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Monitoring for when a pump is running

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2020 6:25 am
by Stainless
I live in a rural area and have my own septic system. Other than knowing what not to put down the drain and occasional maintenance from a service company, the system runs without intervention. There is however a pump on the system for one of the tanks. When the tank gets to a certain level, the pump activates, pumping the "product" from the tank to the leaching field. Again, runs without intervention. However, I am always concerned about the pump failing mechanically and the tank getting too full. There is a high level alarm that is supposed to warn me of this, but I would like to catch any potential failure before that happens. Plus, if the alarm fails, like the float gets stuck, I will not know there is a problem until it's too late. And it's not something I would like to open up and test on a regular basis!

I would like to install some sort of sensor inline with the electrics to the pump to record when it is running. I want to know when the pump is running and for how long. I already know how I am going to gather the data, I just need some guidance on how to interface the pump with something like a relay to activate when the pump is running. The pump is 230V, single phase, and there is a control box outside for the pump and high level alarm. My intention is to install this interface in the basement before the wiring goes outside to the pump in the yard, but if I needed to install this at the pump, I could do that. I definitely do not want to install anything inside the tank for obvious reasons!

Re: Monitoring for when a pump is running

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2020 6:37 am
by CeaSaR
First thing that comes to mind is a passive current clamp. You can find these things all over the place, but really all you need is a few windings around the feed line to the pump. Inside the house is just fine.

How they work is just like a transformer - when the AC current is passing through the main wire, it produces magnetic fields around the wires, This can be picked up quite easily by another wire wrapped around the main wire, just like a transformer. Your winding now has a AC current at it's ends that can either be fed to a current meter or converted to voltage and fed to a voltmeter. Either of those scenarios can be interfaced with some sort of logging device to tell when the pump is running.

Hope this gets you started toward your goal.

Re: Monitoring for when a pump is running

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2020 8:23 am
by jwax
CeaSaR has it- an AC current clamp in the house to monitor current to the pump. That could go to an Arduino with SD card to log pump activity.
Or, depending on your programming expertise, alert you when the pump has been off or on for too long.
As for an alert when the tank gets too full, many "Flood Detector" devices are out there to alarm if the level hits the sensor.

Re: Monitoring for when a pump is running

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2020 7:47 pm
by Lenp
Here is a current transformer that powers an LED. That LED can be an LED Opoisolator, and it's done.
[url] ... B006K3O1MY

I used these years ago to trigger a counter and elapsed time meter to monitor the run time and cycles on lighting circuits in an energy survey.
The package was battery powered, and small enough conceal connected to a load wire in a breaker panel.
It is quite probable that other on-hand coils would work as as well.

They are called CT's (Current Transformers) and for metering applications, they are used to remotely provide current information from motors. The load current generates a precise voltage and that's the current's running data!

Hope this helps, and if your junk box' is fat, it might be free!

Re: Monitoring for when a pump is running

Posted: Thu Jun 04, 2020 5:17 pm
by Stainless
Thanks for all the ideas! I initially thought of an AC current clamp but wasn't sure how I could make it work to be powerful enough to make any use out of it. My experience with these have only been to measure current. Eventually, my desire is to interface it with my home automation panel via an input zone. I can simply write a "rule" that will check whichever zone I connect it to and if it doesn't trip in X hours, send me an alert. Over a course of a year, I can average out how often the pump normally runs and set the valve of X to that number.

But I think Lenp has pointed me in the right direction. Although, link you posted above is a start, down in the "sponsored products" tab, there is this little guy: ... EbHG9M7S4
I think something like that is exactly what I need. They have several model numbers so I just need to pick out what best suits my situation.

Re: Monitoring for when a pump is running

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:16 am
by dacflyer
I have some of them CT with led on them,, i have one of them on each of my hot water elements, that way i have a heads up if an element goes bad.
plus i'll know if the heater is heating.. they can be quite handy.
I wish there was a DC version

Re: Monitoring for when a pump is running

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2020 9:15 am
by CeaSaR
This is pretty much what you are looking for. ... 099&sr=8-1

And this guy wrote some code to go along with it

Re: Monitoring for when a pump is running

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2020 4:45 am
by dacflyer
wish i could write code... i can barely manipulate it. if i know what i am looking for,,
I like off the shelf parts much better.

Re: Monitoring for when a pump is running

Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 3:43 pm
by haklesup
A DC current monitor could exist but it would not be self powered.

AC current monitoring is simple and only modifies the power connection but there are also clamp on the pipe fluid flow meters that attach to apps you can monitor. it has an advantage of being able to sense overcurrent caused by a jammed pump or flow restriction. you can search on "Pump Monitor" for various off the shelf solutions

I'm seeing at least 4 brands of ultrasonic flow sensors with apps on Amazon now. I like this one it has a lot of hidden intelligence and can detect small leaks while learning your water system ... 283&sr=8-3
you can ask Alexa for status anytime. Its designed for whole home monitoring so study up to see if it can work for pump monitoring or contact the manufacturer customer support for questions.