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Old 24-11-2011, 09:51   #1
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Bilge Float Switch

I am over replacing float switches. So I am going to try an electronic one. But a friend says that if they get just a bit of oil on the sensors they won't work. We have "Perkins" engines so there is always a bit of oil in the bilge. Do these switches work or not?
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Old 24-11-2011, 10:36   #2
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Re: Bilge float switch

I put a Waterwitch switch in last boat and it worked just fine. I doubt that you could have enough oil in your bildge to prevent the thing from working. A small amount (and probably even a large amount) of oil isn't going to change the resistance of the water enough to prevent the switch from working.
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Old 24-11-2011, 10:56   #3
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Re: Bilge float switch

I don't think the current crop of electronic bilge switches require electrical contact with the water so it takes quite a bit of oil to affect them. I've been getting mixed reports on them. The most common complaints are that they are slow to turn on and then slow to turn off. I think there is a delay in starting to prevent splashes from turning the pump on and it may take the sensors a few extra seconds to dry and turn off. Right now I would recommend the Ultra Safety System float switches. They are float switches but they seem very reliable: Ultra Pumpswitch JR
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Old 14-02-2012, 21:43   #4
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Re: Bilge Float Switch

JusDreaming,

How did you go with replacement of you float switch? Im looking at electronic switches for my bilge setup and moving away from mechanical float switches. You can get very reliable industrial level controls sensors such as Ultrasonic and capacitive and they can be set up to prevent false signalling from splashes and thin film of liquid on sensing face. But they are not "marine rated" types and would be interested to see if someone has come up with something other than mechanical float switches that are overpriced at the marine store.

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Old 15-02-2012, 07:05   #5
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Re: Bilge Float Switch

I worked for one of the largest power and sail boat dealers in the US and they all came to us from the factory with the Water Witch switch installed. We finally replaced almost every one of them with float switches because of failures. They either would not go on, that is pretty important and you won't find out until water comes in, or once they cycled the bilge pump a few times they would not switch off, oil in the bilge or not. I have replaced dozens of these and before everyone jumps in, yes, they were all wired correctly. Just my experience. We always replaced them with the Smart Bilge Pump Switch. These were boats that sold for a quarter million and up. Chuck
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Old 15-02-2012, 07:52   #6
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Re: Bilge Float Switch

This is the second thread about bilge pumps that made me think about mine. Actually have two, both Rule, one automatic and one manually switched.

The automatic Rule 1100 has no visible float switch, and this thread made me concerned it might have a problematic high tech switch.

Quickly found this video that explained the difference between my ten year old design and the new Rule pumps. And happy to stick with the older design with an internal float switch, not the new digital switch.

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Old 15-02-2012, 08:07   #7
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Re: Bilge float switch

Quote:
Originally Posted by HopCar View Post
... Right now I would recommend the Ultra Safety System float switches. They are float switches but they seem very reliable: Ultra Pumpswitch JR
Indeed.
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Old 15-02-2012, 08:12   #8
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Re: Bilge Float Switch

Quote:
Originally Posted by four winds View Post
...

Quickly found this video that explained the difference between my ten year old design and the new Rule pumps. And happy to stick with the older design with an internal float switch, not the new digital switch.

I too would be concerned about the pump shutting off if it senses oil; however, this might not be a problem. Oil rises to the surface, so the sensor might still only see the water and turn on. I'd sure hate to have the pump turn off because of a few drops of oil!
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Old 15-02-2012, 08:24   #9
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Re: Bilge Float Switch

Ultra switches are the only way to go, either the Senior with built-in high water alarm switch and lifetime warranty or the Junior without the high-water alarm switch and a 5-year warranty. I have one of each, having tried just about every other bilge pump switch -- including the electronic sensor ones -- over the past thirty years. By the way, the electronic ones can indeed fail from a bit of oil on the sensors AND they have three modes of failure: (1) open; (2) closed; and (3) partial closed. Yes, the Ultra's are expensive. But, they work like no other switch on the market. And, how much is your boat worth? Not to mention the aggravation and time spent in troubleshooting and replacing inferior switches. Bill
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Old 15-02-2012, 08:37   #10
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Re: Bilge Float Switch

I wonder what the problem might be with this particular internal float switch, if any. The presenter said the old pump had a good reliable run for ten years. Then said they designed the new one to address some concerns but did not elaborate.

I wonder if the new electronic, oil sensing switch got the nod simply because it added the sustainably feature. That is to say, it won't pump oil out of the bilge into the surrounding waters.

I'm not anti-green by any stretch, and I suspect a small amount of oil won't shut it down. Maybe it takes an oil spill in the bilge to do that. But he did say if it detects "any oil" it shuts down, though he was emphasizing sustainability at that moment.

Unfortunately if it rained for 40 days and 40 nights my bilge pump would get a workout. And every time I overfill the water tanks the vents on them test my bilge pump, so mine seems to be reliable with a wet bilge and a fair amount of debris trying to clog things up. ... I know... I'm working on it.


edit to add, ... Bill, I did not see your reference to a small amount of oil could "stuff" the switch so to speak before I posted this.
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Old 15-02-2012, 12:41   #11
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Re: Bilge Float Switch

Try this type, very reliable. Groco AS-100 pump switch. Works like the water level switch in a washing machine, never heard of one of those ever failing.
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