What Is the Difference Between Above Ground and Inground Pool Pumps?

Did you know that there are 10,6 million swimming pools in the United States?

Summer has arrived, and you have decided to treat the family to a pool. Any form of a pool is a major investment but will give you and your family great joy!

You will however have to decide whether to install an inground pool or an above-ground pool. You, therefore, should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each pool and pump before installing one.  

We hope this article will answer your questions. We’ve prepared an above-ground vs. inground pool pumps comparison to answer the differences between them. Find out today the best pool pump to use for both types of pools!  

What Does a Pool Consist Of?

Swimming pools are functionally very simple: they are simply large bodies of water. They use a system of filtration and chemical processing to clean a large amount of water continuously.

A standard swimming pool involves the following main components:

  • A vessel
  • An electrically powered pump
  • A water purifier
  • A feeder for chemicals
  • Drainage

PVC plastic plumbing connects all of the above elements. The basic concept is to continuously pump water from the pool via the filters and chemical treatment systems and back to the pool. 

As you can see, your pool pump is a critical piece of equipment; it is the "heart" of your pool. A pool pump circulates water around your pool in the same way as your heart circulates blood in your body. 

What Is a Pool Pump Consist and What Does It Do?

What and how does a pool pump work for a pool?

An electric motor and a wet end assembly make up a pool pump. The motor makes an impeller spin inside an airtight housing, creating suction to draw water from the pool, pump it through a filter, and return the clean water to the pool.

To stay clean and clear, pool water must be circulated daily. Without a pool pump to circulate the water and a filter to eliminate toxins, a swimming pool will soon get stagnant and dirty.

First, a hose called the influent line sucks water from the pool. The water from the influent line enters the pump, where it passes through a straining bucket before reaching the impeller.

As it spins, the impeller, a spinning turbine mounted to the electric motor shaft, produces centrifugal energy. Water forces itself out of the effluent hose or tubing, which leads to the filter by centrifugal force. 

Above-Ground vs. Inground Pool Pumps

You have two different pool pumps to choose from—above-ground and inground pool pumps.

Let's look at the difference between inground and above-ground pool pumps.

The main differentiation between inground and aboveground pool pumps is their size. That makes sense as an inground pool circulates greater volumes of water with higher flow rates.

Inground Pumps Are Self Priming

The main difference between the inground and above-ground pumps is that above-ground pumps need manual priming, whereas inground pumps are “self-priming.”

Since most inground pumps are above water level, this relates to the pump's capacity to raise water vertically. Pumps are often mounted above the water table, and in some cases much higher.

Aboveground pumps are installed below water level and have “flooded suction,” which means that gravity and atmospheric pressure feed the pump without needing a lot of vacuum pressure or suction pressure.

Flow Rate

Another difference between an above-ground and an inground pumps is flow rate. Above-ground pumps are manufactured to achieve flow rates of 30-60 gallons per minute, while inground pumps can achieve 75-150 gallons per minute. 

All the water in a pool should pass through the pool pump every 8-10 hours. You must make sure that the pump flow rate matches the filter flow rates. Otherwise, if the water flow is too fast, the filtering system will not work at its optimum.

Inground Pumps Can Handle Air as Opposed to Above-Ground

Self-priming filter pumps, unlike non-self-priming pumps, can accommodate air so they can aerate the vacuum line independently after filling with water. Water is filled through the lid of the filter housing. 

These filter pumps are completely safe to use above the waterline. Self-priming pumps make it easy to use manual hand pool floor cleaners because they can carry air.

Above-ground pumps can't handle air. Above-ground pumps must be below the water table for the pool water to flow freely through the pump. If the flow rate stops, the above-ground pump will stop sooner or later and is in danger of burning out the motor.

What Size Pump Do I Need for Pool?

People tend to buy a larger pump than is needed because they believe that bigger power is better. However, this increases the maintenance expenses, but your filter can end up being overworked.

As a general rule, a pool pump should filter all of the water once every day. Therefore, your pump should be the right size for the amount of water in your pool.

What size pump do you need for what size pool?

You'll want to check closely what gallons per hour (GPH) that your pump promises to move for this. One general rule of thumb is to times the number the pump claims to pump by eight and see if the result is comparable to your pool's overall gallons.

Still, have concerns about how many gallons of water your pool holds? It's basic math that anybody can do, and if math is not your forte, a calculator will help.

First thing is first, measure the length, width, and depth of your pool. Then multiply those three figures (in feet). Now, to convert and calculate your pool's volume to gallons, simply multiply that figure by 7.5, and voila! If you are a boffin with formulas, here is one to dive into:

Pool Length in Feet x Pool Width in Feet x Pool Depth in Feet x 7.5 = Total Volume of Your Pool in Gallons

Above-Ground Pool Pumps

The above-ground pump is usually made of strengthened fiberglass and lighter plastics. As a general rule, above-ground pools with less than 15,300 gallons need a 1 Horse Power pump.  For bigger pools, you will need at least a 1.5 Horse Power pump. 

Inground Pool Pumps

An inground pool pump is a more rugged and tougher pump. It may be built with a rust-proof metal housing and is generally 115 volt/230-volt motor power. 

These are only a generalization for motor power size for inground and above-ground pool pumps. If you are unsure, always reach out to the professionals.

Can an Above-Ground Pool Pump Be Used on an Inground Pool? 

Of course, you can. Your inground pool would have to be situated above your above-ground pool pump.  It also depends on the size of the pool.

The pump's planned use, either above-ground or inground, doesn't really matter as long as it can turn over all of the water in 8-10 hours and meet the pool filter flow rate. You also have to adhere to the water level rule for each pump.

Above-Ground vs. Inground Pools the Costs

Inground pools also necessitate substantial digging and leveling and additional structural support in the form of reinforced walls. As one would imagine, this significantly raises the initial costs of inground pools.

A 12' x 24' inground pool would cost approximately $31,000. However, it is worth remembering that the costs of installing an inground pool can be unimaginable.

Above-ground pools and pumps are considerably easier and cheaper to install. An average 12' by 24' above-ground pool costs approximately $8,300. 

Above-Ground vs. Inground Pools Investment

If you want to know which pool, above-ground or inground, will give you a long run for your money, read on. 

A well-maintained inground pool will last 20 to 50 years, while an above-ground pool usually lasts 10 to 15 years.

Inground pools are also more resistant to damage as they are installed underground. Above-ground pools are typically more prone to sharp objects which puncture the vinyl walls or tears on the vinyl floor. 

Instead of looking at long-term investment, focusing on the value, a pool will add to your and your family's life quality.  

If in Doubt, Stick to the Norm

It's hard to draw a line between these two, inground pool pumps and above-ground pool pumps. Now that you have learned how to swim through the differences between the two types of pumps, you can decide which one to use.

Go with the flow; if you own an inground pool, get an inground pump, and if you decide on an above-ground pool, use an above-ground pump! 

Dive in and contact us for both above and in-ground pools including pumps, heaters, cleaning brushes, accessories, and more.


How long should you run your pool pump? Learn about it here. Is your pool pump emitting noise? This article provides solutions on how to fix it.

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