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Old 30-06-2020, 12:10   #1
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Watermaker Selection Priorities

I don't "need" a watermaker, but am reaching the point that I recognize the "want" of the convenience to be willing to part with some cash. Most watermaker threads just go down the same two standard decision paths of an AC driven unit or a DC driven unit. Each side battles it out using really the same 2 arguments rephased by each side in mortal combat, so please let's try to not take it personal if not everyone agrees.

I have been thinking about and considering various watermakers now for a couple of weeks, plus I have gone done the "standard" 2 thinking lines in my mind lots of times over the years. Since I currently have lots of time I have no reason to rush and started thinking maybe I didn't really understand my priorities for making the selection. So I decided to list what they might be and rank them as they apply to us on our boat.The below are the priorities and order my wife and I came up with. But since we never have had one thought maybe there are other priorities and considerations to think about, so I am open to lessons learned. Remember everyone who has a watermaker does not need to get into a contest to defend it. It is a given that it was a good chose (maybe if they still believe so) for them.

These are what we came up with in order of importance:
1 - Enough capacity - to fill our needs, wants, and desire in water amount (that will vary greatly among users)

2 - Noise - we have to live with it and listen to it. Unless a truly quiet solution is out there this becomes Loud/Short, Less Loud/Longer)

3 - Price - I have reviewed and considered watermakers covering the price range of $1200-$6500. Cost is important, but not as important to us as #1&2 in reason

4 - Installation - It needs to be reasonable to install and not displace a storage location better used for something else. The "where am I going to put that" needs to be well thought over.

5- Maintenance - Goes pretty much hand in hand with installation. Plus what it going to be the total requirements and frequency of the choice.

6- Energy requirements - Everyone battles this one out like it is #1 or #2. But to me it isn't as much a factor as long as I have a way to meet it. Whether that be from solar, installed batteries capacity, generator, alternator, it just needs a way to meet the power requirement.

7 - Availability - of the units and spares.

That is what we came up with. I am open to civil additions and reordering with reasoning. The past week I have changed my mind 3 times a day so it isn't like I am set in stone for what I think is right.
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Old 30-06-2020, 12:57   #2
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Re: Watermaker Selection Priorities

#7 is important as they will require ongoing maintenance and filter replacements. Having standard, readily available parts is something you patience and your wallet will appreciate.

We have a watermaker. It came with the boat. It's 110v and does 37 gallons per hour. It was designed to be fully automated. However, I run it as a manual unit because I prefer to maintain more control. So, my point is you might want to consider whether or not you want to pay extra for a bunch of automation that you might not end up using. Just something to consider. An inline TDS meter is handy. When it hits your preferred point, either a solenoid clicks and diverts the product water to the water tank or you turn a valve. That's about a much automation as I want or need. Just something to think about because it wasn't on your list.
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Old 30-06-2020, 14:06   #3
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Re: Watermaker Selection Priorities

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
I don't "need" a watermaker, but am reaching the point that I recognize the "want" of the convenience to be willing to part with some cash. Most watermaker threads just go down the same two standard decision paths of an AC driven unit or a DC driven unit. Each side battles it out using really the same 2 arguments rephased by each side in mortal combat, so please let's try to not take it personal if not everyone agrees.

I have been thinking about and considering various watermakers now for a couple of weeks, plus I have gone done the "standard" 2 thinking lines in my mind lots of times over the years. Since I currently have lots of time I have no reason to rush and started thinking maybe I didn't really understand my priorities for making the selection. So I decided to list what they might be and rank them as they apply to us on our boat.The below are the priorities and order my wife and I came up with. But since we never have had one thought maybe there are other priorities and considerations to think about, so I am open to lessons learned. Remember everyone who has a watermaker does not need to get into a contest to defend it. It is a given that it was a good chose (maybe if they still believe so) for them.

These are what we came up with in order of importance:
1 - Enough capacity - to fill our needs, wants, and desire in water amount (that will vary greatly among users)

2 - Noise - we have to live with it and listen to it. Unless a truly quiet solution is out there this becomes Loud/Short, Less Loud/Longer)

3 - Price - I have reviewed and considered watermakers covering the price range of $1200-$6500. Cost is important, but not as important to us as #1&2 in reason

4 - Installation - It needs to be reasonable to install and not displace a storage location better used for something else. The "where am I going to put that" needs to be well thought over.

5- Maintenance - Goes pretty much hand in hand with installation. Plus what it going to be the total requirements and frequency of the choice.

6- Energy requirements - Everyone battles this one out like it is #1 or #2. But to me it isn't as much a factor as long as I have a way to meet it. Whether that be from solar, installed batteries capacity, generator, alternator, it just needs a way to meet the power requirement.

7 - Availability - of the units and spares.

That is what we came up with. I am open to civil additions and reordering with reasoning. The past week I have changed my mind 3 times a day so it isn't like I am set in stone for what I think is right.
If you have a genset now go with the 110v ac system, they are cheap and produce lots of water although they do take up space with larger membranes.
You can also use these units with a portable gas generator and that takes up even more space as you need a storage area for the generator. If you have lots of unused storage then this is a viable option.

If no genset of any sort but you have 350 plus watts of solar then a 12v model is the way to go. The most efficient of all watermakers is of course the Spectra.
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Old 30-06-2020, 14:46   #4
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Re: Watermaker Selection Priorities

Unless you are going to design and source parts yourself, you are likely to need some technical support at some point. You might consider access to and reputation of the supplier.
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Old 30-06-2020, 15:09   #5
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Re: Watermaker Selection Priorities

I had and used a small Spectra on one of the boats I sailed, quite manual, and it was good. If I remember well it was 12Volt driven.


But I met many Spectra owners who hated the service. Hard to say why as our unit never failed.


So I would buy it for my own boat too, mostly because it was so compact and easy to use.



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Old 30-06-2020, 15:14   #6
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Re: Watermaker Selection Priorities

To add to your numbers 2 and 7.

Installation, choose one that’s either in modules or easily separated pieces that you can mount in different places, one or two big assemblies will take up a whole lot of room.
Try to find one that your pretty sure has plenty of “extra” plumbing pieces parts, and maybe get extra pump switches, if you have the correct spare switch, it’s an easy two min fix.

Maintenance, best in my opinion to get one that uses easily available standard parts, and stay away from one that the membrane is proprietary for example.

Lastly Mine can be completely operated form one place, the panels. I don’t need to access the membranes or any other parts to change valve selections, that makes it so I can mount pieces parts in an area that I don’t have to get to every time I want to make water. On mine that took an optional remote panel, but I believe it’s worth it.
If the one you purchase doesn’t have an hour meter, purchase one, cheap and easy to install but let’s you know how often to perform pump oil changes at least.

Lastly, again an opinion but stay away from “automatic” ones with sensors etc that are required for operation, and don’t get anything with electronics, it’s a simple machine. You don’t want to complicate it with automatic processes and electronics
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Old 01-07-2020, 07:28   #7
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Re: Watermaker Selection Priorities

My first water maker came with the boat - an AC one tucked under the galley floor. Within a year I had ripped it out and replaced it with a Spectra in a side cabin rather than the galley. Two boats later I’ve stuck with Spectra.

The primary reason for the change was your reason #2 - noise. The AC unit was astoundingly loud. Louder than the genset that also had be running. Maybe my boat’s installation made it seem louder? I’m sure in a larger boat with isolated and soundproof equipment spaces this wouldn’t be such an issue.

My spectra is in a cabinet in a side cabin. With the door closed you can barely hear it from the main cabin. When sailing I have to run below to see if it’s still running.

The next factor is that watermakers are best run offshore. The filters will last 10x longer than in harbor. We typically start ours as we clear the harbor and leave it on for 4 hours. Maybe I’m old school but running a genset while sailing just seems wrong.

Which brings me to the next point. We use triple the water that we used to. The heads are freshwater flush and never stink. I don’t yell at guests about shower use. Everyone knows not to leave a faucet running but that’s about it. It’s just easier to make 50 gallons a day than worry about it. At first I felt a little guilty about not bathing with a damp rag - but I got over it.

The Spectra (Newport 18gph) runs fine off the batteries but is especially useful as an additional load when the alternator or genset isn’t fully loaded during battery charging.

A factor not on your list is that RO water is delicious. Bottled water is banned on my boat - saving considerable money and my back from lugging them aboard,p. Guests talk about how much they enjoy the water (I’ll admit to planting that idea in their heads)


As to Spectra reliability, mine have been great. Over 3 units I’ve only replaced a salinity probe and a couple of hose fittings that developed tiny leaks (done myself) None of these put the water maker out of action (I temporarily bypassed the salinity probe in the control). I’m sure I’ll have a failure someday - it’s a boat

If you are not 100% live aboard and go with the Spectra I heartily recommend the Z-Ion option that removes the need to pickle for over a month when you are off the boat. My membrane is still giving the same production after six years.

And if you are ever in Florida, get your Spectra from JT at Halden Marine. More than once he’s helped me over the phone diagnose and fix an issue. Once from a deserted cove in the Southern Bahamas.
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Old 01-07-2020, 12:08   #8
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Re: Watermaker Selection Priorities

I have a larger than needed AC, HP pump because it doubles as a pressure washer. The pump is mounted on plywood and then 1" foam before it contacts hull structure. The foam cut the noise at least in half.


Once you have water, you'll want a little more. Don't buy a system too small.
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Old 02-07-2020, 05:44   #9
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Re: Watermaker Selection Priorities

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Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
My first water maker came with the boat - an AC one tucked under the galley floor. Within a year I had ripped it out and replaced it with a Spectra in a side cabin rather than the galley. Two boats later I’ve stuck with Spectra.

The primary reason for the change was your reason #2 - noise. The AC unit was astoundingly loud. Louder than the genset that also had be running. Maybe my boat’s installation made it seem louder? I’m sure in a larger boat with isolated and soundproof equipment spaces this wouldn’t be such an issue.

My spectra is in a cabinet in a side cabin. With the door closed you can barely hear it from the main cabin. When sailing I have to run below to see if it’s still running.

The next factor is that watermakers are best run offshore. The filters will last 10x longer than in harbor. We typically start ours as we clear the harbor and leave it on for 4 hours. Maybe I’m old school but running a genset while sailing just seems wrong.

Which brings me to the next point. We use triple the water that we used to. The heads are freshwater flush and never stink. I don’t yell at guests about shower use. Everyone knows not to leave a faucet running but that’s about it. It’s just easier to make 50 gallons a day than worry about it. At first I felt a little guilty about not bathing with a damp rag - but I got over it.

The Spectra (Newport 18gph) runs fine off the batteries but is especially useful as an additional load when the alternator or genset isn’t fully loaded during battery charging.

A factor not on your list is that RO water is delicious. Bottled water is banned on my boat - saving considerable money and my back from lugging them aboard,p. Guests talk about how much they enjoy the water (I’ll admit to planting that idea in their heads)


As to Spectra reliability, mine have been great. Over 3 units I’ve only replaced a salinity probe and a couple of hose fittings that developed tiny leaks (done myself) None of these put the water maker out of action (I temporarily bypassed the salinity probe in the control). I’m sure I’ll have a failure someday - it’s a boat

If you are not 100% live aboard and go with the Spectra I heartily recommend the Z-Ion option that removes the need to pickle for over a month when you are off the boat. My membrane is still giving the same production after six years.

And if you are ever in Florida, get your Spectra from JT at Halden Marine. More than once he’s helped me over the phone diagnose and fix an issue. Once from a deserted cove in the Southern Bahamas.



I know that guy, he is pretty awesome. I even get to sleep with his wife.
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Old 02-07-2020, 06:16   #10
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Re: Watermaker Selection Priorities

We all hear about Spectra as the standard, and I have no reason to doubt this, but how does this compare?

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Old 02-07-2020, 06:26   #11
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Re: Watermaker Selection Priorities

Anytime your buying a mission critical item, especially if it’s relatively complex, what you need to consider more than anything is customer support and parts availability.
If your watermaker breaks, starts doing something odd etc, you want to be able to call or email someone, hopefully the same person and ask advice, and or have parts sent by next day.

Many things we can patch or just do without, but a watermaker and refrigeration are what I consider mission critical.
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Old 02-07-2020, 06:58   #12
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Re: Watermaker Selection Priorities

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
We all hear about Spectra as the standard, and I have no reason to doubt this, but how does this compare?

SCHENKER Watermakers | Best Watermaker for your Boat, Yacht or Vessel
Overall my research says it compares well among users. I am waiting pricing to see how that compares.
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Old 02-07-2020, 20:33   #13
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Re: Watermaker Selection Priorities

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Overall my research says it compares well among users. I am waiting pricing to see how that compares.

I've looked only briefly at them, but this is my conclusion as well. Very interested to hear the price quote you get.
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Old 02-07-2020, 23:14   #14
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Re: Watermaker Selection Priorities

I have a Rainman, is it the best? I dont know ,but I can say its performed flawlessly and made me several hundred plus liters of water.

The aussie dollar is fairly low vs the usd at the moment, this may work for you.

Also you have options, the portable version, therefore store like you store a Honda genset ,which may not work for you according to your post ,or the plumb in version. It can start of portable and then plumb it in at your leisure.

I make approx 800L/week, thus I like a big watermaker .
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Old 02-07-2020, 23:38   #15
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Re: Watermaker Selection Priorities

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To add to your numbers 2 and 7.

Installation, choose one thatís either in modules or easily separated pieces that you can mount in different places, one or two big assemblies will take up a whole lot of room.
Try to find one that your pretty sure has plenty of ďextraĒ plumbing pieces parts, and maybe get extra pump switches, if you have the correct spare switch, itís an easy two min fix.

Maintenance, best in my opinion to get one that uses easily available standard parts, and stay away from one that the membrane is proprietary for example.

Lastly Mine can be completely operated form one place, the panels. I donít need to access the membranes or any other parts to change valve selections, that makes it so I can mount pieces parts in an area that I donít have to get to every time I want to make water. On mine that took an optional remote panel, but I believe itís worth it.
If the one you purchase doesnít have an hour meter, purchase one, cheap and easy to install but letís you know how often to perform pump oil changes at least.

Lastly, again an opinion but stay away from ďautomaticĒ ones with sensors etc that are required for operation, and donít get anything with electronics, itís a simple machine. You donít want to complicate it with automatic processes and electronics
Where did you install yours? Did you add a dedicated water intake, or made an existing one shared?
It is going to be my project next winter. So far, the finalists are Spectra and PUR 40E and maybe the Italian counterpart of Spectra. It appears that 40E is easier to install, but I am not sure I want to run it 20 hours a week. How often do you need to change oil?
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