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TOPIC: wiring an emergency bilge high water alarm and light

wiring an emergency bilge high water alarm and light 16 Jun 2009 21:26 #1

  • FairEnough
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Wondering if someone could verify my scheme?

What I would like to do:
I would like to put a second float switch in the bilge mounted a little higher than the one that operates the bilge pump. Why do I want this? In the event my pump/switch failed and I was filling up with water, a second switch connected to an alarm might give me some extra time to find what is wrong and fix it before so much water is present and my options become limited.

Soooo, what would be the best way to wire this for two stations. Here's what I am thinking. Please correct me if I this is wrong or if there is a better/easier/ less expensive way.

1. Pull power from battery, fuse, and connect to the hot lead at the switch
2. butt connect 4 wires to the switchable wire (outgoing wire coming off the switch)
3. run 2 wire to the lower helm and likewise the upper
4. connect the switchable hot leads to a light and horn at each station
5. connect a ground lead to the light and horn from the ground buss on the existing fuse panel located at each station.

Will that work?

The switch I have says max 14 amps. As long as my horns and lights add up to less than that I should be good right? 20 -30 foot runs should I use #12 wire or is #14 (like what on the switch) OK?

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wiring an emergency bilge high water alarm and light 16 Jun 2009 23:32 #2

  • Sunnydude
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I am installing one right now. The bilge audible alarm will be at my lower helm and from it I will run the indicator light to the flybridge helm.

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Sean
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wiring an emergency bilge high water alarm and light 16 Jun 2009 23:54 #3

  • captharv
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You only need 1 wire for each station. The horn/light can be in parallel.
Now, if I can be so bold as to make a recomendation...
If y'all are going thru runing wires, why don't you install a second complete pump with its own switch and hose? Redundancy makes for an automatic backup. With just a light/horn arrangement, if it indicates excess water in the bilge, about all you can do is verify that you are sinking...
How long can you tread water?
I have a 1000 GPH only about 3" from the transom under the engine. A 2000 GPH just ahead of the engine, and I retained the 1000 GPH under the steps in the cabin. All have their own fuse, hose and float switch. Yes, you have to run a hose and drill for the outlet fitting, however, the piece of mind offered is worth it. The 1000 GPH under the engine has a light and sonalert wiring in.
NO way tol disable float switches, inadvertantly.

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Captharv 2001 2452
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wiring an emergency bilge high water alarm and light 17 Jun 2009 06:27 #4

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captharv;310646 wrote: If y'all are going thru runing wires, why don't you install a second complete pump with its own switch and hose? Redundancy makes for an automatic backup....

I was thinking the same thing. You can wire up to a different battery if you have it. Also, I have seen bilge water alarms - you could do that separate, but I'd do that after a 2nd pump. Bilge pumps can foul.

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Dave
former boats: 87 Chaparral 278; 97 Maxuum 2100; 75 Catalina 27; 2000 Seaswirl 200

wiring an emergency bilge high water alarm and light 17 Jun 2009 13:30 #5

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FairEnough;310581 wrote: What I would like to do:
I would like to put a second float switch in the bilge mounted a little higher than the one that operates the bilge pump. Why do I want this? In the event my pump/switch failed and I was filling up with water, a second switch connected to an alarm might give me some extra time to find what is wrong and fix it before so much water is present and my options become limited.

Soooo, what would be the best way to wire this for two stations. Here's what I am thinking. Please correct me if I this is wrong or if there is a better/easier/ less expensive way.

1. Pull power from battery, fuse, and connect to the hot lead at the switch
2. butt connect 4 wires to the switchable wire (outgoing wire coming off the switch)
3. run 2 wire to the lower helm and likewise the upper
4. connect the switchable hot leads to a light and horn at each station
5. connect a ground lead to the light and horn from the ground buss on the existing fuse panel located at each station.

Will that work?

The switch I have says max 14 amps. As long as my horns and lights add up to less than that I should be good right? 20 -30 foot runs should I use #12 wire or is #14 (like what on the switch) OK?


Here's a thought:

Why not allow the existing float switch and pump to trigger your alarm/light/buzzer?
(May I assume that the "float switch" for this existing primary pump is connected to your "Un-Interrupted" power source as you would for any float switch?????)
I'd want the first call at the first indication of bilge water! (not necessarily when the secondary pump is triggered!)
Not saying that your larger pump and float switch installation is not a good idea..... it is!

Reason: I'd think that the important note may be knowing when the existing pump is operating (even though it is of smaller capacity).
For ME, I'd want any water in my bilge to trigger an alarm telling me that the primary pump has been turned on. (sort of inline with what I think Harv is saying)
This way you have the first indication of high water calling your name out.... instead of waiting for the second system to give you this warning.

If you were to agree, then I'd suggest taking advantage of the circuit that is existing now from your helm....... and that would be the brown (usually brown) wire that goes from your helm pump switch to the pump currently....... (this is not the float switch power lead.... this is the pump power lead I'm speaking of.)
This is the same schematically as if you ran a NEW circuit forward for an alarm!
IOW's, This is the perfect circuit to connect in an alarm/light or buzzer!
Easy, no new circuits to run and so on.
Your choice on that!

In the event my pump/switch failed and I was filling up with water

To cover your redundancy issue, a diode could be installed in a lead joining the two float switch circuits so that this Secondary system would also trigger the very same alarm/light/buzzer!
Gottcha covered each way, so to speak!


Also, I'd not necessarily be mounting the NEW and LARGER pump at a higher elevation...... there is no need to, IMO......... keep it as low as possible, but maybe mount THAT float switch at a slightly higher elevation if for some reason you think that is best! (we don't necessarily care if there are a few gallons of water left in the bilge from this pump)

This secondary pump will turn itself on if the first pump can not keep up with the demand!
Again, gottcha covered each way, and you have an alarm if either pump turns ON!

Just a though on that!

The switch I have says max 14 amps. As long as my horns and lights add up to less than that I should be good right? 20 -30 foot runs should I use #12 wire or is #14 (like what on the switch) OK?

Not certain that I understand you on this one!
There should be NO horns, lights etc, on this "Un-Interrupted" power source for either bilge pump float switch..... this should be a "stand-alone" circuit, fused, nothing else on it, completely independent from any helm supply.
Nor should it be dependent on any position of your MBSS......, IMO.
The whole idea is for this to be UN-Interruptible!

You also do not want to give any switch, anywhere on the boat, the abililty to interrupt this power!
Only the float switch can interrupt power to the actual bilge pump.


.

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Rick E. Portland, Oregon
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wiring an emergency bilge high water alarm and light 17 Jun 2009 14:16 #6

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thanks for all the replies and suggestions.

I like the idea of adding a second pump! I also like the idea of having the first switch trigger an indicator.

Question about using existing wiring to include warning light or audible alarm. How is this done? Anyone have a link to a diagram?

Initially, my thought was the second switch would serve as a warning only - in the event of a switch/pump failure or a pump overcome with too much water flowing into the bilge. I see the wisdom of having a second pump and or the second switch activating the primary pump - or even better- the second switch operating both pumps.

I have to admit I'm a bit challenged electrically. Does a diode restrict voltage in the event both switches go hot? Again a diagram would be much appreciated.

Again, thanks for your responces.

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wiring an emergency bilge high water alarm and light 17 Jun 2009 14:49 #7

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FairEnough;310925 wrote:

  1. I like the idea of adding a second pump! I also like the idea of having the first switch trigger an indicator.
  2. Question about using existing wiring to include warning light or audible alarm. How is this done? Anyone have a link to a diagram?
  3. Initially, my thought was the second switch would serve as a warning only - in the event of a switch/pump failure or a pump overcome with too much water flowing into the bilge. I see the wisdom of having a second pump and or the second switch activating the primary pump - or even better- the second switch operating both pumps.
  4. I have to admit I'm a bit challenged electrically. Does a diode restrict voltage in the event both switches go hot? Again a diagram would be much appreciated.

  1. Me too!
  2. The helm switch wire that goes to the factory pump is the same circuit that will carry power back to an alarm when installed and grounded at/near the helm.
  3. Yes, and with a Diode installed, this can/may be accomplished.
  4. Think of a diode (of the proper amperage, of course) as a one way valve for D/C electricity.
    When installed, it would prevent the primary (smaller pump float switch) circuit from powering the larger pump.
    However, when/if the larger pump's float switch provides power, current will flow through the diode and power up the smaller primary pump...... and also the alarm at the helm.

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Rick E. Portland, Oregon
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wiring an emergency bilge high water alarm and light 17 Jun 2009 14:57 #8

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2850Bounty;310953 wrote:



  1. The helm switch wire that goes to the factory pump is the same circuit that will carry power back to an alarm when installed and grounded at/near the helm.


OK, but doesn't current only flow when the helm switch is activated? When the primary pump is activated by the float switch, does current back feed and make the switchable lead from the helm switch hot?

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wiring an emergency bilge high water alarm and light 17 Jun 2009 15:31 #9

  • bartc
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It is not uncommon for the first bilge pump to turn on from time to time due to rain and normal shaft seal leaks. For that reason I believe that simply wiring a loud warning device - such as a horn - to this first pump's float switch might not be appreciated by nearby residents, liveaboards, and the Admiral. Just a thought.

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Bart
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wiring an emergency bilge high water alarm and light 17 Jun 2009 16:57 #10

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FairEnough;310963 wrote:

  1. OK, but doesn't current only flow when the helm switch is activated?
  2. When the primary pump is activated by the float switch,
  3. does current back feed and make the switchable lead from the helm switch hot?

  1. Well yes/no! If you break this down into the several ways this pump is activated, you'll see that the helm switch powers the pump in what we'd call manual mode! (Float switch is yet another method.... separate from the helm switch circuit!)
  2. This is a separate method for powering the pump, but also excites this very same circuit that comes from the "Manual Operation" helm switch!
  3. Bingo! That's why this existing circuit is so perfect for an alarm/buzzer/light! This circuit is existing!
The helm switch will be left in the OFF position.
If left ON, the there is indeed a risk of this "back feed" power supplying other un-wanted items at the helm. This is true!

Remember, we are not powering a float switch from this Helm Switch..... or any power coming from the helm or through the MBSS...... (float switch receives power from an uninterruptible power source.... usually a Connection Only "at" the MBSS! Not "through" the MBSS!)........ this helm switch is a Manual Switch ONLY for bilge pump operation!
It is to be left in the OFF position, IMO! (one more good reason for an alarm/light/buzzer at the helm)
(please, no "Auto/Off/Manul" helm switches!.... don't get me started on that again this soon after the recent thread!) :prod

bartc;311001 wrote: It is not uncommon for the first bilge pump to turn on from time to time due to rain and normal shaft seal leaks. For that reason I believe that simply wiring a loud warning device - such as a horn - to this first pump's float switch might not be appreciated by nearby residents, liveaboards, and the Admiral. Just a thought.

Bartc... good point, but this need not be 180db alarm!
Furthermore, you want your slip neighbors to alert the marina, or you, if this pump is cycling. I would!
Some will place their phone number visible on the boat for this very reason.

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Rick E. Portland, Oregon
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wiring an emergency bilge high water alarm and light 17 Jun 2009 18:44 #11

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Thanks Rick,
I never knew that switchable leg of the helm bilge switch went live when the float switch is activated. Makes sense now that I think about it - any wire connected to that circuit will be energized. Easy.

I have checked and the pump is wired correctly - power to the float switch is uninterupted except by fuse.

OK so that's all figured out. Now, anyone have a suggested technique for mounting the second pump with the engine still in place? I'm thinking set the pump strainer/mount into a big bed of 5200. Man it's tight to get a hand under there. Maybe clean it up and do it better next time the engine is out.

thanks again

2850Bounty;311069 wrote: Bingo!
That's why this is perfect for an alarm/buzzer/light! This circuit is existing!

The helm switch will be left in the OFF position.
If left ON, there is indeed a risk of this "back feed" power exiting other un-wanted items at the helm......... but by the time this would occur, you'd likely have a dead battery bank anyway from the switch being left ON (pump running)!
Remember, we are not powering a float switch from this Helm Switch..... (float switch receives power from an uninterruptible power source)........ this is a Manual Switch ONLY for bilge pump operation!
It is to be left in the OFF position, IMO! (one more good reason for an alarm/light/buzzer at the helm)
(please, no Auto/off/Manul helm switches!.... don't get me started on that again this soon after that recent thread!) :prod


Bartc... good point, but this need not be 180db alarm!
Furthermore, you want your slip neighbors to alert the marina, or you, if this pump is cycling. I would!
Some will place their phone number visible on the boat for this very reason.

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wiring an emergency bilge high water alarm and light 17 Jun 2009 19:00 #12

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So, the verbose explanation paid off then? Good! :D

Have fun with that second pump!

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Rick E. Portland, Oregon
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wiring an emergency bilge high water alarm and light 17 Jun 2009 21:13 #13

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bartc;311001 wrote: ... wiring a loud warning device - such as a horn - to this first pump's float switch might not be appreciated...

I agree. If you need an audible, it would be less pesky to wire it to a secondary float switch -or the second pump - higher than your lowest bilge pump.

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Dave
former boats: 87 Chaparral 278; 97 Maxuum 2100; 75 Catalina 27; 2000 Seaswirl 200
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