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Old 07-23-2016, 04:54 PM   #1
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cheap idea for a bilge pump switch

Top Liquid Water Level Sensor Right Angle Float Switch | eBay

Bought 2 of these right angled ones. You can also get straights.

Frankly speaking, I am tired of buying bilge pump switches. Just recently found one that is sticking on. If I lift float, it no longer drops.

These magnetic reed switch, I plan to connect to a couple 40 amp Bosch relays to power two 3700 Rule pumps. I just need an angled bracket.

I already power on the pumps using a relay, so this magnetic switch will act just like my manual switch.

I thought about straight inline switches. Maybe could be mounted inside an inverted cup for more protection. My current switches are all open float. I have 5 bilge pumps and all use your typical float switch.

This Ebay switch is sealed up waterproof. The float has a magnet that rips the switch. A Bosch relay takes 160 milliamps or less to energize it's coil. So easily this switch will power a relay.
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Old 07-23-2016, 05:04 PM   #2
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Good luck!

I'd have to say personally that is one item I would never try to go cheap on myself. Bought myself Ultra Pumpswitches and never looked back.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:39 PM   #3
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Good luck!

I'd have to say personally that is one item I would never try to go cheap on myself. Bought myself Ultra Pumpswitches and never looked back.
Conventional flipper switches are not necessarily cheap, but they are troublesome. I also fitted the Ultra, no problem since.
There was a thread about these a while back, worth a search. A non electrical switch involving water rising in a tube I think was mentioned and made sense. Unavailable commercially here,so I dismissed it as likely to bother insurers in the event of trouble.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:46 PM   #4
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ASFAIK that ultra switch is also a sealed magnetic trigger switch except it has a higher amp rating to work the pump directly instead of using a relay.
That type switch just makes sense to me for this type thing.
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Old 07-23-2016, 09:21 PM   #5
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I've had a few Ultra Safety System pump switch failures in 20 years of boating but I do believe they are the best switches available.
Guy who owns the company is a little cranky though...
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Old 07-23-2016, 10:40 PM   #6
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I've come to the conclusion that the main bilge pump will always fail when you need it most. If not the switch failing, then the pump, or the wiring, or skin fitting or hose, or a blockage.

I went with a backup pump & switch located slightly higher, along with alarm, separate wiring, separate battery bank & separate plumbing. It sits high and dry and clean waiting to be called into action.
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Old 07-23-2016, 11:34 PM   #7
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Is it possible to sire this switch in parallel with a standard float switch so that you get the first response from the first switch sensing the water? I understand that this wouldn't solve the "stuck on" float switch problem, but it might be an improvement on the "didn't some on" problem.
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Old 07-24-2016, 08:01 AM   #8
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Since the mercury never wears out it might be simple to redo a mechanical switch to have mercury contacts.

Never tried it tho.
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Old 07-24-2016, 08:16 AM   #9
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Field effect Johnson pump Ultima switches.

Put one in my shower sump on a liveaboard....no issues yet....but then again the cheap float switch lasted 2.5 years....
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Old 07-24-2016, 08:43 AM   #10
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717, it looks like those switches turn on and off at the same point. That could make a bilge pump cycle very quickly. Bilge pump switches usually have about a 2" difference between turning on and off.

FF, bilge switches used to come with mercury switches. Your right the Mercury switches themselves never failed but the wires connected to them did. Every time the switch rose and fell it twisted the wires and they eventually broke.
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Old 07-24-2016, 08:53 AM   #11
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Bruce, I'm not sure what you mean by non electrical but both Groco and Jabsco make bilge switches that use air pressure in a tube to activate the switch which is mounted well above the water.
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Old 07-24-2016, 09:03 AM   #12
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"Every time the switch rose and fell it twisted the wires and they eventually broke."

Sounds like an extra inch of wire in a loop might have worked , but would have cost more.
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Old 07-24-2016, 10:49 AM   #13
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Does anybody (else) like the electronic internal switches and pump that Rule makes? I currently have only one bilge pump, a Rule with a paddle switch, and a similar arrangement in the adjacent shower sump. I guess that counts as two, sort of. Won't be that way for long.
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Old 07-24-2016, 11:56 AM   #14
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717, it looks like those switches turn on and off at the same point. That could make a bilge pump cycle very quickly. Bilge pump switches usually have about a 2" difference between turning on and off.

FF, bilge switches used to come with mercury switches. Your right the Mercury switches themselves never failed but the wires connected to them did. Every time the switch rose and fell it twisted the wires and they eventually broke.
I know what your saying about the range of float motion to on - off.
The 2 Rule 3700's are both emergency bilge pumps. They never come on normally.
I have a Rule 2000 forward of these two 3700 that is the main pump with a typical Rule switch. When the float switches come in, I will post back about how they function as to how tight they are on and off. They are designed for pumps to maintain a water level, so maybe they will work ok and not quick cycle. Also if they are pumping a large flat expanse of water, that would help limit that quick cycling too, which I tend to have, pump is not in a deep sailboat type space..

I may even have an old broken covered pump switch. This Ebay switch could be mounted into that by drilling a hole in the side.

I was thinking I need to replace the switch, cause if it did come on, then it would never turn off and that pump would drain the battery, and wear out the pump and it might be stiff enough that it would not lift up and so never tiun on. I think there is a rubber shaft seal that swells up do to trace amounts of oils in the water. The failed switch was a non mercury type 'seachoice-seaflow' switch, with wires coming out the top back part. It is about 4 yrs old.
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Old 08-10-2016, 04:55 PM   #15
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I got the switches today.
They do have a range so they will not quick cycle on-off.
They feel rather strong and durable, look good.
Both function the same. The little float has plenty of side clearance.

I think a SS sheet metal angle bracket is what I will use for mounting..
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Old 08-10-2016, 11:58 PM   #16
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Remember that cheap switch could be the difference between your boat floating and sinking when you're not aboard.
I've been on the ocean since I was 7 and am 68 now. I've been aboard at least dozens of ships and boats. It doesn't make me an expert, but experienced. 30 years ago, most of the bilge pumps and switches were reliable for at least several years. I don't see that anymore. Most appear to be built in the same Chinese factory, but with different decals.
I have a boat with 5 WT bulkheads and 6 bilge areas-wood hull, but doesn't leak. The water I pump is from the rare hose/plumbing leak or wash downs. Except for Lovett, I have yet to find a current pump/switch or shower sump that lasts 2 years.
The only 100% reliable switch has been the float in a tube type. I have tried most brands but am replacing all with Lovett as the current ones fail.
I've never had a Lovett fail. One in a commercial boat was old when I bought the boat and much older when the boat was sold. Maybe 40 years.
Mercury switches worked good, but it must somehow be better to have all these junk pumps and switches in a landfill.
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Old 08-11-2016, 06:56 AM   #17
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I agree
I installed 8 years ago an electronic one.
No movable parts, so no sticking.
One advantage is that it takes some time to activate and deactivate thus not activating with water moving in the bilge as your boat moves.
I think is one of the most important safety components in a boat, and to be connected properly to a buzzer
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Old 08-11-2016, 10:30 AM   #18
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Since the mercury never wears out it might be simple to redo a mechanical switch to have mercury contacts.

Never tried it tho.
The best float switches ever made used mercury switches to turn the pump on and off.

The government outlawed them and they haven't been made for years. I used to have some but they are gone now.
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Old 08-11-2016, 10:33 AM   #19
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"Every time the switch rose and fell it twisted the wires and they eventually broke."

Sounds like an extra inch of wire in a loop might have worked , but would have cost more.
Ultra flexible wire like that used in telephone cords (remember those) or loudspeaker coil to cone connections would last for eons. It consists of many fine strands of wire braided over a cloth core.
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Old 08-11-2016, 11:27 AM   #20
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Does anybody (else) like the electronic internal switches and pump that Rule makes?
I for one do not like them.

Ultra switches are all I use.
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