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Choosing the Best Pump for Your Swimming Pool

How do you Choose Between Single, Dual, Variable Speed Pool Pumps?

Pentair 011018 IntelliFlo

Energy savings up to 90-percent

Energy savings up to 90-percent vs. conventional pumps

Hayward SP3400VSP

Hayward Energy-efficient pool

Industry’s most energy-efficient swimming pool pumps at any rate.

Pentair 340039

High Performance Single Speed Pool

The pump pushes more water more efficiently for economical operating cost

Hayward SP2610X15

Recognized for reliability and performance

Intended for in-ground pools and spas of all types and sizes

How We Found the Top Pool Pumps
swimming pool test

8 brands
considered

pool lab guide

72 hours of
research

testing pool equipment

4 top picks

Do you need a new pool pump? You’ll know when your current one is going bad because it will make these loud and annoying sounds. These are sounds that’ll probably wake you up in the morning too. The only way those noises will go away is if you turn off the pump. However, it isn’t good for your pool water to leave the pump off for a long time. So, the only way to remedy the situation is to replace the pump with a new one.

When you go shopping for a new pool pump, you must select one that accommodates your budget and the type of pool that you have. This should be considered a long-term investment because you’ll be using this pump for a long time. That is why you need to understand the needs of your pool and the best pump features which will satisfy those needs. After you purchase the pump, try educating yourself on the various problems that may arise.

The Function of a Pool Pump

The pump is the main component of the plumbing system of your pool. If you don’t have a good pump, then the water in your pool will not circulate well. If the water doesn’t circulate well, then it won’t reach the filtration system and get a thorough cleaning. If the water is not cleaned, then it is left dirty, foggy, and loaded with bacteria and other nasty contaminants. This is not the kind of water that you should ever swim in.

Basic Features of a Pool Pump

Pool pumps have certainly evolved over the years. There used to be 1 type of pool pump only; not there are 3 types. They are as follows:

1) Single-Speed Pumps

The single speed pump is the original type of pool pump. It is called “single speed” because the impeller spins at only one speed. The motor’s horsepower determines this speed.

If you already have a single-speed pump and you need to replace it with a new pump, then this is the perfect time to upgrade to a dual-speed pump. Then you can have more efficient circulation and filtration in your pool.

Be aware that if you still decide to use a single-speed pump, it may be illegal in the state that you’re in. California and Arizona are just two states which have outlawed the use of single-speed pumps for pools. Research the laws of your state to see if single-speed is acceptable there.

2) Dual-Speed Pumps

Dual-speed pumps can be set to high or low speed. If you set it to high speed, it acts like a single-speed pump. If you set it to low speed, the water turnover in your pool won’t be as efficient. However, it will consume a lot less energy too. The volume of your pool will determine which speed is right for you.

3) Variable-Speed Pumps

Variable-speed pumps are the most expensive pool pumps, but they’re also the best. These pumps don’t use an induction motor. They use a permanent magnet motor, which is what you’d find in an electric car. There is less friction generated from a magnet motor too. This is what makes them more efficient.

You won’t consume as much power from a variable-speed pump either. Meanwhile, water turnover will be fast and efficient. And if you’re worried about loud noises, the variable-speed pump has fewer RPM than a dual-speed or single-speed pump. This means it is the quietest pump you could buy. Some utility companies may even give you a rebate for using this pump too.

Features of a Pool Pump

At this point, you may have some idea on which type of pool pump you’re going to get. Don’t run out and buy it just yet, though. You still need to think about the features of the pool pump first.

For instance, the horsepower of the pool pump is very important. If it has a lot of horsepower, then it will do a better job of turning over the water. That way, you don’t need to run the pump as often or for very long.

Of course, you need to consider the size of your pool, the pipes of your filtration system, and the filter size itself. If your filter is small, then having too much horsepower in your pump would be overwhelming for it. If you have 3-inch pipes, then a 3-horsepower pump would be good. But again, if your pool is small, then you’ll be paying more money on electricity with this setup. It is important that your pump isn’t too much for the filtration system to tolerate. At the same time, the horsepower should be powerful enough to turn over the volume of water in your pool at a consistent rate.

Another feature to consider is the voltage amount of the pump motor. Some pool pumps need 220 volts while others can use the standard 110 volts. If you have an above-ground pool, then it probably needs a pump that is only 110 volts. But if you have an above-ground pool, it likely needs 220 volts if it is big enough.

Some pool pumps must be plugged into an electrical outlet while others need to be hardwired. If you need it hardwired, this will require you to hire an electrician to integrate the pump into your electrical system.

Selecting the Best Size

If you want your pool water to stay clear, it must all pass through your filtration system at least one time every day. The turnover rate refers to how much water is filtered. The entire volume of water in your pool must get pumped into the filtration system throughout the course of one day.

To determine the turnover rate of your pump, you must know the volume of your pool. A pool calculator can help you figure this out. Just search for one on Google.

After you’ve calculated the volume of the pool, divide the volume amount by 8. This will give you the number of GPH (gallons per hour) of water that gets pumped into your filtration system.

A lot of pool pumps nowadays use gallons per minute (GPM) instead of gallons per hour. To figure out the GPM, you just take the GPH and divide it by 60. Once you have the answer, this is the total GPM which must get pumped into the filter for a complete turnover of the pool’s volume.

Here are the formulas:

Volume / 8 = GPH

GPH / 60 = GPM

After you’ve performed these calculations, choose a pump size which is suitable for the GPM that your pool needs. If done correctly, the water turnover should be able to finish in 8 hours. It is okay to select a pump that has a slightly higher GPM than needed. But don’t choose one that has a lower GPM.

Troubleshooting

Pool pumps do not run well forever. There will come a point when a problem arises with your pump. If you learn about the most typical problems that a pool pump could face, you will be better prepared to deal with them whenever they present themselves.

Leaks

The number one problem that occurs is pool pump leakage. This can happen if you have a damaged or worn impeller O-ring, shaft seal or thread sealant. The discharge pipe may also have shrunken threads which are causing this problem too.

In many situations, you can buy these parts at cheap prices and install them yourself if you need to replace your existing ones. This will save you money from having to hire a professional. Just find out where the leak is coming from, disassemble the system, replace the necessary part, and reassemble. Then your pump will work well again.

No Water is Being Pulled

If the pump isn’t pulling water into it, then the water won’t flow through the filter and get cleaned. Check to see if your system is clogged. This may be the reason why you’re having this problem.

Start by investigating both the pump baskets and the skimmer. If they’re not clogged, inspect the impeller and see if there is debris caught in it. If there is, then remove the debris so that the blade can be free to move fast again. Now check the pump by opening it up and remove any debris inside it as well.

If this still doesn’t fix the problem, then your suction line may have an air leak in it. Since air doesn’t have as much mass as water, then air gets sucked into the pump rather than the water. If there are leaks in any of the lines, patch them up.

Failure to Start the Motor

If the motor doesn’t start, check to see if the breaker has been tripped or not. If the pump doesn’t turn on when the breaker is on, then you’re having some kind of electrical issue. The only thing to do in this case is to replace the motor.

You may want to call a professional electrician to deal with the electrical system. This will ensure your safety.

Motor Shuts Off Extemporaneously

When the motor shuts off on its own, then it may be overheated. Inspect the air vents of the pump to see if they’re being blocked by anything. Try placing something over the pump to shade it from these obstructive outer elements.

If this still doesn’t fix the problem, you should call an electrician because there is probably an electrical problem there.

Noisy Motor

You can always expect some noise to come from your pump motor. But if you start hearing a lot of strange noises that you don’t normally hear, then it probably means there is a problem.

Sometimes it may just be a vibration issue. If that’s the case, put a rubber pad under the pump. But if you hear growling noises after doing that, then your pump isn’t sucking up enough water. Instead, it is sucking in air.

To address this problem, try to prime the pump. If the noise continues, inspect the intake lines to ensure they’re not leaking or clogged. If they are, then fix the leak or remove the debris that is clogging the lines. After that, the noises should go away.

If you hear a screaming sound coming from the pump, then the bearings are probably no good. Replace the bearings to fix this issue.

Replacement parts are very cheap. Just be prepared to spend a lot of time on the labor because you need to turn off the motor, detach it from the pool, and then take it apart. You need the right tools for the job, so make sure you have those.

Calling a Professional

If you’re comfortable repairing the pump yourself by disassembling the motor and configuring the electrical system, then go for it. You’ll certainly save a lot of money if you do the job yourself.

However, you need to have the necessary skills to do this job. This isn’t something where you can get “on-the-job” self-training. If you’re not experienced at these kinds of tasks, then hire a professional to do it for you.

The plumbing of your pool depends on a functional pool pump. If you don’t have the confidence to fix it, then you might end up making it worse. Have peace of mind by hiring a professional to repair it instead.

If you want to learn, perhaps you can watch the professional as they work on the pump. Take notes on what they’re doing so you can do the same thing yourself next time.

Top Pumps for Inground Pools

With the knowledge you have about pool pumps, you can decide for yourself which is the best pump for your particular swimming pool.

Hayward SP3400VSP Pool Pump

Hayward SP3400VSP

Ecostar Variable-Speed Pool Pump

Hayward

Variable-Speed Pool Pump

Industry’s most energy-efficient swimming pool pumps at any rate.

Pros
  • Energy-efficient pump
  • Digital controller interface
  • Integrated Safety Vacuum Release
  • Completely programmable, with up to eight custom speeds and timer functions
  • Extra leaf-holding capacity
Cons
  • Complicated to programmed

The Hayward SP3400VSP is great if you’re looking for energy efficiency in your pool pump. Watch as your energy costs are reduced after you upgrade to this wonderful pump. It comes with a huge strainer basket which is compatible with many different types of pools. After you install the pump, just activate “stand-alone mode,” and it will work with the filtration system to actively pump and clean the water.

Pentair 011018 IntelliFlow Pool Pump

Pentair 011018 IntelliFlo

High Performance Pool Pump

Pentair

Cost savings each year ($900 to $1500 approximately)*.

Energy savings up to 90-percent vs. conventional pumps

Pros
  • Eight programmable speed setting plus built-in timer
  • Modest noise operation, as low as 45 decibels
  • Built-in safety diagnostics protect the pump
  • Fully compatible with other brands of digital pool controls
Cons
  • Two (2) Year Warranty

The Pentair 011018 is another energy efficient pool pump. It is 90% more efficient than competing pool pumps. It is also very quiet when it is on too. So, if you’re someone who hates loud noises coming from a pump, then the Pentair 011018 is right for you. There are 8 programmable settings along with a timer. This gives you power over the operation and timing of your pump. The Pentair 011018 is simple to install and easy to maintain. Meanwhile, it will save you money.

Hayward SP2610X15 Super Pump

Hayward SP2610X15

Super Pump 1.5 HP Pool Pump

Hayward

Single/Dual Speed Super Pump

 Intended for in-ground pools and spas of all types and sizes

Pros
  • Exclusive knobs make for more accessible strainer cover
  • See-through strainer cover
  • Oversize debris basket
  • Easy installation and servicing
Cons
  • Not energy efficient 

The Hayward SP2160X15 is known for being a highly reliable pool pump. In addition, it is energy efficient and very quiet when it runs. You can even remove the transparent basket without needing any tools. This makes maintenance quite simple. All you need to install the pump are the 4 bolts that come with it. Once it’s installed, maintenance will be easy, and the pump will be quite reliable.

Hayward SP2610X15 Super Pump

Hayward SP2610X15

Super Pump 1.5 HP Pool Pump

Hayward

Single/Dual Speed Super Pump

1.5 HP Pool Pump, Dual-Speed, Energy Efficient

Pros
  • Exclusive knobs make for more accessible strainer cover
  • See-through strainer cover
  • Oversize debris basket
  • Easy installation and servicing
Cons
  • Not energy efficient 

The Hayward SP2160X15 is known for being a highly reliable pool pump. In addition, it is energy efficient and very quiet when it runs. You can even remove the transparent basket without needing any tools. This makes maintenance quite simple. All you need to install the pump are the 4 bolts that come with it. Once it’s installed, maintenance will be easy, and the pump will be quite reliable.

Hayward SP2610X152S Dual Speed Pool Pump

Hayward SP2610X152S

Super Pump 1.5 HP Pool Pump, Dual-Speed, Energy Efficient

Hayward

Cleans the floor and walls

Removes large debris you can see, as well as covered debris like fine dirt and sand

Pros
  • Exclusive knobs make for more accessible strainer cover
  • See-through strainer cover
  • Oversize debris basket
  • Easy installation and servicing
Cons
  • Not energy efficient 

The Hayward SP2610X152S is great for virtually any inground pool. It is a quiet dual speed pump which performs very well and powerfully. The basket can easily be removed for a quick cleaning when necessary. The pump is strong enough to give you the suction lift required, even when it is as much as 8 feet higher than the water line.

Pentair 340093 / 340039 SuperFlo Pump

Pentair Single Speed Pool Pump

Single Speed Pool Pump,

Pentair

Reaches all the standards for an excellent pool, spa or water feature pump

The pump pushes more water more efficiently for economical operating cost

Pros
  • Heavy-duty, high-service-factor
  • Quiet operation
    See-through lid
  • Oversize strainer basket
  • This pump has self-priming
Cons
  • Not as efficient compare to variable speed pumps

The Pentair 340093 is a pump that primes itself. It is both easy to install and startup. It is also energy efficient and powerful too. To ensure quiet operation, it has a custom hydraulic system and thick walls for its body. There is a large basket included which is easy to access and maintain. The pump is strong enough to move a lot of water into the filter while remaining energy efficient.

Top Pumps for Above Ground Pools

A lot of pool pumps can be used in either above ground or inground pools. But to ensure you have a good quality pump, try to find out which is made for your specific type of pool.

Hayward SP1593 Power-Flo Above Ground Pool Pump

Hayward SP1593

Matrix 1.5 HP Above-Ground Swimming Pool Pump

Hayward

Above-Ground Swimming Pool Pump

High-performance pump intended for above-ground pools

Pros
  • Heavy-duty, high-performance motor
  • Industrial-size filter basket
  • Converts from horizontal to the vertical adjustment
  • Comes with the integral drain plug
Cons
  • limited 1-year warranty

This above ground pool pump contains a huge strainer basket which simplifies the process of removing debris from it. You can make the pump either horizontal or vertical to accommodate any space of your pool. An internal drain plug is even included with the pump to simplify the winterizing process.

ARKSEN 2820GPH Above Ground Pool Pump

ARKSEN 2820GPH

Swimming Pool Pump 10000GAL Stand 4-Way Valve

ARKSEN

Sand Filter Combo for above ground pools

Sand Filter Pump and filter are flawlessly engineered to produce optimum flow rates

Pros
  • High-Efficiency Impeller
  • The 4-Way multi-port provides for simple use Backwash
  • Large strainer basket
  • Thermally Protected
    Self Priming Unit
Cons
  • Generic Brand

You can use this pump with up to 10,000 gallons of water. It comes with a sand filter already, so there are no extras that you need to buy separately. The pump can even tolerate water that is as high as 105 degrees, making it suitable for hot tub conditions.

Hayward C2251540LSS Micro StarClear Above-Ground Pool Filter Pump System

Hayward C2251540LSS

Ground Pool Filter Pump System

Hayward

For above ground pools up to 15,000 gallons


Filter and pump incorporation for above-ground pools

Pros
  • High-quality, strengthened polyester elements
  • Micro Star-Clear cartridge filters
  • Simple-Lock lid entree design
Cons
  • Only up to 15,000 gallons

The Hayward C2251540LSS can handle as much as 15,000 gallons of water. It is compatible with above ground pools. With the filter and pump combined together in one system, it can pump 40 gallons per minute. The pump is designed with an extruded core to ensure water flow is maximized and energy costs are reduced. As for the filtration, it is also maximized because of the premium quality reinforced polyester material which allows it to trap debris easily.

The Top Intex Swimming Pool Pumps

Intex pools should use Intex pumps. Some above ground pools are compatible with Intex pumps too.

Intex Krystal Clear 3000GPH Pump

Intex Krystal Clear

Above Ground Pools, 16-inch, 110-120V with GFCI

Intex

Specially designed for above ground pools

Sand filter pumps like the Intex 3000 are the most productive and economical preservation filter pump

Pros
  • 6-function control valve
  • Built-in 24-hour timer
  • Heavy Duty Tank
  • Creates a pump flow rate of 3,000 gallons per hour
Cons
  • Works best with Intex pools

This combination of a filter and pump is made for Intex swimming pool use. But you can adapt them to other types of above ground pools too. You can move 3,000 gallons per hour with this pump. This is great if you have a bigger Intex pool which is at least 16 feet or more. There is also a timer built in which determines when the pump runs.

Intex Krystal Clear Pool Pump 1000GPH

Intex Krystal Clear

Above Ground Pools, 1000 GPH Pump Flow Rate, 110-120V with GFCI

Intex

Specifically designed for above ground pools

For Above Ground Pools, 1000 GPH Pump Flow Rate

Pros
  • Easy installation
  • Air Release valve
  • Simple and easy to clean
  • Inlet fitting included
Cons
  • Materiel could be better quality 

The Intex Krystal Clear 1000GPH Pump is great for smaller swimming pools. It can pump 1,000 gallons of water per hour, so small pools are definitely better to use with this. The pump is easy to use and maintain because it is lightweight. During the off-season, just lift it up and take it to the shed or garage for storage. The pump features an air release valve and sediment flush to keep it running all summer without much maintenance needed.

Conclusion

It is not hard to keep the circulation in your pool going consistently. Just pick a pump which accommodates your pool volume, filter, and size. Maintain and repair the pump when needed. If you do all these things, your pump should have a long life.

Anytime you need a new pump, don’t be afraid to invest in the best pump possible. It will save you money on energy in the long run.

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