Monday, March 12, 2018

Six months with a budget $1500 watermaker...

Covering one's ass 101,  more reasons why plastic waste is so bad, and in the "Blaming the usual suspects" department...

It took me a long time to get around to purchasing a watermaker.

Part of the reason is I never felt a pressing need to get one as we are pretty frugal on the water front. Another part of the equation is I tend to balk at buying stuff if I don't already know where it's going to go aboard "So It Goes" and I could never quite make sense of how to incorporate a watermaker into our simple jerry can based water system.

Oh yeah, let's not forget the whole expensive and problematic part... Having worked at a marine consignment store for a chunk of time, I saw lots and lots of watermakers and high pressure pumps come through the door that worked badly, needed repair, or simply did not work at all. Having sold three very expensive CAT pumps to one guy over the course of a year made me very nervous about the whole idea of a watermaker aboard and their long term viability.

What confused me most on the subject of watermakers is that the reverse osmosis water making process is so simple why were so many people having so many problems and why was it so frelling expensive?

Most of the people I met who were having good experiences with their watermakers had either cobbled together simple watermakers out of stock parts or had one of the Power Survivor 12-volt low output units. Researching both options pretty much had me firmly in the "If I ever get a watermaker I'll build it myself!".

That said, building a watermaker yourself is not at all hard but trying to figure out the bits needed is somewhat problematic as everyone has an opinion and none of them agree. For instance a LOT of people think you need a super powerful pressure pump like a CAT pump because, you know HIGH PRESSURE!

Well, for me, two things come to mind...

If I only need 800psi to make water do I really need a pump capable of so much more pressure?

And, if CAT pumps are so great, why did we have so many non-working CAT pumps on consignment and why did we sell so many expensive rebuild kits?

So, for me at least, the real conundrum was all about which pump to buy for my watermaker. Well at least till I heard of a few folks who were using cheap pressure washers as their high pressure pump (like this guy). Not taking anything for granted I corresponded with several of the pressure washer folk and ascertained that the pressure washers really did work, that they held up to the wear and tear of making seawater into fresh water provided you treated them right, and that parts were available if you needed to fix them but the pressure washers were so cheap you might as well just carry an extra just in case.

To my mind, these guys were on the right track.

So, I made a list of all the bits I needed to build my own watermaker, priced it out and was pleasantly surprised at what it would all cost but never quite got around to building a system simply because I still did not know how I wanted to install it.

Then a reader wrote and asked my opinion of this SeaWater Pro system and, looking into it, it was pretty much everything on my list and all for a cost not all that much greater than my watermaker parts shopping list. Better yet, it was all from one place which saved a bunch on shipping, and all the fiddly stuff was already worked out. So we bought it.

So much for backstory. We have now been using our watermaker for six months and all of the fresh water we have used in that time period has been water we've made and we have had zero problems. We have still not installed the unit and have been using it in the assemble when needful (spelled twice a week) mode and it pretty much works finest kind. The only downside being it takes five minutes to assemble and five minutes to disassemble and put away but I hardly find ten minutes to be a problematic impact on my available time.

That said, I do plan to get around to actually installing the unit in one of the cockpit lockers one of these days when a cunning plan comes to mind as how to do it in a way that makes it easy to use while not impacting all of the stuff that cockpit lockers tend to accumulate... I have some ideas but nothing quite as cunning as I want yet.

As for the nitty gritty, the unit produces 20 gallons an hour at just under 800psi with a PPM of between 120 to 150 which is par for the course. The pressure washer and boost pump run off our Ryobi 2200 generator without issue or strain.

So, the bottom line is the watermaker works well, it's trouble free, and I see no signs of it having any issues that will become problematic in the future. I really can't see anything more that's needful and consider the $1500 well spent.

Listening to some stuff that takes me back

So it goes...