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Old 01-07-2014, 07:15   #1
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bilge switch/monitor/counters?

We received our insurance settlement for the lightning strike and I've been actively fixing and upgrading the old darling. The boat, I mean.

I think I really like the idea of a helm mounted bilge monitor and control section. I don't know what everyone else has, but I've got the results of three previous owners. Four bilge pumps with mercury switches. All wired to different places where someone thought it would be convenient to grab 12 volts.

I'm looking at the Aqualarm 20043 model, and I'd have to buy four of them.
Have any of you guys done this?

I'm picturing wiring directly from the house bank switch to the helm, where I'll wire it to a small bus block with enough room for at least the present four pumps. Then I'm thinking of putting four of those Aqualarm monitors with counters in, one for each bilge pump.

The way it's wired now I have to crawl up alongside each engine, stick my hand down under the oil pan and lift the mercury switch to even see if it's working. I really like the idea of glancing at a panel, seeing four green lights indicating that everything's powered, and to come back to the boat and see, for example, if my starboard aft pump is cycling a lot more indicating I need to look in there specifically for stuffing, strainer, hose clamps etc. etc.

Can anyone tell me a better option or why this wouldn't be a good idea?
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Old 01-07-2014, 17:52   #2
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Re: bilge switch/monitor/counters?

We've been toying with the Aqualarm systems too. Do note that they can and will customize a solution for you, including a panel.
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Old 01-07-2014, 18:35   #3
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Re: bilge switch/monitor/counters?

I use a Celectron Bilge Watch 8 monitor. It monitors up to 8 bilge pumps at once in one panel. It can record how many times each pump has cycled, how long the pump stayed on, and can sound an alarm if one or more pumps cycle too quickly or too many times in a set time period. Very handy, and is less expensive, takes up less space, and provides more information than multiple single bilge counters.
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Old 01-07-2014, 23:52   #4
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Re: bilge switch/monitor/counters?

Check out the smart switch options on my site www.neptunes-gear.com . We have bilge controllers from single to 64 bilge areas, with remote monitoring. Send me an email if you need some help.
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Old 02-07-2014, 04:11   #5
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Re: bilge switch/monitor/counters?

Just one little point: the green light may show that the pump has power, but not that it'll work when it needs to. The motor could have failed, or the float switch may be held down by some debris, or something may be blocking the intake. Lifting (or however you activate it) the switch is the only way to be sure.

Once central panel is still a great idea though. You might want to incorporate one or more high water alarms. Counters on the lowest pump in each compartment would be good, but if everything drains to one area, that's the only one that really needs a counter.
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Old 02-07-2014, 07:58   #6
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Re: bilge switch/monitor/counters?

Google for "LSI 55" load status indicator. It's a panel light that shows green when 12v is applied and red when the bilge pump is actually running and drawing power. In combination with the Celectron monitor to give you history you've got everything covered.


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Old 02-07-2014, 09:18   #7
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Re: bilge switch/monitor/counters?

thanks for the feedback. I'm still leaning toward the four separate Aqualarm units. I don't want one central counter. Nor anything that depends on a microprocessor. I've already been through that learning curve.

my four bilges have no interconnections, so four individual controls is the way to go. I just want them in one spot and I want to do the wiring this time around.

doesn't sound like there are any direct competitors that others are using.
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Old 02-07-2014, 11:49   #8
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Re: bilge switch/monitor/counters?

The Lsi-55 looks cool but the websites down and looks like the patent is for sale. To bad as that's a cool little gadget. Most current trigger switches are to much money to be cost effective onboard. We used to make one. But I believe at the current component pricing it would cost us almost $50.00 to build the old design where as 10 years ago we sold them for $25.00.
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Old 02-07-2014, 15:30   #9
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Re: bilge switch/monitor/counters?

Our bilge controllers have multi location/bilges, and
  • Full control from one central location on your boat.
  • Delay pump on and off time (programmable).
  • Pump on alarm time (programmable).
  • Visual status display for each bilge area showing pump status, low sensor status, last pump run time, number of pump runs, program & operate modes.
  • Turn bilge pumps on/off manually or automatically
  • Visual & audible alarm for any fault conditions eg, high water, low sensor fault, pump fault, time alarm.
  • Two master modes of operation automatic or semi-automatic.
  • Individual modes auto or manual.
  • All bilge areas are name programmable giving location e.g. (Aft Port) (Engine Room) (Mid Ship Starboard).

If you need a function not listed, please ask! See Marine Electronics, Neptune's Gear Ltd

Cheers
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Old 03-07-2014, 07:57   #10
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Re: bilge switch/monitor/counters?

I think I'll stick with simple, repairable circuits for what should be a simple system. Not interested in a system where one failure wipes out all four bilge pumps.
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Old 03-07-2014, 15:50   #11
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Re: bilge switch/monitor/counters?

Canibul, the smartswitch units will operate independently, without the central control unit.
If you lose that, the pump controllers will still go. All you lose is the ability for remote monitoring, etc. To lose the whole setup, you would have to lose the primary display, and all the individual pump controllers. Not impossible with another lightning strike I know, but neither is a pump or wiring melting!

The smartswitch float switch is $25, and I've had one on my boat for more than 10 years without problems. I now have 4. I use the little BSW1000 controller ($81 incl float switch) as it can tell me no of cycles etc as well as some other stuff. I use these for my 2 bilge areas, and my shower sumps. They have been great, which is why I have them on my site. But you have to go up to the BC4000 level if you want remote monitoring and remote control/reporting via SMS etc.

Oh yes, and if you want to use the basic BSW1000 and throw out the mercury tilt switches, we could do a panel for you with 4 LEDs for mounting at the helm, all nicely labeled with your bilge names, an alarm as well if you want?

Good luck with your repairs!
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Old 04-07-2014, 21:24   #12
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Re: bilge switch/monitor/counters?

I would be nervous if I had all my bilge pumps on one wire and one fuse from the battery. If the fuse opens or that wire breaks, you lose all the pumps. You might consider at least two totally independent circuits for your pumps.
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Old 04-07-2014, 21:58   #13
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Re: bilge switch/monitor/counters?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neptune's Gear View Post
The smartswitch float switch is $25, and I've had one on my boat for more than 10 years without problems. I now have 4. I use the little BSW1000 controller ($81 incl float switch) as it can tell me no of cycles etc as well as some other stuff. I use these for my 2 bilge areas, and my shower sumps. They have been great, which is why I have them on my site. But you have to go up to the BC4000 level if you want remote monitoring and remote control/reporting via SMS etc.


Matt
Matt, I have checked your site and that of SmartSwitch, and can see no indication that the BSW1000 counts no of cycles, or even indicates pump activation.

Am I missing something?

I am looking for a simple cycle indicator, count of cycles would be a bonus. I have two pumps to monitor, a sacrifice pump at the bottom of the bilge, a high volume pump above that.

Lee
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Old 04-07-2014, 23:39   #14
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Re: bilge switch/monitor/counters?

Hi Lee, OK, that's something that should be on my site - I'll get the info on Monday and post it. The bsw 1000 has a series of LEDs on it that indicate what is going on. I'll get an update on this and post it here and on my site.
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Old 06-07-2014, 20:36   #15
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Re: bilge switch/monitor/counters?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Auger01 View Post
I would be nervous if I had all my bilge pumps on one wire and one fuse from the battery. If the fuse opens or that wire breaks, you lose all the pumps. You might consider at least two totally independent circuits for your pumps.
i would be nervous, too. I was thinking I would run two oversized wires from the battery to the helm location. direct with no fuses or switches between the batts and the bus.. Always hot as long as there's voltage. these will connect to bus bar. a good one (blue sea) well isolated and protected. the four independent Aqualarms will each be fused separately with all fuses located adjacent to the bus bar, and all of that accessible from the helm. The location will be near a voltage monitor. My intent is to be able to quickly see that it's all hooked up and working without having to go into the engine room or lifting the floorboards or leave the inside helm. I'll be able to see that there's voltage, the fuses are good, and the alarm panels are functional instantly from one location.
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