5 Best Watermakers for Sailboats

5 Best Watermakers for Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

With the right Watermaker, the ocean becomes an almost immeasurable supply of fresh and clean drinking water to keep you hydrated during your offshore sailing adventures.

Many sailors do spend a lot of their time and money on various parts of the sailboat including the sails, engine, electronics, and generators especially when preparing for long-distance voyages.

While there's absolutely nothing wrong with this, they often overlook one crucial part of general human survival: having an ample supply of fresh drinking water.

Whether you have freshwater drinking tanks on your sailboat or planning to cruise in areas where you can easily access clean drinking water, the hassle involved in having to come to the dock to fill the water tanks can be quite overwhelming.

This is exactly why you need to find the best watermakers for sailboats.

Like many other nautical technologies, watermakers have significantly advanced in the last few decades to become very efficient and more reliable. They're no longer a luxury on your sailboat but a necessity. Better still, watermakers have become relatively affordable and are meant to keep you hydrated as you explore areas that do not have clean and fresh drinking water.

In this article, we'll take a look at how watermaker systems work, highlight its benefits, and highlight the best sailboat watermakers on the market right now. At the end of this read, you should be able to choose the best watermaker for your sailboat.

Table of contents

Benefits of Having a Watermaker on Your Sailboat

The freedom and security that come with having full water tanks on your sailboat are of immense importance, especially if you're cruising in an area where fresh drinking water is hard to come by and quite expensive when you do. As such, having a watermaker aboard your sailboat is no longer a luxury like it used to be in the past. With a steady supply of fresh and clean water, your life on the sailboat will be a lot better. This is because you'll have enough clean water to drink, cook, wash, and shower, which is beneficial if you want to enjoy your sailing adventures.

Honestly speaking, many sailors do not actually need a watermaker. Well, if you're planning to sail just near the shores, then there's a chance that you can easily access fresh and clean water by the dock. But this can be limiting if you've been dreaming of going off the grid and sailing to some exotic and unknown places in the world.

With that in mind, a watermaker makes a lot of sense to most sailors. You won't have to worry about having to carry aboard gallons of fresh water for cooking and drinking during your voyage. You won't have to treat freshwater as a precious commodity that must last until you can refill at the next port. With a watermaker, you can simply go ocean crossing without worrying about running out of water.

A watermaker allows you to have a steady supply of fresh and clean water to keep everybody well-hydrated and healthy. You can clean the water anytime you feel like and all you have to do is replace the filter once in a while and you'll be good to go. In essence, a watermaker is probably one of the most important equipment to have aboard your sailboat, so installing it is of great importance if you're a serious sailor.

The Basics of Modern Marine Watermakers

Modern marine watermakers essentially follow the principle of reverse-osmosis to produce pure, drinking water from seawater. During this process and through very high pressure, seawater is forced through a semipermeable membrane that only allows freshwater molecules to pass through it but not salt, bacteria, or any other organic material. The newly made pure, drinking water is then piped to the sailboat's water tanks while the leftover (brine) is discharged overboard.

Even though marine watermakers may differ in the type of pump that's employed and how it is driven, this is one of the most important features in every watermaker. In most cases, water can be electrically pumped or powered directly off the boat's engine. If you have an AC generator or alternator on your boat, it would make much sense to use the AC output to drive the watermaker directly. You can also choose the DC-powered models if you rely on renewable energy from solar or wind. Alternatively, you can still go for AC-powered watermakers but you'll have to buy an inverter.

All in all, DC-powered watermakers are more efficient since they integrate a power-saving energy recovery system (ERS). You must, however, keep in mind that your energy consumption levels might be quite high if you're sailing in colder and saltier areas. This is because the water purification process might be a bit slower in such areas. As such, you should consider investing in a more high-powered watermaker system if you will be sailing in colder and saltier areas than if you're planning to sail more in warm and less salty areas.

As far as an engine-driven watermaker is concerned, you should mount the high-pressure pump on the engine so that it can be belt-driven using an automatic clutch. An engine-driven watermaker should be your first option if you want large quantities of fresh drinking water. This is more productive than AC or DC-powered watermakers. Even with a relatively small engine, this setup has an automatic regulator that constantly pumps the water. With that in mind, engine-driven watermakers are ideal if you want to reduce your energy consumption. To put it into perspective, an engine-driven watermaker can lower energy consumption by an enormous 80%, especially when compared with conventional AC or DC-powered watermaker systems.

How to Choose the Best Watermaker for Your Sailboat

There are many factors to consider when looking for the best watermakers for your sailboat. Here are the most important things to consider.

Your Freshwater Needs

One of the most important things to consider before spending your money on a watermaker is your freshwater needs. What quantity would be enough to keep you going on your sailing adventure? While the quantity might differ from one sailor to the other or from one boat to the other, you should consider the number of gallons that a particular watermaker can produce per day. This will help you in choosing the ideal watermaker; a model that will ensure that you never run out of water. Do not underestimate your water needs, especially if you're planning to sail with your children or if you're planning to stay on the boat for an extended period of time.

Do you have enough space on your vessel to accommodate the type of watermaker you're looking to buy? While most watermakers are designed to fit in the smallest of space, you should consider the actual size of the watermaker and find out whether you have enough space on your vessel to fix it.

Watermakers can run on electricity, renewable energy such as wind and solar (if you have them on your vessel), or both. When looking for the perfect watermaker, you should consider how to power it and whether or not the watermaker has low-energy consumption, which is definitely a great feature. Again, there are also engine-driven watermakers, so it's important to know exactly what you're going for.


Watermakers have a reputation for being difficult to maintain. Fortunately, the equipment and components have improved in the last few years so you should go for a model that's easy to maintain. You should use the watermaker in water bodies that look good, You should avoid using the watermaker in dirty harbors as you may have to change the filters every so often or even damage your watermaker altogether.

Best Watermakers for Sailboats

Let's take a look at the best watermakers available on the market right now.

The Ultra Whisper

Engineered by limited electrical options that can run on either DC or AC, THE Ultra Whisper by Sea Recovery is one of the best watermakers currently available on the market. In addition to being very quiet, this watermaker features an automatic operation that requires very minimal operator adjustment.

This watermaker is ideal for small powerboats and sailboats since it can serve as an efficient water supply. This model boasts about a 75% reduction in power consumption, especially when compared to other models.

  • ‍ Smooth and quiet water production
  • Can produce up to 2,280 liters per day
  • Ideal for small boats
  • It is energy efficient
  • ‍ It might not be perfect for large boats

Echotec Watermaker

If you want a watermaker model that can produce 60 liters per hour flawlessly and with no maintenance apart from changing the filters, look no further than the Echotec Watermaker. This model is designed for ultra-reliable performance and easy customer installation.

This watermaker is made from high-quality components that can withstand the continuous harsh marine environment, making it one of the most durable watermakers on the market. This is essentially a series of modular watermakers ranging from 12-volt to 24-volt DC-powered models. They bring forth energy efficiency, a computerized energy recovery system, and ultimate reliability to ensure that you never run out of fresh drinking water while out there on the sea.

  • ‍ Energy efficient
  • Cost-effective
  • ‍ Comes with a very low speed
  • Not ideal for large boats

Spectra Katadyn PowerSurvivor

As a compact and energy-efficient watermaker, the Spectra Katadyn PowerSurvivor is arguably the most affordable watermaker currently available on the market. We are talking about a model that only requires 4 amps to desalinate water for your sailboat. It can produce 1.5 gallons of fresh drinking water per hour, which is an excellent return for a watermaker of its size.

It is also one of the most portable watermakers around. You can choose to either install it permanently or temporarily in case you want to take it somewhere else. This portability is also essential if you're looking for a space-saving model that can fit in the smallest of compartments. Its simple but rugged design is essential in ensuring that it can perform at its best even in harsh marine conditions. In terms of its power capabilities, this is the only model on the market that will convert to a hand-operated system or manual power if there's a power shortage.

  • ‍ Portable and lightweight
  • Rugged design to withstand harsh marine environments
  • Efficient and reliable
  • Can revert to manual power if there's a power shortage
  • Perfect for off-grid sailing
  • ‍ Gasoline or diesel can easily damage the semi-permeable membrane

Village Marine - Little Wonder Series

Whether you're looking for a watermaker for your small sailboat or looking for a watermaker that can efficiently serve those huge yachts, the Village Marine Little Wonder Series provides everything. This model is meant for experienced sailors who are looking for various capacity options. This watermaker weighs just about 69 pounds but can produce nearly 180 gallons of fresh drinking water each day.

Designed with a low RPM high-pressure pump, this model remains one of the most efficient and economical watermakers on the market. That's not all; this watermaker is designed with corrosion-resistant features and is one of the most serviceable watermakers in the game. It is reliable, quiet, and portable; all factors that make a watermaker great.

  • ‍ Easy to operate
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Easy to maintain
  • Quiet and versatile
  • ‍ It doesn't have automatic adjustment controls

Ventura 150 Watermaker

This is one of the most versatile watermakers on the market. It can use both electricity and renewable energy. This model is engineered to be lightweight and energy-efficient and its compact and modular design makes it a great option if you're looking for a watermaker that's easy to use and install in confined spaces.

The Ventura 150 watermaker is highly efficient as it can produce over 6 gallons of water an hour, which makes it quite perfect for small vessels. This sailboat watermaker features a controller that allows you to operate and monitor the device remotely. It also has the auto store button that will automatically flash the system after every five days.

This watermaker is quiet and surprisingly compact despite its ability to produce about 150 gallons of water per day. It also gives you the option of going for the automated manual or manual model.

  • ‍ Very versatile
  • Can use both electricity and renewable energy power
  • It is smooth and quiet
  • It is compact and lightweight
  • ‍ The manual model has analog controls

To this end, it's easy to see that having an ideal watermaker aboard your vessel is one of the first crucial steps towards being self-sufficient and sustainable. With a watermaker, you'll be able to access fresh drinking water at all times when sailing even in far-flung places. Most of these models are well-constructed and incorporate some of the best technologies that make them efficient, reliable, and easy to install, use, and maintain.

So when it comes to choosing the best watermaker for your sailboat, it may all come down to what is ideal for you in terms of energy consumption, efficiency, the quantity of water produced, among many other things. With an ideal watermaker, you can remain off the grid for as long as you want without ever worrying about running out of water and this is of great importance in enjoying your sailing adventures.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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Finding the Best Marine Freshwater Pumps for Your Boat, RV or Camper

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

Water is essential when boating. From showers to sinks, you need water for a more comfortable life aboard. To ensure that there is always a quick and consistent supply, the best marine freshwater pump is a must-have.

best marine freshwater pump

However, choosing a fresh water pump is overwhelming. There are many variables to take into account, from capacity to noise. You must think about its ease of installation and use as well as its price. If you are looking for a freshwater pump for a boat, continue reading to find some of the top products and their impressive features.

sailboat water pump

  • Easy installation
  • Generates minimal noise
  • Automatically starts and stops

sailboat water pump

  • Easy to access
  • Impressive technical specs
  • Ideal even for compact spaces

sailboat water pump

  • Good choice for small boats
  • Comes with a rubber mount
  • Has protection against ignition

Table of Contents

1. SEAFLO 123ABC Self-Priming Pump

2. ieik water pump, 3. seaflo sea-2834 freshwater pump, 4. uniclife uniclife-ul204-1 water pump, 5. sicce sic104 syncra silent 1.0 multipurpose pump, 6. shurflo 4.15e+81 aqua king ii 4.0 freshwater pump, 7. amarine made 21 series fresh water pump, 8. jerepet aquarium water pump, 9. ommo freshwater pump, 10. amarine made freshwater pump, 11. camptemp freshwater pump, 12. jabsco q401j-115s-3a marine freshwater pump, factor to consider when choosing marine freshwater pump, who makes the best marine freshwater pump, how does a freshwater pump work on a boat, how to prime a freshwater pump on a boat, how do you clean a freshwater tank on a boat, best marine freshwater pump reviews.

This on-demand and general-duty pump is a great option for small boats , supplying water up to two fixtures. It is ideal for moderate-pressure and high-flow environments. It has a self-priming feature up to six vertical feet and delivers a flow rate of up to 3 GPM.

One of its most notable features is the three-chamber diaphragm, which is powered by a reliable motor. This means that the flow of the water remains consistent even when the pressure isn’t high.

I love this marine freshwater pump because of its easy installation. Even for first-timers, the assembly is a breeze. It comes with detailed instructions from the manufacturer. Wiring is simple and it requires only minor adjustments when fitting the pipe.

This isn’t one of those pumps that run continuously. To protect the motor, the unit stops working once it is too hot. It has thermal overload protection to prevent damage from running even when the motor is exhausted. Once it has cooled down, the pump automatically restarts.

Noise is a common problem in many freshwater pumps. But, this pump generates minimal sound even when it is operating. It has a decibel rating similar to an air-conditioning unit , so it isn’t annoying at all. The base has semi-rigid rubber feet, which is effective for noise reduction.

  • The three-chamber diaphragm ensures consistent water flow
  • Easy installation even for novices
  • Automatically starts and stops to protect the motor
  • Generates minimal noise when operating
  • Does not accept a conventional garden hose adapter

If you are looking for an affordable 12-volt marine water pump, this is a great option. Despite being an economical model, it delivers decent performance. It has pretty impressive specs too. This pump has a pressure rating of 60 watts, a water flow of 1.35 GPM, and a pressure of 116 PSI.

The pump comes with a standard.5 FIP thread, which is compatible with a conventional garden hose. As such, I don’t have to buy complicated connectors, which makes it economical. The hose is easily accessible from hardware stores. It is already inclusive of clamps and brass fittings as well.

Another good thing about this pump is its construction. It has rubber on its base, which minimizes any vibrations. Also, this prevents excessive movements of the motor when it is running to prevent premature wear.

I love how compact and portable this pump is. It is a great option for small boats as it won’t consume a lot of space. Despite being a tiny pump, its functions are not compromised.

  • A great choice for budget-conscious buyers
  • Has impressive technical specs despite being affordable
  • Uses standard hoses that are easy to access
  • Prone to leaking
  • Makes a loud noise

This 12-volt freshwater pump is an incredible choice if you have a small boat. It has a pressure rating of 35 PSI and a flow rate of 1.2 GPM. The specs aren’t as high as its more powerful counterparts, but that should not be an issue as it is not designed to power water systems in large vessels.

Many pumps with inferior construction suffer from ignition problems and overheating. That isn’t the case with this model. It has built-in features for thermal protection, which protects the motor from getting too hot. The self-priming motor automatically turns on and off when I open or close the tap, preventing it from overworking.

When a water pump runs, vibration is a problem. Excessive movements can damage the motor. This model, however, has a rubber mount to inhibit damage that the trembles might cause. It is effective for noise reduction as well.

What I love about this pump is that it does not drain my battery quickly. Thanks to its low power draw, it is energy-efficient even when operating at its peak. Another good thing about this freshwater marine pump is its versatility. It is not just for boats and RVs. It delivers superior performance even for agricultural applications.

  • A good choice for small boats
  • Has protection against ignition and thermal overload
  • Comes with a rubber mount to minimize damage from vibrations
  • Professional-grade construction handles multiple applications
  • Weak injection molds and barb connections

sailboat water pump

Before anything else, this isn’t your conventional boat freshwater pump. Instead, this is a pump that is more commonly used in aquariums and aquaponics. It allows proper circulation to keep the water clean and fresh.

One of the most innovative features of this pump is its smart controller. I can choose from 99 speeds, depending on what my specific application requires. There is a ten-minute pause, which comes in handy for feeding. Plus, it has a memory function, so it automatically remembers the previous setting when it restarts.

With multiple protective features, I am confident that this pump is safe to use. For instance, it does not run when there is no water, eliminating strain on the motor. The pump also has protection from being stuck. Moreover, it is completely submersible. The low voltage is a good safety feature as well.

Its shaft construction is also remarkable. It is made of ceramic, so it isn’t easily prone to wear. This composition extends its service life compared to models with propellers that are made of weaker materials.

It is commendable because of its three-phase six-pole motor. It significantly reduces energy consumption, making the pump up to 65% more energy-efficient than many of its competitors.

  • Easy to operate using the smart controller
  • Has multiple layers of protection
  • Comes with a long-lasting ceramic shaft
  • Energy-efficient three-phase six-pole motor
  • Has a fragile plastic body

sailboat water pump

One thing that I love about this pump is its versatility. It is not just for aquariums and water fountains. It works for other submersible applications that need a high-performance pump. I can use it well in both fresh and saltwater settings.

With a convenient flow regulator, it is a breeze to customize the functions of the pump depending on what a specific application requires. It has a knob on the side for controlling the water, which is adjustable up to 215 GPH.

The manufacturer designed this pump with the needs of users in mind. So, maintenance is effortless as I can do so without using any tools. I can pull the pump apart by hand when it is time for cleaning and easily remove any dirt and debris that clog the system.

Aside from the pump, it is inclusive of stepped hoses. It speeds up the assembly the moment it is unboxed. Aside from that, this pump boasts amazing construction that guarantees longevity. One of the reasons for this is its long-lasting shaft, which is made of 316 stainless steel.

  • Versatile applications beyond aquariums
  • Includes stepped hoses for quick assembly
  • Adjustable flow rate for different applications
  • Easy maintenance without requiring any tool
  • Generates a lot of noise and vibration

sailboat water pump

Built for boats with multiple fixtures, this pump provides pressure just like you are at home. You can use two taps at the same time without worrying that the flow rate is affected. It has a power of 10 amps and a capacity of 4 GPM, so you can expect reliable performance.

With its built-in mechanical bypass, it adjusts the flow of the water depending on what the situation requires. I don’t need to use an accumulator tank. This feature also allows operating with minimal cycling even in low-flow conditions.

The durability of this pump is equally commendable. It has an electro-coated shell that protects the motor from external elements, such as dirt and dust. There are O-rings that seal the connections to avoid water and moisture penetration. Even the wires are fully sealed to minimize damage.

The ignition and thermal protection are crucial for extending the lifespan of this marine pump. These features prevent the motor from overheating, even if it is operating at its peak capacity.

Another compelling reason to choose this marine pump is the three-year warranty that accompanies it. It shows how confident the manufacturer is about the workmanship of their product.

  • Comes with a three-year warranty
  • Has a built-in mechanical bypass to regulate the flow of water
  • The durable shell protects the motor from damage
  • Prevents the motor from overheating
  • Not for people on a budget

sailboat water pump

This is a high-quality automatic water pump with a pressure rating of 35 PSI. Additionally, it has a low current draw, making it extremely efficient. Even if the pump is running for a long time, I am not concerned that it will drain my boat’s battery.

Aside from its efficiency, it is also a quiet marine freshwater pump. The motor won’t be a disturbance even as it runs. Beyond being quiet, it has minimal vibrations. I attribute this to the rubber mounts that absorb shock and prevent too much movement of the pump.

Like many of the top options for freshwater pumps for boats, it comes with a self-priming motor. This allows it to run dry without the risk of destroying its engine. There is no potential damage even when it is above the liquid that it is supposed to pump.

When pumps run continuously at their peak capacity, they overheat because there is too much strain on the motor, increasing the chances of breakdowns. Good thing, this product comes with a built-in thermal protector.

The quick installation of the pump is a plus. No experience is necessary to assemble the unit quickly as it includes a detailed manual for guidance.

  • Has a low current draw for energy efficiency
  • The motor runs quietly
  • Equipped with a self-priming motor that can run dry
  • Built-in thermal protection to avoid excessive heat
  • Generates low water output

sailboat water pump

For quick and easy maintenance of water in your aquarium, it is hard to go wrong with this pump. It is powerful, offering an output of up to 800 GPH. Despite this, it is economical and energy-efficient, running at only 28 watts. This is a great way to save battery!

Many aquarium pumps are too loud, which can be annoying. That won’t be the case with this model. It has a noise output of only 30 dBa, similar to whispering. It is almost impossible to notice that the motor is running, unlike others that can be too annoying.

The durable motor is a plus. One thing that makes this possible is the automatic shut-off feature. Once there are blockages or the pump is running dry, it will immediately stop. This will prevent putting too much strain on the motor before it breaks down. The magnetic motor has a steel shaft and favorable anti-corrosion properties.

It comes with an external controller, which makes it convenient to operate the pump and customize its functions. I can pick from six speeds, adjusting the flow rate from 30 to 100%. It also has flashing indicator lights for ease of monitoring. The display shows error messages for a quick diagnosis when there is a problem.

  • Has a high-performance but energy-efficient motor
  • Low noise output of less than 30 dBa
  • Automatic shut-off prolongs motor life
  • Comes with a convenient external controller
  • No strong brand recognition

sailboat water pump

From water taps in boats to motor homes, this is an outstanding pump. It has an exclusive design that ensures smooth and consistent flows of water in various environments. Besides, this pump has a power consumption of 36 watts, which makes it energy-efficient.

With a double-sealed body, it resists external elements that can speed up wear. It has good protection from dust and moisture to shield the motor and internal components. It inhibits corrosion and other potential damages resulting from high temperatures as well.

The automatic diaphragm cut-off is another good feature. It immediately stops pumping water after reaching the maximum pressure of 85 PSI, and once the pressure is back to normal, it restarts. This feature effectively prevents the motor from overheating.

This pump is also equipped with a self-priming feature. I can mount it above a water tank without problems, like the water back flowing into the pump.

I am also a fan of how this pump isn’t too noisy. It has a rating of 70 decibels, which is almost equivalent to a regular conversation. If this is still too loud for you, a good solution is to place a box on the diaphragm for noise reduction.

  • Has an exclusive design for smooth water flow
  • Low wattage for energy-efficient operation
  • Double-sealed body makes the pump durable
  • Automatically stops when pressure is more than what it can handle
  • Does not come with an on-off switch

sailboat water pump

Pumping water onboard does not have to be difficult. This pump ensures that you can easily access freshwater at different parts of the boat. It has a 12-volt motor that delivers a pressure of 55 PSI and a flow rate of 5 GPM. The best thing is that, since it has a low power draw, it is energy-efficient. It won’t quickly drain my battery as well.

The versatility of this pump is another impressive feature. The threaded connections will accept different fittings. Simply put, it is compatible with various connections on any outlet, so there’s no need to buy a special adapter.

With a bypass, this pump is quieter than many of its counterparts. It is responsible for the reduction of vibration, and as a result, eliminates excessive noise. It stays quiet even when operating at its peak. The bypass also lessens the wear on pipes.

When pumps run dry, they are easily susceptible to damage. If it operates without liquid, it is vulnerable to strain, which can damage the motor and shorten its lifespan. Good thing, this model has a self-priming feature to prevent damage.

  • Requires minimal power for efficient operations
  • Threaded fittings accommodate multiple connectors
  • Comes with a bypass that reduces noise and pipe wear
  • Has a self-priming feature
  • Durability can be an issue

sailboat water pump

This 12-volt marine freshwater pump with output of 1.6 GPM, can be used for water taps and outdoor showers. It runs continuously for 60 to 90 minutes. After reaching its peak, the motor automatically turns off and cools down for 15 to 20 minutes before starting again. This intermittent pumping is a great way to minimize overheating.

While it is an affordable pump, it does not compromise durability. It has sealed switches, which inhibit the penetration of moisture and water, thereby, protecting the internal components. To add, it has electro coating to prevent corrosion. This means that even with constant water exposure, the parts of the pump won’t easily rust.

A common problem in many inferior pumps is that they are noisy. Luckily, this model has a whisper-quiet operation. I can hardly notice that it is pumping water on my taps. More so, it does not vibrate a lot thanks to its soft rubber mount.

Even if it is your first time using a pump, you will not be overwhelmed. It is built with the needs of users in mind. There are no complications from the installation to operation. Even the maintenance won’t require too much on your end.

  • Automatically cools down after continuous operation
  • Sealed switches to prevent water penetration
  • No excessive noise and vibrations
  • Easy to install and use
  • Minimal reviews are available online

sailboat water pump

Regardless of small or large applications, this Jabsco freshwater pump has your needs covered. It has a water output of 4 GPM, making it capable even in demanding applications. With its flow rate, it simultaneously powers four outlets.

This pump will withstand many years of use without showing a decline in terms of functionality. The motor comes with a full enclosure to inhibit water intrusion. The shell is powder-coated for corrosion protection. Moreover, its co-molded diaphragm helps in minimizing wear.

Installing and maintaining this model won’t be a headache. It has quick-connect fittings that will simplify the assembly. Even for long-term storage, the winterization of the pump does not have to be complicated.

It has an integrated bypass valve, which is the one responsible for the smooth flow of water from the source to the taps. It reduces switch cycling while allowing a quiet and efficient operation.

With a sealed pressure switch, I can use the pump on demand. This means that I can turn it on or off manually when necessary.

  • Has a high output that serves four outlets at the same time
  • Heavy-duty construction for long serviceability
  • Quick-connect fittings allow easy installation and maintenance
  • The sealed switch allows on-demand operation
  • An integrated bypass allows smooth flow of water
  • One of the most expensive pumps on my list


A marine pump supplies a consistent flow of water on the boat, making sure that there is enough pressure to reach the tap from the source. It transports the water from a lower level to a higher level, such as a faucet, shower, or dishwasher. Without the pump, the water will not move out of the tank.

The system starts by pressurizing water in the head of a pump. As the shaft rotates, it pushes the water to the diaphragm. The diaphragm will press and release more water as the water comes out of the tap. When you turn off the faucet, the pump stops working, preventing water from moving continuously.

Types Of Marine Freshwater Pumps

Freshwater marine pumps are available in two main types – manual and electric. Manual pumps will require muscle work as you need to manually push it for water to travel to the hose. On the other hand, electric pumps are more convenient, quick, and user-friendly. It has a motor that powers the movement of the water.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Marine Freshwater Pumps

The biggest benefit of using a freshwater marine pump is that it provides a steady supply of water. It ensures the right pressure depending on the flow rate of the tank. By using a pressurized system, it quickly moves the water from the source, dispensing it onto the tap. They are compact and energy-efficient.

It is hard to think of any drawback of a freshwater pump, except maybe for the cost. Nevertheless, many are affordable, including most of the models in this guide.

Buyer’s Guide

If you have no idea of what to pick, here are some of the most important considerations:

  • Voltage: The products above all have 12 volts, which are ideal for small to medium boats. For larger boats and heavy-duty applications, 24-volt pumps are more suitable.
  • Flow Rate: Expressed as GPM or gallon per minute, it describes the ideal output of the pump. At the very least, the pump should have 1 GPM. For more demanding users, 2 to 3 GPM is a good choice.
  • Pressure Rating: Another important technical spec, it indicates the resistance that the pump can hold. It will generally range from 20 to 60 PSI depending on the chosen model.
  • Noise: Noise is inevitable when a pump is working. Nonetheless, some are quieter than others. I recommend looking for a model with a low decibel rating.
  • Vibration: Aside from noise, excessive vibration is one more thing that makes pumps annoying. Some products have vibration dampeners, such as rubber on the base.
  • Run-Dry Feature: Pumps are susceptible to damage when they run dry. When there is no fluid, the components are more prone to wear. With a run-dry technology, the pump detects the absence of water and automatically shuts off.
  • Thermal Protection: This is another feature that prolongs the life of the motor. It shuts the motor the moment that it reaches its peak capacity. It cools down before it starts pumping water again.
  • Energy Efficiency: Even if a pump is small, some models are quite power-hungry. Especially if you will connect it to a battery, pick a pump that has a low power draw.
  • Ease of Use: From installing the pump to its operation, it must be user-friendly. The unit should come with an instruction manual and automatic features.

Care And Maintenance

Like other parts of a boat, freshwater pumps accumulate dirt over time, especially if it is not used. To maintain its peak performance, below are some of the best things to do:

  • Regularly check the pumps for damage, including dents and cracks. Fix the problem before it worsens.
  • Tighten all the connections. Use O-rings and other seals to secure the pump to a hose or pipe. This will prevent leaks.
  • Flush the water before using the pump after winterization or long-term storage. This will ensure a cleaner water supply to the outlets.
  • Use an in-line filter or strainer on the pump. It removes debris that can get in the water, especially if it is for drinking.


SEAFLO, Amarine Made, Jabsco, and West Marine fresh water pump are some of the top options. They are amongst the most reliable global brands with a diverse selection of water pumps that will surely suit your needs.

This will depend on the specific type of pump that you have. Most models have a switch that allows the pump to pressurize. As you open the faucet, the pump switches on, allowing water to run through the hose or pipe. It sustains the pressure to keep a steady flow rate. Once the spigot is closed, the pump turns off, inhibiting the movement of the water as well.

If the water pump has been off for a long time, it loses pressure and will not work accordingly. For the pump to work again, priming is a must. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Prepare the pump by turning off the power supply.
  • Inspect for any damage, which can compromise performance and safety.
  • Open the relief valve and check to see if there is any pressure.
  • Connect a hose to the pump.
  • Turn on the water supply until it reaches the tank.
  • Let the pump run for about a minute. If water does not flow smoothly, clean the pump and remove any blockage. Dirt and debris can accumulate over time, which will restrict water.

The first thing that you have to do is to remove the water in the tank. Add bleach, vinegar, or any other cleaner suitable for the material of the tank. Pour water and let the cleaning solution sit for at least 24 hours. Drain water from the tank and fill it with freshwater once it is clean.

Water is a necessity and not a luxury in boats. From dishwashing to showering to drinking, it is crucial to have access to water. The best marine freshwater pump will make such possible. It ensures the availability of water onboard while maintaining high pressure. The right pump transports freshwater from the source to the outlets in no time!

sailboat water pump

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Boat Plumbing


Boat plumbing is a lot easier for the do-it yourselfer than plumbing at home, mainly because it doesn't involve rigid pipes running inside solid walls.

Boat plumbing illustration

Here is an overview of a typical on-board water system.

Because water is heavy, tanks should be mounted low in the boat. Where space is available, it is a relatively simple matter to add extra tanks. Rigid polyethylene tanks are available in hundreds of shapes and sizes, or you might use a flexible bladder tank--essentially a water bag.

Water tanks typically have three threaded ports, one for the outlet and one for the vent hose, both 1/2-inch, and one for the fill hose, usually 1 1/2-inch. Threaded hose barbs allow for hose connections. The inlet is connected to an on-deck fill. (Be sure the deck-fill has an O-ring to seal out seawater when it is closed.) The vent line leads to a vent fitting high in the boat — above the tank at every expected angle of heel. Be aware that if the vent is not also higher than the fill, it will overflow when you are filling the tank. The outlet connection leads directly to a pump or, in a multi-tank installation, to a manifold or Y-valve.

Use Teflon tape or thread sealant on all threaded fittings, and don't overtighten fittings in plastic tanks. Secure hoses with stainless steel hose clamps.

Supply piping for a boat water system must be non-toxic, non-contaminating, taste-free, and FDA approved for drinking water. If the system is pressurized or will carry hot water, the piping needs to be suitable. The traditional choice for water system plumbing has long been clear PVC reinforced with polyester braid. This same type hose can be used for tank fill and vent connections.

In recent years semi-rigid polyethylene (PE) tubing, long used in RV plumbing, has surged in popularity for boat plumbing. It has much to recommend it. With quick-connect fittings, a PE tubing water delivery system assembles with the simplicity of Tinkertoys. The opaque or at least semitranslucent nature of the PE tubing discourages algae growth that can be a problem with clear hose. PE tubing also comes in colors — typically red for hot water and blue for cold — which looks nice and might make plumbing failures easier to trace. Because the tubing is less flexible than PVC hose and it must be cut to the correct lengths, a PE plumbing system will be slightly more demanding to install. However, the primary negative to PE plumbing is the cost of the fittings, which at this writing run $4 to $8 each. On the positive side, the tubing is actually cheaper than reinforced clear PVC hose.

Drain hoses connected to through-hull fittings should be stronger than clear vinyl hose. For this use, select reinforced rubber hose, sometimes called heater hose. This is the same type of hose used on engine plumbing, and it typically has about three times the burst strength of reinforced vinyl hose. Double clamp all hoses connected to through-hull fittings.

Water pumps on a boat can be either electric or manual. An electric pump pressurizes the entire water system. Most electric pumps have a pressure switch that activates when the pressure drops below a set value--usually around 30 or 40 PSI. Opening any tap on the boat releases pressure and causes the pump to kick on and run until it rebuilds the pressure to the cut-out setting. The pump cycles on and off until the tap is closed. The inlet of an electric pump connects directly to the tank outlet (or multitank valve), and the outlet supplies water to all faucets and appliances.

Manual pumps — hand or foot operated — supply a single spigot connected directly to the outlet side of the pump. A regulating valve is not required; water flow is controlled by the operation of the pump. The primary advantage of manual pumps is that they dramatically reduce water waste, a major concern for boats that spend long periods away from water supplies.


Some water systems include an accumulator. Large accumulators have pressurized bladders in them, but most small ones are just empty tanks teed into the line downstream of the pump. When the pump runs, it tries to fill the tank from the bottom, compressing the air trapped inside the tank. The pressure from the tank allows small amounts of water to be drawn without the necessity of the pump running, thus reducing pump cycling.

A marine water heater is simply a small, insulated tank downstream of the pump. You must have a pressurized water system to operate a water heater. The pump draws water from the storage tank(s) and fills the water heater tank. Inside the water heater is an electrical heating element and usually a coiled tube called a heat exchanger. When AC power is available, the electrical element (controlled by a thermostat) heats the water. Away from the dock, the hot engine coolant is routed through the coiled tube to heat the water in the tank when the engine is running.

Water heaters have four threaded ports. The tank inlet connects via a tee-connector to the outlet hose from the pump. A check valve is required in this line or in the heater to prevent hot water from migrating back toward the pump. The outlet connection supplies heated water to the hot side of all faucets, also using tee-connectors. The other two ports are for the heat exchanger connection, which varies depending on engine installation. Use only metal fittings to plumb a water heater, never plastic. If a pressure-release valve isn't integral, the heater will have a fifth port for this essential component.

Faucets are the ultimate terminus for water system lines. Manual pumps require simple spigots, but in a pressure water system, boat faucets differ from those found ashore only in styling and that they may be fitted with hose barbs. Mixer faucets require two connections, one from the cold side to the supply line from the pump and the other from the hot side to the water-heater outlet.

Shower connections are identical to faucet connections. The only difference is that rather than delivering the water through a spigot, the water is delivered through a pipe or hose to the shower head.

A nice owner addition to almost any boat is a deck shower, easily installed by simply teeing into cold- and hot-water supply lines.

Sink drains typically connect with reinforced rubber hose to a through-hull fitting. On a sailboat, sinks are best located near the centerline of the boat so heeling doesn't put them below the waterline. Because head sinks are often well outboard, they may be plumbed to drain into the bowl of the toilet to avoid the risk of flooding. There are collateral benefits of running fresh water through the head.

Shower pans too often drain into the bilge to be pumped overboard by the bilge pump. However, this arrangement eventually leads to unpleasant bilge odors, and it risks jamming the bilge pump with hair. Shower pans should be isolated from the bilge and include a discharge pump, either automatic or connected to a switch. The through-hull discharge outlet must always remain above the water.

Since few boats carry sufficient fresh water to allow washing the decks with it, washdown pumps are not connected into the freshwater system. Nevertheless, a washdown pump is a great convenience for hosing the deck and knocking mud off the anchor chain.

The inlet fitting of a washdown pump is connected to a submerged through-hull fitting, and the outlet side is connected to a deck-mounted faucet or male hose connector. A dedicated through-hull is not required; if you are installing a deckwash pump; use a Y- or tee-connector to tie into an existing inlet line. Use heavy-duty rubber suction hose, wire reinforced to keep the hose from collapsing. Debris will damage or destroy a washdown pump, so it is essential to have a strainer in the intake line.

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Contributor, BoatUS Magazine

Don Casey has been one of the most consulted experts on boat care and upgrades for 30 years, and is one of the BoatUS Magazine's panel of experts. He and his wife cruise aboard their 30-footer part of the year in the eastern Caribbean. His books include Don Casey's Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual, and the recently updated This Old Boat, the bible for do-it-yourself boaters.

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Fresh Water Boat Systems

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About Fresh Water Boat Systems

Keeping your water fresh with a high quality boat systems.

Fresh Water Boat Systems is primarily for boats that have the capacity to store and move fresh water, usually for at a sink or shower in the cabin. In addition to the water pressure pumps required for a fresh water system, we offer things like water tanks and heaters, sinks, showers, pressure regulators, and chemical treatments. Brands such as Jabsco, Whale, Raritan, Flojet and Scandvik have put in the time and energy to make sure their products are of the highest quality, and designed to deal with a constantly wet environment.

Fresh Water Boat Systems How-Tos

How to install a shower pump on my boat.

After a hot day out sailing, racing, fishing, or simply relaxing on the deck, a boater always looks forward to a refreshing shower. Nothing beats the feeling of powerful water jets splashing on your body. However, due to structural and space limitations, it can be a bit challenging to get the right water pressure. This will particularly affect small watercrafts. In order to make certain the shower works just right, it is necessary to put in place a good boat shower pump. This device is charged with making sure there is a constant flow of water. It also helps in maintaining consistent water pressure thus offering you a "power shower."

Why is a shower pump needed in a boat?

As a boater, you may be asking if it's necessary to have a shower on a boat. Well, if you desire to get rid of the salt, dirt, smell or sweat from your body, then you need a shower and a water pump. Unlike a home, a boat will have a little area to hold the water. This simply means that you have to work with limited quantities. In addition, the water tanks will be located below the deck or on a slightly raised platform. Therefore, the pressure of water will be low. A pump increases the water pressure and also reduces wastage and keeps you clean.

Installing a Boat Shower Pump

  • Shower pump
  • Wood or Rubber slab
  • Power Drill
  • 15-mm Pipes
  • 25 Amp fuse
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws/Bolts


  • Identify a good spot on the boat. It should be kept as near as possible to the tanks storing water. It is always a good idea to position the pump at a point that is lower than the water tank base (bottom).
  • Position the pump on the wood or rubber piece and mark the holes. Do the same to the desired area on the boat.
  • Take the power drill and drill the holes on the slab as well as the boat.
  • Align the slab on the boat and place the pump horizontally on top of the slab.
  • Insert the screws or bolts and attach the nuts underneath. Tighten with a screwdriver or wrench.
  • Connect the pipe from the water tank to the inlet side of the filter. Another pipe should be connected from the filter's outlet to the inlet of the pump.
  • Connect another pipe from the pumps outlet to the shower. You may also place a filter between the pump and shower head.
  • Locate the pump's positive (red) wire and splice it to a positive power source in the fuse box. Place a 25 amp fuse while making sure power has been disconnected or switched off. Connect the other black (negative) wire to a negative point.

Tips to Choosing a Boat Shower Pump

Choosing the right shower pump comes with its fair of challenges. This is fueled by intense market rivalry, lack of knowledge, a wide range of products, and more.

The following tips will come handy when thinking of fitting a shower pump:

Frequency of Use: - If the shower only serves one or two people, or is used rarely, then a small or medium pump should be sufficient.

Pump Output: - The pumping pressure is usually between 1.0 to 4.5 bars. Too much pressure may affect power consumption and also other constituent parts such as the shower heads and pipes.

Energy efficiency: - A good pump should provide maximum pressure with minimal usage of power. It makes no sense to install a large and powerful pump if one or two people will be using it.

Brand Reputation: - Shower pumps come in varied designs, shapes and brands. Always go for a brand that is known to be durable, energy-efficient, cost-effective and easy to install.

Many boaters or boat owners have the notion that installing a shower pump in the boat is a laborious activity. In fact, some will choose to splash water on themselves while others will stick to the faulty shower. Well, this doesn't have to be the case. Replacing or installing a shower pump can be undertaken by any person with basic skills. No extensive knowledge on plumbing or wiring is required. The whole exercise may require only a few hours hence you can decide to set aside one sunny afternoon to carry out the boat shower pump installation. You can turn the activity into a pass time by asking a friend to assist. Before you install a pump, be sure to browse through our high quality pumps to ensure you get the best pump at a great price.

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Troubleshooting fresh water pump

  • Thread starter Allan Frey
  • Start date Jul 21, 2014
  • Forums for All Owners
  • Ask All Sailors

I have an odd problem with a two year old Shurflo fresh water pump, model 3901-0216. I saw a small reduction in water flow rate; about 2/3 typical rate. Then, after a few days of this, the pump did not turn off when the faucet was closed, as it normally did (no accumulator). I checked all the faucets and they were closed. I ran water out of all the faucets to purge any possible air. The strainer is clean. The water tank is almost full and the fill cap is closed. There were no pipe leaks apparent. I reset the breaker several times and also turned off the breaker for several hours. When the breaker was turned back on, I still had continuous running of the pump. That evening, the pump “fixed itself”; it just started operating normally. The water flow rate was still reduced. It worked normally most of the next day; then it started running continuously the rest of the day and all the next day whenever I turned the breaker on. I have not heard of this kind of problem with these pumps. I don’t know if the reduced flow rate and the intermittent continuous running are related. It is an interesting problem. Any suggestions? Thanks Allan  

Rich Stidger

Rich Stidger

These Shurflo pumps have a triple valve pumping chamber. I suspect that there is a problem with one of the pumping chambers/valves. Thus the 2/3 volume and if the valve was not closing, the pressure would not satisfy the pressure switch and it would run continuously. I would pull it apart and do a rebuild. The triple valve pumping body is available as a replacement part.  

Bill Roosa

dito Rick's assessment. The "mushroom" valves get mineral deposits on them over time and need a good cleaning. There are actually 4 valves in the body, 3 in and one big on in the center. i've used a toothbrush and white vinegar successfully with out taking the valves out of the housing. If you do have to take the valves out use the blunt end of a toothpick to push the "stem' of the mushroom through the retaining hole and BE CAREFUL not to rip the rubber  

Stu Jackson

Stu Jackson

The troubleshooting guide for these pumps is available, if you don't have the manual, download it from the internet.  

Thanks Rich, Bill and Stu for the guidance. Stu, I did get the troubleshooting guide and looked in the archives first, but they did not have this kind of problem listed. allan  


Shurflo Trash in outlet check valve of one pumping chamber.. as Bill and Rich suggest. Doesn't take much.. pinhead size piece of sand or calcium deposit.. the outer head and pressure switch housing come apart pretty easily without taking the drive side apart.. Best to take it out of the locker to work it. This shows the pressure switch off .. the three screws around the outside will allow access to the valves and diaphragms..  


Old Shurflo 1.jpg Take a look at one of the PDF documents, shows blow up pictures of the parts. Good luck. It may not be specifically in the troubleshooting guide, but Calder and the helpful advice from the skippers here sure covers it all.  


You should have a filter before the pump.  

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Get Rid of Excess Water With the Best Bilge Pump

best bilge pump in 2024

Just like a car owner, each person who owns a boat treats it like a child. Therefore, taking care of it becomes their top responsibility. Whether you're a sailor, fisherman, or just a regular boater there's no way to prevent water from seeping into your boat. No matter how much you try to sidestep it, be it rainwater or ocean spray, water will find one way or another.

This is where a good bilge pump comes in! Designed to remove excess water from the bilge, modern bilge pumps can be manual, automatic, electric, or even centrifugal. Designed to be mounted to the lowest part of the bilge to be fully functional, even though they are not compulsory they are a necessity.

To help you out, we’ve curated a list of the leading bilge pumps of 2024!

Our Top Picks

  • Top Pick: MAXZONE Bilge Pump Shop Now ➔
  • Most Affordable: MAXZONE Automatic Bilge Pump Shop Now ➔
  • Easy To Install: Shoreline Marine Bilge Pump Shop Now ➔
  • Comes With Warranty: Dontmiss Automatic Bilge Pump Shop Now ➔
  • Best Performance: Creatorele Bilge Pump Shop Now ➔
  • 1 Features To Look For in a Bilge Pump
  • 3 Automatic
  • 5 Installation

Which type of bilge pump is suitable for large boats?

Why do small boats need high-capacity pumps, is one pump enough for my boat, which type of switches are best, do i really need a bilge pump, related reviews, compare the premium bilge pumps of 2024.

bilge pump reviews

MAXZONE Bilge Pump

While MAXZONE’s Bilge Pump is tremendously cheap in comparison to its competitors, this in no way means that the brand compromises on its features. Featuring a flow rate of 1100 GPH at 12V, it’s suitable for all kinds of water vessels, including fishing boats, cruises, and yachts. Compatible with hydraulic systems which utilize cold water, it has a moisture-tight seal that enables the motor to work very efficiently. Other admirable features include ignition protection and ABS-exclusive construction. 

The pump has a lockable strainer base that acts like an automatic bilge pump. Additionally, it has a head of up to 13 feet, resulting in distant water expulsion.

  • Great for those on a budget 
  • Can withstand various environments
  • Produces loud sounds

Most Affordable

bilge pump reviews

MAXZONE Automatic Bilge Pump

This device by MAXZONE is an all-in-one pump. Fully automatic and capable of operating as a controlled reed sensor system with a maximum flow rate of 11000 GPH at 12V, it has a built-in float switch. This means that this pump uses energy only after its activation and stops usage after it has shut down. Featuring a nylon hose barb that allows multiple connection options, the device has a prolonged life motor with an anti-fouling impeller and ABS exclusive moisture seal. The strainer base is also detachable, which makes cleaning and maintenance easy. 

It also works very well for small and larger boats!

  • Material is durable 
  • Occupies little space
  • Excellent option as a backup pump
  • The float switch is not highly sensitive

Easy To Install

bilge pump reviews

Shoreline Marine Bilge Pump

Shoreline’s Marine Bilge Pump is without a doubt one of the best in the industry. Capable of being submerged and operating on a pumping capacity of 600 GPH, it is small, compact, and exemplary if you’re looking for something modest. Featuring a very low current of 3A, all of its hardware uses stainless steel with marine-grade lead wiring. 

Even though the pump itself is pretty inexpensive, if you’re looking for it to be automatic you’ll have to add a few additional parts to the total cost, such as a float and switch. While it isn’t as fast as other pumps, it comes with a mounting bracket and a guide which makes it user-friendly.

  • The removable design allows for easy cleaning
  • The secure clip offers easy installation
  • The mounting system is universal
  • Operation is silent 
  • It may have a weak pressure

Comes With Warranty

bilge pump reviews

Dontmiss Automatic Bilge Pump

This bilge pump by Dontmiss is making its mark in the market at the moment. Extremely powerful and supporting both automatic and non-automatic connections, the installment features different colored wires for your desired operation mode. With the built-in electronic sensor system being responsible for promoting a more complete automatic function, Dontmiss ensures zero energy consumption. 

Outing a capacity of 750 GPH and a flow rate of 12.5 gallons per minute at 12V, an integral float switch eliminates the need for an additional one. Adding to its functionality, it is inaudible and vibrationless, and the added quick-release strainer makes its maintenance a little easier. 

Even though it’s not a well-known brand, you can rest assured that Dontmiss will last for years to come. 

  • The motor is sealed and doesn’t burn out
  • Comes with a one-year warranty
  • Resistant to rust and corrosion
  • The float switch malfunctions

Best Performance

bilge pump reviews

Creatorele Bilge Pump

This manual bilge pump is fully submersible and extremely easy to use. Ideal for small boats and fishing boats, it has a rated voltage of 12V and a capacity of 1100 GPH. Being one of the reasons for the commendable efficiency of this pump, the stainless steel shafts and ABS plastic pumps of this bilge pump are resistant to different impacts. 

The discharge port has a nylon pump that accommodates all kinds of joints. And when it comes to cleaning, Creatorele offers an instruction manual to make the job easier, resulting in maximum productivity and extended usage.

  • It’s very affordable
  • It’s extremely versatile
  • The parts deter corrosion 

Buyer’s Guide: Finding Your Next Bilge Pump

Commonly referred to as nuisance water, not having a quality bilge pump can destabilize your boat and damage your machinery. More importantly, it may sink your boat within minutes.

Features To Look For in a Bilge Pump

A bilge pump is a handy, essential tool that quickly pumps out gallons of water. Taking into account different boat sizes and environments of the boats, here are a few things to look for when purchasing a bilge pump:

The size of the bilge pump is dependent on the gallons of water it is capable of throwing out. You’ll most likely use these pumps in tricky situations, so it’s better to choose a larger pump with a high flow rate as it will be effective in case of emergencies. There is no standard size of a bilge pump, but one with a discharge capacity of 1000 gallons per hour or more should be good enough for both small and large boats.

With a built-in float switch, it works through an integrated sensor system. Fast and thorough, a bilge pump saves the user from the trouble of finding a separate switch. All in all, it’s also the best and most effective option.

The model of your bilge pump will depend on your needs as both models have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, while manual pumps are more suitable for small boats they are easy to manage and do not require any technical skills to operate them. Nevertheless, as a downside they may not be quick enough in certain situations—so it is preferable to have an electric bilge pump with a backup manual pump in bigger boats.

An automatic electric pump is quicker and proved to be more effective. The float switch, upon activation, removes all unwanted water before it can cross normal levels. Dying your boat in a few minutes, having a manual pump as a backup is great to have as a precaution in case of short circuits or a low battery.


The bilge is the narrowest space in a boat, which is why it is not easy to install a bilge pump or any other gear in it. Therefore, it is also necessary to make sure the pump fits into the bilge safely. Even though the expulsion volume should be a primary factor in choosing the size of a bilge pump, it may be useless if it cannot be easily installed and worked to its full potential. The strainers of the pump should be easily accessible for cleaning as well. This is why experts recommend getting pumps with removable strainers.

A diaphragm pump uses a rubber or plastic diaphragm for water intake and output. Efficient yet but susceptible to clogging, the centrifugal pump works through a spinning impelling. It sucks water and discharges it with pressure, making it an extremely reliable and fuss-free option.

People Also Asked

Centrifugal pumps are the preferred choice for bigger boats as they need pumps with a higher capacity that quickly do the job.

Small boats can overflow with water and sink faster due to small hull volume and bilge. Therefore, they need the fastest water discharge.

While having one pump on hand will work for a small boat, as a boat's size increases you will need to mount more pumps for efficient water removal. To ensure your bilge pump is compatible with your boat, consider taking a quick look at the product description prior to purchasing.

Automatic, built-in switches with controlled sensors are most effective and rightfully popular. Known for their ease, they’re a great option for professionals and beginners alike.

Not having a bilge pump makes you susceptible to sinking at sea, which can be a dangerous and potentially fatal scenario. 

Article Contributors

Sail magazine review team.

SAIL Magazine Review Team reports on best-selling products in sailing and boating. SAIL Magazine is reader-supported: When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Artificial Intelligence (large language models) may have been used in the research and creation of the content.

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Test of Six 12-volt Watermakers

While at first blush all appear about the same size, we find important differences in output and current consumption. the spectra 180 is amazingly efficient but expensive. of the six, village marine tec's little wonder seems the most tried and true..

Last month we took an overview of the pros and cons of 12-volt watermakers. This month, we look at high-output machines from five manufacturers, ranging from systems from industry giants such as Village Marine to small shops such as SK Engineering. All of the watermakers we looked at were production models, although the Spectra 180 we tested had been re-configured to serve as a demonstration model.

As we began our market survey and field testing, we discovered that a number of other manufacturers are jumping into the fray, realizing that 12-volt watermakers constitute a small but growing segment of the market. Most notable among these new players is HRO-another industry giant-which has been promising a state-of-the-art, computer-controlled, self-contained 12-volt watermaker for more than a year. We saw the literature a year ago at the Miami Boat Show. We saw a non-operational mockup last fall at the Southampton, England boat show. We have yet to see a functional machine in the flesh.

With the assistance of Andy Cortvriend of Ocean Link, a knowledgable Portsmouth, Rhode Island, marine servicing company, we tested product output, water quality, and electrical consumption of all the watermakers. Electrical consumption was measured with a Cruising Equipment amp-hour meter, using gel cell batteries maintained at full capacity by a Heart inverter/charger between tests.

Saltwater was pulled from lower Narragansett Bay into a large storage tank maintained at a constant temperature during the tests. The waters at our Little Harbor test facility are not as clean as open ocean waters, but are closer to the reality of the watermaking most cruisers will experience. This was not a pure laboratory test with manufactured sea water of exactly the right total dissolved solids (TDS).

We then examined each machine carefully on the bench, looking for weak points, strong points, potential installation or maintenance hang-ups, and general quality of construction.

The quality of output water was tested with a TDS meter and all machines easily met standards for potability.

The real test of any watermaker is how it performs over time-not just months, but years. Because maintenance is a key factor in longevity and trouble-free operation, the owner/operator will bear a large portion of the responsibility for the long-term success of any watermaker installation.

Here are our findings.

Village Marine Little Wonder When Village Marine Tecs Little Wonder was introduced almost a decade ago, it was the first 12-volt watermaker that actually had the capacity to supply the water needs of a medium-sized cruising sailboat without almost continual running. More than 1,500 of these compact, well-made machines have been produced, and there have been virtually no changes to the design or components over the entire production run.

Both 12-volt and 24-volt models are available, with the higher voltage model producing slightly more product flow.

The standard model is totally self-contained in a well-designed package, with all components bolted to a heavy aluminum chassis, topped off with a removable aluminum cover. Mounting requires drilling through the chassis for suitable through-bolts.

The three plumbing connections-feed water, product water, and brine discharge-are pre-plumbed through one end of the case. The wiring junction box also contains connections for an optional feed water boost pump, and an internal 25-amp breaker to protect the electrics.

Although the package is tightly plumbed, there is reasonable space between components for service.

Power for the high-pressure pump is provided by a continuous-duty 1/4-hp. Pacific Scientific motor, rated at 21.5 amps at full power. The motor is connected to the high-pressure pump by a lightweight cogged belt.

The heart of the Little Wonder is its proprietary high-pressure pump, specially made by Village Marine for this machine. It features a titanium pump head with ceramic plunger-a combination which should be corrosion-proof for the life of the watermaker. All wetted parts in the pump are titanium, type 316 stainless steel, or ceramic. High-pressure plumbing and connectors are type 316 stainless.

Monitoring includes a high-pressure gauge and product flow gauge. System pressure can be adjusted if necessary using an open-end wrench, although the factory pre-set pressure of 800 psi should be correct for most watermaking situations. The pressure regulator is a high-quality regulator, rather than the more commonly seen needle-valve adjuster.

The fiberglass pressure vessel and the standard-sized 2521 membrane are both manufactured by Village Marine, although they are industry-standard in size.

In our tests, the Little Wonder produced a product flow of 5.8 gph at 13 volts, drawing 16.7 amps-about 37.4 watts per gallon. This does not include the 1-amp current draw of the small optional booster pump, which is required for above-the-waterline installations, long feed water runs, or installations containing multiple pre-filters.

The water produced by the machine we tested was very high quality. The noise level of 79 dB, with the cover removed, was louder than the two quietest machines tested, but was not loud enough to be objectionable.

The self-contained unit is 25.5″ long, 11″ wide, and 9.25″ high, and requires a slightly larger mounting space to accommodate plumbing connections and allow access for removal of fastenings holding the cover. For tight installations, a modular version is available, which does away with the mounting chassis and uses flexible high-pressure hoses rather than rigid stainless steel tubing. Obviously, installation of the modular unit requires slightly more time, but offers a lot of flexibility-very desirable in field installations aboard the typical cruising sailboat, in which locker or shelf space is at a premium.

Documentation is excellent, with a 35-page manual covering installation, operation and maintenance.

The warranty is somewhat complex. The membrane has a three year warranty, the pressure vessel a lifetime warranty, the high pressure pump a one-year warranty-although some of its internal components have only a 90-day warranty-and the electric motor 12 months. You need a flow chart to keep it straight.

The Little Wonder comes with pre-filter, three-way cleaning valve, basic plumbing connectors, and a membrane cleaning kit. You supply PVC hose, hose clamps, and the wiring connection. Options include the boost pump (standard with the modular version, $144 for the self-contained version), a three-way sampling valve ($38), a pre-plumbed fresh water flushing system ($150), hand-held salinity meter ($49), and spares kit for extended cruising ($199). For long-range cruising, all of these options are nearly essential for any properly installed watermaker.

List price of either the self-contained or modular 12-volt Little Wonder is $3,195. It is available at slight discounts through some mail-order catalogs, and there are periodic promotions at boat shows featuring special prices and thrown-in options.

Weight of the self-contained system is 63 lb. (The modular system weighs 48 lb.)

Village Marine will soon introduce a higher-output version of the Little Wonder, a 1/3-hp. watermaker in almost the same package size. Current draw, however, will be about 26 amps, requiring heavier wiring and perhaps a look at your battery capacity and charging capabilities.

Bottom Line: There are quieter 12-volt machines, more efficient ones, cheaper ones, and others that put out more water. The Little Wonder, however, has a combination of features-ease of installation, relatively low current draw, high quality components, and a 10-year track record-that is hard to beat. You can’t go wrong with this watermaker.

SK Engineering DC 150 SK Engineering is a small watermaker manufacturer based in Ft. Pierce, Florida. They do virtually no advertising, go to few boat shows, and have a very low-overhead operation geared to the Florida market. While most of their units are AC-powered, their DC 150 is a 12-volt model with a nominal output of 6 gallons per hour.

The DC 150 is powered by a 1/3-hp. continuous-duty Pacific Scientific motor rated at 26 amps. This is a larger version of the motor that powers the Village Marine Little Wonder.

The membrane is a standard 2521, and the pressure vessel appears identical to that used by Village Marine. All high-pressure fittings are type 316 stainless, as is the rigid high-pressure plumbing.

A Giant high-pressure pump provides pressure for the system. This is a standard industrial pump with a stainless steel pump head. A complete servicing manual for the pump is provided.

This is an open-frame system, with the components mounted on a heavy aluminum chassis. The footprint is 18.5″ x 12.5″, with a height of 8.5″. The pressure vessel is mounted on the outside of the chassis, increasing overall dimensions to about 25″ long outside the footprint of the mounting frame. Rubber vibration mounts are provided to isolate the chassis, reducing noise and vibration.

System pressure is user controllable via a knob-operated valve on the panel. Monitoring capabilities include system pressure and product water flow.

In operation, the DC 150 was one of the quietest machines tested, producing a maximum of 72 dB of noise. Product flow of the test machine was 6.5 gallons at 800 psi, with the motor drawing 21.3 amps at 13 volts. This translates into electrical consumption of 42.6 watts per gallon of water produced. As with other systems, adding a booster pump for above-waterline installations would add to total current draw. SK states that the system will operate without a booster pump in installations up to 2′ above the waterline.

One of the nicer features of this machine is the availability of a remote operating panel. This option allows routine operation of the system without direct access to the watermaker itself, which greatly increases installation flexibility.

The system is supplied with a pre-filter with a vacuum gauge, allowing you to monitor the condition of the filter without opening the housing. A freshwater flush kit-highly-desirable in any installation-is a $125 option. The 12-volt booster pump, drawing 1 amp, is a $120 option. An extensive cruising kit, including 12 pre-filters, rebuild parts for the high-pressure pump, cleaner, preservative, and other spares, costs $330.

SKs pricing is very competitive. The self-contained DC 150 has a list price of $2,740, but has a discount price-which we suspect would be available to most sailors who approach the manufacturer directly-of $2,350. The remote panel version has a discount price of $2,450, although the list price jumps to $3,140.

The system documentation is basic, but adequate. Total system weight is 74 lbs.

Being a small manufacturer, SK has a limited network of regular servicing dealers, but since all the system components are essentially off-the-shelf items, any good watermaker technician could repair the unit if necessary.

This is a quiet system with high-quality components and a great deal of installation flexibility when coupled with the optional 8″ x 8″ remote panel. Its open-frame design is easily serviced, although the package is not as neat as a totally enclosed package like the Little Wonder.

Bottom Line: With its 1/3-hp. motor, electrical installation will require careful thought, and you will need to look at your entire charging system and battery capacity a little more closely than you would with a 1/4-hp. machine.

The low price makes this system worth looking at. It is simple, soundly engineered, and utilizes good quality, standard components that are easily serviced. The only potential drawback is the small size of the manufacturer, which might limit long-term support.

PUR PowerSurvivor 160E The PowerSurvivor 160E is PURs entry into the high-output 12-volt watermaker market. It is the latest in a long line of machines that dates back to the PowerSurvivor 35, the first practical small 12-volt watermaking system.

The 160E uses a standard 2521 membrane in a proprietary housing. It is a dead-simple modular system, utilizing a Leeson 1/3-hp. motor directly coupled to a proprietary stainless steel high-pressure pump. Flexible high-pressure hose between the pump and the pressure vessel allows a great deal of mounting versatility, including bolting the entire system to a bulkhead. All high-pressure fittings are 316 stainless steel.

At 54 lbs. for the entire system, this is one of the lightest high-output watermakers we tested.

When we say dead-simple, we mean it. Other than the pressure bypass valve and the on-off switch-which you provide-there are no gauges to monitor, no product flow meter, and no means of adjusting system pressure, which is pre-set at the factory and is not intended to be user-adjusted. You would still, of course, install the product sampling valve, cleaning valve, and pre-filter, just as with all other units.

The 160E is a gravity feed system, and can only be installed below the waterline.

Our test machine produced 6.5 gallons of water per hour, drawing 17.3 amps at 13 volts-less than we would expect for a 1/3-hp. system. This yields an energy consumption of 34.6 watts per gallon of water-more efficient than average for the watermakers in our tests.

There are several drawbacks to the PowerSurvivor 160E. First, the system is the noisiest of any we tested, putting out 80 dB at our standard test distance of 1′. Furthermore, the reciprocating drive system of the high-pressure pump produces not a steady noise, but one punctuated by a loud popping sound at one stage of the piston stroke. We would recommend mounting this watermaker in a sound-insulated compartment if possible.

The reciprocating pump also produces pulsing in the systems hoses, which should be well-secured to prevent fatigue over time.

This is one of the more expensive watermakers we tested, with a list price of $4,440. Several discount marine catalogs sell the 160E for as low as $3,800. Options include a repair seal kit ($80), an extended cruise kit ($200), and an extensive preventative maintenance package ($420).

On the plus side, routine service of the system, including replacement of high-pressure pump seals-a requirement every 1,000 hours of operation-is simple and well-documented in the excellent instruction manual.

We also looked at two other units from PUR, the PowerSurvivor 80II modular and the newly-designed PowerSurvivor 40E. The 80II is very similar to the 160E, simply scaled down. We did not test it, but since all the other PUR machines met the manufacturers specifications, we expect this one to do the same. The smaller-diameter membrane of the 80II limits you to membranes from the machines manufacturer. It lists for $3,330, and is routinely discounted to about $2,950-about the same as the higher-output Little Wonder.

The PowerSurvivor 40E is the totally re-designed successor to the PowerSurvivor 35, the original high-output 12-volt watermaker. In our tests, its 1/18-hp. motor drew 4.8 amps, producing about 1.6 gallons per hour, consuming 39 watts per gallon of water. It is very compact, and like all PUR watermakers, easy to service and operate.

At 72 dB, its noise level was the equivalent of the quieter large 12-volt machines.

With its light weight (25 lbs.) and tiny footprint-about 15-1/2″ x 15″ x 6″ high-the 40E would be the most suitable watermaker for a single sailor or a couple cruising on a small or very light boat-a multihull, for example-with limited electrical generating capacities, perhaps just a few solar panels and small batteries.

In an emergency, the motor can be disconnected from the 40E, and it can be operated manually by a handle, just like its Survivor 35 predecessor. Because virtually all the parts of the 40E are proprietary, including the pressure vessel, membrane, and pump, you will only be able to service the units with parts from PUR.

List price of the 40E is $2,220/$1,900 discount, with options analogous to those available for larger PUR machines.

Bottom Line: All three of these smaller watermakers are actually the core business for PUR, and fill specific niches where there is no competition. Although the 160e is an easily serviced watermaker, and is more efficient than average, its high price and noisy operation are drawbacks. If the installation flexibility of the 160E is not essential to you, we think there are other 12-volt watermakers of similar capacity and quality of construction that offer better value.

Caribbean Technology The Caribbean Technology YM-200 DC 12 made by Great Water is the highest-capacity 12-volt watermaker we tested. Its rated output of 10.2 gph at 800 psi significantly exceeds that of most of the watermakers in our test.

In many ways, this modular system mimics both the output and sophistication levels of more mainstream engine-driven or 110-volt systems, including a direct drive high-pressure pump, high and low pressure automatic shutoff, and a sophisticated remote operating panel including power switch, pressure regulator, and gauges for system pressure, product water flow, and brine flow.

Power is provided by a 1/2-hp. continuous-duty motor directly coupled to a stainless steel Wanner Hydracell industrial pump. An instruction manual for the pump leads you through the periodic maintenance required. A new oil venting system in the pump claims to have eliminated an earlier tendency of Wanner pumps to weep oil.

A Codeline pressure vessel holds a standard 2521 membrane. Because this is a modular system, high-pressure plumbing includes flexible hose rather than rigid tubing. All fittings are 316 stainless steel.

A Flojet boost pump is standard, allowing the system to be mounted above the waterline. This pump-actually designed as a shower drain pump-adds 3.6 amps to the current draw of the system.

A product flow rate of 10.2 gph is pretty much the absolute capacity of a 2521 membrane, and our test system had no trouble achieving that rate of flow. The downside is that to achieve this flow, the electrical demands of the system are much higher than any other watermaker we tested: 38 amps at 13 volts, or 48.4 watts per gallon.

You would never run this system without running the engine at the same time. The current draw is high enough to drop system voltage down instantly. In all fairness, for maximum efficiency none of the systems drawing 15 amps or more should be operated without running the engine at the same time.

Because of the high current draw, your charging system should be equipped with a big alternator if you choose this watermaker. To take advantage of the big alternators capacity, youll want a big bank of batteries. The system will probably need a 50-amp circuit breaker separate from the main panel, as many main panels do not have service wiring that is really heavy enough for this type of load.

You will also need heavy wiring between the circuit breaker and the systems electrical relay box. The manufacturer recommends 4-gauge wiring, which is heavy and may in some cases be difficult to run.

Obviously, a great deal of planning and thought is required before installing a system of this capacity and with these electrical requirements.

On the plus side, the fully modular design allows the system to be mounted in a surprisingly small space, essentially little more space than is required by a modular 6-gph system.

Weight of the YM-200 is 83 lbs.

The manual includes excellent system schematics, and reasonably thorough instructions for installation, operation, and maintenance of the watermaker.

As you might expect, the size of the pumps and motors result in a fairly noisy system: 80 dB at a distance of 1′ from the high-pressure pump-the big noisemaker in any system. Due to its weight, electrical needs, and noise, the best location for this watermaker is a sound-insulated engine room or compartment, as close as possible to the ships electrical supply.

Bottom Line: The best application for this system is a larger boat with existing electrical capacity, and lacks a genset or a means of installing an engine-driven watermaker.

With a list price of $3,500-which is sometimes discounted through dealers-this is not an expensive system. In fact, on a dollar cost per gallon of water produced per hour basis, this is the cheapest system of the entire lot to purchase. It is not an electrically efficient system, but if the maximum output in the minimum time is your primary criterion in a 12-volt watermaker, the Caribbean Technology is definitely worth considering.

Spectra 180 The Spectra 180, and a few variations on its basic version, are the only watermakers produced by Edinger Marine Services. It is radically different from other 12-volt watermakers, extracting a lot of freshwater with astonishingly low power consumption.

When you first see the Spectra 180, your first impression is that one component-a big DC motor to power the high-pressure pump-has been left out. In fact, the entire system is powered by a small 12-volt pump and motor-about 1/8-hp.-no larger than the water pressure pump on a 35-footer. This is possible due to the unique design of the Clark pump, a remarkably energy-efficient pump created specifically to power this watermaker.

The Clark pump is totally unlike any other high-pressure pump used in watermakers. To oversimplify, the Clark uses two opposing pistons and cylinders with a single connecting rod. System pressure is created by the connecting rod driving the piston into the opposite cylinder. Without a detailed technical explanation of exactly how any why this works, it is fair to say that compared to other methods of creating adequate pressure for reverse osmosis, this is a remarkably energy-efficient system.

The Spectra 180 is also different from other watermakers in that it uses a standard full-size membrane whose pressure vessel is just over 44″ long-almost twice the length of the pressure vessel containing the 2521 membrane used by all the other high-capacity systems in out tests. Mounting this much longer pressure vessel may present problems in some boats. The Clark Pump housing itself is almost as long as the pressure vessel for a 2521 membrane.

According to the manufacturer, they have torn down Clark pumps after 3,000 hours of operation and found no significant wear. In any case, the pump is easy to overhaul in the field by a reasonably proficient owner. An overhaul manual for the pump is part of the system documentation, which is basic but adequate.

This is a modular system, with a remote control panel that can allow basic operation without direct access to the other system components. Total weight is about 51 lbs.

Our test system was a factory demonstrator, configured as a self-contained frame system with some performance compromises compared to the correct, conventional modular installation. Instead of a single large membrane, our test system utilized two 2521 membranes, similar in flux area to the larger membrane.

From a pure electrical efficiency perspective, the Spectra 180 was the most impressive watermaker we tested. With a current draw of 8.6 amps at 13 volts, our test unit pumped out fresh water at the rate of almost 9.5 gph–almost as much as the Great Water system, which draws almost five times as much power. Thats only 11.8 watts per gallon, by light years the most electrically efficient machine in our test.

In addition, at a noise level of 65 dB, this was the quietest system.

The Spectra 180 is not perfect, however. The system runs at low pressure compared to other systems-just 600 psi with our 70F water temperature-and the product water, although perfectly acceptable, had the highest total dissolved solids in our tests. Since product water quality can vary with different membranes, we are reluctant to attach much significance to this slightly lower water quality, which was still well within standards for drinking water.

We have some concerns about the relatively low feed water flow rate through the big membrane. The more water that passes over a membrane, the better it likes it, according to most manufacturers. The Spectras flow rate of about 90 gph is quite small for the large membrane, and we do not know how the longevity of the membrane might be impacted by this.

The ends of the main block of our systems Clark pump were machined from bronze, and showed some signs of surface oxidation at the interface to the Delrin main block. According to the manufacturer, future editions of the Spectra will have stainless steel components in place of bronze.

Likewise, the pressure relief needle valve on our test system dribbled when it was barely cracked open. We were told that this component has also been re-designed.

Our test system utilized brass high-pressure fittings, rather than the type 316 stainless used by every other manufacturer. Some manufacturers claim that the only reason to use brass is to save money, while others admitted to us, a bit reluctantly, that they had never seen a brass high-pressure fitting with significant corrosion, and stainless was generally used for appearance and galvanic compatibility as much as for longevity purposes.

Given the cost of the Spectra 180, we think you should get type 316 stainless fittings, and type 316 pump block components. The price of the Spectra 180 is $4,650, the highest of any machine we tested. You pay a significant premium for a major increase in electrical efficiency. Service, parts, and options prices are similar to those of other manufacturers: $350 for a long-term offshore service kit, for example. The price of the installation kit-$275-strikes us as a bit high for such parts as the three-way servicing and diverting valves that some other manufacturers include in the price of the basic system.

According to the manufacturer, although the system is fully functional and in production, they are still looking at further developments, including a composite Clark pump that would have no metal components. Relatively few of these machines are in use in the field at this time, as the product is quite new to the market.

Bottom Line: The most attractive feature of this system is its energy efficiency. We are less impressed by its price, and by the fact that it would appear to be a system with some room for refinement. However, if being able to run a watermaker without running the engine at the same time is important to you, and if price is less important than electrical efficiency, the Spectra 180 would be the choice among the systems we tested.

Conclusions/Recommendations Because virtually every cruising boat has different needs, priorities, and installation requirements, no single high-capacity 12-volt watermaker is going to fit the bill for every sailor. These are all well-designed, fully functional machines. Each has specific advantages and disadvantages, which we have described.

All meet their manufacturers performance specifications in terms of electrical consumption and product water output. Variances of +/- 10% to 15% from the manufacturers specifications for performance are normal.

The variations in product water quality we found are not significant. All the watermakers produce water that meets international standards for potability. The quality of the water will vary over time with any watermaker and with any membrane. A simple hand salinity tester-available from most watermaker manufacturers-is all that is required for routine checking of water quality. Most owners who use their watermakers daily don’t even bother testing salinity. They start the machine, let it run for a few minutes, taste the water, and if it tastes good, divert it to the tank.

All watermakers have similar maintenance requirements, and all we tested are reasonably easy to service. Your choice of a specific system will be largely the result of specific requirements for your boat and your cruising. The key questions are the amount and shape of space you have for the watermaker, the existing or planned electrical generating and battery storage capacity of your boat, and the amount of water you must make in a specific time frame.

All watermakers are maintenance-intensive. To a large extent, the long-term, hassle-free operation of a watermaker is a function of where and how it is used, and how religiously routine maintenance is performed. None of these machines will stand abuse.

A freshwater flushing system is an important component of a watermaker installation. Of the machines tested, only Village Marine and SK Engineering offer a ready-made freshwater back flush system as an option. While it is an easy system to design and build for anyone capable of installing a watermaker, it should be offered and recommended as an option by other manufacturers as well.

None of these systems is beyond the installation capabilities of a reasonably handy boat owner. If space permits, a totally self-contained system such as Village Marines Little Wonder will be slightly easier to install, but the total difference in installation time between self-contained and modular systems should not be more than a few hours unless there are vexing component mounting problems to solve. Plumbing and wiring connections are essentially the same for modular and self-contained systems, although a modular system with a remote panel will certainly take the longest time to install because of the number of individual components that must be placed.

All installations require attention to detail, particularly when it comes to wiring. We would not recommend you install a watermaker as the first major project you undertake on your boat, since it will require putting in a through-hull, installing heavy-duty wiring, and completing some plumbing that may in some boats be more difficult than it may first appear.

While all watermakers are covered by manufacturers warranties, all specifically exclude damage due to abuse in operation, poor maintenance, or improper installation.

A watermaker is not a use-it-and-forget-it product. Its for those who live aboard. If you don’t use it regularly and maintain it properly, you are wasting your money, and you shouldnt own one. On the other hand, if you are willing to accept the responsibility of maintaining a fairly demanding piece of equipment, a 12-volt watermaker can give you-particularly if you are a cruising sailor who desires long-term independence from shore-a degree of freedom you may not otherwise find.

Contacts- Edinger Marine Service, Inc., 298 Harbor Dr., Sausalito, CA 94965; 415/332-3780, fax 415/332-8527. Great Water, Inc., 5148 Peach St. Erie, PA 16509; 814/838-0786, fax 814/838-8700. Ocean Link, 52 Maritime Dr., Portsmouth, RI 02871; 401/683-4434. PUR, Recovery Engineering, 9300 75th Ave. North, Minneapolis, MN 55428; 800/845-7873, fax 312/315-5505. SK Engineering, 4256 N. US 1, Suite 1, Ft. Pierce, FL 34946; 800/489-0852, fax 561/489-0808. Village Marine Tec., 2000 West 135th St., Gardena, CA 90249; 800/421-4503, fax 310/538-3048.


Excellent article, thank you for the research and detailed info.

Agree! Thank YOU

I really appreciated reading your recommendation, especially power consumption from one manufacturer to the other.

I am some how confused with Spectra manufacturing and Katadyn. I thought it was all Katadyn for some time now. When was this test done?.

Great review, except it would have been helpful to have specific TDS figures for the output in each case.

The contact information for SK engineering is wrong. Went to some health insurance company that sounded like a scam.

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The No Expense Spared Antigua 60 Cruising Sailboat Soolaimon

How To Buy Sails - With Joe Cooper video from Practical Sailor

How To Buy Sails – With Joe Cooper

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  1. How to replace a raw water pump on a sailboat

    sailboat water pump

  2. Manual Bilge Pump

    sailboat water pump

  3. VEVOR RV Water Pump 5.3 GPM 5.5 Gallons Per Minute 12V Water Pump

    sailboat water pump

  4. Tebru Bilge Pump, 12V 1100 GPH Submersible Boat Bilge Pump for Marine

    sailboat water pump

  5. Sailboat Maintenance

    sailboat water pump

  6. Marine Pumps

    sailboat water pump


  1. Installing a New Freshwater System on our Sailboat

  2. All About Boat Bilge Pumps

  3. How to Replace a Fresh Water Pump on Sailboat

  4. Bilge Pump Flow TEST! Small Boat Cockpit Drain Install

  5. Do Not buy a SeaFlo Series 42 fresh water pump!!!!! See follow up review

  6. 63] Installing A 12V WATERMAKER On A Sailboat


  1. 5 Best Watermakers for Sailboats

    We are talking about a model that only requires 4 amps to desalinate water for your sailboat. It can produce 1.5 gallons of fresh drinking water per hour, which is an excellent return for a watermaker of its size. ... Designed with a low RPM high-pressure pump, this model remains one of the most efficient and economical watermakers on the ...

  2. Freshwater Pumps

    An Unusual Sailboat Shines a Light On A Sustainable Future. Is It Time to Get an Electric Dinghy Motor? ... October 1, 2002, for a review of manual (and pedal) pumps. Whale's Gusher Mark III pedal pump, for example, throws lots of water—at 0 amps. Value Guide: Freshwater Pumps. Rankings. Contacts. Ancor, 800/424-9473, ...

  3. Pressurized Freshwater Systems Guide

    Higher capacity pumps will have port sizes of 3/4" or 1" to allow more flow. Some shower pumps offer multiple port sizes between 3/4" and 1 1/2". Otherwise 1/2" NPT ports are very common on freshwater pumps. West Marine Freshwater System Pump is designed to meet the needs of most boats with a water heater, shower and up to three faucets.

  4. Installing a New Freshwater System on our Sailboat

    In this episode, Zach works on the plumbing in the Island Packet 31. Running water is going to be a game changer. Thanks for watching! Product Links: Quick C...

  5. How to Replace a Fresh Water Pump on Sailboat

    *Whoops! Please ignore the intro where Travis references a raw water pump - He meant to say FRESH water pump! As cruisers on a budget, we're always looking t...

  6. 12 Best Marine Freshwater Pumps for Your Boat, RV or Camper

    Makes a loud noise. All in all, I highly recommend this small and affordable marine water pump that is compatible with a standard hose, packs impressive specs, and produces minimal vibrations. 3. SEAFLO Sea-2834 Freshwater Pump. This 12-volt freshwater pump is an incredible choice if you have a small boat.

  7. Upgrading the Water Systems

    However, with the nylon hose tees you'll also need six stainless steel hose clips at a cost of $1.99 each, bumping the total price tag for the "low-cost" solution up to $33.21. West Marine lists Whale's 15mm tubing at $1.49 per foot (blue), compared to food-grade reinforced 5/8in PVC hose at $1.79 per foot.

  8. Get your Freshwater System Ready for a Season Afloat

    Replace housing with filter element removed. Activate pump and open faucets one at a time. Once all faucets run clear, empty the water tank and refill with tank and hose cleaner. Let stand several hours, then pump the tank dry, replace the water filter element, and refill the tank with clean water. Resources.

  9. Freshwater Pumps

    Sailboat Steering; Sailboat Canvas & Leather; Boat Seating, Deck & Covers. Boat Seating. Helm & Fishing Seats. Folding Seats; Lounge Seats; Leaning Posts; ... ParMax 1 Plus Low-Flow Compact Water Pressure Pump Tiptoe Pump Water Booster System, 115V 4 GPM Par-Max HD4 Freshwater Pump, 60 PSI, 24V 4 GPM Par-Max HD4 Freshwater Pump, 60 PSI, 12V ...

  10. Freshwater Systems

    plumbing & ventilation. marine plumbing. freshwater systems. CONTACT WEST MARINE. Live Chat. 1-800-262-8464. Store Locator. Shop the best selection of Freshwater Systems from West Marine. Visit for products, prices, deals and more!

  11. Boat Plumbing

    Pump. Water pumps on a boat can be either electric or manual. An electric pump pressurizes the entire water system. Most electric pumps have a pressure switch that activates when the pressure drops below a set value--usually around 30 or 40 PSI. ... On a sailboat, sinks are best located near the centerline of the boat so heeling doesn't put ...

  12. Install a Water Saver: A Galley Foot Pump

    No need to turn a faucet on or off; simply start or stop pumping with a foot. Pumping lightly would deliver a trickle, and more aggressive pumping would result in a major flood. After having passed the charter test, I decided to install one foot pump in the galley of my boat - seemingly straightforward installation.

  13. Fresh Water Boat System Pumps & Accessories

    Position the pump on the wood or rubber piece and mark the holes. Do the same to the desired area on the boat. Take the power drill and drill the holes on the slab as well as the boat. Align the slab on the boat and place the pump horizontally on top of the slab. Insert the screws or bolts and attach the nuts underneath.

  14. Troubleshooting fresh water pump

    Hunter 376 Annapolis MD. Jul 21, 2014. #1. I have an odd problem with a two year old Shurflo fresh water pump, model 3901-0216. I saw a small reduction in water flow rate; about 2/3 typical rate. Then, after a few days of this, the pump did not turn off when the faucet was closed, as it normally did (no accumulator).

  15. Manual Galley Pumps

    The galley had a single manual pump to draw water out of the tank and deliver it to the sink faucet. During the 1980s and 1990s new boats were delivered to customers with more and more standard equipment. ... Join us for a boat tour of the gorgeous Antigua 60 cruising sailboat Soolaimon. She boasts electric winches, a mighty Lofrans electric ...

  16. Marine Pumps

    From washdown pumps to marine A/C pumps, West Marine has you covered. You'll find fresh water pumps, air conditioner pumps and washdown pumps. We carry bilge pumps and macerator pumps, plus toilet pumps and even bait tank pumps for bait wells and livewells. West Marine stocks general purpose pumps and pump switches, pump cleaners and more.

  17. Bilge Pump Installation and Maintenance Tips

    Location: According to the ABYC, the pump inlet must be positioned so that bilge water can be removed when the boat is in a static position and when it is at maximum heel (ABYC H-22). The mounting location also should make it easy to service the pumps and to clean them, particularly their strainers. The discharge outlet (thru-hull) must be ...

  18. The Great Bilge Pumps in 2024

    MAXZONE Bilge Pump. While MAXZONE's Bilge Pump is tremendously cheap in comparison to its competitors, this in no way means that the brand compromises on its features. Featuring a flow rate of 1100 GPH at 12V, it's suitable for all kinds of water vessels, including fishing boats, cruises, and yachts.

  19. Servicing Your Engine's Raw Water Pump

    Use a heavy rubber band or loop of light line to collapse the impeller's vanes, insert it, and pull the loop our with your pliers. Some experts advise you to remove the impeller from the raw water pump, lubricate it with Vaseline petroleum jelly, and put it back in the pump. Then replace the cover to the pump housing, but leave the cover ...

  20. Test of Six 12-volt Watermakers

    A freshwater flush kit-highly-desirable in any installation-is a $125 option. The 12-volt booster pump, drawing 1 amp, is a $120 option. An extensive cruising kit, including 12 pre-filters, rebuild parts for the high-pressure pump, cleaner, preservative, and other spares, costs $330. SKs pricing is very competitive.