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Old 03-13-2009, 09:46 AM   #1
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On Off Indicator For Outside Sump Pump


I recently installed an outside sump pump (120v ac) to remedy a water collection problem in my driveway adjacent to our garage doors. The sump is fed by drains and underground piping and pumps the water to the street. Buried electrical conduit supplies the power.

I would like to know when the pump operates by some sort of noise maker that would be located in my basement. The pump is the only item on the line and originates in the basement. What sort of electrical device can I add to the line in the basement that would let me know the pump is pumping? The wire to the pump is 12-3. The pump has a level switch so the line to it is always hot. Any sort of sensor in the basement would have to detect the pump running about 100 feet away. Naturally, the pump only runs intermittently when it is raining.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Old 03-13-2009, 10:26 AM   #2
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On Off Indicator For Outside Sump Pump


Can you disassemble the pump far enough to get at the switch contacts? Then you could run a "lamp loop" consisting of switched hot and neutral to light a lamp or sound a buzzer in your basement. If the red conductor in your 12/3 cable is not being used, you could use that as the switched hot and tie the lamp neutral to the neutral of the same circuit that feeds the pump, back at the basement.

Probably more expensive would be an electronic device that measured current draw on the pump's feed line much like a clamp on ammeter. This would turn on a light or buzzer indirectly perhaps using a relay.

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Last edited by AllanJ; 03-13-2009 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 03-13-2009, 10:46 AM   #3
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On Off Indicator For Outside Sump Pump


AllanJ,

Sorry, I was incorrect about the wires. I thought since it had 3 wires, one being ground, it was 12-3. Actually, it is 12-2 with a bare ground.

The wire is buried in an underground PVC conduit that is about 90 feet long. Running another wire would require a lot of digging.
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Old 03-13-2009, 11:06 AM   #4
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On Off Indicator For Outside Sump Pump


Can you pull the Romex out of the PVC?
Replace it with individual runs of THWN wire (black, white, red, green).
Then wire the red to the output of the switch.
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Old 03-13-2009, 12:35 PM   #5
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On Off Indicator For Outside Sump Pump


No, I cannot pull the wires out. They do not budge as there are a cople of bends in the line. I'm afraid I'm stuck when it comes to changing wires.
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Old 03-13-2009, 12:36 PM   #6
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On Off Indicator For Outside Sump Pump


Depending on your soldering skills, for $20 in parts and a day of labor you can make a circuit that senses the pump current through a sense resistor and sounds an alarm.
Parts list includes two resistors, a transistor, a Sonalert or equivalent and a 9v battery [or wall xformer that puts out DC].

Another way is to get a current-operated relay, with a coil wound with #14 [if you can find someone who makes such a thing] or you make your own from some junkbox relay.
Automotive electromechanical voltage regulators had such a relay, back when cars had DC generators. Some junk yard might give you the thing.

What current or power does the pump draw?

Last edited by Yoyizit; 03-13-2009 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 03-13-2009, 01:26 PM   #7
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On Off Indicator For Outside Sump Pump


Yoyizit,

I can solder quite well, either ordinary wires or circuit board with pencil- type iron.

I hooked up an ammeter to the pump when I first got it. I put it in a bucket of water to set it off. It draws about 10 amps. Spec sheet says it draws 8. It's a 1/3 hp motor. I don't recall what the power factor was so I cannot give you watts. Volt-amps would be about 1230. The wire inside the basement is 12-2. The outside 90 feet are double 14-2. Lowes had a sale on 250 feet quantities of 14 gauge so I bought it and doubled up. Two 14's carry more current than a single 12. I used 12 inside because I already had sufficient 12 to get to where I wanted to exit the basement. Calculations showed this combination was sufficient to carry the current needed with a sufficiently low voltage drop.

I have a radio in the basement that plugs into ac wall sockets. It draws very little power. It would be nice if the device you are thinking of could be used to turn the radio on when the pump runs. Or for that matter, any noise maker would be fine.

I have a number of power supplies, the kind you get with electronic equipment. They put out dc voltage and maybe 20 milliamps.

What is a sense resistor? If you specify exactly what I should buy, I'll go shopping tomorrow.
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Old 03-13-2009, 01:44 PM   #8
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On Off Indicator For Outside Sump Pump


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawrence Coppar View Post
It draws about 10 amps. Spec sheet says it draws 8.
I have a radio in the basement that plugs into ac wall sockets. It draws very little power. It would be nice if the device you are thinking of could be used to turn the radio on when the pump runs.

I have a number of power supplies, the kind you get with electronic equipment. They put out dc voltage and maybe 20 milliamps.

What is a sense resistor? If you specify exactly what I should buy, I'll go shopping tomorrow.
I'll have to get my photobucket account working again because you'll probably need to see a schematic.

At 10A or so, a 1/4 ohm resistor would give enough drop to turn on a transistor. This is about 3' of #24 AWG.
The transistor pulls in a relay whose contacts are rated for 120vac, and the relay coil voltage is sized for the voltage of your wall supplies.

What DC voltages do your 'formers put out?

www.hosfelt.com or allelectronics or some such place has the parts you need.

Another, simpler, way is to get a relay that pulls in at 1.5vdc or 3vdc, from Digi-Key, Mouser, Jameco. This circuit doesn't need a wall 'former, just a sense resistor, diode bridge and capacitor.

This circuit can't get much simpler and it can be designed around what parts you have.

I'll post back when I get my account working.

There are also commercially available current sense devices that will trigger on this much AC amps.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 03-13-2009 at 02:21 PM.
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Old 03-13-2009, 02:17 PM   #9
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On Off Indicator For Outside Sump Pump


I opened one box of miscellaneous electrical stuff I've saved over the years. Here is what I have for outputs. All plug in to 120 AC.

3v dc, 300 mA
6.4v dc, 500 mA
6.6v dc, 300 mA
18v dc, 20 VA
6.75v ac, 185mA
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Old 03-13-2009, 02:52 PM   #10
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On Off Indicator For Outside Sump Pump


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawrence Coppar View Post
The wire inside the basement is 12-2. The outside 90 feet are double 14-2. Lowes had a sale on 250 feet quantities of 14 gauge so I bought it and doubled up. Two 14's carry more current than a single 12.
Um, how many code violations can you guys find in this setup...

lets start off:
1: No you can't "Double up" on wire to carry more current.
2: Just guessing from "250' on sale at Lowes" but does the 14-2 have the letters NM infront of it, AKA standard romex? NM wire is not rated for burial.
3: If you buried romex, did you atleast bury it in Electrical conduit or just plain old pvc... (I am not sure what is the actual difference between them, but it is a requirement in the code)
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Old 03-13-2009, 03:09 PM   #11
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On Off Indicator For Outside Sump Pump


Conduit was grey in color - specifically for electrical lines. It's schedule 40, rather thick walled stuff. Small diameter ordinary PVC can have a thinner wall thickness. I think the only difference is wall thickness and color. But I could be wrong. Electrical conduit is rather stout.

If I cannot double, then why was the voltage drop far less than a single 14-2 would have been? A single 14-2 would have supplied the minimum voltage given the current draw. Pump manufacturer specified minimum voltage requirement. But I wanted a cushion. Hence, 2 14's rather than a single.

Any other questions?
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Old 03-13-2009, 03:30 PM   #12
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You have a link to your sump pump specs?

You probably need UF cable, not for the sunlight resistance but for the moisture resistance because of condensation inside the conduit.

Two #14 conductors fastened together at each end might give you 2 milliohms/ft instead of the expected 1.3, so a loop distance of 180' gives you 360 milliohms, and at 10A gives you 3.6v/3% drop.
To verify, you could use an extension cord as a test lead; while the pump is running you could measure the drop on the high side or low side conductor, then multiply by two.

The NEC has some rules for figuring parallel conductors.

To not unduly shorten pump motor lifetime, this current sensing circuit should probably not use up more than an additional 150 milliohms, which gives 1.5v @ 10A. If your incoming AC is on the high side of 120.0v we can probably go higher than 150 mOhms.

If we stick with the 150 the circuit might have to be somewhat more complex.
Or, you could run one more skinny, moisture-resistant wire in the conduit as a voltage sensing wire, and then we'd have 3.6vac or so to drive the sensing circuit. This wire would only carry 1/10th amp or so.

Here is one commercially available sensing switch
http://web4.automationdirect.com/adc...nsing_Switches
At $63 for one of these, you'd be paying yourself less than $5/hr if you build this device yourself. But there is some satisfaction in DIY.

I'm a sort-of-retired EE.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 03-13-2009 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 03-14-2009, 08:18 AM   #13
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Here is the link to pump specs.
http://www.sumppumpsusa.com/wayne-cd...sump-pump.html

It's raining so I cannot measure voltage drop using the extension cord technique. Will have to remove soil on top of sump as it is buried. Clear weather job.

The electrical conduit is pretty much sealed. It is cemented electical pvc conduit that actually enters my basement. The other end is in the sump. The end is epoxy filled to prevent moisture from entering conduit. There is an underground junction box near the basement wall. It is gasketed and specifically made for underground unions. Conduits cement into box to effect seal.

Voltage at my house is 123v. However, I have seen it as low as 120v at certain times of the day. I have a good voltmeters - a modern Fluke and a very old analgue Triplett. They agree.

I'd rather build the switch myself. I like DIY. Furthermore, I had originally contacted two landscapers regarding a quote for the water collection problem. Each estimate was over $2K, one being nearly 2.4K and both involved digging up the back yard to get water to a ravine. The system I came up with has cost me less than $250. The water is pumped to the curb at the street. It works very well. A couple of weeks ago we had a very heavy downpour. The pump would run for 11 seconds, then cut off for 11 seconds. With moderate rainfall, it would run for 9 seconds, then remain off for about 40 seconds. Today, the rain is light and pump fires off about every 10 minutes for 8 seconds dumps.
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Old 03-14-2009, 09:17 AM   #14
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Getting back to the voltage drop with parallel wire business: When I first set the system up I plugged in my heat gun (1200 watts) to the end of the line (where pump would connect) and measured the voltage while it was on. This was easier to do then fool around with water and keeping the pump running. On that day the line voltage was 123v. I measured about 119v across the heat gun wires. So from this I concluded the wiring was sufficient. This is in the ball park of what you say regarding parallel wiring.

I forgot to mention this before.

Last edited by Lawrence Coppar; 03-14-2009 at 09:20 AM.
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Old 03-14-2009, 11:31 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawrence Coppar View Post
Getting back to the voltage drop with parallel wire business: When I first set the system up I plugged in my heat gun (1200 watts) to the end of the line (where pump would connect) and measured the voltage while it was on. This was easier to do then fool around with water and keeping the pump running. On that day the line voltage was 123v. I measured about 119v across the heat gun wires. So from this I concluded the wiring was sufficient. This is in the ball park of what you say regarding parallel wiring.

I forgot to mention this before.
The point was that paralleled conductor smaller than 1/0 is a code violation, as well as running indoor NM-B outside in conduit. Will paralleled #14's work? The laws of physics say yes, undoubtedly. But the Code problem is that small wires are easier to break than big wires, and if one wire in your parallel set becomes open, you risk overloading the other wire.

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