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Old 09-03-2010, 00:13   #1
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Need Help Selecting a Watermaker

We are considering getting a watermaker and are undecided which one to go for. Can Anyone help with comments on the Sea Recovery Aqua Mini Whisper 170 , and the HP UC (High Pressure Ultra Compact) British one which runs on 12V.
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Old 12-03-2010, 21:09   #2
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Have U considered the 12V Echotec?

I installed an Echotec watermaker made in Trinidad by a Canadian company. It runs off 12 V & produces up to 50l/hr. It is not as efficient as a spectra but was cheaper and all parts are easily obtainable from commercial pump / filter sellers. The Spectra parts are much more expensive. The after sales service here in Oz was great and they were very helpful with installation advice. I can send you photos of my amateur modular installation if you are interested.
ECHOTec. Marine Watermakers*- DC Watermakers for Yachts*12 or 24 Volt*(Modular)
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Old 13-03-2010, 00:10   #3
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Hi Paul

Have not heard of Echotec, but would be very interested indeed in seeing your installation. our email address is cherryyarrow@gmail.com

Happy sailing
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Old 13-03-2010, 06:50   #4
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Watermakers.....

Rainbow Gypsy,
There is a wealth of knowledge out there about watermakers.....
And, like anchors, there's a lot of strong opinions as well.....

Whether or not you decide to install a watermaker, should be your decision......but if you do decide to install one, please understand that what watermaker you choose WILL make the difference between loving it or cursing it.......
The choice needs to be based on your application, cruising locales, quality of life issues, water capacity, ability to repair systems, amount of money to spend vs. amount of "hassle-free" watermaker use, etc. etc. etc.....And especially your on-board energy system.....solar, wind, water gen, etc.....(This is SO important, that I should make it stand out...)
Having adequate renewable energy (solar, etc.) on board is the real determiner for whether the particular cruiser is able to fully and easily use/emjoy their watermaker, or not......
(read this entire thread and you'll get a fairly good gist of the importance of this issue... http://forum.ssca.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=10706 )
Bottom line, YOUR choice will be based on YOUR specific application....

Have a look at the articles that I wrote, and that Jack wrote, and you'll see most of the many variables and be able to track our decision making processes.......and these should help you along your way.....(coming from guys who've cruised/voyages both with and without a watermaker....as well as our complete installation photos, etc...I think you'll enjoy...)


Here's a recent post of mine on 12 volt watermakers, from the SSCA Disc. Boards......(have a look there for a LOT of info, as well as the read over the SSCA Equipment Survey..... http://forum.ssca.org/phpBB3/ )


Quote:
You could've picked a less controversial subject, like anchors...

1) Seriously, I have a Spectra Ventura MPC-5000 on board.....and it's been just about problem-free for the 3 years (~ 600 hours) since installing it.....
It works great, makes about 7 gals/hour, using 8 amps@12vdc.....and makes all the water we need (typically 3 - 4 on board, with daily showers, etc...), with NO need to run the engine, etc...(I have a large solar array)
Even though I do have a reliable watermaker, my 47' sloop carries (factory standard equipped) 212 gallons of fresh water in 5 tanks (one tank is just 16 gals, but the rest are nice sized), since I voyage long distances / across oceans and wish to always have enough water should I have a watermaker failure....

Here's a detailed article (with lots of photos) describing my watermaker choice and installation....

http://www.c470.jerodisys.com/470pix/47061.htm


And, here's another very nice (and better written) article about watermaker choice and installation....Jack is a better writer than I am, but I've got more pictures...

http://www.svsarah.com/Whoosh/WhooshPac ... Maker.html



2) If you don't mind a few pieces of advice:
a) make your choice of watermaker and its size/capacity, based on YOUR needs and application, not mine or someone else's....
b) size your watermaker so you'll USE it regularly (at least every 4-5 days).....the #1 cause for watermaker troubles appears to be lack of use....
c) understand that making water uses energy (electricity, solar power, wind power, diesel fuel, etc.) and HOW you provide that energy is as important a factor in choosing a watermaker than most everything else.....
(See article and photos of my solar array installation here... http://www.c470.jerodisys.com/470pix/47004.htm )
d) Read over the SSCA Equipment Survey, there's a lot of watemaker info there.....but be aware some of the "problems" reported may be from older generation units, so you'll need to read carefully....


3) If you're looking for suggestions.....
I love my Spectra, and recommend it highly....
And, I also hear good things about Village Marine...


I hope this helps...

John
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Old 13-03-2010, 10:39   #5
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I just want to underscore John's point about energy consumption. Even with one of the most power efficient watermakers out there (ours is a Spectra Newport, 16 gph, 12 v), they still use a lot of electricity. Just the nature of the beasts.

It is a very good idea to spec out your entire energy budget with the watermaker, together. Lots of solar/wind is very helpful, or a genset.

We don't have a lot of solar (want to change that), but we do have a genset, so we tended to try and do all our power hungry stuff at the same time. Charge batteries, make water, use microwave, cool the boat down (if needed), etc. simultaneously in order to get the most out of the genset running time.

Sizing your output is also important. Keep in mind that you're going to use 5 to 6 gallons to flush the watermaker when you're done, so that is "wasted" run time, but necessary. The point is that a smaller unit may actually be less efficient even though it uses less power. For us, (a cruising couple that wasn't miserly) the 16 gph unit was just about right. With running it for 4 hours every 2 or 3 days while recharging batteries, that did us just about right.

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Old 16-03-2010, 03:32   #6
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If you don't have a genset onboard or want to use less amps per gallon of water produced, it would be wiser to go for Sea Recovery Ultra Whisper series watermakers.

They are really energy efficient and depending on the place you're going to install you can go for a compact version or a modular version.
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Old 16-03-2010, 04:30   #7
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There are basically three types of watermakers

Gen 1...pump plus membrane housing (eg Echotec)...if you have an engine driven pump, no problem..12VDC and you'll be pulling BIG amps to produce not much water

Gen 2...pump plus membrane housing with reject recovery (eg Katadyn)...much less current draw due to increased efficiency form recovered watse pressure...but still quite hungry on Amps

Gen 3... pump with fluid amplifier plus membrane housing with reject recovery (eg Spectra / Schenker) ...the most efficeint system...low current low pressure pump drives water to a fluid amplifier which increases the pressure need to produce the clean water.

Prices go the same way...Gen 1 low price, Gen 3 highest price.

I have a Schenker that produces 35 l/hr for a current draw of 8 Amps...I run it when the engine is running charging the batteries and cooling the fridge... 35 l/hr is plenty for us...shower every day..I even wash the spray dodger with fresh water !

If you go the Gen 1 route with a DC pump...you'd better have a lot of battery power and a lot of recharge capability....in my mind its just not worth it.

People say Gen 1 is best because its simple and parts are available...what parts do you think you'll need ?...I have spare filters, cleaning solutions and an O-ring kit for my Schenker and I have had zero problems so far...just change the filters and an occasional clean....I pickle it when we leave the boat, but when aboard run it every day with an auto-wash cycle at the end (uses 4-5 litres of fresh water) to keep it clean.

Its wonderful... I love it !
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Old 16-03-2010, 05:50   #8
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Look around the site

Take a look around the site. This topic has been discussed quite a bit. We loved ours and it worked flawlessly for 3 years straight.

Makai Carries an SK 6-8gph 12 volt direct drive model and we loved it. About 20 amp/hr wasn't much of an issue if as mentioned above you size your charging system correctly.

The second is the schedule. We ran our WM almost every day for about an hour around lunch time. It was a time when our solar/wind gen completely charged the bank and excess charge was being dumped. This does two things. It keeps the water level from getting low and then having to run the WM for hours to refill the tank and it exercised the WM. WM liked to be run often for best longevity.

Not to be little some of the later more sophisticated models like the spectra, just be aware that if a problem occurs it can be a problem getting parts and service. We had many a cruising friend stuck in port for months trying to get their units working to some or full capacity. If you are very tight on the amps and don't or can't expand the charging then don't worry so much about the amps.
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Old 16-03-2010, 11:11   #9
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Rainbow gypsy,
My wife and I are in pretty much the same situation and after researching watermakers, we decided on the Spectra Ventura because from its specs it seems the most efficient. As has been pointed out the 12v watermakers eat power but our solar array and wind gen will keep it fed. The drawback of the Spectra is its very high price.
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Old 16-03-2010, 12:41   #10
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I'm a fan (also a dealer for) Village Marine Tech. 160 gal/day, 13 amps (that's what's on our boat). Also 200 gal/day, 18 amps. NO computers, just basic, simple and reliable systems, value priced. We're in the Bahamas and sailing around with several boats. One has a new Spectra Catalina. Has yet to run more than two or three days without a problem. 3 salinity probes so far...borrows my TDS meter so he can check output. It makes 18 gal/hr (when it works). He's had to have more pre-filters aired in ($200+$$). For some reason his become fouled. Same water we use and ours was changed in Nov. 09. I admire the Clark pump in his, but IMHO anything that is computer controlled on a sailboat is destined to fail...usually at the worst possible time/place.
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Old 16-03-2010, 12:43   #11
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I've got a Katadyn 160 and get the rated output on about 18-20 amps. Seems to start at 20 and settle down to around 18. Makes great water. The PO had it installed. Given the opportunity to do it myself I don't think I would have gone with a 12 Volt unit. My solar cells are great if I'm not using much power, but if I do a 6 hour run on my water maker it puts me quite a bit in the hole, so I tend to run it only when the engine's running. When I'm Sailing, Murphey's law seems to require that the sail is between the sun and my solar panels or at least half of them. If I'm running the autopilot, and radar I definitely in the hole on power when this happens. If I add the water maker to it then I'm seriously in the hole, so I tend to run it when the engines are running or the genny is running. The issue is that a 40 gallon water making session requires over 6 hours when you account for backflush losses etc. I think it would have been more efficient to buy a 110 volt unit that has an output in the 20 gallon per hour range or better. My genny can easily handle a battery recharge and a 1 horse motor at the same time. I could even run it off the inverter if my engines are running. This would allow me to do a 40 gallon water run in about 2 hours. About the same time it takes to top off the batteries after a cloudy couple of days. Since I have a diesel genny, the book recommends a load of at least 65%. Battery charging only puts on about 25%, so the additional load of the watermaker would be beneficial to the life of my genny.
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Old 16-03-2010, 13:08   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Albro359 View Post
There are basically three types of watermakers

Gen 1...pump plus membrane housing (eg Echotec)...if you have an engine driven pump, no problem..12VDC and you'll be pulling BIG amps to produce not much water

Gen 2...pump plus membrane housing with reject recovery (eg Katadyn)...much less current draw due to increased efficiency form recovered watse pressure...but still quite hungry on Amps
Are you sure? from the manufacturers websites to make 100 litres of water using 12 volts requires:

Katadyn 40E, 70 amps
Katadyn 80E, 62 amps
Katadyn 160E, 70 amps
Echo Tec 200, 62 amps
Spectra 200, 32 amps

So whilst the Spectra easily uses less amps but a much higher purchase price, the Gen 1 and 2 are very close together.

Pete
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Old 16-03-2010, 13:54   #13
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I suspect these are amphours not amps draw. My Katadyn 160 draws about 18-20 amps. 100 Liters is about a four hour run or about 72 amp hours. They of course don't account for backflush losses in their calculations. Figure you loose about a half hour of output for flushing.
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Old 16-03-2010, 14:21   #14
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One that looks like a good balance between cost and current draw is the Little Wonder LW200.

33 litres (8.3 gal) per hour at 17 amps, so 51 amp/hours per 100 litres. Cost in Aus around Au $6500. The price includes the low pressure pump too, which many don't.
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Old 16-03-2010, 15:18   #15
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Watermaker details....

I've already posted quite a bit on this, but thought I should clarify a few things which aren't talked about much, but I consider important...

While "sailing now" mentioned this, I'd like to clarify/emphasize it....
Quote:
I admire the Clark pump in his, but IMHO anything that is computer controlled on a sailboat is destined to fail...usually at the worst possible time/place.
1) I agree completely about computer-controlled devices being subject to failure.....and this fact applies to so much on-board these days, including GPS, Radar, Chartplotters, even stereos, etc.....that we shouldn't be surprised that it applies to watermakers as well....
2) BUT, we should all understand that the "Clark Pump" is NOT "computer-controlled", does NOT need a computer to work, and while it is expensive to replace (if ever needed) it is VERY reliable.....
3) The "computer" that controls the time of operation, controls the automatic flush, monitors the flow and salinity, and switches the product water from "reject" to the tank, etc. is NOT needed to run the watermaker.....does not run the Clark pump, feed pump, etc. and this "computer" is NOT needed to make water.....
In my opinion this is a misunderstood fact reguading Spectra watermakers and it is so very important to understand, that I should really emphasize it.....
You can operate a Spectra watermaker without its "computer" (MPC control), and they DO make/sell watermakers that do NOT even have a "computer".....
Please understand that nobody want to spend $$$ on a MPC control and then not be able to use it, but the simple fact is that with the flip of one switch you can be making water (in manual mode) and then figure out what was wrong with the control....
This is not well understood by those out looking at watermakers, and is sometimes overlooked by those selling competing brands.....
But, it is a fact....you do NOT need the computer to make water.....

In my set-up, if I needed to make water and had an MPC-5000 failure, I'd flick my "test/tank" valve to test and then switch the "auto/manual" switch to manual, and I'd be making water.....after a few minutes I'd test the product water and if it met my desired quality (either by taste or a pocket-sized TDS meter), I'd flick the valve to "tank", and be filling my tanks with fresh water.....
It's is simple as that......
The "computer" (MPC-5000) is nice to have (and i really love mine), but should it (or other electronics) fail, you can still make water....

Now, in my personal experience, in over 3 years and 12,000+ miles offshore with my Spectra Ventura MPC-5000, I've never had a problem with the MPC-5000 "computer" at all.....
(however, I did have a minor problem (or two) with my watermaker, covered under warranty, which I'll explain below....)



Quote:
Originally Posted by sailing now View Post
I'm a fan (also a dealer for) Village Marine Tech. 160 gal/day, 13 amps (that's what's on our boat). Also 200 gal/day, 18 amps. NO computers, just basic, simple and reliable systems, value priced. We're in the Bahamas and sailing around with several boats. One has a new Spectra Catalina. Has yet to run more than two or three days without a problem. 3 salinity probes so far...borrows my TDS meter so he can check output. It makes 18 gal/hr (when it works). He's had to have more pre-filters aired in ($200+$$). For some reason his become fouled. Same water we use and ours was changed in Nov. 09. I admire the Clark pump in his, but IMHO anything that is computer controlled on a sailboat is destined to fail...usually at the worst possible time/place.
4) I won't try to quibble about this guys Spectra Catalina, but I DO know about salinity probe failures.....since I've had them as well....
a) The fact is that Spectra had a bad run of salinity probes, and notified their customers about this a couple years ago.....they thought they had it fixed with the new batch, but didn't and re-did them again last year....
This was covered under warranty, including the service call / labor to install the new probe and update the MPC software.....(or if you were out in the world somewhere, they sent a new probe and E-PROM chip, to you with instructions, or I believe they refered you to a "roving dealer"....)
Let me state that again.....it was covered under warranty, meaning it was FREE.....no matter how old you unit was.....if it had a bad salinity probe, the replacement and service call was FREE....

Yes, I would've preferred to not have had a failure at all....especially after spending big bucks on a watermaker.....but, nothing is perfect in this world, and the fact that Spectra stepped-up, admited the problem, and provided the solution for free, seems to be a fairly rare event these days....and I, for one, admire them for it......

b) Like the MPC-5000 computer itself, you can still make water without a working salinity probe, and use all the automatic features of the MPC as well....
Simply select "bypass" or "cancel" (can't remember the exact wording from memory) under the salinity probe alarm page.....and the unit will make water and do flushes, etc.....but you'll need to test the product water yourself, before putting into your tanks.....a very easy thing to do, in most installs (flicking a valve, after verifying the water quality)...

c) Now if this guy in the Bahamas actually has a new Spectra Catalina, I suspect that was "old stock", since this salinity-probe problem was solved last year.....perhaps his dealer didn't use the new probe (and new software)......
But, all it takes is an e-mail or phone call to Spectra, and he'll have his salinity probe problem sorted out....

d) As for his pre-filters?????
The question needs to be asked if the filters are in fact being fouled more often???? Or is it the MPC controller that is showing a "change pre-filter" message????
If it is the former (actual filter fouling/clogging) then it's possible there is something different in his locale or on his boat......such as a sink or head drain / discharge that is affecting his prefilters....or perhaps the raw water intake for his watermaker isn't very deep below the surface and he's picking up a good deal of floating debris that he shouldn't be......
The position on board, and the depth of, the raw water intake is something that is important for ALL watermakers, and is explained in the installation materials fairly well......
So, perhaps whoever installed this guy's unit wasn't aware or didn't care????

But, if the MPC-5000 is showing "change pre-filter", and the filters are NOT sufficiently dirty, then it is likely that one of the pressure sensors on the top of the prefilter modules is causing this....
As for the exact cause of this.....off the top of my head, here are some ideas....
Either a bad sensor itself (very unlikely on a "new" unit), a "scaled" sensor (also unlikely on a "new" unit, but possible if they've made water in some dirty harbors, etc...), or most likely a loose or corroded electrical connection on one (or both) pressure sensors.....


Now, please understand I'm NOT a watermaker dealer / installer......I'm a sailor / voyager......
So, if I can figure this out (from memory), from 200 miles away from my own boat and my own Spectra Ventura MPC-5000, I cannot understand how anyone who sells/installs watermakers wouldn't know all of this....and this is why I suspect that this guy with the new Spectra Catalina bought a "new old stock" unit, did NOT get a new version salinity probe and software update, and did the install himself without taking into account the many variables in watermaker installation, etc....


But, I just could not let the brief post from "sailing now" stand as-is, without some clarification......


If you wish to see my article (and photos) about watermaker choices and my installation.....have a look here...
Watermaker

And Jack's wonderful article on his watermaker choice and installation here...
Whoosh - Watermaker

Also see my article (and photos) on energy and solar panels, and my installation here...
Solar Panels


I hope this helps some of you out there....
John
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