I put in the JPI 930 and went ahead and bit the bullet on the CIES sender. When you a looking at spending a fair bit on money on the panel, it's really not that expensive. It's very reassuring to have the totalizer and the gauge agree within a couple of gallons.
You can get yourself in trouble with total reliance on the totalizer. It's a garbage in, garbage out device and you can get it out of sync with reality. I have personal experience with this which is probably why I didn't balk at the price.
My old gauges were terrible. The JPI with the CIES senders always agrees with the totalizer within a couple of gallons and it's within a gallon when the total fuel in the mains gets below around 30 gallons.
Is it an absolutely must have? No. But the new technology is clearly better and it's certainly an upgrade that I'm happy is available for my old plane.
I have the CiES frequency senders, with matching Aerospace Logic gauges. Working with Aerospace Logic requires patience, but in the end, the result is really spectacular.
The cost to retrofit CiES senders to a pre-74 B55 is around $3200 (plus installation). That may seem "outrageous," but it's only about 50% more than what it costs to have the eight (2 per tank * 4 tanks) senders "overhauled" – and my experience with overhauled senders is not very good. At best, the overhauled senders will perform as good as when new for a few years – which is to say they're accurate to within about +/- 5 gallons.
Properly calibrated the CiES senders appear to be within one gallon. In a Bonanza with two 40 gallon tanks, or a post 1973 Baron, there are only four senders so that cost is cut in half.
IIRC the last time I checked, new (1940s technology based) senders from Beech were around $1,600 each or over four times what CiES charges.
Great news Scott (and Shane)! The Aerospace Logic 'FL20xD' gauges and CiES sender combo is a superior and accurate solution to fuel level monitoring. Very happy with my install!
I've flown 30 hours with the new units and they're awesome. I am much more confident stretching my flights to 5 hours knowing the fuel on board accurately and partial fueling is much more precise.
Installation, in the end, was not overly problematic, but it did take the guys a long time to figure out where and how to run the wires. Charged labor was 76 hours. No hiccups once calibrated, but that process also was poorly outlined. Overall installation was not straightforward, but I suspect it will be with practice…
Yesterday, at 8500 AGL, I ran both R&L Auxiliary tanks down to 0.0 gals, at 47:35 on the clock, precisely as expected... A few seconds later... Fuel pressure begins to fall, immediately switched back to left main.
Accuracy... It's a totally new experience. I have two fuel totalizers. One Shadin and one in my G4. Maybe having accurate fuel gauges is overkill... But it's an overkill that I like.
I was the first sender/gauge install for my shop. Charged 40 hrs. labor for install. (They said it was very simple and straight forward).
I asked every member of the shop to watch the YouTube video from Aerospace Logic for the calibration process. It's actually easy to do. As with everything, garbage in = garbage out.
One of my most valuable installs. Nothing better than knowing, DOWN TO THE 1/10th gallon, how much gas you have.
As far as Aerospace Logic goes... Outstanding product. Aerospace Logic service is interesting. Overall, no regrets.
Maybe I am an oddball. I just cannot imagine why any pilot would not want super accurate fuel gages. Putting dollars aside, that seems like a no-brainer to me. My brother, Kurt and I met with Scott and got the pitch at Oshkosh last summer. I think he has done a tremendous service to GA with the development of CIES fuel senders and have put them on my list of "to-dos" for my Baron. Kurt has already put them in his Bonanza and is very happy with the result.
If your airplane is down for an upgrade, I would send your old fuel senders to CiES. This will insure that the senders are appropriately set up the first time. Beech, in all their wisdom, made numerous different senders, inverting the bolt patterns on some, etc.
CiES senders can work by resistance, voltage or frequency. I would choose at a minimum voltage if you can. Frequency is even better.
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