How the Brita Filter Indicator Works: Explained in Plain English

Do you have a Brita water filter? If so, you’re probably familiar with the little indicator on the top that tells you when it’s time to change the filter. But how do those little blinking lights work, anyway?

Brita filter indicators keep track of how much capacity the filter has left by tracking how long it has been in use or how much water it has treated. They estimate the volume of water filtered by either counting the number of times the lid is opened or counting the number of times the pitcher is tipped to pour some water. Either of these methods provides an accurate and simple way to keep track of when it’s time to replace the filter.

In this blog post, we’ll explain how the Brita filter indicator works and whether or not it’s a reliable way to keep track of your filter’s performance.

Why Your Brita Filter Needs to Be ReplacedBrita pitcher filter

Brita filters use activated carbon and ion exchange (IX) resin to remove chlorine, particulates, and a few other contaminants from your water. The filter media can only hold so much of the impurities that are in your water. Once it reaches a certain point, it can’t remove additional contaminants and must be replaced.

You might be thinking, “Why can’t I just rinse the filter off and start using it again?” Because Brita filters can’t be washed or reused. That’s why you have to replace them every 4 months. Your filter’s service life depends on the water quality at your house and the amount of water you use.

The activated carbon and the IX resin in a Brita filter have a service life of about 4 or 5 months. After that, they lose their ability to remove these impurities. When your water begins to taste or smell strange, it’s time to replace the filter.

How long does a Brita filter last

The life of a Brita filter is dependent on two factors:

  1. the total volume of water treated
  2. the contaminant concentration

Given the cost limitations of a pitcher filter, there is really no way for Brita to measure these two parameters. Instead, they estimate how much capacity the carbon and IX resin have left using one of two methods:

  1. the time the filter has been in service
  2. the volume of water treated

Filter working service life

Every Brita filter has a recommended service life that is based on the volume of water treated or the time of service. The table below provides a summary of all Brita filters and their recommended duty.

Model Volume of Water Time
Longlast+ 120 gallons 6 months
Longlast 100 gallons 4 months
Standard Brita pitcher filter 100 gallons 4 months
Faucet filter 100 gallons 4 months

How Do the Brita Filter Indicators Work

The filter indicators on Brita filters have to estimate how much service life the filter has left. Unfortunately, Brita doesn’t measure the flow rate or the level of contamination in your water.

Instead, the filter indicators use an algorithm to estimate the remaining filter capacity using one of two parameters:

  1. time the filter has been in service
  2. the volume of water the filter has processed

Method 1 – time in service

Using the time in service method to estimate the filter life is easy. The indicator just keeps track of time after you install a new filter in the pitcher. It knows when you replace the filter because it has you press a button on the panel.

If you are using a standard filter, Brita Water recommends replacing it after 4 months of use. The filter indicator simply starts a timer when you install the filter and then lets you know when 4 months have passed.

Do you really need a digital timer to keep track of this? You could just make a note on your calendar to remind you it’s time to replace the Brita filter.

Method 2 – volume of water treated

The second method compares the volume of water treated with the filter’s service life. Brita doesn’t have a flow meter on their pitchers to measure how much water has been filtered.

So how does the indicator keep track of the water you’ve processed? Brita came up with a very clever (and even simpler) way to estimate the volume.

The filter indicator counts the number of times the lid has been opened and then estimates the volume of water treated based on the capacity of the filter. Brita knows that you pour the same amount of water into your pitcher every time the lid is opened. Each filter holds a specific volume of water. The filter indicator uses this value to calculate how much water was added to the pitcher.

For example, if you have a Champlain water pitcher, it holds 10 cups of water. Every time you open the lid to add water to it, you are adding 10 cups to the pitcher. The filter indicator subtracts 10 cups from the number of gallons the filter can treat.

The filter indicator also needs to know which filter you have – each filter has a maximum volume that it can treat. The Standard and Longlast filters can each treat 100 gallons of water. The Longlast+ filter can treat 120 gallons.

Brita Filter Indicator Explained

The Brita pitcher filter indicator is a small, battery-operated device that is built into the lid. It has a display that indicates the condition of the filter and when it needs to be replaced.

Three different types of filter indicators are available on Brita pitchers and dispensers.:

  1. Pitchers with Max Fill Line
  2. Pitchers without Max Fill Line
  3. Sticker filter indicators

1 – Max Fill Line IndicatorsBrita filter indicator

This type of filter indicator works by keeping track of how many time the lid is opened to fill the pitcher reservoir. It is activated when the lid is opened for 5 to 8 seconds.

Every time you open the lid, the controller knows that you have added water to the reservoir. The controller knows the capacity of your pitcher’s reservoir, and it subtracts this volume from the capacity of the filter. Once you have filtered the maximum volume for your filter, the indicator will flash to let you know it’s time to replace the filter.

This filter has two indicator lights to let you know that status of your filter. Here is how you read the filter indicator:

  • Green light: blinks (next to the filter you’ve selected) to indicate it is still good.
  • Red light: blinks to indicate the filter should be replaced.

2 – Brita pitcher filters without Max Fill Line Indicators or Brita LightBrita filter indicator

If your pitcher does not have a max fill line indicator, it keeps track of the volume of water you’ve treated in a slightly different way. It counts the number of times you pour water from the pitcher. It knows this because it has an internal switch that is activated every time the pitcher is tipped.

The filter indicator assumes that you pour 8-ounces each time. While this is not true, it is close enough. Brita has found that, over time, this method is accurate enough to give you an indication of when your filter needs to be replaced.

This filter has three indicator lights to let you know that status of your filter. Here is how you read the filter indicator:

  • Green light: blinks to let you know the filter is good and fit to use.
  • Yellow light: blinks to let you know the filter should be changed soon.
  • Red light: blinks to indicate the filter should be replaced.

3 – Sticker filtration indicators

Filters with sticker indicators let you know when it’s time to replace your filter. This type of indicator uses the time the filter has been in service to determine when it should be replaced.

Brita estimates the condition of your filter based on the following:

  • Pitcher filters: 11 glasses of water per day
  • Water faucet filters: 11 glasses of water per day
  • Premium filtering water bottles: 64 ounces per day

4 – Pitcher filters without indicators

If you have an older filter, it may not have an indicator. In this case, Brita has a service that will send you an email when it’s time to replace you filter.

You can sign up for their service here.

Which Brita filter pitchers have filter indicators

Brita makes 12 different pitcher filters that have capacities ranging from 6 to 12 cups. Each pitcher has a filter indicator to let you know when it’s time to replace the filter.

Depending on which pitcher filter you purchase, your filter may have any of the three types of filter indicators Brita makes. The following table lists the pitcher filters that have each type of indicator:

Pitcher model Capacity Filter Indicator Type
Cascade Stream Water Pitcher 12-cup Electronic
Champlain Water Pitcher 10-cup Electronic
Champlain Water Pitcher 10-cup SmartLight
Huron Water Pitcher 10-cup SmartLight
Lake Water Pitcher 10-cup Electronic
Metro Pitcher 6-cup Electronic
Monterey Water Pitcher 10-cup Electronic
Pacifica Water Pitcher 10-cup Electronic
Rapids Stream Water Pitcher 10-cup Electronic
SoHo Water Pitcher 6-cup Electronic
Space Saver Water Pitcher 6-cup Electronic
Tahoe Water Pitcher 10-cup SmartLight
Wave Water Pitcher 10-cup Electronic
Basic Water Filter Faucet System 100 gallons Electronic
Complete Water Filter Faucet System 100 gallons Electronic
Ultramax Water Dispenser 27-cups Electronic
Ultraslim Stream Water Dispenser 25-cups SmartLight

Want to learn more about how the indicators on these filters work? Check out this video.

The filter indicators work by getting activated when you open the lid for five to eight seconds. The Longlast filter and Standard filter operate in this manner.

Resetting the Brita Filter Indicator

Every time you replace the filter cartridge, you have to reset the filter indicator. The procedure is really simple. In fact, the Brita filter indicator meter explains how to do it on the display.

Brita water filters come in two filter types – standard filters and longer life filters. You need to know which one you have so that you can set the indicator to the proper setting. Each filter has a different service life that the indicator needs to know.

How to reset the Brita filter indicator

Brita Filter Indicator
The Brita filter indicator has three lights that tell you the status of your filter.

Always reset the filter change indicator after you put in a new filter so that the Filter Change Indicator will continue to work correctly. Here is the two-step process to reset your filter monitor.

Step 1

Press and hold the START button for five seconds. All three filter status lights – green, yellow and red – will blink at the same time.

Step 2

Once all the filter status lights (green, yellow and red) stop blinking, release the START button. The green light will briefly flash to confirm that the filter indicator has been reset.

What the Brita filter indicator lights mean

The filter change indicator on Brita water filters tracks your water usage. The indicator lights on the monitor briefly turn on to show you your progress – this occurs every time you close the lid after filling the reservoir.

This table explains what each indicating light means if it blinks after you fill the pitcher reservoir.

Light status Meaning of indicator light
Green light blinks Filter is good
Yellow light blinks Filter is almost due for replacement
Red light blinks Filter needs to be replaced

Replacing the Brita filter indicator battery

The Brita filter indicator is powered by a small battery. This battery is permanently sealed in the indicator and cannot be replaced.

According to Brita, this battery should last several years before it stops working. You can still use the pitcher, even after the battery dies.

You should consult the Owner’s Guide for the following filters:

  • Brita stream
  • Brita elite
  • Brita faucet filter
  • filter light

How Accurate Is the Brita Indicator

Brita’s filter indicators are only intended to give you a close estimate of the remaining filter service life. The indicator has no relationship to the quality of water or the amount of water that has been filtered in reality.

As we discussed above, the filter indicators don’t measure the volume of water your filter treats. It only approximates it by measuring the number of times you open and close the lid or tip the pitcher to pour some water.

How long do Brita filters work

So, if you open the lid but don’t add water to the pitcher, the indicator will assume the pitcher is filtering water. It will count this as an additional volume of water, even though the filter isn’t being used. This will shorten the usable life of your filter, resulting in a false indication that the filter needs to be replaced.

The same thing can happen if you tip the pitcher but don’t pour any water out. In this case, the indicator will assume that you’ve poured some water and will count it as part of the total volume.

How well does Brita’s filter indicator work

To get an accurate reading from your filter indicator, Brita recommends the following:

  1. When filling your pitcher, be sure to fully open the lid. Make sure to fill the reservoir with water until it reaches the “Max Fill” line.
  2. Unless you are filling the reservoir with water, do not keep the Fill Lid open for longer than 5 seconds. Make sure to fill the tank up to the “Max Fill” line, so you’ll have an accurate measurement. Also, only open the reservoir when adding water.
  3. Refill the reservoir only when it is completely empty.

What Happens if My Brita Water Filter Indicator Malfunctions

The Brita filter has automatic indicators. No matter what model you use, there is no need to manually reactivate or reset the filter when changing it. The red light should turn solid green as soon as possible.

If the red Brita light does not turn green when you replace the filter, or if there are no lights on, something is wrong. Remove the old part and replace it with the new one. For the green light to function properly, replace the new filter. In most cases, this fixes the problem.

If your filter is operating correctly, there is no need to be overly concerned. Simply turning on your light switch and following the directions in this article will allow you to get your lights back up and running.

The Importance of Filter Replacement Schedule

Following the recommended filter replacement schedule is crucial to ensure the effectiveness of your Brita water filter. While Brita filter indicators are helpful in indicating when it’s time to replace the filter, they can sometimes be inaccurate, depending on usage and water quality. Therefore, it’s important to understand the risks of using a saturated filter and how often to replace the filter to maintain the quality of your filtered water.

Using a saturated filter can lead to potential health risks and unpleasant taste in the water. The filter’s effectiveness decreases as it becomes saturated with impurities, which can cause bacteria buildup and clog the filter pores. Moreover, using a saturated filter can also cause mold growth and unpleasant odors in the filter.

The recommended filter replacement schedule for Brita filters is every two months or 40 gallons of water, whichever comes first. However, the lifespan of the filter depends on usage and water quality. In areas with poor water quality, filters may need to be replaced more frequently to maintain the quality of the filtered water.


How often do I need to replace a Brita filter?

The life of a Brita filter varies depending on the water quality, usage and how often the filter is cleaned. The Standard and Longlast filters need to be replaced every 4 months or 100 gallons. The Longlast+ needs to be replaced every 6 months or 120 gallons.

What happens if I don’t replace my  Brita water filters?

If you don’t replace your water filters, they will eventually stop removing impurities from your water. This can lead to poor water taste and small. In some cases, bacteria can begin growing in the filter which may lead to illness.

Can I use my Brita if the filter indicator malfunctions?

The Brita filter indicator is not a critical part of the filter. It is only provided for convenience to let you know when you should replace the filter. If it malfunctions, you can simply estimate the time it has been in service and the volume of water treated. Eventually, you will notice the taste and smell of chlorine are present. At this point, it’s time to replace the filter.

Do PUR filters have a filter indicator?

With a PUR pitcher, you can enjoy up to 40 gallons of clean water. The electronic filter change light will let your know when it’s time for new filters because this device measures how long the current one has been in use! Read my article about how the PUR filter indicator works.

Do ZeroWater filters have a filter indicator?

ZeroWater filters have an indicator that turns red when it is time to replace the filter cartridge. This is similar to the filters Brita offers.

Final Take on the Brita Indicator

The Brita indicator is a helpful tool that takes the guesswork out of when to replace your water filter. They provide a simple and inexpensive way to track how long your filter pitchers have been in use and how much water they have processed. These filter monitors are fairly accurate and extremely simple to use.

By following the simple tips in this article, you can be sure to get accurate readings from your indicator. Now that you know how the Brita filter indicator works, you can be sure to enjoy delicious and healthy drinking water for many months to come. Thanks for reading.

Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.

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