An Atmospheric Water Generator: How To Get Your Water From Thin Air
An atmospheric water generator sounds like something out of Star Trek.
Just put this bottleless water cooler anywhere in your house and it will create all the drinking water you need out of thin air.
Come to think of it, maybe instead of a Star Trek gizmo, the water generator sounds more like one of those 'free energy technologies' that could produce all the energy the world needs without burning fossil fuels or causing any pollution.
Either way, it is easy to understand why people would be a little skeptical about the idea.
After all, if it's so easy to get water out of the air, why isn't everybody doing it? Why are we still running water lines to new houses? Shouldn't we just install these magic water machines instead?
And what do these contraptions have to do with solar power anyway?
We'll answer all of these questions, but first let's take a quick look at the history of water generators and how they actually work.
As with many other seemingly 'space age' inventions, the basic technology for getting 'water from the air' has been around for a long time. 'Dew ponds' and 'air wells' have been collecting moisture from the air for thousands of years.
These older water collection devices used either the 'high mass' or 'radiative' approach which didn't require any energy source. We'll be looking at the more modern 'active collectors' that plug into a wall socket and use electricity.
Active collectors have been around as long as the refrigerator and they work in much the same way as a dehumidifier. The basic process involves a heat exchanger being cooled below the 'dew point' (temperature at which air becomes saturated) so water is produced.
The main difference between an atmospheric water generator and a dehumidifier is that a water generator uses a complex filtering system to ensure that the water produced is crystal clear and ready for drinking.
For instance, the water generator from EcoloBlue Life & Energy uses a twelve stage filtration process including carbon filters, a reverse osmosis membrane, and UV sterilization lamps. The resulting water is '99.9%' pure and exceeds the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency.
That all sounds pretty good, you're probably thinking, but how much will one of these machines set me back?
That's another good question and there are both short-term and long-term answers. The actual up front cost of one of these machines ranges from $999 to $2000 for an office/residential model.
That's no small cost, but since a water generator can produce a gallon of water for around 10¢ to 20¢ in most areas, you can make up for that up front cost pretty quickly. Even with the necessary filter replacements your atmospheric water generator could pay for itself within a year or two (depending on water usage and the cost of bottled water in your area).
On top of being an attractive decision economically, a water generator could also make your life a lot easier. Most people don't enjoy lugging around five gallon bottles of water and a machine like the EcoloBlue will ensure that you never have to pick up a backbreaking jug of water again. Unless you're a big fan of heavy lifting, this is a big bonus.
So far these water generator machines sound pretty great, don't they? Now it's time to get back to our original question: 'If these machines are so great, why isn't everybody using them?'.
Well for one thing there is the up front cost. Even thought the payback period is fairly short in most areas, not everyone has the money available to cover the initial cost of one of these machines.
Also, an atmospheric water generator works best when the relative humidity is 30% or higher. Although this is fine for most areas, there are certain areas that do not meet this requirement.
Apart from these two points, there aren't a lot of reasons that we all shouldn't have a 'magic water machine' in our home.
Oh, and let's not forget about what these water machines have to do with solar power: If you're living off-grid and using solar panels to power your house, a water generator can be a great solution for your water needs.
Some companies even offer a 'solar panel package' that includes an atmospheric water generator, enough solar panels to power it, and an inverter to convert your solar power from direct current to alternating current.