For centuries, man has sailed the seas and oceans without having to bring a water maker aboard. Why is it that, over the last few years, these devices have become indispensable to many boat owners? Before the water makers were built, the crews of small, medium, or even large boats had no choice: to leave with “full” fresh water and save it as much as possible, up to the possibility of reaching a port and making it again a load of water. So fresh water was consumed with proverbial thrift and treated as a precious commodity. Furthermore, there is no good quality fresh water available on the quays in some countries around the world and they often come for a fee. The choice of having a water maker on board allows you to drive freely without restrictions and increases safety and comfort as few other accessories can. There are several significant benefits to be derived from marine desalination:
There's more water for showers, it's easier to travel farther, and you can spend more time in a remote place. However, these benefits have to be weighed against the disadvantages: namely a high price tag and ongoing maintenance. Deciding whether a water maker is right for you will come down to the type of cruising you’re doing, how much water you need, and your budget. Read on to learn about the pros and cons, costs, and key features of marine water makers.
How does a water maker work?
Reverse osmosis is used by water makers to convert salt water into drinking water. They pump seawater through a rolled-up semi-permeable membrane at high pressure to filter out the salt molecules and produce fresh water. The membrane prevents the massive salt molecules and, in doing so, releases a tiny volume of fresh water to be used as brine. A belt shall be attached to the engine or an AC or DC power source to attain the desired pressure. For producing this 56-bar, traditional water producers are using a High-Pressure Pump whereas the new generation produces it with a Low-Pressure Pump and receives additional pressure by hydraulics, which means fewer power installation spaces are needed to produce lower output. Water makers need an uninterrupted supply of water, without air bubbles caused by turbulence or air being sucked in when the boat rolls.
The benefits and drawbacks of marine Water makers
1. Greater independence
We're saying that the water maker makes it possible for you not to have to go back into port and get water. This practice increases your vessel's autonomy by infinity. It means making plans for the trip more freely.
2. Save space and weight
The capacity or number of tanks for drinking water may be reduced with the help of a water maker. This means saving space, to be dedicated to the internal volumes of the boat or additional lockers, but above all saving weight, improving the displacement and performance of the boat. Indeed, the weight savings of the water carried on board are largely offset by the additional weight of modern water makers, which is approximately equivalent to about 30 kg for a medium-sized water maker. Suffice it to say that a medium-sized boat, which has a typical freshwater storage capacity of 500 liters, will instead be able to travel with a supply of only 150-200 liters, to the benefit of displacement. These more space and weight savings are generally used to the fullest by smaller vessels.
3. Save energy
The consumption of electricity from energy recovery desalination plants is truly minimal, and it is unnecessary to invest in a generator. Modern desalination devices require minimal maintenance to ensure that investments are recovered over time thanks to an unlimited and practically free supply of fresh water.
4. More convenience
In cases where water supplies are supplied only from storage tanks, the quantity of water that is essential for main use must be calculated and adjusted. But this doesn't have to be done with a water maker anymore. So, when you swim in the sea and wash your boat with fresh water as frequently as you like, it's always possible to have a long freshwater shower.
5. Waste reduction and protection of the environment
It means that it is no longer necessary to keep large volumes of plastic water bottles on board when a water maker is aboard. The water from the desalination is of excellent quality, which means it's ideal for drinking. Therefore, in the interest of efficiency and environmental protection, no more plastic should be disposed of.
6. A clean, safe source of water
The boat water maker may be a reliable source of safe drinking water in places where it is not possible to know for certain the availability of drinking water.
7. Longer periods in remote locations
If you are drawn to remote places where it may be only one ship at anchorage, the water maker is a good tool.
The cost is the number one drawback. The average recreational cruise ship's power desalination systems are between USD 3,500 and USD 11,000, which means that the more expensive options offer higher production of gallons of fresh water per hour.
2. Ongoing maintenance
The water makers are yet another component of the ship's equipment to be kept in good condition. Most water maker problems are caused by not using it enough or not using it properly. The microscopic organisms in the seawater die, decay, and jam membranes and filters if they do not use a water maker for several weeks. This can lead to deterioration of the reverse osmosis membranes in a water treatment plant. Using boat water makers must be frequently and regularly flushed with fresh water.
3. Water maker flushing
Instructions on how to flush should be checked by your manufacturer. If you do not use your system for at least a day or two, Rainman suggests flushing seawater out of it with fresh water. After another week, you need to freshwater flush the system again or pickle it for long-term storage. It is easy to forget, of course, so we made a rule that after every use our water bottle should be flushed with fresh water.
One good reason to select a water producer with output that will satisfy your needs for water and do not exceed them is this. You don't need to try and remember whether or not you flushed it if you use it every second day. It is fairly straightforward to get the water maker flushed, but there's a lot of work involved. To flush our system, we used buckets of fresh water and it generally took about 5 minutes.
Auto-flush systems that automatically flush your water machine at scheduled times while you are away from the ship can also be purchased. You shouldn't be using chlorinated water for the flushing, as it destroys reverse osmosis membranes. A carbon filter for the removal of chlorine in the water supply at the port can be purchased.
4. Pickling a water maker
To prevent growth and buildup, which may render your reverse osmosis membrane useless, you need to pick up the water maker with a specific biocide if you are not planning on using it for some time. To chemically remove the membrane, a water manufacturer should also be pickled every so often. You will also need to remove and replace the raw water pre-filter, besides flushing and pickling.
5. Operating costs
When correctly cared for, the membrane should last at least five to ten years. It can be a lot sooner if you don't clean or pickle the water mixer properly, and membranes won't cost as much as 200 to 700 USD. Pre-filters and pickle solutions, which are typically very affordable, will also need to be purchased. The storage of spare parts is also a good idea.
6. Power consumption
Water makers can be real energy hogs. Practical Sailor tested over a dozen DC Water makers, finding that they were capable of between 12 and 48 watts per gallon, more than enough for their efficiency! To be as efficient as possible, all systems which draw up more than 15 amps shall not operate on a simultaneous basis with the engine running.
7. You're not allowed to produce water all over the place
Water makers offer great flexibility and freedom, but you mustn't just make water out of an old place. You risk contaminating your filter by dumping water in polluted harbors or anchorages. In order to ensure that the saltwater used is as clean as it can be, most cruisers go out and swim in open water.
Before buying a marine water maker, what do you need to know?
Whether you’re a part-time sailor with a passion for the seas or someone who spends all their life on board, you will eventually get onto water makers and whether they’re right for your vessel. As regards purchasing a water maker, which we'll explore in more detail below, some key factors need to be considered.
1. How much water?
The volume of water used on board varies, but we suggest about 30 to 40 liters per person a day that the manufacturer can make within 3 to 4 hours. You can continue to operate the water maker for a longer time if you need more water.
2. Power consumption
It's an interesting question, as more luxury boats and motor ships are choosing to concentrate on battery energy systems instead of installing or running a generator. There are two kinds of water makers out there.
AC, DC, or engine driven: This will depend on the size of the water maker you choose and whether it is a traditional water maker or an ERS water maker. Traditional water makers are AC-powered because of the higher power requirements. ERS water makers are available in both AC and DC. Engine-mounted units are of the traditional water maker type but are limited by the space in the engine room and often require complex installations.
3. Where will I fit the water maker?
First, you’ll see the difference between modular and skid units for water producers. Modular units offer greater freedom and flexibility for installation since can provide you with various components wherever there is space on the vessel. To allow quicker installation but often take up more space, Skid units are preassembled and incorporated into the housing. Last, the space on board for many smaller boats will determine which type of system is best suited to each vessel; this creates a very simple choice among modules or self-contained systems.
4. I'm going to need how much automation?
The obvious advantage of installing the water maker is that all you need to do is press a button and forget it. The ERS self-regulates the pressure in a water production plant, unlike some traditional systems which require that valves be opened and closed to control the pressure. The device continues to be clean and protects the reversing osmosis membrane with an automatic operation feature that allows it to flush.
5. How much will it price?
Entry-level (30 liters per hour) traditional water makers with automation start at around AUD 8,650 with similar ERS units starting at AUD 9,250.
In short, that you have a water maker on board makes it easier to navigate with more independence, safety, and comfort. Currently, there are many models of various sizes and prices. It is therefore possible to have a water supply device suitable for the needs of each vessel, from the smallest to the largest.
This device uses physics rules to perform. Since seawater dissolves a huge amount of water, it has high osmotic pressure. It means that it can absorb water. Semi-permeable filter lets the water pass through, but salt is left behind and cannot pass. If we put water in this system, it will not pass through the filter because of its high osmotic pressure. For this reason, pressure is applied to the liquid using AC or DC power to allow seawater to pass through the filter. Finally, the resulting water is free of salt particles and can be used for various purposes. Finally, we can say that The Dubai and Sharjah Marine store in the UAE has the best for you.