Author: Scott Reece, March 14, 2024 – The

You know what is borderline criminal and frustrating? The price of anything designed for wastewater or water. 10x that cost if it is for analytical sampling and testing. A major player in this world is Hach and they more or less dominate the space. Whether you’re using their samplers or lab equipment, you realize just how dominant they are in the industry. There’s nothing inherently bad about Hach, and you get what you pay. You pay a high price for a quality product. I particularly like the TNT methods, which make NH3 and P04 analysis incredibly quick and easy. Their samplers are good too. Durable, good user interface that makes changing settings a breeze. But they ain’t cheap, and sometimes they price themselves out of smaller municipalities. ISCO is an okay alternative and I’ve worked several projects where they had ISCOs, and they work just fine. However, I generally favor Hach peristaltic samplers.

That is until I decided to give a vacuum sampler a try. I had always heard mixed reviews on these style of samplers and I was a bit apprehensive to give them a try. However, at the Operator Expo here in Lansing they had this sampler on demo and I was definitely intrigued. I was even more intrigued by the price. It was almost half of what I would of paid for a Hach sampler, so I figured I’d give it a try.

The reason for the purchase was simple: our old Hach sampler pump head had failed and Hach wanted around $1200 to even look at it, and another $2000 or something to maybe be able to fix it (I’m using rough numbers here as I can’t remember exactly). All said and done it wasn’t making a whole lot of sense to try and fix the old one with those prices so we just purchased a Wave instead. And I’m very happy we did. In spite of my skeptical attitude towards this style of sampler, I’ve been very happy to be wrong. I was concerned that being used for raw influent it may not be able to handle the solids (due to our pressate), but it has performed flawlessly. This thing can pull quite the distance and has been accurate. Ours currently pulls around 20 ft and has never had an issue.

the wave screen

Let’s dive into some of my favorite things about this sampler:

1) Solid construction. This thing is hefty and I’d know, as I had to get it up into my old influent building where the old screw pumps were located. It’s about two stories up. Thankfully we didn’t have to lug the thing up by hand, and were able to use our telehandler, but even unloading it from there was a chore. And that’s good, as I really feel like we could have dropped it from the stairs and it would been just fine. The ABS shell is build like a tank.

2) Maintenance (or lack thereof): If you use Hach peristaltic samplers you realize that you have to replace those internal hose frequently. It’s not the hardest maintenance task but if I can eliminate nuisance maintenance and free up time, I’m going to do that. This sampler only has the refrigeration unit and the vacuum pump itself. I was told that it is fairly simple to replace the entire vacuum pump as well, so that should be quite easy if we have to do it. However, we are nearing two years of use and it has being running fine.

3) Ease of use: The interface is fairly intuitive and you have a lot of options on how you want to set up the sampling. You can change things likes mls per sample, total samples, etc and you can have multiple programs saved on the main screen. This allows you to switch to different sampling schedules if you needed to at the touch of a button.

4) Customer service: Take note everyone. The president of the company came to my plant to change some programming and see how everything was going. I get it, they’re a smaller company and maybe they have the luxury of the president being able to come out and check their projects. But guess what? You know how many other companies I’ve ever had the president come out to the job site? Zero. I may be biased because I’m a lowly operator/manager but I appreciate someone who stands by their product and will come out and check it themselves. He could of just as easily sent a technician or someone else but he came all the way from Florida to Michigan to follow through on his product. I like that.

Cons: There aren’t very many cons and I’m not saying that to be generous. I am not being paid to write this and I didn’t even know this company existed until two years ago. The biggest issue we have right now is there is no way to change the volume of a manual grab sample. This means if you want an ample volume of sample you have to run it multiple times and it can be pretty slow. However, the company has responded to our concern and are making programming changes so that it’ll drastically cut down the time to do that and allow you to change the volume of the manual “grab” sample.

Overall this sampler has went head to head (haha, a pump pun) with our Hach peristaltic samplers and excelled in nearly every way. My main lab technician really really likes it. I can’t say I disagree with him either. It does everything we want it to do with very minimal problems or maintenance, and comes in at nearly half the price of Hach samplers. The price and the customer service alone is something I value almost more than the sampler itself. You may think that’s a bit weird I am so focused on those two things but since 2020 nearly every company I’ve dealt with in this industry has taken a drastic dip in customer service. There’s a ton of factors for that and I’m not going to get political or wax philosophical about it but as an end-user of these products, it is a relief to have a company follow through with their products. Even better is that they really haven’t had to do too much as the product just works as it should.