How to Switch Out My Single-Speed Pool Pump Without Spending a Fortune

In the world of pool ownership, not all pool pumps are created equal.

While they serve the same purpose -- filtering and sanitizing your pool water -- the way they go about it can change drastically. And with that change comes increased costs and a big impact on the environment.

So much so that the Department of Energy (DOE) is taking notice.

In an effort to promote more energy-efficient living, the DOE is outlawing most single-speed pumps starting July 19, 2021.

Keep reading to discover what this change means for you and how you can replace your single-speed pump without breaking the bank.

Which Single-Speed Pool Pumps Are Being Outlawed?

Before we discuss how to change out your single-speed pool pump, let's discuss when and why this change is even taking place.

Starting on July 19, 2021, all dedicated purpose pool pumps (DP3) manufactured in the United States (or imported), will need to meet the minimum energy-efficient standards outlined by the DOE.

These regulations state that all pumps using hydraulic horsepower (HHP) with a rating of 2.5 or lower will be illegal. The HHP of your pump is 50% of the motor's total horsepower (THP).

While not all pool pumps fall under this category, there are limited exceptions. Most pool pumps with a THP of 5.0 or less won't meet these minimum standards. 

If your pool uses any of the following pumps, these regulations won't affect you:

  • Waterfall pumps operating more than 30 feet of head with a maximum speed of 1,800 RPM 
  • Pumps with phase-3 motors
  • Storable electric spa pumps
  • Rigid electric spa pumps
  • Integral sand- and cartridge-filter pool pumps

It's interesting to note that any non-compliant pumps that enter the supply chain on July 18, 2021, are still legal for sale. Starting on July 19, manufacturers are solely responsible for selling and importing only compliant pumps and products. 

What's Wrong with Single-Speed Pumps?

If you've been running your pool using a single-speed pump for years, you might be wondering, "What's the problem?"

Most homeowners don't realize just how inefficient these noisy, outdated pool pumps are.

For starters, single-speed pool pumps run at one, steady speed, all day long. There's no way for you to adjust the flow rate or timing. That means lots of wasted energy and money.

It's recommended that the entire volume of your pool is filtered and sanitized once every 24-hours. Since most pools can be filtered in less than 8 hours, there's no need for your pool pump to run continuously.

This steady flow of water causes other issues besides a hefty electric bill. Water erosion, or the constant flow of water at high speeds, over any materials can cause wear and tear and permanent damage. 

Many pool owners are all too familiar with broken or damaged pipes, grids, and filter cartridges

The high-pitched sound of a single-speed pool pump is a nuisance to many homeowners -- not to mention their guests and neighbors. 

The Solution: Variable-Speed Pumps 

So, you know that the DOE's new regulations mean parting ways with your single-speed pool pump. And you're learning a little bit more about why these models are so inefficient.

Now what?

The best and most cost-effective way to solve this problem is by investing in a variable-speed pool pump.

These pool pumps combine efficiency, technology, and automation to create a virtually maintenance-free approach to pool ownership. 

Here are just a few reasons this upgrade is the smartest choice.

Long-Term Savings

At first glance, single-speed pool pumps are much more affordable than variable-speed pumps. While this may be true, the long-term savings of the latter are noteworthy.

In many cases, homeowners recoup their initial investment after just 2 years of using a variable-speed pump.

That's because these pumps adjust their speed and timing based on the size of your pool, the type of equipment you have, and any other water features like a waterfall or spa. 

Variable-speed pumps only run when necessary or when you want them to.

That means if you're having company, you can adjust your waterfall to run in the evening versus the daytime. This drastically cuts down on the cost of operating your equipment. 

Improved Filtration

It might seem like a single-speed pump that runs all day is a good thing for filtration. The truth is, this constant flow of water may actually be bad for your filtration system.

Aside from overworking your equipment, single-speed pool pumps run using the motor's THP. Pumping water continuously, at max speed, through your filtration system makes it difficult for the filter to catch debris and particles as they pass by.

Slow-moving water, like that of a variable-speed pump, reduces friction in the pipes, helping the circulation system run more efficiently. 

Energy Efficient 

This is the main reason the DOE is requesting major changes to pool filtration and maintenance. Single-speed pumps are no longer a smart or efficient way of cleaning and sanitizing the water.

Your pool pump draws water in, sending it through the filter, heater, sanitizer, and other water features before returning it back to the pool. This process helps remove contaminants, properly balance the chemicals, and ensure everything is working and running properly.

The issue is that not all these processes require the same amount of power. Variable-speed pumps automatically adjust to perform whatever job is needed in the most efficient way possible. 

No more wasted energy or money over a continuously running pump. 

The DOE projects that variable-speed pumps, on average, use 70% less energy than single-speed models. 

How to Upgrade Your Single-Speed Pump

By now you know whether or not your single-speed pump is operating efficiently. If it meets the criteria mentioned above, then you'll need to replace or refurbish it by July 19, 2021.

Worried about the cost? Don't be!

Here are a few frugal tips for replacing your outlawed pool pump and how it'll save you money in the long run. 

Choose the Right Size Pool Pump

The last thing you want to do is replace your single-speed pump with a variable-speed pump that's either too small or too big.

A pump that's too small won't filtrate the water efficiently, creating a dirty, hazy film on the water. This could lead to other complications like damaged or clogged pool equipment.

A pool pump that's too big will run too hard for too long, once again, exerting unnecessary energy. 

The variable-speed pump you choose should be adequate for the size and volume of your pool, as well as the flow rate. The flow rate is how much water passes through the pump. 

Your pool water should circulate completely once every 24-hours. To determine your pool's flow rate, divide the volume of your pool by 1,440 (the number of minutes in a day).  

This figure is the minimum flow rate. The maximum flow rate is how much water your pool can handle in a single day and determined by the size of your pipes. 

Find a variable-speed pump with a motor large enough to handle your pool but not so big that it overwhelms you or your system.

Choose a Pump with a Warranty

When upgrading from a single-speed pool pump to a variable-speed pump you want to protect your investment.

Opt for an Energy-Star Certified pump that comes with a 2-year warranty. You can also choose a reliable company that offers its own warranty.

Either way, you want to make sure your purchase is covered in case something goes wrong with the installation or operation of your new pump.

Consider durability and the brand, as well. This is an upgrade you only want to make once so be sure you do your research before deciding on a pump.

Think of the Long-Term Savings

As you browse variable-speed pumps and see how expensive some models can be, you might be tempted to skirt the law and stick with what you've got.

This is a bad idea for several reasons.

First and foremost, it's illegal! The DOE's new restrictions apply to all existing single-speed pumps with 5 THP and below.

Secondly, you'll be hard-pressed to find a manufacturer or dealer with parts to repair your single-speed pump in the next few months. While the DOE permits manufacturers to sell products produced on or before July 18, once they deplete their inventory, they won't be restocking.

Lastly, the long-term savings of using a variable-speed pump vs a single-speed are significant -- saving some homeowners as much as $300 annually.

Don't Wait to Make the Switch to More Energy-Efficient Living

The world is going green. From electric cars to solar-powered buildings and everything in between, it was only a matter of time before these changes reached your backyard.

Before the dead of summer hits, your single-speed pump will be outdated and outlawed. While this may seem like an inconvenience at first, it's actually a smart investment with a huge, long-term return.

Variable-speed pool pumps help you lower not only your carbon footprint but also your electric bill.

Browse all of our pool pumps here and get ready to adopt a more energy-efficient way of life. 


Should you run your pool pump 24 hours a day? Learn more by reading this article. What size pump do you need for your pool? Learn more here.

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