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Old 11-24-2016, 12:01 AM   #21
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I'd get a basic model with as little electronic bells and whistles on it as possible.
I will second that!

We've used a 300 gpd Spectra for something like 14 years now. Although it is more work, the valves are simple to use and dead reliable.
On the new boat, we have elected to go with as large an a/c 120 volt unit as we can fit. In this case it is an 800 gpd US Watermker model. It is pretty basic and made of very standard "off the shelf" components for the most part.
Bigger is better and simple is good!
By the way, cruising with a watermaker is simply a heavenly luxury. Water whenever you need it, no need to worry about conserving...you'll love having it!
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Old 11-24-2016, 06:19 AM   #22
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Background, my set up is a 400 US gallon per day DC system (Spectra). When I run it I run it for two to two and a half hours off the batteries, then turn on the generator to finish off three hours of watermaker run time and recharge batteries. The generator is usually on for 45 minutes or an hour.

When I have both good sun and high wind the solar panels and wind generator can supply power to the watermaker.

My comments: Size you watermaker so that three hours or less per day will supply you with the water you need. We have and use a washing machine on board and use a fair amount of water.

Running a generator three hours a day for an AC watermaker is done by many but is not my choice. One and a half hours a day of generator time fills all my needs.

An AC system has the drawback that you are dependent on the generator. A DC system will allow you to operate off the batteries. I have spent a couple of weeks at anchor recharging the batteries using a combination of wind, solar and engine run time and have still used the watermaker. I know of two boats with AC systems that had to leave the anchorage to seek out water when their generator malfunctioned.

I have a Spectra automated system. Wonderful when it is working, but the sensors which control the automated elements of the system are the big weakness. Twice a year I have problems and to date all the problems have been related to the automated elements of the system. Fortunately, I have been able to switch to manual operation while I figured out how to fix the sensor involved. If I had to do it over again I would buy a non-automated 12 volt system.

Be careful where you mount your system. You will need to work on it and thus need to be able to access the system comfortably.

You need two thru-hulls for your watermaker. Conventional wisdom is that these should be dedicated.

If you install a DC system oversize the wires as many of the DC systems are sensitive to voltage drops. Also install a battery switch or breaker in the wiring so that you can shut off all power to the unit cleanly. I initially used a max fuse and found the process for removal of the fuse sent fluctuating power to the watermaker control panel with negative consequences.
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Old 11-24-2016, 07:29 AM   #23
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You need two thru-hulls for your watermaker. Conventional wisdom is that these should be dedicated.
One below the waterline for pickup but the other can be above the line for discharge?
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Old 11-24-2016, 08:17 AM   #24
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One below the waterline for pickup but the other can be above the line for discharge?
This is the preferred setup.
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Old 11-24-2016, 08:56 AM   #25
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Water Maker Install

How much area does a manual DC system take up? I have an area in my lazerette I might like to install one if we ever decide to go anywhere other than the ICW.

Or is it easier to just buy water if not living aboard full time, or for months at a time? Like in the Bahamas for example?

My fresh water tanks hold 130 gallons.
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Old 11-24-2016, 10:29 AM   #26
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One below the waterline for pickup but the other can be above the line for discharge?
The brine discharge can be T'ed into any overboard drain if it's easier.

And as others have said, go with a larger daily capacity unit. Unless of course you are running your genset pretty much full time once you leave the dock.

But even then I'd get a higher output one than 100 gallons per day.
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Old 11-24-2016, 10:33 AM   #27
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How much area does a manual DC system take up? I have an area in my lazerette I might like to install one if we ever decide to go anywhere other than the ICW.

Or is it easier to just buy water if not living aboard full time, or for months at a time? Like in the Bahamas for example?

My fresh water tanks hold 130 gallons.
If you stay a marinas most of the time, even if you're in the Bahamas, buying water might be the way to go.
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Old 11-24-2016, 10:58 AM   #28
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If you stay a marinas most of the time, even if you're in the Bahamas, buying water might be the way to go.
You can buy a lot of water for $5-10,000 or more.
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Old 11-24-2016, 11:09 AM   #29
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You can buy a lot of water for $5-10,000 or more.
Right now in the Exumas water is between 60c and 90c per gallon.

So $7K would buy you between 7,777 and 11,666 gallons.

If you use 100 gallons a day, that is between 77 and 116 days, double that if you only use 50 gallons a day - 144 and 232 days.

We are spending 3 months in the Exumas in the spring. That's 90 days. Most of the cost will be recovered pretty quickly at those rates.

I have a 350 gallon tank.
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Old 11-24-2016, 11:37 AM   #30
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Right now in the Exumas water is between 60c and 90c per gallon.

So $7K would buy you between 7,777 and 11,666 gallons.

If you use 100 gallons a day, that is between 77 and 116 days, double that if you only use 50 gallons a day - 144 and 232 days.

We are spending 3 months in the Exumas in the spring. That's 90 days. Most of the cost will be recovered pretty quickly at those rates.

I have a 350 gallon tank.
60/90c gal that very very expensive better to drink wine
in our harbor I was thinking was expensive at 10c gal produce by public water maker
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Old 11-24-2016, 11:49 AM   #31
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Whether the prospective water maker is a luxury or a necessity may determine some of the choices for you. We chose to cruise with two and use one underway and the other at anchor. The pickup for one is forward and in big seas it sucks up air so it is less than ideal for use underway. The other is aft and 4' below the waterline. One of our units is self contained and automatic, while the other is modular and manual. One runs off 240 ac the other runs off our batteries via our inverter on 120vac. Both output 35 gph at 78 degrees and use 1500 watts of energy per hour which equates 42 watts to make one gallon of Ro water. At anchor alchemy for us sometimes means a gallon of diesel turns into 70 gallons of drinking water in an hour. Nice luxury when everything is working but that doesn't always happen. 35 gph will require at least two long membranes and I'd avoid installing them anywhere near the engine as Hp can leaks can atomize the air with saltwater. Maintenance tasks such as filter and oil changes should also be a consideration during your design and install.
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Old 11-24-2016, 12:24 PM   #32
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Both output 35 gph at 78 degrees and use 1500 watts of energy per hour which equates 42 watts to make one gallon of Ro water.].
I think you dropped a unit, hours? 42W/h for a gallon of RO water? Hmmm.... that seems quite impressive. A quick google search says that's in the ballpark of municipal plants.
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Old 11-24-2016, 01:15 PM   #33
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Probably cheaper for most cruisers to buy water than to have a watermaker. Convenience of course is an issue. Also at times the unavailability of shore based water (two of the last five years in St. Lucia). Also you are then required to move the boat whether or not you want to move to get water. Not always the easiest thing to do.

It depends on your cruising grounds, most boats in the Eastern Caribbean have watermakers, very few in the Great Lakes.
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Old 11-24-2016, 09:44 PM   #34
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I am not in the cruiser category so my thoughts most likely are different from cruisers pertaining to water. The few times that I had to haul water from a dock spigot to the boat was a PITA and the water was free. So for those who suggest "just pay for it" is only half the real cost. The other half involves hauling and then getting it into the boat's tank.

And yes, if you're going to spend for a watermaker, it is wise to not think about anything less than 20gal/hr.
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Old 11-24-2016, 10:14 PM   #35
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I installed my own in components. It is only 8 gph. I used the salt water wash down through hull. Unit was $5,000.
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Old 11-25-2016, 01:19 AM   #36
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Right now in the Exumas water is between 60c and 90c per gallon.

So $7K would buy you between 7,777 and 11,666 gallons.

If you use 100 gallons a day, that is between 77 and 116 days, double that if you only use 50 gallons a day - 144 and 232 days.

We are spending 3 months in the Exumas in the spring. That's 90 days. Most of the cost will be recovered pretty quickly at those rates.

I have a 350 gallon tank.
Yeah, but if you only go once it might not be worth the up front expense.

Plus water in the Exumas is more like .40 to .60 a gallon.
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Old 11-25-2016, 03:31 AM   #37
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In my opinion using an avoided cost to justify a watermaker probably does not work out.

What does work out is that with a functioning watermaker you do not need to conserve.
  • If you want a 20 minute shower... Great.
  • If you want to wash the salt crusties off of the windows so you get a fantastic view...Great
  • If you want to do laundry at sea...Great.
  • If you want to spend a week or more away from port without worrying if you are running low on water...Great
  • If you do not want to drink municipal water with all of the chemicals, and impurities...Even Greater...

What I do is to take a couple gallon jugs and fill them up from the watermaker test outlet every day. That way we drink only pure, fresh water. Water that has never been in a tank. Water that is just water.

The convience factor that a watermaker provides is far greater than any dollar figure can describe. We boated for a long time without a watermaker. Now that we've gotten used to one, we cant imagine how things used to be.
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Old 11-25-2016, 07:35 AM   #38
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In my opinion using an avoided cost to justify a watermaker probably does not work out.

What does work out is that with a functioning watermaker you do not need to conserve.
  • If you want a 20 minute shower... Great.
  • If you want to wash the salt crusties off of the windows so you get a fantastic view...Great
  • If you want to do laundry at sea...Great.
  • If you want to spend a week or more away from port without worrying if you are running low on water...Great
  • If you do not want to drink municipal water with all of the chemicals, and impurities...Even Greater...

What I do is to take a couple gallon jugs and fill them up from the watermaker test outlet every day. That way we drink only pure, fresh water. Water that has never been in a tank. Water that is just water.

The convience factor that a watermaker provides is far greater than any dollar figure can describe. We boated for a long time without a watermaker. Now that we've gotten used to one, we cant imagine how things used to be.
All this I agree with. We used to take "boat showers" on our last boat because usually there were between 5-8 people on board and only a 100 gallon tank. Now we are getting used to full hot running showers, washing machine, dishwasher, and running the waste disposal etc. etc. so want to continue this lifestyle!

As to the question of only one time? Nope. 2017 is the full-trial mode for the boat. This trip to the Exumas and up and down the SE. Anchoring out is our preference.

Then starting spring 2018 we do the loop, off and on for a couple of years. Even on the loop we expect to be anchoring the vast majority of the time. On the times we have to go in for fuel I do not want to be adding time at the fuel dock to do a water fill.

Back home for a year, probably some work that needs to be done on her then in 2021 we want to do the islands all the way down to the ABCs and back.

That takes us to 2023ish, God and health willing.

Longer term we would love to do a Panama Canal trip, Sea of Cortez and the NW. But that is the Utopian dream.

So yeah, I believe we will get our money's worth as well as support the lifestyle!

Love the idea of clear water into jugs. We use fruit infuser jugs so that would be even better!
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Old 11-25-2016, 11:29 AM   #39
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On the small end of the scale, I installed a Village LW 160 that makes about 6+ Gal/hour. It's DC and draws around 10 amps. Components are modular , bulkhead mounted and out of the way. No problems in 6 years of use. I run it when we're traveling to top up the tank, and then fill the tank with marina water when we're at the dock. Works great for us.
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Old 11-25-2016, 11:47 AM   #40
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Designed and built my own, it's not rocket science. 20gph, AC powered, $3000 all told.
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