Don’t be fazed by the jargon. In this article, we’ll demystify considerations like single-speed versus variable-speed, in-ground versus above ground, horsepower, voltage, and pool size, and get you on track to finding the perfect pool pump for you.
Don’t buy on impulse and spend your nights worried about grime, your electricity bill, and the sounds emitting from outside your window. With just a few simple pointers below, you’ll be equipped to invest in your pool’s long term health and find the pump that pays itself off in electricity saved. You’re well on your way to the decision that will keep you relaxed—preferably in a happy, floating position.
First Things First: What Does a Pool Pump Do?
Your pool pump is the absolute hub of your pool’s cleaning system. It makes sure the water is circulated, so dirty particles can be filtered out and cleaning chemicals can be widely distributed. No circulation means no cleaning—which in turn means stagnating water, unwanted chemicals, and, eventually, a growing swamp where your swimming pool was.
How Does a Pool Pump Work?
Any pool owner should understand the basic anatomy of their pool pumps, especially if unlike this Blue Torrent Energy-Saving Variable Speed Pump, theirs didn’t come with a lifetime warranty. The main components of a pump are the motor, impeller, and the housing. These team up and work together to circulate water.
The motor is the power of the operation. Its sole purpose is to operate the impeller.
The impeller is a spinning blade that sucks water into the pump.
The housing consists of a bucket with a basket-like mesh liner, which connects to the filter.
With the help of the motor, the impeller pushes water into the housing. Pool water moves into the bucket, then the basket, and out the filter—clean. You want all the water in your pool to go through this process about once a day. Again, no circulation means less swimming pool, more fish pond.
Finding the Pool Pump Speed Type for You
In the years since their invention, pool pumps have evolved big time. The days of having only single-speed pumps on the market are over—and yes, that’s a good thing.
These pumps were the first on the market, and remain the most basic type available. If a pump is single-speed, the motor spins the impeller at one fixed velocity, which is determined by its horsepower.
Often, this fixed speed is higher than you’ll actually need. As a result, single-speed pumps are known to result in higher energy bills and environmental impacts. It’s no surprise that some states (including Arizona, California, and Florida) have banned new single-speed pump installations. If you live here, you might have no choice but to read on.
So why are single-speed pumps still so widely used? On the surface (that is, without factoring in energy costs), they’re the most budget-friendly. If your circumstances prevent a long term investment, they’re the way to go—but you’ll be paying much more over time. Bummer, right?
If you’re looking for a replacement and want to stick to single-speed models, look for one marked as a replacement for your former pump, such as this Blue Thunder Typhoon In Ground Single-Speed Pump.
Welcome to the future. While more expensive than single-speed models, variable-speed pumps (also known as multi-speed pumps) will save you more than the difference of cost over time. These pumps typically pay themselves off in energy costs in under two years. Meaning, in the end, it’s a literal investment—with the return of any stockbroker’s dreams.
Instead of running at full horsepower like single-speed pumps, variable-speed models allow you to control the speed of the motor according to your specific needs. Lower speeds allow the motor to run quieter, and water to be filtered more thoroughly. You might have to run your pump longer, but that won’t affect your significant savings.
Part of what makes a variable-speed pump such an energy saver is the motor technology itself. Unlike other pumps which use an induction motor, variable-speed pumps use a permanent magnet motor—the same used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines and electric cars. The magnet motor creates less friction than induction motors, which increases efficiency.
The right pump will also qualify for utility rebates, such as this Pumps Away Variable-Speed Pump, which also includes a lifetime warranty. Bonus: you’ll also be hard-pressed to find a more affordable model. Of course, you’re welcome to try.
A step above single-speed and a step below variable-speed, the dual-speed pump has two speeds: low and high. The low will save on energy costs (though not nearly as much as a variable-speed pump) and the high will be similar in performance to that of a single-speed pump.
Finding the Best Pool Pump Features for You
Once you know whether a single-speed or variable-speed pump is right for you, there are a few more features to keep in mind. With these simple considerations, you’ll be on your way downstream.
Above Ground vs. In-Ground Pumps
“Above ground” and “in-ground” refer to your pool, not where the pump is located. Often, above ground and in-ground pumps are interchangeable, but it’s good to buy for your pool type just in case. Save yourself the headache and get a pump marked “above ground” if your pool is, in fact, above ground. Bonus points if it also has different horsepower options like this Blue Torrent Copper Force Above Ground Pool Pump.
Not to be confused with speed, horsepower denotes the amount of work capable by the motor. The higher the horsepower, the greater volume of water pumped. Additionally, the faster it’ll filter through your pool water.
This may be America, but even so: bigger doesn’t always mean better. The fact is that a typical residential pool can be circulated effectively with just 1 HP. Contrary to how it might seem—and what many pool companies might tell you to push more expensive product—double the horsepower doesn’t mean double the efficiency. In fact, 2 HP might only increase flow by about 15%.
Before going all in on a flashy horsepower, check how it might operate in relationship to your larger pool system. Small filters can be overwhelmed by high motor capacity, but larger filters might need the extra power. Long runs of pipes—the plumbing that connects your pool—might also warrant a higher HP, as would a pool with water features like deck jets or a waterfall.
If you find in your heart of hearts that a larger horsepower will turn over your water volume at a sufficient rate—and won’t overwhelm your filtration system—then a more powerful unit like this Blue Torrent 1.5 HP Typhoon In-Ground Pump is the one to try.
Pool pumps run on one of two approximate levels of voltage: 110V or 220V. For above ground pools, 110V is sufficient. In-ground pool pumps are often reversible in voltage, meaning the motor can accommodate both levels of voltage. The exception? Pumps that have 2 horsepower or greater require 220V.
Be sure to also check if the pump requires an outlet or if it can be hardwired into your electric system—especially if you’re buying a replacement pump for one already in place.
Choosing the Right Sized Pump
In order to work efficiently—that is, to filter through all your pool water once every day—your pump should be the right size for the volume of your pool.
For this, you’ll want to pay close attention to the GPH (gallons per hour) your pump claims to push. One good rule of thumb is to multiply that number by eight and see if the calculation is close to the total gallons of your pool.
Not sure how many gallons of water your pool contains? It’s simple geometry anyone can do—even if math was never your subject. You just have to multiply the length, width, and depth of your pool in feet, and then multiply that figure by 7.5 to convert the number to gallons. If you think better with formulas, follow the one below:
[Pool Length in Feet] x [Pool Width in Feet] x [Pool Depth in Feet] x 7.5 = [Volume of Your Pool in Gallons]
Worried that the standard 8 hours of running your pump every day will become a nuance? Get an ultra-quiet model like this Blue Thunder In-Ground Single-Speed Pump.
You Know Which Pool Pump is Best for You. Now Get It Fast.
Not running a pump for even a week can require a major cleanup. Even if you already have this Professional-Endorsed 360-Degree Bristles Blue Torrent Pool Brush on hand, you’ll want to get your new pump as fast as possible. Thankfully, you can find fast (and free!) shipping on models like this 1 HP Blue Torrent Typhoon In-Ground Pump. Now that you know what you need, you can order with confidence—and be headed to a post-swim poolside snooze in no time.