This is part 2 of a 2 part review of Seawater Pro and my experience installing it.
Today, for the first time, I have the entire system working and fresh water
is coming out of the ocean.
After a lot of work
, it is so gratifying.
I spent perhaps 70-80 percent of the project
wires a water
lines to/from the watermaker
and connecting them to various places and a mounting panel, and 20-30 percent or so with assembling the unit itself.
I built a 2' by 4' Starboard panel which I mounted in the compartment using stainless L brackets, bolted to the floor of the compartment and thru the fiberglass hull
ceiling (=deck if you are outside on deck), reinforced with beams also made with Starboard. All that was bolted. That front compartment takes a real beating in heavy seas, so I over built it for the worse I think I could take.
The panel I made allowed me to drill the 30 or so holes to mount all of the equipment
without worrying about hull
. That all worked fabulously.
I used the traveler/shuttle line previously described to pull “fish” lines up to the compartment from the owner's cabin
hallway, which I would then use to pull wires/hoses. That way if the “fish” line came disconnected, I always had the shuttle line to bring a new fish
up to use.
Paracord works great for both the “fish” lines and the shuttle line.
Here are the connections which needed to be done.
1) 110V which runs from the high voltage cabinet in the Owner's pontoon cabinet. (12G, 3 conductor about 30 feet long). I found it difficult to add a breaker at the source, so I decided to hook into a washer/dryer preinstalled breaker. I just have to remember to NOT run them both at the same time. There is room for another breaker, however it's all Euro, so it was hard for me to figure out which was a replacement. Yeah, I was basically lazy. I may alter that someday.
2) A 12 volt line which runs from the front compartment to primer pump
, and then up behind a closet in the owner's hallway, up to then under the indoor nav station, where there was a spare spot for a 20A breaker. It was about 25 feet or so. (I solder/shrink tube all my connection, no crimping). The primer pump
is in the floor just aft of the head
, in the hallway of the owner's hull.
3) Salt water
from the primer pump in the floor of the owner's hallway to the forward compartment. This was about 15-20 feet, 1/2” PEX. The primer pump tapped into the water inlet and filter for the air conditioner on the Owner's side. All that is under the flooring
in the passageway with pretty accommodating access. Fairly easy, except the pump was tight in there.
4) Fresh water from the house pressurized water. This was accessible by tapping into water lines heading to the head
, which were found in the wall behind the closet in the corridor. That was perhaps 20 feet 1/2” PEX
5) Fresh water out, which goes from the front compartment, under the floor, up the wall behind the same closet as the other lines, through the bulkhead forward into the generator
bay, across that through a bulkhead into the chain locker, which also has the fresh water tank
. That was about 35 feet long, 1/2” PEX. That one was challenging.
There is also salt water
, but that I did right by the panel, very simple and was about 1 foot away.
I'm not sure how many hours all together, but more than 50, less than 100 (?)
I made quite a few "improvement" (my definition of improvement
The fresh water out line was quite long in my application, which I feared would impede flow/production, so I upped that to 1/2” PEX, which I then also used for several other applications, in an effort to standardize usage, and therefore reduce backup inventory.
Connections between the filters, Salt
water in, fresh out, fresh rinse water in, were all changed over to 1/2" PEX. That eliminates the other types of tubing, and unifies to just one easily inventoried selection. I also stocked up on, and used many other right-angle and straight joins, and PEX to 1/2 inch NPT, etc. I love PEX, because it is so simple to cut, join, flex, and has great abrasion resistance.
The water filters are notoriously difficult to seal the unions, since the inlets are pipe, not NPT, and will leak even with 15 wraps of Teflon tape. Much better is a connector with an O-ring, which I substituted for the type supplied in the kit. I learned this the hard way installing my 3-way fresh water filter system for drinking water
on the same boat
connections have breaker-switches on the panel from the factory (I opted for in the kit), but I also put breakers at the sources of equal sizes. So for example, the 12V starts with a breaker in the nav station panel, then runs its path to the Watermaker
Pro panel which has another breaker/switch combo for turning on the primer pump. The downside there is if it ever pops a breaker, I need to look in two places. The upside is the the 12v line is protected the entire distance in case of a short due to any reason.
I also used this:
instead of the Teflon tape supplied and recommended in the kit. I think it is a better choice.
The fresh water out path really needs a T connection somewhere if you ever desire to flush that path during initial start up, or when pickling.
There is not pickling path in the instructions/design, so I added that also in an arguably odd/questionable way.
Now for some suggestion, complaints, problems with the kit.
But before getting into the negatives, I'd like to put out there that Mike was exemplary, inspiring, relentlessly helpful when things weren't going well.
I have never interacted with a vendor I have so much respect for in this regard. He is the poster child for good customer care, for how to behave as a business owner, and responsiveness.
The bad news: (spoiler alert, it's not that bad.....)
First, the documentation
is in horrible state. There are different versions, old design components no longer used (such as the primer pump has no similarity to the manual, and over pressure design has changed). The online videos are definitely deep into amateur territory, but are helpful regardless. One must remember they are a previous version of the design, to learn to ignore barking dogs
in the background, shaky camera
holding, and non-scripted narration. The videos are also not sequential. Chaos.
I watched them all, and information can be gleaned despite the shortcomings.
All that might lead one to think these guys don't know what the hell they are doing, and motivate you to run for the door. It almost chased me away!
Now I look at it as part of the charm, since I have come to really like the guy.
I think the problem is that Mike hates documentation
, and making videos in a professional way, so he avoids it. Plus, perhaps because of the poor instructions and documentation he seems very busy answering the phone
with questions, and perhaps doesn't have the time to do it right (?).
BUT, I again hasten to add that I find him/them to be extremely helpful, and shockingly prompt with answering or returning my several life or death phone
calls, and a couple dozen emails I have sent. Great customer service
Another problem I had is with a valve which regulates the high pressure pump pressure, another factory option I chose to purchase
. It was closed to fresh water rinse pressure (30psi) so rinsing wasn't working.
I'm not sure what the problem turned out the be, but when dismantled, I found that two of the components had galled together permanently so I was unable to take it apart to investigate. I also found that two others were in the early stages of galling, and were in trouble without TLD. Some of the aforementioned pipe sealant
extraordinaire would stop that, or anti-galling goop, like:
He should be applying this to all stainless-stainless connections.
When I called to explain my project
killing problem, Mike send a new unit to me, overnight, yes, overnight, and I was up and running again in no time. This is yet another example of his complete commitment to customer care.
Unfortunately, when that unit arrived, and I spliced it into the design, that wasn't working either. I was rethinking my narration herein, however, after just a few minutes, I had it apart, and saw that one of the parts
had been installed backwards, and after flipping it, it worked perfectly. Happy.
I called Mike and told him of the problem so he would be aware and not send out more with this error. He explained that he had hired 2 new guys and they were assembling the units, and that he would make sure they did it correctly from now on.
This, I think shows more of what I was pointing out previously: I think Mike is just too busy to do thing "right", and it's biting him in the ass.
But it's fine with me. Not preferable, but certainly tolerable. Nothing so bad/negative that it alters my view of my purchase
I'm happy with my decision to use this company, and this product. The shortcomings are far outweighed by the tremendous advantage of having someone who cares and is lightning
fast at remedies and advice
and consultation. I value that highly.
I'm making 35gph, and it was fun to put together, and I know every aspect of the system now.
Perhaps I should say that I have in no way obtained any special treatment, compensation, favors, or any other advantage because of this article. In fact, i waited until it was all working before posting
. He didn't/doesn't know it was me. To him, I was just a customer, and was treated like any other.
So, I am happy. It's all working, it was a lot of great exercise for body and mind. I know how it all works, where everything is, how to replace any of it if there is a breakdown (yes, inevitable).
I could have spend $2k more on a completing DIY
watermaker kit (whom I spoke with, and came away with a slightly unhappy experience) or 10-15k more on a high efficiency model, but I think I made the right choice, and I'm content!
Please let me know if you have any questions or need photos.
Thanks for reading!