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Since the revolutionary development of the first Reverse Osmosis membranes by DuPont some 40 years ago, millions of tons of potable water have been produced from salt water by RO desalination plants. They have saved lives, made the desert fertile, and even produce the water necessary for the ice rink to get the Saudi royalty skating.

Some of the smaller units have reached such a degree of reliability and affordability that more and more yacht owners cruising the seven seas consider a watermaker the best option to provide themselves with the priceless commodity ‘fresh water’.

All watermakers available for yachts follow the same reverse osmosis principle, where highly pressurized seawater flows along a rolled-up, semi-permeable membrane, which allows a certain amount of freshwater to pass. This freshwater is collected and directed into the tanks, while the rest of the seawater flows back into the sea as brine.

The first question to ask before the installation of a watermaker should be:
How do I drive my high-pressure pump? AC, DC, or belt?

AC-driven systems make perfect sense if you run a generator regularly. Various manufacturers offer a multitude of models. Be aware that electronics in combination with watermakers have a tendency to create problems, which normally cannot be fixed without spending a lot of money and the help of a manufacturer-approved service station. One drop of saltwater in the wrong place is all it needs to get you carrying jerry cans again.
A non-computerized version costs less to begin with and is much more reliable.

Main engine belt-driven systems can produce huge amounts of fresh water even on a smaller yacht without a generator and without putting any extra strain on your battery system. Their only disadvantage is that they are not so easy to install and sometimes there is just not enough space around the engine to accommodate the really quite small high-pressure pump. Once in place though they are pure joy, especially if they are equipped with an automatic regulating valve. This will grant constant pressure regardless of the engine RPMs, thus adding safety, ease of operation, and longevity.

12 or 24 Volt DC systems are the most versatile, as batteries can be charged by alternators, generators, solar panels, wind-, water- or shaft generators, or shore power. There are two versions on the market:

1) systems with energy recovery, its commonly known representatives being: Schenker, Katadyn/Power Survivor (PUR), Spectra, Livol and

2) systems without energy recovery using fast single plunger pumps or slow and cool running triplex plunger pumps like the ECHOTec.

Both approaches have their advantages.
Some Energy-Recovery systems use only 60% of the amps to produce a given amount of water, therefore putting less strain on your energy budget. The Venture 200 for example, claiming to be the most energy-efficient watermaker in the world, produces up to 8 gallons of freshwater using 10 Amps @ 12 Volt, provided it is used in warm waters. A breakthrough compared to older designs like the Katadyn/PUR.

So why buy a system without energy recovery and use more Amps? Lots of reasons again! Modular versions like the ECHOTec cost some $2,000.00 less to start with. They are also easier to install, cheaper to maintain, more robust, and longer lasting which reflects a longer warranty period. Depending on how many hours a day you run them, a small solar panel or a higher output alternator takes care of the difference in consumption.

Once you have decided on the power supply, the number of showers and washing machines on board has to be discussed with the admiral and crew. Typically AC and belt-driven units produce between 20 to 60 gallons per hour, while 12 Volt units are limited to about 13 gallons per hour.

Make sure that all wetted metal components of your watermaker of choice including the high-pressure pump are made of high-quality stainless steel and you should be good to go and enjoy sailing wherever safe water supply is an issue.

Anyway, the times are over when a watermaker was a pure survival instrument,
luxury is on!


How Do I Choose a Watermaker? 

The first step in this process is to calculate your specific water requirements. Understanding the particular water needs of those on board is paramount in determining the appropriate watermaker for your vessel. Consider activities such as personal hygiene, cooking, cleaning, and potential recreational pursuits. Each crew member and passenger contributes to the overall daily water demand, necessitating a comprehensive assessment.

Another contributing factor to choosing a watermaker is to understand the vessel’s specifications. Vessel size and type play a crucial role in determining daily water consumption. The number of cabins, crew members, and the anticipated duration of each journey directly impact the overall demand. Larger vessels or those with extended itineraries understandably require more substantial water production capabilities. Some watermakers have a larger capacity for water, with some of our popular options being the 2400 GDP series and 10,000 GDP models. However, our selection of  12/24V DC watermaker for sale are excellent options, as well.

Lastly, a factor that you need to consider when you are choosing a watermaker is deciding whether you should choose an AC-powered, DC-powered, or belt-driven watermaker. This depends on the make and model of your boat and if you have installed a system yourself in the past. Our infographic on this page also details this aspect related to your boat. 

Do Watermakers Work in Freshwater? 

Are you still asking yourself, “What is the best watermaker for me if I want a freshwater desalinator?” While marine watermakers are specifically engineered for desalination, some models can indeed be adapted for freshwater usage. It’s essential to differentiate between marine and freshwater applications to ensure the system aligns with the specific needs of each environment.

Many high-quality marine watermakers, including those developed by ECHOTec, can be adapted for use in freshwater environments. These adaptations often involve adjustments to the system’s settings, membranes, or filters to accommodate the lower salinity levels found in freshwater sources. Freshwater typically contains lower salt concentrations compared to seawater. Watermaker systems need to be calibrated to effectively process water with reduced salinity, ensuring optimal performance.

Are Watermakers AC or DC?

Watermakers, including those by ECHOTec, can be designed to operate on both AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current) power sources. This versatility is essential for accommodating the diverse power systems found on different vessels. AC-powered watermakers are suitable for shore power or generators, while DC-powered watermaker options cater to vessels relying on battery banks. 

View Our New Watermakers for Sale 

Hopefully, we have answered any questions that you may have regarding the watermaker that you may need, including, “What is the best watermaker for me?” ECHOTec Watermakers is dedicated to helping our customers choose the best watermakers for their situations. Contact us today to learn more about our products, including sailboat desalination, solar panel desalination systems, and home desalination systems.