What is a Variable Speed Pump?
Variable speed pool pumps, also referred to as Energy Efficient Pumps, do just that: they run at varying speeds. A single speed pump has only one speed. High. It runs only at 3,450 RPMs which utilizes a ton of energy which costs you, the homeowner, a ton of money on your electric bill. With a variable speed pool pump, the RPMs (revolutions per minute) can be set to lower speeds. These lower speeds consume less energy, which in turn saves you money. Even if your were to run your variable speed pool pump at the same 3,450 RPMs of your old single speed pool pump, you would still save money.
Here’s why. A variable speed pool pump uses a permanent magnet motor and is totally enclosed and fan cooled. This prevents energy from burning off. Ever touched your single speed pool pump while it was running? Hot, huh? You will not experience this with a variable speed pool pump.
But Variable Speed Pumps Are So Expensive!
This is a common misconception today. The truth is, they absolutely can be. Another truth is, they don’t have to be. For example, if you were to go to your local swimming pool supply store and get a quote on a variable speed pump, the pump alone would cost around $2k. This does not include installation. Your pool guy offers you a sweet deal? I will bet it is still over $1,000 just for the swimming pool pump.
You’ll see a lot of no-name, rinky dinky pumps online that offer a terrible warranty, replacement parts are not available and forget about tech support. These are not what you should be spending your money on. The American, household name of Black & Decker has a top of the line variable speed pump for about half of what you would pay elsewhere. It also comes with an unprecedented warranty of five full years! With it’s included unions and removable base, it is easy to install. The instruction manual gives you step by step instructions on how to install and how to program. Check out the pump here.
Have an above ground swimming pool? Before, we were stuck with only single speed options. Now with the newer technology that Black & Decker has come out with, we don’t have to settle for an energy guzzler pump. Take a look for yourself!
How Should My Variable Speed Pump Be Programed?
There is not a one answer solution to this. Your options are endless. I have customers that run their variable speed pumps for 24-hours a day at a very low speed. I have customers with water features that run their pump on a higher setting when it is on. What I suggest to most customers is a combination on the two. First and foremost, you want your varaibke speed pump to run when you most need your chemicals. This is the hottest part of the day. The chemicals only mix and work effectively when the water is moving. Remember, moving water is happy water. Think of a flowing river versus a stagnant pond. One is clear and inviting and one is murky and green. This is because of movement or lack thereof.
I suggest running your pump on a higher setting for an hour or two. This would be somewhere in the high 2,000 to low 3,000 RPMs. This starts the day strong to make sure the pump is fully primed and this will allow a good mixture of your chemicals, your automatic pool cleaner to run around, take care of skimming any overnight debris, and get a good portion of your pool water through the filter. Then, I suggest dropping it down to a low-to-medium speed. This would be in the mid 1,000's to low 2,000 RPMs depending on the size of your pump relative to the size of your pool. Let it run at this speed for 8+hours. This is an incredibly energy efficient operation speed and will provide the bulk of your daily filtration and should provide at least one turnover. A turnover is when the amount of volume of pool water you have makes it through your filter to be cleaned. We want to aim for 1-2 turnovers per day at a minimum. We can then run a couple of hours at a medium-to-high speed in the mid-to-high 2,000 RPM range to take care of any debris that may have been blown into the pool during the day. After that, we can finish our daily schedule with a few hours at an ultra low speed in the low-to-mid 1,000 RPMs to finish the day out. At this point, we just need the water to trickle through. We are keeping it moving to keep the chemicals active and also keeping it what? Happy.
Turnover Rate and Flow Rate
Ideal turnover rate for a single speed pump is 6-8 hours. Since we have a variable speed pump, we are running it slower. Our pool size , however, has not changed. We still need to move the same amount of water, it just takes longer. 8-12 hours is a common turnover rate here in California. You’ll need to know the gallonage of your swimming pool for determining these.
Turnover Rate (TR) = Gallons Divided by Flow Rate (FR) Divided by 60
Don’t know your flow rate?
Divide Gallons by Turnover Rate. This will give you the GPH. (gallons per hour).
If this sounds too complicated to you, don’t despair. It is to a lot of folks. You can always look at the pump's flow chart to determine gallons per hour. My suggestion is if you are not the technical type, like myself, hire a professional to install and program your pump. Advice: have them show you how to change the programming. This will save you a future service call charge.
I know there was not a specific answer in this article. That is because each pool has its own design flow rate which takes into consideration the total dynamic head, or resistance, in your swimming pool plumbing. Also, you may want to go low and long or fast and short. It really depends on you and your swimming pool’s needs. The only wrong answer here is to not run your swimming pool pump long enough. Haven’t upgraded to the newer technology of a variable speed swimming pool pump? www.poolpartstogo.com has you covered. See you poolside!