Hello to everyone in this very interesting forum thread. This is Michael from ECHOTec Watermakers. “Pelagic” e-mailed me with a few questions and invited me to join this conversation as a manufacturer. After taking some time to get up to speed by reading the posts, I feel that we should clarify a few distorted points. For anyone interested in continuing this conversation please PM me.
The "black magic game", as Rich calls it does in fact not exist. Since the very early days of yacht desalination, there have been detailed do-it-yourself plans available. Nevertheless, few cruisers have built their own watermakers, the same as only few build their own refrigeration
systems, replace their own rigging
and sew their own canvas
. Manufacturers generally have no objection to supporting builders with advice and happily will supply some other-wise difficult to source components.
As an example, our complete stainless control panel
with spring-loaded automatic pressure regulator
, flow- and pressure gauge, breakers and diverter valve is a steal of a deal and has for many years found its way into owners and commercial
custom-made systems. So, ECHOTec likes to assist cruisers, and will help in any way we can. On the other hand, no one likes to give free engineering lessons to new mirror-engineering, copy-cat manufacturers. It is a niche market as Tellie says and it's difficult to survive.
Our sales staff can usually differentiate an authentic friendly cruiser's email
inquiry from a competitor's 'fishing expedition'. Commercial
'espionage' is pretty common as everybody wants to know what their competitors are doing and how they are doing it. That includes some of the companies mentioned previously in this thread! If someone has a better idea, we all want to find out what it is.
Again, we are not thrilled to share our work with our competitors but if you use our design, please give us some credit: ECHOTec was the first company to design a new range of desalination systems exactly around one, two and three standard size membrane elements for better energy efficiency. By using software
like IMSDesign, ROSA etc., and also through extensive bench and real life testing, the ideal seawater flow / pressure for each configuration was determined. Rather than downgrading large, power-hungry standard equipment
, we began engineering each model for its particular output.
In some cases we had to ask pump manufacturers to build proprietary crankshafts to our specs to make this possible. These same shafts are now available to everyone. This new approach is a great success because ECHOTec’s high output AC systems can, as a backup, run off the inverter
at the same efficiency rate as our conventional 12/24 VDC systems.
Due to extensive real-world experience and countless modifications, ECHOTec was the first ever watermaker
manufacturer able to offer a 3 year warranty on all components and a warranty for life on the high pressure pump head
and the custom pressure vessels. Many have followed this example but this was way before CruiseRo offered their first watermaker. Rich, please give ECHOTec the credit, we all sit in the same boat!
Last but not least; A watermaker built from low cost, off-the-shelf components is obviously cheaper. Once the builder
works with low overhead and without the cost of an international dealer network, it should be even cheaper. My question is why does such a product cost only $1200.00 less than an ECHOTec?
On the ECHOTec FAQ page, under “Why chose an ECHOTec Watermaker” you find a listing of innovative system components and features that were developed during more than 15 years of designing, manufacturing and maintaining our own systems. It is also a documentation
of what a difference you can achieve by spending a few extra bucks.
I agree with Tellie that apart from building a good machine, the time one is willing to spend with a customer is the crucial key to the success of any product. ECHOTec supports customers with a determined group of mostly RTW cruisers in all parts
of the world. ECHOTec USA in Clearwater is run by Lori and Erik, passionate boaters since their childhood. Australian Peter Colman of Blue Sea Machine has an excellent reputation for speedy replies and always has the right solution on hand. He sails
presently the Australian west cost. Will Curry from Hydrovane
International cruises Mexico
. He and his offices in the UK and Canada
assist cruisers whenever there is a question about ECHOTec. European distributor Tom Logisch just returned from the ARC
start in Las Palmas
where he insured that all ECHOTec’s are well installed and ready for the crossing. There are many more factory trained dealers in all parts
of the world listed on our website.
Both ECHOTec founders are RTW sailers with plenty hands-on watermaker experience; Peter Spinn cruises a Privilege
cat and assists customers from our factory in Trinidad. As I am writing this post, I am sitting in the cockpit
of our Morgan
461 in Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
as my family
and I joined the 2013 Pacific Paddle Jumpers crossing to French Polynesia
. If you happen to be around and like to talk about watermakers, my boat is “Voyageur” on dock
D42. I have always time to spare.