Which Variable Speed Pump is Best? How to Choose a Replacement

Over 10 million homeowners enjoy the luxury of a pool. 

Cooling off in the hot summer months, entertaining friends, and swimming for exercise are some of the top reasons people invest in a pool.

Owning a pool doesn't come without a bit of work, though. Pool maintenance including cleaning and testing the chemicals ensure that your pool remains safe and functional.

Pool equipment is another important part of the equation. Variable speed pumps are credited with being the best and most efficient. 

A new law that outlaws single-speed pumps will make the decision to switch to a variable speed pool pump not only easier but mandatory.

Keep reading to learn all there is to know about choosing the best variable speed pump for your pool and budget. 

The Importance of Pool Pumps

If you're a novice pool owner, you may be wondering what the purpose of a pool pump is.

Basic pool pumps all work similarly to sanitize your pool water. By creating a steady flow of water, the pump circulates chemicals evenly throughout the water. 

The water is brought into the filter, heater (if you have one), and chlorinator where it's sanitized, filtered, and heated before being returned to the pool. 

Single-Speed vs Variable Speed Pump  

The main difference between single-speed and variable speed pumps is that variable speed pumps are adjustable, whereas single-speed pumps run at one, constant speed.

Single-speed pumps are outdated, noisy, and costly, adding hundreds of dollars to your electric bill each month. This is one of the main reasons single-speed pool pumps are being outlawed in the coming months. (More on this in a minute). 

Because single-speed pumps can't be adjusted, they run constantly, regardless of whether or not it's necessary.

Variable speed pumps are a modern upgrade to the inefficient design of single-speed pumps. Using a permanent magnet motor, variable speed pool pumps let you circulate pool water at lower flow rates for prolonged periods of time. 

Slowing down the flow rate of water creates less friction, therefore making the entire circulation system run more efficiently.

Since variable speed pumps are running more slowly than single-speed pumps, they vibrate less and create much less noise. They also run cooler, creating less heat.

Most variable speed pumps last substantially longer than other outdated varieties thanks to their advanced diagnostics. 

Outlawing Single-Speed Pool Pumps

As a responsible pool owner, it's your job to stay up to date on recent laws and regulations regarding pool safety. You must follow certain rules like installing a gate or fence around your pool or a pool alarm.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is implementing new Dedicated Purpose Pool Pump (DPPP) regulations starting on July 19, 2021, requiring all pool pumps to meet minimum energy-efficient standards. 

These standards apply to all pool pumps that have hydraulic horsepower (HHP) ratings of 2.5 HHP or lower (with some exceptions). After July 19, 2021, your pool pump's HHP must be approximately 50% of the motor's total horsepower (THP) rating.

So, what does this mean for you as a pool owner?

Most, if not all, single-speed pool pumps will not meet these new standards for energy efficiency. If you have an outdated pump, you'll need to replace it with a more efficient, variable speed model. 

Instead of viewing this upgrade as an unnecessary expense, see it as an investment for the future. These much more efficient, newer pool pumps will reduce your energy consumption and your electrical bill. 

The Benefits of Variable Speed Pool Pumps

The benefits of variable speed pumps extend far beyond efficiency. Here are a few features of variable speed pumps that make them a worthwhile investment. 

Energy Efficient  

Variable speed pumps consume much less power than older designs, while still keeping your pool water clean, clear, and sanitized. 

Pool pumps perform several jobs including filtration, heating, and sanitizing. Certain functions require less energy than others. Variable speed pumps let you adjust and control the speed of your pump, saving energy and money.

While investing in a variable speed pump comes with an initial up-front cost, most homeowners recover the costs within the first two years.

Compliant

 

As the world strives to find more energy-efficient ways of doing things, your pool pump is next on the list. According to the DOE, variable speed pumps can reduce energy usage by as much as 70% versus a single-speed pump when circulating and filtering water.

Are you looking to purchase a home with a pool or have one installed? All existing, outdated pool pumps, and pumps for new pools, must meet the DOE requirements.

The good news for homeowners is that pool pump manufacturers will be selling pumps based on these new regulations. A qualified company will ensure your pool pump and motor are compliant. 

Thinking about side-stepping the law and continuing to run on your outdated pump? Think again.

Not only is this illegal, but you'll be hard-pressed to find replacement parts for these types of pool pumps. In time, maintaining, repairing, and even refurbishing single-speed pumps will be nearly impossible. 

Adjustable and Automated

SMART technology can be found in 175 million homes across America. If you like convenience, then you'll love the flexibility of a new, automated pool pump system.

Not only are variable speed pumps adjustable, but most sync with your smartphone or with a digital control panel somewhere in your home. This makes operation easy and convenient.

Automated variable speed pumps control a variety of settings including speed and timing.

Do you have a water feature? You can control the flow and timing of these features to create the perfect outdoor ambiance.

Automation takes the guesswork out of running your pool pump. 

Protects Other Pool Equipment 

More isn't always better. A pool pump that runs all day, every day doesn't result in cleaner pool water or increased filtration. The only thing it does is hike up your electric bill!

Just because a pool pump is bigger, doesn't mean it's better. Only so much water can pump through your pipes at one time. 

A single-speed pump running at full speed will pump way more than the recommended gallons per minute through your pipes, resulting in burnout and permanent failure.  

Over time, a pool pump that's too large and too powerful can erode the copper heat exchanger found in most pool heaters. 

A variable speed pump allows you to control the flow and avoid overworking both the pump and your other valuable equipment

 

Better Filtration

One of the main jobs of your pool pump is filtration. By circulating and sanitizing the water before returning it to the pool, pumps help regulate the chemical levels and keep your pool looking and feeling amazing.

Variable speed pumps improve the filtration process. The slower the water moves through your pool pump, the better filtered it is. 

As the water slowly moves through the system, the filter easily collects debris and particles. 

A slow, steady-running pool pump is less likely to be overworked. Elements inside the filter including the grids and cartridges can wear away and break under high water pressure. 

When it comes to pool pumps, slow and steady wins the race. 

Quiet Operation 

Pool owners are all too familiar with the unpleasant, high-pitched noise that pool pumps make. Your neighbors probably know the sound well, too. 

Not only are variable speed pumps more efficient, but they're also quiet. Variable speed pumps have a motor casing that houses the motor, encapsulating it and virtually eliminating the noise. 

 

 

Choosing the Best Variable Speed Pump 

Now that you know the many benefits of upgrading to a variable speed pump, it's time to start shopping.

Here are a few factors to consider when choosing the best variable speed pump for your pool and budget.

Size of Your Pool 

Choosing the right size poop pump is crucial for getting the most out of your investment. Buying a pump that's too big for your pool will negate its benefits.

Start by considering the volume of water in your pool. Next, determine the flow rate, or the volume of water that passes through the pump.

To keep your pool water clean and sanitized, the pump filters it every 24-hours. The minimum flow rate is the volume of your pool in gallons divided by 1,440 -- the number of minutes in a day.

The maximum flow rate is the maximum volume of water your pump can handle in a single day. 

Variable Speed Pump Sizes

Variable speed pumps come in 4 basic horsepower sizes:

  • 1/2
  • 3/4
  • 1
  • 1 1/2 

The right pool pump size depends on the size and volume of your pool.

You also need to consider plumbing size since smaller pipes can't handle high horsepower pipes. 

Other Factor to Consider

Choosing the right size variable speed pump is the most important factor to consider to avoid damaging your pool equipment.

To make your investment worth it, consider durability as well. Reputable manufacturers will offer extended warranties. 

Do some research online to find the most efficient model. The best variable speed pumps are Energy Star Certified, which carry their own 2-year warranty.

Upgrade to a Variable Speed Pump Before It's Too Late

Are you considering a variable speed pump for your existing pool or a pool you plan on building? 

Now is the time to upgrade or install a variable speed pump. New regulations from the DOE will soon require variable speed pumps thanks to their efficiency and eco-friendly features.

Investing in a variable speed pump now will deliver big savings later on.

Browse all of our quality pool pumps here or check out our customer service center for more assistance. 

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