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Old 01-27-2012
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Electronic Auto Bilge Switches, yay or nay?

What's been your experience with electronic bilge switches? I had bad luck with Witch Switch, and have a Johnson Ultima that works well so far. However I just read about some Ultima failures with the same symptom I experienced with the Witch Switch - sticking on. I recently needed one of the features of the Witch Switch and thought I would give it another try. My supplier told me he stopped carrying Witch Switch because they had issues, and they wouldn't warranty the product for more than a year. This guy would sell his mother for the right price, so they must have had a lot of "issues"! I'm aware of at least one SN member who has a Witch Switch and likes it. I like the concept (as opposed to float switches), however, I'm getting the idea the technology might not be ready for the marine environment. Thoughts?

Last edited by L124C; 01-27-2012 at 05:29 PM.
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Old 01-27-2012
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As a marine mechanic for many years I like the (kiss) theory. As one of the most important items on any boat a bilge pump sgould be maintained as every other safety item if not more . Most people dont check there bilge at all let alone keep it clean . I would say 75% of all boats that have sunk have so because debris was lodged in the pump impeller. We have always used the 3rd wire type float pumps so that you can override the float with a manual switch when needed . Cheers and strong winds
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Old 01-27-2012
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yup bilge debris will eventually bite you on the a** and at the most unopportune time,i've yet to see a float switch that works everytime-all the time,almost every boat i've seen that the autobilge pump kicks on frequently sooner or later sinks,i don't like nor will i have anymore thru hulls than absolutely necessary and inspect those often,i keep my batteries off completely and no external power supply when i'm away,nothing is fool proof,everytime i approach my boat i'm relieved that its still floating
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Old 01-27-2012
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Since float switches are relatively inexpensive I mount two on a pump.at different levels. If the first one don't get you, the second one will.Actually there are three in a row as the top one is alarm. Debris in the pump is another issue but SS wire mesh boxes help with that.
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Old 01-28-2012
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Thanks folks! But now....about those electronic bilge switches!
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Old 01-28-2012
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I installed one on my power boat a couple years ago. I constantly found the pump stuck on when I checked on the boat. I switched it back to a float after a few months of that.
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Old 01-28-2012
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If you mean the electronic switches that are "no moving parts" and rely on water touching two contacts/rods to turn on the switch?

PS tested a batch of them years ago, and found that eventually oil in the bilge would cause them to fail. They don't jam, but contamination apparently causes them to either false or fail making them no better or worse in the long run.

If you need one bilge pump with one float switch, you need two bilge pumps with two float switches, because everything in the bilge eventually fails. Usually at an inconvenient time.
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Old 01-28-2012
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Yay. DEFINATELY Yay.

Trust me, I'm a recovering wooden boat owner. (hands shaking as he types)

This is the one you want.

Whale Pumps Electric Field Sensor Switch WHA-BE9001 - Bilge Pumps And Accessories - JMSOnline.net Marine Supply and Boating Store

Also, do yourself a favor. ONLY buy Rule bilge pumps. They, well, "Rule." I went through several pumps in the 6 years I lived on my wooden boat. The two Rule pumps that came with the boat continued to function without a hitch despite the abuse I heaped on them. One of them was running dry for a week while I was out of town as an example.... This switch is the only one that lasted in my bilge as well.

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Old 01-29-2012
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We have one on the Womboat , I'm ashamed to admit I forget the brand. I throw a bit of water into the bilge every now and then just to make sure and on one occasion it failed to kick in. Pulled it out and wiped the scum off it. Thats now a routine measure. Its never stuck on. Secondary pump is float. Both have manual overide.
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Old 01-29-2012
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Like Fuzzy, I have two pumps. A small Rule Auto at the lowest point of the bilge, and a larger, float type, about half way up. It has worked well for me. As was also said, any piece of mechanical equipment is only as good as how well you maintain it.
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