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Get Rid of Excess Water With the Best Bilge Pump

best bilge pump in 2024

Just like a car owner, each person who owns a boat treats it like a child. Therefore, taking care of it becomes their top responsibility. Whether you're a sailor, fisherman, or just a regular boater there's no way to prevent water from seeping into your boat. No matter how much you try to sidestep it, be it rainwater or ocean spray, water will find one way or another.

This is where a good bilge pump comes in! Designed to remove excess water from the bilge, modern bilge pumps can be manual, automatic, electric, or even centrifugal. Designed to be mounted to the lowest part of the bilge to be fully functional, even though they are not compulsory they are a necessity.

To help you out, we’ve curated a list of the leading bilge pumps of 2024!

Our Top Picks

  • Top Pick: MAXZONE Bilge Pump Shop Now ➔
  • Most Affordable: MAXZONE Automatic Bilge Pump Shop Now ➔
  • Easy To Install: Shoreline Marine Bilge Pump Shop Now ➔
  • Comes With Warranty: Dontmiss Automatic Bilge Pump Shop Now ➔
  • Best Performance: Creatorele Bilge Pump Shop Now ➔
  • 1 Features To Look For in a Bilge Pump
  • 3 Automatic
  • 5 Installation

Which type of bilge pump is suitable for large boats?

Why do small boats need high-capacity pumps, is one pump enough for my boat, which type of switches are best, do i really need a bilge pump, related reviews, compare the premium bilge pumps of 2024.

bilge pump reviews

MAXZONE Bilge Pump

While MAXZONE’s Bilge Pump is tremendously cheap in comparison to its competitors, this in no way means that the brand compromises on its features. Featuring a flow rate of 1100 GPH at 12V, it’s suitable for all kinds of water vessels, including fishing boats, cruises, and yachts. Compatible with hydraulic systems which utilize cold water, it has a moisture-tight seal that enables the motor to work very efficiently. Other admirable features include ignition protection and ABS-exclusive construction. 

The pump has a lockable strainer base that acts like an automatic bilge pump. Additionally, it has a head of up to 13 feet, resulting in distant water expulsion.

  • Great for those on a budget 
  • Can withstand various environments
  • Produces loud sounds

Most Affordable

bilge pump reviews

MAXZONE Automatic Bilge Pump

This device by MAXZONE is an all-in-one pump. Fully automatic and capable of operating as a controlled reed sensor system with a maximum flow rate of 11000 GPH at 12V, it has a built-in float switch. This means that this pump uses energy only after its activation and stops usage after it has shut down. Featuring a nylon hose barb that allows multiple connection options, the device has a prolonged life motor with an anti-fouling impeller and ABS exclusive moisture seal. The strainer base is also detachable, which makes cleaning and maintenance easy. 

It also works very well for small and larger boats!

  • Material is durable 
  • Occupies little space
  • Excellent option as a backup pump
  • The float switch is not highly sensitive

Easy To Install

bilge pump reviews

Shoreline Marine Bilge Pump

Shoreline’s Marine Bilge Pump is without a doubt one of the best in the industry. Capable of being submerged and operating on a pumping capacity of 600 GPH, it is small, compact, and exemplary if you’re looking for something modest. Featuring a very low current of 3A, all of its hardware uses stainless steel with marine-grade lead wiring. 

Even though the pump itself is pretty inexpensive, if you’re looking for it to be automatic you’ll have to add a few additional parts to the total cost, such as a float and switch. While it isn’t as fast as other pumps, it comes with a mounting bracket and a guide which makes it user-friendly.

  • The removable design allows for easy cleaning
  • The secure clip offers easy installation
  • The mounting system is universal
  • Operation is silent 
  • It may have a weak pressure

Comes With Warranty

bilge pump reviews

Dontmiss Automatic Bilge Pump

This bilge pump by Dontmiss is making its mark in the market at the moment. Extremely powerful and supporting both automatic and non-automatic connections, the installment features different colored wires for your desired operation mode. With the built-in electronic sensor system being responsible for promoting a more complete automatic function, Dontmiss ensures zero energy consumption. 

Outing a capacity of 750 GPH and a flow rate of 12.5 gallons per minute at 12V, an integral float switch eliminates the need for an additional one. Adding to its functionality, it is inaudible and vibrationless, and the added quick-release strainer makes its maintenance a little easier. 

Even though it’s not a well-known brand, you can rest assured that Dontmiss will last for years to come. 

  • The motor is sealed and doesn’t burn out
  • Comes with a one-year warranty
  • Resistant to rust and corrosion
  • The float switch malfunctions

Best Performance

bilge pump reviews

Creatorele Bilge Pump

This manual bilge pump is fully submersible and extremely easy to use. Ideal for small boats and fishing boats, it has a rated voltage of 12V and a capacity of 1100 GPH. Being one of the reasons for the commendable efficiency of this pump, the stainless steel shafts and ABS plastic pumps of this bilge pump are resistant to different impacts. 

The discharge port has a nylon pump that accommodates all kinds of joints. And when it comes to cleaning, Creatorele offers an instruction manual to make the job easier, resulting in maximum productivity and extended usage.

  • It’s very affordable
  • It’s extremely versatile
  • The parts deter corrosion 

Buyer’s Guide: Finding Your Next Bilge Pump

Commonly referred to as nuisance water, not having a quality bilge pump can destabilize your boat and damage your machinery. More importantly, it may sink your boat within minutes.

Features To Look For in a Bilge Pump

A bilge pump is a handy, essential tool that quickly pumps out gallons of water. Taking into account different boat sizes and environments of the boats, here are a few things to look for when purchasing a bilge pump:

The size of the bilge pump is dependent on the gallons of water it is capable of throwing out. You’ll most likely use these pumps in tricky situations, so it’s better to choose a larger pump with a high flow rate as it will be effective in case of emergencies. There is no standard size of a bilge pump, but one with a discharge capacity of 1000 gallons per hour or more should be good enough for both small and large boats.

With a built-in float switch, it works through an integrated sensor system. Fast and thorough, a bilge pump saves the user from the trouble of finding a separate switch. All in all, it’s also the best and most effective option.

The model of your bilge pump will depend on your needs as both models have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, while manual pumps are more suitable for small boats they are easy to manage and do not require any technical skills to operate them. Nevertheless, as a downside they may not be quick enough in certain situations—so it is preferable to have an electric bilge pump with a backup manual pump in bigger boats.

An automatic electric pump is quicker and proved to be more effective. The float switch, upon activation, removes all unwanted water before it can cross normal levels. Dying your boat in a few minutes, having a manual pump as a backup is great to have as a precaution in case of short circuits or a low battery.


The bilge is the narrowest space in a boat, which is why it is not easy to install a bilge pump or any other gear in it. Therefore, it is also necessary to make sure the pump fits into the bilge safely. Even though the expulsion volume should be a primary factor in choosing the size of a bilge pump, it may be useless if it cannot be easily installed and worked to its full potential. The strainers of the pump should be easily accessible for cleaning as well. This is why experts recommend getting pumps with removable strainers.

A diaphragm pump uses a rubber or plastic diaphragm for water intake and output. Efficient yet but susceptible to clogging, the centrifugal pump works through a spinning impelling. It sucks water and discharges it with pressure, making it an extremely reliable and fuss-free option.

People Also Asked

Centrifugal pumps are the preferred choice for bigger boats as they need pumps with a higher capacity that quickly do the job.

Small boats can overflow with water and sink faster due to small hull volume and bilge. Therefore, they need the fastest water discharge.

While having one pump on hand will work for a small boat, as a boat's size increases you will need to mount more pumps for efficient water removal. To ensure your bilge pump is compatible with your boat, consider taking a quick look at the product description prior to purchasing.

Automatic, built-in switches with controlled sensors are most effective and rightfully popular. Known for their ease, they’re a great option for professionals and beginners alike.

Not having a bilge pump makes you susceptible to sinking at sea, which can be a dangerous and potentially fatal scenario. 

Article Contributors

Sail magazine review team.

SAIL Magazine Review Team reports on best-selling products in sailing and boating. SAIL Magazine is reader-supported: When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Artificial Intelligence (large language models) may have been used in the research and creation of the content.

To ensure questions about product testing or a specific article are addressed, please contact [email protected]

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Ranking The Best Boat Bilge Pumps On The Market

Rule 2000 Non-Automatic Pump

Rule 2000 Non-Automatic Pump

Johnson Pump 22702 Pro-Line Bilge Pump

Johnson Pro-Line Marine Pump

Shoreline Marine 600 Pump

Shoreline Marine 600 Pump

Joe Appleton

If you’re a regular boater you’ll know just how persistent water can be. Even the best sealed hulls can be penetrated. Water finds a way of ending up in your hull; it can be rain water, it can be the result of a rogue wave or two, and sometimes, it can be from a leak. While a bit of rain and a small puddle of water from a wave won’t sink you, they’re not ideal to have standing around.

Excess water can cause your boat to become unstable. It will be harder to handle and may not respond to your steering so well. And that’s why you need a bilge pump. A good bilge pump will keep your boat water-free and running true. That’s why we’ve put together a helpful list of the best bilge pumps currently for sale!

But before we get started, what is a bilge pump and what do you need it for?

What Is A Bilge Pump?

A bilge pump is a special device that safely removes water from the bilge section of a vessel. The bilge is the lowest interior part of a boat’s hull. It’s where excess water collects, usually rain water or from waves. A pump’s job is to remove that water using either pressure or a vacuum-like suction, and pumping it overboard. Too much bilge water can cause a boat to sink. And that’s not what you want!

Do you need one though? Yes. Having a bilge pump is a good idea, even if you only own a kayak or a little rowing boat. Small hand bilge pumps are great for that. If you have a large boat, then you’d certainly need one. If you have a very large boat with multiple hull compartments, then you’d probably need one for ever compartment too.

But which pump is the best one to buy?

Rule are an industry leader when it comes to marine pumps, so you can rely on the quality of their products. This pump, the Rule 2000, is a versatile pump that can be used for a wide range of applications and vessel sizes. Ideally suited for boats up to 28 ft, the 2000 model is able to pump water up to 10ft in height vertically, or up to as much as 20 ft both horizontally and vertically.

The Rule 2000 bilge pump isn’t automatic, so it needs to be paired with a sensor or a float switch. You will also need to fit it to a panel-mounted on, off, and auto, switch to make the most of this pump. It’s available with three voltage options, 12 volt, 24 volt, and 32 volt.

It’s a highly efficient pump that’s completely submersible, and as its name suggests, it’s capable of pumping up to 2000 GPH, which is an absolutely enormous figure compared with other pumps on the list. If you have a large boat, this might not be enough, but Rule have a number of larger sized pumps that will certainly meet your requirements.

Compared with some others on the list, this is quite an expensive product, but it’s worth the money. Many reviewers have tried cheaper products, and with some degrees of success too, but many of them find themselves coming back to Rule bilge pump products time and time again.

  • Buy on Amazon   →
  • Buy on Walmart   →

Very powerful pump with compact design

100% submersible pump

3 Year manufacturer’s warranty

Pump Capacity: 2000 GPH

This Johnson bilge pump is a great all ‘rounder. It boasts impressive statistics, comes at an affordable price point, and is built to the high standard that you’d expect from a brand like Johnson Pumps of America. It’s manually-activated pump with a decent flow rate, wrapped in a compact package with easy installation.

It’s a fully-submersible pump with an output of 750 GPH. Each pump comes equipped with ignition protection, anti-air lock protection, and a ¾ inch outlet diameter which can accept after-market hoses with ease, should you want to move the outpouring water to a specific location. It also features a base strainer to help keep the pump clean.

Since it’s a manual bilge pump, it needs to be turned on before it can operate. However, it can easily be turned into an automatic device by installing a float and a float switch.

Each pump passes through a rigorous quality assurance process before being shipped, with each product being 100% factory tested. The reliability is one of the reasons that many boat operators choose this unit. That, and the fact that it’s often a perfect replacement for OEM pumps.

It also ships with a 3 year warranty, which should make this inexpensive marine pump an appealing purchase.

Low-maintenance, high-performance pump

Anti-airlock protection

3 year manufacturer’s warranty

Pump Capacity: 750 GPH

This small pump is the best automatic bilge pump if you’re looking for an inexpensive, small, and compact pump with a modest pumping capacity. It’s fully submersible too, which means you don’t have to worry if you need it to operate underwater.

It’s very simple to install, and doesn’t require too much technical know-how to get it running. It features marine grade bilge pump wiring, a low operating current, and ignition protection. It’s a manual pump—meaning that it needs to be switched on to operate—but it can be made automatic with the installation of a few extra parts. A float and switch is required if you’re hoping for automatic operation, so factor that into your costs.

Each pack comes with a mounting bracket, stainless steel hardware, tinned marine grade lead wires, a universal mounting base, and a wiring diagram to help point you in the right direction during installation.

Though it’s rated at 600 GPH, many reviews have stated that this figure might be a little optimistic. However, if you’re looking for an inexpensive pump that will do the job, but perhaps not as fast others, this is the one for you—providing that you’re only operating a small vessel though.

  • $18.99 Walmart   →

Universal mounting system

Hose attachment for ¾” I.D. bilge hose

Quiet operation

Pump Capacity: 600 GPH (claimed)

Seattle Sports Paddler’s Bilge Hand Pump

Seattle Sports Paddler’s Bilge Hand Pump

We decided to kick-start the list with a manual bilge pump. It’s not automatic, electric, or powered by anything except from your own sweat and elbow grease. This budget-focused hand pump is perfect for clearing small volumes of water that may have infiltrated your hull.

The actual pump is fairly simple to operate. It sucks in water when you pull the handle, and disperses it when you push it down. It has been designed to accommodate a hose if you need to move your water to a specific location. The ergonomic handle is coated in an easy-grip rubber for comfort, making it breeze to use, even in challenging conditions.

Seattle’s sports pump is 12 inches long, with a diameter 1.75 inches. It features a special foam collar that keeps the pump afloat if it accidentally falls overboard, with a high-visibility neon yellow finish to make it easy to spot.

The Seattle Sports Paddler’s pump is capable of displacing up to 480 GPH, but achieving that kind of performance demands constant pumping, so it’s not actually for large water craft. However, these small devices are ideal for a kayak bilge pump, or for small inflatable boats. They can also be used as a backup pump for larger vessels, but we don’t recommend relying on one of these in an emergency.

  • $25.35 Walmart   →

Easy-to-operate hand pump

High-visibility finish

Floats on water

Pump Capacity: 480 GPH

SeaSense Bilge Hand Pump

SeaSense Hand Bilge Pump Hose

Next, we’ve got another hand bilge pump. In truth, this model from SeaSense is very similar to the Seattle pump listed above, but there are some differences that might make it a more suitable option for some boaters. Since hand pumps are fairly rudimentary there aren’t many features that make one better than other.

The SeaSense pump has a tubular shape with a large pumping handle. The handle isn’t particularly special but it’s comfortable enough for repetitive pumping, and large enough to fit most hand sizes. Like most hand pumps, you pull the handle to draw in water, and push it back down to push the water out. This one comes with its own hose though, so you don’t have to attach your own. The ribbed hose is 36 inches long, and screws directly into the pump.

If you pump for around 3 minutes with moderate effort, it’s possible to displace up to 40 gallons of water—which is quite efficient. It’s actually possible to displace up to 800 GPH, if you’ve got the energy to keep pumping for a full hour.

One of the best features of this pump is that it comes in a variety of sizes. This means you can select a model with the right length and diameter for your needs. Naturally, if you choose a larger diameter that displaces more water per pump, then you’ll have to pay a little bit more for the pleasure.

Inexpensive pump for small vessels

36 inch hose as standard

Lightweight and easy to store

Pump Capacity: 800 GPH

Attwood Sahara Automatic Marine Pump

Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump

This Attwood bilge pump is an ideal choice for those looking for a pump with automatic activation. It switches on when it interacts with water, sucking out any excess water when necessary, leaving you to focus on other tasks, or relax. It’s an affordable low-maintenance, low-effort solution.

Attwood has been at the forefront of marine technology for over 100 years. The brand has developed a reputation for the manufacture of reliable and high-quality marine goods, from efficient fuel systems to swim ladders and lighting. You can really rely on their products.

The Sahara model is more than capable of shifting a lot of water in a hurry, so it’s a good product for those with larger boats. It’s rated at 1,100 GPH at full flow, and there aren’t many pumps at similar price points that can boast that kind of performance.

Each pump ships with wire seals, a strainer for filtering out large particles, and an all-in-one mercury-free switch gear. It also comes with 39 inches of 16-gauges tinned and caulked copper wire to aid installation. The actual installation is quick and easy, with the pump and switch fitting into the smallest spaces.

This excellent 12 volt pump is reasonably priced and offers big performance.

  • Buy on Bass Pro   →

High-capacity pump for vessels over 20 ft

Automatic, hassle-free operation

Easy installation

Pump Capacity: 1,100 GPH

Eco-Worthy Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump

ECO-WORTHY Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump

For boaters in need of a large volume pump but with tight budgets, the Eco-Worthy water pump is an ideal solution. It boasts a flow rate of up to 1,100 GPH, and it costs less than $25. Even if the product doesn’t tick the right boxes, you really can’t complain about the price.

The flow rate is impressive, but the overall power of the pump is pretty good too, being able to pump water up to 13 ft without struggling too much. For a small 12-volt pump, it’s quite the over achiever.

One of the most talked about features of this pump is the fact that it runs very quietly. In fact, it’s almost silent (if properly installed) and vibration is at a minimum. Maintenance is also fairly quick and painless thanks to the addition of snap-lock strainers, which filter out any detritus and keep your machine running smoothly.

It’s a submersible pump, so it’s built with tough components to defend against harsh marine environments and salt water in particular. For example, it features moisture-tight seals and washers, ignition protection, rust and corrosion protection, stainless steel components, and anti-airlock technology. It can handle the conditions, and the tough components ensure that it will have a long life.

 Amazon  →

Manual pump, but can be made automatic with float switch

High-quality rust and corrosion-proof components.

Pump Capacity: 1,100 GPH (Claimed)

DasMarine 3000 GPH 12V Pump

Das Marine 3000 GPH 12v Boat Marine Plumbing Pump

Lastly, we’ve got this fairly heavy-duty pump from DasMarine. This is a fully-submersible 12 volt pump that’s tough, efficient, easy to install, and relatively inexpensive. Yes, there are cheaper products out there, but there are also more expensive ones too. If you’re looking for a reliable pump that can be used for a wide range of marine applications, then this is a good one to own.

The pump is made from a number of durable, waterproof, rustproof, and corrosion-proof materials, including plastic and stainless steel. It’s built to withstand high-impacts, resist the effects of salt-water, and keep out any unwanted debris or detritus. It has a very useful quick-release strainer for that reason!

DasMarine’s pump claims to displace up to 3,000 GPH, which quite a high-capacity output for such a small machine. It pumps water well, but won’t drain your battery in the process either, since it boasts an efficient, low current draw. Other cool features include ignition protection, water-cooling for the motors, anti-airlock protection, and assurance that it won’t burn out when run dry.

For those looking for a supremely efficient pump that runs silently and vibration-free, that won’t fall apart the minute it’s up to its neck in water, then this is a product worth considering.

$57.95 Amazon  →

Highly efficient low current draw

100% submersible

Versatile, and can be used for boats, spas, bait tanks and more

Pump Capacity: 3,000 GPH (Claimed)

Bilge Pump Buying Guide: All You Need To Know

Now that you’ve got a snapshot of some of the best products on the market, how do you know which one will suit you best?

We’ve put together a short buying guide that covers all of the most important features to look out for when choosing a new pump. Not all pumps are the same, and different types have different strengths and weaknesses. This is just a quick outline of the different types available and what important features that you need to look for, but armed with this knowledge, you should be able to find a pump that suits your needs, fits your budget, and keeps your bilge as water-free as possible!

The Different Bilge Pump Types

For small vessels, a hand pump is fine, but for bigger watercraft, an electric 12v bilge pump will be better. Electric pumps come in a couple of different styles. For the most part, how they operate isn’t that important but we’ll mention the two types before carrying on with the buying guide.

Centrifugal Pumps

Centrifugal pumps operate by using kinetic energy via a rotating impeller. This draws water into the turbine on one side, and discharges it out of the other. These pumps are submersible but they’re not self-priming—that means that they need to be in water to operate. These pumps are easy to maintain, relatively cheap, and have a great output rate.

Since they agitate the water as they process it, any water with oil traces can quickly turn to goo, making the pump almost unusable.

Diaphragm Pumps

Diaphragm pumps are like little aqua vacs. They use vacuum technology to pull water into an intake, and push it out the other side. They don’t need to be submerged to operate (they are self-priming), and they can run dry without causing damage. They can push water to higher heights than centrifugal pumps, but they suffer from a slower flow rate, and can’t handle any dirt or debris.

So what type should you use? For small craft, a centrifugal pump is the king. It can shift water easily, and do it well. Larger craft may want to have a diaphragm pump, but with a centrifugal pump as a backup. But there are other pump details that you should think about before investing.

best sailboat bilge pump

What Kind Of Pump Do You Need?

Hand pumps are best suited to kayaks, canoes, and small boats. They’re designed to deal with small volumes of water, like a puddle of rain water in a hull, or a few splashes from a rogue wave. They operate like a bicycle pump, and don’t rely on any external power other than your own muscle. These pumps are cheap, practical, and very useful.

Manual Pump

Manual pumps, or rather manual electric pumps, are small compact pumps that sit in your hull, and only begin pumping out water when you switch them on. These pumps are great, and since they don’t rely on any special floats or sensors, they’re very easy to install. Pumps like these are often inexpensive and quite durable too.

Automatic Pump

Automatic pumps require the use of sensors of a float switch, which detect the water level and switch on to deal with it instantly. These pumps are great for those who don’t want the hassle of manually turning things on. They’re not 100% reliable though, so it’s a wise idea to buy one with a manual switch installed so that you can turn it on when you need it.

Features To Look Out For

The flow rate of a pump is the speed and volume that it moves water from one place to another. Generally, this is measure in GPH, or G allons P er H our. This is one of the most important features to pay attention to.

The GPH is important but the number printed on the box isn’t going to be accurate. 500 GPH suggests that a pump could move 500 gallons from one place to another in 60 minutes. Unfortunately, real word conditions and other variables affect that figure greatly. The depth of the water, the length of the hose, the strength of the voltage…these things will reduce a pump’s real pumping power considerably. Always expect far less than quoted.

Still, these figures give a good indication of a pump’s capability. For boats up to 18 ft, a 500 GPH pump will do. Up to 22 ft, you may want to consider a 700 GPH model. All boats over 26 ft will need something over 1,000 GPH at the very least. The more gallons a pump can shift, the better, but for the best results, it’s always wise to have two pumps on the go, rather than just relying on one.

Really small craft, like kayaks and row boats are fine to operate with just a hand bilge pump.


With all that talk of voltage, wires, sensors, and floats, it’s always a good idea to look out for a pump that you are comfortable with installing. Electrics can be a dangerous game, so if you’re not confident with wiring, or understand the basics of circuitry, it might be best to shop for easy plug n play pumps that don’t require any complex installation or any wild modifications to fit your boat hull. Fortunately, there are plenty of pre-packaged, easy-installation models out there.

Water Compatibility

Next, you should think about the kind of water that you’re sailing on. If you’re a coastal cruiser, having a bilge pump that’s not designed to work with salt water could have disastrous consequences. Salt water can attack components, rusting and corroding them. A rusty and corroded bilge pump isn’t going to be much use.

Even if you don’t deal with salt water, look for pumps with high quality components that can handle salty and dirty water. Oil can often get sucked into pumps too, which causes poorly made machines to gum up and fail. Stainless steel fittings, tough plastic, and strong rubber seals are very important things to keep in mind.

Electric pumps that have automatic settings require switches and sensors to operate. If you’re looking at an automatic pump, you need to make sure that it comes complete with all the relevant switches and floats. If it doesn’t, then you’re basically buying a manual pump, and you’ll need to source and install the switches and sensors yourself.

Always make sure you know what you’re buying. If in doubt, read the reviews; if a product comes without the things you’d expect, you can bet that someone in the comments and reviews section has mentioned it. Probably quite explicitly too.

Sound & Vibration

Another feature to check the comments section about is the amount of sound and vibration a pump makes. While it’s hardly the most important feature of a pump, a noisy pump with too much vibration may drive you mad in the long run. If a sound annoys you, or a vibration bothers you, then it will make you hate using your boat. It’s best to look for a quiet bilge pump that won’t drive you insane. The reviews will give you real insight into the noise levels of a pump. No manufacturer is going to go out of their way to state that their product is a noisy machine.


Do you want a pump that you can use for a variety of vessels? Or do you need one that’s going to be bolted down and hard wired into your ship’s hull? If you own a number of boats or kayaks, then something that’s small, easy to remove and install, and compact enough to be moved around will be a better investment. Usually, the more portable a pump is, the less powerful it is.

What Is The Best Bilge Pump? In Summary

Even with all of this information and following our buying guide, choosing a pump that suits your needs is no easy task. To make life a little bit easier, here are our top favorites, the best of the best, as it were. Here’s the TL:DR summary for the best of the bilge pumps:

The best bilge pump for boaters on a budget is the Shoreline Marine 600. It’s a small and compact, fully-submersible, automatic pump that has a decent flow rate of up to 600 GPH. Technically, it’s actually a manual pump, but it’s designed to accommodate a float switch that can make it automatic. It’s very cheap, so the fact that you might have to buy a few extras shouldn’t put you off of buying this great little pump.

If you’ve got more cash to play with and you’re looking for a heavy-duty pump that will do the job and then some, then the Rule 2000 is the way to go. Designed for large vessels of over 28 ft, the Rule 2000 can competently shift water in high volumes to heights of up to 10ft and up gentler inclines to over 20ft. In all, it boasts 2000 GPH, and if that’s not enough, Rule sells bigger pumps for even bigger performance.

But if you’re looking for the best pump overall, then we would have to recommend the Johnson Pro-Line marine pump. It’s a submersible, manual pump that can be turned into an automatic one. It’s versatile, compact, and comes with impressive performance and some useful features. The flow rate is 750 GPH, it has air-lock protection, ignition protection, a generic hose-attachment, and a removable strainer.

And if that wasn’t enough, it ships with a 3 year warranty from the manufacturer, which means that it’s a product that you can have confidence in!

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Joe Appleton is an outdoor enthusiast who loves everything from bushcraft and hiking to wild camping and boating. If he’s not out in the woods, you’ll find him out on the water.

Categories : Boats

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Robert Hogward on June 27, 2021

I found your article very informative. Without the pump, the water will not move out of the tank. However, choosing a fresh water pump is overwhelming. There are many variables to take into account, from capacity to noise. Again thanks!

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Best manual bilge pump – 9 top choices

  • January 4, 2024

We like to keep the water on the outside of our boats, but inevitably water gets into the bilge. Either from rain leaks, wave inundation or a host of other reasons. Every boat should be equipped with a manual bilge pump. Here's my pick of the best currently available.

best sailboat bilge pump

Every boat I’ve ever sailed on or cruised in has one or more of these pumps onboard. I’ve had hands on experience of all but one of these pumps. Choose a pump with the capacity to suit your boat but also choose one that can be used easily. You might have an internal pump where it fits in a cupboard for transferring fluids from one tank to another or you might need empty your bilges rapidly after being inundated with a wave. If you find yourself holed and taking on water, and if your electrical system has gone down, assuming you have one in the first place, you’ll be glad of a wise choice of manual bilge pump. Those with removable handles usually come with a lanyard to ensure it doesn’t go walkabout when you need it most.

The pumps are measured in Gallons per minute. The higher the capacity pumps require a fair bit of physical effort, so it’s a good idea to have two pumps onboard, one for every day use that’s light and easy, plus something for when the chips are down and you have a lot of water to shift. It’s amazing how much adrenaline can help when pumping water out to save your boat.

At a glance Editors choices: Best manual Bilge Pump

Patay Ocean Master Manual Bilge Pump (Lifeboat Approved) Best manual bilge pump for high volume capacity 

Whale Henderson Pump Mk 5 Best manual bilge pump ease of serviceability

SeaSense Hand Bilge Pump  Best manual bilge pump for portability

best sailboat bilge pump

Whale Gusher 10 Bilge Pump

Specifications:   up to 17 gallons per minute (GPM) Corrosion-resistant construction, ergonomic handle, efficient diaphragm design, Hose Size 38mm / 1-1/2″ Reasons to Buy: High capacity, durable, and offers different mounting options. Reasons to Avoid: Larger in size compared to other pumps.

This Gusher pump is one of the higher capacity commonly available manual pumps currently on the market. It has a really solid metal body and the handle with the ball end is one of the longer ones available. This gives good leverage, but it does mean it can be difficult to operate in a tight space. Spares are easy to find and it is relatively easy to service, though you will need tools to access the diaphragm for servicing.

With each product is a ‘Buy it now’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.

best sailboat bilge pump

Whale Henderson Pump Mk 5

Best manual bilge pump ease of serviceability

Specifications: 42 LPM (11 US GPM) at 45 strokes per minute, 66 LPM (17.5 US GPM) at 70 strokes per minute, bulkhead-mounted or deck-mounted, use with freshwater, saltwater, or waste: Hose Size 38mm / 1-1/2″ Reasons to Buy: robust and durable construction, straightforward to install and maintain, self-priming Reasons to Avoid: might not be ideal for larger vessels or heavy-duty applications, requires periodic maintenance

The Whale Henderson Pump Mk 5 is a popular manual diaphragm pump designed for various marine applications, including transferring water, pumping out bilges, and handling waste. I have this exact model on my Rustler 31. It’s mounted in an impossible to access locker but it is really easy to maintain with service kits readily available at most chandleries. It has a decent flow rate, which is obviously affected by how fit you are. I recommend fitting it where you can move easily to get good access to the handle and for servicing access. Any leaves or other debris being sucked into it will need to be cleared out using the top cap which can be unscrewed. If only you can access it. Can you tell I’m a bit bitter about how mine was installed by the previous owner? It’s great value for money too.

best sailboat bilge pump

Whale Gusher Urchin ND9010 Manual Fluid & Diesel Transfer Pump

Specifications: 36 litres per minute/ 9.5 GPM, hose size 25mm / 1″ Reasons to Buy: Simple design, reliable, and suitable for small to medium-sized boats. Reasons to Avoid: fixed handle cannot be removed

A smaller capacity but reliable manual pump. This one has a fixed handle so it needs to be mounted in such a way to allow the handle to have access at all times. This one is handy for header tanks or gravity feed tanks, day tanks etc and for  moving fluids around on a regular basis. It can be used as a bilge pump, and the diaphragm can be rotated to orientate the handle to the best position.

best sailboat bilge pump

Seaflo Bilge Pump

Specifications: capable of pumping approx. 12 GPM, Available in various sizes (up to 36 inches) Self-priming, easy-to-use, durable plastic construction, and comes with a removable foot for easy cleaning. Hose Connections:34.5 mm (1.36″) Reasons to Buy: Simple design, reliable, and suitable for small to medium-sized boats. Reasons to Avoid: mounting options are more limited than other models of pump

Similar to the Whale Urchin this Seaflo pump has a little higher capacity at 12 Gallons per minute but is also a small unit and takes up little space. The handle can be slotted on and off for use or left in place if using as a fluid transfer pump  indoors. two handle positions so you can find a position or access that works best.

best sailboat bilge pump

Patay Ocean Master Manual Bilge Pump (Lifeboat Approved)

Best manual bilge pump for high volume capacity

Specifications: Robust construction, 135 LPM (29.6 GPM / 35.6 US GPM), suitable for heavy-duty use. Hose Size 38mm / 1-1/2″ Reasons to Buy: Durable, efficient, and offers very high pumping capacity Reasons to Avoid: more expensive compared to other options.

This beast is the most powerful pump I can find for the UK market and understandably this one comes Lifeboat approved. You’ll need deep pockets for this but what price to pay for getting your boat out of deep doo-doo. It can pump 135 litres per minute, or 35.6 of your US Gallons PER MINUTE. I could empty my water tank in less than 60 seconds which is pretty dammed impressive.

The Patay Ocean Master pump is made from a polyester coated aluminium body with a stainless steel pump handle. It is robust and suitable for heavy duty use in the marine environment, making it suitable for workboats and larger leisure craft.

The double diaphragm pump is easily serviceable as access to the pumping chamber.  I personally love a bit of kit that is designed for use without tools. To quickly unclog this, just unscrew the unit by hand using the hand wheels.

best sailboat bilge pump

Edson Aluminum Compact Manual Lever-Action 18 GPM Pump

Specifications: Robust construction, 18 gallons per minute, suitable for heavy-duty use. Hose size 1.5″ Inlet & Discharge Reasons to Buy: Durable, efficient, and offers high pumping rates. Reasons to Avoid: more expensive compared to other options.

The second highest capacity pump in our lineup, but also the second most expensive. You get what you pay for! For our US readers, this Edson Pump is made from Aluminum or also available in bronze, these Edson pumps are the most powerful manual pumps available. Edson also make 30 GPM models of the pump, which puts it on a par with the above Patay pump and they all come with super long handles of at least 18″, with the larger capacity pump handles measuring in at 32″! They are easy to maintain with spare/replacement diaphragms available on the Edson site. Those with traditional wooden craft can rejoice with this type of manual pump. With handles this long you can mount the pump low down and simply stand to pump.

best sailboat bilge pump

Attwood Manual Bilge Pump

Specifications: Up to 8 GPM, Compact, ergonomic T-handle for easy pumping, corrosion-resistant, and suitable for small to medium boats. Reasons to Buy: Lightweight, affordable, and easy to store. Reasons to Avoid: Not as high capacity as some other models. doesn’t come with hose

The Attwood manual pump has a really easy to use handle, the easiest of the three  of this type I have listed. The only downside is that it doesn’t come as standard with the extra hose if you want to pump to a bucket. It’s got a good barrel grip though and feels sturdy to use. As per all of the pumps in this group, they come in different lengths. They are an absolute necessity for emptying your dinghy or rib bilge area after a massive downpour of rain.

best sailboat bilge pump

SeaSense Hand Bilge Pump

Best manual bilge pump for portability

Specifications: Handles up to 8 GPM, Corrosion-resistant, lightweight, and compact design. Comes with a 72-inch hose. Reasons to Buy: Affordable, easy to use, and suitable for small to medium-sized boats. Reasons to Avoid: May require frequent maintenance.

The great thing about the SeaSense manual bilge pump is the long flexible hose that comes as standard and the hose clip on the barrel to help keep the hose form flailing about like an octopus arm when it’s not in use. The shaped T-handle gives a decent grip, though not quite as good as the D shaped grip of the Attwood. For kayaking, canoeing, inflatable tenders, ribs and tight locker spaces in cabin boats, these pumps are brilliant.

best sailboat bilge pump

Beckson Thirsty-Mate 318

Specifications: Available in various sizes (up to 36 inches) Self-priming, easy-to-use, durable plastic construction, and comes with a removable foot for easy cleaning. Reasons to Buy: Simple design, reliable, and suitable for small to medium-sized boats. Reasons to Avoid: May require some effort for continuous pumping.

This handy manual pump is really easy to use, just poke into the area and point the hose into a bucket or over the side if your boat is small enough. I use a  pump just like this one to empty an awkward bilge space on my 31 foot sail boat. Rain water collects in a really small area under a bunk and this is ideal for such a task sucking it dry in seconds. I do find the hose to be a bit of a wild thing sometimes and can be difficult to make sure it stays in my bucket, but it’s really simple and does the job really well. Just beware of that flexible hose. It’s like a baby elephant trunk spraying water all over the place if you aren’t careful.

Marine Expert

12 Best Bilge Pumps – (Reviews & Unbiased Guide 2022)

The best bilge pump can be your lifesaver and the secret hero under your seat while sailing the sea. If you have a reliable, well-built, and quiet unit at hand, this unit will provide great value if water ever breaks into your vessel.

There are numerous models to choose from – automatic, manual, lightweight, heavy-duty, etc. Currents are unpredictable so it’s better to have one pump in operation and another, spare one. You can find both in our reviews. We also created a buying guide to make you more familiar with the bilge pump operation, installation, and most important features of this unit so you can ensure you are fully safe when on water.

See The Quick Comparison Chart

Benefits Of Bilge Pumps

If you have a high-quality, reliable bilge pump, this unit can provide you with a couple of benefits, including the following ones:

1. Portability

You can store your bilge pump anywhere you want. You can move it around your vessel or store it somewhere else in your home, garage, or car when you are not using it. Most units in this category are lightweight but you will come across heavy-duty ones as well. Although categorized as heavy-duty, these units are relatively easy to move as well.

2. Security

A functional bilge pump can get you out of a dangerous situation if water ever gets into the bottom of your vessel. If you have a recreational vehicle such as a kayak or canoe, water can get inside quite easily but if you have a small yacht – you already know you are in trouble when there is water in the underwater part of your boat.

Either way, a bilge pump provides a higher level of safety and makes you feel more confident about being far away from the coast.

3. Space-Saving

Bilge pumps are very practical, helpful, and space-saving units. Storing one on your boat won’t take up much space as most bilge pumps are convenient and rather small so you can tuck your away at the bottom of your boat, just like you would do with your boat anchor and anchor rope .

4. Budget-Friendly

If you are thinking about raw upfront costs of getting a bilge pump, do not fret. These units are affordable, especially when taking into account the value they provide. You can find a good unit for a relatively low price but don’t be afraid to spend a little bit of extra on a bilge pump if you have a larger boat.

Best Bilge Pumps Comparison Chart

Best bilge pumps reviews, 1. seaflo automatic submersible boat bilge water pump 12v.

SEAFLO Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump 12v

Speaking of its build quality, the Seaflo bilge pump is made of high-quality materials – durable plastic (housing) and stainless steel (shaft), which ensures its durability. Corrosion-resistant and rust-proof, this unit can be used in both fresh and saltwater.

Seaflo integrated numerous amazing features into their bilge pump – float-switch test button, ignition protection, and reed sensor system (controlled by electronic). This unit uses no power all until the internal float switch comes in contact with water.

The Seaflo bilge pump is versatile and you can use it for manual override as well. Watertight-sealed, it is almost indestructible, which, again, proves a 4-year warranty Seaflo provides.

  • Silent operations,
  • Doesn’t produce vibrations,
  • Easy maintenance and servicing.
  • Switches off automatically when it detects the level of water dropped significantly, but not fully.

2. SeaSense Hand Bilge Pump Hose

SeaSense Hand Bilge Pump Hose

Yet, you might find this unit useful for bigger boats as well, especially if you can’t access all the areas easily. The SeaSense bilge pump weighs 1 pound and comes with a removable hose so it doesn’t add weight to your boat and it is convenient to store.

Also, the hose is 36 inches long, which ensures there are no blockages and makes the suction more efficient. You can adjust the hose length to the situation you find yourself in.

Corrosion-resistant, the SeaSense bilge pump is durable and suitable for use in freshwater and saltwater. Overall, this unit provides great value for small recreational vehicles despite the fact it is not automatic.

  • Ergonomic handle,
  • Easy to assemble,
  • Long-stroke provides quick water suction.
  • A couple of customers claim the hose tends to leak sometime.

3. Seattle Sports Paddler’s Bilge Hand Pump for Kayaks and Boats

Seattle Sports Paddler's Bilge Hand Pump for Kayaks and Boats

Yet, the Seattle bilge pump features a quick operation although it is a hand-operated unit. Although its draining power also depends on how quickly you can operate it, this pump comes with a hose that ensures a relatively smooth draining but you should be careful about larger particles as it might be prone to clogging.

Equipped with a rubber handle, it prevents slipping and is comfortable to hold. You can disassemble this pump easily when it needs cleaning. Keep in mind the Seattle Sports Paddler bilge pump is designed for intermittent use and with moderate currents only.

  • Neon yellow color can make you more visible when in trouble,
  • The long hose provides a higher draining power,
  • Ideal for small RV.
  • Although this pump works great with topwater, mud and similar particles can cause a stoppage in the hose.

4. Rule Marine Bilge Pump

Rule Marine Bilge Pump

The strength this unit boasts is quite impressive for a non-automatic pump. It allows you to pump water both vertically and horizontally – up to 20 feet. Designed to last, this product comes with a stainless steel shaft and it is corrosion and rust-resistant.

The 1-1/8-inch discharge hose gives provides rapid operation considering the overall size of this pump. A float/panel switch activates the pump, which can seem a bit old-fashioned, but this traditional way of operation ensures a higher level of security and protection when you are on the water.

Efficient, silent, and compact – the Rule marine bilge pump might be a good buy for a fisherman or yachtsman.

  • Completely submersible,
  • Easy-clean,
  • 3-year warranty.
  • There is no drain back valve.

5. Attwood Tsunami Manual Bilge Pump

Attwood Tsunami Manual Bilge Pump

Tsunami performs quite efficiently for its size and it is rated at 500 gallons per hour. You would have to operate it manually but Attwood designed a unit that is straightforward and easy to use, which helps a lot, especially when you are in an emergency situation.

If needed, you can replace the Tsunami’s motor core effortlessly. Eventually, a certain amount of debris will get into the discharge hose but don’t worry – you will take out everything your bilge pump sucked up within just a couple of minutes.

A pump that features the high volume output, innovative, and reliable – the Tsunami bilge pump is completely submergible and leak-free, which is a win-win situation for any boat owner.

  • Patented shaft seal,
  • Corrosion-resistant,
  • Made of topgallant magnets, alloys, brushes, and bearings.
  • Although it features solid capacity, it’s not recommended to use it with major leaks on the open sea.

6. Shoreline Marine Bilge Pump

Shoreline Marine Bilge Pump

A must-have safety accessory on your boat, this bilge pump is super-easy to install and requires very little maintenance. Built of stainless steel hardware, it is suitable for use in saltwater. It comes with a long marine-grade wire that helps you move the pump around your vessel.

Quiet, the Shoreline bilge pump won’t annoy you while operating. Although it requires manual operation, this unit still provides good value for the money while you can install a float switch and turn it to an automatic boat bilge pump.

  • Universal mounting,
  • Lightweight,
  • Easy to install.
  • Not as durable as some other bilge pumps on the list.

7. Amarine Made 1100gph 12v Marine Plumbing Electric Bilge Pump

Amarine Made 1100gph 12v Marine Plumbing Electric Bilge Pump

Not only this pump can make you feel safer but it has a long lifespan. The thermoplastic body, stainless steel shafts, resistant ABS housing, and heavy-duty motor ensure durability and resistance to outer impacts. Moisture-tight and anti-airlock seal reassure of the quality this pump provides.

There are no vibrations with the Amarine bilge pump and it operates quietly. It draws 3Amps when in operative mode and you can use it either manually or automatically. The almost 5-feet long wiring makes it easy to install the pump while the snap-lock strainer ensures very little maintenance.

Amarine designed a bilge pump that meets all safety standards and it won’t burn out if dry.

  • The cooling water system,
  • Ignition-protected,
  • Automatic discharge function.
  • Switch not included,
  • It would be a bit hard to find a suitable hose diameter.

8. Rule 25S-Marine 500 Automatic Marine Bilge Pump

Rule 25S-Marine 500 Automatic Marine Bilge Pump

Yet, although you can find units that pump more than 500 gallons per hour, the Rule bilge pump comes with a wide discharge port hose that makes it super-fast to drain water from your boat. In other words – this pump can stand shoulder to shoulder with pumps that drain let’s say – 750 GPH.

The Rule pump turns on automatically once it senses the water and you don’t need an external switch. Speaking of the size, the Rule marine bilge pump is convenient to store and features a low profile. Needless to say, this is what we would expect from a bilge pump for small vessels).

  • Detachable hose,
  • Long motor-life,
  • This unit doesn’t support standard hose size so you would have to invest some time in finding a suitable hose.

9. Seaflo 2000 GPH 12v Boat Marine Plumbing Electric Bilge Pumps

Seaflo 2000 GPH 12v Boat Marine Plumbing Electric Bilge Pumps

Tough thermoplastic body and stainless steel shafts are a standard in this category but still give you slightly more confident about this unit.

It comes with a heavy-duty motor that supports the above-listed capacity and provides longevity to the Seaflo bilge pump. Yet, even though heavy-duty, this bilge pump won’t take much space in your vessel. It is compact and easy to store.

Just in case this draining capacity is causing you doubt, it’s good to know the Seaflo pump meets all the existing safety standards and it is approved by ROHS, CE, and ISO.

  • Anti-lock protection,
  • Easy-clean snap lock,
  • 2-year warranty.
  • Small outlet,
  • The manufacturer uses the plural in their description but you get one pump only.

10. Amarine Made 1100gph 12v Boat Plumbing Electric Bilge Pumps

Amarine Made 1100gph 12v Boat Plumbing Electric Bilge Pumps

If you manage to prevent large objects from being sucked into this pump, you can be 100% sure and confident it will get your out of a risky situation when you are on the water.

It is not automatic but you can make it if you get and install a float switch to it. Once you install it properly, and the installation if straightforward and simple, the Amarine Made bilge pump will drain 1100 gallons per hour and it will operate continuously – all until there is no water left in your boat.

This model might be a good pick for larger vessels as it can work for longer intervals. Yet, it is still pretty small in comparison to the quality and draining power it provides. A bang for the buck, the Amarine Mode bilge pump is one of the most wanted models on the market for a while now.

  • Can stand heavy use,
  • Comes with high-quality ABS housing,
  • Meets all safety standards.
  • Just as most powerful models, this pump draws slightly more power.

11. Attwood 4511-7 Sahara S1100 Automatic Bilge Pump

Attwood 4511-7 Sahara S1100 Automatic Bilge Pump

It comes with 29-inch wiring that enables you to move the pump around your boat. Equipped with an air-filled float, this pump is turned on automatically as soon as the mechanism detects water in your boat. The mechanism continues with operating all until there is no more water in your boat.

Sahara is quite lightweight and weighs 1.33 pounds only so you can use it with smaller vessels as well. You will need a 3/4-inch wide hose for operating this pump, which is good to know, as the standard hose is easier to find that 11/8-inch one. You can choose between 2 mounting holes and install this pump almost effortlessly.

  • Comes with a testing knob,
  • Most suitable for boats 20 feet and longer,
  • Mercury-free switch included in the package.
  • You can’t adjust the float level,
  • You can mount it horizontally only.

12. Johnson Pumps Of America PROLINE Bilge Pump 750 GPH 3A

Johnson Pumps Of America PROLINE Bilge Pump 750 GPH 3A

Resistant to corrosion, you can use this model when sailing both fresh and salt waters. Designed to provide second to none performance, the Proline bilge pump features the anti-airlock protection as well.

You can operate it manually but, if you want to ensure an even higher level of safety on your boat, you can also install a flow switch and turn it to automatic operation. The Proline pump comes with a standard-size hose so finding one that suits won’t be a problem.

Tested in a factory, the Johnson Pumps of America bilge pump is 100% safe to use and easy to maintain, which comes as a bonus to its overall great performance.

  • Super-easy to install,
  • Low-profile.
  • Although somehow durable, this pump comes with an average motor that can’t handle frequent use.

What Are Bilge Pumps and How Do They Work?

Best Bilge Pump

Bilge pumps are activated by either electricity or hand movements to collect water. It sucks water in an then releases it from your vessel through a discharge point.

If you want to stay afloat, no matter the water you are on (salt or freshwater, sea or a lake), a bilge pump is an essential unit. However, we highly recommend having a spare pump near at hand in case anything goes wrong.

Types Of Bilge Pumps

Bilge Pump Reviews

1. Diaphragm Electrical Pump

This is a typical, standard type of a bilge pump and it sucks water out. It acts like a vacuum and it pushes the water up towards the discharge point. Self-priming, this type is not so portable and requires more maintenance but causes low to no damage.

2. Centrifugal Electrical Pump

This type of bilge pump operates as a turbine. It uses kinetic energy and features a high draining capacity. More affordable, easier to maintain, and store – the centrifugal electrical pump is a slightly more popular model that the diaphragm electrical pump, although both types have its cons as well.

Bilge Pump Buying Guide

Here, you will find the most important features of any bilge pump. To ensure the best return of value on this purchase, make sure to find a unit that ticks all of the following characteristics.

1. Capacity

Probably the most significant feature of a bilge pump – its draining capacity is expressed in gallons per hour (GPH). It is essential to check on this output beforehand making a final decision. You can find pumps with 500, 750, 1100, or 2000 GPH.

A bilge pump with lower output capacity won’t be able to deal with tough currents and fast water inflow. Choosing the best pump will depend on the size and type of your vehicle. You need to find a unit that will pump water out fast enough so your boat doesn’t sink.

The size of a bilge pump is a quite important feature into account as well. If you have a small vessel, a bulky unit will take a lot of space and you won’t have any room left for other important pieces of marine equipment.

On the other hand, the size of a pump sometimes defines its output. If you have a yacht or a bigger boat, it would be best to find a pump of appropriate size and the one that has a solid draining capacity. This will ensure your safety in case water gets into your boat’s underwater part.

We have already discussed 2 types of bilge pumps. If you have a larger boat, we would highly recommend a centrifugal pump and diaphragm pump for boats where you need to push the water upwards to the discharge point.

4. Ease Of Installation

If you want to ensure the long life of a bilge pump, you should clean it at least a couple of times during one season. Dirt and large particles can clog your pump and hinder its operation. No matter how large your pump or the pump’s hose is, you should maintain it frequently. For the reason you will have to assemble and disassemble the pump numerous times, it is important to have one that’s easy to mount as well.

5. Material

The build of a bilge pump affects its lifespan too. If it is strong and well-made, the unit will be resistant to weather, fast-moving water, sizeable leaks, and other impacts.

The best material used for making bilge pumps is ABS plastic . It can stand heavy use and won’t break under the influence of strong currents. However, other parts such as gears and shafts should be well-made as well. Stainless steel is a top-quality material that ensures the longevity of a bilge pump but it is resistant to corrosion too, which might be important if you spend most of your days on the sea.

6. Noise Level

Not all bilge pump descriptions involve noise level rating in decibels, but it would be great if you could find the unit that does. A bilge pump should operate in a silent manner and, if possible, without vibrations. The quieter the pump – the better, as it won’t annoy you or drive fish away.

Some models come with built-in equipped water sensors that activate the pump only when there is some water in your boat. This way, you can save u some energy and ensure the long life of your pump.

7. Boat Type and Size

In order to find a pump that is most suitable for the type of your boat and its size, make sure to pay attention to this section. We are going to categorize different boat types and sizes and suggest the most important features of the most suitable unit.

If you have a smaller boat, such as an outboard-powered skiff or a daysailer, then you have a narrow and more compact bilge. This means you should find an appropriate – smaller bilge pump. It would be best to find a versatile unit that can be installed vertically and horizontally.

Next, if you are a ski boat or runabout owner, that means your vessel is capable of handling more water itself. A boat pump will come suitable in emergency situations but still – make sure to find a heavy-duty one that boasts a higher capacity.

With racing sailboats, you also need a pump with a higher draining capacity but a lightweight unit. A heavy-duty pump would hinder your speed and make you fall behind other boats.

Yet, as not all racing sailboats are the same, if you have an offshore racing sailboat, a powerful and sturdy pump is a must. You need a unit that can be installed at almost any angle and pump enough water to the discharge point to keep you afloat.

If you spend most of your time on your offshore or coastal boat, you need a reliable pump that is not too bulky but the one that features a high draining rating. This will ensure you some extra time to call for help through your VHF marine radio .

You can choose between electric and manual bilge pumps. We can’t claim one type is better than another as both can provide more safety on the water. Yet, electric bilge pumps are slightly more efficient and can pump more water in a shorter time.

On the other hand, you might not need an electric pump for smaller vessels such as kayaks. In this case, a manual bilge pump will do the job without much effort. It will help you get water, mud, and other particles from your vessel.

Still, beware of the fact electric pump will drain power from your motor while manual-operated pumps require more effort than electric units.

9. Pump Switches

Some pump switches are designed to turn bilge pumps into operation automatically. One of these switches is the integral automatic switch built-in more high-end bilge pumps. Once the switch detects water in your boat, it will power the pump to start draining water out.

However, most units on the market come without a built-in float switch so you would have to buy and install one separately. This way, you can transform your bilge pump into an electric unit.

Again, this might be a better option for large boats and yachts where you can’t keep an eye on the water level. With kayaks and canoes, you can have a clear insight into the upcoming water level and turn the pump manually.

10. Storage

Although it would be best for you to throw out some other unnecessary objects from your boat for the sake of a bilge pump, we guess some of you still care about the free space on your vessels. In our reviews, you can find a couple of easy-to-store units that can give you that extra room for other things you might want to have near at hand when sailing.

How To Install Bilge Pumps?

If you have never installed a bilge pump on your boat, the owner’s manual might be the best thing to have near at hand when mounting the unit. Here, we will provide a couple more installation tips that will make this process easier for you.

Check on the electrical connection. Improperly attached bilge pump will be useless if water enters your boat. Using a crumpled hose will, highly likely, cause you headaches and endanger your safety. Use a smooth hose through which water can flow easily.

In case you are unsure about the process, call a technician and the guy will install everything the right way.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install a bilge pump.

  • Make sure your discharge hole is above the waterline.
  • Find a skin fitting that’s appropriate for the size of your discharge hose.
  • Your bilge pump should be running straight and short so place it in a suitable position.
  • Drill a hole through which the skin fitting will go. Make the hole fit and snug.
  • Connect the skin fitting and the hose to your bilge pump and tighten connections with hose clamps.
  • You will need wire – two runs for manual pumps to connect the pump to the bilge.
  • If your pump comes with a float switch, find an appropriate size cable and use connectors and heat shrink connect positive and negative wiring.
  • Use a ring connector for the negative and a blade cable for the positive cable to complete the circuit.
  • Double-check whether the wiring, connections, attachment and the circuit are secure.

Maintenance & Safety Tips For Bilge Pumps

Maintaining your bilge pump is essential for your safety in critical situations. If you want to prepare yourself as much as it is possible, make sure to follow the listed steps before setting sail.

  • Take into account the essential features of a bilge pump – mostly the ones that have to do with the size and type of your boat.
  • In case your pump breaks down in the middle of the sea, always have a spare one to help you out.
  • Place the pump in a place from which it can pump water out of your boat most efficiently.
  • If you are not sure about your pump’s operation, call a technician.
  • Clean your bilge pump after each sail. Large particles stuck in the discharge hose can cause a clog and prevent the pump from operating efficiently.

FAQ About Bilge Pumps

1. how high can a bilge pump lift water.

A bilge with rated at 500, 750, and 1100 GPH can pump water up to 10 feet, and those rated at 2000 GPH can push water to 18 feet.

2. Do I Need More Than One Bilge Pumps?

As listed, different bilge pumps are rated at different power outputs. A bilge pump can save you from an emergency but – what if it fails you when on the water? Even if it doesn’t, rough seas and torrential rains might put too much pressure on your pump.

In case your pump doesn’t boast a high draining capacity, it will be quite troublesome to get out of a dangerous situation. To ensure your peace of mind on the water, we highly recommend having at least one spare pump. Even a smaller-capacity pump can be of great help in case of an emergency.

Also, if you have an electric pump, it would be smart to have a manual one as well.

3. Why Can a Bilge Pump Fail and What Happens Next?

Any pump can fail, including a bilge pump. Anything putting restrictions on your pump can make it stop working – mostly large particles, dirt, and debris stuck in the discharge hose. Any particles found in the water can hinder the operation of a pump.

Sometimes, the water can get back into the unit if siphoning is bad. If wiring is not installed properly, this can be another reason for pump failure. Salt is one of the major irritants to wiring, while the same applies to fuel.

If a bilge pump fails, it can cause collecting more water in the underwater part of your boat. If the water is not coming out of the vessel, you wouldn’t be able to stay afloat. That’s exactly why you should have two bilge pumps on your boat – to prevent your boat from sinking.

Now you know the best bilge pump can protect you if you ever get involved in a dangerous situation on the water – whether it be heavy rain or strong currents. If you want to prevent sinking of your boat, a bilge pump can help you stay afloat or give you some extra time to call for help.

Our bilge pump reviews should give you a clear insight into the best units on the market. Options are endless, but when it comes to safety – you want to play safe as well. We have covered many more pieces of marine equipment in other guides you should check if you want to ensure the utmost safety and pleasure while sailing.

Bonus guide: boat fuel tank reviews

best sailboat bilge pump

About Peter Richardson

Peter Richardson decided that he needs to balance out the sedentary lifestyle of a software developer by getting out there more. He found passion in none other than – boats. This website represents everything he learned along the way. Finding the right equipment for your boat is no easy task, and that is what Peter’s articles aim to help you with.

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What is the absolute best bilge pump

  • Thread starter sailaway78
  • Start date Aug 25, 2008
  • Forums for All Owners
  • Ask All Sailors


Once again, a Rule float switch has failed. A little over a year old. Also noticed when I pulled it out that the wires are badly corroded, the entire length. Same with the wires on the pump. The pump and switch are still in warranty, but I do not want to replace with more of the same. I'm tired of this crap. Only reason I bought the switch is convenience. Only place within nearly 50 miles has only the Rule stuff and I bought it. But no more for me. What experiences have you guys had with other brands, and what would you consider the absolute best. To hell with what it costs. I'm thinking a diaphram pump, mounted up out of the bilge, and one of the electronic switches, as a primary. Had this setup on the previous boat, and it was bullet proof for several years. Only drawback is they don't pump a lot of water, so would need a bigger backup. Like most other things, I would rather do it right and be able to not worry about it any further.  


a five gallon bucket and a scared man! No? How about a whale pump? Not enough volume? How about a wet/dry vac on a inverter! No? Try a Slovak lady with pail and mop! No? Try sailing in the desert. No? Hmmmmmmm. Dry Ice! Freeze it and then throw the chunks of ice overboard. No???? How about a hose running from the bilge to the water outside, dragging in the water, with a one way valve. The vacuum created when sailing will pull the water out. Shoot, I know I forgot something.  


The beat switch for that operation that I have seen is a free floating switch on a sump pump. Completely sealed, turns on the pump when it floats to the vertical and shuts off when it drops below the horizontal. Unfortunately it comes on sump pumps for houses. But go to a plumbing supply wholesale company and see what you can find for sump pump switches. They make so many of them that they are cheap to buy but reliable.  

Link http://www.plumbingstore.com/water_detective_alarm.html  

Nuther one http://www.washerwatcher.com/Hi_Lo_Controller.htm  

It's a shame Ross, it's a shame that second link is for a 110V unit. That one looks pretty much like something I would use. Very adjustable. I had an electronic switch on the old 28, the kind with two metal fingers sticking out of it. That sucker worked, always. Never any kind of a problem. Unfortunately, can't find one like it anymore. The ones I see now are the flat kind, with the little circles. Not sure about them.  

Hook it to an inverter? Write to them and see if they make a 12 VDC unit for back up in case of a power failure.  


My 2 cents After having a real nice electronic switch for years that worked well till it failed during the winter when ice got in there (not enough antifreeze in the bilge :{)I had to get another switch and could not find one like I had so I went to the spare boat stuff in the shed and found a brand new Rule super switch and installed it,so far 2 seasons and all is well, But wait let me tell you about my neighbor who has the same switch and says he only gets a season out of it and its a pump in tha aft bilge of a power boat that he says hardly ever comes on. I look at his installation and its the bilge pump/switch wiring nightmare that I see all the time eg. taped connections,loose connections & corroded connections all subject to sea water On my boat I installed a terminal block as high as I could and all pump and float switch connections are made there also I increased the original wire with a larger gauge wire because if theres a voltage drop there will be more amps across the switch and maybe premature switch failure.  

Switch wiring Rad, I agree with your installation methods, when possible. Unfortunately for me, that won't work. The wiring that comes with the switch is too short to get up and out of my bilge. What I do is to use a soldered connection, then liberally apply some 5200 over the splice. Then slide some heat shrink on and starting in the middle shrink the tubing so I get 5200 out both ends. But even with this, after only a year or a little less, the wiring was badly corroded, and this is as much a reason as any for the switch to have a voltage drop and go Kaput. Benny, it may be a crutch, depending on your point of view. But I feel much more secure with a float switch in there. We get some pretty heavy rains during the summer, and as yet I haven't found a way to keep the water from coming down the inside of the mast. It's not uncommon to get five gallons or more from a heavy rain. Don't like to have the boat left to it's own devices under these circumstances. Even without the water coming down the mast, I don't think I would ever want to not have a float switch. As I have stated previously, Mr. Murphy lives next door to me.  

N&E Ya think the water is getting into the wiring at the switch itself? your splice and seal method is a pretty good plan The Super switch I found had pretty long leads on it and the bilge pump I have been using is an baitwell aerator pump cause it had a long suction tube with a screen to get all the way down into the keel bilge leaving the motor closer to the cabin sole.  


How about this switch? Here's one I've never seen before:  


Hydro air switch The hydro air switch is the only thing I have ever bought from Defender that was totally useless. I worked one cycle and never worked again. Great idea but falls short in real life. I think I am going to try an old style toilet float to operate a switch safely above the water level. Good winter time project if I ever heard of one.  

Practical Sailor Bilge Pump Tests Here are some bilge pump test results that may be of interest to you In 2000, Practical Sailor conducted tests on 20 different electric bilge pumps. They recommended the Attwood V1250 followed by Whale Supersub, RuleMate and Lovett 1200. You can find the test results at the link below Practical Boat Owner also conducted tests on 12 bilge pumps in May 2008. They recommended the Attwood V900, Shureflo Piranha, Johnson L750 and Whale Supersub In both tests, the Attwood brand scored well and the Whale Supersub was recommended as the best small pump. There's some confusion whether the Attwood brand has tinned wiring, but I spoke to them and they confirmed that all the wiring on their pumps is tinned. There's also an article on bilge pump selection and installation at sailingmates.com which could possibly be of interest  

Link didn't work Here's the link again to the Practical Sailor test results  


what about an integrated switch with pump I have replaced several of those Rule scissor switches. Either the wires crap out or the switch hinge craps out/the clips give out. I have a tight bilge in the H28.5 (about the size of a shoe box) and there are keel bolts that take up some of the "floor" real estate - limiting the positioning of a pump and switch. I decided to to install an Atwood Sahara 750 ( there are other gpm sizes and hose diams available) which has the switch "integrated" into a "conning tower" shaped pump housing not much larger or taller than the basic square Rule 1000. There's also a knob on the conning tower housing to manually switch on the pump. Its quiet, compact and I like the neatness of it - fewer wires "floating" around. Check it out  

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Best Bilge Pumps of 2024

Bilge pumps are definitely not the sexiest part of your boat, and they’re probably the last thing you’d show off to a visitor. They’re also one of the last things you’d want to see fail at a critical moment. Bilge pumps perform a vital function, removing the water that inevitably seeps into your boat from rainfall or waves and through propeller shafts, stopcocks, and other hull openings. Water in the hull can dramatically reduce performance and even lead to foundering, and a good bilge pump system can make the difference between an interesting day and a disaster. Fortunately, we have a variety of pumps to choose from, suitable for everything from day sailors to cruising boats, and there are options out there to suit every boat and owner. This guide to the best bilge pumps should get you started!

For more of our top sailing gear recommendations, check out the Best Sailboat Anchors . 

Quick Answer - The Best Bilge Pumps

  • Whale Gusher Urchin View at Amazon
  • Seaflo Submersible Automatic View at Amazon
  • Rule LoPro View at Amazon
  • Attwood Tsunami View at Amazon
  • Rule 4000 View at Amazon

Comparison Table - Best Bilge Pumps

Reviews - the best sailboat bilge pumps, whale gusher urchin.

  • Flow Rate : 14.5 Gallons Per Minute (GPM)
  • Submersible : No
  • Automatic : N/A
  • Switching : N/A
  • Through-Deck or Through-Bulkhead Installation
  • Pump Head Adjusts To Fit Suitable Space
  • Best For Boats Under 40 Feet

best sailboat bilge pump


Back in the days of sail, sailors would spend part of their watch “on the pumps”, manually pumping water out of the bilges. Electric motors usually do that work now, and the command “man the pumps” is not something any of us are likely to hear. Still, any electrical system can fail, and if you need an electric pump you need a manual backup. 

The Whale Urchin is a proven, reliable option that’s become an automatic purchase for many sailors. It’s compact, unobtrusive, and out of the way until you need it, which we all hope you never will! The Urchin is designed for boats under 40 feet. If you have a larger vessel or want higher capacity, look at the Whale Titan , which can move up to 28 GPM.

Note that the rated 14.5 GPM is based on a pump rate of 70 strokes per minute, and it takes a very motivated sailor to sustain that rate. On the other hand, if your power has failed and you’re taking on water, motivation is likely to be pretty high!

Seaflo Submersible Automatic

  • Flow Rate : 750 Gallons Per Hour (GPH)
  • Submersible : Yes
  • Automatic : Yes
  • Switching : Internal Float Switch
  • Fully Automatic: Turns On When Water Accumulates
  • No Power Use Until Water Is Present
  • Anti-Airlock Protection
  • Can Run Dry Without Burning Out

best sailboat bilge pump


If you’re looking for an affordable no-nonsense pump, Seaflo has delivered the goods. This pump has substantial capacity, is fully submersible, and needs very little attention: the internal float valve turns it on when there’s enough water in the bilge to pump (around 1.5 inches), turns it off when it’s no longer needed, and does not draw battery power to run a sensor. You just need to keep the intake screen clear (as with any pump at any price) and do periodic checks to make sure the pump is running. This is a solid value for the small boat owner.

Most reviews of these pumps are very positive, but they are inexpensive units imported from China and a few users have reported receiving defective units. Check yours as soon as it arrives!

  • Flow Rate : 900 Gallons Per Hour (GPH)
  • Switching : Electronic Sensor
  • Low Profile Design For Tight Spaces
  • Choice Of Discharge Ports Fits Multiple Hose Sizes
  • Rotating Discharge Body To Fit Any Space
  • Backflow Prevention Valve

best sailboat bilge pump


Many sailboat bilges are low and narrow, and getting a conventional pump into a position where it has access to the lowest point in the bilge can be a real challenge. The Rule LoPro is designed with a low, flat profile that allows it to fit where other pumps won’t and a rotating discharge body that lets you adjust the hose position to fit the available space. Those features make the LoPro an ideal choice for initial pumping in any boat with narrow, inaccessible bilges. 

Pair this with another unit mounted higher up and you’ll have full protection! Rule is a dominant name in the bilge pump market and is known for its high-quality products. The LoPro is no exception, but as with any pump, its life will be shorter in a dirty, oily bilge, and it needs to be installed and wired carefully. Rule’s electronic sensor system relies on a brief pulse of power to check for pressure on the impeller blades every 2.5 minutes. This could cause battery drain and recurring noise issues, though in practice few users seem to notice!

Attwood Tsunami

  • Flow Rate : 500, 800 or 1200 Gallons Per Hour (GPH)
  • Automatic : No
  • Switching : Float Switch (Sold Separately)
  • Patented Shaft Seal Prevents Leaks
  • Tinned Wiring Prevents Corrosion
  • High-Quality Bearings, Brushes, Alloys, And Magnets
  • Replaceable Motor Core For Fast Servicing

best sailboat bilge pump


Attwood Marine delivers a clear winner in the Tsunami, a rugged, simple machine that’s available in 3 sizes: 500, 800, or 1200 GPH. A rugged polymer casing resists damage from the chemicals, fuel residues, and detergent residues so often present in bilge water, and there’s special attention paid to sealing shafts and wiring against water intrusion.

Attwood takes an unconventional approach to switching. The lack of an internal float switch might seem like a disadvantage, but switches are often the first part of a pump to wear out, and if the switch is internal, a worn-out switch means replacing the pump. The Tsunami allows you to choose an external float switch and replace it when necessary, and the easily replaceable motor core allows you to replace a worn motor rather than replacing the entire pump. This modular approach combines with the high quality of the components to provide a longer lifespan and allows you to keep spares for key components on hand to keep your pumps running.

  • Flow Rate : 4000 Gallons Per Hour (GPH)
  • Quick Release Strainer For Fast Cleaning
  • Vibration-Free Design For Reduced Noise
  • Ignition Protected For Use On Gasoline-Powered Vessels
  • 2” Output Hose

best sailboat bilge pump


Rule dominates the market for large-capacity bilge pumps, and it’s likely that many of the larger boats in your local marina are relying on the Rule 56S to keep their bilges dry. This pump packs a lot of power into a compact package and has a reputation for quality, durability, and reliability. 

Rule’s electronic sensor system relies on sending a brief pulse of power to the pump every 2.5 minutes to check for pressure on the impeller blades. Some similar systems generate complaints about pulses of noise and batteries drained by repeated pulses, but Rule has perfected its technology to a point where noise and battery drain are minimal. It’s not the cheapest pump out there, but if you own a large pleasure boat, you’re going to be more concerned with reliability and power than you are about price, and this pump delivers both!


Before you start shopping for bilge pumps, get a sense of what you’ll need. Different boats need different pumps in different arrangements. Many sailors prefer a low-profile pump in the deepest part of the bilge backed up by a higher capacity pump mounted a bit higher, designed to provide more capacity if the primary pump can’t handle the load.

If your boat has more than one compartment below the waterline, you’ll need pumps in each one. If you’re not sure what type of pump and what capacity you need, consult your boat manufacturer’s recommendations or ask for advice from more experienced boaters . Keeping water out of your boat is too important to leave up to chance or a guess!


The bilge is the lowest portion of a boat’s hull (bottom). It’s where any water inside your boat goes, and it needs to be pumped out regularly. Many bilges have more than one compartment. Before you look at pumps, you should inspect your bilges and know what you need to keep dry.

Remember that bilge pumps are designed to remove water that enters your boat through slow leaks or over the deck. They will not pump fast enough to compensate for major leaks or hull damage!

How much pumping power do you need? This table provides a rough estimate.

If you’re sailing in open water or rough conditions you’ll want to be at the high end of the range, and excess capacity never hurts.

Remember that pumps are tested for output with the inflow and outflow at the same level. In practice, you’re always pumping water up to a higher level, which reduces flow, especially in sailboats, which have deeper bilges than powerboats. It’s safe to assume that actual flow will be around 60% of rated flow, but if you’re planning to place a pump in a deep bilge, test it first to make sure it can lift water high enough and maintain an adequate flow rate.


Most experts recommend that every boat over 16’ should carry a minimum of 2 bilge pumps. One is usually paced as low in the bilge as possible, with a larger capacity pump at a higher level to add power if the primary pump is unable to keep up with the water inflow.

If your boat has more than one compartment below the waterline you’ll need at least one pump, better two, for each compartment.


Bilges naturally accumulate debris and spills, and many sailors are less than careful about keeping them clean. The bilge isn’t anyone’s favorite part of the boat, and inspection and cleaning aren’t fun. Do it anyway: debris in the bilge can clog pump intakes and spilled fuel or chemical residues from cleaning can damage pumps. If you keep your bilges clean, your pumps will last longer and will be less likely to fail when needed.


Bilge pumps operate under difficult conditions: saltwater immersion is not friendly to electrical connections! Many bilge pump failures trace back to improper installation, so if you’re not absolutely sure that you know what you’re doing, seek professional help and get it done right.

West Marine offers detailed advice on choosing a bilge pump , and Practical Sailor has a good list of installation and maintenance tips .


Flow rates are expressed in Gallons per Minute (GPM) or Gallons per Hour (GPH). European products may cite specifications in liters per hour or minute.

As noted above, manufacturers test output with intake and outflow at the same level. You’ll always be pumping water up, so your functional output will be less than the rated output. Your electrical system can also affect output: many pumps are tested at 13.6v, and if your batteries are putting out less you’ll have a lower flow rate!

Automatic bilge pumps switch on as soon as they detect enough water to pump, and turn off when the water is reduced to levels below the detection threshold. This is usually achieved through a float valve or an electronic sensor. Some electronic sensors may require power to detect water, which can place additional demand on batteries.

Manually switched bilge pumps can either be switched on when you want to pump water or connected to an external float switch.


Some pumps can be “airlocked” if air enters the system. Many manufacturers use anti-airlock systems to assure that this doesn’t happen and to eliminate the need for pump priming.


Sailboats are designed to heel, and aggressive heeling may place bilge pump outflow ports below water level. If this happens siphon action may bring water into the boat. Installers often use an upward hose loop to reduce the chance of backflow, but some manufacturers also add backflow protection valves.

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Selecting the Best Bilge Pump for Your Boat: A Buyer's Guide

best sailboat bilge pump

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Selecting the Best Bilge Pump for Your Boat: A Buyer's Guide

Key Takeaways:

  • Choose automatic float switch pumps for main bilge pump redundancy in case of flooding emergencies. Manual operation works for secondary pumps.
  • Determine pump size based on vessel size and layout - larger boats and those with multiple hulls need more pumping capacity.
  • Pick rugged pumps with corrosion-resistant coatings that can handle debris-filled bilge water for long life.
  • Match pump voltage to the electrical system. 12V DC pumps are standard for recreational boats. 24V systems on larger vessels use 24V pumps.
  • Mount pumps low where flooding accumulates and ensure floats can move freely to activate pumps when needed.

Choosing the Right Bilge Pump for Your Boat

An essential part of any boat’s safety equipment is the bilge pump system for removing water from the bilge areas. Selecting the properly sized bilge pumps with optimal switch configurations allows keeping bilges dry for vessel stability and reliability. Use these criteria when selecting the ideal bilge pumps for your boat:

Pump Activation Method

Bilge pumps come in automatic and manual configurations:

  • Automatic  pumps have a built-in float switch that turns on the pump whenever water rises to a preset level in the bilge. This ensures the bilge is emptied automatically if flooding occurs when the boat is unattended.
  • Manual  pumps require a switch to be flipped on which is useful for secondary pumps or in readily visible areas. Relying on manual operation alone risks rising water levels going undetected until it's too late.

Most boats use one main automatic pump supplemented by manual secondary pumps as needed. The automatic function provides peace of mind if major flooding happens.

Pump Capacity

Bigger boats and those with multiple hulls require more pumping capacity than a small single-hull vessel. Consider specifications like:

  • Boat length and volume  - Longer, wider hulls accumulate more bilge water requiring pumps able to move more gallons per hour.
  • Number of hulls  - Multi-hulled catamarans and pontoon boats need larger capacity compared to mono-hull boats.
  • Pump head height  - Vertical distance for water to travel up and through the discharge plumbing.

Consult pump capacity charts to match your vessel size and layout. 500-1500 GPH units work for most small to mid-sized recreational craft. High-capacity 3000+ GPH pumps are for large vessels.

Reliability and Longevity

Bilge water is dirty, debris-filled, and corrosive so pumps must withstand harsh marine environments. Seek quality pumps made of materials like:

  • Corrosion-resistant coatings to avoid rust and mineral build-up.
  • Titanium or nylon impellers that won't break down from constant water exposure.
  • Debris-handling impeller designs that avoid clogging with leaves and other waterborne particles.

Top brands like Rule, Johnson, and Henderson engineer pumps to handle real marine conditions for extended life even in gritty bilge water applications.

Electrical Considerations

  • Most recreational boats run on 12V DC systems using similarly rated pumps. Larger vessels with 24V electrical systems require 24V pumps.
  • Power leads should be sized for the amp draw of the pumps to avoid voltage drop.
  • Automatic pumps draw power even when not running so use relay switches for very high current pumps.

Matching pump voltage and properly rated wiring ensures ample electricity reaches your bilge pumps in an emergency.

Mounting Location

Install pumps in the lowest part of the bilge where water accumulates most. Make sure float switches and internal control components have room to operate freely without obstructions. Overhead clearance is required to withdraw pumps for occasional maintenance.

If engine flooding is a concern, position pumps near the engine compartment area. Backup pumps can be located higher in the bilge to catch all water. Avoid mounting in areas with excessive heat or vibrations that shorten pump life. Properly positioned pumps respond quickly when needed most.

Choosing capable bilge pumps of the right size and design for your vessel ensures you can pump out water and avoid potential sinking disasters. Carefully mounted pumps with accessible floats provide security and peace of mind sailing even in foul weather.

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The Top Bilge Pumps for Boats: A Comprehensive Guide

April 26, 2023 9 min read

The Top Bilge Pumps for Boats: A Comprehensive Guide 

As a boat owner, you understand the importance of keeping your vessel safe and seaworthy. One of the most critical components in achieving this is a reliable bilge pump system. Bilge pumps help remove unwanted water from the bilge area, preventing damage and ensuring the safety of those onboard. With numerous options available, it can be challenging to determine which pump is best for your needs. In this blog post, we'll discuss the top bilge pumps for boats, their features, and what makes them stand out from the competition.

Rule-Mate Automatic Bilge Pump

Rule-Mate is a leading brand in the boating industry, renowned for producing reliable and long-lasting bilge pumps. Their automatic bilge pump stands out from the competition with its innovative features, making it a top choice for boat owners. In this article, we will delve deeper into the Rule-Mate Automatic Bilge Pump's unique features, benefits, and why it is an excellent option for various boat sizes.

Built-In Electronic Water-Sensing Technology

One of the standout features of the Rule-Mate Automatic Bilge Pump is its advanced electronic water-sensing technology. This innovative system automatically activates the pump when water is detected in the bilge area, ensuring that your boat remains dry and safe. The pump will also deactivate once the water level falls below a certain threshold, preventing unnecessary wear and tear and conserving power. This smart system offers peace of mind, as it is always ready to spring into action when needed.

Three Capacity Options for Different Boat Sizes

Rule-Mate Automatic Bilge Pumps are available in three different models, each with a specific capacity to suit various boat sizes. The 500 GPH (gallons per hour) model is perfect for smaller boats, while the 750 and 1100 GPH models are designed to handle the demands of larger vessels. By offering multiple capacity options, Rule-Mate ensures that boat owners can select the perfect bilge pump for their specific needs.

Compact Design for Easy Installation

One of the most significant challenges boat owners face when installing bilge pumps is finding enough space in the bilge area. The Rule-Mate Automatic Bilge Pump addresses this issue with its compact design, allowing for easy installation in tight spaces. Its versatile design means it can be installed in a variety of orientations, making it compatible with various boat layouts.

Durable Construction and Easy Maintenance

The Rule-Mate Automatic Bilge Pump is built to last, using high-quality materials and components to ensure durability and reliability in harsh marine environments. The pump's motor is thermally protected, preventing damage from overheating, while the housing is made from rugged, impact-resistant plastic.

In addition to its robust construction, the Rule-Mate Automatic Bilge Pump is designed for easy maintenance. The pump's strainer base can be easily removed, allowing you to clean and inspect the pump without the need for any specialized tools. This ease of maintenance helps prolong the life of the pump and ensures it operates at peak efficiency.

The Rule-Mate Automatic Bilge Pump is a top choice for boat owners, thanks to its innovative electronic water-sensing technology, multiple capacity options, compact design, and durable construction. Its automatic activation and deactivation ensure that your boat remains safe and dry, while the variety of capacities available make it suitable for a wide range of vessel sizes. With its combination of advanced features and ease of installation and maintenance, the Rule-Mate Automatic Bilge Pump is an investment in the safety and longevity of your boat.

Rule-Mate 500 Bilge Pump

Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump

The Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump is a popular choice among boat owners for its fully integrated system, ease of installation, and low maintenance requirements. With three capacity options to choose from, this pump caters to a wide range of boat sizes. In this article, we will take a closer look at the Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump, exploring its features in detail and discussing why it is a top choice for boat owners.

Fully Integrated System for Convenience and Reliability

One of the primary advantages of the Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump is its fully integrated system, which combines the pump, float switch, and wiring into a single compact unit. This design simplifies installation, as there are fewer components to connect and secure. Additionally, the integrated design reduces the risk of failure due to component compatibility issues, ensuring a more reliable and efficient performance.

Three Capacity Options to Suit Various Boat Sizes

The Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump is available in three different capacity options: 500, 750, and 1100 GPH (gallons per hour). This variety allows boat owners to select the appropriate pump capacity based on their vessel size, ensuring optimal performance and protection. By catering to a wide range of boat sizes, the Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump is a versatile solution for many boating enthusiasts.

Easy Installation and Low Maintenance

Designed with user-friendliness in mind, the Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump is incredibly easy to install. The compact unit is simple to mount and wire, making it an ideal choice for both seasoned boaters and those new to boat maintenance. The pump's low maintenance requirements also contribute to its appeal, as it has fewer components to clean, inspect, or replace over time.

Durable Construction with Water-Cooled Motor

The Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump is built to withstand harsh marine conditions, ensuring a long service life. The pump's durable construction features a water-cooled motor, which helps dissipate heat and prolongs the motor's lifespan. This design not only enhances the pump's durability but also contributes to more efficient and reliable operation.

Anti-Airlock Protection for Consistent Performance

One common issue faced by bilge pumps is airlock, where air bubbles become trapped in the pump, preventing it from functioning correctly. The Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump addresses this problem with its anti-airlock protection feature. This design ensures that the pump remains primed and operational, even when air bubbles are present, maintaining consistent performance and keeping your bilge area dry.

The Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump stands out for its fully integrated system, ease of installation, and low maintenance requirements. With three capacity options to suit various boat sizes and a durable construction that includes a water-cooled motor and anti-airlock protection, this pump is an excellent choice for boat owners seeking a reliable and efficient bilge pump solution. Its combination of convenience, durability, and consistent performance make the Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump a top choice for maintaining a safe and seaworthy vessel.

attwood sahara bilge pump

Johnson Pump Cartridge Combo Bilge Pump

The Johnson Pump Cartridge Combo Bilge Pump is a popular option among boat owners for its innovative design, ease of maintenance, and versatile capacity options. Its unique removable cartridge system sets it apart from other bilge pumps on the market. In this article, we will delve deeper into the features and benefits of the Johnson Pump Cartridge Combo Bilge Pump, highlighting why it is an excellent choice for various boat sizes.

Unique Removable Cartridge Design for Easy Maintenance

The Johnson Pump Cartridge Combo Bilge Pump's standout feature is its removable cartridge design, which simplifies maintenance and prolongs the pump's life. The cartridge can be easily removed for cleaning or replacement without the need for tools or disconnecting any hoses, making maintenance a hassle-free process. This innovative design not only saves time and effort but also helps maintain peak performance, ensuring your bilge area stays dry and your boat remains safe.

Three Capacity Options for Versatile Performance

The Johnson Pump Cartridge Combo Bilge Pump is available in 500, 750, and 1000 GPH (gallons per hour) models, providing a versatile solution for various boat sizes. This range of capacities allows boat owners to select the appropriate pump for their vessel, ensuring optimal performance and protection. By offering a selection of capacities, the Johnson Pump Cartridge Combo Bilge Pump caters to the needs of a wide range of boaters.

Built-In Check Valve to Prevent Backflow

One potential issue with bilge pumps is backflow, which can cause water to flow back into the bilge area when the pump is turned off. The Johnson Pump Cartridge Combo Bilge Pump addresses this concern by including a built-in check valve that prevents backflow, ensuring consistent performance and maintaining a dry bilge area. This feature enhances the pump's reliability and contributes to the overall safety of your boat.

Durable Construction for Longevity and Reliability

The Johnson Pump Cartridge Combo Bilge Pump is built with high-quality materials and components, ensuring it can withstand the harsh marine environment. Its durable construction guarantees a long service life and reliable performance, providing boat owners with peace of mind. The pump's robust design also contributes to its overall efficiency, ensuring it can handle the demands of regular use without faltering.

Easy Installation for User Convenience

The Johnson Pump Cartridge Combo Bilge Pump is designed for easy installation, making it an appealing choice for both experienced boaters and those new to boat maintenance. Its compact design and straightforward mounting process ensure that the pump can be quickly and securely installed in your boat's bilge area. The simplicity of installation, combined with the pump's unique removable cartridge design, makes it an ideal choice for those looking for a user-friendly bilge pump solution.

The Johnson Pump Cartridge Combo Bilge Pump stands out for its innovative removable cartridge design, ease of maintenance, and versatile capacity options. Its built-in check valve and durable construction ensure reliable and consistent performance, making it an excellent choice for various boat sizes. With its combination of user-friendly features and efficient operation, the Johnson Pump Cartridge Combo Bilge Pump is a top choice for boat owners seeking a reliable and convenient bilge pump solution.

Johnson Pump Cartridge Combo Bilge Pump

Whale Supersub Smart Electric Bilge Pump

For boat owners with limited space in their bilge area, finding a suitable bilge pump can be a challenge. The Whale Supersub Smart Automatic Bilge Pump offers a practical solution with its low-profile design and intelligent control system, making it an excellent choice for small to medium-sized boats. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the features and benefits of the Whale Supersub Smart Automatic Bilge Pump and why it is an ideal choice for boat owners with limited bilge space.

Low-Profile Design for Flexible Installation

One of the main attractions of the Whale Supersub Smart Automatic Bilge Pump is its low-profile design, which allows for installation in tight spaces where traditional bilge pumps may not fit. The pump's slim design enables both horizontal and vertical installation, providing boat owners with flexibility in choosing the best configuration for their specific needs. This adaptability ensures that even boats with limited bilge space can benefit from the Whale Supersub Smart Automatic Bilge Pump's efficient performance.

Built-In Intelligent Control System for Optimal Performance

The Whale Supersub Smart Automatic Bilge Pump features a built-in intelligent control system that sets it apart from other bilge pumps. This advanced system detects water levels in the bilge area and activates the pump accordingly. Furthermore, the system adjusts the pumping speed based on the water level, ensuring optimal performance and energy efficiency. This smart control system not only guarantees consistent and reliable performance but also extends the pump's lifespan by preventing unnecessary wear and tear.

650 GPH Capacity for Small to Medium-Sized Boats

With a capacity of 650 GPH (gallons per hour), the Whale Supersub Smart Automatic Bilge Pump is suitable for small to medium-sized boats. This capacity ensures that the pump can effectively handle the demands of various boat sizes, providing reliable protection against water accumulation in the bilge area. By catering to a range of boat sizes, the Whale Supersub Smart Automatic Bilge Pump offers a versatile solution for boat owners seeking an efficient and reliable bilge pump.

Durable Construction for Longevity

The Whale Supersub Smart Automatic Bilge Pump is built to withstand the harsh marine environment, ensuring a long service life. Its durable construction features high-quality materials and components that resist corrosion and wear, guaranteeing reliable performance even in challenging conditions. The pump's robust design ensures that it can handle the rigors of regular use without compromising efficiency or reliability.

Easy Installation and Maintenance

The Whale Supersub Smart Automatic Bilge Pump is designed for easy installation, making it a user-friendly choice for boat owners of all experience levels. Its low-profile design and flexible mounting options ensure that the pump can be quickly and securely installed in your boat's bilge area. Additionally, the pump's intelligent control system simplifies maintenance by reducing the risk of unnecessary wear and tear, ensuring that your pump remains in optimal condition for longer.

The Whale Supersub Smart Automatic Bilge Pump is an ideal choice for boat owners with limited bilge space, offering a low-profile design, flexible installation options, and a built-in intelligent control system. Its 650 GPH capacity makes it suitable for small to medium-sized boats, while its durable construction ensures long-lasting performance. With its combination of efficient operation, adaptability, and easy installation and maintenance, the Whale Supersub Smart Automatic Bilge Pump is a top choice for boat owners seeking a reliable and space-saving bilge pump solution.

Whale Supersub Smart Automatic Bilge Pump

A reliable bilge pump system is crucial for maintaining a safe and functional boat. When choosing the best bilge pump for your needs, consider factors such as the size of your boat, available space for installation, and the pump's capacity. The Rule-Mate Automatic Bilge Pump, Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump, Johnson Pump Cartridge Combo Bilge Pump, and Whale Supersub Smart Automatic Bilge Pump all offer reliable performance and unique features that make them top choices for boat owners. Don't forget to have a manual backup pump on hand for emergencies, and always perform regular maintenance to ensure your bilge pump system operates effectively. 

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Bilge Pump Installation and Maintenance Tips

best sailboat bilge pump

The best bilge pump in the world wont keep your boat dry if its not properly installed and maintained. While bilge pump installations are fairly straightforward-and definitely within the scope of DIY projects-there are several factors to consider (capacity, wire size, hose diameter, fuse size) before you begin, and there are some good rules of thumb to follow.


The first step is selecting the right bilge pump(s) for the job. We recommend installing two electric centrifugal pumps (preferably one with automatic water level sensor): a smaller pump mounted at the belly of the bilge to handle the incidental bilge water (rain, stuffing box drips, etc.) using minimum power and another pump mounted a few inches higher to handle bigger jobs. There are several reasons for this; the main one being that a back-up is always installed should one pump fail.

Capacity: For most mid-sized boats (30-35 feet in length), wed recommend a 1,000-1,500 gallon-per-hour (GPH) pump for the primary and one with a capacity of about 2,000 GPH for the backup. The American Bureau of Shipping recommends one 24-gallon-per-minute pump (roughly 1,440 GPH) plus one 12-GPM (720 GPH) pump for boats shorter than 65 feet.

When comparing output specs on multiple pumps, be sure the rating criteria are the same. New standards set by the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) require that compliant makers rate pump capacities so that they reflect real-world usage. The ABYC stipulates that pumps be rated with a head height (also called vertical lift) of 1 meter and a hose length of 3 meters, and with a head height of 2 meters and hose length of 6 meters. Head height is the vertical height of the hose outlet above the pump outlet. Head pressure (also referred to as static head) is the resistance that a pump has to overcome when pumping water up and out of the boat. It includes the resistance generated by the vertical distance the pump has to move the water up (vertical lift) and any resistance generated by the discharge plumbing (hose kinks, ribbed hose, fittings, and bends). Some ratings also will be given at 13.6 volts, rather than the more realistic 12.2 volts (for a 12-volt system). The latter will more accurately reflect capacity in real-world conditions.

Key features: An automatic pump will rely on a water-level sensor such as a float switch to activate the pump. This can be a separate unit or one that is integral to the pump. This sensor should resist fouling and be easy to test for proper operation. Common float switches should be in a housing, otherwise they are more prone to fouling by debris in the bilge. An easy-to-access strainer (or strum box) is also important, as are long wire leads, which help keep connections out of the wet bilge area.


The illustration above shows one recommended setup for automatic bilge pump installation.

Location: According to the ABYC, the pump inlet must be positioned so that bilge water can be removed when the boat is in a static position and when it is at maximum heel (ABYC H-22). The mounting location also should make it easy to service the pumps and to clean them, particularly their strainers.

The discharge outlet (thru-hull) must be above the maximum angle of heel so that water outside the boat is not siphoned inside the boat. According to ABYC H22, if you can’t position the discharge this way, a vented loop (installed above the heeled waterline) and a properly installed seacock must be included in the setup. (Check-valves should not be used in this scenario.)

When installing two electric pumps, the lower-capacity pump should have a built-in float switch, be mounted at the lowest point of the bilge, and be wired straight to the battery through a fuse. The higher-capacity pump is installed a few inches higher, but not directly above the smaller pump. As the illustration shows, you can mount the larger pump to a piece of plywood thats bonded to the bilge sides. It should be wired to a dedicated breaker, which can be used as a switch, or it should also be wired to a dedicated, clearly marked toggle switch.

Plumbing: When plumbing an electric bilge pump, be sure the setup is designed to reduce head pressure as much as possible to maximize discharge capacity: use smooth hose sized to meet maker recommendations; keep hose runs as short as possible; and try to avoid bends, turns, and elbow fittings in the run. In terms of adding resistance, using a 90-degree bend in a 1-inch-diameter discharge hose is the equivalent of adding 3 feet of hose to the line, which is like a 3,000 GPH pump being reduced to a 2,000 GPH pump, if the battery is fully charged. According to pump maker ITT/Rule, small electric submersible pumps are rarely useful with more than 4 feet of vertical discharge head and medium/large submersibles are similarly ineffective with more than 7 feet of head.

The discharge line should rise steadily to the through-hull or loop. If there are any low spots in the run, water will pool there once the pump cycles off. This can create an airlock when the pump is activated again, and the pump likely will stall. Hose connections, as recommended by the ABYC, should be made with non-corrosive clamps and should be airtight.

Wiring: Use correct size wire and fuses: The proper wire size reduces voltage drop and properly fused wiring reduces risk of a locked rotor (a motor thats trying to turn, but can’t) causing an overcurrent situation and potential fire hazard.

Consult the American Wire Gauge 3% voltage drop table (www.marinco.com/page/three-percent-voltage) to be sure you’re using large enough wire. Remember that the run length given in wire-gauge tables is the sum of the positive and negative legs of the circuit; a pump 10 feet from the battery will be referenced as having a 20-foot wire run.

For the fuse size, simply go by the pump makers recommendation, and you should be set. The fuse, per ABYC standards, should be installed within 7 inches of the power source.

If the pumps leads are too short, extend them carefully. Use oversized tinned marine wire and adhesive heat-shrink connections. ABYC standards recommend using a length of water-resistant electrical cable, sealed at the pump connection, so all electrical connections can be made above the max bilge water level.

Accessories: A few accessories to consider adding to the bilge pump system include a visual/audible bilge alarm, bilge switch, and a cycle counter. ABYC standards require an alarm on boats with enclosed berths. Be sure that the alarm is loud enough to be heard over engine noise while underway and ideally by passersby or marina personnel when docked.

Automatic pumps should always be fitted with a readily accessible and clearly marked manual switch so that even if the owner isn’t around, anyone (crew, marina neighbors, or passersby) can locate and activate the switch when the need arises. Switches also should offer visual indication that the pump has power supplied to it. Our top pick for mercury-free bilge switches, reviewed in the January 2006 issue, is the electronic Water Witch 230.

If the larger-capacity pump has a float switch, we highly recommend connecting it to a bilge alarm (and alarm cut-off switch). That way, hopefully, the horn will get someones attention before the constant cycling of the pump drains your batteries. We reviewed the Aqua Vigil Alarm in the May 15, 2001 issue, and deemed it simple but quirky. We plan to revisit bilge alarms and cycle counters, including combo units like the Aqua Alarm pump monitor, alarm, and counter.

Two good references on bilge pumps and installing them are This Old Boat by Don Casey and Nigel Calder’s Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual .


Regular and frequent inspections of your bilge pumps are a must and should be included in the vessels overall preventative maintenance program. This helps you know when to replace worn or damaged components (bad float switches, deteriorated hoses) before they fail. Before you set sail, its always a good idea to make sure the pump has power and is working properly, keeping in mind that testing should verify the actual pumping of water overboard, rather than (in the case of electric pumps) simply switching the pump on and listening for motor operation.

Keeping your bilge clean can be a hassle, but it doesn’t compare to the headache of a locked rotor or an impotent bilge pump in an emergency.

For more details on specific pumps, check out our most recent tests of high capacity bilge pumps of greater than 1,500 GPH , and and smaller pumps rated at 1,500 GPH .

For more comprehensive guidance in carrying out an upgrade of your boats essential systems, check out our 5-volume ebook series on Marine Electrical Systems at https://www.practical-sailor.com/products .



From bitter experience on my Olsen 34 the pump discharge point should be well above the water line. On the Olsen 34 they put the discharge on the port side at the stern. Even though there was a loop, when the boat was heeled on a starboard tack the discharge went under water and slowly back flowed thru the discharge line. Adding a check is one idea but they create a lot of pressure loss and a debris trap that can plug the line just when you need it the most. Better idea is to put the sump discharge point on the center line well above the water level when heeled.

I am a marine technician and am frequently dealing with bilge pump failures. I agree with most of the comments made here. I personally do not like bilge pumps with internal float switches. They are more convenient to install, but how do you test them? I like to be able to physically lift the float switch to test the pump system. This cannot be done with internal float switches. Some, but not all bilge pumps with internal float switches have a button for testing…. does anyone know how these work…. what are these really testing???

Second comment…. the electrical connection adjacent the pump. I like to use a 4 circuit terminal block to connect the seven wires ( bilge pump(2), float switch (2), manual +ve, auto +ve, and ground) together. This should be mounted as high as possible. And do not forget heat shrink on all connectors. This makes troubleshooting with a multi meter so much easier when something goes wrong. Cutting into heat shrunk butt connectors is time consuming and requires repairing after the troubleshooting is complete.

For boats with a deep bilge, the best option is a diaphragm pump located above the bilge and wired to a float switch. Better yet are two! An event counter and an audible alarm or beeping device is critically important. It should be audible when motoring or under sail. I use a “truck backing up beeper” wired in the circuit. An additional high water siren on a separate float switch completes the setup.

I’m a ~25 year fan of a dry bilge using a whale gulper pump with a water witch sensor. I’ve mounted the sensor face down against the bottom so it senses at minimal water. The ability of this diaphragm pump to suck water and air, or both, and the 15s off-delay provided by the water witch ensures it will scavenge the bilge dry. A few inches higher I use a Rule 3700 vane pump. I refer to this as the crash pump, and I’ve drilled a 1/8” hole in the discharge hose next to the pump outlet to prevent a fatal airlock. I’ve always had pump cycle counters and an alarm if the crash pump ever runs for 15s. And it’s connected to my on board security system that’s monitored by a central station thru a cellular connection. The security system also reports low voltage. (Hello? Most boats that sink do so at the dock, often with no one nearby.) I always check and reset the counters first thing in the morning or when I arrive at the boat. And I always test the system at annual launch. Overkill? No such thing. More recently I added a Legend PVC T-655 ball check valve in the whale pickup hose because I got tired of changing its duck bill valve. With this config the odds of a failure before it’s too late are almost nil. I think ABYC standards are inadequate—the first task is to keep the water out. Hope that helps.

A good article, but I do notice that PS articles sometimes reference material from many years ago, ala “…reviewed in the January 2006 issue, is the…”. I have seen several references in various articles and wonder if the technology has changed, or other standards have changed since some of these original reviews? Thoughts?

Good article. However, seems a little disconcerrting

A 2” hole 3’ under the waterline will allow 8,340 gal. of water/hr to enter your boat, regardless of how many bells and whistles you’ve added to your system. Bilge pumps are adequate for nuisance water, nothing more. You better have plans for plugging holes and an EPIRB handy for anything else. Just my opinion.

The article recommends using a manual switch for the high capacity pump. An alternative is to install an automatic switch, placed high enough in the bilge so that it will not trigger in ordinary circumstances. Wiring in an audible alarm will alert you to high water. If it is loud enough, it could attract attention from others at your dock or mooring field.

I disagree with the recommendation in this article to have the automatic bilge pump deep in the bilge and the manual higher up. I had an automatic bilge pump get stuck on and run the battery dead several times. I think switch failures in those pumps happen often enough that I don’t want the automatic as the primary. Incidental rain water etc. is easy to remove by switching on the manual pump. You want the automatic for times when water is coming in unexpectedly while you are not below to notice it. I have had that happen several times, and the primary in the bilge handled it just fine once switched on. I am not even sure I would want the backup automatic because that might have allowed me to miss the water accumulation. You don’t hear the pump if the engine is running. As John noted, if you have a serious hole, these pumps are not going to keep the boat from sinking.

If the pump intake is in the bilge on centerline and the boat is severely heeled like in knockdown (a sister ship sank from knockdown on a lake) and water has poured thru the companionway, the water inside is all on one side and may not reach the pump intake on centerline. So? Two pumps, one each side? Overkill? Enough battery power to move that much water? The first task is stop the ingress of water, get companionway closed and get boat at least partly upright. Assuming one manages to get boat upright, whether fixed keel or swing keel trailer sailer, there is still a massive amount of water has to get pumped out fast. A 2000 GPH pump is only 30 gpminute, actually less. Two of them 60 gal per minute. Also, at some point aren’t batteries going to be submerged and short out? Or just run down from high demand from pumps? So: location of intake hose(s) at severe heel? GPH? Battery short out or rundown? Overkill?

On my endurance 44, for offshore, I used a decent sized electric pump with check valve, a counter, and a separate high level audible alarm, two feet higher than the regular pump float switch/alarm. I also carried a separate gasoline powered pump with 1 1/2” hoses complete with strainer and fire hose connection available. It sucker a lot of water and with the firehose connector, could be used to fight fire and would shoot water about 50’ effectively. The hoses were long enough to put the pump on deck and to be primed from there. This is a good water evacuation plan in an emergency if tested regularly. I had a 2.7 hp kubota lightweight setup. Inexpensive and very effective. After that, it was a 20 litre bucket!

I have a 1990 Alden 44 with a deep narrow bilge filled with a centerboard hydraulic slave cylinder and have been using a diaphragm pump as Bob described above. I always found the Achillies heel to be the float switch which was bulky and typically failed in one to two years. I have since changed to a water pressure switch. The cup is placed in the bottom of the bilge on a 1/2″ square piece of starboard connected to a vertical PVC tube, held in place by a hose clamp. All the mechanical parts are mounted just under the floorboards where they stay safe and dry. I can clean the cup by loosening the hose clamp and lifting it out. This solution has been working great for me for 6+ years without a failure.

After dealing with faulty water sensor on my Rule bilge pump that drained my battery, i plan to change over to a diaphragm pump with an external sensor/switch that can be properly cleaned or replaced, any recommendations?

Ric, interesting. I have just done the opposite. we had the DIAPHRAGM pump high in the bilge with a pickup tube to the lowest point along with a WaterWitch 100 series mounted at the very bottom, to keep the bilge dry. had this set up for 10+ years. then the pump(s) kept losing prime once we became much more active cruisers. constantly battling as to why over a period of 5-6 years. replacing pumps. dealing with possible air leaks in the strainers. contamination in the rubber flappers in the pumps themselves, which I was told by Jabsco are extremely sensitive.

We have found diaphragm pumps difficult to maintain, and ironically easily lose prime when they are supposed to be self-priming. the Centrifugal pump, although not self-priming are more reliable since they prime in the presence of water. which is the only time you want them primed.

A few weeks ago I ripped all that out and went with a Rule 500 GPH electronic water sensing CENTRIFUGAL pump. no more wire mesh external strainer to constantly clean. mysterious losses of prime. extra plumbing fittings etc.

Yes, the Rule 500 GPH comes on for 1 sec every 2.5 mins to check for water, but I never hear it (wife does but I can turn it off at night). Its wired to an activity light which is nice to notice when it blips on. that confirms its operating which I like.

my 2,700 GPH Rule crash pump has a WaterWitch 230 and an alarm if it comes on.

I appreciate the reminders in these comments that bilge pumps are only good for small leaks that might sink your boat.

a Crash Pumps just buys a little time if its a big leak.

The pressure switch that I have been using which I referenced above is a Groco AS-100. The pump I use is a Jabsco par max 4 diaphragm pump.

The Jabsco is a 31705-0092.

On passage recently our 5 yr old Water Witch sensor fired off our 11year old Rule 2000gph with an audible alarm. It’s so long since we installed and its never fired off the we were unsure what it was! Of course we test regularly, but it was a surprise just the same. This may be testement to a very dry boat, but also an indicator that both the pump and switch have lasted the test of time. It was a leaking raw water pump in the engine bay after a 12hr motoring run.

I would like to install a secondary bilge pump with an automatic switch so when I more my boat and we get a lot of rain I don’t need to worry about having to use my manual bilge pump If I route my outlet line into my manual outlet line do I need a check valve in one of the water lines

How do you install bilge pumps in a shallow draft 40′ sailing catamaran when there is only a few inches of bilge below the flooring/soles? I would like three in each hull – 0″, 6″, & in engine compartment – plus manual pumps. The engine compartments should be ok and the manual pumps can be mounted higher, between the bottom strainer (strumboxes?) and the thru hull. Can automatic electric pumps be mounted above the LWL with a reinforced hose leading to a strumbox under the floor?

Answering my own question. After several days of research, I discovered the Rule LoPro (Low Profile) 900 GPH pump. Its installation manual even has a chart showing the flow/head curves at 12vDC for each of the three hose size options.

Regarding the question asked above, about how to test automatic bilge pumps (those with internal switches): most of these small pumps have a test knob that has no other function than to allow the user to rotate the float shaft, just as it would rotate if the water level were rising; thus both the movement of the float itself and the movement of the switch plus motor assembly can be tested. Good winds and lots of water under the keel!

I agree with John Russnogle’s above post. Bilge pump(S) are likely unable to cope with a major hull breach, or even a dropped shaft. If the water ingress cannot be slowed at the source, a life raft might be the best back up if offshore. For power boats, there is yet another emergency option. I have installed commercially made diverter valves at the raw water strainers, with large diameter hoses positioned to pull engine cooling water directly from the bilge. Heaven forbid that I ever need to test the capacity of this arrangement, but I have no doubt that twin 315 hp diesel pumps will beat my three electric bilge pumps.

Very informative article but one other factor should be taken into account in my view. Non live-aboard boats are usually left unattended at a mooring far longer than they are with someone aboard. If a leak develops the pump will keep pumping until the battery dies. All else being equal, a more efficient pump would discharge more total water than a less efficient pump until that happens. One way efficiency can be estimated is by calculating gallons flow per amp draw. There should be a column in bilge pump comparison articles showing gal/amp. That’s the basis I used to select an additional emergency 2000 gal/hr bilge pump with WaterWitch switch for my Beneteau 44.7 that came from the factory with manually switched bilge pumps with about 350 gal/hr total capacity! So far the new pump has not had to run in anger but I’m confident if it does it will pump the most gallons of water for as long as the batteries last. Hopefully that may be long enough for someone to notice and take action or call me. Simon Zorovich PoleStar Staten Island, NY

I’m refurbing a 27′ elderly grp sailboat with a deep bilge in the rear part of the encapsulated keel, and I need to spec and install at least two electric bilge pumps – large and small. The pros and cons here of auto-sensing are interesting. I learned long ago the habit of using a manual pump on joining a boat, then twice a day, counting and logging the ‘full’ strokes to assess whether anything had changed. What does the hive mind think?

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Best Boat Bilge Pumps: Top 8 Picks and Buying Guide

Best Boat Bilge Pumps

When looking for the best bilge pumps, it’s important to consider the materials and construction. Pumps made of corrosion-resistant materials, such as marine-grade stainless steel or high-quality plastics, are essential for longevity and performance in harsh marine environments. Finally, automatic pumps should have reliable float switches that trigger the pump when necessary, ensuring water levels in the bilge remain safe.

Navigating the world of boat bilge pumps can be daunting, but armed with this knowledge, you can confidently choose the right pump for your needs. To help make your decision easier, I have researched and tested a variety of bilge pumps to determine the top contenders in terms of capacity, durability, and overall performance.

Best Boat Bilge Pumps

I’ve compiled a list of the best boat bilge pumps available on the market. Check them out below to find the perfect one for your boating needs.

Johnson – 32503 Cartridge Bilge Pump 500 GPH

Johnson - 32503 Cartridge Bilge Pump 500 GPH

I recommend the Johnson 32503 Cartridge Bilge Pump 500 GPH for boaters seeking a dependable and efficient bilge pump to keep their vessel dry.

  • Easy installation
  • High-quality construction
  • Effective water pumping
  • Warranty not provided directly to consumers
  • Hose ends not always included in packaging
  • Requires 1 unknown battery

I recently installed the Johnson 32503 Cartridge Bilge Pump 500 GPH on my boat, and I’m impressed with its performance. The installation process was quick and simple to help my boat stay dry. Its 8.33 gallons per minute maximum flow rate does an exceptional job at removing water from my bilge, ensuring the safety and comfort of my vessel.

The Johnson bilge pump has a durable build that has withstood my frequent boating trips. It has proven itself as a reliable piece of equipment for navigating the waters. However, I discovered that the warranty coverage is only provided through distributors and not directly to consumers, which could be a potential drawback for some.

While the Johnson 32503 Cartridge Bilge Pump has worked well for me, I did have a minor issue with the packaging. The hose ends were not included in the box, but thankfully, I had spare parts on hand to remedy the situation. If you don’t have extra parts, this could be an inconvenience.

In conclusion, the Johnson – 32503 Cartridge Bilge Pump 500 GPH is a reliable and efficient solution for keeping your boat’s bilge dry. Its easy installation and effective water pumping make it a solid choice for any boater. Just be aware of the warranty coverage limitations and potentially missing hose ends.

Attwood Tsunami Bilge Pump

Attwood Tsunami Bilge Pump

This Attwood Tsunami Bilge Pump is a reliable and powerful choice for boaters seeking high-efficiency bilge pumping performance.

  • Compact design and innovative engineering
  • High-capacity, rated for 800 gallons per hour (gph) at 13.6 volts DC
  • Easy servicing with replaceable motor cores
  • May leave some water in the bottom due to space between the pump and boat floor
  • A bit pricier than some competitors’ models
  • Outlet size might not fit all boat designs

I recently had the pleasure of using the Attwood Tsunami Bilge Pump on my boat, and I found it to be an incredibly reliable and efficient solution for keeping the bilge free of water. The pump’s compact design and innovative engineering make it easy to install, while the high-capacity output ensures that your boat stays dry.

One aspect I particularly appreciate about this pump is the ease of servicing, thanks to its replaceable and interchangeable motor cores. This feature allows for quick maintenance, ensuring that the pump remains in optimal working condition for a long time.

However, I did notice that the space between the pump and the bottom of my boat was slightly larger than I would have preferred, which can leave some water behind. Also, the Attwood Tsunami Bilge Pump is priced somewhat higher than some competitor models, which could be a consideration for those on a budget. Lastly, it’s essential to note that the outlet size might not fit all boat designs, so double-check the compatibility before purchasing.

Overall, I believe that the Attwood Tsunami Bilge Pump is a great choice for boaters seeking reliable bilge pumping performance. Its strong capacity, coupled with its compact and durable design, make it a worthy investment for anyone looking to keep their boat in top condition.

Attwood Sahara S500 Automatic Bilge Pump

Attwood Sahara S500

The Attwood Sahara S500 is an efficient and hassle-free bilge pump any boat owner should consider for its various impressive features.

  • Effective water pumping for boats of any size
  • Compact and durable design with an all-in-one package
  • Easy to install
  • Requires frequent cleaning to avoid clogging
  • Limited to horizontal mounting only
  • Automatic mode can be inconsistent

I recently installed the Attwood Sahara S500 Automatic Bilge Pump on my boat, and its performance in providing reliable bilge water pumping has been commendable. As an all-in-one unit, it comes with a pump, wire seals, strainer, and a mercury-free switch, making it convenient and useful for boats of any size, whether they have sleeping accommodations or not.

The Attwood Sahara S500’s compact design is a significant advantage, as it fits perfectly in tight spaces. The installation process was quick and easy for me, although it’s important to keep in mind that this pump is limited to horizontal mounting only. With a 12-volt, 1.5-amp draw pump rated for 500 GPH performance at open flow, it operates efficiently and is suitable for most boat sizes.

However, there are a couple of drawbacks worth mentioning. Firstly, the pump requires regular cleaning to prevent clogging from debris, which could cause the pump to fail. Additionally, my experience with the automatic mode turned out to be slightly inconsistent, which may be a consideration for boat users who prioritize the reliability of automatic operation.

Overall, the Attwood Sahara S500 Automatic Bilge Pump offers good value when it comes to efficiency and ease of installation. If you’re willing to put in the effort to clean and maintain the pump regularly, the Attwood Sahara S500 is an ideal choice for keeping your boat dry and safe.

SEAFLO Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump

SEAFLO Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump

This SEAFLO bilge water pump is a reliable and efficient choice for keeping your boat dry and safe.

  • Compact and fully submersible
  • Automatic built-in float switch
  • Energy-efficient design
  • Limited height difference in float switch operation
  • Some units may have noise issues
  • Float switch reliability concerns

When I first used the SEAFLO Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump, I was impressed by its compact size and durable construction. This fully submersible electric pump features an automatic built-in float switch, eliminating the need for a separate switch. The pump remains energy-efficient as it doesn’t use power until it’s activated by the internal float switch when the water level rises.

The pump operates at 750 gallons per hour, which provides an effective solution for removing water from my boat’s bilge. It’s powered by a 12-volt DC source, making it ideal for most boat setups.

One minor issue I encountered while using this pump was the limited height difference in the float switch operation. Although the pump does its job effectively, you may need to monitor the water level for optimal performance. I also noticed that some units can be noisy, but after checking the impeller housing and adjusting it, the noise level was reduced.

Lastly, a few users have reported reliability concerns with the float switch. I personally haven’t experienced this issue, but it’s worth considering if you’re looking for a pump that will be consistently efficient in the long term. Overall, the SEAFLO Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump is a practical solution for boat owners who need a reliable automatic bilge pump at a reasonable price.

Shoreline Marine Bilge Pump 600 Gph 3/4″

Shoreline Marine Bilge Pump

I recommend the Shoreline Marine Bilge Pump 600 Gph 3/4″ for its efficient performance and durable design, providing excellent value for boaters.

  • Powerful output with 600 GPH
  • Durable plastic housing and stainless-steel impeller shaft
  • Universal mounting base for easy installation
  • Manufactured in China, which may concern some buyers
  • Lacks an automatic float switch, requiring a separate purchase
  • Specifications indicate limitations with higher head heights

Upon installing the Shoreline Marine Bilge Pump 600 Gph 3/4″ on my boat, I noticed an almost instant improvement in water evacuation. The unit has an impressive output of 600 gallons per hour, ensuring that my bilge remains clean and dry throughout the day. It’s reassuring to know that the bilge pump is built to last in the harsh marine environment, thanks to its sturdy plastic housing and stainless-steel impeller shaft.

The universal mounting base made the installation of this bilge pump a breeze. It also simplifies future maintenance and cleaning tasks. Tinned marine-grade wiring provides another layer of reliability, which is essential when I’m out on the water.

Despite the impressive features of this bilge pump, I noted some areas for potential improvement. The fact that it is made in China may cause concerns for some buyers regarding its craftsmanship. Additionally, the pump doesn’t include an automatic float switch. This would have to be bought separately if you’re seeking an automated bilge water management system. Lastly, the flow rate decreases significantly at higher head heights, which might limit its usefulness in specific applications.

In conclusion, the Shoreline Marine Bilge Pump 600 Gph 3/4″ has proven to be a valuable addition to my boat’s safety and maintenance equipment. With its powerful performance and durable design, this bilge pump offers excellent protection against water accumulation in the bilge area. Although there are a few shortcomings, I believe this pump is a wise investment for any boater seeking an efficient and reliable bilge pump solution.

MAXZONE Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump

MAXZONE Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump

In my experience, the MAXZONE Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump is a reliable and efficient option for those looking to purchase a boat bilge pump.

  • Impressive flow rate of 1100 GPH
  • Built-in float switch for easy automatic operation
  • Energy-efficient design – uses power only when activated
  • Requires a 12V 8A power adapter, not included
  • Outlet diameter might not fit all hoses
  • The plastic material may not be as durable as metal options

When I installed the MAXZONE Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump in my boat, I noticed that it did a great job of removing any water that accumulates. The pump’s 1100 GPH flow rate quickly clears out any standing water, ensuring my boat remains dry at all times.

One of the best aspects of this bilge pump is the built-in float switch. It eliminates the need for a separate float switch and makes the entire operation fully automatic. I didn’t have to worry about a thing – if the water level rose, the pump would activate and do its job without any intervention from me.

What I also appreciate about the MAXZONE bilge pump is its energy-efficiency. The pump only uses power when it’s activated by the internal float switch, which helps preserve battery life. However, it’s essential to note that you need a 12V 8A power adapter, which isn’t included with the pump.

One potential drawback is the outlet diameter of 1 1/8″. This might not fit all hoses, so double-check your hose size before buying. Additionally, while the plastic material is lightweight, it may not be as durable as some metal options in the long run.

Overall, in my opinion, the MAXZONE Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump is an excellent choice for a boat bilge pump, offering efficient performance and ease of use with its built-in automatic float switch.

Sanuke 1100gph Bilge Pump

Sanuke Bilge Pump

The Sanuke 1100gph Bilge Pump is a must-buy for its impressive flow rate, lasting performance, and quality materials.

  • High flow rate of 1100 gallons per hour (GPH)
  • Water-cooled engine for long service life
  • Rust and corrosion-resistant materials
  • Hose not included
  • Wiring may need extension for some applications
  • Can be difficult to find suitable hose

I recently had the chance to use the Sanuke 1100gph Bilge Pump on my fishing boat and was delighted with its performance. It’s designed with a water-cooled engine, which ensures a prolonged service life – a true testament to its durability. With an impressive flow rate of 1100 GPH, this pump efficiently handled the water removal from my boat, making it perfect for emergencies or regular maintenance.

One thing I noted about the Sanuke Bilge Pump is that it’s built to withstand the most adverse conditions. The ABS housing is impact-resistant, and its stainless steel shafts are rust and corrosion-resistant, making it ideal for the harsh marine environment.

Installation was straightforward, but I did have to purchase a hose separately as it wasn’t included. I also found that I needed to extend the wires a bit for my particular setup. However, these minor inconveniences were overshadowed by its overall performance and quality.

In conclusion, the Sanuke 1100gph Bilge Pump is a reliable and efficient choice for boat owners. Its high flow rate, water-cooled engine, and durable construction make it a perfect choice for handling water removal in the marine environment. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to buy a hose and may need to adjust the wiring depending on your needs.

Johnson Pumps – 22102 PROLINE Bilge Pump 1000 GPH 2.5A

Johnson Pumps - 22102 PROLINE Bilge Pump

The Johnson Proline Bilge Pump is a reliable and efficient choice for keeping your boat dry and safe.

  • Powerful 1000 GPH pumping capacity
  • Easy installation and compatibility
  • Durable construction with DuraPorts
  • 3/4″ connection may be small for some users
  • No batteries included
  • Limited warranty

I recently installed the Johnson Pumps Proline Bilge Pump on my boat and noticed an immediate improvement in how quickly water was removed. The 1000 GPH pumping capacity is impressive, making it a significant upgrade from my old 500 GPH pump. The DuraPorts ensure that the pump can withstand wear and tear, providing a reliable solution for any boating enthusiast.

What I really appreciated was the ease of installation. I was able to use the existing base from the previous pump and had no issues with the process. The pump operates quietly, which is a bonus on those peaceful days out on the water.

One thing to keep in mind is that this pump doesn’t come with batteries, so you’ll need to make sure you have a power source. Additionally, the 3/4″ connection might be too small for some users, so ensure it’s compatible with your boat setup before purchasing.

Although the Proline Bilge Pump comes with a limited warranty, it shouldn’t deter users from considering this pump as a dependable choice. The quality construction and performance outweigh its shortcomings.

In conclusion, the Johnson Pumps Proline Bilge Pump is a powerful, durable, and efficient choice that will help keep your boat safe and dry. Just be mindful of the connection size and the need for a power source, and you’ll have a reliable bilge pump that’s well worth the investment.

Buying Guide

When it comes to choosing the best boat bilge pump, there are a few important factors I need to consider to ensure that I get the most suitable and efficient product. Here, I will walk you through these factors to help you make an informed decision.

First and foremost, the capacity of the bilge pump is crucial. This is typically measured in gallons per hour (GPH). I need to evaluate my boat’s size and the amount of water it may take on in case of an emergency. A higher-capacity pump will be more effective in removing water quickly from the bilge area, but it may also consume more power. So, I’ll have to strike a balance between power efficiency and fast water removal.

Power Source

Bilge pumps can be powered by different types of power sources. The most common types include manual hand pumps, electric, and engine-driven pumps. Electric bilge pumps are the most popular, given their efficiency and ease of use. However, it is essential to ensure that my boat’s electrical system can handle the power consumption of the chosen bilge pump.

Automatic vs. Manual

Some bilge pumps come with automatic features, like a float switch, to activate the pump when the water level reaches a certain height. This can be a convenient option for me because it ensures that the pump operates only when it is needed. However, having a manual override option is also essential for added safety and control during emergency situations.

Installation and Maintenance

Ease of installation and maintenance should also factor into my decision. Many bilge pumps come with quick-release systems for simple installation and removal, making it easy for me to clean and maintain the pump periodically. Additionally, I should also consider the pump’s design and build quality to ensure it withstands harsh marine environments.

Price and Warranty

Lastly, the cost and warranty offered by the manufacturer are essential to consider. While it may be tempting to opt for a less expensive pump, I must keep in mind the old adage, “you get what you pay for.” A high-quality, dependable bilge pump may cost a bit more upfront, but it will likely save me money and stress in the long run. Moreover, checking the warranty offered allows me to gauge the manufacturer’s confidence in their product.

Frequently Asked Questions

What factors should i consider when selecting a bilge pump.

When selecting a bilge pump, it’s essential to consider factors like the size of your boat, the pump’s pumping capacity (measured in Gallons Per Hour or GPH), installation, and power source. Additionally, you should think about whether you require an automatic or manual bilge pump and if you need a pump with a float switch.

How does an automatic pump differ from a manual pump?

An automatic bilge pump activates when it senses water in the bilge, while a manual pump requires manual intervention to operate. Automatic pumps often come with built-in float switches and can be essential for detecting and removing water quickly, which can prevent damage to your boat. Manual pumps are useful as a backup option or in smaller boats where the bilge is easily accessible and water accumulation is minimal.

What are some reliable bilge pump brands?

Some well-known brands that produce reliable bilge pumps are Rule, Attwood, Johnson Pumps, and Jabsco. Each brand offers a range of bilge pumps to accommodate various boat sizes and pump capacities, so be sure to evaluate your specific needs when choosing a bilge pump.

Do I need a bilge pump with a float switch?

A float switch is a useful feature for an automatic bilge pump. When the water level rises in the bilge, the float switch is triggered, activating the bilge pump. Having a float switch in your bilge pump system adds an extra layer of protection by ensuring that the pump operates when needed. However, if you opt for a manual bilge pump or if your boat has minimal risk of water accumulation, a float switch may not be necessary.

How do I calculate the necessary gallons per minute for a bilge pump?

To calculate the necessary gallons per minute (GPM) for a bilge pump, first, determine the volume of your bilge area in cubic feet. Next, multiply this figure by the height of the compartment in feet. Finally, divide this result by the time you want the pump to empty the bilge (in minutes). For a safer estimate, consider selecting a bilge pump with higher GPM than your calculation to account for possible inefficiencies in operation.

What is the typical lifespan of a bilge pump?

The lifespan of a bilge pump varies based on factors such as usage, maintenance, and environmental conditions. Typically, a well-maintained bilge pump can last anywhere from 3-5 years or even longer with proper care. Regular inspection and cleaning can help extend the life of your bilge pump, ensuring that it operates efficiently when needed.

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  • ← Install & Repair

Install The Best Bilge Pump


Installing an automatic bilge pump may be a simple task, but it's also extremely important — this pump will keep your boat afloat, so make sure it goes in right!

Parts of a bilge pump system illustration

Surprising but true: Most of us depend on rather cheap little pumps to keep our rather expensive boats from slipping beneath the waves. Fortunately, today's automatic bilge pumps are far more powerful and dependable than those of yesteryear. But they still go bad from time to time, and whether yours are in need of replacement or you simply want to add an extra pump or two for a security boost, you need to make absolutely sure this job goes right. Ready to get started? Good — roll up your sleeves, and let's get to work.

Before You Begin

One of the main reasons bilge pumps fail is because foreign objects either jam the pump, or lock the float switch into the "on" or "off" position. Bilge gunk, leaves, oily crud, and sand are guaranteed pump-killers, so before you even begin mounting a new bilge pump, provide it with a clean place to live. It's easiest to do this when the boat is blocked up on dry land, when you can thoroughly wash and rinse the bilge and allow the mounting area to dry. Choose a spot as close as possible to the bottom of the V in your hull and as far aft as practical, which has a secure mounting location like a shelf or a block laminated into the hull, for just this purpose.

Technical Support

Degree Of Difficulty: Moderate to expert

  • Heat source (for heat-shrink tubing)
  • Knife or box-cutter
  • Power drill and bit (sized to match the through-hull's diameter)
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire crimper/stripper
  • 3M 5200 Adhesive-sealant $15
  • Adhesive-lined heat-shrink tubing $5
  • Bilge pump w/auto switch $65–$220
  • Butt connectors $3
  • SS cushioned-clamps $12–$30/ea.
  • Hose $2 - $5 per foot
  • Stainless-steel hose-clamps $5
  • Through-hull discharge fitting $7 –$28
  • Tinned-copper wire (gauge to manufacturer spec., length TBD,) $20 (approx.)

Approximate Project Cost: $225

Approximate Yard Time/Cost: This job may require wiring and working in constrained areas inside the boat, as well as working outside the boat. Therefore, it can be either very simple or quite time-consuming. Depending on the nature of your boat it should take anywhere from three to 10 hours to complete the job. At an average general yard work rate of $75/per hour, the price of labor for this job could range from $225 to $750.

Step I: Mount The Strainer Basket

We're going to assume you're starting from scratch, with a new strainer and pump. (When replacing a pump, you may be able to re-use a previously-mounted strainer basket if it's in good shape and you match the brand). Many modern pumps have integrated automatic switches; in these cases you won't have to mount a separate float switch, but some boaters prefer the easy access a separate switch provides.

Start by removing the strainer basket, which does double-duty as the pump's mount, from the bottom of the pump. Place it onto the spot you'll be mounting the pump, and use a pen to mark the location of the screw holes. Then remove the basket, and drill shallow pilot holes where you made the marks. Wipe away any gel coat or wood chips, and give each hole a copious serving of 3M 5200 Adhesive/sealant to be sure water doesn't intrude into the screw holes and cause damage over time. Place the strainer basket in position over the holes. Screw it down using the stainless-steel screws that came with the pump. If you're also mounting a separate flapper-style float switch be sure to orient it athwart ship, so surging water doesn't slam it into the up position when you accelerate — a common way they become stuck.

Now go home, and take the rest of the day off. The 5200 will take 24 hours to stiffen up (and several days more to completely cure) and you don't want to knock the strainer askew or stress it before the sticky goop dries, or you might end up with imperfect seals.

DIY Bilge Pump Installation - Getting Automatic Bilge Pump Operation

Step II: Run The Wires

With the pump clipped into the basket (to ensure you make the correct length wires) run a wire from the end of the pump's ground wire to the battery. Use a crimped butt-connector with adhesive-lined heat-shrink tubing to connect these wires; remember, this connection will have to live in the moist and dank environment of your bilge, so make sure it's a good one. Run the wire along a bulkhead or a pre-existing wiring harness, and secure it every couple of feet with cushioned clamps. Note: always use the manufacturer's recommended minimum (or larger) gauge tinned-copper wire.

Next, run a pair of wires (one for the "on," one for the "auto" setting) to a three-way switch, located at the helm. It's best to use a switch made specifically for this purpose, which has a power-on indicator light so you know when the pump is activated. Connect these to the pump's power wires (or the separate float switch, if applicable; refer to the manufacture's wiring diagram included with the pump to identify which power wire is which) with more crimped butt-connecters protected by adhesive-lined heat-shrink tubing, and secure them every couple of feet. Then connect the wires to the switch's "on" and "automatic" positions, using either ring terminals or by soldering, as is appropriate for the type of switch. Note that this switch should be wired to a fused or breaker power connection at the helm, with the appropriate amperage as recommended by the manufacturer, unless it incorporates a fuse of its own. And remember that if you want the bilge pump to work when the battery switch is turned off you need to make a live connection, not one that goes dead when the switch is turned off. When wiring directly to the battery, such as in the case of very small tiller-steered boats that may not have fuse or breaker panels, install the fuse directly in-line as close to the battery as possible.

Step III: Installing The Thru-hull Discharge

You'll need to drill a hole in the hull-sides (ouch!) in order to give your pump an outlet. This is unnerving, but trust us, it's 100-percent necessary. Choose a thru-hull that matches the diameter of the pump's port size. Obviously, this will also determine the diameter of the discharge hose you use.

Locate a spot on the hull that's far enough above the waterline that it won't become submerged when the boat is fully loaded or heeling over. It should also be as close as possible to the pump, because long runs and bends in the discharge line will reduce the pump's capacity. The natural loss of pumping ability due to "head" (height above pump level and friction in the discharge hose) can cut a pump's capacity by as much as a third of what's advertised. On top of that, long runs can result in lots of backflow when the pump shuts off, and in extreme cases, enough backflow to re-start the pump — so keep the plumbing as short as possible.

The boat's gelcoat is less likely to splinter if you drill from the outside-in as opposed to the inside-out, but if nearby bulkheads, wires, or plumbing makes it imperative for you to get the exact location perfect, you may need to first drill a tiny pilot hole from the inside, so you can identify the specific spot while standing outside the boat. Remember, you'll minimize gelcoat splintering if you run the drill at full speed at all times (slower speeds only encourage the bit to grab and break off chunks of gel coat). Okay, it's time to grit your teeth and drill, baby, drill!

With your hole complete, glob some 3M 5200 around the insides of the fitting and the face of the nut (not the threads), insert the fitting into place, and spin the nut on. Whew! Time to take another break; the most stressful part of this job is now behind us.

Step IV: Installing The Discharge Hose

When you cut the hose to length, allow enough extra to shape a loop in it, just above the discharge. Make it a fairly large loop, which rises well above the thru-hull fitting, and secure it to the hullside with cushioned clamps. This is called an "anti-siphon loop," and although this bend will increase the head your pump must overcome, it also prevents water from back-flowing through the discharge hose — an imperative feature, if your discharge ever dips below the waterline. With the hose in place, secure it to the pump's discharge and the thru-hull's barb, using stainless-steel hose clamps. Then use cushioned clamps to secure the hose along its run.

Congratulations. You've just installed a new automatic bilge pump. Before launching your boat, give it a test by putting in the boat's plug(s) and filling the bilge with a hose until the automatic switch kicks in. Then, test it with the three-way switch. Finally, it's time to celebrate a job well done.

Capacity Conundrum

Just how much pumping capacity does your boat need? Will a single bilge pump do the trick, or should your boat have a pair of pumps — or even more? Ideally you should have the highest-volume pump possible for the space available. Whenever possible it’s advisable to have a double-pump arrangement, with the smaller pump mounted low to handle rain and spray, and a larger pump mounted a little higher in the bilge (along with a high-water alarm) to kick in when serious leaks need to be handled. Here are some specs from ABYC for installing electric bilge pumps:

  • Discharge location should be above your maximum heeled waterline; or below your maximum heeled waterline if your discharge line is provided with both a seacock and a vented loop or other means to prevent siphoning into the boat. Don't use a check valve for this purpose.
  • On boats with enclosed accommodations, an alarm should be installed, indicating that bilge water is approaching the maximum bilge-water level.
  • Pumps with automatic controls need to have a visual indication that power is being supplied to the pump.

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Lenny Rudow

New Boats, Fishing & Electronics Editor, BoatUS Magazine

Top tech writer and accomplished sports fisherman, BoatUS Magazine Contributing Editor Lenny Rudow has written seven practical boating books, won 30 awards from Boating Writers International — many for his marine electronics articles – and two for excellence from the Outdoor Writers Association of America. He judges the NMMA Innovation Awards, and is Angler in Chief at FishTalk, his own Chesapeake-based publication. A great teacher and inspirational writer, Lenny hosts many of BoatUS Magazine’s very-popular how-to videos, which can be found on the BoatUS YouTube channel, or at BoatUS.com

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best sailboat bilge pump

How to Choose the Right Bilge Pump for Your Boat

Bilge pumps are an essential safety and maintenance feature of any boat. They prevent flooding and protect vessels from becoming too heavy due to fluid buildup. The quality of a bilge pump can mean the difference between staying afloat and sinking, so incorporating the correct pump is crucial. There are numerous types, sizes, and configurations of bilge pumps to choose from, which can be overwhelming to new boat owners. Bilge pump buyers should be wary of the benefits and disadvantages of each pump type before installing one into their vessel. Below, you can find information about the types of bilge pumps, the boats each type is used for, and how to size a bilge pump for your boat.

What is the best bilge pump?

While centrifugal bilge pumps are the most popular type of bilge pump, there is no “one size fits all” solution to finding a pump for your boat. The best bilge pump for your vessel depends on the size of the boat and the type and amount of debris your boat will face. Large boats, for example, must use centrifugal pumps because of their high output rates. They often use other pump types in conjunction with centrifugal pumps to rid the hull of sludge and other thick fluids. Owners of smaller boats, on the other hand, can choose between centrifugal and the other pump types. Distinguishing between the types of bilge pumps is the first step toward purchasing the correct one for your vessel.

How many bilge pumps should a boat have?

Small boats, such as deck boats, small fishing boats, and center console boats, should only need one bilge pump to remove unwanted water, but larger vessels should utilize two or more pumps to manage the water levels. Even for small boats, however, a secondary bilge pump may be preferred as a backup to the primary pump. If excessive amounts of water pour into the bilge, multiple bilge pumps can help save the day. Many boat enthusiasts prefer to install one medium-capacity pump under the bilge with a second high-capacity pump mounted above the bilge.

The best way to avoid a flooded bilge is to invest in a thorough bilge pump system. The time to prepare for a full bilge is not when the bilge fills up, but rather when you prepare your boat for the water. Multiple bilge pumps may seem like unnecessary costs, but they can help you save money and protect you when trouble arises.

Automatic vs manual bilge pumps

The primary difference between automatic and manual bilge pumps is how they are activated. While most bilge pumps are automated, some can be turned on manually.  Manual bilge pumps are commonly used on small recreational boats, such as dinghies, kayaks, and canoes. These pumps allow water to be pumped out at the user’s discretion and are only advisable for small vessels. Some manual diaphragm pumps allow for higher volumes of water, so they may be used on small boats that are slightly larger than canoes and kayaks.

manual bilge pump

Automatic bilge pumps operate with a float switch, a device that signals the pump when water reaches a preset level. These pumps ensure that water does not fill up past a certain point by powering the pump on when water reaches the predetermined height. Likewise, the switch protects the pump from constantly running by shutting it off when the water dips below a separate preset level. This factor is especially important for pumps that overheat quickly while running dry.

What type of bilge pump do I need?

Bilge pumps  come in three major types,  centrifugal ,  diaphragm , and  reciprocating . Each type possesses unique characteristics that benefit or hinder its performance compared to other types. Compare your needs to the specifications of each type to find your desired pump type.

Centrifugal bilge pumps

Centrifugal pumps are the most popular type of bilge pump due to their low cost and ability to pump large volumes of water. They use an impeller with blades to increase the speed and pressure of incoming water. Large vessels almost exclusively use centrifugal pumps to offset the large volumes of water they intake. These pumps are also advantageous because of their ability to handle small debris.

Despite their popularity, centrifugal bilge pumps possess some negative attributes that are not ideal for small and medium boats. For example, they cannot pump water well uphill, and most are not self-priming. This prevents all water from a bilge from being pumped out. As a result, another type of pump must be used to rid the bilge of all water. Some self-priming centrifugal pumps exist, but they are mostly designed for large vessels and come at a premium cost. Centrifugal pumps that are not self-priming should never be run dry. Doing so will cause the pump to overheat and cause irreversible damage to the impeller.

  • Large ships
  • Use with reciprocating pumps

Shop All Bilge Pumps

Diaphragm bilge pumps

Diaphragm bilge pumps are not ideal for large ships because they do not tolerate the same flow capacities as centrifugal pumps. They also struggle to handle debris, so a screen or filter must be installed next to the pump’s intake to prevent damage. Diaphragm bilge pumps are positive displacement pumps, meaning they are much better at pumping water uphill than centrifugal pumps. They also do not need to be submerged to function, so they can be installed above the bilge, allowing easy access for maintenance and upkeep.

Another positive of diaphragm pumps is that some do not require electrical power. These pumps are powered by manually turning a lever or crank when the user decides to rid the bilge of water. Manual pumps eliminate the risk of pump failure due to electrical issues, but they are only advisable in very small boats, such as dinghies.

  • Small to medium-sized ships
  • Boats where manual pumps are an option

Reciprocating bilge pumps

Reciprocating bilge pumps, also known as piston bilge pumps, are similar to diaphragm pumps because they use positive displacement to remove water from the hull. They are also self-priming and can be mounted away from the bilge like diaphragm pumps. The major benefit of piston pumps is their ability to pump more viscous liquids than either centrifugal or diaphragm can. Because of this ability, reciprocating pumps are often used in conjunction with centrifugal pumps in large vessels. The centrifugal pumps handle the large volumes of water the boat intakes, and the piston pumps deal with sludge that builds up over time.

The downsides of piston bilge pumps are similar to those of diaphragm pumps. Centrifugal pumps can remove much larger volumes of water than piston pumps, even the most powerful models. Reciprocating pumps also struggle with debris, even more so than diaphragm pumps, so a filter or screen is essential on the intake hose. Like diaphragm pumps, piston pumps are excellent for small to medium-sized boats that do not need the flow capacity of a centrifugal pump.

  • Use with centrifugal pumps
  • Pumping sludge and other viscous liquids

Learn more:  What is a bilge pump and how does it work?

How to size a bilge pump

The recommended bilge pump sizes are based on the length of your boat.

  • <20 feet:  700-1000 GPH
  • 20-25 feet:  1000-1400 GPH
  • 26-30 feet:  1200-1600 GPH
  • 31-35 feet:  1400-1800 GPH
  • 36-40 feet:  1600-2200 GPH
  • 41-45 feet:  2000-4000 GPH

Bilge pumps are measured in the number of gallons of water they can pump per hour (GPH). The GPH rating of a bilge pump is often higher than the actual amount of water it will pump in an hour. This is due to insufficient power, the type of discharge hose, and the height that the water is being pumped. For example, a pump will only receive full power when connected to a source on the shore or when the engine is running. Otherwise, the pump receives only about 80 percent of its maximum power. As a general rule, you can assume that a bilge pump can output about 60 percent of its rated volume.

bilge pump

Most bilge pumps are installed below the waterline and therefore must pump water vertically to some extent. The amount of vertical pumping a bilge pump must perform is referred to as the  head . This is the distance between the bilge and the outlet in the pump’s siphon loop. The greater the head of a bilge pump, the greater the drop in the pump’s performance. Three feet of head will drop a pump’s performance by about 30 percent. To accommodate this drop in performance, many boaters install the largest bilge pump that their boat can accommodate. In most scenarios, the greater the output of a bilge pump, the better. However, boat owners should confirm that a bilge pump can be properly installed in their vessel before purchasing a large pump.

If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to  contact us .

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best sailboat bilge pump

Sailboats & Bilge Pumps: 8 Answers (For Beginners)

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As a beginner to boating or sailing, many new terminologies are to discover and boat systems to learn.

One of the systems on a sailboat that is very important to learn is the bilge pump and how it works.

Read on to discover all you need to know about sailboats and bilge pumps:

Table of Contents

best sailboat bilge pump

What Part Of A Sailboat Is The Bilge?

The bilge on any boat or ship, including a sailboat, is the inside, lowest part of the boat’s hull.

The bilge area of a boat or ship is designed to collect any leaks.

These leaks can come from excessive water on deck (which can include washing your boat or a lot of rain), holes or problems with the hull, fuel leaks, or any other accidental spills.

What Is A Bilge Pump?

A bilge pump is a waterproof pump that removes the collected water from a boat’s bilge and pumps it overboard.

They can be manual or electric and come in many different shapes and sizes. Bilge pumps are there to help prevent your boat from sinking, especially if it is left unattended or you develop a problem while out at sea.

However, if you have an accident and put a hole in your hull, a bilge pump alone will not stop your boat from sinking, but they are a last line of defense in case of small leaks and will help prevent flooding.

What Are The Different Types Of Bilge Pumps?

So, we have established a bilge pump, but is this a standard piece of equipment, or do they come in different types?

The following is a brief description of the 2 main different types of bilge pumps available for small, recreational boats:


Centrifugal pumps are submersible and non-self-priming, which means they must be sitting in the water to pump it out.

They usually remove most, if not all, of the water. The last drops you can then soak up with a sponge.

They work best when the bilge has a small integrated compartment where the water collects at a central point.

Diaphragm pumps are self-priming.

This means that they can pump water upwards through an intake hose and discharge it outside the hull.

They use a membrane to create a vacuum to draw water in and push water out. A diaphragm pump can usually remove all the water from your bilge and leave it fairly dry.

What Sailboats Have A Bilge Pump?

Every boat, whether sail or motorboat, will have some form of a bilge pump.

In fact, the Small Vessel Regulations in most countries require you to carry a manual bilge pump at the minimum. However, if your boat is less than 9 meters (29.5 feet) long, you may carry a bailing device instead of a pump.

While the US Coast Guards’ advice for recreational boating is that a manual bilge pump or bailing device is a highly recommended piece of equipment, different states, and indeed different countries, will have different laws with different requirements.

As a prudent boater, it is highly recommended to have one manual bilge pump on board.

It is not so important in shallow waters, such as on a river or lake, but you should never go out to sea without at least one functional bilge pump.

What Exactly Is The Function Of A Bilge Pump?

The main function of a bilge pump is to remove any water from the bilge of your boat.

During normal operation, a bilge pump can provide a convenient way to keep the bilge of your boat dry without having to roll up your sleeves and get out a bucket and sponge.

It can also buy you time in a potentially hazardous situation like a major storm where you have a lot of water coming off the deck or a leak caused by a failed through-hull fitting or from any hull damage due to a collision.

How Long Can A Bilge Pump Run Continuously?

Bilge pumps can be both manual or electric and come with different pump-out capabilities.

How long you can use a manual bilge pump will depend on how many spare hands you have and where the handle and pump are operated from. If it is in an awkward place, you will use your energy much faster than a place where you can sit or stand comfortably.

An electric pump should be fitted with an automatic float switch. This means that as soon as any water is detected in the bilge, theoretically, the float switch should activate the electric bilge pump to switch on and switch off as soon as the water has been removed.

These days, most pumps are electrically powered, but most boat builders still fit manual pumps. If we compare the two, and if power is available, electric pumps are unlimited in their pumping capacity and are faster than manual pumps.

However, manual pumps have the advantage of their ability to be used, even when you are out of battery power.

Does My Sailboat Need A Bilge Pump?

A bilge pump should be considered an essential piece of equipment for your sailboat.

Although small boats, or boats under 15 feet in length, don’t need to be equipped with an electric bilge pump because you can manage with a manual pump or even a bucket and a sponge.

However, you need a bilge pump for bigger boats because you don’t know when water or other liquids may get into your boat’s bilge. When water gets in, you need to get rid of that water. Supposing a seacock fails or you hit something which puts a hole in your boat?

Whatever the source of water coming into the boat, you may not be able to pump it manually. So, it would be best if you had an electric bilge pump for larger boats.

In addition, if your sailboat is too big to fit on a trailer, and is kept in a marina or on a mooring, what happens when you’re not there?

A bilge pump combined with a float switch will activate if there is water in your boat, even if you are not on board.

What Are The Best Brands Of Bilge Pumps?

While there are many different brands of bilge pumps available, the following brands are the ones that regularly feature in the Top 10 lists:

Rule –

Rule manufactures a range of bilge pumps with different water pump-out rates per hour.

The rule is a brand that has been around for a long time and has become a standard that many boaters use as a measure against other brands.

Seaflo –

Seaflo offers a choice of bilge pumps that are automatic, non-automatic, and manual.

Their flow rates range from 500 to 2,000 gallons per hour (GPH). They also offer various accessories, including float switches, through-hull fittings, deck wash down kits, and much more.

Attwood –

Attwood makes a complete selection of bilge pumps suitable for small runabouts, cruisers, yachts, and even commercial boats.

Attwood bilge pumps are tested and approved as standard equipment by many leading boat manufacturers.

Maxzone –

Maxzone is another brand that regularly pops up in the Top 10 Bilge Pump lists.

They have a range of automatic and non-automatic submersible bilge pumps designed to clear water in any sized boat.

Shoreline –

Shoreline offers the best value for money option on the market.

They offer a selection of bilge pumps and accessories, which all have marine-grade wiring.

This means that not only are the pumps safe to install, but they are also easy to set up by the DIY boater.

Final Thoughts

After taking possession of your ‘new’ boat, you should always make sure that you familiarise yourself with all of your boat’s safety gear, including the bilge pump operation and any manual handles.

Often the manual bilge pump handles on second-hand boats are in far-flung places, are not easily accessible, or are the wrong size.

Knowing how to operate your bilge pump system correctly could be the difference between your boat sinking or staying afloat.


A Boater’s Guide To The Federal Requirements For Recreational Boats 

Best Bilge Pumps – Gearware.net

How To Select A Bilge Pump

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Installing the Ultimate Bilge-Pump System

  • By Kevin Falvey
  • Updated: April 14, 2014

Installing the Ultimate Bilge-Pump System

A bilge pump’s massive flow rate is often touted as proof of excellence.

Pump capacity isn’t the only metric used to judge a bilge-pump system, though. For instance, smoothbore hose costs more but makes better use of pump power than corrugated hose. And the redundant safety provided by multiple pumps is hard to beat.

This project outlines the installation of a second bilge pump that’s “high and dry” until called into service. While you might choose different components, this project outlines principles I believe should be part of any “ultimate bilge-pump system.”

Getting Started Skill Level: 3/5 Time to Complete: 4 hours

Tools and Supplies *Nonautomatic bilge pump: Johnson 1600 ($85, westmarine.com ) *Automatic float switch: Rule Super Switch ($58, westmarine.com ) *Reinforced polyester tubing (“clear vinyl hose”): Shields Series 162 ($3.14/foot, westmarine.com ) *Three-way switch for helm control of pump *Stainless-steel hose clamps (check with magnet) *Through-hull fitting with 90-degree elbow *Tie wraps *Nut drivers, screwdrivers, drill, pliers, cutters and wrenches to suit

Installing the Ultimate Bilge-Pump System

1. Mount the Pump Install the backup pump above the primary pump but below the level of the cabin sole, batteries and other critical equipment. You may need to build or buy a shelf or bulkhead-mount bracket.

Installing the Ultimate Bilge-Pump System

2. Install the Switches Install the automatic switch in a fore-and-aft orientation and with its hinge forward. Doing so ensures that the switch does not cycle as a result of a pitching boat or water running aft. Install a dedicated control switch at the helm. (Bilge pumps are the only appliance that may be wired directly, or “hot-wired,” to the batteries, according to the American Boat and Yacht Council.)

Installing the Ultimate Bilge-Pump System

3. Plumbing Plumb hose from the pump to a point at least 12 inches above the waterline and back down to the discharge fitting, which should itself be above the waterline. Avoid kinks, bends and sags. This “riser loop” prevents siphoning. Using a 90-degree hull fitting precludes a sharp bend in the hose.

Installing the Ultimate Bilge-Pump System

4. Safe Support Support the hose run with tie wraps, epoxy-gluing plywood to the hull side for the purpose if required. Secure the hose to fittings with clamps. Make electrical connections using best practices for waterproofing, fusing and mechanical integrity.

Quick Tip: The riser loop allows the discharge to exit lower on the hull side, reducing mess and noise from splashing bilge water.

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The Marine Mag

10 Best Bilge Pump for Boats – (Reviews & Buying Guide 2021)

Having a boat is a pretty good way to relax and spend your free time in the water. But the boat as every other object needs some supplies. One of the most serious points about the ship is the bilge pump. Having the best bilge pump is just a thing that helps you with the best experience you can have. Having it is essential as it is not only a matter of excellent performance but is often a matter of safety as well.

What types of bilge pump can you find? What are the benefits of using one? What else should you know about the pumps and their use? Our team has done some research, collect new facts, valuable information and made some bilge pump reviews. All this can help the readers to choose the right one for their boat.

Best Bilge Pumps Comparison Chart

Best bilge pump reviews (new list 2021).

We have compiled a review section specially to make your life easier. The top 10 products that we have selected are not arranged in any order so that we don’t taint your objectivity.

1. Shoreline Marine Bilge Pump

Shoreline Marine Bilge Pumps

The unit includes a mounting bracket and stainless steel hardware which makes it a good purchase for such a competitive price. Moreover, it comes with more than enough marine grade wire to reach where you need it to go. It has ¾ inches diameter hose which is the standard size.

Another advantage of this bilge pump is that it is quieter than most pumps while in operation. The pump is submersible in the water and needs to be manually operated. However, if you prefer it to work automatically, you can always install a float switch. You would need 12 Volt DC current to power the motor.

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Able to move water quickly
  • Marine-grade wiring
  • Lacks durability

2. Seasense Hand Bilge Pump Hose

Seasense Hand Bilge Pump Hose

With a removable hose for secure storage, the hand bilge pump is extremely lightweight weighing only a pound. It resists corrosion and will be durable.

It has a large ergonomic high impact handle with an easy-grip that is convenient to use. The diameter of the pump housing is 2 inches, and the inside diameter of the hose is 1 1/8 inches. The pump is 24 inches long, and the hose is 36 inches long which is an average length for good suction. While using a longer tube is more liable to blockage, there is room to extend it to meet your needs.

  • Budget-friendly
  • Lightweight
  • Ergonomic high impact handle
  • Poor hose connection that tends to leak water
  • While the pump is durable, the hose is not of good quality

3. Rule Non-Automatic Bilge Pump

Rule Non-Automatic Bilge Pump

With this non-automatic pump, you will be able to pump water up to 10ft vertically and 20ft vertically + horizontally. This particular model does not feature a drain back valve. Will have to make sure your vacuum brake system is fine before embarking. The discharge hose outlet is of decent dimensions given the overall size of the pump. You get a 3-year warranty with that product.

  • Budget option
  • Easy to carry
  • Powerful for its size
  • Can’t service larger boats
  • No drain back valve

4. Attwood Tsunami Manual Bilge Pump

Attwood Tsunami Manual Bilge Pump

The pump is operated manually and rated a gallon per hour. It might not be the most durable pump, but it performs efficiently. It requires 12 Volt DC unit and draws 3 amps.

Cleaning and maintaining will be quick and straightforward as the pump inlet screen is easy to remove and you can get rid of any debris it sucks up. On top of that, the motor core is interchangeable and replaceable.

The pump has 1 1/8 inches outlet hose which is a bit larger than the standard tube. While it might be harder to find such a size hose the good part is the high volume output will result in pumping out water faster.

  • Interchangeable and replaceable motor core
  • Cartridges can be replaced
  • Reasonably priced
  • Harder to find a hose that will fit the more significant discharge port
  • Low flow rate

5. Seaflo Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Pump

Seaflo Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Pump

The outlet diameter of the pump is a standard 3/4 inches. It is equipped with an integrated float switch test button. Since it has a built-in switch, no power is used until the water reaches the internal float switch. The pump has ignition protection against a high current.

Another favorable feature is the built-in electronic controlled reed sensor system which makes the automatic operation more reliable and comfortable. The pump can also be used with a switch panel for manual override.

Maintainance of the pump is effortless as it has a quick-release strainer. It also has a watertight seal and anti-airlock protection.

  • Water-cooled long-life motor
  • Silent and vibrationless operation
  • Highly durable
  • Reverse wiring which can be confusing while installing
  • Not able to fully empty the boat as the pump will switch off when the water drops at a certain level.

6. Johnson Pumps of America Marine Pro-Line Bilge Pump

Johnson Pumps of America Marine Pro-Line Bilge Pump

The bilge pump has an ignition protection feature so that it is protected against a high current. This will ultimately result in higher durability. The pump is tough enough to handle saltwater and includes anti-airlock protection.

It is manually operated unless you install a float switch to make it automatic. The pump is an average size and has a 3/4 inches outlet diameter which is a standard size. It is beneficial because finding a matching hose will be a piece of cake.

The pump claimed to be 100% factory tested, and thus every unit sent out should be in good working condition. Maintenance of the pump is easy due to the base strainer.

  • 3-year warranty
  • Anti-airlock protection
  • High flow output
  • Motor lacks durability
  • No built-in switch

7. Amarine-Made Marine Electric Bilge Pump

Amarine-Made Marine Electric Bilge Pump

The bilge pump has a high flow rate-1100 GPH  and powered by 12 Volt plug that draws 3 amps only. Depending on your preference you can make the pump operate manually or automatically, either way, the switch needs to be bought additionally as in most cases.

It comes with proper lead wiring that is about 5 feet long. Not only will the installation be easy with the snap-lock strainer base but it will also make maintenance effortless. It also leads to a quiet and vibration-free operation.

The discharge port diameter is specified as 29mm which is equivalent to 1-1/8 inches. It can be a little harder to get such a size hose.

  • Ignition protected
  • Long lasting motor
  • The diameter hose seems to be smaller than the specified size.

8. Rule 24 Submersible Bilge Pump

Rule 24 Submersible Bilge Pump

The pump is powered by 12 Volt plug and rated to have 350 GPH. It might not stand out when it comes to output capacity, but it is very reliable. It doesn’t come with a built-in switch because they are meant to be manually operated. This will involve an additional purchase of the switch, but on the bright side, the pump will be able to get rid of every last drop of water on board.

Installing the pump will be simple as it has a standard size output diameter which is 3/4. Another advantage of choosing this pump is that it has a 3-year warranty. So in case of any malfunction, you are covered. Nothing is surprising when it comes to maintenance as it has a removable base like most pumps.

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Economically priced
  • Low flow rate capacity
  • Less durable

9. Rule 1100 GPH Non-Automatic Bilge Pump

Rule 1100 GPH Non-Automatic, Bilge Pump, Submersible

The bilge pump has to be switched on manually and needless to say, the switch will be an additional purchase. Depending on its intended use and of course, your preference, you can always add an automatic switch. This will make the pump more reliable and will not fail you in times of need.

As the pump is designed for the bilge, it is fully submersible and has a long-life motor. The height of the pump is 4-1/4 inches and 2-3/8 inches wide and could be categorized as a small pump. It weighs under 3 pounds. Mounting will be reasonably straightforward as it has a detachable base.

  • High pumping capacity
  • More effort required in finding the right size hose as the discharge port is more substantial than standard size

10. Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump

Attwood Sahara Automatic Bilge Pump

The bilge pump is turned on automatically. It has an internal air-filled float piece that triggers the pump once the water level rises to a certain point and will continue pumping until the water level drops down to the shut-off level. You can test the operation to ensure that the switch is working well by merely turning the test knob which makes the air-filled piece float.

The weight of the automatic pump is 1.1 pounds which is considered to be lightweight for a bilge pump. The hose connection is 3/4 inches wide. It is a standard size and will fit all types of hose. There are two mounting holes in the detachable base so that you can mount the pump with ease.

  • 16-Gauge tinned copper wiring
  • Float switch testing knob
  • The float level is set low
  • No option for adjustment on the float level

What is the Bilge Pump?

What is the Bilge Pump

Types Of Bilge Pumps

As every other bilge pump for small boats , you can find different types of bilge pumps. The main thing is to know what exactly do you need for your ship – the size, the capacity and where you will put the pump. It is good to know all the bilge pump basics when you choose your type of pump.

Centrifugal Electrical Pump

Using kinetic energy by rotating, the centrifugal electrical pump move the water just as the turbine. This kind of pump is cheap and runs a lot of water. The maintenance is easy, you can store it for a long time when you are not using it.

Diaphragm Electrical Pump

Here, the pump use vacuum and ‘suck’ the bilge water out. The diaphragm pump is self-priming, and it pushes the water better uphill. It is harder to maintaining and cannot move so much water, but can run dry without any damage.

Benefits Of Bilge Pumps

Bilge Pump Reviews

Both kinds of pumps are designed for underwater use. But safety first! The pump is small just and can be placed almost anywhere at the bottom of the vessel similar to any boat anchor .

Most of the pumps are not expensive. You can find some good pumps at a meager price. It will do the same job, Just make sure you choose the right kind of pump for the size of the boat and the engine.


The bilge water pump is easy to move. You can store it somewhere else, not in the boat, when you are not using it. Some of the pumps can be stored for a long time without being damaged.

Having a functional bilge pump will make you feel more secure while sailing. You already know, that having liquids on the bottom of your boat, can become dangerous real fast. One of the main pros of having and using the right type of pump for your watercraft is safety. Always check if the pump is working before leaving the wharf.

All the items that we buy have some advantages, but also some disadvantages. Here we have summed some information about the pumps, that will help you to keep your boat safe.

As we already said, these pumps are comfortable to be lifted and stored. But this is a precondition for robbery. Be sure you always keep the portable bilge pump safe! Yes, they are cheap, but theft can cause some severe situations.

Always pay attention to the size and how the pump is working. If you had the wrong one – too small or too big – it would not work fine, so you may have some trouble.

Dangerous Situations

Having two water pumps is essential. One of them can always be damaged, and it is good to have one more so you can use it in case of a break-down.

Best Bilge Pumps

Here you can see the most essential elements of the bilge pumps. The choice of the right one just depends on these facts.

Choose the right size of the pump so you will have enough space for it and for other supplies you need such as an anchor rope  and others. The size matters – not only it is essential for the amount of water, but also for the free space in your boat.

This one is significant! Always check the output of the pump before buying it. If it is too small for your vessel, it can cause some dangerous situations, because it is not pumping the water fast enough.

Type of the pump is essential. You have already checked the kinds of the bilge pumps, and you know your type of boat. Be sure you choose a centrifugal pump for larger ships and diaphragm pump if you need to push the water uphill.


As you already saw, the support is not something complicated, but now we will introduce you to some crucial details about it. The maintenance of the pump is specific for different kinds of pumps.

  • Remove dirt and waste from the place, where the pump is.
  • Clean the screen of the pump. The intake screen is essential for the user.
  • Always check the electrical connection.
  • If you use a diaphragm one, clean it to prevent clogging.
  • You can check the manual for some more specific details.
  • Maintenance is essential for the life of the pump. Take proper care for it, and it will be reliable for a long time.


You have bought your pump, and now you need to install in on the boat. Reading the manual from the manufacturer, you will find information about the installation of a particular pump. Here are some more tips for installation.

It very important is to check the electrical connection. If you are not sure about it, always call a technician just to be sure.

It doesn’t matter what brand of pump you have, the installation is essential for efficient use. Do not forget to check the instructions.

Never use a crumpled hose. It can be very dangerous. Choose a smooth one – it will not kink.

If you find any troubles during the installation – call a technician. They will help you. Do not forget – safety is first! The correct installation is essential for proper use.

Safety Tips

Safety is essential for all of us. And protection while sailing is even more critical because, in the sea, we cannot do so many things. We need to be prepared for some situations before leaving the pier. Check some tips our team has collected to help you with the choice, with using of the bilge pump and with preventing dangerous situations.

  • Pick the right type of pump!
  • Check the pump before leaving the pier.
  • Have a spare one in your boat in case of a break-down.
  • Place the pump in the right place!
  • Take proper care of the pump!
  • If you are not sure, if the pump is working fine, call a technician – they will make sure that everything is perfect.
  • Always have a secondary one – if you are at the water and the first one breaks down, you can change it. This is life-saver!
  • Always enjoy your free time in the water, but never forget the safety. Check the electrical connection.

Well done, you guys, you have successfully finished our buying guide on finding the best small bilge pump . Having read our reviews on the best bilge pump and our additional information and tips, you now realize that finding a reliable product can be a bit hard. It is essential to own the right pump for your boat, do not forget the maintenance and always follow the manual and the safety tips, so you can enjoy your boat and your trip in the water.

If you find our guide useful, forward it to your sailing-loving friends. Also, do not hesitate to contact us – your opinion is important! Comment, sent us an email – tell us what you think!

We hope that you find this text interesting. Find some more free time and check our articles – you can find information about all the marine supplies you need. Thanks for reading and as always – stay put!

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best sailboat bilge pump

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SEAFLO Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump 12v 750GPH Auto with Float Switch

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best sailboat bilge pump

SEAFLO Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump 12v 750GPH Auto with Float Switch

Purchase options and add-ons, about this item.

  • Flow Rate (GPH): 750GPH; Volt: 12V; Current(A): 3.0A; Head(M): 3.0M
  • Wire Lead(M): 1m; Outlet Diameter: 19mm/ 3/4-Inch; Width: Approx. 83mm
  • Built in magnetic float switch! No separate float switch is needed!
  • 4 Year Warranty!

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SEAFLO Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump 12v 750GPH Auto with Float Switch

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SEAFLO Submersible Automatic Bilge Pump with Float Switch (750GPH, 12V)

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What makes us different? At SEAFLO we believe in individualized customer care. We are a smaller company, which we see as our benefit. We realize that our customers are our back-bone, and we are able to provide that one-on-one service. We hope to grow the SEAFLO family and want our customers right by our sides. In our eyes, every sale we make, is an experience we present, and a lifetime customer we will have.

ALL NEW SEAFLO 55-Series Diaphragm Pump - 12V DC, 5.5 GPM, 60 PSI with HEAVY DUTY PRESSURE SWITCH

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SEAFLO 06 Series 750GPH Automatic Submersible Bilge Pump with Built-In Float Switch 12v - 4 Year ...

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SeaFlo Marine Water Pump 12 V DC 60 PSI 5.5 GPM 2 Gallon Accumulator Tank System

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Customer Review: Not reliable. Doesn't switch off and doesn't always prime. Defective unit?

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Product description.

Introduction Meet SEAFLO's brand new, patent-pending, fully automatic submersible bilge pump. This bilge pump efficiently and effectively removes boat bilge water at 750 gallons per hour. No seperate float switch is needed thanks to the built-in magnetic float switch! No power use until the pump is activated by the internal float switch. New design allows for easy maintenance and servicing without having to disconnect hosing or unscrew strainer base. Simply push in the two side tabs and lift the white casing off for easy access maintenance. Reassembling is just as easy. All SEAFLO products also come with a 4-Year Limited Warranty! Details Automatic, fully submersible electric pump Compact design for small spaces Equipped with built-in electromagnetic float switch system for fully automatic operation Rustproof and corrosion resistant with a stainless steel shaft High-impact durable plastic housing Extremely efficient, very low current draw, and offers high capacity output Quick release strainer for easy maintenance and servicing Ignition protection to protect the pump against high current Water/moisture tight seals Silent and vibrationless operation Anti-airlock protection Will not burn out when run dry Includes comprehensive user manual with installation instructions and wiring diagram Technical specifications Model: SFBP1-G750-11 Flow Rate: 750 GPH Voltage: 12V Max Draw: 5A Head: 10.8' (3.3m) Wire Lead: 3' (1m) Outlet Diameter: 3/4" Weight: 1.03 lbs Dimensions: Approx. 6.5" x 3.27" x 4.13"

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Technical details, additional information, warranty & support, compare with similar items, important information, customer reviews.

Customer Reviews, including Product Star Ratings help customers to learn more about the product and decide whether it is the right product for them.

To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyzed reviews to verify trustworthiness.

Customers say

Customers like the quality, value, ease of installation, and flow of the water pump. For example, they mention it works well, is inexpensive, and moves water well for the price. Some are happy with size. That said, opinions are mixed on the float switch and wiring.

AI-generated from the text of customer reviews

Customers like the quality of the water pump. For example, they say it works well, the switch works well and that it shoots out water like a speeding bullet.

"...to keep debris from getting down into the bilge area .It moves alot of water and has handled some very bad storms." Read more

"...our application (3 person pwc) the GPH may be overkill but the package works well ...." Read more

"...It does pump well and is cheap (it's fairly well made but you get what you pay for with regard to features), or I'd be leaving a 2 star rating...." Read more

"... Works like a charm ... problem solved...." Read more

Customers like the value of the water pump. They mention that it's inexpensive, works well, and moves water well for the price. That said, some complain that the automatic float stopped.

"... Great value , effective pump.Will update as time moves on." Read more

"...I've been very happy with it and would purchase another as it's well worth the money ." Read more

"...The pump is inexpensive and I bought a second one as a backup just in case there is another problem during a downpour...." Read more

Customers find the installation of the water pump to be easy. They mention the instructions are clear and simple, and the wires are nice and long. They also mention that the built-in float switch makes installation super easy, and that the documentation and wiring diagram are easy to follow.

"... Installation was straight forward , although I ordered with the Shoreline Marine Bilge 3 way switch based on Amazon's prepackaged recommendation...." Read more

"Powerful, quiet, and very easy to install . This bilge pump has three wires: Ground, Positive (Auto), Positive (Manual)...." Read more

"... Installed easily and working fine, I'll add to this review if any problems come to light" Read more

" Easy installation and seems like the quality is decent. It features three wires (ground, float activated, and float override)...." Read more

Customers are satisfied with the flow of the water pump. They say it pumps well, has a quality feel, and is powerful. Some say that the pump doesn't always turn off. Overall, most are happy with the performance and functionality of this bilge pump.

"...The pump is powerful and shoots water out in a 2 foot stream until the water level in the bilge goes down...." Read more

"...I installed this after a brief downpour and it pumped as advertized ...." Read more

"...best 1" version I went back and purchased the 5/8" one... still pumps well , just had to make a reducer" Read more

Customers like the size of the water pump. They mention that it fits in a small space, is more compact than a separate float and pump, and is great for small boats. Some say that it saves space with its compact design.

"...I was looking initially at external float switches, but this pump saves space ...." Read more

" Nice high capacity pump . Larger than some, but I'm sure the internal float switch accounts for that...." Read more

" Absolutely perfect fit and works well with my boats set up! Pairs well with the 3 way switch!" Read more

"I would have given this a 5 star rating but, the pump is too large to fit in my bilge...." Read more

Customers are mixed about the float switch. Some mention that it has an automatic float system that kicks on when the water level rises, and is perfect for their needs. However, others say that the Float switch has started sticking in the on position after only a couple of months use, and would never engage when the Water gets high in the tank.


"... One of the three would not budge and the screw head broke off. Either the screws are not stainless, or they are of poor quality...." Read more

"...I really like the integrated float that resides within the pump housing so as to be protected from loose debris that may end up in the bilge area..." Read more

"...at first was working perfectly but two weeks in, the auto float switch stopped working . Only the primary line works. Need to return" Read more

Customers are mixed about the wiring of the water pump. Some mention that the connections are good and simple, while others say that the wiring was backwards and baffling.

"...This one has a float switch and can be left hooked up ...." Read more

"...So, I started looking and found that the wiring was actually backward . Ground was ground, but the other two wires were flipped...." Read more

"Excellent pump and I love the fact I was able to wire up for automatic and switched operation . This pump is used for my boat...." Read more

"...The wiring was a bit baffling at first (I’m not an electrician – and mating it to the on-off-auto switch was a challenge), but eventually all..." Read more

Customers are dissatisfied with the water pump's turn off. They mention that it doesn't always turn off, it moves up and down, but it won't shut off the pump when the unit has pumped out. Some say that the dehumidifier shuts off.

"...is, no one can ever remember to empty the water and the dehumidifier shuts off ...." Read more

"...At first, the pump wouldn't turn off . I called customer support and no one would answer. After several attempts, I sent a nasty email...." Read more

"...really, really well until last week when it decided that it would not shut off ...." Read more

"...flawlessly in a French drain for several rainy months and then suddenly stayed on ...." Read more

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  1. Best Bilge Pumps: Top Recommendations for 2021

    best sailboat bilge pump

  2. Top 10 Best Automatic Bilge Pump For Boats in 2021 Reviews

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  3. Top 10 Best Automatic Bilge Pump For Boats in 2021 Reviews

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  4. 10 Best Bilge Pumps In 2022 🥇

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  5. Best Bilge Pump For Jon Boat 3 Reviews and Buying Guide 2022

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  6. Install The Best Bilge Pump

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  1. Bilge Pump 101: The best way to rig Bilge Pumps

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  3. Top 5 Best Bilge Pumps Review In 2024

  4. Top 10 Bilge Pump in 2024 (Buyers Guide)

  5. How to Wire a Bilge Pump

  6. Best Bilge Pumps On The Market


  1. The Great Bilge Pumps in 2024

    MAXZONE Bilge Pump. While MAXZONE's Bilge Pump is tremendously cheap in comparison to its competitors, this in no way means that the brand compromises on its features. Featuring a flow rate of 1100 GPH at 12V, it's suitable for all kinds of water vessels, including fishing boats, cruises, and yachts.

  2. Ranking The Best Boat Bilge Pumps On The Market

    Rule 2000 Non-Automatic Pump. Rule are an industry leader when it comes to marine pumps, so you can rely on the quality of their products. This pump, the Rule 2000, is a versatile pump that can be used for a wide range of applications and vessel sizes. Ideally suited for boats up to 28 ft, the 2000 model is able to pump water up to 10ft in ...

  3. Best manual bilge pump

    Best manual bilge pump for high volume capacity Specifications: Robust construction, 135 LPM (29.6 GPM / 35.6 US GPM), suitable for heavy-duty use. Hose Size 38mm / 1-1/2″

  4. 12 Best Bilge Pumps

    4. Rule Marine Bilge Pump. The Rule marine bilge pump is available in 3 voltage models - 12, 24, and 32-Volt, which makes it suitable for most boat owners. Although it might not be the best option for vessels longer than 28 feet, the Rule bilge pump covers a great deal of small to medium vessels.

  5. 11 Best Bilge Pumps in 2024

    Rule Gold Series. Another line of top performers coming from the Xylem family is the Rule Heavy-Duty Gold Series bilge pumps. This non-automatic pump moves large volumes of water for minimal power draw. Their Gold Series comes with options for 1500 GPH, 2000 GPH, and 3700 GPH and is backed by a 5-year warranty.

  6. What is the absolute best bilge pump

    You can find the test results at the link below. Practical Boat Owner also conducted tests on 12 bilge pumps in May 2008. They recommended the Attwood V900, Shureflo Piranha, Johnson L750 and Whale Supersub. In both tests, the Attwood brand scored well and the Whale Supersub was recommended as the best small pump.

  7. Everything You Need To Know About Your Boat's Bilge Pump

    A bilge pump on/off counter for primary bilge pumps is also desirable to indicate how often bilge pumps are cycling (making a leak more noticeable). Final Thoughts. Many make light of bilge pumps by quoting the old nautical adage that the best bilge pump is a scared sailor with a bucket.

  8. How to Select a Bilge Pump

    Runabouts and ski boats use a single submersible electric pump in the stern or in the lowest point in the bilge. Boats with stern drives may have the pump under the oil pan of the engine. Small cruising and racing sailboats can use one large manual diaphragm bilge pump mounted in the cockpit.

  9. Choosing the Right Bilge Pump for Your Boat

    Centrifugal Bilge Pumps. A centrifugal bilge pump uses the movement of a spinning impeller to suck water into the pump housing and out through the discharge pipe. Pros: Extremely efficient at pumping large volumes of water. Less susceptible to debris within the water being pumped. Very reliable and low maintenance.

  10. 20 Electric Bilge Pumps Tested

    Specious, indeed, is the notion that a small boat can get by with a small bilge pump. A small boat holds far less water and therefore, with the same leak, will sink much sooner than a big boat. Ipso facto, it needs a big pump. ... the best three pumps, when operated at 13.6V (as though the batteries were full and the engine was running), were ...

  11. Top 5 Best Bilge Pumps of 2024 • The Adventure Junkies

    The Urchin is designed for boats under 40 feet. If you have a larger vessel or want higher capacity, look at the Whale Titan, which can move up to 28 GPM. Note that the rated 14.5 GPM is based on a pump rate of 70 strokes per minute, and it takes a very motivated sailor to sustain that rate.

  12. Selecting the Best Bilge Pump for Your Boat: A Buyer's Guide

    Pick rugged pumps with corrosion-resistant coatings that can handle debris-filled bilge water for long life. Match pump voltage to the electrical system. 12V DC pumps are standard for recreational boats. 24V systems on larger vessels use 24V pumps. Mount pumps low where flooding accumulates and ensure floats can move freely to activate pumps ...

  13. The Top Bilge Pumps for Boats: A Comprehensive Guide

    The Johnson Pump Cartridge Combo Bilge Pump is available in 500, 750, and 1000 GPH (gallons per hour) models, providing a versatile solution for various boat sizes. This range of capacities allows boat owners to select the appropriate pump for their vessel, ensuring optimal performance and protection.

  14. Bilge Pump Installation and Maintenance Tips

    The best bilge pump in the world wont keep your boat dry if its not properly installed and maintained. While bilge pump installations are fairly straightforward-and definitely within the scope of DIY projects-there are several factors to consider (capacity, wire size, hose diameter, fuse size) before you begin, and there are some good rules of thumb to follow.

  15. 8 Best Boat Bilge Pumps

    I've compiled a list of the best boat bilge pumps available on the market. Check them out below to find the perfect one for your boating needs. Johnson - 32503 Cartridge Bilge Pump 500 GPH. I recommend the Johnson 32503 Cartridge Bilge Pump 500 GPH for boaters seeking a dependable and efficient bilge pump to keep their vessel dry.

  16. Install The Best Bilge Pump

    Step II: Run The Wires. With the pump clipped into the basket (to ensure you make the correct length wires) run a wire from the end of the pump's ground wire to the battery. Use a crimped butt-connector with adhesive-lined heat-shrink tubing to connect these wires; remember, this connection will have to live in the moist and dank environment of ...

  17. How to Choose the Right Bilge Pump for Your Boat

    How to size a bilge pump. The recommended bilge pump sizes are based on the length of your boat. <20 feet: 700-1000 GPH 20-25 feet: 1000-1400 GPH 26-30 feet: 1200-1600 GPH 31-35 feet: 1400-1800 GPH 36-40 feet: 1600-2200 GPH 41-45 feet: 2000-4000 GPH Bilge pumps are measured in the number of gallons of water they can pump per hour (GPH).

  18. Sailboats & Bilge Pumps: 8 Answers (For Beginners)

    The bilge on any boat or ship, including a sailboat, is the inside, lowest part of the boat's hull. The bilge area of a boat or ship is designed to collect any leaks. These leaks can come from excessive water on deck (which can include washing your boat or a lot of rain), holes or problems with the hull, fuel leaks, or any other accidental ...

  19. Installing the Ultimate Bilge-Pump System

    Installing the Ultimate Bilge-Pump System. Step 3: Plumb the hose with a "riser loop" Boating Magazine. 3. Plumbing. Plumb hose from the pump to a point at least 12 inches above the waterline and back down to the discharge fitting, which should itself be above the waterline. Avoid kinks, bends and sags. This "riser loop" prevents siphoning.

  20. 10 Best Bilge Pump for Boats

    6. Johnson Pumps of America Marine Pro-Line Bilge Pump. For those looking for a fully submersible bilge pump, Johnson pumps of America is offering a sound option at a fair price. The pump can move water efficiently with a flow rate of 750 GHP. Another added bonus is the 3-year warranty.

  21. Bilge Pumps

    marine plumbing. marine pumps. bilge pumps. CONTACT WEST MARINE. Live Chat. 1-800-262-8464. Store Locator. Shop bilge pumps at West Marine including electric and manual pumps, parts, switches and more. Get free shipping to home or in-store!

  22. Bilge Pumps

    Boat Bilge pumps provide a necessary function on all watercraft. The pumps remove excess water from the bilge area (the lowest part of every craft). ... (manually activated) boat bilge pumps are the ideal choice. Some of our best-selling options include the Johnson Pump Proline Bilge Pump, which is fully submersible, as well as being ignition ...

  23. Amazon.com: SEAFLO Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge Water Pump 12v

    Introduction Meet SEAFLO's brand new, patent-pending, fully automatic submersible bilge pump. This bilge pump efficiently and effectively removes boat bilge water at 750 gallons per hour. No seperate float switch is needed thanks to the built-in magnetic float switch! No power use until the pump is activated by the internal float switch.