Blue Guard BG-One, Smart Bilge Pump Switch
Blue Guard’s BG-One Oil and Fuel Detector with Smart Bilge Pump Switch won the IBEX innovation for electrical equipment. With this switch, Blue Guard seems to have thought through the problem of oil in the bilge and come up with a smart solution to ensure safety while minimizing the potential for environmental impact.
The $219 BG-ONE is a solid state bilge pump switch with multiple sensors able to detect the difference between being immersed in water versus fuel or oil. So when the sensor is immersed in oil it can deactivate the bilge pump and trigger an alarm at the control panel and via any Bluetooth connected devices. Because oil floats on top of water, as the water level raises the oil will float past the pickup of the bilge pump. Once the oil level is safely above that point the switch can engage the pump and remove the water under the oil. As soon as the water level drops back to the point where the switch detects oil again it can stop pumping again (depending on the mode you’ve set).
Each BG-One switch has a built-in Bluetooth radio allowing configuration via mobile app, and also monitoring of the parameters like temperature, voltage and current consumed by the connected bilge pump. The most important configuration task is setting the switch mode. Mode A or Marina Mode turns the pump on when water is detected, turns the pump off when oil is detected, and then turns the pump back on when only water is detected. Mode B or Marine Sanctuary mode turns the pump on when water is detected and then turns off and disables the pump when oil is detected. Standard or High Seas mode disables the oil detection and functions as a standard bilge pump switch.
Also pictured in the test tank above is the Blue Guard Control Panel which provides an audio alarm, bilge pump activation counter and manual override of the pump control. The control panel is sold separately with a $219 list price.
Blue Guard also offers versions with differing capabilities. These include the BG-SWA bilge pump switch with high water alarm, BG-SW bilge pump switch, BG-HW high water sensor and BG-OIL oil and fuel detector.
I have received a demo unit and hope to get it installed shortly and report on the effectiveness of the switch.
As a guy who once came perilously close to pumping a lot of diesel into the wonderful upper North Carolina section of the ICW, I think that this switch looks terrific. I also like how they’ve used Bluetooth for configuration and direct monitoring, and hope we see a lot more of that in used-to-quite-dumb system components like this.
If you do get diesel in the bilge, maybe you’ll be able to use this one day
Thanks, David. I guess it’s matter of manufacturing cost versus potential market, but I sure wouldn’t mind floating a plank of oil and diesel absorbing balsa in my bilge.
Cool idea. But I saw that from Spearman Marine in Campbell River BC Canada back in 1986. This is not new.
Thanks, Julian. Spearman still exists, and references a “Liquid Selective Bilge Pump Control system” they worked on in the 80’s:
But judging from what they sell now, plus the huge evolution of general tech like microprocessors, I doubt that the BG-One has much resemblance except in purpose.
Incidentally, I recently bought and installed a BG-One, and am quite pleased so far.
Sure, the Panbo unit has way more functionality, but to claim to be the worlds first oil detecting switch is categorically false.
I don’t see anywhere the claim is made that it’s the first oil detecting switch. Blue Guard Innovations does refer to it as the world’s first SMART bilge pump switch with integrated oil/fuel detector. I don’t think they’re claiming to be the first oil detecting float switch rather their claim is about smart bilge pump switches. Smart is a somewhat overused term and while I personally wouldn’t choose to make claims like that I don’t think it’s at all categorically false.
The “Panbo unit”? Panbo has nothing to do with developing or manufacturing the BG-One. But Panbo is the first, best, and maybe last marine electronics blog!
Panbo (Ben Stein) reported on BG-One testing here: