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Old 21-05-2019, 20:31   #1
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Market Research - Small watermaker

I have come up with a design for a small watermaker with some cool features that I find appealing to boaters. It would be fantastic to get the feedback from the cruiser community on the level of interest and the price point. Here are the specs:

- Compact design, based on a 2.5" x 14" pressure vessel
- Fresh water output around 2-3 gph @ 15A from a 12V DC supply
- Stainless steel pump and components, all food grade
- Relatively quiet, louder than a fridge but not by much
- One switch operation with digital display of pressure and water tank level
- Integrated safety, i.e. switches off if pressure above normal or salinity high
- Automatic switch on/off when water tank level below a pre-set points

Simple installation but the automatic on/off depending on water tank level will require calibration to the installed analog sensor on the boat. I am still working on an automatic pressure adjustment (so that the watermaker will maintain optimal pressure in different temperature/salinity environments) but that is proving costly. In any case, if done manually such adjustments would be needed rarely (i.e. when you change your sailing area, somewhat similar to magnetic deviation adjustment).

I am aiming to wholesale this product at around $2,000. The basic concept is that I envision watermakers to function as fridges, you set it up, there is one switch on/off/auto and in auto mode, the tank gets refilled automatically the same way the fridge temperature is maintaned automatically. The idea is never to bother with cleaning the membrane but keep it alive through continuous operation and replace ($300 replacement cost) after a long period of non-operation.

Would you buy one?

Thanks,
SV Pizzazz
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Old 21-05-2019, 20:43   #2
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Re: Market Research - Small watermaker

I think it sounds really good. Maybe one problem will be the power consumption. How much are you calculating that it will consume in average? If we assume maybe 15 gallons/24 hrs the it need to run 5ish hour plus cleaning etc. I donít own one now but I understand that most people run their WM when motoring or running a genny.
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Old 21-05-2019, 20:53   #3
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Re: Market Research - Small watermaker

I'm assuming the retail is $3000?

I'm thinking the automatic on/off feature would be less of a draw to those looking at that production volume / price range.

Maintenance issues with pumps would also be a concern? Are you getting to that price point by going cheap on the pump? Anecdotal reports I've heard the cheap DIY models suffer from pump issues.

I don't use much water so that production level is fine but I think I'd be an anomaly in the class of cruisers that would have a water maker.
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Old 21-05-2019, 20:55   #4
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Market Research - Small watermaker

It would only be practical for a live aboard with full time power - which is a very limited market. The other problem I see is the prefilter changes that you would have to make. For weekend sailors like me who donít keep the boat powered during when I am not there, it would kill the membrane too quickly if it werenít flushed.

Also with automatic pressure adjustment seems that should come from adjusting the flow rate for the membrane. That takes into account salinity and temperature.

I think $2000 is way too high for a 2-3 gph unit. We use about 15 gallons per day and that would require 5 plus hours of operation. You can buy a Seawater Pro unit for $2000 with an upgraded pump that will do 21 gph with a 40 inch membrane.
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Old 21-05-2019, 20:58   #5
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Re: Market Research - Small watermaker

It looks interesting..the compact design, apparent quality and price point stick out to me. Big downside is efficiency.. i get about 4 times the efficiency with the Spectra. 15A at 2-3gph on 12v takes it out of the range of practicality on my small boat.. can't power it for long on my solar setup and doesn't allow for much production alongside limited engine usage.

And is you intent that it would not be flushed or pickled? If so, then you wouldn't ever be able to leave the boat for any length of time without needing a new membrane. My understanding is that spare membranes are not easy to carry and store.
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Old 21-05-2019, 21:59   #6
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Re: Market Research - Small watermaker

Yes for that low a gph output I'd want lower DC consumption, having to run for hours every day.

Really bottom line is need a much higher gph output even if ICE needs to be running to do so.
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Old 21-05-2019, 22:46   #7
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Re: Market Research - Small watermaker

A Village Maraine watermaker puts out twice the output, 7gph, at about the same amps. A Spectra Cape Horn puts out 5 times the output, 15gph, at the same amps.
If you plan on motoring alot, then you could certainly make use of the unit. The price is pretty good.
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Old 21-05-2019, 23:21   #8
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Re: Market Research - Small watermaker

First, I really appreciate the comments, thank you. Let me clarify a few points:

- I could may be increase the output with a more efficient motor (cost goes up a little) or a bigger membrane (bulkier). I am targeting 5 AHrs/gallon today or 50 AHrs per day for 10 gallons. The concept is that instead of thinking about when to run the water maker, you leave it up to the electronics/timers to take care of that. You can still run the engine for 1 hour, store 50 AHrs in the batteries and then let the watermaker run when needed. It will be quiet enough.

- I believe I would be able to get close to the Village Marine efficiency with less noise. There is no way I could match Spectra but that is in a different price bracket and it is noisy.

- It could be flushed/pickled if the owner wishes to do so but I am trying to get rid of that complexity. The timers can be set to run for a few minutes every day when the boat is unattended and there are solenoid valves (normally closed) on the salt water input, so it will be safe to leave it unattended.

- I have not decided on the retail price, it depends on the channel and the anticipated volume. My goal is to make water makers as ubiquitous as fridges. There are so many people here in Socal who go to Catalina for a week or so and their main complaints are lack of heat in the spring/fall (think forced air diesel heaters) and running out of water. Few would spring $6-8,000 for a Spectra, since power is not such a big concern or they have portable genny's. The people I talk to do not count amps like we do. They just want to have water.
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Old 21-05-2019, 23:44   #9
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Re: Market Research - Small watermaker

Send me one and I will try it for you under real world circumstances Iím going out 5+weeks soon. Mixed marinas and on the hook. Iíll pay for the expenses
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Old 22-05-2019, 04:13   #10
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Re: Market Research - Small watermaker

do people want to run their watermaker unattended? while in their slip or visiting a marina?
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Old 22-05-2019, 08:10   #11
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Re: Market Research - Small watermaker

There are some new technologies coming out for watermakers. Be sure your product is not obsoleted before you make your investment back.
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Old 22-05-2019, 08:21   #12
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Re: Market Research - Small watermaker

Hey Pizzaz,


I'm in Marina Del Rey and I'd be interested. I have a Village Marine little wonder 250 that produced about 9 GPH but used around 22 amps with boost pump and all. It was also pretty big. It did have two membranes though. Keep me posted or give me a call. Love to come see it.
We just installed a Pur survivor 40 an a friends boat. He is running about 4 amps to produce 1.3 GPH. So his 300 wat solar does keep up with it on a nice day and still throw a bit to the batteries.
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Old 22-05-2019, 08:24   #13
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Re: Market Research - Small watermaker

It sounds interesting to me. Weíre full time on the boat for about 1/2 of each year (sailing northern waters). We use between 2 and 4 gallons each day, so your return rate would be OK. Our solar/wind would keep up with this demand most days.

The amps do seem high vs the output, but this is balanced by the relatively lower price point. So yeah Ö Iím interested.
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Old 22-05-2019, 08:40   #14
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Re: Market Research - Small watermaker

I believe food grade stainless will corrode in seawater, you need a causict resistant material such as 306.
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Old 22-05-2019, 09:26   #15
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Re: Market Research - Small watermaker

What happens when you're anchored in a location where you do not want to make water, perhaps for weeks at a time. There are many South Seas islands you need to go outside the reef to make water. I wouldn't want to make water inside any marina or location that doesn't have a lot of fresh seawater pouring through.
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