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Old 10-09-2017, 13:26   #1
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Best bilge pump float switch?

Time to replace a sometimes-working Sure Bail mechanical (mercury?) float switch, which happens to be controlling a Jabsco 1500 bilge pump in our engine room.

I've reviewed some older "float switch" threads here, but I didn't see much consensus on best switch products. Most of those mentioned were in older threads anyway, so maybe there's something better on the market now?

I've also reviewed the reviews for various pumps available from West Marine, Defender, Jamestown, etc. here in the U.S., and mostly it seem like there's a lot of crap out there... especially the current Sure Bail version... but many of the others seem pretty sketchy, too.

What say you all? What works best, longest?

(Folks likely won't be surprised that it occurred to me now is a good time to do this replacement...)

-Chris
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Old 10-09-2017, 14:30   #2
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Re: Best bilge pump float switch?

Water Witch.

https://waterwitchinc.com/
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Old 15-09-2017, 05:17   #3
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Re: Best bilge pump float switch?

I installed a WaterWitch switch and a seperate high water alarm switch on my current boat but have only had occasional use with then when I tested them at first and then when I filled the bilge up on purpose one time. I did have a couple of Ultra Safety Systems switches though on the previous boat and they performed better and lasted longer than any others. As a previous electrician I replaced literally hundreds of switches and would not put anything else on my boat but an Ultra or a WaterWitch. They have long high quality marine wire. IMO they are the only way to go. More expensive but you don't have to replace them for many years. Actually they rarely fail in my experience. The other ones fail quite often which is a safety concern and labor and cost issue. Use shrink type butt connections with all and keep the connections up high where they never get wet.
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Old 15-09-2017, 05:35   #4
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Re: Best bilge pump float switch?

Thanks, all. I've ordered an Ultra Senior, along with their alarm sounder.

Interesting reading Water Witch reviews across the 'net. Seems like 50-50 good-bad... although a Practical Sailor review was one of the good ones.

That same review rated the earlier Sure Bail switch highly, too... though maybe that was the older mercury model (which might be what I've got), not their most current version.

-Chris
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Old 15-09-2017, 17:31   #5
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Re: Best bilge pump float switch?

We are into our 3rd year with UltraSafeSystems switches in each of our hulls. They replaced the Whale float switches. We have wet bilges (drains from fridge, Aircon) so we know they work as needed. I have to occasionally clean the bilges and I clean up the US switches but they've been champs. Ive heard good reports also on the WaterWitches also.
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Old 23-09-2017, 11:09   #6
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Re: Best bilge pump float switch?

Installed the Ultra Safety Systems Senior pumpswitch (UPS-01) along with their surface mount High Water Alarm (A-201-S) last Thursday. Conceptually an easy enough installation, although slightly hampered by reach and access in this case. And stuffing 12-gauge boat wire into pre-installed USS 16-14 gauge butt connectors took some finesse.

The switch looks like worth the money. The noisemaker seems overpriced (given the activation mechanism comes from the switch), but maybe it's gold-plated inside or something. OTOH, it's a "matched set" (so to speak) and it was an easy way to add a redundant and pumpswitch-driven high water alarm to complement our existing system.

-Chris
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Old 23-09-2017, 12:07   #7
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Re: Best bilge pump float switch?

I have two Ultra Systems Safety Switches installed and both work as advertised.

However, a good friend of mine had one installed for twenty years and his failed. If it had been me, I would have gone out and bought another but my friend remembered that it came with a life-time warranty. He called the company and inquired about getting a replacement under warranty. The person he talked with, who appeared to be the owner, got very angry, called my friend bad names and refused to honor the warranty.

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Old 23-09-2017, 13:44   #8
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Re: Best bilge pump float switch?

Hard to imagine a lifetime warranty on products like these... given purpose and environment...

Website and product currently says 10 year warranty on the Sr., 5 years on the Junior... conditional on being able to show the included heat-shrink butt connectors were properly installed onto boat wiring...

-Chris
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Old 24-09-2017, 04:25   #9
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Re: Best bilge pump float switch?

The Lifetime Warranty is only offered on their “ULTRA PUMPSWITCH SR” (UPS-01) model. Others, only 5 Years.
TEF-GEL - Ultra safety systems - Home page
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Old 24-09-2017, 05:16   #10
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Re: Best bilge pump float switch?

We specified Ultra Safety Systems pump switches when we had our previous boat built. After the first switch failed in the first season, I called the factory about replacement. Good luck getting a warranty replacement!
Although the switch clearly suffered what I’d guess was an infant mortality issue all the owner said was “my switches don’t fail... it had to be lightning...”
So although it was the only failure on the boat, I purchased another switch and moved on. After a second switch failure a few years later, I replaced it without even calling. The final replacement operated flawlessly for the remainder of the time we owned the boat, some additional 8 years.
I should have picked up on the owners constant banter about how everybody was out to screw him. He went on for about 10 minutes about how a large marine retailer tried stealing his ideas and how dishonest the industry was the first time I called...

Is it a good switch? Well, yes it is. Would I purchase another? No...
The product is only as good as the support it receives. Our current boat uses simple Rule float switches with a WaterWitch high water alarm system.
As the bilges are very dry (Arid?) I’m pretty comfortable with the idea of the simple Rule float switches, especially with the WaterWitch backup.

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Old 24-09-2017, 06:05   #11
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Re: Best bilge pump float switch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
The Lifetime Warranty is only offered on their “ULTRA PUMPSWITCH SR” (UPS-01) model. Others, only 5 Years.
TEF-GEL - Ultra safety systems - Home page

Interesting. The card that came with the new Senior I just installed said 10 year warranty. I'm even slightly surprised by that.

In any case, lots of reasons to realize the guy is not a professional website designer or editor...

-Chris
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Old 24-09-2017, 07:51   #12
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Re: Best bilge pump float switch?

I am quite surprised by Bruce's failure of an Ultra Safety Systems bilge switch and totally shocked at two of them..

I lots and lots of bilge switches and the only ones I have yet to see fail are the Ultra Safety Systems switches. I wish I could say as much for the pumps they are connected to..

The non-mercury Rule type switches are by far the highest failure rates I see.. Unreliable bilge switches are also my number one murderer of battery banks. That switch someone saved a few pennies on can wind up costing as much as $500.00 to $2K plus in new batteries.... And please, please no check valves on centrifugal pumps (Rule type pumps).. Check valves are right up there with unreliable switches, and human factor, in terms of battery bank murder...
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