This is an FAQ guide about Atmospheric Water Generators (AWGs), but also contains information that might be useful for potential buyers of these types of machines.
Atmospheric Water Generator vs Other Water-From-Air Methods
Water-from-air harvesting includes any method used to extract water from the air/atmosphere.
It includes both active and passive forms of extracting water from the air.
It can for example include passive water-from-air generation in the form of fog nets and fog fences.
Atmospheric water generator is the term used to describe a specific type of product/device that actively extracts water from the air.
So, What Is An Atmospheric Water Generator?
An Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG) is a specific type of commercial unit/device that uses a power source to actively extract water from the (humid ambient) air.
They can use different extraction methods such as cooling rods/coils (cooling condensation), or desiccants (wet desiccation using solutions and substances).
Different brands manufacture different AWG products of different sizes, with different features and capabilities.
(AWGs are different to dehumidifiers in that they produce potable water)
Another Name For An AWG – Air From Water Machines
Some people refer to AWGs as ‘Air To Water Machines’, or ‘Air From Water Machines’.
Benefits & Disadvantages Of Atmospheric Water Generators
Are Atmospheric Water Generators Safe?
It depends on a few factors.
Each country has different regulations or some version of a ‘Safe Water Act’ that outlines what quality water has to meet for different end uses.
So, you have to determine what the water produced by the AWG will be used for, consider the water treatment technology used in the AWG, and get some sort of confirmation or certification from the company producing the AWG that the water will meet a certain Standard or quality (or meet the quality requirements for a certain end use).
For example, the AWG should have filter and purification technology that ensures the air used and water produced is safe and healthy for the end use – whether it be drinking or otherwise.
Sediment filtration, mineralization, activated carbon, and microbiological treatment by UV lamp, might be part of an AWG water purification system.
A company like GENAQ has AWGs that produce water that meets World Health Organisation (WHO) standards for drinking water and is certified by European health authorities
TUAFI also introduces essential minerals back into their water.
How Do Atmospheric Water Generators Work?
Generally, to be effective, they need to operate in the right conditions first and foremost – in humid ambient air that is of a certain temperature and relative humidity.
For cooling condensation units – ‘as a rule of thumb, cooling condensation atmospheric water generators do not work efficiently when the temperature falls below 18.3°C (65°F) or the relative humidity drops below 30%’ (wikipedia.org)
In a cooling condensation unit, air passes over a cooling coil rod, bringing the air to it’s dew point (causing water to condense), and the water in the air drops into a storage or treatment tank where it can be filtered and purified for it’s end use.
In a wet desiccation unit, a substance or a solution (a brine type solution) is used to absorb water from humid air, before separating the water from the substance or solution and purifying/filtering it.
Pressurizing air is another method used.
Different units though tend to work differently with different systems, features, and capabilities.
Some companies actually provide a device system diagram that shows you the parts of the unit and the flow of how everything fits together and works to generate water (along with providing a description).
GENAQ indicates that their units ‘function in arid climates with temperatures over 50ºC (122F) and relative humidity lower than 20%, and also in industrial or polluted areas’ (genaq.com)
How Efficient Are Atmospheric Water Generators?
It depends on the brand and product model of AWG, and it depends on the efficiency indicator being measured.
Check the individual model specifications for efficiency indicators.
But, as one example:
Energy/Fuel To Water Output
[It takes] 310 Wh to make 1 litre of water (wikipedia.org)
Large versions, mounted on trailers, are said to produce up to 1,200 US gallons (4,500 l) of water per day, at a ratio of up to 5 gallons of water per gallon of fuel (wikipedia.org)
Watergen GEN-L & GENNY Models – 350Wh/liter (watergen.com)
EPA.gov has this to say about energy efficiency of AWGs – ‘Although significant quantities of energy can be required to operate these condenser and fan systems, recent technological advancements have substantially improved the energy-water ratio—increasing the feasibility of using these systems to help augment [a] Nation’s drinking water resources.
Efficiency Of Water Itself
AWGs aren’t like recycled water or desalination where water goes in, and only a certain amount of water comes out.
AWGs only extract water from the air that is processed by the machine.
How Much Power Atmospheric Water Generators Use
- GENNY: ~350 Wh/L nominal; During water boiling: ~800 Wh/L
- GEN-L: ~ 60 kW*h
- 36k model – uses 1.5 kw/h at peak power consumption
- 365k model – uses 9 kw/h at peak power consumption
How Heavy Are Atmospheric Water Generators?
- GENNY: 80kg
- GEN-L: 2630kg
- 36k model – 140kg
- 365k model – 600kg
How Much Atmospheric Water Generators Cost (Price)
It depends on the water generation capacity and size of the AWG model.
The smaller models can cost in the hundreds of dollars, whilst the largest AWGs can cost in the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more).
This is just the purchase price though.
There’s also ongoing costs such as maintenance, power costs, and so on.
A 5,000 liter capacity a day model we checked out claims to be able to produce a liter of water for between 2 to 4 cents (according to product specifications)
GENAQ has a ‘cost of water for human consumption’ economical chart, and indicates that AWG water is more economical than bottled water, home distilled water, and water tanks.
Off Grid & Portable Atmospheric Water Generators
Some AWGs are designed to be portable and to be used off grid.
In the product specifications, you want to check the power source that the AWG requires. Some can be run off solar panels, or diesel generators.
Solar Atmospheric Water Generators
These do exist – they can use solar panels directly, or the solar panels can charge a battery for later use.
Some AWGs that run off solar panels incorporate a wet desiccation gravity system.
Check the model specifications to see that a unit can run off solar power.
GENAQ has AWGs that can be run using solar panels, wind turbines or a diesel power unit.
The smartcity.org resource listed in this guide contains details of Tatung company using AWGs with solar power in the United Arab Emirates.
Aldelano is an example of another company that produces atmospheric water generators powered only by the sun (check out the solarcoldbox.com resource)
Passive Atmospheric Water Generation
Passive atmospheric water generation doesn’t involve a power source or moving parts.
Instead it involves some sort of static setup that relies on natural processes.
One example is a fog net or a fog fence that used natural processes to extract water from ambient humid air.
Industrial & Large Scale Sized Atmospheric Water Generation
Some large commercial AWGs can produce around 5000 litres per day.
Some of these AWGs are modular and can be connected up into large ‘AWG farms’ where larger quantities of water can be generated in the one place.
Some brands currently make AWGs that generate high purity water for industrial processes (check the product specifications and description to see which ones do).
Best Atmospheric Water Generators – Reviews, & Who Makes The Best Ones?
There’s several brands now that do AWG products and technology, and they all do different products and models with different features, systems and capabilities.
A few examples of brands that do different types and models of AWGs are:
Rather than us providing a review here, what you can do instead is go to their websites, and browse each model of AWG they offer.
Look at the features, specifications, product description and other relevant information for the model that looks like it most suits what you are looking for.
Some brands also outline what setting (home use, office, business, etc) or what end water uses the model might be good for.
Atmospheric Water Generator For Home Use
Water-Gen are an example of a company that does an AWG for home use.
Atmospheric Water Generator For An Office
Water-Gen is an example of a company that does an AWG model suitable for an office.
Atmospheric Water Generator For An RV
It depends on the power source available in your RV.
Check the power source you have available, and check the specifications of the AWG to make sure it takes whatever power source is available.
Atmospheric Water Generator For Agriculture, Farming & Irrigation
Most of the commercial AWGs available don’t produce water to the scale required for agriculture, farming and irrigation.
Some prototype AWG types of technology are being developed to produce water for agriculture, farming and irrigation.
Some AWGs in places like Dubai have produced water for the purposes of irrigation.
Check out the CSIRO and Smartcity (Tatung in Dubai using AWGs powered by solar for irrigation needs) resources in the sources list for more information.