For better effectiveness, you can add the CeraPlus filter.
The CeraPlus filter works by adding a coconut-shell-based carbon to the ceramic. When combined with the system’s existing ceramic shell, this treats odor and taste, and can remove over 95% of chlorine from water.
The CeraMetix filter is the more advanced option. It comes in several variations, including the CeraMetix GF and CeraMetix AMB.
All versions however remove 90% or more of chloramine, chlorine, lead, THM, heavy metals, chromium, and fluoride.
Doulton Water Filters
Having been in business for over 170 years, Doulton is a well-respected name in water filtration. Many of their latest products focus on faucet filtration.
However, they still sell gravity filter systems. Most of them are stainless steel cylinders with ceramic filters, like Aquacera. They also sell a much more affordable plastic set which they advertise as ideal for outdoor use.
Like Berkey and Aquacera, these systems pass all the legal specifications for water filtration. In certain lab tests however, they were less effective than those models.
Their flow rate is also significantly slower than others, filtering only half a gallon per hour. Models come with capacities of approximately 1.5, 2, and 3 gallons.
Despite these few drawbacks, the models are no doubt effective. Around the world, charities like UNICEF use Doulton products.
The systems help volunteers under canvas have access to clean drinking water. They are most needed either when there is no supply, or the pressure is too inconsistent.
Alexapure is newer to the market, but quickly making a name for itself. It manufactures both air and water filtration products of all shapes and sizes.
You'll notice the look and names of their systems are super similar to Berkey.
Their water filtration product line includes a Survival Spring Personal Water Filter. This small, one-person product allows you to drink straight from a moving body of water. They also have water filtration bottles and jugs on offer for everyday use in the home.
What we're most interested in however is their large gravity filter. They only have one model on offer, but its specifications are impressive.
Alexapure Pro Water Filtration System
The stainless steel system's raw water capacity is 2.25 gallons, also able to store the same amount of fresh water underneath. This is a convenient size for an average household's needs. Unfortunately though, its filtration speed is not published on its website.
Lab results of the Alexapure Pro Water Filtration System show that it reduces over 200 contaminants by more than 99%. Again, almost a copy of the Berkey.
It especially targets heavy metals, lead, chlorine, and fluoride. It also kills microorganisms like viruses and bacteria.
Unlike some models, it advertises a focus on pesticides and pharmaceutical contaminants. That's because according to Alexapure, the product is beneficial not just for those living off-grid. They recommend their products for anyone who would like to make their local tap water safer.
The company also offers a 30 day money back guarantee to allow you to test their system risk-free. But how long will it last?
Alexapure claims that the water filtration system is effective for up to 5000 gallons. That's a similar lifespan to Berkey's filters.
At that point, the filters can be changed and the system will continue to work. Replacement parts are relatively cheap compared to market averages.
And they say that filter life can be extended if used regularly enough. Living off-grid and needing fresh water every day will of course fulfil this requirement.
Propur - Now Called ProOne
The recently rebranded ProOne water filters have been around since 2011. They’ve made their mark on the industry by not just meeting government standards for filtration, but surpassing them. In particular, lead and fluoride removal is very high with a ProOne water purifier.
The filters themselves are ceramic, like many others on this list. Depending on which model you choose, you'll be offered a different filter. But they are all variations of the ProOne G2.0.
The ProOne G2.0 is an all-in-one solution. That means that no add-on elements are required to filter out fluoride.
Over 200 contaminants are filtered out by their designs, biological and non-biological. And it is the only filter to bear an NSF/ANSI-42 component certification.
However, it is only recommended for use with already potable water sources.
ProOne manufactures five gravity filtration systems, one of which is just a jug for home use. Here are the specifications of their four larger models:
Big+ Gravity Water Filter
The largest model on offer by ProOne, the stainless steel Big+ Gravity Water Filter has a capacity of 3 gallons, designed to care for the needs of four people. Even though it’s the largest model, it’s still countertop friendly and could easily fit in an off-the-grid kitchen.
Coming with its own stand, this water purifier is also transportable. It can be brought along on camping trips as well as fitting snugly into your kitchen.
This model also comes with a 30 day money-back guarantee, and 1-5 year warranty on some of the elements.
Traveler+ Gravity Water Filter
The slightly smaller Traveler+ has a capacity of 2.25 gallons, and is designed to be used by households of 1-3 people. Otherwise, it’s identical in design and function to the Big+ model.
Big II Gravity Water Filter
Differently to the two previous designs, the Big II is made of BVA and PVC-free plastic. The opaque design makes it easy to tell when the top tank needs filling up.
Its 2.5 gallon capacity is designed for a household of two to four people, meaning it serves more than the Traveler+ does. And it is considerably lighter, weighing only 4lbs compared to the 9lb Traveler+ version.
So if you would like your water filter to also be transportable for use on short trips, this may be the best ProOne version for you.
Scout II Portable Water Filter
The smallest and most compact model holds 1.5 liters, or about 0.4 gallons. It is a great camping or backpacking water filter. Its lightweight design makes it perfect for taking on short trips, and much lighter than carrying gallons of pre-filtered water with you.
The filtration speed is not published, but its design seems to provide well for a one-person trip or household if need be.
A completely different design, the Lifestraw range of products are incredibly affordable. Many models come in at under $100. Hence it has become one of the most used water filters around the world.
Made from BPA free plastic, the small water filters can be wall mounted for use indoors or outdoors. They are also very lightweight, at only 1.2lbs each.
Some are designed as backpacking water filters, small enough to travel with you. Others can serve a whole community for over four years. But the Lifestraw Family model is the most off-grid-friendly solution.
It has a lifespan of just under 5,000 gallons and a maximum flow rate of about 3 gallons per hour. Its actual raw water capacity is not listed.
Significantly, it cannot store fresh water. Once water is cleaned, consumption is immediate. Depending on your day to day situation, this filtering-on-demand design may be too inconvenient for you.
It removes over 99% of bacteria, viruses, parasites, microplastics, and other contaminants. This meets the NSF/ANSI P231 drinking water standards for these contaminants.
However, it isn't designed to remove chemicals. If pharmaceuticals, pesticides, or heavy metals are a concern, this filter wouldn't be up to the job.
While this is an affordable choice, it’s recommended for humanitarian or emergency usage. Long term, it may not be the best solution for off-grid living.
Even their other models are designed for usage while traveling, such as camping, rather than a permanent source of drinking water in the home. However if your budget is very tight, it may be an option worth considering.
Platypus manufacture multiple filtration systems, but their GravityWorks Water Filter System is what interests us.
These models come in three sizes – 6, 4, and 2 liters, or 1.5, 1, and half a gallon. These small sizes limit their scope in providing fresh drinking water for a larger household. For one or two people though, this may be enough.
Like the Lifestraw system, Platypus GravityWorks is a wall mounted plastic solution, rather than countertop stainless steel. It is essentially two plastic bags – one for raw water and one for fresh. While it is designed for use on outdoor trips, it absolutely could work in a home.
Due to its simple design, the system is the most lightweight on our list, at just 11.5 oz.
Unlike Lifestraw, the GravityWorks system is able to store fresh water for later consumption, making it more convenient. It also works astonishingly fast, producing up to 27 gallons per hour. That’s because its microfilter uses hollow fibers to filter water faster than most.
However its lifespan is shorter, coming in at just 400 gallons before the filters need replacing.
As for the filter itself, it meets EPA and NSF guidelines for bacteria and protozoa removal, both at over 99%. This is often considered safe enough for cleaning running water such as from a river. If your water source is less fresh than that, additional filtration is recommended.
In essence, it does the job and is affordable. However its filter quality cannot compare to that of bigger players like Alexapure and Berkey. As with all backpacking water filters, it's a non-permanent design that would be difficult to use in a home.
However if it's your only option, either for budget or convenience reasons, it will work just fine.
What is the Best Gravity Water Filter?
Price, speed, and effectiveness are all important when deciding which is the best gravity water filter for you.
Ultimately, each model meets government standards for safe drinking water. But as for which is the best off grid water filter, we would say Berkey.
The gravity filters come in so many sizes that they'll meet any household's needs. Especially noteworthy are their filtration speeds, allowing you to get more water from smaller models.
If you'd like to know more about Berkey filters, check out our product list, or phone our number at the top of the page!