- Why would I want a marine reverse osmosis watermaker on
- Safety is a paramount concern. If you have a marine
water maker onboard, then you can avoid or greatly limit
the potential risk to you and your passengers by providing
virtually limitless fresh water in the event there is
an emergency that keeps your vessel offshore for an extended
period of time. This provides both you and your passengers
with peace of mind.
There is also a tremendous risk in filling your fresh
water tanks with dock-fill water, particularly in foreign
countries where the quality of the water is uncertain.
By introducing potentially contaminated water into your
fresh water tanks you are exposing all people onboard
to unknown risk. You know the water from your marine
watermaker is fresh and will keep your tanks clean and
Having the ability to make fresh water while you are
underway frees your vessel from the burden of carrying
the water weight necessary to accommodate an entire voyage.
Water weighs approximately 8.3 pounds per gallon. This
extra weight adds up and can reduce the distance you
can travel over a given period of time. Also, if your
vessel is power driven, your fuel costs will increase
according to the additional weight you carry on your
Convenience is an important factor. No special stops
are necessary to buy water as you voyage. Simply run
your marine watermaker to fill your tanks and enjoy a
limitless supply of water for longer showers, laundry,
cooking, washing dishes, making ice and wash-downs with
water that leaves your vessel spot-free.
All of these factors result in a marine watermaker being
an extremely smart and economical investment for virtually
every boat owner.
- What size marine watermaker is right for my boat?
- Marine watermakers should provide ample fresh water
to all passengers onboard on a daily basis. As a guideline,
the U.S. Coast Guard recommends that 30 gallons
of water per person per day should be available
onboard. So, for example, if you are planning for 4 people
onboard, then you should plan on having 120 gallons of
water available per day.
Next, determine how many hours per day you want to operate
the watermaker to make the capacity that you need. Most
people are comfortable with between two and five hours
per day. Then, compute how many gallons of water you
need to make per hour to make your daily demand considering
the period of time you would want to operate the watermaker.
Considering the example above, if a person wanted to
make 120 gallons of water in a two-hour time period,
then a watermaker capable of producing 60 gallons of
water per hour is required.
Marine watermakers are rated based upon how many gallons
of water they are capable of producing per hour. This
information is also stated in terms of daily production
(that is, the rated hourly production multiplied by 24).
Marine water makers are typically available in ranges
of production from eight to 344 gallons per hour (that
is 200 to 8,300 gallons per day). Larger commercial-sized
systems are typically available in outputs up to 1,750
gallons per hour (42,000 gallons per day). Unlike competitors,
FCI units are engineered to deliver the advertised output
under varying conditions.
- What makes FCI Watermakers’ systems different from other
reverse osmosis units available today?
- FCI Watermakers has long been recognized in the marine
industry for building reliable, durable, state-of-the-art
watermakers. FCI has systems in the field with over 17,000
hours of operation on them still running strong.
FCI Watermakers offers the industry's most comprehensive
one year system warranty with a lifetime guarantee on reverse
osmosis membrane vessels. Other watermaker manufacturers only offer a limited warranty with no guarantees.
We only use the finest quality components on our systems.
FCI goes the extra step in building systems that provide
customers with the most durable marine watermakers available
in the marketplace. For example, FCI uses “washdown duty”
motors on all marine systems. This means that FCI motors
are epoxy coated and have neoprene gaskets. Other manufacturers
typically use “general duty” motors, which are merely
painted and their gasket material is made of cardboard.
Plus, FCI uses motors with industrial-quality 316 stainless
steel shafts. Other manufacturers use motors with steel
shafts. Our high-grade materials enable our marine reverse
osmosis systems to withstand the elements of wet marine
environments and not succumb to corrosion and rust.
FCI Watermakers is the only manufacturer that offers
Reverse Osmosis Controller (UROC) on a
range of watermaking systems. The UROC controller offers
user-friendly digital interface with full customizing,
automatic operation for various applications and installations.
UROC technology also provides users the ability to monitor
and operate their marine watermaker from a computer.
UROC controller technology is unique to FCI Watermakers,
and is not offered by competing manufacturers.
All FCI watermakers come complete with a fully automatic
fresh water flush as part of the system. Most other manufacturers
sell them as accessories, which means additional costs
to users. Fresh water flushes are an integral part of
a watermaking system because they deter the build-up
of biologicals in the watermaker when it is not in use.
Manual flushes are not reliable because there is no guarantee
that they are done on regular intervals by boat owners
or their crews. With FCI systems, there are no extra
buttons to push or valves to turn to enable the flush
feature. When an FCI system completes its operation,
it is automatically in fresh water flush mode. There
is virtually nothing else like it in the marketplace.
FCI watermakers are economical to own, operate and maintain.
The cost of acquisition of an FCI marine watermaker is
very reasonable as compared to other RO units in the
marketplace. And, operation and maintenance costs are
negligible. Typically, all users need to do is replace
filter cartridges and change the oil when warranted.
For more information on the high-performance features
of FCI’s reverse osmosis systems, read
the FCI Advantage.
- In what type of water will a marine reverse osmosis system
- Unlike some brands that test their watermakers under
a certain set of criteria, FCI watermakers are designed
to work effectively in a wide variety of sea water and
brackish water conditions. The rated output capacities
for FCI Watermakers systems are established at salinity
range of 35,000 ppm TDS (total dissolved solids) and
at 77 degrees Fahrenheit. These standards are representative
of the salinity and temperature of average sea water.
However, in different geographic locations, and at different
times of year, both of these parameters will fluctuate.
As the TDS and/or the temperature vary from the standard
ranges, it’s important to adjust the pressure regulator
so that the water maker maintains its rated output. An
example of this would be with brackish water, where the
salinity might decrease to a range of approximately 3,000
TDS to 5,000 TDS. As a general rule, as the salinity
decreases from the standard 35,000 TDS, system production
will increase and the RO unit should be adjusted accordingly.
Likewise, as the temperature increases from the standard
77 degrees Fahrenheit, so does the output from the water
maker. An example of this would be in tropical climates
during summer months where water temperatures often exceed
77 degrees. In this case, the pressure regulator on the
water maker would also need to be adjusted so that the
water maker maintains its rated output.
- Can I make potable water with a marine reverse osmosis
water maker in a harbor?
- Yes, you can. However, typically in harbors and other
protected waterways that are not exposed to open-ocean
tidal flows, debris, urban run-off, oil, fuel and other
larger particulates and contaminants tend to collect
and possibly suspend themselves in the feed water source
for the watermaker. The result of this is that when you
operate a watermaker in this type of environment, there
is a greater likelihood that the system’s pre-filters
will foul more quickly than if the feed water source
was clean, open-ocean sea water. So as a rule of thumb,
in order to extend the life of the pre-filters and related
components of the watermaking system, it is recommended
to operate your watermaker in an open-ocean environment
- Can I make water with a marine reverse osmosis system while
underway in a boat?
- Yes, you can, but be careful to keep the through-hull,
which is the intake for the marine water maker, well
below the waterline. The reason for this is that the
feed pump, or the low-pressure pump for the water maker,
requires a flooded suction. If excessive air is introduced
into the feed pump, the feed pump will lose its “prime”
and the water maker will cease to function due to a lack
of a feed water stream. In that case, the low-pressure
pump would need to be “re-primed”, after which the water
maker would function properly again. So if you intend
to make water while underway, make sure that the intake
through-hull is placed in such a position so that it
does not take in air when the vessel is underway.
- Are marine desalination units noisy?
- Some brands of watermakers are noisier than others,
which is usually a result of inferior design efficiency
and low-quality of components. Like any other piece of
machinery, marine watermakers do make a sound when they
operate. Some manufacturers don’t do anything to address
this issue, and other manufacturers do things to “mask”
the sounds, such as creating chambers or other mechanisms
ostensibly designed to dampen noise resonating from system
FCI Watermakers has gone to extensive lengths to design
and manufacture marine watermakers that are the quietest
in the industry. We use only the highest quality motors,
pumps and other components in our watermakers. Our systems
are built on four-point vibration isolation mounts, which
dissipate system vibrations and keep them from resonating
through the vessel. All other components of FCI watermakers
have been designed and selected to maximize noise control.
The end result of this is that FCI watermakers are extremely
quiet as compared to competing brands.
- How long should I expect a marine RO system to last?
- The life expectancy of a water maker varies by manufacturer.
Brands that use lesser quality components or those that
have inferior designs will obviously not last as long
as those brands that have superior designs and utilize
top-quality components. FCI Watermakers designs
are second to none, using only the finest quality components. The
life expectancy of an FCI marine watermaker system should
be 20 years or more of trouble-free service, provided
the unit receives proper maintenance according to the
owner’s manual. Plus, the open-frame and modular FCI
systems are designed to facilitate easy visual inspections
and routine, on-site maintenance. By comparison, competitors’
enclosed-frame systems require complicated disassembly
to allow shipboard inspection — a cost that
can add up over the life of the marine RO unit.
- Is it possible to control the watermaker from the helm
- FCI offers UROC technology for digital remote control/monitoring
as an accessory for all of its systems. This is remote
control in the true sense of the word, and not a glorified
“on/off” switch that is typically offered on many other
watermaking products. For instance, with FCI ‘s Universal
Reverse Osmosis Controller on our Max
Q systems, the
user can monitor all system readouts from a backlit digital
display. The remote control also enables the user to
troublshoot, and program set points, automatic shut-off
parameters and fresh water flush times without going
to the main system.
- Do I need a ultra-violet sterilizer with my watermaker?
- No, it is not a necessity, but can be beneficial as
UV sterilizers remove approximately 99.9% of any biologicals
from fresh water. With that said, proper placement of
a UV Sterilizer is after the holding tank, not immediately
after the watermaker, as specified by other manufacturers
and/or installers. The reason for this is that in addition
to receiving clean water from the on-board watermaker,
holding tanks are vented (inviting potential for contaminants)
and are also fed by dockside fillings from shore— there
is no control of water quality in the holding tank itself.
If a UV sterilizer is used, it should be sized to accommodate
the requirements of the boat’s fresh water pump.
- What parts and features should come standard with my marine
water maker system?
- Many manufacturers require users to buy packages of
components to ensure full-service operation of their
marine water maker. For example, a fresh-water
flush is a necessary watermaking function included in
every FCI system, but other manufacturers often sell
this feature separately. With FCI’s inclusive pricing on our watermaking
systems, you don’t need to buy add-ons, accessories and
upgrades to achieve advertised outcomes and superior
performance. What’s more, FCI systems come fully calibrated
so you can enjoy quick water satisfaction, versus other
brands that require the purchase of additional accessories
or calibration solutions to complete the set up.
- Can you give me guidance on marine water maker parts and
accessories I don’t need?
- We believe marine watermakers should come fully functional
without needing to purchase additional accessories. Some
unnecessary items include an oil water separating cartridge
and an on-system UV sterilizer. The theory on the cartridge
is that it will remove oil from the water before it hits
the water maker membrane, but since water is pulled from
below the surface where oil floats, the component ends
up being a frivolous design feature that you end up paying
to replace because the owner’s manual tells you it naturally
degrades over time. In 30 years of manufacturing, we’ve
never seen a membrane that has been dulled by oil build-up.
Similarly, for a UV sterilizer to work properly it should
be put in the discharge side of your fresh water holding
tank. But competing manufacturers mount it on the intake
side as part of the water making system, presumably to
sterilize the water before it hits the tank. Because
holding tanks are vented (inviting potential for contaminants)
and are also fed by dockside fillings from shore, the
holding tank itself could be contaminated with algae
or bacteria. So, it makes no sense to take the extra
step in purification if the UV sterilizer is placed before
the holding tank.
Other things to look out for when buying a water
— systems that require proprietary components, such as
membranes, pumps and fittings that are harder to find
and more expensive to replace;
— water maker systems that use inferior materials, such
as plastic versus high-grade stainless steel or bronze;
— special tools that are required for assembly or calibration;
— and compact systems that are completely enclosed in
a frame that inhibits easy service and maintenance, such
as changing the oil or replacing a fitting.