Bilge Pumps

Marine Bilge Pumps for Your Boat

At iboats.com offers a massive range of bilge pump models from brands such as Rule, Johnson, Attwood, SeaSense, Seachoice, and Jabsco. Choose from a wide selection of GPH ratings (gallon per hour), outlet sizes, voltages, and choice between Automatic pump vs. manual pump, or cartridge vs. non-cartridge. Are you looking to make that manual bilge pump automatic? No problem, we have a wide selection of floats and switches that give you the ability to choose how and when you want your bilge pump to activate, as well as replacement cartridges to keep your pump working smoothly.


About Bilge Pumps

Submersible bilge pumps are a necessity for almost every boat. At iboats.com offers a massive range of bilge pump models from brands such as Rule, Johnson, Attwood, SeaSense, Seachoice, and Jabsco. Choose from a wide selection of GPH ratings (gallon per hour), outlet sizes, voltages, and choice between Automatic pump vs. manual pump, or cartridge vs. non-cartridge. Are you looking to make that manual bilge pump automatic? No problem, we have a wide selection of floats and switches that give you the ability to choose how and when you want your bilge pump to activate, as well as replacement cartridges to keep your pump working smoothly.

Bilge Pumps How-Tos

Identifying Your Ideal Bilge Pump System

When choosing a primary or secondary bilge pumpfor your boat, there are many factors to address, such as gallon-per-hour rating, mounting location, cartridge versus non-cartridge, quantity, and brand.

With an ocean of articles covering these subjects, I'm skipping ahead to an aspect of bilge pump selection less commonly addressed: choosing a bilge pump system and component type that's most ideal for your boating routines and needs, primarily dealing with automatic versus manual bilge pumps, and the switch options and variations to control the pumps.

Since slight variations in terminology can indicate different products/traits, it's important to understand the different primary components most commonly used for standard systems:

Float-switch: mounts to the bottom of the bilge, which works much like any other float-switch; when water levels increase, the float is raised, which activates the the pump. Manual Bilge pumps that utilize float-switches become automated, and are commonly referred to as "automatic bilge pumps"

Bilge pump switch(non-float): mounts to the dash. Depending on the switch, you'll have the option of on/off or Auto/Manual/Off. "Manual" or "On" will be for when you want the pump on, regardless of water level readings by the pump (or float-switch). Auto will activate the functionality of the float-switch or built in sensor, allowing the bilge-water removal process to be automated.

Automatic Bilge Pump: have built-in water sensors that periodically turn on to check for water. If water is present, the pump will activate. The sensor will usually turn on once every few minutes. The advantage of automatic pumps is that you get an automated water evacuation system without requiring any components other than the pump and wiring hardware to connect to the electrical system, which is simple and takes up minimal space. The biggest disadvantages of an automatic bilge pump, assuming it's not connected to a switch, is that if the pump is not disconnected from the battery, it's sensor will continue to periodically activate. If you store your boat outside of the water, this feature becomes pointless and will slowly drain your battery. The second disadvantage is the lack of manual on/off control, though there are some exceptions.

Manual Bilge Pump: activated by either a float-switch or a (dash mounted) bilge pump switch. If a float-switch is used, the pump becomes an automatic bilge pump, but rather uses a float-switch to activate the pump rather than the water sensor. It's common for manual pumps to be sold with float switches and be labeled as as Automatic. If you have a system consisting of manual bilge pump, float-switch, and bilge pump switch, you'll have full control of how and when the pump activates. The auto feature will use the float-switch to activate the pump, with on/off turning the pump on/off regardless of float-switch readings.

With the above components options, you have several ways you can choose to manage your primary or back-up bilge pumps system:

  • Manual bilge pump with 3 way pump switch and float-switch: complete control of your pump including choice of automated water evacuation.
  • Manual bilge pump with float-switch: becomes automatic, but doesn't allow for direct on/off control.
  • Automatic Bilge pump with 2 or 3 way pump switch: ability to turn it completely off. Some Automatic pumps give the ability to manually turn the pump on, which would have the same results as a manual bilge pump system that uses both a float-switch and a bilge pump switch.
  • Automatic Bilge Pump with no switches: ability to manually turn on or off (some exceptions) and will drain battery if not disconnected.

Relatively speaking to the rest of boating, pumps and components are exceptionally inexpensive, making not "cheaping-out" almost painless.

If you're in the market, we carry bilge pumps from Rule, Johnson, Attwood and SeaSense who all offer a wide variety of top quality pumps, cartridges and switches. Addionally, with the iboats.com Low Price Guarantee, you can be sure to get the very best price available.