The Arid Bilge System.

Frequently Asked Questions

Arid Bilge is a standalone system that automatically maintains a vessel’s compartments 100% dry, 24/7.

The Arid Bilge System is essentially a miniature wet/dry shop vac. It has 2 main components:

When properly installed, these components work together to remove 100% of bilge water.

The Arid Bilge System has 3 main parts inside the box: a processor, a compressor, and a collection chamber. The processor decides when to activate the compressor, which moves air into and out of the collection chamber. Our float switch is a pair of vacuum switches which measure how quickly vacuum pressure is being lost in the chamber.

The bilge pickups are connected to the chamber by thin tubing. The movement of air throughout the system is key: it pulls water until it pulls air, and as it pulls air into the collection chamber it forces collected water out through a discharge check valve. Then the air direction is reversed and vacuum is created in the collection chamber which draws the liquids through the small tubes.

The Arid Bilge System uses vacuum to remove every last drop of bilge water. This is the same technology as your wet/dry shop vac, but it’s completely automatic and precise. Arid Bilge is not a bilge pump, which has a float switch that sits in water. Instead of a traditional float switch, the Arid Bilge has a pair of vacuum switches which measure how quickly vacuum is being lost in the collection chamber. Slow loss of vacuum signals to the system that liquids are being pulled, which prompts the processor to keep the system active.

It’s normal for boats to have water in the bilge on occasion for various reasons, but standing bilge water can lead to serious problems over time.

Standing water, even in small amounts 2 inches deep or less, leads to:

• The “mature vessel smell” that no chemicals can eliminate,

• Mold and mildew in everything from the fabrics to the fiberglass,

• High humidity below decks and in cabins,

• Rust and condensation damage on engine room machinery and electronics,

• Hull osmosis or corrosion.

It also prevents boaters from locating the source of a leak.

Standing bilge water will reduce your boat’s resale value and will increase your maintenance costs.

Most importantly, standing bilge water will reduce your enjoyment of the boat.

All of the problems caused by standing bilge water will be halted in their tracks. Our customers notice the following types of changes:

• The “mature vessel smell” dissipates,

• No more harsh cleaning chemicals are needed,

• On-board humidity goes down,

• Maintenance costs are reduced.

Now instead of playing defense, you can play offense. Arid Bilge will enable you to be proactive rather than reactive. For example, if the boat has any leaks, the Arid Bilge System will help you find them and fix them before they become a problem. Your bilge paint will be protected from the dangers of standing water. The boat will hold a better resale value and will impress your guests and potential buyers.

The physical central unit is larger than an average bilge pump, but it can be mounted in any out-of-the-way location, usually up on a bulkhead like a battery charger. The actual tubing and bilge pickup footers are quite small and usually end up being located near the bilge pumps.

Most Arid Bilge Systems accept common 12 volt or 24 volt DC power. We can also configure power supplies that will accept 120 VAC 60 hertz US house power or even 240 VAC 50 hertz European power.

Our most popular unit, the Series 2, draws 7/10 of an amp at 12 volt DC when it’s running cycles and removing bilge water. When it’s in the hibernate mode, it draws 20 milliamps — this is where the unit will usually spend most of its time. An easy number for most of us to understand would be that this system usually draws 1.6 ampere hours per day.

Other versions, such as the Series 1 and Series 4, draw similarly small amounts of power.

We’re happy to provide contact(s) for installers or yards in your area if you want to keep it simple. But if you enjoy and have the time to do the installation, it’s usually much easier and faster than installing a common bilge pump from scratch.

  1. Find the spot(s) where bilge water collects and put down your Arid Bilge pickup(s) there.
  2. Mount the Arid Bilge box high above the bilges, vertically on a bulkhead or someplace out of the way, such as under a sink.
  3. T-connect the ½” discharge to an existing outflow, making sure that there is no potential for backflow to an existing pump or drain that it is connected with.
  4. Measure and pull the tubes into the different plumbing runs to connect the pickup(s) to the central box. Tubing runs are minimum 20 feet in length. If any of the runs are less than 20′, then coil the excess to maintain the correct resistance. You can go up to 50′ per run on our most popular system, the Series 2; 75′ on a Series 4, or 100′ on a Series 9.
  5. Connect the power, usually to an existing load like a shower sump or bilge pump.
  6. Watch it go to work!

View our Series 4 install video here for best practices on cutting and running tubing, hooking up to power, and more.

All installation manuals are available on the Owners’ Central page.

You can find the full installation manual and more specifications on the “Description” tab on each of our shop pages:
Click here for Series 1
Click here for Series 2
Click here for Series 4

There may be a lot of slime down in the bilge today. Once the Arid Bilge is installed, you can clean the bilge one more time and say goodbye to the slime. Slime won’t be coming back and therefore it won’t be clogging your Arid Bilge pickups. No regular maintenance required here.

The best thing you can do for your Arid Bilge System is to leave power applied and stop using foaming bilge cleaners. Not only do they pollute the environment, but the suds from cleaning products can damage the Arid Bilge System’s internal components.

If you do have to use foaming cleaning products, shut off power to the Arid Bilge System and have the bilge pump activate to flush out the sudsy water.

Three major differences:

  • Arid Bilge is designed for precision while a regular bilge pump is designed for flotation in the case of emergencies.
  • Arid Bilge will collect 100% of bilge water while a regular bilge pump will leave some behind every time.
  • Arid Bilge is built differently. It protects itself from water damage while a regular bilge pump tends to sit in water.

You need both pieces of equipment on your boat to keep it healthy and safe.

There are different types of bilge pumps that all have a single thing in common: they have an impeller or diaphragm that comes in direct contact with the bilge water. Bilge pumps are very efficient while they are pumping liquid. But as soon as air is mixed with the water, the pump’s efficiency drops dramatically to the point that the pump might completely stop moving water even though it’s still running. In the industry, we call this “cavitation,” which is the slipping of the impeller through the air.

The Arid Bilge System, on the other hand, is essentially a miniature wet or shop vacuum cleaner. Our system works by moving air to move liquid. Our float switch and our pump never come in contact with the bilge water. This ensures maximum longevity of our product.

No. You need both pieces of equipment on your boat to keep it healthy and safe.

Your existing bilge pump is essentially a life-saving device that is there to prevent sinking or loss of vessel trim. It was never designed to remove all of the standing bilge water, but it does a good job of preventing the bilge water from becoming too deep. With modern boats, this is a rare occurrence. The Arid Bilge is designed to remove 100% of the bilge water and in most cases will end up doing all of the day-to-day work, leaving your bilge pump sitting high and dry. The bilge pump stays fresh and ready to go in the event of a larger catastrophic leak.

There are no technologically similar alternatives to Arid Bilge besides manual labor using a conventional wet/dry shop vac. Note that Arid Bilge is not considered an alternative to bilge pumps because it uses completely different technology (see previous 2 FAQs).

Boaters that live aboard or owners of larger yachts with a full-time crew will use a wet/dry shop vac to manually remove all of the bilge water at regular intervals. This is a very labor-intensive and messy process. Ever try lifting a shop vac full of dirty water out of a rectangular hole in the floor, only to drip all over clean carpet on your way to pour it out overboard? Yes, we have heard of boaters using a sponge or a hand pump instead, but in the end that’s just as messy and time-consuming as using the shop vac. Why not automate this process?

Oil, hydraulic fluid, and Diesel fuel mixed with bilge water will usually not cause any problems for the Arid Bilge System. These liquids will pass through the system without harming the system.

However, you should treat bilge water if it is particularly oily, so you stay in compliance and protect our environment. Most boats have to maintain a placard, usually posted in the engine room, stating that it is illegal to discharge Hydrocarbons overboard and that it can result in a $10,000.00 fine, etc.

The Arid Bilge by itself would pass these fluids overboard like most bilge pumps would as well. If you are concerned about the amount you may be discharging, we offer three models of oily-water separators as add-on devices. These are designed to allow the bilge water to pass through while storing the oil and/or Diesel for manual removal and proper disposal. Most of our customers don’t have the need for this.

Read our article on treating bilge water for general tips on handling bilge water, including when to use soaps and what type of soaps.

All of it! Yes, you can have a dusty dry bilge on a boat equipped with an Arid Bilge System. The system will work automatically 24/7 until all of the water is gone.

The Arid Bilge System is manufactured in Florida, USA from globally sourced components.

Every boat is different. Some have continuous, slow leaks, while others have intermittent leaks that may happen during rainstorms. We have seen some systems last up to 12 years without any repairs while others, usually on an old wooden boat, may have problems right at one year because of normal wear and tear on the unit. We average right around 5 to 6 years on most of our units and the reason is simple: no direct contact between the pump / float switch and the bilge water. This ensures maximum longevity of our product.

The Standard and Mini standard are designed to sit in a flat-bottomed bilge. The offset and the pickup wand are designed for V-bottomed bilges as well as very narrow compartments. The rule to achieve a dry bilge is simple: the pickup must be in direct contact with the bilge water in order to remove it.

You can find pictures and measurements of the pickups on the “Pickups” tab on each of our shop pages. The Series 4 shop page has a description of all pickup styles on the “Pickups” tab.

Short answer: If your Arid Bilge System has capacity, yes, you can send the unit back to us to upgrade to add more zones.

Detailed answer: A Series 1 cannot be upgraded to have 2 zones. A Series 2 with 2 zones can be upgraded to have 3 zones. A Series 4 can be upgraded to have up to 8 zones. All such upgrades take place at our factory in Florida. Trying to perform the upgrade yourself can cause the system to lose calibration. Please contact us to make sure your unit can be upgraded. You will pay the difference between the sale price of your current unit and the SKU you want to upgrade to, plus roundtrip shipping, plus a $100 service fee (subject to change), and your unit will be returned to you with additional tubing and bilge pickup(s) as required by the upgrade.

The standard valve is a Solenoid valve which has a plunger that retracts when the processor applies power. Here, there are metal parts exposed to the bilge liquids.

Solenoid valves can last a long time (e.g., years), but for added valve longevity, you can opt to upgrade to Pinch valves.

Our Pinch valves take a 3-inch length of soft Silicon tubing and pass it through a striker, which pinches or collapses the tube to stop or start the flow of bilge liquids. Here, there are no parts exposed to the bilge water, which we find can add longevity to the valve.

As part of your winterization process, you should turn off power to your Arid Bilge System. Before you shut it off, add antifreeze to your bilge compartments and check to make sure the antifreeze has exited the system through the discharge.

Still have questions? Write us an email.
Learn how Arid Bilge will keep your boat dry and hear from the people who love it.

1. A new boat starts to collect water in the bilge.

2. The boat starts to smell like mildew and suffers condensation damage.

3. Arid Bilge is installed. The boat smells neutral again and the damage is quickly stopped.

“I’m really happy that I put the system in. It eliminates that little bit of water that just lingers there. The boat is healthier—and so am I.”

James Moores,
Moores Marine Yacht Center

“I’m really happy that I put the system in. It eliminates that little bit of water that just lingers there. The boat is healthier—and so am I.”

James Moores,
Moores Marine Yacht Center