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The Importance of a Reliable Bilge Pump for Boat
It’s a perfect day on the water.
The sun is shining, the wind is in your hair, and all seems right with the world.
But, just like the unpredictable nature of the ocean itself, the calm can quickly turn into a raging storm when you are on a boat.
For any knowledgeable or experienced boater venturing into the unknown, blue waters, there is one tool aboard a boat that is simply unnegotiable.
That tool is a bilge pump for your boat!
The bilge pump is the one onboard tool that always works for your safety on the water.
Often, it does so without ever being noticed. But don’t underestimate its power.
While you are enjoying your day on the ocean, lake or other body of water, this little machine works tirelessly to keep your boat dry and free from water that builds up in your bilge.
For any boater who has been on the water for a minute, you know what a bilge pump is and why they are so critical to your boating success.
In fact, you’ve probably had one go out and can bear witness, firsthand, to how critical this little pump can be.
If you’re new to the water, a bilge pump is simply a mechanical pump that takes the excess water in the bilge of your watercraft and pumps it overboard to help keep you floating.
Bilge pumps can be automatic, triggered by the use of a float switch that turns on when enough water collects, or manual, that is run by being turned on at a switch.
Either way, this powerful little tool is the workhorse of your treasured vessel.
In this article, we embark on a guide to some of the most popular and reliable bilge pumps that boaters can find online today.
So tighten your life jacket and let’s navigate the waters of this absolute necessity, a bilge pump for boat!
Best Overall Automatic Pump with Floatswitch Included
MAXZONE Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump 12v 1100gph Auto with Float Switch
First up on our list of popular bilge pump for boat options is the MAXZONE automatic submersible boat bilge pump with an integrated float switch.
This powerful little pump comes n two different sizes, one providing pump capacity of 750 gallons per hour and the other providing an 1100 gallons per hour pump capacity.
This 12-volt setup is a great little system for boaters because it is built with an internal float switch that tells the pump when to turn on to start pumping water.
Equipped with an electronically controlled reed sensor system this pump provides fully automatic operation for boaters.
Featuring an easy-to-clean snap lock strainer base for quick and easy maintenance, and 39 inch long electrical leads, this is a great option for any boater in the market for pumps of this capacity.
Overall a great little powerful unit especially at the price point!
Best Overall Non-Automatic Bilge Pump
MAXZONE Submersible 1100 GPH Non-Automatic Marine Bilge Pump
Next up on our list of best bilge pumps for boats is the MAXZONE 1100 GPH Non-automatic bilge pump.
This 12V marine bilge pump is a powerful little machine, especially at its price point.
Built to handle harsh marine environments, this water-cooled pump is designed for long life in your boat.
Featuring an easy-to-clean snap-lock strainer base for easy maintenance and a compact, efficient long-life motor, this powerful little pump is a great solution for hardwiring into your manual bilge pump switch for long-term reliability.
The pump is 100% submersible up to 3 meters in the water, allowing for use in harder-to-reach sections of your bilge.
This pump comes in a variety of different featured capacities including: 500GPH, 750GPH, 1100GPH, and 2000GPH.
A great option for any boater looking for a non-automatic pump that is built with power and reliability in mind.
Best Overall Low Profile Bilge Pump
Rule LoPro Series Bilge Pumps
Looking for a bilge pump that is low profile for those hard-to-reach places in your boat’s bilge?
The Rule LoPro series is a perfect solution for boaters who need either an automatic or non-automatic bilge pump that provides compact, horizontal, or vertical mounting with 360-degree discharge options.
This low-profile pump is built by trusted marine products manufacturer Rule, who has been in the business of marine products since the 1930’s and has always been a popular brand in bilge pumps.
With a flow rate of 900 GPH, this powerful little low-profile pump provides a swivel mount discharge system that provides 180-degree movement.
The automatic version features a built-in pump sensor that pumps when water is present even in the tightest spaces on your boat.
While most boaters can opt for a more traditional bilge pump, this system is great for boaters who need to conserve space (hello sailboat owners!) but still need a powerful pump system present.
Best Overall High Capacity Bilge Pump
Seaflo 4700 GPH 12v Heavy Duty Electric Bilge Pump
Need a bilge pump for a heavy-duty application?
The Seaflo 4700GPH heavy-duty electric bilge pump might be the best option for the money.
Featuring over 4000 gallons per hour capacity, this pump is sure to move the water from places in your boat that need serious pumping.
With a four-year included warranty, this powerhouse machine does the heavy lifting for boats that are in need of more water pumping than traditional setups.
Available in both 12-volt and 24-volt configurations, this completely submersible pump features sealed, long-life motors, quiet operation, and run-dry capability.
Great for boats over 60 feet, or in other alternative marine applications, this powerful pump is a great option for the more heavy-duty bilge pump demands.
Best Warranty Bilge Pump
Rule Gold Series Bilge Pumps
Next up on our list of boat bilge pumps is the best option for boaters looking for a longer warranty life than traditional bilge pump models.
Another pump from Rule, The Rule Gold Series bilge pumps come complete with a 5-year warranty as opposed to the more traditional 2-year warranty on the “regular” Rule pumps.
The Rule Gold Series comes in three different capacities that include a 1500GPH model, a 2000GPH model and a 3700GPH model.
Each model provides high-capacity pumping and long-term reliability at a significantly lower cost than traditional models.
Like most of the bilge pumps on our list, the Rule Gold Series features an easy maintenance snap-lock strainer base that makes for easy clean-up when necessary.
They also feature overall rust and corrosion protection and silent, vibration-less operations for boaters.
Best Hand-held Manual Bilge Pump
Better Boat Manual Bilge Pump
Next up on our list is a tool that every boater should have stashed away on their boat somewhere.
A manual bilge pump is something that might not seem necessary at first, but in times of need, can be a boater’s best friend.
If you experience power outages on your boat for whatever reason, your electronic bilge pumps will inevitably stop working.
In an emergency situation, having a hand-held manual pump can be the difference in getting back to the dock.
This Better Boat bilge pump provides up to 20 gallons per minute pumping through a handheld application.
The 60″ hose helps you reach deep areas in your boat to discharge excess water with ease.
Lightweight and easy to store, this pump is a great emergency back-up option for any boater.
It also works great in applications like small dinghies or kayaks where no battery source for a traditional bilge pump is present.
A great emergency back-up option for anyone on the water!
Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump
If you’re looking for a proven marine company you might want to give our next bilge pump option on our list a look.
The Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump is manufactured by boating company Attwood, which has been manufacturing boating products for over 100 years.
The Attwood Sahara series comes in three styles in different capacities for boaters.
These include 500, 750 & 1100 gallon-per-hour models.
Each system contains a fully automated bilge pump unit with a motor and float switch integrated.
Each model includes an adjustable float switch on the back of the unit providing easy testing and setting for your unique vessel.
Shoreline Marine Bilge Pump
Looking for a pump that easily integrates with existing bases so you can minimize replacement efforts?
The Shoreline Marine Bilge Pump is available in three unique sizes that include 600, 800, and 1100-gallon-per-hour pumps.
One of the key features of the Shoreline Marine pumps is the ability for the unit to click into existing competitors’ bases without any modification.
For many boaters, this helps to simplify the replacement process as existing base mounts can potentially be used with the Shoreline Marine pump.
However, it should be noted that this series of pumps is non-automatic and require an external float in order to be automatic as the pump is not integrated with a built-in float switch.
All in all, a great option with a range of capacities to meet the needs of most boaters.
Rule High Capacity Automatic Bilge Pumps
Next up in our list of top boat bilge pumps is another series from trusted marine brand Rule.
These high-capacity automatic bilge pumps utilize a different technology for water detection and pumping than other models we have listed previously.
With the Rule High Capacity Automatic pumps, the system turns the pump impeller every 2.5 minutes for one second to detect water.
If water is present then the Rule automatic pump continues to run until all water is drained.
This series from Rule comes in four capacities that meet the demands of most boaters.
This includes 1500, 2000, 3700, & 4000-gallon-per-hour units that provide compact and reliable water removal.
Rule Dry Bilge Pump with Panel Switch
Next up on our list of top bilge pumps is some new technology from Rule that eliminates more our your bilge water for a cleaner, better-smelling bilge area.
This dry bilge pump helps make your bilge dryer and better smelling than traditional pump technologies.
Featuring a filter-free design, self-priming to 9.5′, with backflow prevention and its simple design, it makes a great solution for boaters looking for even better bilge management.
This system also comes with a panel switch included for easy addition to your helm.
A very cool solution for more effective bilge management.
Rule Non-automatic 1500 GPH Bilge Pump
If you’re looking for a reliable stand-by for your bilge, the Rule series non-automatic bilge pumps are one of the go-to systems for boaters.
Combined with a float switch, this reliable setup is one of the standard units for many professional fishermen.
This pump provides industry-leading pumping capacity and exclusive design features that have made the Rule brand a leader in the bilge pump space for decades.
With other features such as silent and vibrationless operation, stainless steel shaft, and rust and corrosion resistance, the Rule machine is a stellar option for bilge pumps.
Rule manufactures other capacities of this machine but this model represented is for the 1500-gallon-per-hour model.
Have a look!
Rule “Rule-A-Matic” Bilge Pump Float Switch
The Rule “Rule-A-Matic” float switch has been the choice float switch by many boaters for many years.
This external float switch provides stellar compatibility with most non-automatic bilge pumps and is a necessary add-on for boaters looking for water detection with a non-automatic pump.
We offer it here on our list of bilge pumps for easy reference, but you can check out more information about other float switches in our other articles.
A Bilge Pump for Boat Buying Guide
As we’ve outlined in the products above, a reliable bilge pump is truly the unsung hero and first line of defense for safety in boating.
Whether you are headed offshore to hook into a school of tuna, or headed deep within freshwater waterways, having a reliable bilge pump can be the difference between a safe return to the dock or something much more unpleasant.
However, with so many options for bilge pumps for boats, it can be a bit overwhelming to choose the pump that is best for your unique boating needs.
That’s why we’ve put together the following section for your consideration when choosing the right bilge pump for your boat.
The following considerations will equip you with the best knowledge available to help you choose the best-fit bilge pump for your vessel while providing you with the peace of mind to leave the dock with confidence.
Let’s dive in!
Pump Capacity and Flow Rate:
The first and most important consideration for any boater when it comes to a bilge pump centers around the pump capacity and flow rate that the bilge pump produces.
The bilge pump needs to be able to keep up with and handle the influx of water that gets into your boat (and ultimately the bilge) from rough seas, rain, leaks and other intrusions.
When choosing a bilge pump for boat, it’s important that you look for a pump that is built to handle the flow of water for a boat that is your size and type to ensure that it can handle the expected and unexpected flow of water you might encounter on the water.
Be sure that the pump you choose is built to handle the flow of water in your bilge over and above what you expect.
That way, you can be sure that you have a pump that is large enough to handle even unexpected issues on the water, related to water inside your vessel.
With a bilge pump, this is one place you do not want to be cheap and choose a machine that is less than what you need to save a few bucks!
Do yourself a favor and know that your bilge pump is built to do the job for you so that you can have peace of mind on the water.
Consider your Power Source:
As you probably noticed in our list of recommended products above, there are two primary types of bilge pumps, electric and manual, or hand-operated.
While most boaters opt for electric pumps for convenience and capacity, it is usually a good idea to have a hand-held or manual bilge pump somewhere on your boat in case of power failures.
Since most boaters are looking for an electric bilge pump, it’s important to consider your power source for your boat and how it will connect.
Most manufacturers make their bilge pumps straightforward and easy to connect, but it is still critical for a boater to know how far away from your batteries or other power sources your bilge pumps will be so that you can plan accordingly.
When purchasing, make sure that your chosen pump is easily installed to integrate with your existing power systems, and of course, that your power systems have the power available to run your pump, especially on demand.
Manual vs Automatic Electrical Pumps
Next up with respect to things to consider when purchasing a bilge pump for boat is what type of electric pump you need for your unique watercraft.
Bilge pumps normally come in two different types: those that are automatically triggered to pump water overboard, and those that are manually engaged.
Automatic pumps come with included sensors, float switches, or other devices that tell the pump when it’s time to power up and pump water without you as the Captain needing to do it manually.
Manual bilge pumps, as you probably guessed, are pumps that are activated at a switch to turn on and start working.
For most boaters, it is strongly recommended that you have at least one automatic pump working for you on your vessel at all times.
An automatic pump takes the guesswork out of the boating equation, doing the work for you without you seeing it.
In many cases, boaters will use manual pumps in deeper sections of the bilge or other sections of the boat that need regular but not constant monitoring of water levels.
With the flip of a switch, these areas can be drained through the use of a manual bilge setup.
Reliability of the Float Switch
One of the most important aspects of any automatic bilge pump is the float switch that tells the machine when to power up and start pumping water out of a boat.
The next consideration in our bilge pump buying guide is choosing a float switch that provides powerful reliability on the water.
Float switches come in a number of different types for boaters.
The most common is the lever-style setup that rises with the level of the water in a bilge and turns on once the float is triggered above a specific angle.
Since the float switch is the mechanical apparatus that tells the machine when to power on and off, it is critical to purchase a switch that can last through a lifetime of on/off iterations on your boat.
Cheaper, discount model float switches might save you a couple bucks, but do you really want to stake your boat on something so critical over a few dollars?
Be sure to choose a float switch that is well-reviewed, and able to last he lifetime of your pump itself.
Sizing and Installation areas:
The next consideration for any boater looking for a new bilge pump for boat is the overall size and how the pump will install in the unique bilge sections of your boat.
Every boat’s bilge is a little different.
Typically you will want to install your pump at the lowest part of your bilge so that you can maximize the ability to pump all the water out of the bilge while on the water.
Before you buy a new pump, make sure that it will fit nicely in your bilge area and understand how you will mount the pump for maximum efficiency.
Also, be sure that where you choose to install the pump is easily accessible as you will need to be able to get to it quickly in the event of any emergencies.
Alarms and Monitoring:
Next up, alarms and monitoring of your bilge system.
Some more advanced bilge pumps will come with more advanced monitoring or warning systems to help boaters know if anything is going wrong with their bilge pump systems.
If you have a larger vessel or are powering a network of bilge pumps in hard-to-reach places on your boat, choosing a system that has the capabilities to provide alarms and monitoring may be the best-fit solution for your needs.
While most entry-level boating bilge pumps will not require this type of additional solution, it is critical to be prepared on the water especially if it can help your safety and peace of mind.
Remember! Your bilge pump is working even when you aren’t!
It works at the dock when you are away.
It works offshore while you are focused on your next catch.
It turns on and off thousands of times in a week.
So be sure to choose a model that is durable and quality built to provide you with the confidence necessary on the water.
Next up on what to consider with your bilge pump is the overall energy efficiency of your chosen model.
You do not want to select a pump that constantly drains your batteries of energy and is an overall load hog.
Select models that conserve your battery power, especially on longer voyages.
Customer Reviews & Brand Reputation:
While this is obvious to any boater, choosing a pump that is quality built by a trusted marine brand that has powerful social proof about its durability and reliability should be at the top of your list when purchasing a bilge pump.
Select models that other boaters can vouch for on the water in terms of what you need to keep your boat high and dry.
Choosing from a brand that is trusted in the marine space can help you avoid unexpected pitfalls that untrusted, non-marine brands may cause as a result of their inexperience with boat-specific products.
As you can see, choosing the right bilge pump for a boat can require some thought and research.
In this article, we have tried to shine a light on a list of trusted and well-reviewed bilge pumps to help you narrow your options.
However, it’s important that you choose your product based on the unique needs of your life on the water!
Final Thoughts Bilge Pump for Boat
As we come to the end of our journey exploring some of the best bilge pumps on the market, we hope our resource has provided you with valuable information for your boating life.
No matter what type of boater you are, one thing is constant:
Having a reliable bilge pump is not some sort of luxury on a boat, it is an absolute necessity.
Selecting a quality, dependable bilge pump that works well with the unique setup of your vessel can make all the difference when the unexpected strikes at sea.
The right bilge pump is an assurance of your safety and the safety of your treasured guests onboard your boat that provides the peace of mind to safely sail the seas.
So as you push off from the dock on your next adventure, you can do so with confidence that the best bilge pump is working for you to help ensure your safe arrival in your next port-of-call.
We wish you calm seas on your journey to find the best bilge pump for your needs!
Did you like this article? Did it help your search to find the perfect type of boat? Leave us a comment below and join the conversation!
Or have a look at some of our other marine guides including Gifts for Boat Owners, or informative posts like our Boat Grill Review, Anchor Chain Solutions, choosing the Best Fishing Hats, Selecting the Best Marine Stereo, or our guide to Haulover Inlet!
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