Best Pool Pump for a Small Pool

The term “small pool” is actually quite relative.  What is considered a small pool in Florida, may be considered a medium to large size pool in California where lot sizes tend to be much smaller.  It is not uncommon to see 2 neighbors right next door to each other where one has a 10,000 gallon pool and one has a 20,000 gallon pool.  Both pools take up most of the backyard.  Each homeowner may refer to his pool as “small”.  For all intents and purposes of this article, we will consider calling a small pool 12,000 gallons or less.

What is a Swimming Pool Pump?

If you own a swimming pool, or are building a swimming pool, you will require a swimming pool pump.  The pool pump is the heart of your circulation system.  As the water is drawn from the skimmer, main drain or a combination of the two, it is then pushed through your equipment pad.  You may have a heater, salt cell, in-line chlorinator or other accessories.  Another thing all pools have in common in a swimming pool filter.  This is a crucial stop along your pool water’s journey because this is where all the dirt and debris gets captured.

Proper circulation is key for a clear, clean and safe swimming pool.  We need to accomplish what is known as a turnover every single day.  This is where the amount of water your pool holds passes through the filter.  We not only need to run our pump long enough, but have the right pump to begin with.

How long should your pool pump be running? study more about it here.

Plumbing and Filter Size

Many people think pumps are sized based on the size of the pool.  This is only partially true.  You see, each pool has a plumbing size, typically 1 ½” to 2” plumbing.  We need a pump that doesn’t push more water than our plumbing can handle safely.  Filter size is important as well.  We don’t want too large of a pump that will not match up to the gallons per hour that is required for your filter’s flow rate.  Too small of a pump?  All our water will not get properly filtered and we may not accomplish a turn over.  Pumps are typically sized to accommodate the plumbing.  Common sense would have us size our filter to match.

If you only have 1 ½’ plumbing, it is not recommended to go above approximately a 1/1/2 horsepower pump. This also rings true if you have a smaller filter.


It is super important to know the voltage you have at the swimming pool equipment.  While some pumps are dual voltage, not all are.  You’ll see this especially in the larger pumps.  Voltage is either 110/115v or 120/130v.  You can look at your existing pump’s wiring to get an easy answer.  

Single Speed Pumps

If you live in a state where variable speed pumps are not mandatory (yet), you have the option of putting on a single speed pump.  These come in sizes measured by horsepower and can go from ¾ hp to 1.5 hp as acceptable sizes for a small pool.  Keep in mind that single speed pumps are not energy efficient.  They only run at a single speed, hence the name.  3,450 revolutions per minute (RPMs) to be exact.  This can cause a hefty energy bill, especially in the Summer.  Your swimming pool pump is the most expensive thing to run on your home after your air conditioner. 

If you are replacing a pump and happen to have a Pentair Whisperflo, here is a great swap out single speed pump, again…if allowed. 

Have a Hayward Super Pump?  We have got your covered there as well. 

Variable Speed Pool Pumps

Also known as Energy Efficient Pumps , variable speed pumps are what I urge every swimming pool owner to consider.  They run at a variety of revolutions per minute (RPMs) much lower than the 3,450 of your single speed pool pump.  They are so efficient, however, that even if you ran your variable speed pump (VSP) at the same 3,450 RPMs, you would still save money.  This is due to the permanent magnet motor that is also totally enclosed and fan cooled.  This is how these pumps roll in the savings.

An average homeowner saves approximately $70 or more a month by switching to a VSP.  They are also quieter.  The sound on a single speed pump can be compared to a subway train while VSP’s are likened to moderate rainfall.  If you purchase an Energy Star Rated pump, you may even qualify for a utility rebate.  Here is a great variable speed pool pump made by the trusted name of BLACK + DECKER. Not only does it come with an unprecedented FIVE year warranty, but it is made in America.  It also costs about half of what you would pay at a local pool store.  

I can personally attest that the price of swimming pool pumps is skyrocketing in retail stores.  We have had to raise ours $400 in the last 6 months due to supply issues and cost of manufacturing.  We have no choice but to charge $1800 for a similar pool pump.

Consult the Chart or a Professional

Every pump comes with a flowchart that will allow you to see the gallons per minute or gallons per hour a pool pump will emit.  While fairly easy to read, you have to have some knowledge of your swimming pool and it’s layout.  

If you are in doubt, there is no shame in asking a pool professional.  Unless you are tech savvy, you may be hiring one to install your new pump anyway.

So, in short, variable speed pumps are the money saving way to go in the long run.  I can’t think of anything else that actually pays you back.  If you decide a single speed is still right for you, has you covered there as well.  See you poolside!

What size pool pump are you looking for? Find out more here. Check out this article for more information on pool pump cost.

*Hayward® and Hayward® Pool Products are registered trademarks of Hayward Industries, Inc. Asia Connection LLC has no affiliation with Hayward Industries, Inc.

*Pentair® and Pentair® Pool Products are registered trademarks of Pentair® Ltd. Asia Connection LLC has no affiliation with Pentair® Ltd.