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Understanding variable speed pumps


When you’re discussing the best ways to reduce the energy consumption associated with a swimming pool, the conversation always seems to focus primarily on the pool pump. The reason for this is because the pool pump uses more energy than any other pool equipment component. In fact, the pump is the second largest energy consumer in the home, next to the air conditioner. So, when a variable speed pump can operate for up to 90% less than a traditional pool pump, you see why this product has become so popular.

How is this possible? Traditional, single speed pumps run at a full 3450 RPM’s at all times the pump is on. The pool needs this much power for more demanding tasks (operating a pool cleaner, spa jets, waterfalls, etc.) but doesn’t need nearly this much power for everyday circulation. This is where a variable speed pump can be programmed to have a very low circulation speed, another speed for running the cleaner and yet another speed or two for the waterfalls or spa jets. Single and 2-speed pumps can’t address these different needs.

As mentioned above, most variable-speed pumps have multiple setting options that can be programmed to run at set speeds to operate, for example, a suction-side pool cleaner, waterfalls or an in-floor cleaning system. Other variable speed pumps have integrated software that automatically adjusts the flow of water to accommodate the piece of equipment or water feature you have programmed. For example, when your filter gets dirty, your pool cleaner will slow down and not run properly until the filter is cleaned. With a variable speed pump that has auto-adjust software, the pump would recognized the added stress due to the dirty filter and would increase flow to let the cleaner maintain its normal performance.

Slower pump speeds not only save energy, they also save wear and tear on filters, heaters, chlorinators and other equipment that water flows through.

Up front price/Sticker Shock

I know the cost of these variable speed pumps may seem excessive. But, consider the price of one of these pumps compared to doing nothing at all.

Single-speed pumps typically cost $900 to $1200 per year to operate (costs vary by region), costing the homeowner about $5,000 after a 5 year period. By comparison, a properly installed and programmed variable speed pump can operate for as little as $200 per year or $1000 after a 5 year period. So, you will almost recoup your money after year one and will continue to save money every month/year afterward. You can’t afford not to do it!