Best Bilge Pumps Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Boating 101 follows that there should always be more water outside of the boat than within it, and thanks to bilge pumps, we can achieve this very vital mission!
The bilge of the boat is the lowest point of the boat. Bilges are in place to ensure that if this portion of the boat fills up, that it is drained properly so that the boat doesn’t begin taking on dangerous amounts of water from either rain, waves, or leaks.
There are several different types of bilge pumps out there. Kayak bilge pumps work in the wake of self-draining scuppers. There are automatic bilge pumps that sense water levels and activate when they get too high, and there are portable bilge pumps that can be used in a variety of different watercraft.
So we’ve compiled a list of the best bilge pumps here for your safety and peace of mind.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 9 hrs of research
Float switch built in
Power saving mechanism
10 Best Bilge Pumps
1. SEAFLO Automatic
Float switch built in
Power saving mechanism
Pump itself is a bit large
The SEAFLO Automatic is the first on our list to come with a float switch in the kit so it makes installation a breeze. This is a power-saving device that also comes with a killer warranty.Read more
750 GPH Capacity
The SEAFLO Automatic expells 750 gallons of water per hour. It runs on a 12-volt battery.
We love that this product does not use any power until water levels rise and trigger the float switch to start pumping water.
Comes with Float Switch
The SEAFLO Automatic features about a meter long of wire lead for your installation. The outlet hose diameter is a standard ¾ of an inch.
We absolutely love that the float switch for this device not only comes with the unit but it is built-in. That means there’s less for you to worry about when you are installing the device.
Cost and Value
The SEAFLO Automatic rings up on the lower end of our price range and we love its value because this product comes complete with all you need to make your pump fully automatic. Plus, it comes with a 4-year warranty to boot.
2. Shoreline Marine
Pumps 1100 GPH
Automatic when installed with float switch
Wires come with tined ends
Durable plastic housing
Issues with the mounting bracket
The Shoreline Marine is easy to install and pumps out water with a whole bunch of power. This is a submersible pump that has an automatic function if installed with a float switch (not included).Read more
Pumps out 1100 Gallons Per Hour
The Shoreline Marine can pump a whopping 1100 gallons of water out per hour. It can push water up vertically between 2 and 5 feet.
The wires running from this unit are 14 gauge wires with tined ends of high quality, and the hose connector is 1 and ⅛ inches in diameter for the 1100 GPH pump. The pump comes in super durable housing made of plastic.
It needs to be connected to a 12-volt battery. It is not a good idea to hook these up to solar panels as they won’t provide enough power which could end up damaging the pump.
The Shoreline Marine is a submersible pump. There must be at least 1 inch of water for this pump to function. While this is an automatic pump, you will need to install a float switch with it to make it function automatically.
This unit comes in a variety of options from Shoreline Marine. You can purchase the 600 GPH, 600 GPH with hose and float switch, 800 GPH, or the 800 GPH with the hose (plumbing kit).
Cost and Value
The Shoreline Marine rings up at the bottom of our price range and we love its value because it is easy to install and comes with additional accessory options so that you can be sure all of your working parts are compatible with one another.
3. attwood Tsunami Manual
Comes in 500 GPH and 1200 GPH
Can replace the core motor easily
Tined and caulked wires
Cannot pump over 10 feet in height
The attwood Tsunami Manual Bilge Pump is the first manual pump to make our list and comes in a few different power options to suit your boat’s specific needs. This product is made of quality materials to stand up to the elements and prevent wear and tear.Read more
500 or 1200 GPH
The attwood Tsunami Manual comes in two different models. The 500 GPH output model and the 1200 GPH output model uses 13.6 volts on a 12 volt battery.
You can replace and interchange the core motor for easier maintenance which eliminates the need to buy a whole new pump.
This pump is intended to be submerged.
This is a manual pump so it will need to be hooked up to an external switch which you provide and which is sold separately.
The attwood Tsunami Manual is designed to remain functional and durable so it doesn’t break down when you need it the most.
This product is ignition protected so sparks won’t fly if oil is taken into the pump.
The shaft is sealed (with a special patent) to prevent leaks. The wires are tined and caulked to eliminate the potential of water damage and even corrosion. The wires are 29 inches long.
The bearings, brushes, magnets, and alloys are all of top-notch quality.
Cost and Value
The attwood Tsunami Manual rings up at the bottom of our price range and we love its value because it is comprised of parts that are durable and easy to maintain. Plus, it is constructed in a way that deters wear and tear for longer life.
4. Rule 1500 GPH
Vibration free operation
Anti-corrosion and rust treatment
Stainless steel shaft
May not pump the full 1500 GPH advertised
The Rule 1500 GPH is another manual option to make our list and this puppy is high powered and efficient. It runs far quieter than others on our list and is designed to resist weathering from the elements.Read more
The Rule 1500 GPH pumps out 1500 gallons of water per hour. It operates virtually silently and without tons of vibrations. It requires a 12 volt battery. You may choose to purchase the 24-volt version of this product if you need the extra power.
The pump has a shaft made from stainless steel and is fully corrosion and rust protected. You may choose to purchase this product alone or with 6 feet of wire leads.
The plumbing hose measures 1 and ⅛ inch in diameter.
Can Run Dry for Brief Moments
The Rule 1500 GPH is 100% submersible. That being said, it can be run dry for a few brief moments without causing serious damage to the pump.
This is a non-automatic pump or manual pump. That means that you will have to pair it with an external pump or float switch to get it fully operational.
Cost and Value
This rings up at the very top of our price range and we love its value because it is more powerful yet quieter than other products on our list.
5. Amarine-made 1100gph
Pumps vertically up to 5 feet
Run dry for short periods
Smaller than some expected
The Amarine-made 1100gph is the most cost-efficient pump on our list. It has a high-flow output and can sustain being operated for long periods of time without damaging the pump.Read more
The Amarine-made 1100gph is designed to be fully submersible. It requires anywhere from a half an inch to an inch of water to function. It can pump out 1100 gallons of water per hour. It can pump water up and out up to 5 feet. This product is ignition protected for your safety.
This product can run dry for short periods of time without burning out and the motors are cooled with water to keep them from overheating.
This motor runs without vibrating excessively and operates relatively quietly.
The installation lead wires are 3 feet long each.
This product needs a 12 volt battery.
The plumbing hose is 29mm in diameter.
If you would like for this pump to function automatically, you will need to connect it to a float switch which you will have to purchase separately.
ABS Housing is Impact Resistant
This is made with a super durable ABS plastic housing that makes it resistant to impacts while in operation. With tough shafts made from stainless steel and motors that are heavy-duty, this guy can get the job done.
The snap-lock base allows for easy installation and removal if necessary or when performing maintenance.
Cost and Value
The Amarine-made 1100gph rings up at the very bottom of our price range and we love its value because it features rugged and durable construction at a fraction of the cost of most premium pumps.
6. Attwood Automatic
Internal float switch standard
Can be hooked up to external switch
High-quality copper wiring
Permanent magnet moto
No strainer so can get clogged
The Attwood is a finely tuned machine that pumps the amount of water per hour that it actually claims to. All parts are well treated and protected to ensure the device lasts and is functional when you need it. This product is ideal for larger water vessels.Read more
Wire is 16-Gauge Copper
The Attwood is comprised of the finest materials (as it should be at this price point). The wire is 16-gauge copper and is fully tined and caulked to prevent water wicking. The wire runs 36 inches in length.
The shaft of the pump is made of stainless steel and even the seal of the pump is reinforced by more stainless steel as an extra precautionary measure.
The hose outlet requires a ¾ of an inch hose.
Permanent Magnet Motor
This comes with a permanent magnet motor. It pumps 750 gallons of water out a minute and is powered by a 12-volt battery.
The float switch comes included with the purchase as this is an automatic pump and is incorporated on the inside of the unit.
That being said, there is an extra wire attached to the pump which lets you hook it up to an external switch if you would rather be able to operate it manually.
Cost and Value
The Attwood rings up at the top of our price range and we like its value because it comes with an internal switch with the option of installing it to an external switch for manual operation. Plus, all parts are super high-quality and designed to be durable.
7. Shoreline Marine Pump & Float Switch
Comes with built in float switch
Comes in 600 gph and 800 gph
Wires are tined
Durable plastic casing
Not the best installation instructions
The Shoreline Marine Pump & Float Switch is the second product from Shoreline Marine to make our list. This product is a little different in that it comes complete with a float switch already installed on the inside of the unit so you don’t have to attach your own external switch when you are installing it.Read more
Comes in 600 and 800 GPH
This comes in two different powered options. You can purchase the 600 gallons per hour or the 800 gallons per hour for not that much price differential. Both pumps require a 12-volt battery.
Built In Float Switch
It comes complete with its own built-in float switch that triggers the pump to power on when water reaches a certain predetermined level.
The 3 wires on the product have tined ends for durability and this device is easy to install.
It comes encased in durable plastic so it can sustain some marginal impacts without damaging the unit.
Cost and Value
The Shoreline Marine Pump & Float Switch rings up at the bottom of our price range and we like its value because it comes with its own built-in float switch so you don’t have to install a separate one yourself.
8. Seaflo 2000 GPH
Super high powered motor
Comes with built in float switch
Operates quietly and with little vibration
Water-cooling motor for longer life
Some issues with bracket mounting
The Seaflo 2000 GPH is the highest-powered pump on our list and it comes with its own float switch included. It features more than twice the power of the previous Seaflo product on our list. That being said, the pump and the switch can be replaced independently of the other which is a cost-saving feature that we like.Read more
Comes with Float Switch
The Seaflo 2000 GPH comes with a float switch installed. It must be in 2 inches of water to be activated and the switch becomes deactivated or shuts off once water reaches a level of ¾ of an inch.
This pump is designed to be fully submersible.
This unit comes with a strainer base that snap locks so it is easy to install and take apart for maintenance.
This pump operates quietly and with minimal vibrations.
Motor is Water-Cooling
This is designed to have a longer life than others on the market. The high powered motor features water-cooling so that the motor doesn’t overheat and deteriorate rapidly.
This product is ignition protected.
The seals on this unit are moisture and watertight so it fights against corrosion and rust which also serves to prolong the life of the pump.
Cost and Value
The Seaflo 2000 GPH rings up in the middle of our price range and we like its value because this is the most high powered pump on our list but it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
9. CreatorEle Automatic
Comes with 2 switch options
Issues with body attachment
The CreatorEle is an all-in-one compact device that is still high powered and functions well for smaller boats. It comes complete with its own float switch but can also be hardwired to an external switch if you prefer manual operation.Read more
Compact for Smaller Boats
The CreatorEle Automatic is high powered while still having a compact design that makes it ideal for smaller boats. This pump can remove 1100 gallons of water per hour.
The thermoplastic body features tight seals to increase the lifespan of the pump. It is fully submersible and it is also ignition treated for your safety.
The motors are cooled with water so that they last longer and do not overheat as easily.
2 Operation Options
This comes with its own float switch already installed on the inside of the casing. This switch will turn on automatically when the level of water rises in the bilge and will also power off automatically once water levels go back to safe levels.
But if you prefer the functionality of a manual bilge pump, you also have the option of hardwiring this pump into an external board switch so that you can control when the pump turns on and off in order to override the automatic feature.
This product comes with amazing instructions to help you with every step of the installation process no matter which route you choose to go.
Cost and Value
The CreatorEle Automatic rings up towards the bottom of our price range and we like its value because it comes with two switch options and is compact yet high powered without breaking the bank.
10. SEAFLO Electric
Can run dry for short time
Standard mounts and strainers
Does not have a ton of lift power
The SEAFLO Electric is the perfect way to round out our Ten Best List. It is a great quality unity that is not automatic but that can be hooked up to an external float switch or switchboard. And it comes with an excellent warranty.Read more
Comes with Strainers
The SEAFLO Electric comes complete with strainers that snap in so they are easily exchangeable. These strainers are important as they work to keep debris from clogging the motor of the pump and rendering it ineffective.
This pump does not come with an automatic float switch, but it can be easily paired to an external float switch (which you must purchase separately).
This comes with standard mounts so you can easily change out mounts without needing new hardware.
This motor runs silently and without vibrations. It pumps out 1100 gallons of water per hour.
It is completely submersible and has air-lock protection as well as ignition protection. It can also run dry for short periods of time without damaging the motor.
Cost and Value
The SEAFLO rings up at the bottom of our price range and we like its value because it is a high-quality pump at a low price with an incredible 4-year warranty.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The first thing we looked at when selecting the products for this Ten Best List was whether or not the product was actually effective. We consider a product to be the most effective if it says it is going to push out 1100 gallons of water per hour and actually pushes out 1100 gallons of water per hour.
Just because a product has a lower rating in effectiveness does not mean it doesn’t work. Some products just don’t expel quite the same amount of water that they say they are going to on their package.
There are a few reasons for this. One, the product could actually not be that powerful or is mislabeled. For two, products can lose power when they are asked to move water uphill a substantial amount.
For example, a product with that pumps 1100 gallons of water per minute that is asked to pump water vertically up over 5 feet may very well lose a bit of power so that it is pumping out more like 750 gallons of water per minute.
When we consider features for these pumps, we are looking at the special additions that set them apart from the group.
One of the features we love most is the built-in float switches. These switches basically function as water sensors. When water levels rise, the float switch is triggered which causes the pump to begin working and removing water. When water levels return to normal, the switch turns off and the pump stops working. These pumps are automatic and are power saving.
But even if a pump does not have this built it feature, most can be linked to an external float switch that you must purchase separately in order to become an automatic bilge pump as well.
We like products that can be fully submersed and products that come with filters to help filter out bilge gunk and loose particles that can potentially clog the motor.
We also like products that have been ignition protected. This means that a product won’t produce sparks or ignite when exposed to potential fuel in the water. More about this in the Frequently Asked Questions section below.
When we made this Ten Best List, we also took the durability of each product into heavy consideration because these can be lifesaving devices that truly need to work when you need them.
Unfortunately, on the whole, these devices do not seem to have a super long shelf life. Even with anti-corrosion treatment and shock absorbing plastics, these submersible pumps are really put through the wringer.
However, some products do last longer than others. We value products that have motors that can run dry for a short period without damage and that are primed to run for extended periods of time. We also like products that have full seals to protect sensitive parts from rust and corrosion.
And, because life happens, we also value products that come with warranties.
Ease of Use
When considering the ease of use of each product, we are mostly looking at its automaticity and the installation process.
Of course, an automatic pump is going to be easier to use than a manual pump because it because to work on its own. That being said, we do like the pumps that come with manual override options in case something goes wrong with the automatic function as this makes the pump easier to use.
When considering how easy a product is to install, we look at the wiring, how long the wiring is, how easy it is to connect to external switches and switchboards, what the bracket type of the base is, how easy the base is to install, and how easily the unit comes apart for maintenance and for replacing parts.
When looking at the value of each product, we consider the power against the overall cost of the product and we consider how true each product is to is power or how effective it is. Then we weigh the average life of the product against these values to arrive at its value score.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
As we mentioned above, your pump may not always be pumping out the amount of water per hour that it is advertised to. There are reasons for this and there are ways to calculate how much power is lost so you can be sure you have the right amount of bilge power aboard.
Go ahead and subtract 20% for voltage loss. Batteries lose power when they are not being charged onshore and voltage is lost when traveling through small wires over long distances.
Next, consider how high water has to travel to be pumped out. Bilge GPH specs are determined when water is being pumped out in a horizontal fashion. In your boat, this is not going to be the case. If you are pumping water up 3 feet and then out, you are going to lose about 30% of your pump’s capacity. At 6 feet this becomes 40%.
Finally, consider the hose you’re using. If you’re using a corrugated hose, running a hose for long distances, or running a hose that changed directions sharply, you are likely to lose another 20% of your pumping power. These hose issues create tons of friction and cause the pump to use more energy to move each gallon of water which means it has less energy to move more gallons.
Take all of these considerations into account to find your bilge’s true pumping power, and make sure you add on more bilge power to compensate for any losses.
Because these bilge pumps can be life saving devices, you need to give them a little TLC every now and then. Check on the strainer and filters to ensure that they aren’t clogged with leaves or other loose debris.
Also, check for corrosion and rusting as this can interfere with your pump working properly. If you see corrosion and rust, either replace those parts or replace your pump.
Other Factors to Consider
We also consider the materials that each product is made out of.
We like products with hard plastic bodies that are sealed to protect from impacts and to protect against rust and corrosion.
We like wiring that has been tined and caulked to prevent water wicking. We also like long lengths of wiring to make installation easier, as well as hardwiring options for external switches.
When looking at compatibility, we are considering how many boat varieties or different uses each pump can be used for. We are also looking at their mounts and replacements parts, as well as hoses and wiring to get a good idea of how brand-specific parts need to be.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: If my boat already has a bilge pump, do I really need another one?
The factory bilge pump that your boat comes with will likely be fine, especially for clearing out small amounts of water that get into the boat from rain or a wild wave. But because these devices rarely get the maintenance and attention that they need, and because they have a history of not always working properly, it is important for you to have a backup onboard (and sometimes more than one).
Why? For true emergency situations.
If there is a leak on your boat and you are taking on tons of water at a time, you are going to need your bilge pump as an emergency tool.
Having 1 or more functioning bilge pumps will give you enough time to find where the leak is and tend to it. And if there is no chance fixing the leak, your functioning pumps will help to keep water out long enough for you to begin your safety evacuation plan by putting on your life jackets and setting off flares, or for you to stay on your boat until help can arrive and rescue you.
But it’s important to note that the standard bilge pumps we have on this list are NOT the same as emergency pumps, even though you may be using them in emergencies. Emergency pumps can remove hundreds of gallons of water each MINUTE, while these pumps will remove similar amounts of water each HOUR.
So all of that said, our simple answer is “yes.” It is a good idea to have an extra bilge pump (or two) on board for your safety and peace of mind.
There are regulations outlining how much total bilge power you should have on your boat based on the size of your boat and whether or not your vessel is intended to be slept on. You can check these boating safety regulations out from the Coast Guard. These regulations are different for small crafts like kayaks than they are for larger fishing boats.
q: What does “ignition protected” mean?
Because fuel can sometimes get mixed in with the bilge water, and because this water is passing through a device with a current, these pumps are designed with ignition protection which prevents sparks from flying and fire from forming when flammable gases pass through the pump.
While this is less necessary for boats that use diesel fuel and more for boats that use gasoline, it is a great feature to have on your pump regardless.
q: What kind of hose should I use?
You should be using a marine grade hose. These hoses have less resistance and allow water to flow more easily. Make sure you secure the hose with hose clamps so that it remains erected in a straight line (which also reduces energy use), and ensure that your hose is routed as directly as possible out of your boat.