Marine watermakers

SWS Pacific – Looking For A New Watermaker? Here’s Four Key Considerations Before You Buy

With the developments made in recent decades, marine watermakers are no longer the cumbersome, power-hungry and ultra-expensive accessories they used to be. For many boat owners, a watermaker is simply another sensible investment in their vessel, and for a growing number, they are a major source of freedom and an essential part of life aboard.

Whether you want to get off the grid for a weekend away or plan to start making major crossings, a watermaker can be a fantastic addition to your boat. But before you dive in and place an order, there are a few things to think about before you buy a marine watermaker – read on for our four key considerations. 

What Do You Need A Watermaker For?

It used to be that you would only find watermakers on large, live-aboard boats, but no longer. As the market has grown, you can now find a watermaker for every lifestyle and use case, from compact models for those wanting to top up their water tanks on a weekend trip to large models that can support full-time living. 

Knowing what you need a watermaker for will make it easier to avoid the trap of ‘bigger is better’. Watermakers can jump up quickly in price, and there’s no sense in spending thousands of dollars more to get a larger capacity model that you don’t have a need for.

If you’re only going to be away for a few nights at a time then you will be fine with a low-capacity model, but if you’re planning on moving onto your boat permanently, you will need a larger capacity model to provide all the extra water you will be using. Think about how you will be using your boat and shop with that in mind to avoid buying more than you need.

How Will You Power It?

Once you’ve figured out what you need and how much you can pay, it’s time to think about how you’re going to power your watermaker. Watermakers come in three main configurations: AC-powered, DC-powered, and engine-driven.

AC-powered watermakers are suitable for boats that get their electricity from a generator, while DC-powered watermakers can draw power directly from solar panels or wind turbines. Engine-driven watermakers attach to your boat’s engine with a belt, although they are relatively uncommon due to the difficulty of their installation and operation.

With more owners getting rid of their generators in favour of solar or other renewable energy sources, it is essential to have a plan for how you will power your watermaker so that you buy a model with the correct configuration. 

How Many People Will Be On Board?

To figure out your required production capacity, you need to have an idea not just of where you are going and what you are doing, but also how many people will be on board. On average, each passenger will use between 30 and 50L of water per day for drinking, bathing and washing.

With several passengers on board, it is easy to run out of water quickly, even if you are only taking short trips. With four adults on board, a 200L water tank (which is around the average size for most boats) can run dry in just a day: a watermaker producing 30L per hour would need to run for more than six hours with no additional water usage in order to replace that, requiring either the prolonged use of a generator or seriously draining your batteries. 

In an ideal world, you would only need to run your watermaker for a few hours a day to top up the tanks. Before you commit to a particular model, ask yourself how many people will be on board to make sure you can produce enough water easily.

Where Are You Going To Put It?

We mentioned before that engine-driven watermakers are relatively uncommon, and in part that is because most engine rooms simply don’t have enough space to install them properly. And although you probably aren’t looking to pick up an engine-driven watermaker, you still need to ask yourself where yours is going to live.

Watermakers come in either modular or self-contained (also known as skid units) configurations, depending on the manufacturer. Modular units allow for greater flexibility in installation, as you can install and connect the components wherever you have room in your boat, while skid units tend to be bulkier and have a larger footprint.

Keep in mind that modular units will require far more work to install and connect the components, whereas with skid units you only need to connect the input and output lines. Whether you opt for a modular or self-contained unit will generally be determined by your available space on board, so make sure to plan out where your watermaker is going to live before you make a purchase.


While there are certainly some important questions to consider before you buy a watermaker, don’t let them dissuade you! There are few investments that will make as great of a difference to your freedom and quality of life as a watermaker, and there are so many great options to choose from. 

If this has piqued your interest and you’re wondering if a watermaker might be right for you, head on over to SWS Pacific and browse their range of Schenker watermakers. Designed and engineered in Italy, Schenker’s Zen range includes some of the most sophisticated and user-friendly watermakers on the market. With production capacity ranging from 30 to 150L per hour, there’s a model for everyone, no matter how big your boat or how far you want to go.