Bilge pumps. SVB’s super test-comparison of 10 different models

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Jabsco Pump - SVB Marine

When we are on a boat, water can accumulate on board for a variety of reasons, including condensation, small leaks, or poorly sealed connections between freshwater tanks. If it should happen, to remove this water quickly one must rely on bilge pumps, an essential tool used to pump out accumulated water, keeping the bottom of the boat dry and preventing potential worse damage. A bilge pump, whether manual, electric, or automatic, should never be missing on any boat and can save the lives of both the boat and-most importantly-the people on board.

How does a bilge pump work?

Bilge pumps are vital tools for safety on board in emergency situations, designed to remove water that accumulates in the boat’s bilge. They are designed to suck and push water out of the boat through a pressure pumping system. This process is accomplished by a beater, which can be driven either by an electric motor or manually or automatically. The operation of these pumps relies on a rubber bellows that is alternately compressed and released, creating a vacuum that sucks in water and pushes it out of the bellows.

What are the drive differences? (manual, electric or automatic)

Whale Gulper 320 pump - SVB Marine

Hand pumps are operated manually via the pumping lever, which allows water to be transported outside. Their operation is essential if there is a power failure, for example in the event of a short circuit, so they may be the last chance (sometimes) to eliminate water on board.

In contrast, electric pumps have the advantage of working independently once they are operated, even though they require power to operate. They also have the advantage of leaving all other occupants of the boat free to perform other tasks-for example, to try to plug the leak or leaks-since they do not have to be operated manually.

Among the electric pumps, some also have a sensor that detects if the water level should rise and trigger-in that case-operation of the pump. These systems start on their own, which is why they are called automatic pumps.

To get more information  you can check out SVB Marine’s guide click here

Are bilge pumps mandatory?

According to Italian regulations, draining pumps (so-called bilge pumps) are part of the mandatory safety equipment for all navigation beyond one mile from the coast, so it is essential to have at least one on board. Ideally, we would like to have an electrical system and also a manual bilge pump, so that emptying can be done in any situation, even if there is a short circuit.

SVB’s super test – 10 bilge pumps compared

SVB Marine compared ten electric bilge pumps from the most popular brands on the market, with a flow rate between 50 and 73 liters per minute and powered by 12 V (according to the manufacturers’ reported data). To see what the comparison results were and how the different bilge pumps perform once tested click here.


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