The entire Cruisers Forum watermaker section seems to spin around Tellie and customers, his shop and his favored watermaker brand Spectra. Tellie, I don't believe that this forum was intended as a sales platform. Imagine the amount of biased traffic if a few others (apart from already very active Cruise
RO and associates) would also blow their horns.
views are lead by stronger motives than the simple exchange of cruisers’ experiences with individual brands and therefore must unavoidably mislead readers new to the matter. It actually reads as if there were only two watermaker brands to choose from. This is not so. The mainly promoted players (only in this forum) have a very small appearance in the real cruising world and there are many good watermakers out there and good reasons to choose them instead. By the way, that Volvo race
boats are equipped with Spectra explains why they are so expensive but not why they are selected. The Volvo race
is all about marketing
, so is their choice of equipment
In the attempt to update my views about watermakers, I came across Tellies’ months long sales correspondence (why not via e-mail?), successfully convincing the forum and captain
of the advantages to equip a 60 foot cat with a 24 V DC energy recovery watermaker. The boat has a massive 13.5 KW genset running every day to perform the multiple energy tasks. The energy savings of the Spectra within this scenario would be hard to even calculate.
There are other 24 VDC systems with even higher output than the Spectra NPMKII 1000 but why would anyone suggest this for a boat with large generator? With all respect, this approach is pure nonsense. Being an engineer
myself (with diploma) and having assisted and witnessed many fellow cruisers’ in their repairs
on “high tech” watermakers, I support the idea that every technical goal must be accomplished with minimal necessary effort and cost.
Tellie makes sure you understand that he sells various brands, and there is a watermaker for every need. However, miraculously, Spectra seem to be his universal remedy. Here is my recommendation:
You run your diesel generator once a day:
Conventional AC watermaker. Any recovery system is to be avoided like the plague. Conventional watermakers are from personal experience (and the net is saturated with evidence) much more reliable and your energy budget
allows you to go this way. If you want the 12/24 V DC backup, use one of the more power efficient AC systems and run it from the inverter
until your genset is fixed.
You want to use only solar panels and wind generator. You have space for one extra panel:
Conventional DC watermaker. Ad a panel and provide the extra power needed to run it. Do the maths and calculate how many solar panels
you could buy for the extra cost of the recovery watermaker, then add the KISS factor. Solar panels
You have no space for the extra solar panel, no diesel generator and no regular engine runs - mostly anchored:
Energy recovery DC watermaker. Any of the existing 9+ manufacturers in the 8 to 15 GPH range other than Katadyn. The latter is build around an outdated energy recovery device and special membrane elements. It is less energy efficient than modern conventional DC watermakers. Proprietary equipment
complexity without gain does not sound right to me.
You have a gasoline generator:
Keep it for the emergency
situation you bought it for. Any watermaker needs a steady supply of energy and operation cannot rely on a generator you have to tote from your cockpit
locker. Gas generators are usually small (e.g., Honda
2000i) and have not enough power to charge batteries or any other equipment while the watermaker runs. Gasoline is another problem; apart from the added fire risk, RTW cruisers know that it is often a task to get enough gas only for the dinghy
You run the engine regularly to charge batteries, freeze holding plates, go anchor up or
your boat is too small for sufficient solar power or diesel generator but you want unlimited water supply:
Belt driven. The bigger the better. Cheap
, very reliable if the design is proven and works for everyone in this bracket. High pressure pump installation is fairly simple but should not be done by cruisers without technical experience.
What’s the best deal?
There is none; you get what you pay for. Lately, I see a few ”cheap” watermakers, mostly poor copies of the more successful designs. If you look closely into technical details, you understand that the 10 to 20% off on watermakers put together from the cheapest possible off-the-shelf components turns out to be very expensive compared to a thoroughly designed and purpose build machine backed with decades of manufacturing and field experience. However, the actual use of “chepos” is negligible even so it appears differently here.
As I am writing this; the automatic freshwater flush (together with the complete system automation) is against all high-tech bragging and common believe completely overrated. After properly flushing
the membrane elements (replacing all seawater with freshwater) and removing pre-filters, I have successfully stored my watermakers for several month with better results than with the commonly used sodium metabisulfite (degrades membrane performance with each pickling). Don’t comment unless you have tried it! Polypropylene glycol is a good preservative but not space saving to store. The repeated automatic flush is neither needed nor practical as it requires keeping your electrical
distribution panel and charger
powered as well as the boats plumbing
pressurized while you are off the boat.
Tellie, I hope I have not stepped on your little toe and you don’t feel to “kick the crap” out of me in case we meet one day - you wrote you are big. In your open sales correspondence you give many good and important recommendations but in my opinion, Spectra is an over-designed, complicated machine with a bible sized owner’s manual and definitely not suited for everyone.