Pros and Cons of a Variable Speed Pump

If you are considering replacing your single speed pump with a variable speed pump, you may be wondering if it’s a good idea.  There is a ton of information on the web that can be overwhelming and confusing.  Here we are going to take a simple look of the pros and cons of variable speed pumps.

Pro: They Are Energy Efficient

Single speed pumps use windings only.  They tend to lose a lot of energy from the motor.  If you have ever touched your single speed pump motor, what does it feel like?  Hot, right?  With a variable speed pump it will utilize windings in conjunction with a permanent magnet motor. They are totally enclosed and fan cooled (TEFC) this preventing heat (energy) loss.

Most of us are already interested in saving energy.  We use LED light bulbs in our homes.  We drive hybrid vehicles.  We may even have solar.  So why exclude your swimming pool equipment from being energy efficient.

Con:  They Need to Be Programed

Your single speed pump was simple: on at 3,400 RPMs (revolutions per minute) or off. Since variable speed pumps do just that, run at varying speeds, they have to be programmed.  With multiple settings at literally any speed option, it can be confusing to know what speed to run and how long to run it.  They keypad has a lot of buttons and many customers find it complicated to program their variable speed pumps, even if they know their desired speeds.

Pro:  They Are Quieter

A single speed pump runs at 65-90 decibels from about 2 feet away.  This can be as loud as riding a subway car.  An energy efficient pump compares at 30-45 decibels.  You know what else falls into that category?  Moderate rainfall.  So you will have more peace outside by your swimming pool and also in the home.  Especially if the pump in located near a space in your home that you frequent.

Con:  They Require More Relays and Only Communicate with Like Products

If you swimming pool system is automated, or you are considering ever going to automation, variable speed pumps need to be able to communicate with your automation system,  This may limit the brand you choose.  Also, where single speed pumps require only a single relay, variable speed pumps require multiple to function correctly.

Pro:  They Save You Money

We have already touched on energy savings.  Energy savings convert to less money on your electric bill.  Because we are running our swimming pool pump on a lower RPM, we are using less energy and keeping our costs down.  Even if you were to run your variable speed pump at 3,450 RPMs like your single speed runs, it would still be more efficient.  More efficient= more money in your pocket.

Con:  They Are Expensive

A lot of people shy away from variable speed pumps simply because of the cost.  That is primarily because they either cannot see the value, or are shopping in the wrong place.  If you were to go to your local pool store you would spend a couple thousand dollars on a variable speed pool pump.  Even having your pool professional install one still can break the bank.

Hint:  Variable speed pool pumps don’t have to be expensive.  You can get a brand name variable speed pool pump for up to half of the cost.  Not just any brand either, the American-made, household name of Black & Decker

Pro:  You May Get a Rebate

Variable speed pumps are required by law in some states.  Some areas, however, are offering an incentive to switch to variable speed.  You could qualify for some money back from your utility company by becoming more energy efficient!  Check with your local power company to see what is required.  Most require that they are Energy Star Rated, which the Black & Decker pump mentioned above is.

Con:  They Are Larger

If you live in an area where the backyards are small or maybe it is just the way your pool equipment is plumbed, you may be limited on space.  Variable speed pool pumps are longer than some single speed pumps.  Your installer may have to re-plumb all of your equipment.  I have even had customers have to knock down walls to accommodate their new VSP.

So, there you have it.  These are just some of the pros and cons of upgrading to a Variable speed pool pump.  If you are like most, you will see that the pros completely outweigh the cons.  You had me at “money saving”.  Maybe the fact that they are “green” snagged you.  Maybe the fact that you can run it at a lower speed caught your eye.  Go on, take the leap and start saving today! See you poolside!