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Emergency Bilge Pumps Kill Switch

Discussion in 'Electronics' started by DOCKMASTER, Nov 25, 2020.

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  1. DOCKMASTER

    DOCKMASTER Senior Member

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    Is there a rule or insurance issue about having an emergency kill switch for bilge pumps? Like most boats, my bilge pumps are direct wired to power and always on. I totally get why that is and it makes sense. However, for my engine room pumps we are installing an emergency kill switch to be able to turn the pumps off if necessary. My reason for this is what if I blow an oil or fuel hose or something that puts a quantity of oil in the bilge? This is unlikely to put the boat in peril from sinking but I sure as heck want that oil contained in the bilge until I can properly clean and dispose. I currently have no way to secure the bilge pumps. Yes, I have a sump below the level of where the pumps are but it is not very big. And if any water is in there obviously oil will float on top and be that much closer to the pumps. Foe peace of mind, we are installing an emergency shut off switch for each pump. I hope to never need them but makes me feel better having them. They will be guarded switches, mounted on the flybridge inside the chart cabinet. This is the same area where I have my emergency bow thruster kill and power steering pump kill switches. Any rules against this or is this a bad idea for reasons I'm not considering?
  2. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    That's what wire snips are for. God forbid someone throws that switch as you leave the boat one night.
  3. MBevins

    MBevins Senior Member

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    I would go one step further for security. Put a red indicator to show that the pumps ARE NOT powered.
    Not difficult, just a slight switch change.
  4. DOCKMASTER

    DOCKMASTER Senior Member

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    You cannot throw the switch without it being purposeful. Even so, I'm only switching the low sump pumps in the engine room. If it filled up that much water would flow to the Laz or fwd machinery space which all have pumps.
  5. DOCKMASTER

    DOCKMASTER Senior Member

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    That's a great idea! Easy enough to add a warning light. I'll bet we can even set this as an alarm on the GOST system and have it warn if the power is off.
  6. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    Most boats have circuits breakers for the float switch feeds, often near the battery switches as you can power the pumps from the always on terminal of the switches

    what I ve done on my 53 Hatteras a few years ago as run heavy gauge wire from the always on terminal of the battery switch to a pump panel at the lower helm

    each of 6 bilge pumps (3700gph) has its own circuit breaker, a green LED showing the pump is active, a manual override switch, a red LED showing the pumpAnd running and another red LED activated by the high water alarm.

    I have two more rows for the shower sunps although without high water led

    measure to read. Green means all good... green plus one red means “go check the bilge” green and two red means “oh s - - t”

    I am planning on adding a buzzer but haven’t had a chance to yet

    reason I like to power the pumps from the always on terminal of the batt switch is that it can’t be forgotten when replacing batteries.
  7. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

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    Agreed. I would not put a kill switch on my automatic bilge pumps. Why introduce another spot for equipment error? How much engine oil is going to get into the bilge - 10 12 gallons? put absorbent material of your choice in there. If its diesel fuel, there should be sufficient shut offs all over the place. If the tank bursts, use the snipers that NYCAP recommends and call your insurance company. To me, the possibility of being in the engine room when the oil or fuel leak starts and you are able to to use that switch is pretty slim, any way. More likely, saltwater or fresh water from a hose would be flooding that bilge, and I'd want all pumps working without question. I will bet with the odds. Its an automatic bilge pump for a reason.
  8. rtrafford

    rtrafford Senior Member

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    Right on, Pascal. One of my best considerations was to install indicator lights at the helms that illuminate when the pumps run. Power is only killed at breakers located near the batteries, not on the panel. High water alarms on everything.
  9. DOCKMASTER

    DOCKMASTER Senior Member

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    I have indicator lights for when pumps are running and high water alarms for all zones on the main panel in the salon as well as on the flybridge. The main panel also has run time indicators so you know if a pump has been running. I also have a high water alarm integrated into my new GOST system that sends notices right to my phone.
    My main concern was from a major fuel spill in the engine room. I carry about 700 gallons in the engine room with tanks connected in series via hoses. If I lose a connecting hose all 3 tanks on one side are going into the bilge.
    Anyway, I appreciate everyone's feedback. Great input as usual from this forum.
  10. rtrafford

    rtrafford Senior Member

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    I get the concept. On my boat in your hypothetical situation I'd simply trip the breakers at the battery switched dedicated to the pumps impacted by the spill. In a rush I also suppose I could reach down and yank the pumps up out of their sump.
  11. DOCKMASTER

    DOCKMASTER Senior Member

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    I don't have breakers for the bilge pumps. If that was the case I wouldn't need a switch. I was under the impression most boats don't have breakers for bilge pumps for the very same reason others are advising against a kill switch.
  12. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Ever have a child on board? They touch everything. Are the odds better that you'll pump a bunch of oil into your bilge than that the switch will get turned off by accident? You're talking about running wires and installing a switch to solve an unlikely issue that can be resolved by a snip of your Leatherman if it ever happens, and risk having one of your bilge pumps disabled.
  13. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    There will often be a breaker for the manual override in case someone were to leave it turned on, but not on the direct feed.
  14. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

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    If you are concerned about the tank hoses, change them?
  15. rtrafford

    rtrafford Senior Member

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    You don't have breakers on the panel for the pumps. Don't want them to be an easy mistake for shutdown. Place some dedicated inline breakers or fuses at the power source in a place where you can get to them for maintenance purposes. You want those pumps fused to protect from a DC short. DC doesn't play well in a short. You want the fuse to break the current.
  16. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    I absolutely hate inline fuses. It’s a cheap and easy way out. If you re concerned about a breaker being turned off accidentally it means they’re in the wrong spot.... otherwise you can easily add a flip off guard on the breaker. Much better than fuses.
  17. rtrafford

    rtrafford Senior Member

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    We use Minn Kota (or Blue Sea) inline breakers. Rated to the spec of the pump with a tolerance for distance. We refer to them as fuses as to not confuse them with panel breakers.