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Alan Wheeler 13-01-2007 11:58

I thought I would start a fresh so as not to get this subject buried.
So has anyone used the Raritan products Lectrasan units? I would like to know how well they work, and most importantly, how long do the electrical plates last for. The replacement plate set costs NZ$695 here, so I wouldn't want to have to replace them on a regular basis.

Alan Wheeler 13-01-2007 13:03

Also if I could pose one other question to all.
What type of system do others use and how effective are they. What problems do you find if any.

Jon D 13-01-2007 14:30

I have been using an electro san for 5+ years and they work just as advertised. The only cautions are they do draw a fair bit of power for a few minutes, and if in brackish water you need to add salt. When using the extended cycle is really bad for the plates so you want to make sure the salt content is high enough. The plates have about a 3000 flush lifespan give or take so they are a consumable. We love ours and would not give it up willingly. It is especially valuable now that we liveaboard as we don't have to find the pump out boat most of the time. I changed ours recently and while it was not the most fun job it was not a big deal - all in all took about 3 hrs start to finish.

Pblais 13-01-2007 14:41

Lectra an is the older unit. I have a neighbor that had one a very long time when they were new. Currently we have a Purasan that uses fresh water and a large chlorine pill. It uses less electricity. The only real down side to the Lectrasan is the amount of power they use. The new electro san uses less power. They do work quite well and I don't recall my neighbor having any problems with his.

coot 13-01-2007 17:59

I have the new "Electro Scan" unit, which replaces the older "Lectra San". I think the new name is pretty dorky, but the machine itself hasn't given me a whole lot of trouble. (It gave me a little trouble, which I'll get to.)

The 60 amp fuse makes it sound like a lot of power, but it only runs for 2.5 minutes and it doesn't draw peak power the whole time. My amp-hour meter reading changes by 1 to 2 amp-hours with each flush cycle. If you imagine 2 people each flushing 5 times a day, call it 20 amp-hours. On some boats, that is a tremendous amount of energy, but on my boat that isn't that big a deal.

I don't recall the specs for the plates, but if you assume plates at NZ$700 last for 3000 flushes, that is NZ$0.23 per flush.

I worked out that it would be about the same cost to get pumpouts for about 5 years as to install one, but since I got it, I don't miss making regular trips to the pumpout station. Maryland has a program to subsidize marinas that install a pumpout; in return for the grant, they can only charge US$5 for a pumpout. The problem is, quite a number of them don't work on any given day. Before the lectra san, I would never set off for the pumpout station before calling around to find one that was working.

In the northern Chesapeake, we have to add salt to the flush water. They sell various expensive kits that add salt with varying degrees of automation, but the dealer I bought it from suggested that I just dump dry salt directly into the toilet bowl. I use a little over 1/4 US cup (~= 60 ml) per flush, which is good for 20 - 25 pump strokes on the Jabsco head. We keep a cannister of salt and a measuring cup near the head.

I like that the "chemical" needed is available very cheaply in every grocery store.

Now and then, you have to flush a solution of muriatic (i.e. hydrochloric) acid in water through the system to clean it out. I think this is every 6 months, but check the documentation to be sure. Also, you should flush enough clean water to clear the system if you will leave it unused for more than several days.

Problems I had:

1. The controller board is coated in epoxy to keep water off the circuitry. On my unit, the epoxy got on some of the connectors, which led the unit to detect a fault after some time. Raritan said this was a known problem that they thought was fixed. It is possible that the unit I bought was in stock at the dealer for some time. I bought it just under a year ago, so I would hope this problem is solved by now.

2. After 6 months, it developed a tiny leak around the seal where one of the motor shafts entered the unit. It leaked just a few drops with each flush -- just enough to wipe up, not a big thing. Raritan sent me a new seal under warranty, but I had to disassemble the entire unit to replace the seal. That involves removing 18 screws with lock nuts. It's tedious, but now that I've done it twice (once to replace the seal, once before we realized the controller was faulty), I have figured it out pretty well. I now keep a box of that size lock nuts on board, since you don't reuse them. I also replaced the philips screws with hex heads so I can use various wrenches.

Disassembling the unit is not nearly as stinky a process as you might expect, though I wouldn't say it is fun. Much of the liquid in the tank has already been treated. It is definitely a task to do outside near a water hose.

Other than these two problems, I haven't had any difficulty with it. I would definitely install one again if I had to move to a different liveaboard boat.

b.t.w. Now we have one head with a lectra san and the other with just a holding tank. We don't use the other, but we still pump a little bit of tap water through it now and then to keep the water in the bottom of the bowl from getting smelly.

hellosailor 13-01-2007 18:49

At 23c per flush, I have to wonder what it would cost to just drop in a handful of pool chlorine "pellets" instead. Or plain generic supermarket bleach, if you're in civilization.

Alan Wheeler 13-01-2007 20:51


that is NZ$0.23 per flush.

Hmmmmm, wonder if I can make it coin operated :-)

I have been doing some research. I see that these Lectrasan and Purasan units are still not able to be discharged just anywhere. Which is what I was kinda hoping. I though it may have treated enough to be able to discharge on a mooring when other boats are around. But I see by your Coastguard rules, the Type 1 and 2 devices still can't be discharged within your 3mile limits, is that right?? OK, we don't have thr same laws here, but all around us are Mussle farms. I am not sure I want to dishacrge around them. Our laws are no discharging of a holding tank or toilet within 500m of shore, no less than 5m in depth and no closer than 1000m of a mussle raft. I can only presume this would also apply to the Lectrasan/Purasan units.

GordMay 14-01-2007 01:55

Marine Sanitation Device types are as follows:

Type I MSDs rely on maceration and disinfection for treatment of the waste prior to its discharge into the water. The effluent produced must not have a fecal coliform bacteria count greater than 1000 per 100 milliliters and have no visible floating solids.

Type II MSDs are similar to the Type I; however, the Type II devices provide an advanced form of the same type of treatment and discharge wastes with lower fecal coliform counts and reduced suspended. The effluent produced must not have a fecal coliform bacteria count greater than 200 per 100 milliliters and suspended solids not greater than 150 milligrams per liter .

Type III MSDs are commonly called holding tanks because the sewage flushed from the marine head is deposited into a tank containing deodorizers and other chemicals. The contents of the holding tank are stored until it can be properly disposed of at a shore-side pumpout facility. (Type III MSDs can be equipped with a discharge option, usually called a Y-valve, which allows the boater to direct the sewage from the head either into the holding tank or directly overboard. Discharging the contents directly overboard is legal only outside the U.S. territorial waters which is 3 or more miles from shore.)

Information from the EPA website, updated on December 13th, 2006
No-Discharge Zones for Vessel Sewage | Ocean Regulatory Programs | U.S. EPA

EPA - Final No-Discharge Zone Evaluation Report:

Pblais 14-01-2007 03:27


But I see by your Coastguard rules, the Type 1 and 2 devices still can't be discharged within your 3 Mile limits, is that right??
Nope. The Type I and II are only prohibited within specifically designated NDZ's. A Type III may not be discharged within the 3 mile limit as you note and do require a pump out. These units are both Type I. Type II's are used on larger vessels but are in effect a big Type I. It's what you would use on your mega yacht with 5 heads. The holding tank gets a bit large otherwise.

As a note you wouldn't buy a new Lectrasan you would buy a newer "Electro San" (uses salt water) or alternately the Purasan (uses fresh water and chlorine). You could still have a Y valve with a holding tank for NDZ's if you wanted to.

The original owner of our boat had nothing and pumped overboard. They converted a 30 gallon holding tank to a spare fuel tank and cruised about 5 years and only at the end of the trip when entering the US added a porta potty, then the past owner was a liveaboard in the US and added the Purasan. He installed it himself. I rewired the power to the unit properly to the panel instead of directly connected to the battery posts. The processing unit is quite small and it is not hard to winterize nor install. It would be easier than installing a new holding tank.

Of note also is both the new units use less power than the old Lectrasan. I'm sure you can get parts for the older Lectrasan but there is no reason to buy a new one (if you could).

gosstyla 14-01-2007 10:29

I have 2 Electro Scan, one in each hull. They are connected to Vacu Flush heads which use fresh water so I have small water tanks for each to which I add salt. Currently it seems to take about 1lb of salt per day per head. The discharge hoses are connected to "Y" valves to discharge overboard or into holding tanks.

Been using them full time since September with no real problems, although I think the salt consumption is high.

These were my second choice, I wanted Sun-Mar Ecolet compost heads but they wouldn't fit .

Alan Wheeler 14-01-2007 10:46

Compost heads??? How the heck does that work?Wouldn't it smell?? Can you provide a link.

dana-tenacity 14-01-2007 11:48

What about the airhead I've been reading about, sounds terrific, anybody here have experience.

Try googling airhead, I can't seem to paste the link.

Schuckerman 14-01-2007 12:31

My 2 cents.
I think I just got a bad unit. So take this for what it's worth.
I purchased my Lectra San while working at West Marine and getting the boat ready to go. I didn't install it until almost 2 years later. But unbeknownst(sp) to me, the unit was already a 2 year old model when I bought it. So basically I Installed a 4 year old unit.
It had been used for about 4 months when we left to go cruising. One week into our 2 year cruise, the plates went bad. I was passing through Ft Lauderdale and took the unit to Raritan who told me the plates were bad. The unit was only in use 4 months, but was out of warranty. They gave me a good price on the new parts, but it still cost me a bunch.
Approx 1 year later, the unit stopped going into treatment mode. I contacted Raritan and they said the electrode plates probably went again. I haven't attempted to fix or replace the electrode plate again.
A good friend installed a Lectra San unit around the same time as mine stopped working the second time. He was also near Ft Lauderdale and went to Raritan. Guess what, his electrode plate was bad too. And like us, he had his unit for a while before installing it and was also out of warranty after being used only a short time.
So what's the moral of this story? Well I guess I don't have one. Neither one of us are real keen about the unit. But many others say they've used theirs for years without problems. I will say, that if you're contemplating buying one, check the date of manufacture on the box. I guess I just happened to buy one that was on the shelf for a while.

Pblais 14-01-2007 13:11

Actually you wouldn't buy a Lectrasan it's now called Electrosan. It's the new design.

ronbo1 14-01-2007 14:43

We've had a LectraSan for 5 years and are pleased with it's performance. Had a problem with a leaking motor shaft seal last year which required removing many bolts to lift off the cover. While open I decided to replace the electrode plate; the price was reasonable. We have a separate 2 gallon saline tank that takes rock salt since we're in brackish water. In addition, I rigged up the unused holding tank as a freshwater 'flush' tank, hooked up to the feed line of the toilet it prevents that rotten egg smell. Power demands are really a non-issue. LectraSan's telephone support has been very good whenever I have a question.

Too bad those NDZ's are becoming the rage since it dampens technology from improving these products. How often have you seen people go out "3 miles" to empty their tanks?

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