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Old 09-04-2010, 18:56   #1
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Watermaker Opinions ?

Hey folks,

I'm starting to gear up for an extended cruise later on this year, wherein I'll likely be gone for a few years, sailing the west coast of the US, down into Central America, and eventually west to the South Pacific and on to SE Asia.

I'm in an older, home-built trimaran, which has been my home for a year now. I am comfortable with the build quality and confident that she can make the journey. I need to refit her though, with several new/updated systems.

One system I haven't thought hard about yet is a watermaker - here in the pacific northwest finding potable water isn't a problem, but I imagine that gets much tougher the further away you sail!

I am looking for opinions on a watermaker for a liveaboard cruiser. I am handy with tools and happy to read technical manuals, though I'd much rather have something that "just works", or at least something that I can find parts for in far-away places. Price is an object, but I'd rather spend extra to buy the *right* tool for the job than save a few hundred and have headaches later. It is only me onboard currently, and I get by quite handily on about a gallon of water per day for cooking, though it would be nice to have a surplus of a few gallons per day for washing, etc.

I'm sure this is a subject of much debate, but what watermaker would you choose for such a voyage?
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Old 09-04-2010, 19:23   #2
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There is already a fair bit on water makers here. Some key issues are they need to be run regularly like every couple days . Letting them sit is not a good thing. They use a fair amount of power too. You need to figure the power demand and the water demand and the corresponding battery charing required. Water storage limits what you can have on hand but making water regularly reduces the basic storage amount as well.

You need upward of 800 psi to drive sea water through the membrane to make fresh water. Dissolved salts are filtered at the molecular level so this isn't just a reverse osmosis unit like you might find in a house.

How much tankage do you have? It could be possible for someone as yourself to expand storage and not have a water mater at all. If you could do that it would be less complicated. If not you need to make and store water and use more power. There are trade offs to everything so working up the numbers of power charging capacity, power storage and water storage starts to yield where it all balances out. You need the water and you need to always have power.
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Old 09-04-2010, 19:24   #3
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check out this post

Need Help Selecting a Watermaker
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Old 09-04-2010, 19:57   #4
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As far as I am concerned, the one thing I care most about in a watermaker is production capacity - gallons per hour. We had a watermaker that produced three gallons per hour, and that low level of production did not match our water use when we were cruising. If I purchased another watermaker, it would be a high capacity output so that I didn't have to run it for such a long time.
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Old 09-04-2010, 20:29   #5
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No watermaker here, but it's something I want to add before I set off (years from now).
IMO the way to go is a DC driven system. Once the batteries are charged, your solar or wind system is generating excess power- why not use it to run the watermaker? You can also use it when running the engine or generator (if you use a DC gen set or inverter).
As for the system itself, simpler is obviously better, complexity just adds modes of failure. Valves & electric motors can be repaired or replaced almost anywhere, while electronic components usually need replacement, either because they can't be repaired locally or because its not cost effective.
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Old 09-04-2010, 20:58   #6
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They are a wonderful device as a back up! I dreamed of running mine whenever the tanks got low, hot showers, mmmmm! But, unless you use them every 2 days, particularly here in the tropics, they go rotten, really looks and smells like something died in them, which it has, all the sea micro-organisms!
You have to "biocide" them after each use, unless you use them again within 2 days, I would say 1 day, from my experience. This inviolves pumping citric acid and other chemicals through the system and leaving them there, using clean drinking water without chlorine, about 4 to 10 litres, depends on your watermaker, and it costs a lot and very hard to buy!
They are not a device you simply switch on when you need some water, very time consuming if used randomly.
Having said all this, I am headed for a 6 month cruise through Indonesia and have purchased 1.5 kgs of biocide and membrane cleaner and will use the water make whenever I am motoring to top up the tanks.
Good luck from Keith.
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Old 09-04-2010, 21:31   #7
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read recently that the new ones do not need biocide they use small electric current. Look for water production vs power leave off all the automated extras. PNW is not the tropics you may find that those cool showers become more important than at your home at present have fun!
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Old 09-04-2010, 22:13   #8
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Looked into this a bit myself, although I am not yet in need.
The way I figure it,
If money was no object, then the spectra WM at around 9K would be ideal. Fully automated, good warrenty and people like Telle around to sell and service them no matter where you are. But expensive.

If handy, build you own. You can do it for several thousand bucks, all parts off the shelf, so easy to repair, but energy hogs. The most efficient would be engine driven the most energy hog a 110v 1.5 HP motor. Can't reallly expect that to last long in a marine enviroment.

The third option would be to go with this
PUR PowerSurvivor 40E
it only produces 1.5 gph, but run it for a long while and it will give you what you need. Watermakers need/like to be run a lot, to stay healthy. This option though will require a lot of amps. 3amps/hr or 96 amp per day. 2 solar panels and a extra 200 amps of battery will get you there.
Plus, it can be used in a manual mode if you take to a raft, or the electrical system goes down...

so for 3000 or 3900 with all spares and extras, you have a adequate water maker that can do what no other can, and provide more than enough water for most yachts. If you only ran it during the day when the sun was shining, you got 9 gal in your tanks, and most of use wouldn't use that much per day. If you wanted to run it all day, you have 96 gal. But I figure running it every other day for 4-6 hours should do it.

But if you can spring for the cash required, I say go with the spectra. I know I would.
But the Pur sure looks attractive.

Bob

(posted this by mistake in another thread....)
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Old 09-04-2010, 22:40   #9
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There are lots of watermaker threads here, some of which I have contributed to.
You MUST run them everyday or two, we run ours everyday when the motor is on....we actually waste water....ie wash the decks and canopy screens with it when the tanks are full
Ours is Schenker 35litres / hr and it only draws 8 Amps...works the same way as a Spectra...and yes they are more expensive than Village Marine, but much much less hungry on power

If we leave the boat we pickle it, and despite what some say, I don't find it an arduous task...not compared to the benefits of having a reliable water production system

Also we had 3 water tanks...now we have two, #3 tank now has diesel in it...more benefits
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Old 09-04-2010, 22:42   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxingout View Post
As far as I am concerned, the one thing I care most about in a watermaker is production capacity - gallons per hour. We had a watermaker that produced three gallons per hour, and that low level of production did not match our water use when we were cruising. If I purchased another watermaker, it would be a high capacity output so that I didn't have to run it for such a long time.

Since a small unit like the PUR 40 will produce 1.5 gph, or 36 per day, how could you use that much water on a small boat with 2-4 people ? Unless your wasting it.
typical use for 4 people on board should be roughly 20-25 gpd.
For 2 14 gpd
For 1 7 gpd.
So a small water maker should be more than sufficent, unless you wash you boat with fresh water often.

Power use is important, but not the most important. Sure you can get 16.5 gph at 26 amps from a spectra newport 400. But at a high cost.
The PUR 40E for 1/3 the price will deliver more than enough water if run for 15 hours per day. Seems to me that letting the water maker sit idle is not the best way for it to be used. The PUR 80E will give you 24 gal over 6 hours run by 200 watts of solar panels. More than enough. And cost ~1/2 of a spectra.
But again, if money was no object, I would still go with the newport 400.
But it seems to me that the PUR line has some good choices as well.
Bob
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Old 09-04-2010, 23:19   #11
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I have the pur power survivor 40E very compact, sits on the bulkhead wall behind the x/c, easy to plumb, but I have not used it much because I jst bought the boat and it only one lot of biocide treatment left. I soon will have heaps and then I will use it more often. I have not run out of water yet, despite having 2 young women on board!
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Old 10-04-2010, 00:23   #12
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Wouldnt be with out one, use it every day even if only for a short while and you will hardly have to touch it, if not going to use it for upto a month just flush with fresh water (not under pressure), Ive had ours out of commission for up to 3 months with just fresh water in it and had no problems just flush more water through every month, if going to be left fror a long time use sodium Metabisulphate solution to prevent organic growth, Citric acid is used to remove mineral scale build up and should only be used when production rate is dropping below spec
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Old 10-04-2010, 01:04   #13
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Old 10-04-2010, 02:54   #14
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Quote:
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if not going to use it for upto a month just flush with fresh water (not under pressure),
That's what we were thinking, surely if its flushed with fresh water after being used it will last longer than 48 hours in the tropics, or is this not the case? Not sure about a month, but every 3 - 4 days perhaps?

Space, weight, energy and cost would point us towards the smaller Katadyn PUR units. The Spectra would be nice but we can't afford to give up that much room. there is a sales pitch video on the West Marine website for the Katadyn 40e. Video is a bit home made but it does show the size off quite well as he has it balancing on his knee.

If you not in any great rush, then how about waiting for the next major boat show near you. This would give you the chance to view and fondle the various makes etc.

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Old 10-04-2010, 03:46   #15
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Hi Pete, my pur 40E, I ran it when I was inspecting the yacht, bought the yacht, then had to rush back to the airport to get home for Christmas and did not biocide the water maker, nor flush it with clean water, just did not know how to do it!

When I returned in 3 weeks to Langkawi, the whole system was black, stank rotten and so I cleaned it, threw away the filter and biocided it.

Still haven't dared to use it now for 4 months, finally got some biocide in Australia, it is waiting for me in Langkawi.
I know a lot of people who just carry them around and wont use them!
When it worked it produced the promised 4 litres per hour of sweet water.
Keith.
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