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Old 21-06-2024, 05:32   #1
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Bilge Pump Switch Setup

The previous owner of my boat mounted a typical Bilge Pump Float Switch

setup, on a frame constructed out of some wood, that somehow, was heavier than water. On a several occasions this switch either failed to float, and turn on, or failed to turn off, due to it hanging up on the several hoses that went into in the small bilge area.

Last year I resolved to fix this issue with a solution that isn't as simple, but has proven more reliable, and easier to deal with than a slimy wooden frame hanging into the bilge well.

I bought a small inexpensive float switch

and used 1/2" PVC pipe to contain the wiring and create a frame for the switch to hang into the bilge well. On the float switch end of the PVC frame, I used a PVC adapter and a short piece of 1-1/4" PVC with a few vent hole drilled into it, to serve as a guard for the switch. This setup hangs into the bilge well at about half the depth of the bilge, and is waterproofed with epoxy where the wires enter the PVC.

I then wired this to a 12V relay that has a 60 second "off delay";

so when the float switch contacts close momentarily, the relay is triggered and even when the water level in the bilge drops enough to "un-trigger" the float switch, the relay keeps the bilge pump running for 60 seconds, which in my case, gets just about all the water out of the bilge well. This delayed off relay also prevents the pump from cycling on and off as water sloshes around in the bilge.

This has worked very well for me, going into a second season of use, so I think it could be a solution for others who have a similar situation to mine.
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Old 22-06-2024, 04:32   #2
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Re: Bilge Pump Switch Setup

Is your contrivance similar to the Ultra Safety Systems Pump Switch/
https://www.tefgel.com/contain.php?p...mpswitch_price
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Old 22-06-2024, 06:17   #3
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Re: Bilge Pump Switch Setup

Similar, except my pump is a self-priming pump mounted above the bilge.
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Old 22-06-2024, 10:33   #4
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Re: Bilge Pump Switch Setup

WOW! I just noticed...$175 for a float switch that only triggers an alarm buzzer!
I built my setup, sans the pump, for about $20.
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Old 22-06-2024, 11:59   #5
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Re: Bilge Pump Switch Setup

I have a Blue Guard switch and panel. I highly value the cycle counter on the panel monitoring when and how often it runs.



Agree that float switches should be easy to DIY at a low cost. The kicker being how long they last and knowing whether it has failed.
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Old 22-06-2024, 14:43   #6
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Re: Bilge Pump Switch Setup

Thanks for your comment @Patja.
That style of float switch almost never fails. I was in an industry where we used several dozen switches of that style, for decades, in non-pH neutral solutions, and never had one fail.

I like the idea of a cycle counter, and I could add one very easily, but this boat is pretty tight, with only a few, very visible through-hull points, and we're on the boat a lot when it's in the water, and it would likely be one more metric to manage.

I do check the system a couple of times per season when the boat is in the water; and that just consists of lifting the access panel in the sole to get a hold of the bracket, and jiggling it once or twice, until I hear the pump kick on.
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Old 22-06-2024, 16:23   #7
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Re: Bilge Pump Switch Setup

I added Water witch switches, https://waterwitchinc.com/bilge-switches/ to all my bilge pumps in case the pump switch gets fouled or just breaks. They're only about $50/unit.

I love to DIY, but my bilge pumps aren't a system I'm comfortable going the DIY route especially since the savings is only $50.
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