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Old 20-01-2016, 07:10   #1
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Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

There seems to be large variety of bilge float switches. For reference I have a 30' Morgan project boat.

Just a few
When I search amazon for bilge switch, so many kinds of switches and price ranges come up.

Has anyone wrote a "beginners guide to float switches"? What do you recommend? Your wisdom is appreciated.
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Old 20-01-2016, 07:22   #2
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

I'm trying to remember what mine are called, I got them from Hopcar, and am very pleased with them.
I'd advise to not save money on either the pump or the switch, that is a pretty important system.

This one http://www.hopkins-carter.com/ulpuswsr.html

Yeah I know awfully expensive, but has been trouble free and from what I hear will remain that way for years.
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Old 20-01-2016, 07:52   #3
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

Allanbranch, I may be wrong, but I suspect that your Morgan like my 70's Morgan has a relatively deep bilge without easy access to manually reach the depth,- 'maybe right behind the engine and awkward. I don't favor placing an essential electronic device with moving parts in a place that is difficult to inspect and clean. My choice is a pneumatic switch with nothing in the bilge other than a length of plastic tubing held in place on a stick. When the bilge water rises, air pressure increases in the tubing and a diaphragm switch is activated at a location of your choice where you can easily inspect and maintain the switch.

I use the Par Hydro-Air (Jabsco part 34875-0000 ITT) that has been reliable for my use over thirty years. They have a new model that is marketed as the Jabsco 59400 series Hydro Air.

Most people do use the float switches, but most people are not keeping the same switch working well for a long span of time. You can still do well with a float switch.
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Old 20-01-2016, 08:19   #4
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

Comments on HD Waterwitch ??

https://www.waterwitchinc.com/new/Si...eSwitches.html

Tks/ Len
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Old 20-01-2016, 08:33   #5
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

WaterWitch has a strong following, I believe they are essentially a capacitance switch?
No moving parts. Hopcar sells them too
There are even switches that work like a depth sounder, they measure the height of the water in the bilge by ultrasonic waves and turn on the pump when the water levels reaches a set point, I think.

I just don't like the old float type of switches, seems the old ones lasted a long time, the newer ones don't seem to last as long.
I also like having a second pump with it's own switch, set higher in the bilge and it's power connected to a horn. Normal conditions this pumps is never used, only if the primary fails and water level rises to the point the second pump is turned on, the horn alerts you that your secondary pump is now on, something that requires your attention, either the first has failed, or there is a leak in excess to what the first pump can handle.

A deep bilge allows this set up to be used and still have a lot of depth before getting to the sole.
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Old 20-01-2016, 08:46   #6
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

When doing my search last year, I landed on the Ultra Safety Systems' Ultra Pumpswitch Jr (UPS-02) -here->

TEF-GEL - Ultra safety systems - Home page

Why? It is near fail proof because the mechanism is some magnetic do-dad encased in epoxy. Expensive at $150, but I want the best switch. The high water alarm function is also nice. (One day it will light up a red LED and sound a buzzer.)

There are other switches out there that are more advanced then a simple float switch that, in all likelihood, work just as well and as reliable. But, you have to stop researching and pull the trigger at some point!

Float switches work... for a time. If you are diligent in cleaning and preemptively replace them every few years, the chance of an issue is greatly reduced. I would have just gone with the basic Rule ones, which have been widely tested, are cheap and available everywhere.

(Heck, I actually utilize a Rule Lo-Pro and its built in float switch for my "main" pump that keeps the bilge as dry as possible from normal operations. The pricey switch above is attached to a much larger pump for big issues or if the Lo-Pro fails.)

Remember that the switch is one part of the puzzle. Make sure you have redundancy in pumps, new hoses/connections, no check-valves, and keep the bilge clean.
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Old 20-01-2016, 08:48   #7
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

I did the same research a couple of years back and went with the USS switch the one A64 recommends. Like the bilge alarm function that's built in. Have not read a single, negative comment about them.

TEF-GEL - Ultra safety systems - Home page
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Old 20-01-2016, 09:21   #8
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

I think it works by using a reed switch, this comes only from my looking at the thing and trying to figure it out.
One Hudson recommends may be better in this application as I think the Ultra switch will eventually need to be cleaned, or that is my belief anyway.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reed_switch

On edit there are a couple of threads of course here about bilge switches, I got recommend the Ultra switch here by a few users. I have only had them for a year or so, so in five or more years I will be able to comment, I can't really now.
Hudson on the other hand has thirty years experience.
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Old 20-01-2016, 09:38   #9
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

Quote:
Originally Posted by allanbranch View Post
There seems to be large variety of bilge float switches. For reference I have a 30' Morgan project boat.

Just a few
When I search amazon for bilge switch, so many kinds of switches and price ranges come up.

Has anyone wrote a "beginners guide to float switches"? What do you recommend? Your wisdom is appreciated.
Hi Allan,

After having 5 boats over the years, I have given up on mechanical float switches and gone to solid state- which continue to remain reliable.

Several solid state offerings have already been suggested in this thread.

Another to be aware of is from CruzPro. They offer a solid state [probe style] switch, but the main part is their controller. They also make many other gauges and devices worth knowing about. Great company to do business with.

One thing I find useful in my current [last?] boat is a brief time delay [currently 15 seconds...] before the bilge pump activates. This is because my lowest bilge is a wide, flat and level bottomed well just forward of the engine... [e.g., ~2 ft x 2 ft with no smaller sump for a pump] so a small amount of water can slosh around for a while, activating the bilge pump unnecessarily- and often- without the time delay in place...

To my knowledge, both the CruzPro and Water Witch offer a time delay. There may be others offering this capability as well, and many bilge designs may not benefit from a time delay...

Edit: I should also mention our current boat came with a 20+ year old Par Hydro-Air switch connected to a 4k gal/hr pump for last [highest-water] pump. I concur with Hudson; this is an excellent switch, and the only dynamic switch I would consider installing today. Mine is located in the high bilge, and only sees water when I test it by flooding the bilge with a dock hose with the other 3 pumps [all at progressive depths] turned off after they each pass their test, and it works perfectly every time- and still looks like new for some reason...

In case this is useful.

Cheers!

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Old 20-01-2016, 09:55   #10
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

I will just add my pen'orth about the Waterwitch, it does NOT work if freshwater (eg rainwater) gets into your bilge. Fitted one on my small Oystercatcher 16 due to small size and lack of space. Worked fine when out on it's mooring but with the boat ashore and rainwater managing to find it's way inside, discovered the floorboards afloat after a period of heavy rain. I had kept the bilge pump switched on (auto) for this reason and it has a small solar panel that keeps the battery topped up to compensate, but it didn't work so have had to cover the boat completely to keep rain out and remove the battery because the solar panel is also covered.
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Old 20-01-2016, 10:16   #11
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

My Hunter came with a very reliable Sure Bail float switch. It's more than a switch in that it will continue pumping for a few seconds when dry to ensure all the water is out. Lasted 15 years and, of course, it had to fail during a passage to Bermuda last June. Replaced it with the same switch to ease installation.
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Old 20-01-2016, 10:18   #12
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

I had a Johnson solid state switch that worked great for 4 years until I cleaned it. I've now got a similar Whale switch. I did not like the cycle time on the WaterWitch. You can have it for the price of postage.
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Old 20-01-2016, 10:25   #13
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

I have an old version of the Rule Super Switch mounted on an old board down in the bilge by the PO at least 10 years ago.

It's still working great!
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Old 20-01-2016, 10:29   #14
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

I had strongly considered building my own.
I wanted a float with a SS wire that ran through a plastic tube, the wire would be connected to a relay mounted on a cross timber supporting the sole boards, as such it could easily be inspected and or replaced, but a good switch, with a high water alarm and a secondary back-up pump, along with a good mechanical pump ought to be sufficient.

I've been considering a crash pump, but at what point are you over preparing?
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Old 20-01-2016, 10:32   #15
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

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Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
I have an old version of the Rule Super Switch mounted on an old board down in the bilge by the PO at least 10 years ago.

It's still working great!
I think the old ones were mercury switches, and will last until you break them, the float floods or the wires eventually fatigue and break, so they may well last a very long time.
I don't know when mercury switches were stopped, they used to be very common in thermostats, home switches etc.

On edit, I think a common point of failure for bilge switches is not the switch, but how the wires are terminated, water gets in, corroded the wire / terminal and the pump quits, so the assumption is bad switch?
Mine was honestly wired with speaker wire, electrical tape and a few screw on wire nuts, Lord knows how it was working, but it was.
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