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post #1 of 54 Old 02-19-2009 Thread Starter
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best bilge pump switch

okay i want/need a new float switch for my bilge pump. i dont want the built in ones due to cycling. i currently have the west marine float, which is giving me problems, it drops down the ball inside moves ( i hear it click ) but it does not shut off about 1 out of 10 times. now if i give it a tap it clicks again, it does not do this all the time, but it killed my battery ( as in need new battery it was cold out ). yes i know i need to fix my shaft seal, ordering that at the same time. the worse part is my hunter has a bilge about 4 inches deep so it fills pretty quick ( as in with no pump about a week )

what does anyone think about the sensor ones like this

Water Witch Bilge Pump Switch

or

Ultima Bilge Pump Switch

i am starting to wonder about the float type, i had rule that went bad, now this one is acting crazy. i want to know if anyone has had problems with the above type? also has anybody found it to draw too much juice when just sitting there? are there any better types out there ?
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post #2 of 54 Old 02-19-2009
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I could make a list of switches that I have bought, installed and thrown away in the past year. And they're all bloody rubbish. The money I have spent on these godforsaken things would have easily paid for a labourer to sit on my boat 24/7 with a bucket!!!

I wait with bated breath to hear the answer to this question. Finding a decent auto bilge switch is as easy as reconciling North and South Korea.

Good luck and thanks for having the courage to ask this question


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post #3 of 54 Old 02-20-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottyt View Post
okay i want/need a new float switch for my bilge pump. i dont want the built in ones due to cycling. i currently have the west marine float, which is giving me problems, it drops down the ball inside moves ( i hear it click ) but it does not shut off about 1 out of 10 times. now if i give it a tap it clicks again, it does not do this all the time, but it killed my battery ( as in need new battery it was cold out ). yes i know i need to fix my shaft seal, ordering that at the same time. the worse part is my hunter has a bilge about 4 inches deep so it fills pretty quick ( as in with no pump about a week )

what does anyone think about the sensor ones like this

Water Witch Bilge Pump Switch

or

Ultima Bilge Pump Switch

i am starting to wonder about the float type, i had rule that went bad, now this one is acting crazy. i want to know if anyone has had problems with the above type? also has anybody found it to draw too much juice when just sitting there? are there any better types out there ?
I personally use the Water Witch as it allows mounting high and low sensors. Coupled with a multi function bilge monitor and blue sea bilge switches (for auto, off, manual - although the manual you have to continuously press or stuff something on the other side of the switch to keep on - an annoyance)...The nice things about the water switch is you can use them for alarm only applications....and are small enough to place about anywhere and doesn't matter the orientation...

-- Jody

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post #4 of 54 Old 02-20-2009 Thread Starter
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jody i have the auto off manual switch from bass pro shop, it does not have the manual return like yours does, stays in all 3 positions. also it has 2 leds, a green one for when its auto mode, a red for manual, and when its in auto and running both leds light. the green is really dim so it cant draw much at all. best part same 3 wire install, and 20 bucks iirc.

edit: the control switch also has a breaker built in. i cant find it on bass pro site but if you want one to avoid the manual reset part let me know i will get one and mail it to ya. and if you want pics i can get pics of mine installed

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post #5 of 54 Old 02-20-2009
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I like the idea of the Water Witch over the usual float-type, but I haven't heard enough "field testing" to convince me of their durability.

Of course, I like the idea of the Tank Tender system for running on air pressure instead of volts, but I'm less keen on the price and the experimentation necessary to figure out each tank's calibration.

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post #6 of 54 Old 02-20-2009
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I have tried nearly all the available auto switches for the bilge including the sonic ones and pressure sensing circuits. Nearly all of them failed sooner or later.

Now I use two bilge pumps: One is connected to the service battery and located deeper than the second one. This is the "always" working one. The other is located higher than the first and the source is the engine battery. If the first one fails, the second one works. There is small electronic circuitry that informs when the second one operates. This way I can keep the bilge dry (nearly).
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post #7 of 54 Old 02-21-2009 Thread Starter
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kind of a free bump for more opinions and with some info too

okay lots of reading. i thought the float switch i had just had a metal ball that hit 2 contacts shorting them out to get the pump to run. i found out it uses a ball to close a physical switch which can stick, and i guess mine has. the west marine one i have is rebranded, but what dont they rebrand.

i found 6 reviews on the water witch, one said it worked fine for 6 months then died, the other 5 all said it works great. i did find one review where the only failure was a guy had his RO pump line failed and could not sense ultra pure water but it worked fine on normal water. i guess i will give it a try.

i also found out some complaints about the sensor type some say oil will foul them but less in the inductive type like the water witch. it is more for the other electronic type. now i know how the induction type works, and even if it gets oil on it, it only needs a very small surface clean to work

normal disclaimer no connection to anything etc etc
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post #8 of 54 Old 02-21-2009
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After six failures of various commercial units, I built my own. Then I built two more for friends. The oildest is now more than 3 years old and still working fine. PVC vertical tube. Internal connical foam float with small weight on the bottom to act as return and a magnetic switch (no contact neccassary, and no metal exposed to water). The float rises a couple of inches and the mag field activates a relay (the weak point as I see it, but one completely in the dry of the breaker box). Relay activates the pump.

I had an idea about adding a small mast to the float with a second mag-spot and a second mag sensorfurther up the tube. Float rises slightly, bottom pump comes on, float rises more, both secondary and primary pump activates as both mag sensors line up...Have not tried that one yet.

The nice thing about the mag switch is that there is nothing to corrode or leak away or for the pivot point to clog or corode...and all the other things that go wrong with standard units.

Alex.

Last edited by Sasha_V; 02-21-2009 at 04:59 AM.
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post #9 of 54 Old 02-21-2009
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Andre and Alex,

I feel your pain, having also tried most of the switch types on the market and with mixed success over a 25 year period. Also, from seeing dozens of customer vessels with their bilge pump switch problems.

The most reliable switches are generally considered to be those in the Ultimate Switch family. Not suprisingly, they are quite expensive. They are warrantied for 5 years, and users report amazing success.

Over the past ten years or so I've been using a succession of sensor switches...those which essentially are activated whenever water comes in contact with the sensors on the small units. Generally, these work pretty well, but only if you keep them really clean. If oil builds up on the sensors, you get flaky results, including a switch which fails to turn off. I run two of these all the time on my boat, and clean them periodically. Happily, I have bilge pumps which are not harmed if they run dry, which has occasionally happened when the darned little switches fail to turn off.

When I get tired of fooling with these inadequate devices, I'll probably spring for a couple of Ultimate Switches.

Bill
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post #10 of 54 Old 02-21-2009
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Sasha V--- can you post a drawing showing parts, circuits ,etc so i can build a switch like yours to test in my boat ? or email one or a picture to me ------captbillc@gmail.com

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