- How to Choose A Marine Water Maker
- Many manufactures guarantee the performance of their
marine desalinators, but there are several upfront indicators
that signal their claims may not hold water. Here’s what
to look for as you shop for a dependable marine water
• open frame
• high-grade materials
• nonproprietary parts
• low RPM components
• necessary parts and features are included
• customized operation
• automatic alerts and data
• solid warranty coverage
Your first clue will be how
the marine water maker system is packaged. Open-framed
systems are designed to facilitate visual inspections
and routine, onsite maintenance. Systems that are entirely
enclosed require complicated disassembly to allow shipboard
inspection or trouble-shooting.
Equally important are
whether high-grade materials are used. High-grade alloys
like industrial-quality stainless steel and bronze should
be used for all critical components. Plastic plumps,
for example can compromise system operation and even
jeopardize the vessel with flooding if the sub-waterline
pump is inadvertently cracked or stepped on. Motors should
be epoxy coated to help protect your system from corosion.
What’s more, water makers that use commercially available
parts mean less hassle and less cost for you, versus
brands that feature proprietary parts such as membranes,
pumps and fittings that are expensive and available only
at select locations.
Your marine reverse osmosis system
should be resilient to all water conditions that you
encounter during your travels. One way to assure that
the performance of your marine water maker isn’t compromised
as it processes different degrees of salinity and particulate
is by utilizing low RPM components. Pumps that turn at
excessive RPMs (for instance, over 3000 RPMs) are so
susceptible to feed water variances that they require
special filtration (often a proprietary component). This
results in more frequent filter changes and added cost
Determine if the price of the marine water
maker is inclusive of parts and features necessary to
achieve rated outputs and superior performance. Often,
important components are priced as separate packages,
accessories or upgrades. For example, fresh water flush
is required feature for your marine water maker to perform
properly, however, it is not always part of the base
price. Likewise, your marine RO system should come calibrated
and ready to run. You should not be required to purchase
additional accessories or calibration solutions to complete
the set up.
You should be able to customize your marine
water maker so it can be installed, run, modified and
monitored based on your minute-by-minute needs. For instance,
if your fresh water flush is pre-programmed to run every
seven days, this lack of flexibility may inhibit your
need to flush more frequently or for a longer duration,
as is necessary to keep biologicals from fouling system
components when cruising in warmer climates. Or, if your
plans take you away from the vessel, you should be able
to set the system to run for a certain period of time
or to make a specified number of gallons, and then shut
itself off automatically so there is no delay in having
fresh water at the ready when you return.
with customization is watersmart intelligence. A preferred
system will present automatic audio and visual alerts,
finger-tip data and an onscreen help menu. With today’s
available technology, you should not settle for anything
less than a marine reverse osmosis system that’s so easy
and efficient you’ll think the entire water maker consists
of just a few buttons on your control panel.
to review the warranty before you make your purchase.
Some warranties are complicated and contradictory, with
terms and conditions that apply to individual components.
For example, a warranty may be voided if you do not purchase
the manufacturer’s proprietary parts.
you should ask are how extensively the marine water maker
has been tested. Under what conditions and criteria did
the manufacturer rate their outputs? Can you operate
the system remotely? How is the marine RO unit designed
to control noise — a pet peeve of many boaters. Moreover,
doing your research and comparing
the engineering and features of competing brands will
reveal important superiorities that will ultimately make
the difference in your boating experience.
- Commissioning Your Marine Watermaker for Long-Haul Cruising
- To annually commission your FCI marine water maker
and prepare for the “long haul,” you should first check
through the entire installation on the boat.
the intake through-hull to make sure there are no obstructions.
Make sure the seacock on the intake through-hull functions
properly (that it opens and closes correctly). This is
often an overlooked issue. If the seacock is “frozen”
in place, forcing movement can break it. Before the marine
water maker is tested, make sure that the seacock is
in the OPEN position.
3. Make sure all feed water (and
brine discharge) hoses are free of leaks and that all
hose clamps are secure.
4. Check the low pressure pump
to ensure that the pump freely turns, that all electrical
wiring is in good condition (no exposed wires, proper
insulation, etc.), that the pump is properly fastened
down, that there are no signs of leaks and that the low
pressure pump seals are in good condition.
5. Clear and
clean debris from the sea strainer. Make sure that the
sea strainer gasket is not brittle (if so, replace it).
When re-assembling the sea strainer, the basket should
be properly seated so that air does not leak in through
the sea strainer (a proper vacuum is necessary).
the prefilters on the marine water maker, and also make
sure the seals on the prefilter housings are in good
condition (again, they should not be brittle).
the fresh water flush GAC filter (this should be done
every 3-6 months on average).
8. Test the fresh water
flush line to make sure that the water from the fresh
water tank reaches the water maker during the fresh water
flush cycle. This assures that there were no valves that
were inadvertently shut or that the line is somehow obstructed.
Check the high-pressure pump on the water maker for leaks.
If found, you might have to replace the high-pressure
pump seals and/or valves.
10. Be sure the high-pressure
pump oil is fresh. Typically, high-pressure pump oil
should be changed after the first 50 hours of system
operation, and then after every 500 hours of usage.
Check the brine discharge through-hull to make sure that
there are no obstructions.
12. Check the brine discharge
seacock to make sure that it is functional AND that it
is OPEN. (Many people forget to make sure that it is
OPEN, which causes damage to the water maker if the water
maker is operated with a “closed off” brine discharge
13. Inspect the brine discharge hose to make sure that
the hose is in good condition, that there are no leaks,
and that the clamps are tight. (Also, there should be
two hose clamps on the ends of each hose.)
14. Now test
the operation of the water maker. It is best to test
the water maker in open ocean conditions where the seawater
is exposed to good tidal exchange.
15. Back the pressure
regulator “off” all the way (turning it counter-clockwise
as far as it will go).
16. Start the low-pressure pump
(only) on the system and let seawater circulate through
the system for about 15 to 20 minutes.
17. During this
time, visually inspect the system, all components and
all hoses to make sure that there are no leaks or other
abnormalities. Confirm the feedwater inlet pressure is
in the approximate range of 30 to 40 psi (depending upon
the particular installation).
18. After this period of
time, gradually increase the system pressure (turning
the pressure regulator clockwise) until the system is
making its rated product water output. Confirm the system
operating pressure, feedwater TDS, and system output.
If the system comfortably makes its rated product water
output, there is no further testing to do on the water
maker. If the system is unable to make its rated output,
then the user should call a service technician to conduct
further testing on the membranes.
20. Once the system
testing is complete, turn the system “off” and wait 10
seconds to hear the system fresh water flush solenoid
activate. The user will hear the fresh water flushing
through the system. Once the fresh water flush is complete,
the water maker is ready to use for the season.
planning some long-haul cruising, important spare parts
to carry on board include prefilters, high-pressure pump
oil, GAC filters, high and low-pressure pump seals and
high-pressure pump valves. It is recommended to replace
seals after every 1500 hours of use and valves after
every 3000 hours of use.