Updated: Dec 9, 2020
Q: Why do I need to add a ground wire to my installation?
A: The sensors on all of our switches detect water by passing a small current (< 1/10,000 Amps) from the tip of the sensor, through the water, to ground. In most installations, the pump, the sump pit, or the basement floor, provide a sufficient ground. However, if you find that the sensor doesn't detect the water when it is touching the sensor's tip, then it may be that the ground source in your installation isn't strong enough for the sensor to work correctly. Adding a ground wire will resolve the missing ground problem and ensure that the sensor will detect water when it's present.
Q: Can I use my switch outdoors?
A: Often times the pump you want to control is located outdoors, and while our switches aren't exactly rated for outdoor use, they can be used that way. The ambient temperature swings of the outdoors won't bother the switches, but moisture from rain, snow or excessive humidity will. The key, then, is to protect the Control Module, the part that plugs into the outlet, from getting wet. Placing it in a garage, under an overhang or bucket, usually will do the job. And, of course, having the Control Module located indoors is the best way to go. No need to worry about the sensors getting wet—That's what they are designed to do!
Q: Can I cut and splice the sensor wires?
A: Sometimes, you would like to have the sensor wires pass through a small opening, like an electrical conduit, so you can have the sensors located on the other side of a wall or panel. The easiest way to do this is cut the sensor wires, pass them through the small opening, and reconnect them on the other side. However, there are a couple of caveats:
Locate the splice as close to the Control Module as possible
Make sure there is a good electrical/physical connection of the wires where spliced.
Make sure the splice is well insulated and positioned so it can't get wet.
The sensor wire consists of 2 "zipped" conductors. Electrically, these are treated as a single conductor so they can all be connected together at the splice.
Q: Do I ever have to clean the sensors?
A: Nope. Except for the HC6000v2, and then only if the switch is used in a pit where there is high iron content or high mineral content (e.g. water softener discharge) and the sensors are not mounted in the manner recommended for those types of conditions. See below.
HC6000 & HC6000v2 Questions
Q: What does the blinking red light (LED) on the front of the HC6000 mean?
A: On the older version of the HC6000 (the one without the "Smart Button"), the blinking red LED indicates that the lower sensor has detected water. The blinking red is normal operation and does not mean there is a problem.
A: On the new HC6000v2, (the one with the "Smart Button"), the blinking red LED indicates that during the last run cycle, the switch determined that the water in the pit did not have a good electrical ground, and that the signal from the lower (black) sensor was unreliable. Because of this, the switch ran the pump in fault mode, which is to run it for a fixed time of 10 seconds, rather than running it until the water drops below the lower sensor. When this happens it will be necessary to add a ground wire into the pit so the black sensor will work correctly.
Q: Why do I have to install the sensors differently in pits with high mineral or iron content?
A: First, understand that the sensors detect water by measuring the resistance between the sensor's metal tip and ground. The desired path for this measurement is through the water in the pit, and in an ideal world, when there is no water in the pit the resistance to ground would be infinite (which is the same as saying there isn't any path to ground), and when the pit was full the resistance would be zero. In real life, there are many paths to ground for the sensor to find (other than through the water). Note that every wet surface in the pit is somewhat conductive, because water is conductive. So, when wet, the surface of the PVC discharge pipe is conductive, the surface of the pump's power cord is conductive, and so on. All off these wet surfaces are alternate paths to ground for the sensors, but in pits that collect "normal" ground water from the home's foundation, these paths generally have fairly high resistance levels, and the HC6000v2's sensors are designed to ignore them.
However, in pits with high iron or mineral content, these surfaces present fairly low resistance paths to ground, and the HC6000v2's sensors can be "tricked" into thinking water is present when, in fact, the pit is empty. For example, when the sensors are mounted to the discharge pipe of the sump pump, the sensor will follow a resistance path that starts at it's metal tip, goes up along black surface of the sensor, over to the discharge pipe, along the surface of the pipe down to the sump pump and ground. Because the resistance of this path is fairly low, the sensor will stay triggered even when the water level has dropped below the metal tip.
The solution that will prevent this "false trigger" from happening, is to mount the sensors in a manner that eliminates all the stray paths to ground. The trick is to mount the sensors to a separate 1/2" PVC pipe which you secure to the discharge pipe using a PVC cross and a couple of hose clamps (all available at your local hardware store). With this type of installation, the sensors cannot find any other path to ground other than through the water. The wet surfaces in the pit will still have fairly low resistance, but the only conductive path the lower sensor will find is up the 1/2" PVC pipe (note that tip of lower sensor extends below end of PVC pipe) where it eventually runs into the dry, non-conductive, part of the pipe above the upper sensor, where it stops! No unwanted resistance paths to ground to confuse the sensor. Refer to HC6000v2 Special Installation Instructions for more information on this type of installation.
HC9000 DC Backup Controller Questions
Q: How do I use the HC9000 DC Battery Backup Sump Pump Float Switch?
A: The idea behind the HC9000 Battery Backup Sump Pump Float Switch is to give our customers a way to put together a tailor-made battery backup sump pump system that best fits their application. In general, a backup sump pump system consists of the following elements:
Deep cycle marine battery
12 VDC marine bilge/sump pump
PVC piping with check valve (back-flow prevention)
Q. How do I configure a backup pump system? What components do I need?
A. Tips for Configuring Your System:
Configuring your own backup sump pump system lets you size each component to meet your specific needs. If you get a lot of water coming into your pit, then a bigger bilge pump is the way to go to make sure you stay ahead of the pit filling up. A smaller bilge pump will handle slower rates of water coming.
The PVC piping will have to match the size of your existing plumbing for the sump pump. Try to avoid using a 90 degree elbow to tie the backup plumbing into the existing piping. The elbow creates a lot of resistance to the water flow, which will reduce the pumping capacity of the backup pump. A 45 degree wye works great, and is only a little more complicated to install.
You will need a check valve to prevent the discharge of the sump pump from flowing back into the pit through the backup pump. And the check valve for the sump pump will prevent the discharge from the backup pump from flowing back into the pit through the sump pump.
Battery & Battery Charger:
If you have power outages that last a long time, you will want to get a bigger battery. If they don't last too long, then a smaller battery will do. You will also need a battery charger, and normally a 2-3 amp charger works best. These are readily available and very inexpensive.
HC9000 DC Controller:
Finally, the last element of the backup system is the HC9000 DC Controller. The HC9000 connects the battery to the pump and controls when the pump should run, and for how long. Its operation is very straight forward:
When the water in the pit bridges between the black and red sensors form the HC9000, the switch inside the HC9000 closes and supplies battery power to the pump.
The switch will stay closed for as long as the tips of the 2 sensors are submerged.
Once the water level drops, the output of the switch will stay on for the duration set by the dial on the front of the HC9000 controller (~5 to 60 seconds), then opens, shutting off the pump.
The HC9000 continuously monitors the battery voltage, and indicates the condition of the battery with the LED on the front of the controller:
If the battery voltage is good, the light on the front of the switch will be a steady green.
If the voltage drops below 11.4 Volts, the LED will flash red, indicating that the battery is becoming depleted.
If the voltage drops below 9.0 Volts, the LED will be a steady red, indicating that the battery voltage is critical, and that the HC9000 has turned off the pump to prevent the battery from becoming completely discharged. Note that in most cases, at 9.0 volts, the pump cannot develop enough torque to actually pump any water out of the pit.
Putting it Together:
One of the challenges of putting together a system is figuring out how to connect everything together. Most bilge pumps are designed to work with hoses and not standard PVC piping. However, a typical 3700 GPH bilge pump is designed to work with a 40mm/1.58" hose, but a 1 1/4" PVC flexible coupling is a perfect fit for connecting the pump to 1 1/4" PVC pipe. Additionally, a 4700 GPM bilge pump is designed to work with a 50mm/2" hose, but a 1 1/2" PVC flexible coupling works great to connect the pump to 1 1/2" PVC piping. Of course, there are all types of PVC adapters available if you need to transition from 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" PVC pipe sizes, or vice versa.
Finally, below is a simple diagram showing a typical installation for the HC9000 showing the various key components:
HC7000v2 Utility Pump Switch Questions
Q. What is the difference between the HC7000v2 and the HC7000
A. Actually, there is quite a bit that is different between the HC7000v2 and the HC7000. The HC7000 was first introduced in 2006, so it has been around for quite a while with an excellent track record. The HC7000 was designed to work explicitly with Utility Pumps, or floor suckers, as some of our customers call them. For those that aren't familiar with them, utility pumps are generally used to pump out shallow pools of water that might have collected on a large flat surface like a flooded basement, crawl space, etc. Utility pumps can develop suction at fairly shallow depths, some can even be started up in as little as 1/2" of water! And they pump to down to incredibly low levels, typically 1/8" or better. And, finally, most utility pump are manual, in that you have to plug them in to have them run, and unplug them when the water has been pumped out. They won't come on automatically when water is present.
So, we introduced the HC7000 to automate the on/off control of a utility pump. The HC7000 has a single sensor, which is used to trigger the switch on. Once on, and the water level has started to drop, the HC7000 then watches the electrical current going to the pump's motor, looking for the drop in current that will come when the pump transitions from pumping water to starting to draw in air. When it sees this drop in current it shuts the pump off to keep it from running dry. Note that the running the pump until it looses suction ensures that the water level has been dropped to very lowest level that the pump is capable of pumping down to! Which is exactly what you would want with a flooded basement!
The HC7000 works pretty good...most of the time. But, there are a few things that can trip it up. First is, once turned on, the pump has to pump water for at least 5 seconds. That's because it take at least 5 seconds for the HC7000 to build a profile of the pump's motor current while pumping water so it can detect the change in current that comes when the pump runs out of water and starts to draw in air. If the pump runs out of water in less than 5 seconds, the profile will be incomplete, and HC7000 may not shut off the pump when it should. Another limitation is that the discharge hose attached to the pump has to be 25' or less. That's because pushing water through a longer hose causes the pump to labor somewhat, causing the pump's motor current to fluctuate. Sometimes this fluctuation in motor current is significant enough to "trick" the HC7000 into thinking that the pump has started to draw in air, so it shuts it off prematurely. This results in a number of short run cycles, where it should be a single, long, run cycle. The last thing that cause a problem for the HC7000 is if the water flow to the utility pump is "slow." Because the HC7000 uses the change in motor current to determine when to shut the pump off, it needs a fairly abrupt transition from pumping water to drawing in air. If the flow of water to the pump is slow, as can happen with large pools of shallow water, the transition in motor current is relatively slow also, and the HC7000 can't figure out when exactly the pump has run out of water, so doesn't shut it off when it should.
The HC7000v2 addresses all these shortcomings. The HC7000v2 incorporates two strategies to ensure that the utility pump runs for as long as it needs to drop the water level to its lowest possible level. Neither strategy leverages the change in the pump's motor current to tell it when to turn the pump off, which automatically removes all three of the potential issues with the HC7000. So, you don't have to worry about a minimum run time, the length of the discharge hose, or the rate of water coming to the pump.
The first strategy the HC7000v2 incorporates is borrowed from our HC6000v2 Hi-Lo Pump Switch, and the second strategy is borrowed from our HC8000T Timed Mode Pump Switch:
The HC7000v2 has two sensors, like the HC6000v2. Unlike the HC6000v2, however, both the HC7000v2's sensors are black, and it doesn't have a dedicated upper sensor, or dedicated lower sensor. When attaching the sensors to the utility pump, you would place one sensor at the level where the pump is guaranteed to develop suction (e.g. 1/2"), and the other sensor just above the pump's minimum (e.g. 1/8").
And, like the HC8000T, the HC7000v2 has a Smart Button that lets you program a fixed runtime duration. When the two strategies are combined, the HC7000v2 works like this:
When the water level reaches the upper sensor, the output of the switch turns on, supplying power to the pump and water level starts to drop.
When the water level drops below the lower sensor the HC7000v2 switches to Timed Mode, and continues to run the pump for the length of time you've programmed it for so that every last drop of water the pump is capable of pumping is removed.
You should note that the HC7000v2 won't switch to Timed Mode until the water level has dropped below the tip of lower sensor. So, when installing this sensor, you should be careful to position the tip so it is above the lowest level the pump is capable of pumping down, otherwise HC7000v2 won't be able to switch to Timed Mode, the result being the pump never gets turned off.