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Old 11-12-2015, 07:32 AM   #1
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Lectrasan Conundrum

We are still working on converting our former stationary liveaboard Manatee into a real cruising boat. The PO told us he had new electrodes for the Lectrasan and would put them in before we took delivery but backed out on that as soon as the sales contract was signed.

Looking at the corroded wiring on top of the unit and talking to a local over hauler, we're not sure it has been used as anything but a direct pump for years. With dozens of other "Boatbuck" projects to deal with, we are wondering if it makes sense to invest in it for cruising primarily on the ICW and Loop. No discharge zones seem to be everywhere and the boat has a good size holding tank. I'd love to have that space for an additional battery bank.

Opinions appreciated.
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Old 11-12-2015, 07:55 AM   #2
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We are still working on converting our former stationary liveaboard Manatee into a real cruising boat. The PO told us he had new electrodes for the Lectrasan and would put them in before we took delivery but backed out on that as soon as the sales contract was signed.

Looking at the corroded wiring on top of the unit and talking to a local over hauler, we're not sure it has been used as anything but a direct pump for years. With dozens of other "Boatbuck" projects to deal with, we are wondering if it makes sense to invest in it for cruising primarily on the ICW and Loop. No discharge zones seem to be everywhere and the boat has a good size holding tank. I'd love to have that space for an additional battery bank.

Opinions appreciated.
Actually NDZs aren't as bad as you think. Of course on the loop in freshwater areas....yea large areas are all NDZ.

If constantly moving...and pulling into fuel docks or marinas....pumpouts might be your solution.

Then again...depending on your cruising style, use of the heads, and size of holding tank...a big chunk of change can go to pumpouts if you aren't careful and try and utilize free ones.

I elected to pay the bucks just for the no hassle of HAVING to go to the pumpout area when in a place for longer than the holding tank would allow me to stay put. But that is a style and personal call.
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Old 11-12-2015, 09:46 AM   #3
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If you are going to be in freshie or fresh water you will need to spring for the salt injection optional add on. The system does not work without it in low or no salt water. Burns out the electrodes as an upsize. Had my druthers I would or perhaps will replace my 2 with a holding fresh water system. Fresh tank separate for toilets. No stink, no aggravating (I have 2 not working) Lectroscans. I truly do hate m.
Electrodes are about $350-400 a pop, then there is all the rest that goes with em, a real PIA.
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Old 11-12-2015, 10:21 AM   #4
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I swapped my ElectroScan for the Purisan and am much happier.

I simply got tired of the brine pump setup and of course the mixer motor failed finally.
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Old 11-12-2015, 11:48 AM   #5
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When we bought our Nova sundeck 15 years ago it had a Lectrasan th didn't work. Even after spendin' mucho bucks for new electrode pack it wouldn't work. Finally junked the thing.
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:18 PM   #6
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Since fixing the brine pump I am 100% happy with my electroscan. On my last boats with salt water heads I loved the electroscan. The purasan was a good unit as well but trying to get hazmat to Alaska is difficult at best.

Life without a marine treatment system is just not so much fun. Pumpouts are not plesant. The tradeoff is that you have another system to maintain.

I'll take the no pumpout route any day
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Old 11-12-2015, 01:05 PM   #7
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I loved mine

Sold the boat after 15 trouble free years with the Lectrasan. A new one is on the list for the new boat.
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Old 11-12-2015, 01:10 PM   #8
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Our boat came with an old LectraSan that constantly showed a low salt fault, even though the salt injection system was working correctly. After much diagnostic work, I concluded that the wiring was inadequate to deliver correct voltage/current and that the system had probably never worked correctly for the 20 years it was installed! Of course, the electrode pack needed replacing and a rebuild kit was also in order.

After pricing the necessary wiring supplies, along with the electrode and rebuild kit, I was in for over $800 even with careful shopping. We decided to upgrade to a Purasan, which in retrospect has been a great decision.

One think I never liked about the salt injection system was that it relied on a float valve to maintain water level. Our overflow was plumbed into the bilge, so if the valve ever failed, it would continuously pump water into the bilge. Not a very good system in my opinion.

We don't have a holding tank, but when we get around to cruising into waters that have NDZ's we will add one along with Raritan's Hold N'Treat control. For now, it is priceless not having the hassle or odors from a holding tank.
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Old 11-12-2015, 01:25 PM   #9
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Since fixing the brine pump I am 100% happy with my electroscan. On my last boats with salt water heads I loved the electroscan. The purasan was a good unit as well but trying to get hazmat to Alaska is difficult at best.

Life without a marine treatment system is just not so much fun. Pumpouts are not plesant. The tradeoff is that you have another system to maintain.

I'll take the no pumpout route any day
Second this...I will admit Raritan Engineering needs a new slide rule...their Electroscan never did show enough salt in the water even though I am 1 mile from an inlet with great flow from the North Atlantic and my scientific salinity meter shows right at the 33ppt to be considered saline.

I added the salt injection and like Kevin told the Raritan Engineers, strike two...but with Kevin and others and a little common sense...n electric float and solenoid valve works wonders...only about a $60 upgrade.

My system was using an abnormal amount of salt...so I cleaned it...it still was using too much so I cleaned it again within a couple days. Now it gets the 40 or so flushes that Raritan says it should and about 4-5 days without adding another 10 pounds of salt.

It too a season to get it right..but once understood...I think they are great and as I posted before...if you really don't want to move to a pumpout and you don't want to illegally discharge at an inconvenient time....then they are great when you learn their shortcomings.

If you boat and cruise in an area with lots of free facilities and they are convenient...then don't spend the money as it is a pretty high price if you can't justify it.
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Old 11-12-2015, 01:41 PM   #10
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I installed a Purasan on Moonstruck. Because of the no discharge zone in the Keys, I ran it through my 60 gal. holding tank. That gives me the flexibility to go either way. Now, with free pump outs at my slip, I use that when in the harbor. Just call the dockhand. They will come down and pump it out.
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Old 11-12-2015, 06:01 PM   #11
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I'd say get ride of it. They seem to be problematic. They also use quite a bit of electrical energy. I have one, you need salt water injection to use it in fresh or brackish water. I have gone through, mixing motors, and two tanks. Your battery charge condition has to high enough or you show a fault and the toilet will not treat. If your on the move, refueling and pump.out can be handled at the same time. In California they are illegal to use in an ancorage, or harbor. That is where I seem them used the most. Live aboards love them as they can leave the boat at the dock and never move it. Of course they are illegal, but most don't know it. I loved mine after spending a small fortune installing it. Not so happy now that I've had to fix it.
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Old 11-12-2015, 06:44 PM   #12
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Since you already have a holding tank, I would get rid of it and plumb directly to the holding tank.
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Old 11-12-2015, 09:54 PM   #13
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I'd say get ride of it. They seem to be problematic. They also use quite a bit of electrical energy. I have one, you need salt water injection to use it in fresh or brackish water. I have gone through, mixing motors, and two tanks. Your battery charge condition has to high enough or you show a fault and the toilet will not treat. If your on the move, refueling and pump.out can be handled at the same time. In California they are illegal to use in an ancorage, or harbor. That is where I seem them used the most. Live aboards love them as they can leave the boat at the dock and never move it. Of course they are illegal, but most don't know it. I loved mine after spending a small fortune installing it. Not so happy now that I've had to fix it.
I'm sorry, but a lot of what you say just isn't true. The discharge of treated waste is illegal in most of SoCal waters, but is LEGAL in ALL coastal waters on the whole west coast north of Santa Barbara except for Richardson Bay (Sausalito) a small harbor off SF Bay. That includes anchorages.

Although the current DRAW appears a bit scary, actual current CONSUMPTION only averages about 20 AH/day for a liveaboard cruising couple.

Yes, the LectraSan/ElectroScan does need salt. However, if you're not in fresh or brackish water often enough to be worth installing a salt feed tank, salt CAN be added manually to each flush. Two coffee measures is the recommended amount.

Yes, it's necessary that batteries maintain sufficient charge to run a treatment device. However, low voltage is not only damaging to treatment devices, it'll destroy ANY electric motor. In fact is the leading cause of sluggish discharge in electric macerating toilets. This is the reason why toilets and treatment devices should be on their own separate dedicated circuits, shared by nothing else--not even cabin lights--that can reduce power to it.

The ElectraSan/ ElectroScan requires regular cleaning to remove sea water mineral buildup on the electrode pack. This does not require taking anything apart; directions are in the owners manual. In cooler waters, this may only be necessary once a year...in tropical waters, as often as every 3 months. Neglecting this is guaranteed to cost you an electrode pack and often fuses as well.

If you are mostly in brackish or fresh water, or if your toilet uses onboard freshwater, the LectraSan/ ElectroScan was the wrong choice. The PurSan was designed for use in fresh water, but works equally well in salt and brackish. It does not need salt.

So if you (generic you, not you personally) don't keep your batteries sufficiently charged, don't make sure it gets enough salt--or use to much salt, which is as damaging as too little, don't clean it regularly, or you have the wrong device for your boat and waters, it's not surprising that you'd have so many problems with a LectraSan/ ElectroScan that you'd recommend against it. Those who DO operate and maintain according to directions have very few problems with them for decades.
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Old 11-13-2015, 01:13 AM   #14
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Richard, did you figure out if the Purasan tablets are the same as swimming pool chlorine tablets?
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Old 11-13-2015, 06:45 AM   #15
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"No discharge zones seem to be everywhere"

and they will surely grow larger as its a free way for a politico to show "he cares".
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Old 11-13-2015, 07:05 AM   #16
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Some of Raritans problem is that the well known issues described in forums or learned the hard way aren't what's in the manual.

More frequent clesning, too much or ANY salt being added to salt water, slightly low voltage ( not from wire runs but from letting you battery bank get down below say 75 percent like mine), manual says OK to use Electroscan with fresh water toilets with pumped salt feed....etc...etc ....

Seems the sales brochure and manual could be rewritten based on actual issues...because there seems to be a gap.
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Old 11-13-2015, 08:20 AM   #17
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Some of Raritans problem is that the well known issues described in forums or learned the hard way aren't what's in the manual.

More frequent clesning, too much or ANY salt being added to salt water, slightly low voltage ( not from wire runs but from letting you battery bank get down below say 75 percent like mine), manual says OK to use Electroscan with fresh water toilets with pumped salt feed....etc...etc ....

Seems the sales brochure and manual could be rewritten based on actual issues...because there seems to be a gap.
The only gap I see is that the salt feed system has a known problem in that the float switch sticks in the open position causing it to overflow. I think they have adressed this issue with the new designed salt feed tank but I'm not certain.

The other things you mentioned are covered in the instruction manual, and pre-sales brochure

The issue of supplying proper voltage is an installation issue. The unit requires up to 50 amps DC at greater than 11.0 volts I believe. If the DC system on the boat will not support that then the unit will not work properly. This is all part of the specifications and instruction manuals available prior to purchase. I've had Electroscan's on three boats now and never had a low voltage alarm because my boats electrical system(s) have had the capacity to support the Electroscan's needs.
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Old 11-13-2015, 08:32 AM   #18
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One of the few times I will disagree with you...but I was reading my manual as I typed...never saw a minimum battery voltage...it just says low, never saw where more frequent cleaning was mentioned and that too much might be detrimental, etc...etc...

Even the Raritan techs shrug their shoulders at my low amps warning even though I am pretty much in salt water and the salt feed tank empties as fast as it should in near fresh water.

Just saying...the system has had more issues that I thought it would....now they are fixed like the overflow valve....but a years learning curve on a near $2000 system that comes across as install and forget was more than I think most people considering the setup want to deal with.
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Old 11-13-2015, 08:41 AM   #19
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One of the few times I will disagree with you...but I was reading my manual as I typed...never saw a minimum battery voltage...it just says low, never saw where more frequent cleaning was mentioned and that too much might be detrimental, etc...etc...

Even the Raritan techs shrug their shoulders at my low amps warning even though I am pretty much in salt water and the salt feed tank empties as fast as it should in near fresh water.

Just saying...the system has had more issues that I thought it would....now they are fixed like the overflow valve....but a years learning curve on a near $2000 system that comes across as install and forget was more than I think most people considering the setup want to deal with.
Well there you go... Thanks!!

Are you getting low amps or low volts?

The way mine works (I have fresh water heads) is that it goes through pretreat then starts the treatment cycle with something like 4 amps. Then the saltwater pump is activated and the amps go up. The unit keeps activating the salt pump over probably a 15 second period until the amps read 18-20.

If you are getting low amps, then perhaps your salt feed pump is not pumping enough salt brine quickly enough?

I agree with you regarding the salt feed overflow issue. If I could solve it in just a few days of thinking about a solution then you would think they could have come up with something quicker. I really like my solution. Trying to get enough force in a limited area to shut off a valve reliably is a challenge. Sensing liquid level and controlling a solenoid valve is easy. But, again I should not have had to engineer my own soluton.
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Old 11-13-2015, 09:49 AM   #20
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I have new electrascan systems that were installed in our boat just before I acquired it. They seem to work fine, but I do get low voltage messages often. So I have some work to do.


On the NDZ issue, have any of you had experience with the compost systems? From the reviews I have seen they seem much more positive than I would have expected.
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