Best Bilge Pumps
If you’ve ever seen the movie Titanic, you already know there’s no better way to ruin a glorious boat ride than by sinking. The only thing keeping you from giving your beloved boat an unwanted and unexpected burial at sea is a functional bilge pump. Without it, you have no way of ridding your boat of water that has infiltrated it and putting it back into the body of water where it belongs.
If you live in a cold climate and are preparing to put your boat back in hibernation, it is always a good idea to do a thorough inspection of the boat first so that you don’t have any unwelcome issues once summer comes back around. Before you drop your boat back into the water, there are a few measures you should take to ensure for an easy and dry transition. You want to make sure that all of the engine components are in good working order, including the bilge pump. A faulty bilge pump is a surefire way to land your boat at the bottom of the lake or ocean, and that is no way to start a cool summer.
Fortunately, investing in a new bilge pump is relatively inexpensive, and it really isn’t that difficult to install, even if you have never purchased one before. Whether you are lucky enough to live in the tropics, can ignore the cold wind hitting your face, getting ready to take your boat out of storage, or are buying a used boat where the status of the pump is unknown, it may be a good idea to pick up a bilge pump just to be safe.
Below, we have gathered up some of the best bilge pumps out there on the market today to ensure that your boat will be in good health for a summer full of fishing and swimming in the local lake.
- SEAFLO BILGE PUMP
- Easy to install
- RULE BILGE PUMP
- MAXZONE BILGE PUMP
10 Best Bilge Pumps
Seaflo Bilge Pump
This pump doesn’t mess around when it comes to removing water from your boat. It is a 12v unit that offers an impressive 2,000 GPH, meaning that it can successfully clear out 2,000 gallons of water from your boat per hour with ease.
Ease of Installation
This is an electric unit, so installing it takes a few more steps than installing a manual unit, but still isn’t too difficult. It has a snap and lock strainer base, so it is simple to lock this product into place. Simply install your unit on the lowest portion of your boat, and plug in the electric unit to the boat's battery, and you are good to go.
The outer shell is made from a heavy duty and leak resistant plastic so you won’t have to worry about water penetrating where it shouldn’t, making this unit fully submersible. It also has an ABS moisture locking seal and ignition protection around the base of the wire to further protect against water damaging the electric components. The base of the unit is easily twisted off and removed whenever you feel the need to clean out the filter of debris, and can easily be snapped fight back into place.
Seaflo has been in the market for making great quality engine components for boats since 2004. They make components and accessories for marine, agricultural, and water sports, and are one of the most trusted brands in the industry.
If you are looking to replace your bilge pump and want something that can pack a punch for your larger vessels, and comes with the confidence of buying a product from Seaflo, and can spend just a little bit more than some of the others out there on the market, this is an excellent choice.
- Brand recognition
- 2,000 GPH
- Easy to install
- Reports that customer service isn’t great
- Some have difficulty finding the right size hose
Rule Bilge Pump
Pumping out about 800 gallons of water per hour, this isn’t the most powerful pump out there, but it would be perfect for your smaller sailboats or fishing boats.
Ease of Installation:
Installation of this unit is quick and easy. The simple design of this model affixes perfect to the bottom of your boat and the hose is a standard size for most pumps that run to the outside of the boat. Simply hook the switch to a power source and you are ready to head out on the lake for a day of worry-free fishing or sailing.
This pump is made from incredibly durable plastic that will really be able to take a beating in all types of waters. The bottom is able to be snapped off so that you can clean it fast and easily when the time comes. The switch works great. Whenever water levels in the boat tend to rise, simply flick the switch and listen while this 12v pump pushes all of the water to the outside of the boat where it belongs.
You might not hear regular folks talking about Rule down at the local diner, but you most certainly will hear mention of Rule down at the docks. This company was founded in 1974 in Florida and has since become one of the most trusted names in pumps by sailors and fishermen, many of which claim that they will never use a different brand other than Rule because they are tested and true.
If it’s reliability that you are looking for when it comes with bilge pumps, and you are willing to spend a little extra money for a little less power, this is a great pump that will last.
- Brand recognition
- 3 year warranty
- A tad expensive for a little less power
MAXZONE Bilge Pump
This little guy is able to really pump out water in a flash. It can remove an impressive 1,100 gallons of water per hour, making it one of the more powerful models to make this list and is still offered at a reasonable price.
Ease of Installation
As with any bilge pump, you want it to be easy to install, and this model meets those needs. It comes with detailed instructions on how this model will affix to your boat. Simply attach this unit to the bottom of your boat, connect the wires to a power source (such as the battery) and you are ready to head out.
The exterior of this unit is composed of two solid plastic chambers. The bottom chamber is easily detached whenever you feel the need to clean your unit of lake debris. As stated earlier, it also comes with a built-in float switch, meaning that the bilge pump itself can detect when the water levels become too high to begin pumping out water (it typically begins to pump water when the level reaches over a few inches). It also comes with a built-in reed sensor that is controlled electronically.
MAXZONE was founded in 1997 as a small manufacturer of car parts in California and has since grown to sell not only car parts, but also parts for boats as well. They may not exactly be a household name, but they are a company that is dedicated to insure that the customer is satisfied with their purchase. Customers that have returned their products represent less than one percent of their sales.
If you are in the market for something a little more powerful, and that has a GPH that exceeds 1,000, but also comes at a great price point that won’t break the bank, this is an excellent option to keep your boat on the lake and not under it.
- Great customer service
- Easy to install
- Comes with a float switch already installed
- Slightly more expensive than some of the other units on the market
Shoreline Marine Bilge Pump
This unit is able to pump out approximately 800 GPH. No, it’s not as impressive as the Seaflo unit, but it will work perfectly on smaller boats or fishing vessels. Past users that that tried this model are surprisingly impressed with how well this little unit can really pump out water out of their boat.
Ease of Installation:
One of the great features of this pump is how easy it is to install. Since it is an electric unit, you will need to connect to a power source, such as your battery. Once it is connected, it easily snaps into place at the bottom of your vessel to pump water out and away from your boat. Water for this unit has to be one inch deep at all times while running or you run the risk of burning up the motor.
The outside is composed of that classic red, white, and blue plastic that is thick and rugged and is able to withstand years being submerged in any type of water. Each plastic component is big and bulky so that it makes it easy to snap off the bottom of the unit to clean it of debris. The wires that plug into a power source are made from good quality materials, which are perfect for bilge pumps.
The brand Shoreline Marine isn’t exactly a household name, but it is a brand you have most likely seen before when shopping for components for your boats. It is one of the top sellers for boat pumps and is found on the shelves of many stores nationwide. If you have ever had to replace a part on your boat (and needed to find a quick and inexpensive replacement) you most likely purchased a Shoreline Marine at your local part store.
What is great about this pump is the price. Aside from the manual pumps, this is one of the most affordable electric bilge pumps on the market, and users love how dependable and powerful this model is. If you are in the market for a new bilge pump and don’t want to spend too much money, this is an excellent choice.
- Easy to install
- Some report that bracket isn’t very sturdy
SeaSense Hand Bilge Pump
The power of this pump lands solely on the user. If you have the muscle strength to push yourself out onto the lake using ores, you will have more than enough power to use this design of pump. The number of gallons this pump can push out per hour lies solely on your powerful shoulders.
There are two important parts to this pump: the hose and the frame. Pumping the water up and out of the boat is as simple as using a manual bike tire pump. Simply open the valve to the bottom of your boat, affix the frame to the open hole (it will suction in place) and begin pumping all of that unwanted water back into the lake.
Seasense is a highly recognizable brand in the marine world, so it is no wonder that it made this list at least once. They manufacture products designed especially for experienced boaters, as well as casual boaters. They have generated quite a following of loyal customers that come to depend on their quality products that are offered at reasonable prices.
If you own a smaller, man-powered boat, or just don’t want to fuss with electric bilge pumps, this is an excellent option that will never fail to let you down when you find yourself in a bind in the middle of a lake.
- Easy to use
- Anti-leak design
- Doesn’t require power
- Can only move as much water as you are capable of pumping
- Some find the hose is brittle and is prone to cracking
Aurelio Tech 12V
As stated above, this pump doesn’t carry that same powerful punch as some of the other brands, it can push out approximately 1,100 gallons of water per hour, which is perfect for mid-sized boats. It’s controlled by a 12v motor that runs off of an additional power source such as solar panels.
Ease of Installation
As you will come to find out, all of these pumps are pretty simple to install. Simply affix the unit to the underside of your boat, and then run the wires to the power source. Once you have it all set up, you are ready to head out there on the lake for a relaxing Saturday afternoon.
The shell of this pump is composed of very sturdy and durable plastic that will be able to withstand any types of waters (just be sure to clear it of debris when needed). All of the wires end and terminals are coated with a heavy-duty sealant and stored in the very top of the device. The hose outlet can accommodate multiple sized hoses. The opening is 1-1/8 inches, making it a cinch to replace the hose were anything to happen to the current hose. What makes this pump great is that it also has a built-in float switch, so it can detect when the water levels are rising and kick the pump on automatically.
Aurelio Tech is a relatively newer company (established in 2014) that manufactures high-quality parts for cars as well as boats. They may not be the best-known company to make this list, but they are definitely worth checking out.
If you need a new bilge pump that comes at an incredibly affordable price point, this is a great option that will not only save you money but will also be a reliable part to keep you above the water instead of below it.
- Easy to install
- Built in float switch
- Newer company
- Needs a flat paver to hold pump down- tends to float
Attwood Tsunami Manual
Depending on the size of your boat, Attwood offers this pump with different options of GPH. The bilge and aerator pump is powered by the same type of motor. This is convenient for the unlikely event that the aerator motor dies, you can take the motor from the bilge and switch it out.
Ease of Installation
Installing this unit is fast and easy. The hose is not included, but the standard 3/4-inch size is perfect for this item. It is easy to find replacement hoses in case anything happens to your current hose (and let's face it, it seems that there is always something that happens to hoses while out on the water). The base of this bilge pump has holes built-in, making it easy to screw onto the bottom of your boat. The only issue here is that you don't necessarily want to put holes in your boat, so this is better if you have a built-in piece of wood or other material.
The exterior of this unit is composed of a very strong a durable plastic that is really able to take a beating in all types of tricky waters. The shaft is made from top of the line alloys and magnets. The shaft is also sealed to prevent leaks from misalignment. Even better, the wiring around the electronics is wick-proof, in turn, preventing corrosion and water damage.
Attwood is a fairly popular brand and has been in business for over 100 years. They have gained popularity by making their products from empirically superior materials, and have generated a following of satisfied customers in the process.
If you need a bilge pump that can offer a punch, without taking a swing at your pocketbook, this is an excellent choice to keep your boat on the top of the water this summer.
Hose not included
Pump requires monthly cleaning
Amarine-Made Bilge Pump
Utilizing the 12v motor, this pump is capable of pumping out approximately 1,100 gallons of water per hour. This powerful unit is great for installing on larger boats that need to move a lot of water quickly and efficiently.
Ease of Installation
To install this unit, you first need to mount it to the underside of your boat, and then run the wiring to an appropriate power source such as the battery. Once you have attached the hose to the front of the unit and run it to the outside, you are ready to hit the water for an enjoyable and worry-free afternoon.
The classic red, white, and blue outer shell is composed of a very sturdy and reliable ABS plastic that is able to withstand tricky waters. The bottom unit snaps off easily whenever it is time to give it a good cleaning. It hosts a powerful motor that utilizes stainless steel shafts inside a thermoplastic shell. It’s completely submersible and turns on when water levels begin to rise.
Amarine-made is a great company that specializes in making parts specifically with sailors in mind. Their diverse catalog of products offers users everything from fun boating accessories to engine components.
If you need a bilge pump that can really move water at a powerful rate, but you can’t afford some of the more expensive models, this is a great option because it is made from reliable parts and has generated a number of satisfied customers.
- Smaller in size
- Some report that it runs rather loudly
- Reports that wires have a tendency to get wet and burn up motor
Oasis Marine Bilge Pump
This pump will suck water right out of your boat and send it straight to the moon. Well, it might not exactly send it to the moon, but with the capability of pumping out 2,000 gallons of water per hour, you can rest easy knowing that water is not on the inside of your boat.
Ease of Installation
Just like every other electric bilge pump that is found on this list, installing this model is simple and easy. Simply affix a hose to the front on the unit and place it at the bottom of your boat where water tends to collect. Since it is an electric unit, it will then need to be plugged into a power source. Once everything is squared away, you are ready to get out there on the lake.
This model is a little bit taller than some of the others, which may cause some problems if you are working with a smaller space. However many users have not come across this problem. The unit itself is made from strong and sturdy plastic that will hold up in even the harshest of conditions and detaches at the bottom for easy cleaning when the time comes. This particular model also comes with a separate float switch that signals to the bilge pump when it is time to start pumping out water.
Oasis Marine isn’t really a household name, or even a name that many fishermen or sailors may be familiar with, but it should not be discounted. However, it has consistently received high marks from past users for manufacturing quality products that are built to last.
If you are in the market for a new pump for your boat that is really able to pack a punch and keep you safely on top of the lake, and you have the extra cash to spare, this is an excellent choice.
- Comes with separate float switch
- Easy to install
- A tad expensive
Goplus Bilge Pump
It isn’t the most powerful unit out there, but not every boat needs a pump that can blast water all the way to the moon. It can remove approximately 500 gallons of water per hour utilizing a 12v 2.0A motor.
Ease of Installation
This pump is just as easy to install as most of the other pumps out there. Simply affix the hose to the front of the unit, mount it to the bottom of your boat, and run the wires to the appropriate power source. Once everything in place, you are ready to get out there on the lake for a relaxing afternoon of fishing.
The classic red, white, and blue exterior shell of this item is made with ABS plastic that is durable and waterproof. The unit itself is about as big as a No.2 pencil, and it is able to be fully submerged.
Goplus isn’t exactly one of the big names that you will be hearing down at the docks, but they have generated a following of satisfied customers that appreciate that their products are offered at a reasonable price.
If you need a new bilge pump that doesn’t have to be all that powerful, and you were looking to save a little bit of money this summer, the Goplus Bilge Pump is an excellent choice.
- Smaller size
- Fully submersible
- Not as powerful as some of the other units
- Some report that this unit needs to be replaced more often than others
The Criteria We Used To Find The Best Bilge Pumps
Keeping your boat above the water should be your number one goal, because if it doesn’t float, then it becomes a playground for fish and plainly isn’t a boat anymore. The investment of a good bilge pump (alongside with proper maintenance and installation) will ensure that you will be able to leave all of your worries at the dock as you set out for a relaxing afternoon of fishing. There are certain things we kept an eye out for when selecting the best products to meet your boating needs.
When selecting the best bilge pumps, we appealed to one caveat: it is better to spend more money once, than a little money over and over again. If we were telling you what kind of steering wheel cover to buy for your new boat, then sure, we would probably lean towards the more inexpensive products. However, bilge pumps are something really important to have on your boat. It would be unwise to utilize a pump that is made from inferior components, or else you will find your beloved boat in the graveyard of other bilge pump-less boats.
If this is something that is going to be sitting on the bottom of your boat and swallowing up all of the things that lake and sea water contain, it better be made from some pretty strong stuff (especially when it contains electrical components). A superior unit is typically made from ABS plastic because it is incredibly durable and waterproof. Definitely make sure that the shell of your bilge pump is made from a strong and durable plastic.
Another thing we kept an eye out for was how well the unit was designed to keep moisture away from the wires. If you can imagine, a bilge pump is exposed to a lot of water, but it also has a few wires that send electrical currents to the motor. So you can imagine how important it is that the wires (and where they affix to the motor) stay dry. Units that have ignition and corrosion protection were considered superior because they went the extra mile to ensure that the motor stays dry.
If you walk up to the dock and ask any of the fishermen what kind of bilge pump they have in their boat, they are most likely going to tell you that they use Rule pumps. Rule has been making great bilge pumps since 1974 (which is far before many of the other brands on this list). There really isn’t much rivaling competition on the market, but there are some brands that have really started to make a mark for themselves, such as Seaflo, Seasense, and Amarine-made.
Ease of Installation
If you have a smaller boat, or just don’t want to be bothered with wiring, you can always opt for a manual pump. Manual pumps work much like any type of manual pump, and they can only pump out as much water as your arms are able to provide. If you want to take the time to install an electric pump, it really isn’t all that difficult. We tried to select pumps that had an easy installation that didn’t require any unnecessary feats with the wires. We also tried to ensure that each pump came with detailed instructions so that you could spend less time preparing your boat for the water, and more time out on the lake.
Pretty much all electric models that are currently on the market come with a 12v motor, which is quite standard across the board. Where various models differ is in how much water they can pump out per hour, which is measured in GPH (gallons per hour). A product that claims it handles 500 GPH means that it can remove approximately 500 gallons of water from the bottom of your boat per hour. 500 is generally the minimum for electric units, and anything under that will most likely be designed for ponds, bait tanks, or aquariums. A product that claims it has a GPH of 2,000 means that it can remove up to 2,000 gallons of water per hour, and this is pretty much the maximum amount a single bilge pump can do.
Other Factors to Consider
No matter how well a bilge pump is made, keeping water away from the motor when completely submerged in water can be a very difficult task (even for some of the more expensive units). There are, however, a few inventive ways to keep water away from the motor at a very little extra cost to you. Something that you might want to consider that will potentially double the life of your pump is to invest a little bit of money and time into butt splicers.
Butt splicers are simple wraps that fasten around exposed wires and shrink up around the wire when exposed to heat (like that from a simple pocket lighter). A box of 100 splicers costs about the same amount that you would spend on a box of nails, and they can be used on various wires on your boat that you don’t want to be exposed to water. Just a few extra minutes to fortify your wires from water may end up saving you a lot of water in the long run.
You might be in hurry to rip the tarp off of your boat and get it into the water as soon as you possibly can to start enjoying the lovely weather and bring home some fresh fish for dinner, but before you do, it’s in your best interest to make sure that all of the mechanical components (especially the bilge pump) are in good working order. You can’t catch any fish if your boat ends up at the bottom of a lake.
Q: How does a bilge pump work?
A bilge pump is easily considered one of the most important components to the life of your boat. It works by sucking up all of the unwanted water that collects at the bottom of the boat and pushes it back out into the lake or ocean via a hose. It also serves as a great filter to keep all of the oil and debris that can live in a lake (or the ocean) away from all of the important working mechanisms of your engine. As a general rule of thumb, an eighteen-foot boat would do well with a 500 GPH bilge pump, a twenty-eight-foot boat with a 1,000 GPH bilge, and a forty-five-foot boat with a 2,000-4,000 GPH output. If you want to see how a bilge pump works right in front of you, you can fill a bucket with five gallons of water and see how long the pump takes the remove this water. A 500 GPH pump should be able to complete the task in about thirty-five seconds, while a 1,500 GPH pump will be able to do the same in about twelve seconds.
Q: Do I need more than one?
Some fishermen and sailors choose to have more than one bilge pump for a number of reasons. First of all, you never know when a pump is going to stop working. No matter how well you take care of something, sometimes things just break, whether it be the hose or the motor itself. If you only have one pump and it breaks while out in the middle of a lake, you are left with no way to remove the water that you are taking on. The second reason for a second bilge pump is if a boater has an exceptionally large vessel that needs to remove more than 2,000 gallons of water per hour. If you are ever feeling unsure, a bilge pump is always something that you would prefer to have too much of than not enough.
Q: Are they submersible?
It depends on the model, but most pumps are able to be completely submerged. In fact, it’s a better idea when shopping for a new unit that you keep an eye one for the ability to be completely submerged in water because it will be more resilient, longer lasting, and better protected.
Q: Where are they located on the boat?
For electric models, they are placed in the bottom of the boat and the hose is run to the outside. For manual models, they are affixed to the floor of the boat and suck water up and out through a hose that hangs over the side.
Q: If my boat doesn’t have a motor, do I still need one?
These pumps are needed by any type of vehicle that floats on water. If it is capable of sinking, it can benefit from a bilge pump. It may be a good idea for your boat that doesn’t have a motor to tuck a manual pump under the seats just in case you find that you are taking on water. Surprisingly enough, a bilge pump could save you from drowning in a kayak or canoe.
Q: How do I clean it?
Since this pump is subject to all those icky mystery materials that live in the water, it can often become gunked up and not operate as well. Most models out there on the market are designed essentially the same, and it makes it super easy to clean. To clean your pump, all you have to do is detach the bottom from the motor, rinse it under some running water (or just swirl it around off the edge of the dock) and affix it back to the unit, and it will be ready to get back out there.
Q: Can I run my boat without one?
Just like you wouldn’t cook in your kitchen without a fire extinguisher, you should never subject your boat to water without the specific tools to keep you from taking on water. When it comes to your boat, it’s always better safe than sorry. Sure, you may not run into any problems taking your boat out on the lake for one short afternoon trip without the use of a functional bilge pump, but do you really want to take the chance when a new pump is relatively inexpensive?
Q: Are bilge pumps expensive?
Anytime something breaks on your boat, a sinking feeling begins to wash over you because you can just sense the big bill on the horizon. No need to fear when it comes to your bilge pumps because even the most powerful and name brand models are offered at an incredibly affordable price so that you still have plenty of money to fill the tank with gas. Some of the models out there that are able to push out about 500 gallons of water per hour are offered at the same price as it would cost you to take a good friend out to lunch.
Q: What is a float switch, and do I need one?
A float switch is a sensor that can detect how much water is filling up the bottom of your boat and sends that information along to you (or the pump, so it turns on automatically). Therefore, yes, you need a float switch if you want a bilge pump that works correctly. Luckily, most of the products that are currently on the market either come with a sensor directly built into the pump so that it will turn on after the water gets so high and turn off once the water has been expelled. If the float switch is not already installed in the unit, some companies offer a separate float switch with the purchase of a bilge pump.
Q: Are bilge pumps noisy?
Not all models are created equal, and some pumps are a little bit noisier than others. In order to suck up water and pump it out of the side of your boat, you will be subjected to at least a little bit of noise. However, a little noise is a small price to pay for the security of knowing that your boat isn’t going to sink. If you don’t want to contend with the noise, you can always try and use a manual pump. But what it lacks in extra noise, it makes up in exhausting the user of the pump. Many users find that the extra noise doesn’t bother them too much, especially the ones that do not have to run constantly.