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Are Watermakers Expensive?

When you consider that a watermaker (boat desalinator) can remove impurities from salt water and produce what appears to be an endless supply of potable water, you would think that it is some kind of magical device. 

Anyone who has lived on a boat or gone sailing for a while can attest that boat desalinators are an essential piece of gear. Given this, it’s reasonable to assume they will be rather expensive, but how high can the price go?

What is a Watermaker and How Do They Work?

A watermaker is a device that uses reverse osmosis to produce drinkable water from seawater. Desalinators are frequently referred to as “watermakers” in the boating and sailing community. 

In spite of their high initial cost and ongoing maintenance requirements, these devices are invaluable for their ability to lessen the size and frequency of water tank maintenance stops throughout long journeys.

Using a process called reverse osmosis, a watermaker turns salt water into potable water. Water is pushed through a high pressure pump across a semipermeable membrane to remove salt, chemical compounds, and microorganisms from saltwater. Your water tanks are then filled with fresh water while the residual brine byproduct is dumped over the side of the vessel and back into the ocean.

reverse osmosis

How Much Is a Watermaker for a Boat?

If you don’t have a watermaker, you can spend much of your cruising time looking for freshwater sources. Tap water in many places isn’t safe to drink, so even locals resort to collecting rainwater or bottled water. If you have access to a dependable watermaker and are familiar with its operation and maintenance, you can eliminate the need to find new clean water sources constantly.

So, how much is a watermaker for a boat? Actually, the price of a watermaker is high. They can be one of the most costly additions to a boat and require frequent upkeep. The equipment alone for Cruise RO marine watermaker prices oscillate between $7,000 and over $10,000. Of course, the actual cost will depend on the type of watermaker.

bathtub on boat

Types of Watermakers

Before looking for a watermaker for sale, you first need to understand that there are different types of watermakers, which will indicate the price of the equipment. Depending on the design, watermakers can be:

  1. Simple

To cut costs, the plumbing in desalination plants has been “simplified,” as the name suggests, by using fewer high-pressure stainless fittings and hoses. Having fewer low and high pressure cables flowing to and from the remote panel simplifies the installation process. Without the need to drill a hole in your boat or otherwise mount the remote panel, installation is a breeze.

  1. Engine Driven

These water makers can turn saltwater into potable water with ease. Thanks to the water desalination system on board, which works while the boat’s engine is on, you’ll have plenty of fresh water whenever you need it.

  1. AC Watermaker

It is recommended that cruisers with an AC generator or alternator install an AC type, as these can produce between 20 and 60 gallons per hour. If a boat has access to a large amount of wind or solar power and an inverter, they can also be used on board.

  1. DC Watermakers

DC watermaker systems typically generate in the range of 10 to 30 gallons per hour and are an excellent choice for boats that are powered by solar energy or 12-volt batteries.

  1. Energy Recovery

When compared to standard watermakers, energy recovery desalinators for boats can save power consumption by as much as 80%. The CO2 emissions required to make water are less than 85% due to the minimal power use. These watermakers can even be fueled straight from a service battery because of their excellent efficiency.

  1. Custom-Made

To match your particular application, you can alternatively choose to get a customized watermaker. Another option is to use non-proprietary components to upgrade an already existing portable desalination machine.

watermaker panel

Are Watermakers Worth It?

Watermakers are a worthwhile investment despite the fact that they must have routine maintenance performed on them and that they are pricey. Watermakers greatly increase the freedom to remain on the sea and avoid the hassle of constantly conserving water. 

A watermaker is a really excellent range extender and might help you save weight and space on board by allowing you to use smaller water tanks than you would have otherwise needed if you had to store water for several weeks. 

Now that you know more about the pricing and types of watermakers, you can start to look for a boat desalinator for sale.

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