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Old 10-22-2020, 10:11 AM   #1
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Which watermaker and why

Getting close to putting a another offer on a new to me boat. It doesnít have a watermaker. Last boat did and that was a game changer in terms of quality of life.
Last one was a spectra Cape Horn extreme. DC so just our wind generators and solar were adequate with no net battery draw. And no electronics so it was bulletproof reliable.
Now on a FD trawler donít know which way to go. AC v DC? If AC which brand and model.
Please help with this decision.
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Old 10-22-2020, 10:30 AM   #2
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Getting close to putting a another offer on a new to me boat. It doesn’t have a watermaker. Last boat did and that was a game changer in terms of quality of life.
Last one was a spectra Cape Horn extreme. DC so just our wind generators and solar were adequate with no net battery draw. And no electronics so it was bulletproof reliable.
Now on a FD trawler don’t know which way to go. AC v DC? If AC which brand and model.
Please help with this decision.

If the boat will need to use genset often go AC, helps to load the genny. If not go DC and add solar to extend non genny time. The high output units are pretty much AC. There is no such thing on a boat as too much fresh water.. unless your on a lake and its sinking.
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Old 10-22-2020, 11:17 AM   #3
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Talk to Gary at CruiseRO out of San Diego. He's a cruiser and was in La Paz last I heard. He's legendary for fast response.

https://www.cruiserowaterandpower.co...aker-overview/

These are AC watermakers and not particularly efficient. But they are scalable and use off-the-shelf parts. On a different Forum, I read of a couple somewhere deep in the Caribbean (Grenada I think) looking for replacement parts for Spectra and ended up being stranded for an extra couple weeks while a part got shipped from Miami at considerable cost. Granted, single-threaded customer support through Gary, but he's 24/7 and very knowledgeable. Cost effective, and old-school manual operation (they do have self-backflush mechanism). Watermakers have come a long way, but when they do fail, seems to be related to motherboards. Since those are 100% convenience related, manual is my choice for long range/term reliability.

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Old 10-22-2020, 11:25 AM   #4
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Talk to Gary at CruiseRO out of San Diego. He's a cruiser and was in La Paz last I heard. He's legendary for fast response.

https://www.cruiserowaterandpower.co...aker-overview/

These are AC watermakers and not particularly efficient. But they are scalable and use off-the-shelf parts. On a different Forum, I read of a couple somewhere deep in the Caribbean (Grenada I think) looking for replacement parts for Spectra and ended up being stranded for an extra couple weeks while a part got shipped from Miami at considerable cost. Granted, single-threaded customer support through Gary, but he's 24/7 and very knowledgeable. Cost effective, and old-school manual operation (they do have self-backflush mechanism). Watermakers have come a long way, but when they do fail, seems to be related to motherboards. Since those are 100% convenience related, manual is my choice for long range/term reliability.

Peter

Hey Hippo,

I agree with Peter. I have a Cruise RO 40gph unit. Love it and highly recommended.
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Old 10-22-2020, 11:32 AM   #5
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We made about 2,500 gals of water over the last 4 months. I went AC for many of the reasons Hollywood posted.

MVW, why are saying AC WM’s are not as efficient as DC? I suppose there are a lot of variables involved and how we use our boats and their setup, but if you are off grid and need to run the Gen every day to charge the batteries and for other stuff like heating up the hot water tank, an oven to cook, etc., I think AC WM’s are actually more efficient than DC as far as the production rate is concerned.
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Old 10-22-2020, 12:22 PM   #6
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Thanks guys. There’s actually a Spectra dealer in Granada and another in St Lucia. We use Jon in Rodney Bay to get filters so suspect it wasn’t a Spectra. Actually have had the most troubles getting RM stuff when in the Caribbean and B&G service is worst from what I hear. Yanmar is preferred over Volvo for that reason as well.

The reason we did the DC Spectra is because it recovers the energy of both strokes of the Clarke pump. So it’s more efficient.

Do you make water while underway? Does that allow no genset when using a AC set up? Don’t even like to hear the cooling water splashing when hanging out at anchor.
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Old 10-22-2020, 12:30 PM   #7
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For an AC watermaker, you could use it underway with a big enough inverter and big enough alternator(s). Otherwise, it mostly makes sense if you already have a periodic need to run a generator. Such as for running a washer/dryer or using high power electric galley appliances. In those situations, it makes sense to (generator size permitting) just batch all of the big loads together for a single generator run. Such as a 90 minute run to make water, make dinner, and do laundry, then back to quiet.

If you expect to run a watermaker from solar and battery power mostly, then you want a more efficient DC unit, rather than a high output AC unit.
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Old 10-22-2020, 12:34 PM   #8
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Thanks guys. Thereís actually a Spectra dealer in Granada and another in St Lucia. We use Jon in Rodney Bay to get filters so suspect it wasnít a Spectra. Actually have had the most troubles getting RM stuff when in the Caribbean and B&G service is worst from what I hear. Yanmar is preferred over Volvo for that reason as well.

The reason we did the DC Spectra is because it recovers the energy of both strokes of the Clarke pump. So itís more efficient.

Do you make water while underway? Does that allow no genset when using a AC set up? Donít even like to hear the cooling water splashing when hanging out at anchor.
Here is the thread. They were in St Martin. Who knows what the full story is, but in my mind, there's no doubt that if you plan on cruising, proprietary components is more of a liability than off-shelf components.

https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...le-220915.html

Peter
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Old 10-22-2020, 12:54 PM   #9
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We made about 2,500 gals of water over the last 4 months. I went AC for many of the reasons Hollywood posted.

MVW, why are saying AC WMís are not as efficient as DC?
Spectra Cape Horn Extreme (Manual operation). 19A @ 12VDC (plus boost pump) produces 15 gph, so 16w/gal

CruiseRO 43gph runs at 13.5A @ 120VAC (plus boost) so 37w/gal.

So the Spectra is twice as efficient, though the CruiseRO makes 3x the water, so you can run it for 1/3rd the time. Plus, the Spectra is $8k, the CruiseRO is around $4500. Given most powerboats have plenty of power to run this underway, it's a no-brainer to me. I'd go with the 120VAC with off-shelf components.

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Old 10-22-2020, 12:56 PM   #10
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Another vote for Cruise RO. Rich was responsive with answers to my questions, Installation was as easy as any other RO watermaker. I can run it off the inverter when underway but it doesn't allow much overhead for other AC demands, so normally the genset is running when making water, I prefer to run the watermaker when underway because the water normally has less algae then the shallower water in anchorages, but that may be a west coast thing.... There are options for auto flush and with new TDS meter in the panel I imagine auto fill may even be available but you still have to manually adjust the pressure so another valve turn is no big deal...
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Old 10-22-2020, 01:04 PM   #11
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IMO, there are 2 options, Spectra and Village Marine. Why? Because they are well known and have lots of parts and technical help if needed.
Now, next option. AC of DC. I opted for DC so I didn't have to run the generator. I doubt if my inverter would provide enough for an AC water maker. Plus, if necessary, you can get DC power from the main engine via the batteries.
I can heat water off the ME, make water and charge the batteries too. Cooking.... I guess I could cook on the grill if necessary.
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Old 10-22-2020, 01:08 PM   #12
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Another vote for Cruise RO. Rich was responsive with answers to my questions, Installation was as easy as any other RO watermaker. I can run it off the inverter when underway but it doesn't allow much overhead for other AC demands, so normally the genset is running when making water, I prefer to run the watermaker when underway because the water normally has less algae then the shallower water in anchorages, but that may be a west coast thing.... There are options for auto flush and with new TDS meter in the panel I imagine auto fill may even be available but you still have to manually adjust the pressure so another valve turn is no big deal...
Thanks for correcting me - I had said Gary. It was Rich. I found him about a year ago and sent an email inquiry. He called me back within an hour and answered a bunch of questions. I haven't purchased yet, but no doubt in my mind that I'll go with his unit. On CruisersForum he also has a legendary reputation. There is no magic about his watermakers, and there are competing DIY-style units, but he seems to have compiled a rock-solid system.

Recently, a friend with a $1.5m trawler cat had the motherboard on his watermaker blow. The control board had changed which required the remote display panel be replaced too. By the time it was done, it was a $8k repair. If you read the thread I referenced on a Spectra owner, they ended up with a few grand in repair plus a several week delay.

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Old 10-22-2020, 01:13 PM   #13
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IMO, there are 2 options, Spectra and Village Marine.
I'd say the two choices are proprietary or off-the-shelf. Or maybe AC vs DC.

Looks like the biggest capacity you can get in 12VDC is around 15gph. There's something to be said to making 40+ gph even if it is less efficient. I would think most engine/alternator/Inverters on boats in this forum are capable of producing 15A 120VAC (1800W). Or let me put it this way - if your cruising plans require a watermaker, your electrical system should be setup to handle this type of draw regardless of whether or not you have a WM.

Just depends on priorities.

Peter
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Old 10-22-2020, 01:59 PM   #14
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For an AC watermaker, you could use it underway with a big enough inverter and big enough alternator(s). Otherwise, it mostly makes sense if you already have a periodic need to run a generator. Such as for running a washer/dryer or using high power electric galley appliances. In those situations, it makes sense to (generator size permitting) just batch all of the big loads together for a single generator run. Such as a 90 minute run to make water, make dinner, and do laundry, then back to quiet.

If you expect to run a watermaker from solar and battery power mostly, then you want a more efficient DC unit, rather than a high output AC unit.
Have you ever had a water maker on a boat? Just curious, because you seem to have a technical opinion on just about every subject that comes up. I check in every day, but read more than I post to learn from others.
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Old 10-22-2020, 02:38 PM   #15
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Have you ever had a water maker on a boat? Just curious, because you seem to have a technical opinion on just about every subject that comes up. I check in every day, but read more than I post to learn from others.
I've tried to design in the ability to add one to my setup as I've made electrical changes, which led to lots of research on power draw for various units, etc. I haven't actually had the need and budget to install one though.
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Old 10-22-2020, 02:59 PM   #16
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We made about 2,500 gals of water over the last 4 months. I went AC for many of the reasons Hollywood posted.

MVW, why are saying AC WMís are not as efficient as DC? I suppose there are a lot of variables involved and how we use our boats and their setup, but if you are off grid and need to run the Gen every day to charge the batteries and for other stuff like heating up the hot water tank, an oven to cook, etc., I think AC WMís are actually more efficient than DC as far as the production rate is concerned.
Fletch - Here's where I think you're spot-on with this - if you factor-in generator run-time, the equation changes. Pays to produce more water faster even if the WM is less efficient.

Instead of daily, I'd prefer to run a watermaker every 3-4 days for around an hour to make 50 gallons which the 43 gph WM supports. The larger Spectra (15 gph) would take over 3-hours; and my current 7gph/120VAC would take around 7-hours.

Just depends on how you want to use it. I am in the process of upgrading my battery and adding 800W of solar, so maybe running my little WM for hours on end is fine. But I'd really rather have the larger system. Plus, with my larger solar panels, running the generator every few days is about right.

Peter
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Old 10-22-2020, 03:28 PM   #17
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Good discussion. Our lifestyle is to hangout on the boat fairly often. Do stainless or other small chores. Or just read, web surf and enjoy the sun. Over the last 7 years have gotten into a routine that on hangout days make water. So a 7 hour run isn’t a biggie. Now due to Covid will spend more time near coastal. On the east coast. Finding good spots without sediment or hydrocarbons in the water is harder. So ability to make a lot of water in a short time gains somewhat in importance. Filter changes do cost money over time. Especially the carbon one.
What filter set up are you using? How many gallons do you get out of your filters?
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Old 10-22-2020, 03:43 PM   #18
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Good discussion. Our lifestyle is to hangout on the boat fairly often. Do stainless or other small chores. Or just read, web surf and enjoy the sun. Over the last 7 years have gotten into a routine that on hangout days make water. So a 7 hour run isnít a biggie. Now due to Covid will spend more time near coastal. On the east coast. Finding good spots without sediment or hydrocarbons in the water is harder. So ability to make a lot of water in a short time gains somewhat in importance. Filter changes do cost money over time. Especially the carbon one.
What filter set up are you using? How many gallons do you get out of your filters?

For the activated carbon filter used to remove chlorine when flushing the system lasts about 6 months and is 10 dollars.
I have 3 pleated water filters in my system a 50,20 and 10 micron they can be washed dried and reused they each run about 10 to 12 dollars.... Filter cost with the CRO is not a big deal.
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Old 10-22-2020, 03:48 PM   #19
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Hippa, TF members KSanders, Lepke, and other people on this site built their own WMs and know them well. They have some good threads on here you my want to check out. They were very helpful when I was doing my research last year. I went with a fully automatic system. Push a button, and off it goes. It’s a BlueWater, XT. It is used by a lot of cruisers and has been working well. The primary and fresh water flush filters need to be changed every 6 months. They are not very expensive. The Other filters will last years. We made a ton water this Summer and I am still a WM newbie, but so far I have been very happy with the system.

Peter, that is what I what was trying to convey. Again, we all use our boats differently so there are no right or wrong answers, whatever works for the mission.
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Old 10-22-2020, 06:26 PM   #20
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We’ve been buying filters. Once you get sufficient marine growth on the filters you get a sulfur smell in the water. Although the ppm reading is great the taste and smell of the water isn’t. So we we change that filter much more frequently than noted above. Find washing them doesn’t get rid of the sulfur smell. Wife’s quite sensitive to it so change that filter every two month or so. Sometimes even more often. Whenever the smell comes back.
We had two water tanks 100g each. Would only put shore water in one. The other only saw RO water. Do our back flushing only with the RO water tank. So do get 4-6 months out of the carbon. Put in both a wire cage strainer and 10u prefilter on the supply line. Was able to get a box of them for real cheap. You can’t find 100 RV antifreeze anyplace in the Caribbean. With the Z ion they say you don’t need to pickle for a month. But personally trust it for 2 weeks so we do pickle for thanksgiving, Xmas, and school spring break when we fly home for family stuff. Then use the SC-1 chemical which you can find in both the windwards and leewards but it’s expensive. I had it taken from me at customs in the airport. Although it clearly says on the packaging it’s not a dangerous chemical customs thought otherwise so took it. When we start up again will always carry 6 pouches of the stuff.
Think marine growth rate and it’s nature varies place to place. Whatever is stinking up the filters and supply line down south isn’t up north so do get the service intervals much like what’s posted here. Except down Maine there’s more sediment and if you’re frequently making water no way you get more than a month or so before feed pressure starts to fall.
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