I have the new "Electro Scan" unit, which replaces the older "Lectra San". I think the new name is pretty dorky, but the machine itself hasn't given me a whole lot of trouble. (It gave me a little trouble, which I'll get to.)
The 60 amp fuse makes it sound like a lot of power, but it only runs for 2.5 minutes and it doesn't draw peak power the whole time. My amp-hour meter reading changes by 1 to 2 amp-hours with each flush cycle. If you imagine 2 people each flushing
5 times a day, call it 20 amp-hours. On some boats, that is a tremendous amount of energy, but on my boat that isn't that big a deal.
I don't recall
the specs for the plates, but if you assume plates at NZ$700 last for 3000 flushes, that is NZ$0.23 per flush.
I worked out that it would be about the same cost to get pumpouts for about 5 years as to install one, but since I got it, I don't miss making regular trips to the pumpout station. Maryland
has a program to subsidize marinas
that install a pumpout; in return for the grant, they can only charge US$5 for a pumpout. The problem is, quite a number of them don't work on any given day. Before the lectra san, I would never set off for the pumpout station before calling around to find one that was working.
In the northern Chesapeake, we have to add salt to the flush water. They sell various expensive kits that add salt with varying degrees of automation, but the dealer I bought it from suggested that I just dump dry salt directly into the toilet bowl. I use a little over 1/4 US cup (~= 60 ml) per flush, which is good for 20 - 25 pump strokes on the Jabsco head
. We keep a cannister of salt and a measuring cup near the head
I like that the "chemical" needed is available very cheaply in every grocery store.
Now and then, you have to flush a solution of muriatic (i.e. hydrochloric) acid in water through the system to clean it out. I think this is every 6 months, but check the documentation
to be sure. Also, you should flush enough clean water to clear the system if you will leave it unused for more than several days.
Problems I had:
1. The controller board is coated in epoxy
to keep water off the circuitry. On my unit, the epoxy
got on some of the connectors, which led the unit to detect a fault after some time. Raritan
said this was a known problem that they thought was fixed. It is possible that the unit I bought was in stock at the dealer for some time. I bought it just under a year ago, so I would hope this problem is solved
2. After 6 months, it developed a tiny leak around the seal where one of the motor
shafts entered the unit. It leaked just a few drops with each flush -- just enough to wipe up, not a big thing. Raritan sent me a new seal under warranty, but I had to disassemble the entire unit to replace the seal. That involves removing 18 screws with lock nuts. It's tedious, but now that I've done it twice (once to replace the seal, once before we realized the controller was faulty), I have figured it out pretty well. I now keep a box of that size lock nuts on board, since you don't reuse them. I also replaced the philips screws with hex heads so I can use various wrenches.
Disassembling the unit is not nearly as stinky a process as you might expect, though I wouldn't say it is fun. Much of the liquid in the tank has already been treated. It is definitely a task to do outside near a water hose.
Other than these two problems, I haven't had any difficulty with it. I would definitely install one again if I had to move to a different liveaboard
b.t.w. Now we have one head with a lectra san and the other with just a holding tank
. We don't use the other, but we still pump a little bit of tap water through it now and then to keep the water in the bottom of the bowl from getting smelly.