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Old 26-04-2016, 12:47   #31
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Re: Electronic float switches any good?

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Originally Posted by Seighlor View Post
If by "electronic" you're considering the "Ultra" switch, in my experience they're just a faster way to spend your money on another inferior product. I don't have anything to recommend. Seems to me they're all problematic.

Nope, I'm with Scott on this, the ultra switches are nearly bullet proof, I feel a lot of that is due to the wiring and the heat shrink glue crimps they come with.
PO had a Rule float switch connected with speaker wire, wire nuts and lots of electrical tape when I got my boat, amazingly the switch failed before the wiring did.

As has been pointed out, the washing machine switches are superb in washing machines as they fill up in a couple of minutes, but my bilge takes days sometimes, and an air pressure switch may not be that sensitive, and if just a tiny bit of junk gets in the tube?
I had to change my bilge pump last weekend, the Ultra switch has one single screw that you take out to clean the thing, put it in the sink, disassembled and one minute later was clean as a whistle and re-assembled.
It isn't cheap though, now if I could just find as good a bilge pump, my Rule 3700 lasted about a year
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Old 26-04-2016, 16:21   #32
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Re: Electronic float switches any good?

YAAAY, thats exactly what i was after, a real world example of using a washing machine level switch working off air pressure with pictures Glad to see yours works with the tube running horizontally ( roughly) out of the bell as the commercial examples show it going vertical. Couldnt see how it makes a difference but experience teaches me there's a lotta things I cant forsee Will set about making my own soon. Thanks for taking the time to take the pictures & type the post.
Regards Paul
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Old 26-04-2016, 16:43   #33
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Re: Electronic float switches any good?

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Nope, I'm with Scott on this, the ultra switches are nearly bullet proof, I feel a lot of that is due to the wiring and the heat shrink glue crimps they come with.
PO had a Rule float switch connected with speaker wire, wire nuts and lots of electrical tape when I got my boat, amazingly the switch failed before the wiring did.

As has been pointed out, the washing machine switches are superb in washing machines as they fill up in a couple of minutes, but my bilge takes days sometimes, and an air pressure switch may not be that sensitive, and if just a tiny bit of junk gets in the tube?
I had to change my bilge pump last weekend, the Ultra switch has one single screw that you take out to clean the thing, put it in the sink, disassembled and one minute later was clean as a whistle and re-assembled.
It isn't cheap though, now if I could just find as good a bilge pump, my Rule 3700 lasted about a year
Ultra switch sounds good but not in my budget. Interesting you say quality of wiring & connections biggest factors . Hadn't considered the speed of level rise as a factor but will put to the test as the bilge can take weeks to fill. Will probably run in tandem with another float switch initially. In another forum it claims you should run a washing machine switch with a relay & a diode as its an a/c switch but as we are running only a <2amp draw pump will try without. I'm no electrical expert tho.
The air bell in the water should keep the small tube clear of the gunk, I imagine a shower stall must be a pretty severe gunk test. Thanks for sharing your experience.
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Old 26-04-2016, 17:34   #34
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Re: Electronic float switches any good?

"speed of filling" was an expensive issue for me last year. My bilge filled to the point that I had to replace my alternator and the starter was partially immersed but appears to have survived.

The situation involved a Rule switch. The switch appeared to work appropriately and had been recently tested. In real life, the switch worked when raised with a finger but with a very slow increase in the bilge water level, even though the float lifted, the internal mechanism did not react with enough force to activate the switch.

Another lesson learned.
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Old 26-04-2016, 18:03   #35
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Re: Electronic float switches any good?

Hi Paul,
I did buy the pneumatic water level switches in New Zealand. They activate with 1-2" of water. Sensitivity can be adjusted. You can also experiment with different size containers, as that will alter the air pressure as well. I connect the switch directly to the shower pump, no relay. Cheers, Walter
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Old 26-04-2016, 20:05   #36
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Re: Electronic float switches any good?

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Hi Paul,
I did buy the pneumatic water level switches in New Zealand. They activate with 1-2" of water. Sensitivity can be adjusted. You can also experiment with different size containers, as that will alter the air pressure as well. I connect the switch directly to the shower pump, no relay. Cheers, Walter
Sounds ideal if I can fit a large enough container in for air bell. Glad it works without a relay&diode as didn't want to add any more connections/complications. Thanks again for all the advice/help Paul
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Old 27-04-2016, 07:48   #37
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Re: Electronic float switches any good?

Another vote for the Ultra Safety Systems switch. I put one in my first boat in the late 1970s; it was still there when I got rid of the boat in 1999. The second boat had two of them installed years before I bought it in 1998. They are still in place and working fine.


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Old 27-04-2016, 11:43   #38
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Re: Electronic float switches any good?

I have a rule switch in my boat which I bought in 2011. So I'm not sure how old it really is. The old lift switches, like rule and others had an internal mercury switch. Maybe that's what I still have. The new lift switches are a ball rolling on a track. Even if the ball is stainless steel, it will still form a layer of invisible oxidization and if the ball is what is making electrical contact, then yes, this could be the problem with them.
Obviously there is a need for a reliable, cheap and readily available switch. I wonder if a design with a proximity switch and a float that triggers it would work. You would think something so important as this, preventing your boat from sinking would spur some design works.
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Old 27-04-2016, 11:53   #39
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Re: Electronic float switches any good?

Whatever you come up with, I am a fan of a back up pump, with an alarm, on a completely different circuit, no shared parts.
I got lucky the other day, I have no idea why I did it, but some time ago I had turned off the bilge pump. Mine is a three position switch, automatic, off and manual, with manual being spring loaded to off, and automatic has to be selected, anyway I never realized the thing was off, until the second pump kicked in, and the alarm sounded.
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Old 27-04-2016, 17:13   #40
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Re: Electronic float switches any good?

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Whatever you come up with, I am a fan of a back up pump, with an alarm, on a completely different circuit, no shared parts.
I got lucky the other day, I have no idea why I did it, but some time ago I had turned off the bilge pump. Mine is a three position switch, automatic, off and manual, with manual being spring loaded to off, and automatic has to be selected, anyway I never realized the thing was off, until the second pump kicked in, and the alarm sounded.
Yes backup as described a very sensible idea thanks.
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Old 27-04-2016, 17:29   #41
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Re: Electronic float switches any good?

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Originally Posted by Celestialsailor View Post
I have a rule switch in my boat which I bought in 2011. So I'm not sure how old it really is. The old lift switches, like rule and others had an internal mercury switch. Maybe that's what I still have. The new lift switches are a ball rolling on a track. Even if the ball is stainless steel, it will still form a layer of invisible oxidization and if the ball is what is making electrical contact, then yes, this could be the problem with them.
Obviously there is a need for a reliable, cheap and readily available switch. I wonder if a design with a proximity switch and a float that triggers it would work. You would think something so important as this, preventing your boat from sinking would spur some design works.
Cut one of the old mercury switches open years ago & its glass bulb containing the mercury was fine but all the connection had corroded due to water getting in. Haven't cut the rolling ball switch open yet but I assume water has caused the problem. Had assumed the rolling ball comes up against contacts but in another forum it says that they are micro-switches which I thought would be even more vulnerable than plain contacts.
Saw a simple solution where a float on a rod keeps a magnetic switch above water level which is good but you need a deep enough bilge.
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Old 27-04-2016, 18:21   #42
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Re: Electronic float switches any good?

Celestialsailor has described exactly what Ultra and Aqualarm have done. A magnetic reed switch in the central rod and a float with a magnet. The electronics is to allow the low-current reed switch to control a bilge pump load.
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Old 27-04-2016, 18:25   #43
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Re: Electronic float switches any good?

An Attwood bilge pump switch from WalMart has worked fine for me for three or four years. It starts when the water level gets high, and it runs for a half minute or so after the bilge is completely empty. That way the pump does not short cycle around the high level level.

Automatic Bilge Switchs : Attwood Marine
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Old 27-04-2016, 19:18   #44
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Re: Electronic float switches any good?

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Celestialsailor has described exactly what Ultra and Aqualarm have done. A magnetic reed switch in the central rod and a float with a magnet. The electronics is to allow the low-current reed switch to control a bilge pump load.
Thanks for describing how the ultra works. Now I can build my own if my yet to be built DIY air switch setup wont work. Was hoping to avoid anything that necessitates having a relay tho.
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Old 27-04-2016, 19:44   #45
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Re: Electronic float switches any good?

Seems the Rule brand often gets bad review on CF. So I've wondered why mine has been trouble free for six years and was on the boat when purchased so not sure how old it is.

However it is a model with a switch built inside with auto and manual mode. Has a small slit in the side to a float chamber that seems to be a floating magnet that triggers operation in the sealed motor chamber.

I have a wet bilge (and currently grungy) and it cycles as needed without issue even sitting in an inch of bilge grunge for six years.

A manual backup sits next to it unused except to test.
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