Are Single-Speed Pool Pumps Illegal? Here's What Federal Law Has to Say

Balancing chemicals, vacuuming, and keeping the filter clean and clear are all basic jobs every pool owner must do.

In addition to general maintenance, upholding the law will soon become a requirement.

New legislation being passed by the Department of Energy (DOE) will soon make all single-speed pool pumps illegal. 

Why is the law changing and what does it mean for you?

Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about these soon-to-be illegal pool pumps, how to remain compliant, and what exactly it means for you and your wallet. 

How Do Single-Speed Pool Pumps Work?

You might have a single-speed pool pump and not even know it. It just turns on and does its thing, right?

Not exactly.

For starters, single-speed pool pumps are incredibly noisy. They make a distinct, high-pitched sound that not only you can hear but your neighbors, too. 

It makes entertaining and relaxing difficult.

Luckily, when it shuts off, you can enjoy some peace and quiet. Right?

Wrong again!

Single-speed pool pumps run constantly. That's all day, every day, regardless of what pool equipment is running. They also operate at full horsepower, which means you can't adjust the speed based on your needs.

Pool pumps are designed to filter and sanitize your pool water. As the motor runs, the pump pulls the water from the pool, sending it through the filter, heater (if you have one), sanitizer, and any other water features you might have, before returning it to the pool.

Depending on the size and volume of your pool, it can take anywhere from 5 to 8 hours to fully filter and sanitize your pool water. Not 24!

A single-speed pool pump that runs at full blast all day isn't getting your pool water any cleaner. In fact, a pump running at full horsepower can actually impede the filtration process.

The only thing you're increasing by running a single-speed pump is your electrical bill.

The DOE is Cracking Down on Inefficient Pool Pumps

By now you might be wondering why the DOE cares about your electric bill or how you maintain your pool.

The truth is, the DOE is less concerned with your overhead costs and more worried about the environment. Single-speed pool pumps are inefficient and wasteful.

In an effort to make pool poops more energy-efficient, the DOE is passing new regulations that go into effect on July 19, 2021. As of this date, all dedicated purpose pool pumps (DP3) manufactured or imported into the U.S. must meet minimum energy-efficient standards.

That means it's not so much an issue of single-speed pool pumps vs variable-speed pumps (more on their benefits later), as much as it is about ensuring the DP3 you're using or producing as a manufacturer, meets DOE standards.

These standards apply to any pool pumps that use HHP (hydraulic horsepower) and have a rating of 2.5 HHP or greater. To figure out your pool pumps HHP, simply divide the motor's total horsepower (THP) in half.

Most pool pumps with a THP of 5 or less will need to meet these new energy-efficient standards.

The Benefits of Making the Switch

Does this mean that on July 19, 2021, someone will come knocking on your door to make sure that your pool pump is up to snuff? Not necessarily, but that doesn't mean you should disregard this change in federal law.

Following the DOE's new laws regarding pool pump efficiency is a smart choice for several reasons.

It's a Federal Requirement 

For starters, it's the law. If you plan to install a new pool, upgrade your current space, or make any changes in the future, failure to comply could result in hefty fines.

Not only that but maintaining single-speed pool pumps will become increasingly difficult as time goes on. While manufacturers are still permitted to sell their remaining inventory, once it's gone, it's gone!

If you need to replace a part or refurbish your outdated pump, you'll be out of luck and forced to upgrade anyway.

The DOE reports that homeowners can reduce energy consumption by 70% by upgrading or refurbishing their current systems. 

It's a Money-Saving Upgrade

What most pool owners don't realize is that this change in legislation is for the better. Not just for the environment, but also for your bottom line.

Running single-speed pool pumps is costly. They run hot, waste energy, and skyrocket your electric bill. 

The introduction of more efficient pool pumps that are automated and run at different speeds depending on the condition and size of your pool, save energy and cut costs. 

In fact, some reports show that switching from a single-speed pool pump to a dual pump will save you 24% in operating costs. Take things one step further by upgrading to a variable-speed pump and you can save as much as 72%!

While some homeowners shy away from the initial cost of a more efficient pool pump, the savings you'll experience over the next few months will make it a worthwhile investment. 

It Simplifies Pool Maintenance

One of the main reasons people hesitate to install a pool or buy a home with an existing pool is the maintenance associated with it. Cleaning, skimming, heating, balancing chemicals, and covering it in colder months are just a few obstacles pool owners face.

Of course, these pale in comparison to the benefits of owning a pool! 

What if we told you that switching from a single-speed pump to a variable-speed design could not only save you money but take the guesswork out of keeping your pool running in top condition?

Many energy-efficient pool pumps are automated, which means they self-regulate to run at higher or lower speeds, depending on your equipment. You can also adjust these types of pool pumps to run when and for how long you want.

Do you have a waterfall or water feature on your pool that you want to show off to friends and guests? Simply adjust the pump so that the waterfall turns on in the evening rather than during the day.

Now, you're saving energy and money by only running certain equipment at certain times. 

How long should you run your pool pump? Learn about it here.

How to Upgrade Single-Speed Pool Pumps

The best thing about upgrading single-speed pool pumps to more energy-efficient models is that it's a relatively easy switch. And not one that every pool owner needs to make.

Calculate your pump's THP and HHP before doing anything. As long as your pump meets the DOE's requirements for energy efficiency, you can continue running your pool as you always did.

If your pump doesn't meet these standards, you'll need to make some changes -- but don't stress! Manufacturers, pool companies, and homeowners across the country are facing the same struggle as you.

How long should you run your pool pump? Learn about it here.

Choosing the Best Replacement Pump

The first step is choosing the best variable-speed pump for your specific size pool, equipment, and accessories.

Consider both the volume of your pool and the flow rate (the volume of water that passes through the pump).

Also, consider the size of your plumbing and pipes. Smaller pipes can't handle high horsepower pumps and could break under intense, prolonged pressure. 

You also want to consider durability. Opt for an Energy-Star Certified pool pump that carries a 2-year warranty or purchase from a company that offers its own warranty.

This way, the initial investment you make to upgrade your single-speed pool pump should be your last.

Why Variable-Speed Pumps Reign Supreme

So, what's the buzz about variable-speed pumps?

Well, it's actually the buzz you won't hear that's one reason these pumps are the preferred option. Unlike single-speed pumps which can be heard for miles and run 24/7, variable-speed pumps are quieter thanks to a noise-proof casing around the motor.

As your pool equipment filters, sanitizers, and heats the water, variable-speed pumps adjust accordingly. Not every function requires the same amount of energy or flow rate.

Variable-speed pumps automatically adjust as needed, reducing wasted energy and operational costs. 

As the world moves closer to both eco-friendly best practices and SMART technology, variable-speed pumps follow suit. Many pumps come with the ability to sync to your phone, an app, or other digital devices for remote control and monitoring.

Make adjustments from the comfort of your home, office, or anywhere with a Wifi connection.

Saying Goodbye to Your Single-Speed Pool Pump is Bittersweet

Did you panic when you first heard the DOE was passing a law that would cost you big bucks? While replacing single-speed pool pumps might dent your wallet initially, it'll line your pockets in the long run.

Variable-speed pumps are more efficient and cost-effective than outdated single-speed pumps. Not only are they adjustable and automated, but much quieter than their counterparts.

Starting July 19, 2021, you won't have a choice but to make the switch. The good news is, we're here to help!

From pumps and heaters to filters and cleaners, we have all the supplies you need to run a clean, clear, and chemically balanced pool.

Visit our customer center for guidance on upgrading your single-speed pool pump before it's too late!

In the meantime, head over to our blog for more helpful tips and resources for pool owners. 


Related articles:

Ideal Schedule for Your Variable Speed Pool Pump

What To Do When Your Pool Pump Won’t Turn On?

How To Fix An Overheating Pool Pump?

Above ground poolAbove ground poolsIn-ground poolsPoolPool accessoriesPool equipmentPool maintenance