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Jul 232009
 

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

When we got the Ecoloblue, it was a big package. It came in a crate, like furniture, our first hint that this appliance would worm its way into our daily routine.

Soon, our kids were demanding their filtered water like toddlers after cookies. They homed to it after exercise and filled their bottles on comings and goings. Returning from a vacation, they insisted the Ecoloblue (generically known as an Atmospheric Water Generator) be immediately re-engaged. They wanted that cool and clean-tasting H2O.

Guests were mesmerized, too. They remarked that this water condensed from air was greatly refreshing. Yup, we nodded, smugly: It were good. And there was enough for all of us to drink,  with some leftover every day for the pets and for cooking.

Being big water drinkers, we were suckers for this technology.  So we tried to think critically. What was the downside? Like Pooh, we thought and thought. Were we taking water that we shouldn’t? No, we decided, we were really just hopping on the water cycle a little earlier, before the rain hit the ground, fed the municipal system, was piped back to our house. Like capturing sun energy with solar panels.

Was this water as good as that filtered by our refrigerator? With more filtration, including a reverse osmosis filter in the AWG it should be more pure.

So we tried the Ecoloblue machine for four months. Here’s how it worked and what we learned:

  • We were happy with the output. Here in North Texas, which is not humid Houston, nor the desert Southwest, we had no trouble getting a full tank of water every day. The readout on the machine showed we were running between 45 percent and 60 percent humidity this spring and summer. At times, we scrambled to use all the water – stashing it in the fridge, watering the dogs and pet rats and trying it out on a tomato plant.
  • This is not the Culligan man. You do your own maintenance, with the help of a technician on the phone. Yeah, we are all tired of the growing number of household items that must be maintained via technicians on the phone. But happily we were able to troubleshoot our two issues, which was really one issue. (See below.)
  • Home tests showed that this water contained no chlorine or nitrates, two chemicals that turn up in tap water, albeit usually in technically “safe amounts.” If you are concerned, however, about long term chemical exposure, it’s nice to be free of these chemicals.  (For comparison we tested our tap water: Nitrates were at “safe levels” per the EPA. But given the growing problems with fertilizers contaminating watersheds, rivers and aquifers…we’re paranoid enough to worry that nitrates could further infiltrate our drinking water, or accumulate in our bodies. We also don’t like chlorine. So this was a big plus in favor of using this water filtration system.)
  • We didn’t have any issues with the air conditioning rendering the AWG unit unable to collect water, but then we lightly air condition. People who use more air conditioning, which dehumidifies the air, might see a reduction in production. Our house is generally at 80 degrees or higher. People who keep it chillier might have a different experience, or need to place the unit near an open window at night.
  • I hate manuals, so we had a teenager assemble the unit and help clean it. No sweat. We can truthfully say a 14-year-old can do it.
  • The one seemingly serious issue we had involved a Zeolite filter in the unit’s bottom water collection tank. The filter contained loose carbon and Zeolite and apparently the Zeolite caused a film to build up in the lower (and initial) water collection tank. This buildup eventually impeded the water flow by clinging to that filter, causing a back flow of water, or in layman’s terms, a leak. A spokeswoman explained that this resulted from the Zeolite not having been rinsed properly at the factory, a problem that has since been solved. Zeolite is commonly used in water filtration because it effectively removes dirt and contaminants and deodorizes water, according to manufacturers. (It’s used in swimming pools.) We didn’t much like the thought of any buildup. However, the glitch has been fixed and we were advised how to clean the tank (with peroxide) by the service department. The unit was back in action within an hour.(See our story about how Atmospheric Water Generators work, and how global activists may use them to bring water to impoverished places.)

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