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How to Choose the Best Pool Pump

Updated on June 28, 2017
Barack James profile image

Barack is a chemical engineer with a knack for pool chemistry. He has been in the pool maintenance industry for 8 years.

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How Do I Select the Best Pump for My Pool?

Questions you need to ask before you buy:

  1. How fast of a pump do you need?
  2. How big is your pool?
  3. Is it above-ground or in-ground?
  4. Do you want a hard-wired or plug-in model?
  5. How much horsepower do you need?

Each of these is explained fully below.

Considering Speed When Choosing a Pump

Speed. Pool pumps come with different options of pumping speed: low, medium, and high, which are all necessary when you need to regulate the pumping speed depending on the status of the swimming pool to save on power consumption. Remember:

  • The faster a pool pump, the less power will be used.
  • The faster a pool pump runs, the more the power will be used.
  • They come in single, dual, or variable speeds.

Single Speed

  • These are the most common but have a one-speed (high) setting option.
  • The motor spins the impeller at a single speed depending on the horsepower of the motor and cannot be reduced or increased.
  • Since it will always run at a high speed, it uses a lot of power when it runs full-time and may not be the best choice when you need to cut down on maintenance cost related to power.
  • It is also important to know that single speed pumps have been prohibited in some states, for example, California, mainly to help save on electricity usage.

Dual Speed

  • This pump has two-speed options: low and high. The high-speed is the same as the single speed pump's, while the low-speed setting adds more flexibility.
  • Dual speed pumps are better than single speed when it comes to power saving, since you can set the pump to run at a low speed at peak usage hours and when the pool isn't being used often.

Variable Speed

  • These are considered the best since they come with a permanent magnetic motor (PMM), similar to those used in cars, which don't need electricity to spin the rotor and can be digitally regulated to any speed.
  • These are relatively expensive. However, it may be worth it since the motor produces less friction, making it more efficient, quieter, and longer-lasting than the other kinds of pumps that use induction motors.

I use Hayward SP2602VSP Variable-Speed Pool Pump, which according to my own experience with pool pumps is the best variable speed pump designed with great energy saving Permanent Magnet Motor, which uses a permanent magnet to spin the rotor as opposed to induction motors used in a single or dual speed pool pumps that need extra electric power to induce magnetic field into the rotor to spin it.

Also, the largest energy saving that comes with this Haywards PMM pool is the ability to program and reduce the flow rate to match the required pool pumping needs. Here is a detailed study by U.S. Department of Energy on how a variable speed pump saves pumping energy by 50% to 75%.

The Size of Your Pool (in Gallons) Matters

One of the most important things to consider is the size of your swimming pool in gallons. Use a standard pool gallons chart or an online pool water volume calculator to determine your pool's size.

You should then divide the total gallons your pool contains by 8 (the number of hours a pump should take to circulate the entire pool) to get the flow rate per hour you will need your pump to have.

A pump is always labeled with GPM (gallons per minute) and consequently, you will need to divide your total result by 60 to get the number of gallons your pump will circulate per minute. Here is another guide for how to size your pool in gallons.

Above-Ground or In-Ground Pool: What Difference Does It Make?

Another important thing to consider is whether you have an above-ground or in-ground pool. This is very important since it determines where the pool filter will be located.

  • If the intake to your filter is located above the ground pump, you will need a top-mount pump.
  • If the intake is on the same level as your pump, you will need a side-mount pump.
  • Sand filters always have top-mount multiport valves which require top-mounting, while cartridge and DE filters will always need side-mounted pumps.

Do You Want a Plug-In or Hard-Wired Pump?

A pump can be hardwired directly to the power line or you can use an inline that plugs directly to power. Either way, you need to determine how many voltages of power that go into the pump, which is 110 or 220 volts in most cases.

Horsepower

Finally, you need to consider horsepower.

The type of horsepower you go with should perfectly fit your pool and the filtering system of your pool.

Getting the right size of pump that will turn the water over in your swimming pool is very important and time-saving.

What Is a Pool Pump and How Does It Work?

The pump is the equipment that is in control of the whole pool water circulation system. The entire operation of circulation, cleaning, and filtration depends on the operation of the main pump, and without it, the water will get stagnant (and that means the filter, too, will not work).

The pump pulls water through the skimmer and the main water drain, pushes it through the filter, and then returns it via the main returns. Ideally, the pump consists of three major parts:

  1. An electric motor, which uses either 110 or 220 volts depending on the size of the pool and returns at a speed of 3450 rpm. The motor is cooled by air, and for that reason, it is not fully covered to allow for a faster cooling process.
  2. The impeller, which is normally connected at the end of the shaft of the motor, which pulls the water in via the hair and lint trap at the end of the pump and pushes it up through the pump to the pool filter.
  3. The hair and lint trap is located at the end of the pump assembly to prevent debris from entering its assembly. The hair and lint trap has a basket that plays a very important role in containing clogging materials that may prevent water from entering the pump.

Which Pool Pump Brand Is Best?

Choosing the best pool pump remains a big problem for new pool owners. One of the most important things is the brand. Start by looking at the top brands from trusted manufacturers who have been in the industry for several years and have different models and size of pumps to choose from.

I recommend Intex Pool Pump Company, which has been around for a number years and designs pool pumps that are efficient, durable, and serve for years without any major default. They manufacture a variety of pumps for all pool sizes and types, whether saltwater, chlorine-based, in-ground, or above-ground.

How to Size a Pool Pump

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