We have that Spectra, but without the electronic control. I use the simple manual control system, since I would rather be the "brain" myself, and since the more complex something is,......well, you know the rest.
We use our watermaker
more than most. As a charter
boat, when on charter
we make 150 - 220 gallons per day. So, bear in mind that we rack up hours more quickly than most.
I clean or change filters every week of charter. Our pump head
needs to be rebuilt each year; Spectra has a good procedure for this, and for a reasonable price
. The big Leeson pump motor
is a horse....no worries, there. The Clark pump has had to be repaired/rebuilt maybe every three years, which is probably reasonable but more frequently than I would have thought. Again, there is a good procedure. I change the membrane about every four years.
With regard to these replacement intervals, bear in mind that we use our Spectra for many times more hours per year than would cruisers. About the only thing that would not be affected by this would be the membrane, which likes to be used.
Spectra has always been extremely helpful with technical support and has a very imformative website. I get parts
overnight from Spectra in California
to the BVI, via FedEx. Interestingly, FedEx firmly insists that delivery
time is three days. But, in reality, it has taken two days twice, and one day every other time.
Since I have maintained various watermakers, often in remote
spots, for over twenty years, I do my own work. For a number of years, there was no Spectra rep in the BVI, anyway, but there is now a good one, Lincoln Ramsarram of Aqua Doc Marine
at Nanny Cay.
It is always a good thing to become a good friend of any watermaker
. The technology is not complex, and it is easy to learn. A watermaker will definitely need maintenance
, but, IMHO it is more than worth it.
As a final note, sizing your watermaker is a blend of decisions. Too big, and you won't use it often or long enough. Too small, and production may take too long, particularly if you are in clean water
only intermittently. A/C power allows bigger units to be used (but see caveat above). On the other hand, if the generator
goes out you are stuck. DC power limits the size of the unit according to your charging
capabilities and battery
capacity. On the other hand, you can charge your batteries from a whole range of sources, which is valuable redundancy. My vote, in my application, was to get the largest DC watermaker that could be handled by our electrical system
, i.e. 400 GPD, and I have never regretted that decision. If you can get by on less, the smaller Bodine ( I think that was what it was called, but I am not completely sure) pump motor
is very quiet and a bit more efficient, but much less durable. Still, if your use is much less intense, it is a decent choice, although I, personally, would separate it from the module it is mounted on. Otherwise, changing brushes
- and you will change the brushes
- is a bitch.
Our watermaker does, in fact, make 400 gallons per day, and I can run it overnight off our battery
bank of 900 AH flooded golf car batteries. It makes more than that at charging
voltages, and when various components (primarily the pump head) are new. Eventually, production does drop below the 400 GPD mark as things age. I would say that our average power consumption
has been around 1.4 - 1.5 gallons of product water
per amp hour used. The smaller units, driven by the Bodine (?) pump motor, are even more efficient, approaching 1.3 or even 1 gallon per amp hour, but the pump is less durable and robust.
You can divide watermakers into two groups. There are those which have no "energy recovery" system, and are generally driven by Cat pumps. These pumps are in use all over the world for many different things, and are relatively inexpensive and very reliable. Then, there are watermakers which do have some sort of "energy recovery" system. These tend to use proprietary pumps and pressure intensifiers, which are more complex, expensive, and (somewhat) less durable. However, the pay off can be efficiencies that are as much as ten times greater than the systems without energy recovery. And, my observations aboard our sailing charter boat, working among a group of maybe 70 other charter boats, is that the Spectra may not need much more attention than the simpler systems. And, it is way more efficient. So, again for our particular application, buying
a Spectra watermaker with its proprietary energy recovery system was a no-brainer. I do think that the electronic controls introduce another potential trouble spot, however. Most things like that attempt to make things fool-proof, but are optimized for the masses and not an individual use situation. I always prefer to learn the issues, be responsible for the operation, and be "the fool", but not be foolish. That way, I can minimize complexity and optimize things for my application. Others may prefer to be more out of the loop, but generally pay for it in the end.
My final comment would be to re-emphasize that you become fully acquainted with how watermakers, in general, and yours, in particular, work.