Water into wine? Pfft, who cares? Try turning seawater into freshwater: you know, something that people actually need. And now with the mystery of reverse osmosis desalination technology Rebel Heart is able to crank out magical freshwater that tastes so good you actually say "Damn, that's a nice glass of water."
Of course the Katadyn 40e costs roughly $4,000, took me three full days to install, needs daily maintenance, and requires yearly rebuilds.
We opted for a watermaker because we have four people onboard now and in the Sea of Cortez it gets really frigging hot. On average we consume about five gallons of water a day and the Katadyn 40e can create that in about 4-5 hours. Water isn't available in many places we're headed to in the Sea of Cortez and even where it is, finding water suited for drinking and hauling it around in jugs gets lame really fast.
First off, we don't run the engine that often and certainly not when just sitting at anchor having a nice day. It's loud, it heats up the boat, and diesels like to run under load not just sitting there with a wimpy watermaker attached.
Secondly, and this is primarily regarding the CruiseRO systems, although we have a Honda 2000 generator we also don't like running that all that often and certainly not underway when it's strapped down in a bag. Carrying gasoline is also annoying.
What we've noticed about our electrical profile here in the tropics is that we're routinely in absorption charge mode from our solar panels, meaning that roughly 5-10 amps is being kept back (lost) from the batteries. So flipping on the watermaker during that phase isn't going to cause any material net loss of amp hours.
But arguablly the biggest selling point to me regarding the Katadyn PowerSurvivor 40E was nothing the Katadyn company itself did. Enter Gary, the 40E owner's best friend. Gary did the following:
- Created a website dedicated to the proper installation, use, and maintenance of the Katadyn 40E.
- The website is primarily excerpts from his ~100 page free PDF ebook on the same subject.
- Made a 30 minute, downloadable for free, video showing how to dissasemble, repair, and re-assemble the unit.
Any sailor knows that buying a piece of equipment is relatively simple. Installing, using, and maintaining it is a whole different ball of wax. Have such a broad knowledge base to work from on the latter issues was what convinced me.
We ran it for a couple of days and marveled at the technology but after looking at the near constant oil slick and seeing particulates in the water I ran the membrane preservative through it.
As a quick follow-up here are some tips regarding the installation that might be of use to anyone going down this road:
- They drill it onto your head but I still didn't listen at first regarding the pre-filter location. You need to make it really easy to access. When you unscrew it, seawater will spill out. For us it got mounted right on the bulkhead in the head above the sink. Prime real estate, but in the super warm water around here the pre-filter needs to get cycled out every day. As all the product literature states, proper pre-filter maintenance is the single most important thing you can do to make your watermaker work a long time and produce good tasting water.
- Use big-gauge wire. The 4 amp rating is an average, it actually scoots from 2-6. Additionally the water output is directly related to voltage. Larger gauge (smaller diameter) wire causes voltage drop. I had about 30 feet to go in total and ran 10 gauge.
- Maybe just use it for a little bit before you really commit to where anything is going to live. There's a lot to consider: electrical switch location (breaker panel?), product water plumbing, reject brine water plumbing, seawater input plumbing, wiring, pre-filter location, and main unit location. It's hard to have all those really well understood if you've never used a watermaker before and haven't lived with it.
- Regarding noise, it wasn't nearly as loud as we thought it would be but it's certainly not silent. Not the kind of thing you'd want sitting under you if you're watching a movie or reading a book. We've got it mounted up in the v-berth and it's barely audible in the main cabin.