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Old 04-11-2008, 20:23   #1
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Water Fixer vs Alternatives

Hi folks...

I am just in the process of upgrading my freshwater system with a 40E watermaker and additional fresh-water filtration, and this has me building a "waterworks" panel with a fairly elaborate valve system (with graphics so it will make sense later) to allow a few variations on the theme: filtering dockwater direct to pressure distribution or the tanks, filtering between tankage and distribution, etc.

Mostly the design is done, but I find myself spending way too much time in the Googlezone trying to get a sense of the best filtration module. The Water Fixer sounds pretty good (5 micron pre, .5 micron carbon, then UV), and I spoke with the fellow today - he was helpful and friendly. All good. I'm not quite sure how standard the replacement filters are, so that remains a question, but it sounds from webbish scuttlebut like there are mostly happy users out there. I do get the sense there are more modern alternatives, though, and I have no experience with UV or even any certainty that it's appropriate in this application (I would only justify the 25 watt power during tank fills, so in distribution mode it would be passive anyway).

What I'm curious to know is if there are off-the-shelf solutions that are equally integrated, and if anyone who currently owns this unit has any suggestions or caveats. I have had my finger poised over the Paypal button a time or two, but it's not cheap... and too often I find that with just a wee bit of effort there are huge savings to be had.

Cheers and thanks for any thoughts,
Steve
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Old 05-11-2008, 00:54   #2
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What problem are you trying to solve with this very elaborate water filter? Is this for PNW use (total overkill) or remote cruising?

When cruising Mexico, Central America, and the Western Caribbean, we just took on shore water all the time. We would ask first and the local folks were quick to let us know if it was or was not potable. We did have a little carbon filter that we used for drinking water, but eventually got rid of it. Water treatment consisted of a few teaspoonfuls of bleach in the tank when we added water. Sometimes if the water wasn't potable we would buy a few 5 gallon water cooler type jugs to fill the tanks a bit. We caught rain water a lot from an awning.

We did have a ceramic filter we bought in Mexico to filter incoming dock water in an area that was very muddy (like coffee coloured water). We didn't want sediment in the tank, so it was attached to a dock water hose. It took HOURS to fill small 25 gallon tanks...

Hope this is helpful.
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Old 05-11-2008, 01:06   #3
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HI Evan, and thanks for the thoughts. It is a case of creeping featuritis, to be sure; I was just starting out by replacing the long-dead watermaker... and, awww, what the heck, the tanks that came with the boat are 20 years old, so let's add a filter to make it a bit more drinkable. And, since have a filter, might as well have a way to clean the water before it gets to the tanks, and, well, that's how engineering here works. I get a bit carried away, but I enjoy the process.

Anyway, you're quite right - for PNW seasonal cruising it is completely superfluous. My general strategy, though, is support for open-ended voyaging... wood stove, watermaker, solar panels, self-sufficiency tools. So this is just a way to slightly expand a job I need to do anyway (watermaker and related plumbing) in order to take care of any reasonable future needs (less than pristine dock water, captured rain, mystery-water hauled by jugs, or tank contents that have been sitting there for months).

Cheers,
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Old 05-11-2008, 09:19   #4
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Steve,

I use the "Seagull IV X-1 (CA)" water filter (or perhaps an older version). It supposedly filters out most of the nasty stuff but I use it mainly to remove the tank taste in my drinking and cooking water. The water tastes great.


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Old 05-11-2008, 09:56   #5
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Steve-
Their filters look about standard in size, but you'd have to check to be certain. And there's a question of whether "US standard" filter cartridges are available overseas, or if the rest of the world uses something different.
The UV purification IS state of the art, btw. Nothing kills life like UV-C does, all you need is power (and perhaps a spare bulb) and it literally tears apart DNA in anything passing it. Those units are never really cheap, the price of this one seems reasonable or close to it. Unlike chemicals (iodine, chlorine, etc.) the UV-C doesn't add anything to your water, it just turns any critters, down to the virus level, into soup. And of course, it won't clean up whatever is downstream of it--it only nukes what flows through it, so it should be closest to your tap, rather than your intake, if you want it to protect you from anything growing IN your system.
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Old 05-11-2008, 14:05   #6
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Thanks, folks! Just needed the extra nudge to take the plunge. There is an astonishing amount of hype out there in the water purification world...

Cheers!
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Old 05-11-2008, 14:42   #7
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Well, Steve, you know what WCFields had to say about why he never drank water. I'd quote him, but I'm sure this forum would censor one actual word he used. Fields no doubt would have been banned from this forum in about two days flat.
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Old 07-11-2008, 08:00   #8
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W. C. Fields had a lot of quotable witticisms about drinking water:

I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it.
[oh, you probably meant another version]

I never drink water; that is the stuff that rusts pipes.
I never drink water. I'm afraid it will become habit-forming.
Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.
You can't trust water: Even a straight stick turns crooked in it.
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Old 07-11-2008, 09:13   #9
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Seems like a lot..

Seems like a lot of overkill. We use a GE filter with a $30.00 cartridge from Home Depot. The drinking water is then filtered again by a Britta faucet mounted filter. Been doing this for over ten years now and I'm still not dead and no one has become sick from drinking our water tank water..



Photos were taken during winterizing so ignore the antifreeze coming out of the faucet.. The water coming out of this combo tastes great and also tested very well when I sent it out.
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Old 07-11-2008, 09:47   #10
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Good info - thanks! Before I read the winterizing comment, that was a seriously surreal photo.... as in, "you shoulda seen it before the filter!"

Cheers,
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Old 14-12-2008, 11:38   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Microship View Post
Hi folks...
Mostly the design is done, but I find myself spending way too much time in the Googlezone trying to get a sense of the best filtration module. The Water Fixer sounds pretty good (5 micron pre, .5 micron carbon, then UV), and I spoke with the fellow today - he was helpful and friendly. All good. I'm not quite sure how standard the replacement filters are, so that remains a question, but it sounds from webbish scuttlebut like there are mostly happy users out there. I do get the sense there are more modern alternatives, though, and I have no experience with UV or even any certainty that it's appropriate in this application (I would only justify the 25 watt power during tank fills, so in distribution mode it would be passive anyway).

What I'm curious to know is if there are off-the-shelf solutions that are equally integrated, and if anyone who currently owns this unit has any suggestions or caveats. I have had my finger poised over the Paypal button a time or two, but it's not cheap... and too often I find that with just a wee bit of effort there are huge savings to be had.

Cheers and thanks for any thoughts,
Steve
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Is this the same system as the Water Fixer? Because it is available in Canada at Princess Auto for a lot less!
www.princessauto.com (See Catalog)
BURCAM - BURKE
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Old 14-12-2008, 11:54   #12
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Interesting... though both of those websites are awful. The best info I could find was a content-free PDF about that model, with no specs. The hoses look a bit small for the 4 GPM I expect with the Water Fixer, but that's just a guess based on having stared at fittings too much over the past week. But if it's all the right stuff for way less, then I officially smite myself on the forehead... that is one I had not seen.

My Water Fixer is in the process of being integrated into the boat's "Waterworks" panel, and I'm just now building the valving system that lets filter and watermaker product be routed to either tank, along with other options (the entire user interface is a dozen valves... a big part of the design is enough clarity in layout and labeling that it will still make sense in 6 months!).

Incidentally, I included a flowmeter in the main line, allowing not only visual confirmation of activity but also a pulse train that is logged by one of the ship's microprocessors. If it starts ticking over when I'm not there, it's an official red alert... and it can log the amount added to each tank, amount used, etc.

Oh, I should add: the reason I care about the 4GPM is not so much on the usage side, where that would be more than plenty, but on the tank-filling side (which I can also route through the filter using the pressure water connection instead of the normal deck fills). We'll see soon how well this actually works!

Cheers,
Steve
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Old 14-12-2008, 12:56   #13
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Use a simple charcoal filter from one of the home stores to get the 'taste' and most particles out of the water and chlorine to kill any bad guys if you take on ambient water. Simple, quick, cheap and your done with it.

This whole thing reminds me of the Engineer who designed the totally electric boat we saw in FP. Nothing on it worked for long but it did give him something to do 24/7. Sounds like you are looking to make yourself a full time job while cruising.

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Old 14-12-2008, 13:19   #14
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Point taken, Peter, though I should add that any cruising venture (or any adventure, for that matter) is the resultant of one's passions... and mine happen to venture into gonzo engineering territory (see my website for previous contraptions).

Of course I fully recognize the virtue of simplicity, especially in the unforgiving marine environment, and in all cases I am not doing anything that puts fragile electronics in the way of basic high-reliability systems. Navlights come on with a switch, not a computer; I pull strings to control the rig, etc.

However, where I can add functionality using what (for me) is a natural and comfortable toolset, I do so. A little network of cheap microprocessors that gives the boat a sort of overlaid nervous system is a good example: it is not required to go sailing or otherwise use the boat, but it provides a web interface to things that are usually beneath notice or only obvious when broken. It also interoperates with the NMEA2000 stuff, allowing all that to be visible remotely over the net.

Back to the waterworks, the jury is still out on whether the UV is a good idea, though I have heard good things from others who have used it. My watermaker is a Katadyn 40E since it has manual backup for use when power is not available. And the ability to reconfigure is only slightly gratuitous... mostly, it's just taking maximum advantage of what is already in place.

Complexity, well-implemented, should appear to be simple.

Cheers,
Steve
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Old 14-12-2008, 18:31   #15
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There are a number of sites offering UV Sterilization equipment very inexpensively (just Google UV Water Sterilizers) and the duel filters can be obained at Home Depot or Lowes very inexpensively as well. We have a multi-level filtration system on our boat and simply add a few oz of unscented chlorine bleach to our tanks at the ratios suggested by the USRC when we refill. Our charcoal filter pulls any residual chlorine out of the water and thus far we have been very satisfied. The chlorine option may not work for you if you are flushing an RO membrane with water from your tanks but, if so, the add-in UV sterilizer may work.

FWIW...

s/v HyLyte
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