Variable Speed Pool Pump Comparison

A new Variable Speed pool pump is your biggest and best chance to save money on your pool operations.

Pool pumps have truly come a long way in the last few years. They are quieter, smarter, and much more efficient. There are also many laws that are now in place in many states that prevent you from installing a single speed pump when your old one fails or you are building a new pool.

So how much can you really save?

Truthfully, this depends on the pump that you are replacing and a few other factors. To keep things simple, if your old pump is within 25 years old it is safe to say that if you run the new variable speed pump at a high enough speed to equal the gallons per minute of the old pump (comparing apples to apples) you will save at least 50% on the pump part of your energy bill.

There may even be more savings involved if you were running the old pump for too many hours per day compared to what is needed.

The last way that you will save money is if your old single speed pump was too large for your specific pool. Remember that when single speed pumps were installed years ago, it was up to the installer on which speed (horsepower) to install. Many times two or three pump sizes could be chosen depending on desired effects. The problem with a pump that was too powerful is that you can only force a certain amount of water through a certain size pipe. So if the pump is trying to move more water than will go through the pipes, the rest of the energy used is lost. You end up with a motor that runs hot and doesn’t last. You also end up with other damaged pool equipment and plumbing due to the abnormally high pressure created.

With all of that said, you can save as much as 90% over the cost per month to run your single speed pump. If your old pump is more than 25 years old you will most definitely save closer to the 90% mark.


So what brand and what version do you pick?

Some more talking from me, sorry!

If your pool is just being built your pool installer will decide for you and you should probably let them because they know all of the variables involved with your new pool.

Again, to make things as simple as I can, if you have 1 1/2″ plumbing anywhere at your equipment pad, You should not go with a 3Hp variable speed pump. Each brand has an 1 1/2Hp variable speed pump available. If you do go with the larger pump, make sure you go into the settings and set the highest rpm to around 2000. Any more may damage plumbing over time. If you have 2″ plumbing throughout you should use the 3Hp variation. You may still not want to run the pump at the highest speeds possible (3450 rpms) because of other pieces of equipment like solar or heaters and such.

The entire idea of the variable speed pump is that you now have the flexibility to select the lowest possible speed and still have your pool circulate as desired. This will give you the most efficient situation and longest lasting equipment too.

Which brand you select depends on what timer or controller you have. If you have a simple mechanical timer like an Intermatic (yellow dial timer) you can select any brand you like. I like Pentair and Sta-Rite myself. If you have a digital controller you may want to use the same brand for your pump. This is because it will most likely work better with your old controller and if you ever have to replace the circuit board on that controller, the new one will have more functionality that was specifically designed for their brand variable speed pump.

The last choice you have is if you feel you need the “Safety Vacuum Release System” on your new pump. This adds a new layer of safety to your pump if there is ever a blockage of the water flow due to a possible entrapment of a person at the suction ports of your pool. At this point the pump will detect the blockage and shut down the pump. The only negative thing I have found with this feature is that the pumps don’t all turn back on the next day or turn off all equipment so it is possible to damage other equipment or cause algae due to inactivity unless the pump is properly installed.


Even with all of that said I may have still not answered your specific question about what to do. If you would like to ask me directly, feel free to use the contact form on this website. You can send me pictures and questions and I will try to help. You may also find some more helpful information in my book available on Amazon. Here is the link.

John Brace

Pentair Variable Speed 3 hp Pumps

Safety Vacuum Release Version 3 hp

Pentair Variable Speed 1 1/2 hp Pump

Sta-Rite Variable Speed 3 hp Pumps

Safety Vacuum Release Version 3 hp

Sta-Rite Variable Speed 1 1/2 hp Pump

Jandy Variable Speed 2 hp Pump

Jandy Variable Speed (1 1/2 hp or Less) Pumps

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