Need advice on choosing better float system for water well cistern

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zannej

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I have a very strange setup that I will try to describe as best as I can as well as provide some pictures.
It starts with a belt driven 2-pulley wheel air compressor pump connected to metal pipe that converts to PVC. Part of the pipe goes into the ground and the other goes up and elbows over the top of the cistern's lid and down through the lid. It somehow forces water up the pipe and pours it down in to the cistern.
The electrical for the pump is routed through a D-box switch that is activated by a float on a vertical rod. When the float moves up, the rod is supposed to push the lever of the switch to open the circuit and turn the pump off. When it is low, it pulls the switch down, closing the circuit, and turning the pump on.

The original setup was mounted to a PVC pipe on top of the cistern's lid and someone had welded an extension on to the lever to make it reach the hole for the rod. They don't sell them with levers that long and my well repair guy doesn't weld. The only replacement available for the old switch (which burned out) had a much shorter lever and is surface mount (rather than pipe mount). So the repair guy caulked a block of wood to the top of the lid and screwed the switch down to it. Unfortunately, it was ever so slightly off of the correct angle for the rod to come up straight through the hole. I unscrewed the switch (with power to the shed off) and rotated it slightly to line it up better, but it seems the block might be slipping over time and will not move back. So the rod is out of alignment. This causes the rod to tip to the side instead of go straight up and down so it gets stuck and does not push the lever up to turn the pump off.

The other night I went out and the cistern was overflowing badly (I heard the pump running and knew it should not still be on). This system has been a problem for long before the switch was changed out. The rod needs to be greased with vaseline & the lever sometimes jammed.

I know I need to change the whole setup for the pressure tank, but that is for another day. Right now I want to figure out a better solution where I won't get a lever jamming.

I'm debating whether to try a cable float and try to figure out how to connect it to the pump (either a contactor or relay?) or a fancier system that uses sensors. Both would have to be attached to some sort of rod or pipe going down in to the cistern. This D-box switch thing just isn't working well. I believe the cable going to the pump is wither 8awg or 10awg because the thinner cables kept getting fried.

This is the pump (the motor has been changed out to one with identical specs but different color)
1630976201322.png1630976216986.png

This is the old motor part showing it is 1HP, 12.2/6.0-6.1A, 115/208-230V (but the new motor has identical specs).
1630976344331.png

This is the pipe going to the top of the cistern from the pump
1630976648585.png

This is the old D-box switch
1630976402262.png1630976417426.png

This is the style of the current switch (I don't have pics of it on the wooden block)
1630976546857.png

The last overflow the water almost came up to the wires of the pump (which I have raised up and wrapped with electrical tape and wire nuts, but soaking in water would be bad).

What sort of float / sensor system would you recommend getting? (I'd like something easy to set up)

If I go with a cable float, how would I connect it to the pump? I think relays don't pull enough amps/power.

I've seen floats that say they are good for up to 250 to 270v and 13A but only 1/2HP. And I still think I would need some sort of bridge/contactor but don't know quite how to set it up. I am open to product suggestions.

Someone on another forum said this one might work, but it only goes to 220V. I believe I would have to cut it's plug off and hardwire it via a junction box and then maybe re-use the plug to attach to the pump so the pump can plug directly in to it and I can set it to either drain or fill mode.

Editing to say I might just add a new 20amp gfci outlet to the shed (using wires that currently run to the switch) and keep the plug intact. Then I can find some sort of plug to attach to the pump's wires to plug it in to the orange box.
 

zannej

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I talked to a friend about it who knows about computer and car wiring. Not sure if that extends to pumps. He said the pump has 2 hots and a ground. Said he doesn't think the plug for the control thingy would be high enough gauge wire. Do they make plugs you can put on wires that can handle up to 220v that have 2 hots and a ground and that can plug in to a regular outlet?

This is the device I was thinking of getting. but not sure if it could handle the pump. I'd prefer something cheaper...
1630986507610.png
 

JoeD

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The rod looks like a piece of 1/4" round rod. Go to your local metal supplier and buy a longer one.
I don't know how long it needs to be but you can get a 3 foot galvanized one a home depot for $4.
 

bud16415

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First off that looks like one of the craziest pump setups I have ever seen.



I understand you don’t want to start from scratch so here is what I have done a few times with something similar and what I have working for the last 8 years in my grinder pump with a similar motor.



They sell waterproof floats with the switch inside the float and the float is on a long waterproof cord. I wont link one as I think you mentioned it in your post. They require an anchor point down in the water so the float can tether up and down to turn the switch on and off. You mentioned a pipe or something it could be clamped to and then lowered down in the water. What I did was I added a weight to the cord a few feet from the float and that gave me a fixed anchor point. I had a stack of 1” washers I was never going to use and I zip tied them together and to the cord about 18” from the float. Then I set the depth by how much cord I put in the water and tied off the cord above the well.



Most of these floats don’t even need wired as they come with a 120v plug to go in an outlet and a 120v female end to plug the motor into.



Get rid of all that claptrap and limit switches.

Few other thoughts if a relay would be needed that’s not hard to do, but I don’t think you will need one with a 1HP motor. Second point if you cant get the swing you need on a float there is a way to wire two floats in series on short tethers where both have to be up or down to work.
 

Eddie_T

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The plug on that device is a 120V with neutral so I suspect it would only work with European 220V (using a plug adapter) where there is no neutral. It would probably work if you separated your 240V to run one hot through the device and the other hot direct to the air compressor but that would add more confusion to the circuit for other parties that might be required to work on the system (which is already a bit confusing).

Another concern I have is with floats is that the range of switch motion or the length of the connecting rod in your old picture determiner the level of the water in the cistern between on/off cycles with a direct connection to the rod your water level variation will be less meaning more frequent pump cycles (or maybe not, maybe more like constant on when there is demand for water which may be better than cycling). It really depends upon why the cistern is there. If it's because of a low yield well then you would want maximum draw before pump comes on.

edit: I just looked up the Ortis and realize it doesn't have any moving parts but uses sensors which you must install in the tank. Apparently you could set them fo any high and low point you desire.
 
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zannej

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Joe, the main reason I want to get rid of the current type of switch is because it has a tendency to get stuck in the down position even when it is long enough and perfectly aligned with the hole. A pump expert on another forum recommended switching to something more efficient. But he hasn't posted in awhile and didn't comment on the electrical.

I have seen cable float switches that have a 3 prong plug on them, but I didn't see any way to connect them to the actual pump. I need to get new pictures of the current setup. Not too different-- just a shorter levered switch on a wooden block. Honestly, the pump to pull the water up to the cistern is not the most efficient either but I was told it would be very difficult (and expensive) to try to change it out.

To explain the rest of the system: At the lower part of the side of the cistern is an outlet going to a jet pump. From the jet pump it goes to a pressure tank. Water needs to be retained in the cistern for the jet pump to pull to feed water out to the main line. Once it leaves the pressure tank the main line splits in to 3-- one to the workshop, one to general outdoors, and one to the house. I really need to gut the whole thing and put in some quarter turn ball valves because the valves I have are hard to turn and one of them had a piece of plastic break off so it's even harder to turn now. I eventually want to get a cycle stop valve but that's another issue.
This is my crappy sketch
1631073343422.png
It used to have an emergency shut off before the pump but the pipe broke too many times and is patched with couplings.

For now I'm trying to figure out the best way to go to a float switch. I do wish I could find something like the sensor switch thing where the sensors can be in water. I keep seeing similar ones that are "no contact" so the sensors can not be in water. And some of the floats have pieces that are not allowed in potable water (so I would have to leave those pieces off). I was told so long as my pump is under the required amperage listed on the device, it should work.

So, my question now: If I get one of those cable floats that is powerful enough and it just has wires, would I connect the wires to the pump's wires in a junction box? or through some sort of converter?

The unit I linked only has 14awg wires so that is no good. Pump has 10awg at least.

Other than the wiring, something I would need to figure out is what size rod to put down the hole and how to secure it. I'm thinking small pvc pipe with some sort of fitting to hold it level on top of the cistern. I'm debating whether I would need some sort of nut on the bottom to secure it on the underside so it wouldn't move. I suspect I would need to do that so water wouldn't push it loose.

Any suggestions on that front? I will try to get pics as well as put a measuring tape near that hole. I wish I could lift the lid (but the pipe that fills it prevents that). Not sure how the hell the pump guy got the lid off before to get inside and replace something. I wonder if the filler pipe comes out somehow.

Editing because I just watched this video where he talks about the pump having 2 hots (not the same kind of pump but principal is similar). But my pump does have 3 wires instead of 2... So I guess I'd have to connect the ground as well.

He mentioned an actual switch but did not show anything but connecting the one hot wire. So I still don't know what would go in between.

My friend thinks the pump has 2 hots and a ground (I think I mentioned that) but I'm not sure how to tell. I found this answer to a question about the functioning of the a cable float switch
"...
there are two types of 220 V service:
1. The pump received 220 V on a “hot leg“ and has a neutral.
2. The pump has “too hot legs“ which are in all actuality -110 V, and positive 110 V, and a ground.

In scenario number one, the float switch can activate and deactivate the pump directly and should be placed in line on the hot leg.

And scenario number two, a contactor or relay should be used to start and stop the pump, and the float switch should be used to turn the relay on or off."

I still am not clear exactly how to wire that in though. I saw something that said
1631074857194.png
1631074966097.png

I want the pump to shut off when the water is high but to turn on when the water is low. I know NC is ON and NO is OFF.
 
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Eddie_T

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14 AWG cable is good for 15 amps. The larger cable from the source is to reduce voltage drop to the pump motor. Is there a sub-panel in the well house or just a junction box? l think he's talking about the switch being in series with one of the hot leads (the other lead wouldn't be switched). The ground in the switch cord would just be connected to the ground that is connected to the pump motor (not replacing it). The ground is just for safety (it's not part of the motor or switch circuit).

The secondary of the street transformer feeds your electrical panel with two hots and a neutral (which is a center tap on a 220V transformer). The neutral is grounded so that the highest voltage above ground is 110V. The neutral is used as a return for 110V circuits and is 0V referenced to ground. A 220V motor does not use the neutral, just the 2 hots which apply 220V to the motor. You can start/stop the 220V motor by switching either of the hot leads but the code probably also requires a local 220V disconnect so the pump can be worked on, which could be a breaker in a sub panel or a fused or non-fused disconnect box. I don't know what codes you have to meet.
 
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zannej

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Every time I had anything less than 10AWG the wires fried. Not sure why. Probably all the power surges we get because our power company sucks. There is no sub panel but I can put in a weather proof junction box. There are existing junction boxes but they get water in them because the roof leaks. All of the outlets are toast (someone-- possibly my father--- put non GFCI outlets in there). There are some wires hanging down from the ceiling that connect to the switch and then the switch connects to the pump via the 10AWG wires.

I saw two conflicting images for how to connect the switch.
1631077523613.png

From Electrical Wiring, House Wiring or Home Wiring Complete Guide

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Float Switch Connection:
The float switch consists of three wires. To check the float switch we will set the Multimeter on continuity it contains red, blue and black wires in which black is neutral wire. We will connect the multimeter one probe with the black wire and the other with the blue wire when the float switch will be at bottom it will act as closed circuit and give signal to the motor to turn on. It give beep on multimeter which show that it act as closed circuit. Now connect the one probe of the multimeter with the black and other with the red wire when the float switch will move upward it act like a closed circuit.

Float Switch Working :
We will connect miniature circuit breaker (mcb) which automatically switches off electrical circuit during an abnormal condition of the network means in overload condition as well as a faulty condition with live and neutral wire at input. Connect the output of the mcb with the contactor input. Magnetic Contactor is for lossy magnetic flow generated with current in winding of such devices as transformer, throttles, magnetic cartridges filters and circuit. Output of contactor is connected with the motor. Connect the wire of the float switch with the neutral wire. Connect the L1 of the contactor with the A1. Connect the blue wire of the float switch with the A2 of the contactor.
At least they look different to me. I could be wrong. But the lines are drawn differently and my brain is not wanting to process. LOL. Looks like the black wire (which is blue in another diagram) gets spliced to go to the black wire of the float and the red wire... I can't tell if it is splicing or what. I really want to see an actual photo of the wires connected to these devices. 2nd pic leaves out the ground wire but it's easy to figure out that it goes to the ground of the pump. I'm still not sure about that free floating wire left on the switch. Is it just left floating or is it grounded? Does it connect to anything or just stay disconnected?

The product that had the seller's answer was this one: Float Switch w / 10 ft. (3 Meter) Cable, Water Tank, Sump Pump (5 Year Warranty)
Not sure if I would go with it as someone reported it ruptured. It does have a 5yr warranty though. The seller and numerous customers said I will need a contactor. Not sure if I need one that is NC or NO. I will ask for a wiring diagram from the seller. Not sure if I would actually need the MCB thing. I think the wires coming in are hot, neutral, and ground. But would the MCB convert to 2 hots? That is what is confusing me.

The float that comes with this is not suitable for potable water but the seller linked this SJE Rhombus 1002230 Cable Weight that is rated for potable water.

There is also this one: Baomain 10M Cable Float Switch Water Level Controller for Tank Pump

As a companion I saw Water Well Submersible Pump Wire Splice Kit Schraiberpump for #10-12-14-16 AWG that would be nicer than using wire nuts. Need to see if I have a heat gun or something somewhere to do the shrink wrap or just tape it with electrical tape out of being lazy.

I'm currently trying to find the right kind of contactor. I need at least 13A (to play on the safe side) but am not sure what voltage. Pump can go from 115 or 208-230 and I have no idea how to tell what it is pulling. I wish my pump guy knew about this stuff. I'd ask the local electrician if I could pin him down for more than a few minutes, but I suspect he doesn't know about pump setups.
 

zannej

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Editing again because I've found another image:
1631110024649.png
So, I *think* the "brown" wire in this image is the equivalent of the red wire on the other floats. I'll have to see if I can find my multimeter and get my friend out to look at stuff to figure it out.

I believe I found a good MCB that goes to 20A and 400V. A recommended link was a waterproof box that it can mount in.

I'm still trying to find the right contactor. I found two options which might be viable but I'm not sure.
1. Heschen Household AC Contactor CT1-25 2 Pole Two Normally Open 220V/230V Coil Voltage 35 mm DIN Rail Mount
2. Heschen Household AC Contactor HSR1-25 2 Pole Two Normally Closed 220V/230V Coil Voltage 35mm DIN Rail Mount

I'm hoping I can find something less expensive (shipping is almost $30) that has the right voltage range and can be rail mounted.

Maybe Heschen Household AC Contactor CT1-63 2 Pole Two Normally Open 220V/240V Coil Voltage 35 mm DIN Rail Mount ?
Or Household AC Contactor, 2P 20A 24V 220V/230V 50/60Hz Household AC Contactor 2 Pole DIN Rail Mount 2NO Replacement AC Contactor(24V)

None of the diagrams said whether the contactor should be NC or NO. Perhaps I could just switch the wires on the float depending on whether the contactor is NO or NC? And do I need a 2-pole contactor or larger?
 

bud16415

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@zannej



I have to assume you have the setup you do because whoever built it realized the water supply (well) had limited capacity but adequate recovery for the home. I think the idea was to maybe pump water when its available to fill the cistern and then the cistern had the large capacity for when it is needed. The thought may have also been to let the water rest in the cistern for sediment or such. It seems wrong for the float in the cistern to control the air compressor as you are just refilling the top of the cistern 8” or so, and if the well ran dry and the house was using a lot of water the air compressor would just run until water recovered enough to refill the cistern. I guess that wouldn’t hurt anything just use a lot of wasted electric power.



Then you have the case of the switch sticking and overfilling the cistern. That can be solved with a second high level float that is tied NC (normally closed) into the fill circuit and that float is set slightly higher than the shut off float. That float can also have a NO (normally open) contacts that are wired to a red light and a buzzer to let you know it is stuck.



Your 1HP motor will draw 16 amps on 120v and 8 amps wired to 240v. It looks like you have it wired 120v so it should be powered off a 20 amp breaker and the #10 wire is fine.



Now if you want to stick with the limit switch like you have and the long arm is becoming a problem here is an idea I have used and it might work for you as well. Instead of the arm. Place the limit switch mid way between on and off with your float rod and then tie a strong cord slack between the end of the switch and the rod. When the float goes up the string/cord becomes tight and flips the switch and the reverse when it goes down. Doing this gets rid of the sticking part of the arm and rod.



Sounds like you have the problem of keeping it running and the rain out of the building and water to the house for now, and then the bigger more expensive problem of making it good and better long term.

I still think cutting a hole in the lid and making a cover for it to allow a tether float held down with a weight would be what I would be doing. With a second safety float to prevent over fill with alarm and then a low water float in the well to prevent the compressor from running if the well is low.
 

zannej

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Thanks, Bud. I'm trying to visualize the rope thing but my brain is drawing a blank. I work well with pictures.

I really have no clue why the people set the well up the way they did. They did a lot of things that don't make sense with this house. LOL. When the power goes out, sometimes the water in the cistern disappears (I don't know why because it's not being used) and often have to re-fill it. It has to refill when we do laundry or take showers and stuff, but for the most part it doesn't usually get too low. I got it fairly low when I filled five 5 gallon buckets of water before Ida though.

I think I want to just bite the bullet and switch to a float switch. The Sump Alarm one looks pretty good and I would not need to tether it to a pole as it can have a weight that holds it in position. I'm still trying to figure out what controller to go with though. I would like a rail mount one that can go inside a box to be protected from moisture. I think I might go with the MCB (the 20A one) as an extra level of protection.

Trying to wire an alarm in would be a pain because I would have to run wire to the house so I could hear the alarm inside. I think it would be a bit more complicated than what I want to accomplish.

I think I've narrowed down the MCB as well. Now I just need to choose a contactor. I don't know if NO or NC is better. I keep seeing more NO than NC. If I get NO and the setup as diagramed should call for NC, can I just switch the wiring on the float to change it? Or is NO the right setting? I'm getting confused about when it should be on or off. I think the diagram shows the float being NC for filling applications. So, I guess it runs the electricity while the float is down and that would be hitting the contactor and turning it on (closing the connection)?
 

Eddie_T

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Long distance advice can be hazardous. We can't tell from the available info if your compressor motor is wired for 110V or 220V, also the jet pump. If both are 220V then I would expect a 10 AWG 220V (2 hots, neutral and ground) line from the house main panel to a sub-panel or disconnect panel in the pump house. The sub-panel would provide 110V circuits for outlets, light and 220V for pumps if they are indeed 220V motors. 12 AWG from the sub-panel disconnect to the pumps is adequate . You need to start with a wiring diagram of what you have incoming (220V or 110V) and how it separates into the individual circuits.
 
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bud16415

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@zannej



I just did a quick search and there is nothing wrong with doing a relay/motor starter and then not having the full current passing thru the float switch, it would be much simpler and remove a level of complexity to just pay a little more and get a 20a rated float switch.



Here are the first two that popped up. If you have a Granger near you or even a pump supply place I’m sure they have a float rated at 1HP 120v. These two will go up to 1.5HP. This way you eliminate the motor starter relay and the enclosure to put it in.



SJE AmpMaster 20 Amp Wide Angle Pump Float Switch



USABlueBook - SJE AmpMaster® Pump-Duty Float Switch, 20 amp, NO, Pipe Mounted, 30' Cable
 

zannej

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Hmm.. My pump shows that it pulls 12.2A max (at least that's what it seems to say on the motor). I was told that 13A and above would work. But yeah, advice from afar is reliant on what info I can provide and how accurate it is.

Part of the problem is that the electrical in the shed is a hot mess and I have absolutely no clue where the power is coming from. It's a tangle of cables and most of them no longer work. We went out with a tester and all of the outlets are dead. Probably from a short because they are not GFCI, not in weatherproof boxes, and the roof leaked.

In the house there is double 20Amp breaker for the well/pumps
1631117204965.png

I *think*I the wire coming out is 12awg but am not certain. From the tangle of cables is a cable with 3 wires (can't remember colors but one is ground). It connects directly to the float switch. From the float switch my friend put 10awg wire because the 12awg kept getting fried. The 10awg is connected to the pigtail from the compressor pump. There is another line coming from the nether that connects to the pressure switch on the jet pump.

I eventually plan to get rid of the excess wires and have a GFCI outlet to plug in heaters/fans and portable tools/lights if need be. We used to have a working lamp. I would eventually like a solar powered light for when the power is out.

I plan to leave the wiring for the jet pump alone. But I do want to set up a new cable switch and have the contactor and mcb in a waterproof box. I found this switch but I don't know if it can be converted to fill when water is low. It probably can. SJE Rhombus Junior Super Single Submersible Sump Pump Float Switch 10Ft P/N 1012434 - - Amazon.com
I was hoping to find something with more info/pics though.

There's also this switch that is 16A but only 110/220V. TEMCo Float Switch for Sump Pump & Water Level NO/NC Control Function 13ft Cord 5 Year Warranty CN0359: Amazon.com: Tools & Home Improvement
 

Eddie_T

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@zannej
It doesn't compute that a 12 AWG wire gets fried w/o tripping a 20A breaker. Using 10 AWG is a bit like putting a penny behind a fuse in the old days. The double breaker makes it appear that you have 220v in the pumphouse but it doesn't confirm that your motors are 220v. If your pump is 220v the amps are only 6.1. You need to stop planning and figure out what you have before making any purchases. It makes a difference on float controller amperage and wire connections. Find the incoming wire in that maze and make sure you have the proper circuit distribution from it before you make any more repairs.

BTW current ratings for Romex are lower than for high temperature insulated wire. If a controller says it's good for 1HP then the insulation of its cord will handle the temperature even if the wire is 14 AWG. Fusing currents are 166A for 14 AWG and 235A for 12 AWG.
 

bud16415

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@zannej
It doesn't compute that a 12 AWG wire gets fried w/o tripping a 20A breaker. Using 10 AWG is a bit like putting a penny behind a fuse in the old days. The double breaker makes it appear that you have 220v in the pumphouse but it doesn't confirm that your motors are 220v. If your pump is 220v the amps are only 6.1. You need to stop planning and figure out what you have before making any purchases. It makes a difference on float controller amperage and wire connections. Find the incoming wire in that maze and make sure you have the proper circuit distribution from it before you make any more repairs.

BTW current ratings for Romex are lower than for high temperature insulated wire. If a controller says it's good for 1HP then the insulation of its cord will handle the temperature even if the wire is 14 AWG. Fusing currents are 166A for 14 AWG and 235A for 12 AWG.
The picture of her air compressor shows a B,W,G wire between the motor and the wire nuts as well as I can see. Attached are B,W, bare copper ground. So I assumed it was 120v and the 240 came out to the main pressure pump that she is not dealing with at this time.



If she can verify that it would help.



The way this is wired is anyone’s guess and I suspect one leg was picked up at the main pump for the 120v. Coming out of the switch is also a B,W and the ground is bypassing the switch. So it looks like the switch is just a single pole setup not breaking 240v.

Based on that it looks like that air compressor that feeds some kind of a jet well setup could be drawing 16a. and to turn it on and off directly from a float switch she will need a heavy draw float as most are rated lower. Or she needs a contactor rated higher driven off a lower current float switch.
 

bud16415

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Thanks, Bud. I'm trying to visualize the rope thing but my brain is drawing a blank. I work well with pictures.
This was just a thought if you are in a bind to get something working with what you have MacGyver style. I had a sump pump on the farm rigged like this using the rubber strap from a pair of goggles it was supposed to get us thru a rain storm and ended up doing the job for five more years until the pump burned out. The farmer left it as it was a conversation piece. Only paper i had around. :coffee: IMG_2146.jpg
 

Eddie_T

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The picture of her air compressor shows a B,W,G wire between the motor and the wire nuts as well as I can see. Attached are B,W, bare copper ground. So I assumed it was 120v and the 240 came out to the main pressure pump that she is not dealing with at this time.



If she can verify that it would help.



The way this is wired is anyone’s guess and I suspect one leg was picked up at the main pump for the 120v. Coming out of the switch is also a B,W and the ground is bypassing the switch. So it looks like the switch is just a single pole setup not breaking 240v.

Based on that it looks like that air compressor that feeds some kind of a jet well setup could be drawing 16a. and to turn it on and off directly from a float switch she will need a heavy draw float as most are rated lower. Or she needs a contactor rated higher driven off a lower current float switch.
I got myself confused by thinking only of the compressor. In re-reading your post #10 the light in my brain came on. The jet pump can draw all the water from the cistern if the well pump can't keep up so the float control range is a non issue. However I don't understand how one would know when the cistern water level is below the float level.

I would like to spend an hour in the pump house with a meter and a clipboard to sketch out a wiring diagram with voltages. The well pump is still an unknown the black and white wires could be either 110v and neutral or 220v and plans should be based upon which one rather than guesswork.
 

bud16415

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I got myself confused by thinking only of the compressor. In re-reading your post #10 the light in my brain came on. The jet pump can draw all the water from the cistern if the well pump can't keep up so the float control range is a non issue. However I don't understand how one would know when the cistern water level is below the float level.

I would like to spend an hour in the pump house with a meter and a clipboard to sketch out a wiring diagram with voltages. The well pump is still an unknown the black and white wires could be either 110v and neutral or 220v and plans should be based upon which one rather than guesswork.
That would be no fun. I look at these problems as brain teasers like Click n Clack the Tappit Brothers used to have on their PBS car show.
 

Eddie_T

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I just spotted a curiosity to chase in this brain teaser. Where else does the orange cable go? In the pic it comes into the switch and back out to another location while a yellow cable goes from the switch to the air pump.
 
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