A pump is like the heartbeat of a pool; it circulates water through the filter, keeping it clean and sanitized. The rate of circulation makes a big difference in how clean your pool gets—and how much money you spend in the process. Although you have the option of single, two-speed and variable-speed pumps, paying for more options costs less in the long run, but might involve some work on your part. So which pump is best for you?
Pool Pump Speed: Slow is the Best Overall Value
Your pool water needs to turn over at least once a day to keep it clean and sanitized. Just about any pump will do this. But how fast the pump pushes water makes a big difference in cost. The more water it pushes the more it costs to operate, so oversizing the pump is a bad idea. You don’t want to push too much water because of the cost, and you don’t want to push too little because you won’t achieve proper filtration and sanitation.
These are the original, standard pumps. Single-speed pumps are the least expensive up front and are sized based on the size of your pool. A pump that is oversized will waste money; an undersized pump won’t do the job right.
For someone who isn’t going to fool with the pump’s speed in search of savings, single speed is fine. Depending on the pump, they can be noisy or quiet. In Indiana, we generally run these pumps 24 hours a day to achieve consistent filtration and sanitation and to avoid the work of manually managing the pump. These are the most expensive pumps to operate—they use more power.
This is a variation of the single-speed pump. They both use an induction style motor. You can choose low or high speed of operation: low speed costs about 50 percent of the electric you would spend if the pump was on high, or if you just had a single-speed pump.
Most of the time slow speed is just fine, because you can achieve proper filtration and sanitation.However, high speed is necessary for short-term activities like backwashing and vacuuming, water features and when you have your heater on (heaters generally require a higher flow rate).
These pumps have become very popular in the last couple of years for two reasons: they can achieve big electric savings and they can be programmed to avoid the work of two speed pumps. These pumps use a special motor that is much more efficient than typical induction type motors; they use a permanent magnet motor. Variable-speed pumps are programmable, so the pump does the work of periodically changing speeds. This is important: I know many people who buy a two-speed pump, but never change the speed.
The cost of operation is minimal and the motor life is outstanding. Variable speed pumps are the most expensive to buy, but they deliver the lowest monthly electric bill, with electric savings advertised at 80 percent over single speed pumps.
These pumps are very quiet, run cooler and last longer. They are digitally controlled and have advanced diagnostics. They are the top of the line of pool pumps!
So Which Pump is Best for You?
An experienced pool professional can help you strike the right balance between pump power, piping and pool size. And all of the above pumps, properly sized, will work. But the choice of one speed, two speed and variable speeds is also an important decision for long-term value.
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