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Old 02-06-2013, 10:48   #1
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Water Makers

Hello,
We are new to this, we just bought a catamaran and are preparing for voyaging. We would like to get some advice on water makers, which would you recommend. We would like to go as simple as we can, thinking on getting a manual one. Our crew would be consisting on 4 adults and two kids (toddler and 4 yr. old).
Hope some of you can introduce us and help us around this new world.
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Old 02-06-2013, 11:08   #2
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Re: water makers

Welcome to Cruisers Forum tintan. Good to have you aboard. There are many more on here that know watermakers more than me. Have you seen the 12 volt units? That is what I would go for, but, I don't know if the capacity would suit your needs.
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:16   #3
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Re: water makers

There have been a bunch of threads on this subject which you should look over as the discussions have been rather extensive. The bottom line is that it depends on what you need and what resources you have to support it. It also depends on what you mean by manual. If you mean one of the hand pumped units like Katadyn sells it is unlikely to meet your needs. If you mean by manual that you have to turn the switches and valves instead of having a computer manage them you have a huge number of units to choose from. Basically you have three power choices, engine driven, 12V DC or 120/230V AC. If you have a genset you can pretty easily run a 120V/230V (depends on which you have) unit that can produce 40 gallons per hour. If you have lots of solar and are in a sunny climate a 12V unit might do but they typically produce water at a much lower rate. Given that you need to support 6 people you might want to consider one of the higher capacity units as you will spend a lot of time babysitting your water maker if you don't(the disadvantage of a manual unit). Engine driven units can produce at the same rates as the AC units. They are convienient if you typically use your main engines to charge the batteries. If you have a 12v unit and do this you'll have to run the engines way too long as you will be using some of the power used for charging your batteries for making water as opposed to charging your batteries. The Engine driven units can put out a lot of water in a relatively short time and you give your batteries a boost at the same time. I have a Katadyn 160 which produces about 6.7 GPH. It was in the boat when I bought it, but my experience is that 6.7 GPH doesn't cut it for me. With 2 people on board it's marginal, but when I have guests I have to run it way too often and way too long. We have a washing machine on board but cant use it because it uses too much water. I simply don't want to spend my life babysitting a water maker. I would like a 40 GPH AC unit. Interestingly one can be had for almost the same price as a Katadyn 160.


Like I said , look at some of the old threads. You'll learn a lot and probably be better able to judge your needs and get a water maker that fits those needs.
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Old 02-06-2013, 13:20   #4
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Re: water makers

I like Spectras. I do not like manual units.

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Old 07-06-2013, 18:32   #5
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Re: water makers

There is no question that a manual unit is not the way to go. They are generally sold as equipment for liferafts.

You can buy a readymade unit or you can build your own at a much cheaper rate. Ready bult ones have many proprietary parts that you have to buy from them. DIY WM parts and plans are all over the internet and not difficult at all to build. I did built my own from parts while in Curacao in 2009 and still going strong. If I want to double capacity all I need to do is add another pressure vessel and membrane.

Good Luck but do your research thoroughly.

SV Coqui in Cartagena, Colombia
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Old 07-06-2013, 19:37   #6
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Re: water makers

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Originally Posted by coqui811 View Post
There is no question that a manual unit is not the way to go. They are generally sold as equipment for liferafts.

You can buy a readymade unit or you can build your own at a much cheaper rate. Ready bult ones have many proprietary parts that you have to buy from them. DIY WM parts and plans are all over the internet and not difficult at all to build. I did built my own from parts while in Curacao in 2009 and still going strong. If I want to double capacity all I need to do is add another pressure vessel and membrane.

Good Luck but do your research thoroughly.

SV Coqui in Cartagena, Colombia

any idea what the smallest 1200PSI pump is?
does anyone make a 12 volt unit that does about 3GPH? i mean if you let a small one run on 12 volt the entire trip you take, it would keep the tanks topped off, and keep you from having to pickle the system as much. you could put it on a timer, to run every day for an hour. the price of the pumps is quite high, the pressure vessel and membrane are cheep.
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Old 07-06-2013, 19:45   #7
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Re: water makers

We're a family of four, two young daughters. We're misers with water and do all the tricks to save as much as possible. Even with that we burn about 7 gallons a day. As others have said the manual is really not worth having for that kind of capacity.

One thing to consider is how much time between marinas you plan on spending. You can usually get water anywhere you fuel up. Watermakers can be pricey so if you bypass the cost, do it. We've done without a watermaker for a while but really felt it after a month at anchor in funky places with limited access to water. Shuffling gerry cans of water around in a dinghy through chop sucks. Sucks even more when you need to do it constantly.
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Old 07-06-2013, 20:00   #8
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Re: water makers

We had a Schenker 35l/h (9 USgal/hr) on our 40ft boat that runs off 12V and only draws 8 amps. It is a third generation watermaker that uses a fluid amplifier so it doesn't need a big pump. I could run it from my solar panels and did run it for an hour or so every day and that was plenty for two people...didn't have a washing machine though.
Superb device !
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Old 07-06-2013, 20:02   #9
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Re: water makers

Albro, whats the price on those?
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Old 07-06-2013, 20:11   #10
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Re: water makers

Scoobert...I don't know ...it would depend where you are ...
I bought mine direct from the factory in Italy as they didn't have a dealer in New Zealand...from memory I think I paid about 6,000 Euros for it in 2009.
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Old 07-06-2013, 20:11   #11
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Re: water makers

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Scoobert...I don't know ...it would depend where you are ...
I bought mine direct from the factory in Italy as they didn't have a dealer in New Zealand...from memory I think I paid about 6,000 Euros for it in 2009.
ouch, much more then the others i have seen.
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Old 07-06-2013, 20:48   #12
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Re: water makers

The first thing you should do is think through as to how much water you will need during a normal day for cooking, washing dishes and clothing, bathing, drinking, etc. That will define the volume of water you would need to produce.

A bit more information on my system. It is a AC system which I run with a 2000 watt Honda Generator and it produces 11/gph which is sufficient for my wife, 1 1/2 yo little girl and I- I run it every couple of days for 3 hours and charge my batteries and do other AC stuff as I make water.

If there are 2 or more people on your boat you will need a system large enough to make about 15 to 20gph. 12V will not provide that kind of power and you would be running he system all day and using a whole lot of diesel fuel to tun the engine. You will need either engine driven or AC with a genset. Engine driven systems get more expensive and complicated but produce higher output in shorter periods of operation.

What size system are you looking at that will require a 1200PSI pump? Most membranes operate at just under 1000PSI as does my system. Look at March Pumps they are the most popular for this type of project and have a VERY GOOD reputation. Depending on your system you may need a second smaller boost pump to bring sufficient salt water volume of water up to the HP pump.

As far as pickling the system, you only need to do that when you are not going to be using the system for a more that several weeks. What one needs to do at least once per week is to do a back wash on the system to clean the membrane and HP lines.

I donīt know what your sailing plans are nor where you plan to go but if you plan on cruising for extended periods with a water maker you need to design it to slightly exceed you water need. All of the above been said, I cruised the Eastern Caribbean for 12 years w/o a water maker. I donīt stay I marinas unless absolutely necessary and after a while got tired of hauling 6 gallon jerry jugs of water to the boat to replenish my water. I have a 100 gallon tank which will last me 2 weeks w/o adding any water.
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Old 07-06-2013, 21:02   #13
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Re: water makers

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ouch, much more then the others i have seen.
Yes not cheap, but when it comes to gallons per Amp at 12V it is very efficient.
First gen systems (just big pump and a membrane) use up to 40Amps at 12 V to produce the same amount of water...can't run that off your solar panels !
I have one like that in my current boat...its a Dessalator 60 - 60 litres per hour but we really need to run the genset to use it...it runs off both 220VAC and 24 VDC, but on 24VDC the current draw is stupendous.
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Old 07-06-2013, 21:05   #14
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Re: water makers

When we bilt our Colvin we added larger tanks then what were called for ! both fuel and water ! We got by for about 10 yrs before we got tired of hauling water to the boat ! and bought a water maker ! I feel that was the best 5 grand I ever spent on our boat !!! The ability to maintain pretty full tanks with 6 bodys aboard was so nice (4 women ya know!!) All I can say is if ya can afford it, the fresh water it will make is sure better then a lot of the water we had to haul aboard! Some of the stuff we had to work a whole day to get to the boat was just short being the best !! LOL All kidding aside, a water maker is something I don't ever wish to be without ever again ! Just my 2 cents
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Old 08-06-2013, 04:08   #15
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Re: water makers

one of the reason i want one is we will be on the hook over 90% of the time.
we will also have a washing machine. so i see the need for at least 20-40 GPD.
i cant get over the huge price tag on a ready to go unit.

what size March Pumps does one need?
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