Duncan Kent tests the Bilge Pro Switch and thinks he has found a simple solution to bilge pumping
Most electric bilge pumps are pretty robust and reliably extract water when they’re powered up. However, the weakest link in the auto pump circuit is always the switch. In my experience they tend to become fouled with debris or they ingest water and drown.
The Bilge Pro detector switch has been designed to combat both these problems, and more. The switch is actually a fully-encapsulated slab of yellow plastic with no moving parts. This slab incorporates six water level sensors, or three pairs. Each of the pair is identical, but separate, so that each sensor has a backup in the event of one of them failing. The lower two switch the pump off, the middle ones activate it and the top two trigger a high-water level alarm whilst continuing to pump. There’s also a ‘test’ pad at the top, which will run the pump manually on a ‘touch to start’ and ‘touch to stop’ basis, by holding it for three seconds each time. The switch also has a ‘pump kick’ feature built in that runs the pump for half a second every 24 hours to ensure that it doesn’t seize through lack of use.
Another weak link in the chain can be the electrical connections, as they are often in the bilges, where any bare metal corrodes very quickly. The Bilge Pro Switch comes with pre-wired, waterproof (IP67) plugs and sockets, avoiding the need for terminal blocks of any sort. A compatible plug kit for the bilge pump wires is also supplied.
The switch worked perfectly each time we tested it. It needs the sensor to be totally submerged before it triggers the pump. This damping effect means that a small amount of water splashing back and forth over the sensor doesn’t keep switching it on and off rapidly.
According to our meter the switch drew 13.2mA in idle mode, which is around 10Ah per month – fairly insignificant unless your pump is cutting in regularly. The switch can cope with pumps drawing up to 20A continuously. The remote panel is stylish but very simple. It has just three LED indicators, for power, pump run and alert, and a push-button test and reset facility. Multi-channel panels are available for boats with more than one pump. The switch functions perfectly well without a remote panel, but you’ll have no audible alarm or status indicators.
Price Switch £99.96; Single panel £87.72
Contact Energy Solutions Tel 01634 290772 www.energy-solutions.co.uk