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Inline power indicator?

I have an electric sump pump outside my house that helps to keep the footing drains of my house clear. My problem is that I often question whether it's running; to do that I need to go out in the rain, move a big piece of slate and peer into the well with a flashlight. I keep thinking that since I've seen current "draw" indicators for outlets in the home, or circuit breakers in the electrical panel, then someone must make a simple inline draw indicator that you can plug your device (like a pump) into, then plug that into the outlet. That device would have a lead you can connect to a light somewhere so that, when the pump is running, the light is lit. Has anyone heard of such a thing?

Re: Inline power indicator?

What you suggest is easy to wire but several current indicators are now on the market. One is called a "Kill-a-Watt". You plug it in a receptacle and then plug the load into it. When the load is running it indicates the current draw.

The problem is that it doesn't record anything. If your pump came on and you weren't watching the meter at the time, you wouldn't know if the pump had run or could run.

You could unplug the pump and every now and then plug it back into the meter to see if the water level had risen and the pump is working. Only problem is.. if you forget to check it and the water rises, damage may occur.

Good Luck from Columbiana, Alabama
Maurice Turgeon, http://thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

Re: Inline power indicator?

I can think of 2 options that you may want to consider.

1. Adding a backup pump that runs off of your water line. If your current pump does not turn on, the level rises higher in the sump put and this alternate pump will use the house water pressure to siphon water out of the pit. http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/video/0,,20260244,00.html

2. Having an audible water detector alarm commonly found to detect leaks on basement floors or around a washer/water heater. If the sensor is placed above the threshold of what the pump will handle, you will be notified if the pump is not working or needs help purging the incoming water.

Re: Inline power indicator?

Thanks both! Somehow before I didn't come across the Kill-a-watt that has a remote watch capability. That's what I was angling for, and thinking that as long as I caught it on once in a while I'd feel better. But I think actually that the alarm idea is what I need. At least that will alert me if the pump is no longer getting the job done- and that's the source of my concern. I appreciate the ideas, thanks again!

Re: Inline power indicator?

You could set up an alarm pretty easily, although I'm sure you can buy them ready-made.

All you need is a sump pump float switch that plugs into a wall outlet and has a switched outlet you can plug a radio or other noisemaking device into. Install the float switch at a level higher than the normal high-water level in the basin. If the water level gets too high, it turns on the radio (which you've already turned "on" very loudly to an annoying heavy metal station), alerting you to a problem. Of course, this doesn't work in a power outage.

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