Why Are Single-Speed Pumps Illegal? Explaining the Law and Options for Replacement

As of 2020, nearly 1 million Americans have enrolled in the ENERGY STAR Program. This joint program between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) is designed to help consumers and businesses save money while also protecting the environment. 

These laws, regulations, and standards encourage people to adopt energy-efficient best practices.  

This shift to a more eco-friendly way of life can be felt throughout the country, and soon, in your own backyard.

Does your pool currently run on a single-speed pump?

A new law being passed by the DOE this summer will impact how homeowners run and operate their pool equipment. Failure to comply will make it nearly impossible to maintain a clean, efficient pool.

Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of single-speed pumps, why they're being outlawed, and what it means for you.

How Single-Speed Pumps Work

Before we get into why single-speed pumps are being outlawed, let's discuss how they function. 

As the name suggests, these pool pumps run at a single speed, constantly. You can't adjust single-speed pumps based on your needs, equipment, or your electric bill.

Speaking of your electric bill, single-speed pumps are extremely expensive to operate, making them the most inefficient of the pool pump options

They're also incredibly noisy, acting as a nuisance for both you and your neighbors.

The purpose of any pool pump is to circulate the water through the filter, heater (if you have one), and any other accessories attached to the pool, like a water feature, before returning it to the pool. 

Single-speed pumps perform this process all day long.

You might be thinking, "That's great! My pool water will be really clean."


Depending on the size of your pool, the entire volume can be filtered in about 8 hours. Any longer is just overkill and will result in an excessive electric bill.

It can also cause damage to overworked pool equipment and taint the filtration process.


Understanding the Laws Surrounding Single-Speed Pumps

Inefficiency and energy consumption are the two main reasons single-speed pumps will be illegal as of July 19, 2021, according to the DOE.

These regulations require that all newly installed, refurbished, or replacement pumps are compliant. That means if you currently have a single-speed pump on your filtration system, it needs to be replaced or refurbished by this date. Any new pool construction must be done using a legal pool pump.

How Much Will It Cost Me?

Pool ownership isn't cheap. Between maintenance, equipment, chemicals, and your electric bill, the average pool owner spends almost $2,000 a year on their outdoor oasis.

So you're probably wondering how much more this pool pump upgrade will cost you. 

Your cheapest option is to upgrade your current single-speed pump to a variable-speed pool pump. Not only will you avoid fines and headaches associated with using illegal pool pumps, but your overall energy usage will go way down.

These newer, more efficient pumps do more in less time. They're also adjustable and automated, so you can control when and for how long they run. 

What Happens if I Don't Upgrade My Single-Speed Pump?

Not only will you be breaking the law if you fail to comply with the DOE's new regulations, but you'll find it increasingly difficult to service your outdated pool pump.

Manufacturers will no longer carry the parts needed to repair or refurbish single-speed pumps. That means if something goes wrong with your equipment, you'll have a hard time finding the parts you need to fix it.

Once these illegal pool pumps and associated parts are out of stock, they'll be gone forever. 

How Do I Know if My Single-Speed Pump is Illegal?

If your pool is currently running on a single-speed pump, you can assume that after July 19, 2021, it will no longer be compliant. With that being said, there are a few exceptions to the rule.

The DOE regulation states that any self-priming filtration pumps rated between 0.711 and 2.5 hydraulic horsepower must meet a certain performance standard. Broken down into horsepower, this includes all motors running between 1 and 5 HP.

Pool pumps with a hydraulic horsepower of below 0.711 can run at a single-speed but must still meet certain energy-efficient standards.

Learning a New Rating System

As if making this switch doesn't already have your head spinning, there's more! Consumers and manufacturers will now rate pumps based on their weight energy factor (WEF) rather than on horsepower (HP).

All pool pumps will receive a WEF rating. This rating must meet a certain threshold to be approved for sale. The fact remains that most single-speed pumps can't meet the required rating. 

Instead of judging pool pumps on how strong their motor is, the industry will be looking at how efficient they are. This rating is measured in gallons per watt-hour. The higher the number is, the more efficient the pump is.

Given that this is the first national metric for energy efficiency, it'll take the industry some time to catch on.

Benefits of Ditching Your Single-Speed Pump

Change is never easy. Before you get frustrated over these new laws and regulations surrounding pool pumps, let's take a closer look at the benefits of replacing your single-speed pump.

Money-Saving Switch

Although the initial cost of replacing or refurbishing your single-speed pump might hurt your wallet, in the long run, you're making an economically smart decision.

When your single-speed pump runs 24 hours a day, at full speed (and it will), you're not only wasting energy but money. Switching from a single-speed pool pump to a variable-speed can save you as much as $20 per month on your electric bill.

Most pool owners will recoup their initial investment in less than two years!

Quiet Operation

Anyone who owns a pool knows that when your pump is running, it's loud. With an exposed motor, everyone around you can hear the high-pitched noise coming from your pool pump.

Variable speed pumps encapsulate the motor, reducing or even eliminating this noise completely. 

Improved Filtration

Sometimes, too much of a good thing isn't good. Running your pool pump all day, every day, not only overworks your pool equipment but can actually weaken the filtration process.

When your single-speed pump runs at one, constant speed, it doesn't give the filtration system time to collect all the debris and particles as they pass through.

The components inside your system, including the cartridges and grids, can break under constant water pressure, which is exactly what your single-speed pump delivers.

A slow, steady flow controlled by a variable-speed pump is much more efficient and can improve both filtration and sanitation.

More Energy Efficient

Since this is the main purpose of the DOE's new regulation, it shouldn't come as a surprise that ditching your single-speed pool pump will result in a more efficient operation.

Your pool pump has several distinct functions including filtration, heating (if applicable), and sanitation. Some of these functions require more energy than others.

Variable-speed pumps will automatically adjust to accommodate these different functions and energy levels. Now, your pump won't overwork itself, causing potential damage and increased operating costs.

According to the DOE, making the switch can reduce energy usage by as much as 70%!

Automated Features

Speaking of pool pumps that automatically adjust, this is another benefit to making the switch from a single-speed pool pump to variable-speed.

Variable-speed pool pumps take the guesswork out of pool ownership. You can virtually set it and forget it. 

If you want more control over your pump's functions, you get that too! Most variable-speed pumps allow you to make adjustments from an app or other digital device.

That means you don't even have to be home to start up your pool pump and create ambiance with a waterfall or pool feature

Remain Compliant

This is one of the most important reasons to make the switch from a single-speed pool pump to a variable-speed -- it's the law!

The best part is, you're not alone in this. All existing pool owners or anyone looking to install a pool will also need to meet the DOE requirements.

Manufacturers aren't excluded, either, which means that a reliable pool company will have the parts and equipment you need to upgrade your pump and remain on the right side of the law.

How Variable-Speed Pumps Work

Are you still wondering how a variable-speed pump will accomplish all these things -- from increased efficiency to reduced electric bills and cleaner water?

Using a permanent magnet motor (the same motors used in electric cars), variable-speed pumps allow you to control the flow rate of the water based on the size of your pool.

These types of pool pumps run cooler, with less noise, and also have advanced diagnostics, signaling a problem the moment it arises.

The ability to adjust things like salt production, speed, and duration all result in longer-lasting, more efficient operation.

Make the Upgrade Today

There's no time like the present. If you want to guarantee your pool and pool equipment is compliant with upcoming DOE rules and regulations, now's the time to upgrade your single-speed pumps to a variable-speed design.

Avoiding fines isn't the only reason to make the switch. Variable-speed pumps outperform single-speed models in almost every category.

If you're looking to save money and the environment, upgrading your pool pump is an easy, cost-effective decision.

Let us help you make the change. Visit our customer center before it's too late!


Should you run your pool pump 24 hours a day? Learn more by reading this article. What size pump do you need for your pool? Learn more here.

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