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Old 23-07-2012, 01:00   #1
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HRO Sea Recovery Watermakers

Water-Makers made by ‘HRO’ or Horizon Reverse Osmosis are from a company that was recently acquired by Danfoss: A growing European company based in Denmark. The Watermaker branch of Danfoss is known as ‘Sea Recovery’, and is currently being run by a fellow named Henrik Wendelboe (wendelboe@danfoss.com).
The Watermaker machines sold by this company may seem really great: advertising does that. Perhaps many have even had positive experiences with these machines … and with Sea Recovery. Unfortunately this has not been our experience.
We have been living and cruising aboard our sailboat for the past 22 years. From time to time we stop wherever we happen to be and work for a bit to keep going. Some people on land may invest in real estate or the stock market. We invest and rely on good gear. We have a lot of experience keeping our equipment going and dealing with the myriad of marine suppliers that this occasionally requires.
Our machine from HRO/Sea Recovery was purchased in San Diego, California and commissioned in late 2007. Our Sea Recovery dealer in San Diego is no longer there unfortunately. Issues with our machine soon followed.
The High Pressure Pumps supplied by Sea Recovery with their Watermakers were not made to last more than 250 hours without degradation of the pump components causing performance drop-offs. 250 hours is just not that much time. When this started happening with our Watermaker’s high-pressure pump we did not at first realize what the trouble was. We had by this time sailed to New Zealand. We went to the local Sea Recovery agent in New Zealand and were told that the type of pumps supplied by Sea Recovery with our machine would not in fact hold up over the long term. The local New Zealand agent for Sea Recovery, Mike Harris of ‘Light-House Marine’, confirmed for us that it was a known issue. He promised to contact the head office for Sea Recovery in California and get back to us. We never heard from him again. We later contacted Sea Recovery in California directly and spoke to Mary Day: she is/was Sea Recovery’s technical support telephone contact. She too said she would look into this further and get back to us. We never heard from her either.
While we waited 2-3 months for someone from Sea Recovery to get back with us we investigated on our own what could be done about the failing pump supplied with our Sea Recovery Watermaker. We learned that this high pressure pump problem, with our type of machine, was in fact a known issue in the Watermaker industry. We even heard rumours that another Watermaker company supplied two of these inadequate pumps with their new systems because they knew there were issues and the customers would need them both.
Watermakers will not work without a good, durable, high-pressure pump.
After hearing nothing for almost 3 months, we again contacted Sea Recovery directly and worked our way up their ‘chain of command’ to Chris Rollins. At Sea Recovery, we were told, he is the brother of the guy that started the company and a person of some authority with the company. From Chris all we received were denials that anything at all was their responsibility. He wrote to us that his company was in business to make money and while the pumps supplied were indeed not going to last very long, we could now purchase a better pump: a very expensive pump. After another 18 months of diminishing performance from our $11,000 Watermaker investment, we were forced to purchase this expensive ($2150.USD) pump from Sea Recovery. What else could we do? Hire a lawyer? Turn the machine into an anchor?

The new pump arrived in New Zealand (where we are now for the winter) damaged because the Sea Recovery people shipped it full of hydraulic oil that completely leaked out while in transit. The oil leakage caused the disintegration of the packing material around the 23kg pump and it pounded itself against anything and everything it came in contact with all the way here. There were no handling labels on the package exterior at all.

We sent photos of the damaged parcel and its contents to Mary Day at Sea Recovery. She claimed the damaged pump looked just fine from the photos and denied any responsibility. She told us we would have to take it up with FedEx. FedEx claims that without warning labels or adequate packaging it was not their responsibility either.
We were unwilling to accept the damaged pump. For the past 3 months we have been battling to get the pump exchanged. Sea Recovery’s Chris Rollins threatened us in writing that we must accept the damaged pump or be cut from future support through his company. Extortion. He went on to explain what a “privilege” it was for us to be able to deal with him directly; that we should be careful not to ‘rock the boat’. “Privilege” was the exact word he wrote!

Fortunately for us, we purchased the new pump through our Credit Card Company. With them we were able to force Sea Recovery to reverse the $2150.00 charge. As a consequence, Sea Recovery will now no longer deal with us. We have a huge investment in our Watermaker, no working pump to run it and no reliable access to support or parts.

The local Sea Recovery dealer here in New Zealand is not available: although Sea Recovery does have an extensive dealer network that they claim provides international support, in reality it does not always work. The people here did not make the sale. While they are friendly and nice, in our experience they seem to give a higher priority to customers who have purchased systems from them directly.

Our recommendation to anyone who is considering the purchase of $10,000.00 or more worth of Watermaker from Sea Recovery is to be very careful…… Somewhere more ‘customer friendly’ would be better. Once the sale is made, the matter of support will be questionable if something goes wrong, especially when cruising overseas or away from the agent that sells the machine. The Sea Recovery people we have had the misfortune to deal with have been openly dishonest with us (in written correspondence) and have not supported the equipment.

Warranty or not, the Sea Recovery viewpoint is: “…if you don’t like it go somewhere else…..”. This is the wording they actually used in our correspondence with them.
In our 22 years of cruising and living aboard we have not experienced this level of deception or dishonesty from any other marine vendor that we can remember. Especially involving such an important and expensive piece of equipment.

This above assessment may sound to some like a ‘rant’. If we did not just go through all of this, I would not have believed it myself.
Hope this helps others prevent the mistake we have made.
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Old 23-07-2012, 01:17   #2
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Re: HRO Sea Recovery Watermakers

Thanks for the warning.
The word quickly spreads among crusing sailors and it does take long to loose a good reputation.
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Old 23-07-2012, 01:30   #3
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Re: HRO Sea Recovery Watermakers

Wow, Thank you.

Question: Can't you just buy the same pump from somebody else? Like McMaster-Carr?

Does Sea Recovery modify the HP Pump in some way?
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Old 23-07-2012, 01:32   #4
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Re: HRO Sea Recovery Watermakers

Thanks for that. I appreciate your courage in posting here despite threats from the company.

I am in the market for a water maker. Sea Recovery is now permanently off the list because of this.

They need to ask Fischer-Panda how many generators they did not sell because of their pathetic reputation for after sales non-service. It must be in the thousands by now.
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Old 23-07-2012, 02:28   #5
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Re: HRO Sea Recovery Watermakers

This company may be worth contacting.

Spectra watermakers - Sailfish Marine - Watermakers, Marine Generators, Solar Panels, Wind Power and more..

I have never used them, but they do service all Watermaker brands and may be able to suggest a hybrid system using some components from other brands. Or at least get spare parts without dealing with HRO directly

Tellie is the expert in this forum on watermakers and he will give you great advice. If you decide sell yours and change brands to spectra I would try to buy system from him if this is feasible.
Our spectra system does 250 hours every 6 months. It has been running for 3 years without problems. They warranty the high pressure pump for life ( original owner)
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Old 23-07-2012, 02:30   #6
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Re: HRO Sea Recovery Watermakers

Interesting. We were in New Zealand in 2008. Our friends also had a ‘HRO’ or Horizon Reverse Osmosis water maker which they purchased in San Diego. They had continuous problems with no lasting solution from the company.

They had it removed in Opua and a complete "generic" system installed. They have had no problems since. My take on this company and their system is that a nutty professor decided to re-invent the tried and true water maker and his theory of a new better water maker just does not work in real life.

I hope this helps someone.

Bill
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Old 23-07-2012, 03:46   #7
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Have heard this a bit about these pumps,i will not be buying from them now.
On another note they have the best marketing material around.
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Old 23-07-2012, 18:05   #8
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Re: HRO Sea Recovery Watermakers

Quote:
Originally Posted by xymotic View Post
Wow, Thank you.

Question: Can't you just buy the same pump from somebody else? Like McMaster-Carr?

Does Sea Recovery modify the HP Pump in some way?
Sea Recovery says their pumps are specifically designed to interface with their system: voltage, current draw, pressure, volume output. The PCB that drives the whole thing has the pump wired to and controlled by it. I'm not sure if some-else's pump would be plug-and-play. It is worth looking into though and thank you for the suggestion. If someone has specific experience trying this I would love to hear about it.
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Old 23-07-2012, 18:50   #9
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Re: HRO Sea Recovery Watermakers

Sorry to hear about your bad experience with HRO. Very frustrating I expect, especially for such an expensive purchase.

Not much good to you, but something for others to consider:

I have a Spectra Catalina 300. Great unit and absolutely AWESOME support from Spectra! Some the best support I have ever encountered in any industry for any product!

By contrast to your experience, when my feed pump failed after only about 20 hours of operation they promptly sent me a new one at no charge. The replacement pump has run fine since 2005. They have also sent me a variety of small parts, seals and such, since then at no charge.
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Old 23-07-2012, 19:04   #10
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Re: HRO Sea Recovery Watermakers

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Sorry to hear about your bad experience with HRO. Very frustrating I expect, especially for such an expensive purchase.

Not much good to you, but something for others to consider:

I have a Spectra Catalina 300. Great unit and absolutely AWESOME support from Spectra! Some the best support I have ever encountered in any industry for any product!

By contrast to your experience, when my feed pump failed after only about 20 hours of operation they promptly sent me a new one at no charge. The replacement pump has run fine since 2005. They have also sent me a variety of small parts, seals and such, since then at no charge.
Thank you for taking the time. Yes... hindsight is always best... If we could only do the whole thing over. It may come to it and we will be forced to take the entire thing out and start over. In the meantime we will persevere with trying to get this machine going better: we just have too much invested to bail out without trying every reasonable option. Spectra does sound like they stand behind their product and it is great that so many have related such positive experiences!
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Old 23-07-2012, 19:29   #11
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Re: HRO Sea Recovery Watermakers

What model of HRO do you have? I just purchased a used HRO Seafari escape model... I'm sure I'll have problems too.


Thanks,

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Old 23-07-2012, 19:58   #12
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Re: HRO Sea Recovery Watermakers

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Originally Posted by Dev0n60 View Post
Thank you for taking the time. Yes... hindsight is always best... If we could only do the whole thing over. It may come to it and we will be forced to take the entire thing out and start over. In the meantime we will persevere with trying to get this machine going better: we just have too much invested to bail out without trying every reasonable option. Spectra does sound like they stand behind their product and it is great that so many have related such positive experiences!
I expect you could use much of the HRO parts to create a "homebrew" system. Next to Spectra, people I know who are the happiest have built their own systems (as a previous poster also referenced).

HRO is not supporting you anyway so you really have nothing to lose.
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Old 23-07-2012, 20:17   #13
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Re: HRO Sea Recovery Watermakers

Might also check out- Cruise RO Watermakers...developed by cruisers for cruisers, powered by a Honda 2000e.

S/V Third Day has been cruising Mexico and the Sea of Cortez for the last four years with his family.

http://www.cruiserowaterandpower.com/WaterMakers.html

No affilitiation, usual disclaimers. He also has a sailblog and is in the process of finishing his journey

Just Google: S/V Third Day
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Old 24-07-2012, 00:32   #14
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Re: HRO Sea Recovery Watermakers

Quote:
Originally Posted by funjohnson View Post
What model of HRO do you have? I just purchased a used HRO Seafari escape model... I'm sure I'll have problems too.


Thanks,

Matt
We have a Seafari Escape 200 Modular. HRO Sea Recovery calls it a '200 SEM'. Check to see what kind of pump they supplied. If it is a 12VDC diaphragm style pump then I am afraid you will have problems. If this is the case and the unit is still 'newish' I would go back to the vendor and ask for something else (another type of pump: hydraulic CAT pump) to drive the system or some type of free extended warranty.... like 3-4 years. The problem with the CAT pumps for DC systems like ours, is they use twice the power. Hope this helps out.
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Old 24-07-2012, 00:45   #15
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Re: HRO Sea Recovery Watermakers

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
I expect you could use much of the HRO parts to create a "homebrew" system. Next to Spectra, people I know who are the happiest have built their own systems (as a previous poster also referenced).

HRO is not supporting you anyway so you really have nothing to lose.
Thanks again! Great suggestion...... and this is probably what will end up happening in the end. Just trying to find out if someone else has already conquered this and how they did it. Really appreciate the advise.
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