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Old 21-10-2005, 10:38   #1
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Feedback on Watermakers

We bought our bahia 46 cat from a charter company in the Caribbean late last year, and still need to fit it with a few major items. Weather permitting, we'll try to make it to Florida for a shopping spree late next spring.

After receiving such a good feedback on wind generators yesterday, I couldn't resist asking the next "big item" question: what would you recommend for a watermaker.

We have 2 engines, one already drives a frigoboat, but the other one could be fitted to drive a watermaker pump. However, if we could have a reasonnably priced 12V solution, we would consider it favorably.

Our requirements are: around 18GPH and less than $4,000.

A custom installation may be the best and cheapest, but running after all the different parts may take weeks.

Any suggestion, recommendation on off the shelf, home made, supplier, installer (Panama, Honduras, Florida) would be welcome

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Old 21-10-2005, 14:32   #2
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12 volt WM

Take a look at SK water maker or echo marine. We have an SK 12 volt and love it. They are simle, parts can be found anywhere in the world. We know several cruisers with the echo and they are very similar to SK.

4000 might be tough.

I would recommend 12 volt if possible. That way you are not slaved to running your engine just to make water. Some places in the Caribe diesel is 4-5 dollars US a gallon. It also puts a lot of wear and tear to a diesel to run it lightly loaded.
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Old 21-10-2005, 15:49   #3
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Thumbs up

I hadn't heard about SK before reading you and just went checking their website. Looks reasonnable and probably local to where we'll be when we'll buy it, which is great.

Thanks a lot

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Old 21-10-2005, 16:24   #4
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Reasonnably priced 12V solution and watermaker in the same sentence!!!! ROTFLMAO! Okay, that was a good laugh!

Ahh, Seriously. We have a Spectra system. It is an excellent system, with outstanding production to energy cost. The customer service is great, the people are helpful when I have had technical questions. The only thing I can say that is negative is the cost is.... well.... rather outrageous. I like the Spectra folks, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to me to pay them $400 for a membrane when one can get the equivilent from Dow (filmtec) for $170 delivered. The pumps in the lower end models are Shurflo pumps that can be had for $125, Spectra sells them for $350. The good point is that this parts are readily available almost anywhere.

The only part that is REALLY proprietary and I would only get from them is their Clark pump, or hydraulic intensifier. It take low pressure output from the primary pumps that is at about 100psi and increases this pressure up to 700 - 800psi. This is the pressure that is most efficient for saltwater desalination membranes.

I beleive SK, and Livoli use the same approach. It seems like everyone else either uses AC or engine driven pumps. Both of these solutions require significant amounts of fuel to turn generators or an auxillary engine. The DC based systems can run off your wind/solar/Aux generators. A big plus in my mind. I did put some thoughts about my installation in another thread, you might want to view that and some of the other discussions on water makers.

It is definately possible to make your own. http://www.rutuonline.com/html/watermaker.html contains an excellent write-up on doing your own. Definately worth reading, if nothing else, you'll get a better appreciation for what watermakers do, how they do it, and how you can make one that does it.

Good luck.

Keith
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Old 21-10-2005, 16:47   #5
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The Village Marine Tec “Little Wonder” (8 to 16.6 gallons per hour, depending on temperature, salinity and model) is available in several styles:
- framed (LW 160-350),
- modular (LWM 160-200 and NEW 300/350/400),
- vertical framed 160/200.

The framed unit is the most convenient to install: simply connect the hoses, run the power and you’re in business. The modular system is ideal for sailboat applications by allowing the user the freedom to install components where space permits.

FWIW:
We used a Pur "Power-Survivor 35", with great satisfaction, although almost nobody else likes them ...
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Old 22-10-2005, 07:07   #6
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I think you should seriously examine why you need so much capacity. Capacity = $$$$. We do make our own water for drinking and cooking, but our cat carries lots of water in the tanks. With the large deck area, it is easy to catch rain water. Our water fill is on the deck so a little creative damming with wet towels after the rain has rinsed the deck is all that is needed. Even at Bahamas prices you can buy a lot of water before you pay for a large water maker and there is still free water many places.

Our generator runs an hour or two each day and, assuming we are in clean water, we run the water maker during those periods. Ours is a Pur 40E that yields an honest 1.5 gph. It keeps us in drinking water and adds to the tank on periods of motoring or motor sailing.

The unit is reasonably priced and small enough that there are lots of options on installing. Ours is below the sole plate in the galley so we Tee’d into the existing through hulls there avoiding cutting more holes.

Water maker water is not free water. They aren’t cheap, they require energy which is also a precious commodity on a cruising boat, they need pre-filter replacement fairly often, biocide treatment if they are not to be used for long, and list goes on.

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Old 22-10-2005, 09:27   #7
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I don't want to put words into Claire's mouth, but... The Bahia 46 which is 46 feet long and 24 feet wide is a VERY large catamaran. It is definately in what I'd class as the luxury level of cruising boat. The water tanks are normally something over 200 gallons and if it is a charter version, I imagine it has 4 heads and a most impressive galley. I even imagine it has a washer/dryer or will soon have one. The one I looked at was not plumbed for saltwater, it even had a fresh water washdown in the cockpit. Having said all that I would wager that the expectations of those on a boat like that would probably be somewhat beyond having to be concerned about usage and where their next fill is coming from. I imagine they would like a system that would not just replace the water they use for drinking and cooking.

We are on a signifcantly smaller catamaran. When we are cruising, and concerned about usage, the two of use use about 12 or so gallons a day. We know we have a signifcant amount of water so we don't have to scrimp too much. We would llike to be as self sufficeint as possible, therefore we think the watermaker is important. We'd rather not have to be concerned with all the logistics of obtaining water.

So, for us, it is a matter of being able to replace, in a reasonable amount of time, all the water we consume. We selected a Spectra System (380 C) that can produce 17 gallons per hour, 8 gallons per hour with one pump running. With one pump, it takes about 1 amp to generate 1 gallon of water. Spectra is widely acknowledge as the leader in terms of system efficiency. This is a modular system. The installation is spread across 4 distinct areas of our boat. I picked those areas so I could get to the maintenance items of the system with relative ease. I ideally only want to run the system for about 1 - 2 hours a day. I want to run it daily, this helps to minimize membrane maintenance.

It seems like Claire is looking at an appropriately sized system.

Keith
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Old 22-10-2005, 09:35   #8
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I also agree that she is looking at an appropriately sized system. Either a 300 or 400 gal per day system which is 12.5 or 17 gal per hour is about right. Both can be had in 12v I'm just not sure for the price. These size system let's you put back a day's usage for two people in 2 hours or less which is great when you factor in engine running time.

When I shopped, decided on the Sea Recovery Ultra Whisper 300 but it was significantly more than 4K. It was a choice between that and the equivalent Spectra.

Good luck
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Old 22-10-2005, 10:14   #9
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Indeed, we have a washing machine on board: we converted one of the 4 heads into a laundry room. No dryer planned, though, neither any big generator. For now, we think we can live comfortably, the 2 of us, with solar panels and a wind generator.

BTW, we bought a small washer for $135 in St Martin: it washes and spins in 2 different cylinders, and is surprisingly efficient: cleans much better than the coin machines.

The washer is the main reason for needing a watermaker: a full wash takes about 20 gal.

The respond to some earlier message, yes, the bahia 46 is originally big on fresh water usage, but we still have a salt water tap in the galley, and we added a foot pump tap to reduce fresh water waste. The fresh water in the cockpit is actually a rinsing shower on the trasom steps.

We looked at the spectra and like the power/production ratio, but the price is definitely too high.

We think that a home made watermaker should be very possible to build for less than $2000, and are willing to put up a little more for the convenience of not having to look for all the parts separately, and not knowing where to get them. Strygaldwir, thanks a lot for the link.

Cheers,
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Old 22-10-2005, 15:12   #10
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Claire;

I found McMaster-Carr (www.mcmaster.com) is an excellent source for all those parts we have difficulty finding. I got my membrane from American RO (americanro@aol.com, John Watts is great to work with!).

I bought my 380 C system, used for $2k with upgrades and replacements of all the expendable parts, and misc installation parts it came to just arround $2.5k. A WHOLE lot better than the $6k I was originally quoted for the Spectra with MPC. By the way, many folks I have talked to say they would have forgone the MPC, it is about 2k of the 6k price.

My intent was to build my own unit based on Spectra's Clark pump. It is possible to buy a stand alone Clark pump from Spectra and second source all the other necessary components. This solution should result in the functional equivilant of a 300 - 400 Gallon per day system at about half the price of a pre-assembled solution. I guess the question you then have to ask yourself is, "is the hassle, studying and 'finger work' worth the $3k or so you can save?" Even though it was frustrating, I'd not hesitate to put something together myself.

If, after doing some research, you decide you might want to try putting together one yourself, I have some notes that I am putting together which defines the process I was using for acquistion and assembly.

Good Luck



Keith
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Old 22-10-2005, 15:56   #11
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I think a lot of us would be very interested in your watermaker-101.
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Old 23-10-2005, 09:56   #12
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more water is better

We are a 38 foot cat with two us on board. I don't think that you need to re-examine your usage estimates in order to reduce. We decided that we were not going to camp by scrimping on water usage. We shower on passages, dishes, washing machine-laundry, boat washes, etc are to be done with fresh water.

We have a six gph and will be upgrading to a 17-20 shortly.

One of the issues we have is that we don't let the WM run while we are not onboard. This means we are slaved to the boat in order to make water.

We are generally at anchor and have goone weeks with out starting the engine. Solar and now wind maintains our batteries while allowing us to make all of the water we need.

We have even traded water in the Venezuelain outislands for lobster and fish.
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Old 16-12-2005, 19:00   #13
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Cool watermaker

just a heads up on those home built watermakers...there is a fellow in Canada..Brent Swain that has a book out on ORIGAMI steel boats......and he has the plans in his book for building watermaker based around the pump out of a pressure washer....you know that washer that you clean your porch and the side of your house....and clean the bottom of your boat........you might check into that.......
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Old 12-01-2006, 10:16   #14
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Clark pump

Keith,
Why risk getting a clark pump which you have to treat as a black box. I.e cannot open and replace parts as necessary. They are very efficient but as wtih any new technolgy, the energy recovery system is not robust yet. At least I feel that way from reading other posts of Spectra's customers. The efficiency of Clark pump is very tempting but I am going with the cat direct drive plunger pump and an electric motor. Because I can take the cat pump apart and replace parts as necessary. I am still puitting the thing together and will let you know how it works out.
I am shopping around and here are my findings:
cat 2SF15SEEL at EDI just got up in price and its $710 was $675
Leeson DC motor at Electric motor warehouse is $310
SW30-2540 at americanRO is $161
Pressure vessel at pacificRO is $225
Still looking for cheapest flow meters.
Fittings, gauges, and valves I'll get off ebay.

Petar
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Old 11-03-2006, 09:36   #15
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Did you complete your watermaker?

Petar,

Your information sounds very interesting. I was trying to find the proper combination of Cat pump and DC motor, with little guidance.

Have you had good results with the pump and motor you chose? Which motor model did you pick? Any notes on the complete project would be very welcome.

We have just arrived in Florida and plan to stay for about a month to do a lot of refitting on our boat, including the watermaker project.

Thanks
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