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Why Are Variable Speed Pool Pumps More Efficient

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Why You Should Use A Variable Speed Pool Pump

Why Do I Need A Variable Speed Pool Pump?

The variable speed pool pump is a fairly new addition to the pool world. It was originally introduced in the early 2000s and birthed a trend almost instantly. A trend that persuaded thousands of pool owners to ditch their old pumps in exchange for a superior solution.

But what makes variable speed pumps so great, and why should you use one?

In this post, we answer those questions and more.

Do You Run Your Pump All Year Round

If you live in a warm climate then you will see the potential for greater energy savings than those in cooler climates. This occurs because pool owners in warm climates run their pumps 365 days per year and those in cooler climates shut down their pool pumps for a good percentage of the year. On average pool owners in cooler climates run their pumps 122 days per year. If you run your pool pump 365 days per year in a warm climate then this would be equivalent to three pool seasons in a cooler climate!

Pool Pumps: What Are The Real Differences

There are three types of pumps to choose from, all based on their speeds. This is important because the speed of the pump directly impacts the amount of energy the pump uses – which, in turn, has a large effect on your electric bill.

  • Single Speed
  • Two Speed
  • Variable Speed

Each pump speed offers something different regarding efficiency and capability. We have supplied the following information to help you make the best decision based on your needs and what is important to you!

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What Are Variable Speed Pool Pumps

On the other hand, VSPs circulate water, heat, and chemicals all around with the speed of your choosing. Speed matters, and that’s where its counterpart fails to serve. Filtering is more efficient when you can control it to low. On the other hand, if you want to make use of heating, a higher speed is recommended.

Are There Any Benefits?

A lot! Let’s discuss some of them.

VSP motors are durable because they are fan-cooled and completely sealed off, thus protecting them from any untoward effects from the elements. Not only that, but the choice of VSPs to run slower can help them stay calm as well. This will ultimately make your motor avoid overheating and last longer.

According to this report by the U.S Department of Energy: , VSP allows the users to save energy as much as 75% when compared to the SSP. The latter is infamously known for its high consumption rate and low filtering efficiency, so VSP covers its shortcomings flawlessly.

Lastly, VSPs are quite operators, unlike SSPs. It won’t pose a distraction or cause noise pollution, even at high speed!

The Importance Of Pool Water Circulation


One key factor in maintaining a healthy pool that is often overlooked by pool operators is the importance of pool circulation and turnover rate. Your pools turnover rate refers to the number of times the entire volume of the water is circulated in a 24-hour period. According to the Gage-Bidwell Law of Dilution, water that is recirculated with a turnover rate equal to one turnover in each 6 to 8 hour period will provide 95 to 98 percent dilution of contaminated pool water with water that has been filtered and disinfected.

Three to four turnovers per day, or one turnover every 6 to 8 hours, has become a standard in public pools and is highly recommended in residential pool owners who want a healthy pool that doesnt require large quantities of chemical disinfectants. For example, AOP systems make it possible to drastically reduce chlorine use to drinking water levels of 0.5 ppm or less in residential pools, but this requires the use of variable speed pool pumps running at an optimized flow rate 24 hours a day and with a minimum of three turnovers per day.

For those who are used to running their pool pump for only 8 or 10 hours a day, it may seem counterintuitive or wasteful to run your variable speed pump 24 hours a day. But remember that running your variable speed pump for a longer period of time is still much cheaper and more effective than running a single speed pump for a short period of time.

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Single Speed Pumps The Old Standby

Single speed pumps are your traditional pool pump and have been in use for decades. Once turned on, it runs at a constant speed.

These are the least expensive to purchase. However, they are extremely noisy and inefficient.

It has been said that a single speed pool pump is the most expensive appliance in most homes….costing up to $2,000 per year to operate in some areas. Ouch!

Can Above Ground Pools Use Variable Speed Pumps

Yes. Just like with an inground pool, check to make sure that the pump’s flow rates are fairly close to the filter’s flow rate, and do not exceed it on high speed by more than 10-20%.

See how you can get ahead of the upcoming requirements and take a look at our Variable Speed Pump selection to find which one is right for you and your pool. For questions about the upcoming regulation changes, VS pump selection, or pump installation, contact or stop by your local Leslie’s store.

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Is Your Electricity Expensive

Electricity costs vary widely from state to state and this plays a big factor in determining which pump to choose. You pay for your electricity by the kilowatt-hour and the pricing you pay per kilowatt-hour varies greatly from state to state. Dual speed and variable speed pumps use far less kWh than traditional single speed pumps with variable speed pumps using the lowest amount of kWh. If you do not know how much you pay for electricity then this website, The Cost of Electricity for All 50 States, shows you how much you pay. Below I have listed a few of the more popular states and if they fall into the expensive electricity, average electricity or inexpensive electricity categories. Currently, at the time of writing this blog post, the national average in the United States is 12.29 kWh.

Expensive electricity Traditionally the most expensive areas in the United States for electricity are California, Hawaii, Alaska , New York and the Northeast.

Average electricity Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Arizona, and Texas.

Inexpensive electricity Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, and West Virginia.

Three Key Elements Of A Pool Pump

Variable Speed Pool Pump Efficiency Test

Pool pump technology hasnt changed much in the past 2,000 years: water is sucked in and pushed out, creating a current that circulates the water in your pool. For our purposes now, we only need to consider three key elements of your pump: the motor, the impeller, and the filter basket.

  • Motor: This is your pool pumps power source. It’s what makes the pump work. The pool pump motor nameplate will provide information such as the horsepower, service factor , voltage, and more. Although these numbers all provide valuable information, the most important thing you need to know when buying a pump is the flow rate how many gallons per minute it can pump. You can obtain that information from the pump manufacturer.

  • Impeller: This is the fan-like part that the motor spins. As the blades whirl, they pull the water in one side of the pump and force it out the other.

  • Filter basket: All you need to circulate your water is a motor that spins an impeller. That’s what makes the water move. However, the filter basket is essential because it is your pump’s last line of defence. Any debris that slipped past the skimmer baskets or got sucked into the system through the drain will get caught in this basket so it doesn’t damage your pump.

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Variable Speed Pool Pumps

The common reasons or myths cited for not installing a variable speed pump are:

Variable Speed Pumps are expensive

When compared to single speed, or even two-speed pumps, variable speed pumps are definitely more expensive. The shock of the initial price goes away quickly when you compare the operating costs of the various options. A variable speed pump will easily pay for itself in electricity savings over its lifetime.

Variable speed pumps dont save energy

Variable speed pumps save energy in two ways. The first, which even some pool builders dont understand, is that the pump motor is inherently more efficient. Single and two-speed pumps use traditional induction motors. These are just about the least efficient motors you can use, but they are cheap, so they are popular. Quality variable speed pumps use permanent magnet brushless motors. At the same flow rate , a variable speed pump will use about 30% less energy as a result of the inherently more efficient motor. Where variable speed pumps really shine is when you reduce the flow rate . Running your pool pump for a longer time at a lower flow rate will result in the same overall pool water turnover, but reduce the energy required tremendously. For centrifugal pumps, this is whats called the pump Affinity Law in physics.

Even if you run a variable speed pump at half speed for three times longer, you will still save 62.5% on energy!

Variable speed pumps dont keep the pool clean
Variable speed pump drive electronics fail

Do I Have To Buy A New Pool Pump

Not necessarily. If your current pump fails, you’ll be given the option to upgrade to a more efficient unit. For example, you might want to purchase a variable speed pool pump. However, if you want to replace your pump with another large single speed model, you’ll still be able to do so. That is, as long as you can find one. After the July 19 cut-off date, manufacturers will no longer be able to produce pumps that don’t meet the efficiency requirements. That doesn’t mean they can’t be sold by retailers. However, leftover inventory of non-compliant single speed pumps is expected to deplete quickly. It will get harder and harder to find one after the regulations go into effect.

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Variable Speed Pool Pumps Save Energy And Money

This is obviously the most important benefit of variable speed pumps. Single speed pool pumps operate at full horsepower whenever theyre on, but with a variable speed pump, you control the speed, allowing you to run at lower speeds when the pump doesnt need to handle demanding tasks.

Variable speed pumps are extremely efficient, with most being Energy Star Certified. This efficiency saves you money in the form of lower utility bills and rebates. Thats never a bad thing.

But are the savings really enough to justify a higher up-front cost? The short answer is yes. Variable speed pool pumps are proven to have saved more than 80% in annual energy costs in some cases. This means you can make up the cost of the pump in less than two years.

Check out the video below for more:

See just how much you can save by plugging in your state and the details of your pool to our energy savings calculator.

PRO TIP: Variable speed pumps may qualify you for utility rebates from your power company. Contact your utilities provider to learn about special programs.

Low Pool Pump Speeds Mean Low Noise

Swimming Pool Pumps Variable 4

Think of the sound your single-speed pump makes when it kicks on. Has it ever woken you up at night? Well, when you switch to a variable-speed pump, youll never again bolt awake in bed wondering if a helicopter just landed in your yard.

Single-speed pumps run at 3,450 revolutions per minute . Variable-speed pumps can run as low as 600 RPM. The lower RPMs significantly reduce motor noise, making the variable-speed pump a far quieter option than that old single-speed.

Set your timer to turn the variable-speed pump on at a low setting overnight to turn over your pool water during non-peak power hours. Youll save money, clean your pool, and avoid a confrontation with grumpy, sleep-deprived neighbors.

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Where The Savings Count

Because variable speed pumps offer a much wider array of settings, they allow you to run your pool at optimum speed or the lowest speed to get the job done. This, in turn, creates less friction on your piping, filter, and accessories allowing your pool to run at a much lower energy level, as well as, less wear and tear, saving you money and increasing the lifespan of your equipment. This type of customization also allows you to program your pump to take advantage of lower rates through your electricity company when you are on off peak hours.

Buying a variable-speed pump may also qualify you for government incentives such as reduced utility rates. Power companies sometimes offer rebates to entice you to reduce your power consumption by using energy-efficient appliances and making smart choices. Local government may also offer after purchase rebates!

Tip: Check your local power companys website for rebate information before you buy a new pool pump. You may be eligible for rebates, incentives and further information from your local council about cutting energy usage around your home –

Fact: Having the right pool pump can save you more than $50 a month, so its definitely worthwhile seeking a good variable speed pool pump!

Youll Get The Rebates Of Any Pool Owners Dreams

This is where it gets fun. The right pump will also qualify for utility rebates, such as this Blue Torrent Energy Star Variable Speed Pump, which also includes a two-year warranty. Bonus: youll also be hard-pressed to find a more affordable model. Of course, youre welcome to try.

Want a better sense of the actual rebates youre eligible for with a variable-speed pump? I dont blame you. This is exactly why I designed the PoolPartstoGo Rebates Calculator. Head there to learn how your state is sweetening the deal.

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How Much Does A Good Pump Cost

If you hire a pool contractor to replace an old single-speed pump with a new variable-speed pump , expect to pay between $1,400 and $1,800 significantly more than the cost to install a single-speed pump or a two-speed pump . Of course, if you install the pump yourself, the cost will be less.

Although a variable-speed pump is expensive, the payback period for this work can be as short as one or two years. Moreover, many electric utilities and state governments offer rebates to offset some of the cost to install a variable-speed pool pump. These incentives range from $75 to $300 per pump, and are available to at least some customers in Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont.

Better Filtration Equals Cleaner Water And Longer Equipment Life

Are Variable Speed Pumps Good?

Contrary to popular belief, bigger pool pumps are not generally better. My fellow Texans might get upset with me for that statement. I am by no means a hydraulics expert, but understanding one basic principle helps – only so much water can efficiently flow through a 2 pipe.

EXAMPLE: 2 Inch PVC is going to allow about 60 – 80 GPM to flow through that pipe. An Intelliflo VSF Pump is rated as a 3hp pool pump. If you run this pump at full speed, it will be trying to move well over 80 GPMs, therefore resulting in overworking the pump and causing it to fail prematurely.

This is why pool pumps seem to be made with less quality these days, when in reality they are most likely made with better quality. Lack of knowledge from pool professionals and incentives from builders – We will throw in a bigger pump if you choose us.. – are some of the reasons this issue continues.

Something easily overlooked but is in fact very important is how pump sizing and waterflow affects the rest of your pool equipment, mainly talking about your gas heater and pool filter. Having too large of a pump can cause erosion of the copper heat exchanger in the heater. It may take a while, but why not get more life out of your pool heater?

Additionally, slower water flow gets filtered better.

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What Is Hydraulic Horsepower And How Does It Factor

Hydraulic Horsepower is the true measure of a pump’s performance. It represents the amount of water a pump can push to, and through, the pool. The new regulations for 2021 are such that any single speed pumps operating at 0.711 HHP or higher do not meet the regulations, and should be replaced with variable speed technology. However, there are still minimum efficiency requirements for pumps less than 0.711 HHP, and not all single speed pumps meet those requirements.

ENERGY SAVINGS TIP: Although you don’t have to change your existing pump, and even if your current single speed pump operates at less than 0.711 HHP, switching to a variable speed pump can save you significant money on your utilities bill each month. See how much you can save with our energy calculator.

Which Type Of Pool Pump Should I Get

When it comes down to it, the type of pool pump you get will be determined by your ability or willingness to spend upfront for long-term savings. The amount of savings and payoff time for different pumps also depends on factors like how much you use your pool and how much electricity costs in your location. In places with high electricity costs, the payoff time on more expensive pool pumps will be shorter. If you use your pool for a more extended season or all year round, you will also have a shorter pay off period. In places with low energy costs and short swimming seasons, the savings will be less dramatic and it will take longer to make up the added cost of more expensive pumps.

In a climate where pools are mostly used in the warmer months, like here in Georgia, the payoff time for a two-speed pump averages about 12 months. For a variable speed pump, it may take 24 months to accumulate savings equal to the extra cost of the pool pump. However, once you have made up the difference in price, the savings continue and can be dramatic. So if you can afford it, installing a more expensive pump will definitely save you money in the long run.

The Pool Butler can help you install any kind of pump, or replace your existing pump. We are also available for cleanings, repairs, and consultations. If you have questions about which pool pump is best for you, just contact us, and well be happy to help!

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