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Old 14-05-2020, 13:59   #1
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Pet peeve: Manufacturer's bilge pump wire size

Can someone explain why the Rule 2000 that draws 8.5 max amps and the Rule 4000 that draws 20 max amps both come with #14 AWG wire?

What if I have to use larger wire, I can't very well crack open the bilge pump to rewire it and keep the warranty, and I don't like the idea of splicing (even using a waterproof junction box) 3' closer to the pump in order to minimize the amount of #14 in the circuit.

Come to think of it, this isn't limited to bilge pumps
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Old 14-05-2020, 14:21   #2
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Re: Pet peeve: Manufacturer's bilge pump wire size

The idea is that you splice fairly close to the pump, and the short run of smaller wire isn't a significant voltage drop problem. Personally, I use heat shrink butt connectors and tinned wire for bilge pump splices, that way they won't corrode if they get wet.

Bigger wire would be nice, however. It's mostly the pump manufacturers being cheap, I think.
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Old 14-05-2020, 14:28   #3
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Re: Pet peeve: Manufacturer's bilge pump wire size

Indeed I suspect the idea is for manufacturers to save money.

Because the other idea is that you're supposed to splice outside of the bilge, to min. water contact and chances for shorting out.

AND the wires are not sheathed, just two wires. Ferchrissakes.

So, this is my dilemma. I can keep the best of both worlds? I'll have to use extra-oversize wire to make up for the length of #14 and splice outside the bilge?
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Old 14-05-2020, 14:32   #4
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Re: Pet peeve: Manufacturer's bilge pump wire size

14 AWG is good for up to 20' with a 10% drop, which should be fine for a pump. If you have a longer round trip run, then use a larger wire up to the pump. You mentioned not wanting to splice within 3' of the pump. The leads from Rule are only a few feet, so a splice is needed anyway. Use adhesive lined heat shrink crimps and secure them as high as possible. I don't understand the concern. Am I missing something?
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Old 14-05-2020, 14:37   #5
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Re: Pet peeve: Manufacturer's bilge pump wire size

I'm with you Cyrus. Inevitably I need to connect those wires to 12 or even 10 depending on run length. And typical butt splices are usually 10-12 (yellow) and 14-16 (blue) so now you need to go find one of the special step-down splices if you want to do it right, and at least in my kit those are much harder to find.
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Old 14-05-2020, 14:37   #6
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Re: Pet peeve: Manufacturer's bilge pump wire size

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Originally Posted by neflier View Post
14 AWG is good for up to 20' with a 10% drop... Am I missing something?

Yes, 10% voltage drop is actually a very significant reduction in pump capacity.

I paid a whole bunch of money for a larger pump and its larger capacity, only to have that benefit compromised for the manufacturer to save a few cents of wire.

We're all aware of adhesive-lined splices on proper marine wire, that's a *MINIMUM* a poor compromise over making the splice outside of the bilge, as it should be.

So my pet peeve issue is two-fold:

1- The connection wire is too short
2- The connection wire is not sized relative to the pump draw.

So I the customer am forced to decide between making a splice under bilge water, or putting up with undersized wire, all for the manufacturer to save a few cents. Sucks, frankly.
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Old 14-05-2020, 14:40   #7
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Re: Pet peeve: Manufacturer's bilge pump wire size

AWG 14 wire can easily carry 15 amps continuously with acceptable temperature rise. But a long wire run might need to be bigger wire. The easiest way to do this is to use heat-shrink covered STEP-DOWN butt connectors. #14 wire goes in one side, #10-12 goes in the other. Crimp with the correct tool. They’ll outlast the pump.
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Old 14-05-2020, 14:45   #8
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Re: Pet peeve: Manufacturer's bilge pump wire size

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Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post
I'm with you Cyrus. Inevitably I need to connect those wires to 12 or even 10 depending on run length. And typical butt splices are usually 10-12 (yellow) and 14-16 (blue) so now you need to go find one of the special step-down splices if you want to do it right, and at least in my kit those are much harder to find.
Using a junction box resolves that issue and is water tight
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Old 14-05-2020, 14:49   #9
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Re: Pet peeve: Manufacturer's bilge pump wire size

Outlasting the pump is actually not much of a recommendation with these bilge pumps, I consider them disposable really.

OK, how about instead of aviation twists, step-down butt splices etc, how about ... and this is a crazy idea, I know...how about the manufacturers installing longer thicker connecting wire?

If buttsplicing becomes an issue, frankly that's a poor reason to risk the bilge pump system. That problem is easily resolved with many watertight junction box designs
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Old 14-05-2020, 15:12   #10
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Re: Pet peeve: Manufacturer's bilge pump wire size

The wire to my bilge is not greater than 14 AWG. If Rule had used 10 or 12, then I, and many others, would then either have to twist, solder and heatshrink, or use one of the step down crimps, which I never knew existed, let alone where to find them. Rule would then have created a bigger problem for most people. Instead of your message, I would probably have posted one asking why the wires are so big when 14 AWG is good for up to 20'

If you are concerned about voltage drop, then use 10 or 12 up to the pump and a step down crimp or twist and solder for the connection. The 10% drop was for a 20' run of 14 AWG. Your run of 14 would be a few feet, so much less than a 10% drop, probably get it down to the 3% or lower range. Remember, you will always have voltage drop.

I don't know your bilge, but the ones I've seen have space above the pump that does not get submerged. This is where my spliced connections are mounted. If they do get wet, they are waterproof.
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Old 14-05-2020, 15:41   #11
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Re: Pet peeve: Manufacturer's bilge pump wire size

The point is that the 14 ga is fine for the short length it extends.

If the wires are too short to get well up into the bilge, that is a valid gripe for sure.

I remember going to terminal strip just under the floor boards after seeing so many bilge pump connections fail, or the wire running to the bilge get black inside from seepage. That implies to me that the pumps I used did have a long enough wire to be out of bilge water. (?)

While the terminal strip is exposed to a damp environment, it seemed to work very well. I usually spray that type of thing with CRC 5-56 (cosmolene)
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Old 14-05-2020, 15:51   #12
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Re: Pet peeve: Manufacturer's bilge pump wire size

The 3' feet of #14 on the 4000 @15.5A full running load produces 2% voltage drop all by itself. Doesn't leave much room if you are trying to design for anything reasonable (personally I think 10% is far too much for a safety device). And the 3' is a bit chintzy for getting out of the bilge on the size of boat that would normally install this size pump. You actually have to get all the way up to 10AWG to have < 1% in the pump leads themselves.

At least for the bigger pumps I'd love to see Xylem/Rule actually ask boaters and boat manufacturers what size wire they run to the pumps and then match the most common. The rest of us would just have to suck it up. I haven't been on one boat that went as small as 14 for these pumps, but it sounds like other have.
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Old 14-05-2020, 16:15   #13
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Re: Pet peeve: Manufacturer's bilge pump wire size

I still just don't think a pump that draws 8 amps and one that draws 20 amps should have the same connection wiring. Just a pet peeve

Buttsplicing is not an issue, like I said, junction boxes for the bilge.

Doing It the Right Way I recommend that the connections be made using a covered, plastic junction box, the one hole type (Such as the Carlon boxes you can get for a few bucks at Home Depot), mounted on the nearest available vertical surface. ..Forget about butt connectors, electrical tape and silicone and heat shrink; none of these solves the water problem.
https://www.yachtsurvey.com/bilge_pumps.htm
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Old 14-05-2020, 16:18   #14
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Re: Pet peeve: Manufacturer's bilge pump wire size

Quote:
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The 3' feet of #14 on the 4000 @15.5A full running load produces 2% voltage drop all by itself. Doesn't leave much room if you are trying to design for anything reasonable

Exactly

On one hand the manufacturers rate their pumps capacity at 13 volts, then they chintz on the connection wire and introduce voltage drop.
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Old 14-05-2020, 16:29   #15
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Re: Pet peeve: Manufacturer's bilge pump wire size

Breaker size?
Anchor Marine adhesive-lined heat shrink butt connectors and adhesive lined heat shrink tubing over the top will last many many years.
Carlon boxes are nice too, but can be tough to get the proper glands to truly waterproof.
Plus, you will be using the same heat shrink stuff inside the box right?
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