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Old 22-01-2018, 01:16   #1
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Water maker comps

I am outfitting a New Boat for use in the eastern Caribbean and based on replies in an other forum, selected the spectra 340 Z. However My mechanic much prefers the Bluewater Express XT 360. Both are “fully automatic” 12 v DC units making about 15 GPH. I’m interested in opinions of the forum members with experience with either of these watermakers’ reliability.
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Old 22-01-2018, 01:33   #2
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Re: Water maker comps

The Spectra is a 12 v system that is very energy efficient. It uses 18amp per hour. Something that can be handled by solar. The Bluewater uses 27amps to produce the same amount of water. If buying a new DC watermaker, I would pick one of the Spectras.
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Old 22-01-2018, 02:37   #3
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Re: Water maker comps

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The Spectra is a 12 v system that is very energy efficient. It uses 18amp per hour. Something that can be handled by solar. The Bluewater uses 27amps to produce the same amount of water. If buying a new DC watermaker, I would pick one of the Spectras.
which can also be handled by solar, depends on how much solar you have. Of course energy efficiency is good but might not be the only criteria. I did not install the most efficient WM on my boat. For cost & practical reasons the Dessalator seemed to be the best choice. I only hear good reports for the Spectra, never heard of Bluewater.
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Old 22-01-2018, 02:50   #4
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Re: Water maker comps

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which can also be handled by solar, depends on how much solar you have. Of course energy efficiency is good but might not be the only criteria. I did not install the most efficient WM on my boat. For cost & practical reasons the Dessalator seemed to be the best choice. I only hear good reports for the Spectra, never heard of Bluewater.
Not too many boats would consider 27ah for multiple hours a day as all that solar friendly. If you are going with an energy inefficient system, then in many cases an AC system will be better, especially if you like running a genset.
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Old 22-01-2018, 03:39   #5
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Re: Water maker comps

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, odyssey.
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Old 22-01-2018, 03:55   #6
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Re: Water maker comps

OP, what are your criteria for selecting a watermaker?


If efficiency is one (important in a DC driven system) then Spectra wins hands down at about 1ah/gallon (on my Catalina 300).

Support. When you have problems in far away places, its good to have tech support. Spectra tech support is awesome! One of the best for any product Ive ever owned...not just watermakers.

Reliability. Fully automated and highly efficient adds complexity so there are lots of little bits, like sensors & seals, to go wrong and they sometimes do. In most cases that wont stop you from making water, it will just be less convenient. On newer Spectras individual alarms can be bypassed at the control panel. You can also bypass all automation and run without it (with careful monitoring).

Ive also never heard of Bluewater Express...going with a lesser known player would concern me.

The most common alternative to Spectra is CruiseRO. Also a good product, good support, and a large installed base, but an AC driven system.
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Old 22-01-2018, 05:21   #7
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Re: Water maker comps

Ignoring all the other information that has already been posted.

I don't like anything automated if you are looking for reliablity. Our watermaker is just a series of valves that I manually turn. The only thing to go wrong is the pumps and membranes.
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Old 22-01-2018, 10:41   #8
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Re: Water maker comps

Is your "mechanic" making any margin from Bluewater?
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Old 22-01-2018, 15:12   #9
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Re: Water maker comps

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Ignoring all the other information that has already been posted.

I don't like anything automated if you are looking for reliablity. Our watermaker is just a series of valves that I manually turn. The only thing to go wrong is the pumps and membranes.
I think for a cruising boat the simplicity of a manual system makes a lot more sense. The OP could purchase a Spectra Cape Horn for thousands less than the 340 and get the same output without all the automated features.
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Old 22-01-2018, 15:53   #10
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Re: Water maker comps

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I think for a cruising boat the simplicity of a manual system makes a lot more sense. The OP could purchase a Spectra Cape Horn for thousands less than the 340 and get the same output without all the automated features.
True, the automation is often where the problems crop up. The rest of the Spectra components are pretty straight forward. Even the Clark pump can be repaired in the field...usually just seals that need replacing.
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Old 22-01-2018, 17:39   #11
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Re: Water maker comps

I did a comparison of a few watermaker systems a few months ago. Basically, efficiency is one of the most important metrics. Spectra needs 1.1-1.5A per gallon, most DC watermakers are between 2.5-4.5A, while AC driven ones need 6.5-10A (@12V equivalent). The larger the system, the more efficient it is. Energy recovery is key to Spectra's efficiency but you pay dearly upfront.

The second criterion is to choose one with standard, 2540 membranes. You can then treat the membrane as a consumable @200 per element.

I personally think more electronics is better but opinions vary.
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Old 22-01-2018, 17:52   #12
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Re: Water maker comps

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I did a comparison of a few watermaker systems a few months ago. Basically, efficiency is one of the most important metrics. Spectra needs 1.1-1.5A per gallon, most DC watermakers are between 2.5-4.5A, while AC driven ones need 6.5-10A (@12V equivalent). The larger the system, the more efficient it is. Energy recovery is key to Spectra's efficiency but you pay dearly upfront.

...
Yes, Spectra's initial cost/gallon metric is pretty ugly!

I thought mine was expensive, even with a discount, when I installed it back in 2004. A friend recently installed the latest version of the same unit. I expected, as is typical of technology, that the price would have decreased, but it had roughly doubled!
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Old 22-01-2018, 18:05   #13
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Water maker comps

If you go Spectra, and if I were to go with a DC and tried to run it off of Solar, then I would definitely go with Spectra, I would not consider any others just based on reputation.
However, do not talk yourself into this model or that model. You or I likely don’t know enough to make an educated decision.
I’d call Tellie, tell him my needs and wants, and listen to what he had to say.
I have heard a few times him suggest a Cape Horn, but I’d bet Spectra builds so many different watermakers, cause one doesn’t meet everyone needs and desires.
He knows the product and I’d bet would know which one is best for you.
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Old 22-01-2018, 18:37   #14
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Re: Water maker comps

Energy efficiency becomes important only if solar is your main energy source and you only burn dino juice rarely.

If you're running an engine or genny for hours several times a week anyway

then it's not worth paying more for low AH/gallon, look for high gallons/hour instead.
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Old 22-01-2018, 18:49   #15
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Re: Water maker comps

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Energy efficiency becomes important only if solar is your main energy source and you only burn dino juice rarely.

If you're running an engine or genny for hours several times a week anyway

then it's not worth paying more for low AH/gallon, look for high gallons/hour instead.
For many of us we don't want to burn diesel any more than we have to, we don't want to heat our boats with excess genset or main engine heat in the tropics and we don't want to waste excess afternoon solar. As you say, for some, I assume you, you have a setup where you will be running engines for other reasons often. I just checked our gensrt hour meter. We have used 3 hrs in 3 months. Most of the rest of the juice has come from solar, as we only did a few days using the Yanmar.

Using your logic you could take it to the extreme and not waste your money on LED lighting. Just use cheap tungsten bulbs and dino juice.
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