Table of Contents
- 1 How the Pool Pump Works and Why You Need to Know.
- 2 Common Issues
- 3 Different Types of Filters
- 4 Different Types of Pool Pumps
- 5 How to Measure Your Pool and Calculate the Right Pool Pump Size.
- 5.1 Find out the average depth of your pool
- 5.2 Find a number of gallons in your rectangular pools
- 5.3 Find the amount of gallons in your circular pools
- 5.4 Find a number of gallons in your Oval pools
- 5.5 Calculate the flow rate/ GPM (gallons per minute) and turnover rate of your pool
- 5.6 Find the feet of head
- 6 Best Single Speed Pool Pump
- 7 Best Dual Speed Pool Pump
- 8 Best Variable Speed Pool Pump
- 8.0.1 Hayward SP2302VSP Max-Flo VS Variable-Speed Pool Pump, 230 Volt, Single Phase, Energy Star Certified
- 8.0.2 Pentair 342001 SuperFlo VS Variable Speed Pool Pump, 1 1/2 Horsepower, 115/208-230 Volt, 1 Phase – Energy Star Certified
- 8.0.3 Pentair 011018 IntelliFlo Variable Speed High-Performance Pool Pump
- 8.0.4 Pentair 011017 IntelliFlo VS+SVRS High-Performance Pool Pump with Safety Vacuum Release System, 3 Horsepower, 230 Volt, 1 Phase – Energy Star Certified
- 9 Our pick
One of the most overlooked details about owning a pool is the pool pump. While swimming in the pool is fun, swimming in dead bugs, body fluids, dirt, and leaves is not. It is true that a pool cover can help keep the pool safer and cleaner, but if you want to swim in clear, clean, and crisp water, proper pool maintenance is necessary, This includes buying the best pool pump for your type of pool.
The problem is which one is right for you? There are many different types, sizes, and quality of pool pumps. If you don’t know what pump is right for you, then you might get the wrong one, as pool pumps are not a one size fits all product. That is where this guide comes in. We want to arm you with all the information you need to find the best pool pump for your particular circumstances.
How the Pool Pump Works and Why You Need to Know.
When buying a pool pump, it is not enough to just read up on a few pool pumps and then pick the one you like. It is important to have a basic understanding of both how your particular pump works and how pool pumps work in general.
The reason for this is that depending on how your pump works; you may be required to get specialty parts should it break. Also, different pumps may need varying levels of maintenance, should it get damaged, Finding a pump that gives you the most flexibility in the areas which are important to you will greatly affect your experience with the pump you buy.
By knowing how your pump works, you will be able to better understand the differences between the different pumps in this guide and what you will need to do to keep them in working condition for years to come.
In a nutshell, a pool pump works by pulling water through a strainer basket into a diffuser via the impeller. The motor turns the impeller. The pump uses the basket to remove large debris from the water and then creates a high-pressure steam with the impeller to pull water from the basket into the pump and then into a discharge port where the water can then be further filtered, treated with chlorine, etc.
One key feature in the pool pump is the ease of access and cleaning of the debris basket. This basket will get filthy and cluttered often and will need to be cleaned regularly. If you neglect this important part of pool maintenance, you could cause potential damage your pool pump, or at the very least reduces its effectiveness dramatically. Since the debris basket needs to be cleaned regularly, it is important to find a pool pump that will be easy for you to maintain.
The more equipment attached to your water circulation system the more water resistance your pool pump will have to work against and the lower its efficiency will be. This is called “feet of head,” and it is an important factor for you to take into account when installing a pool pump.
It should be noted that these pumps have specialized rubber gaskets which a critical to maintaining proper water pressure in the pump. In many cases, the failure of these gaskets will lead to the failure of the pump as a whole. So when purchasing a pump, it would be wise to buy some spare gaskets as well.
Another important detail that must be mentioned in the event that you have a cartridge type pool filter is the need to put your chlorinator at the end of your pool filtration system. This is because if you put the chlorinator in front of the pool pump or just after the pool pump, but in front of your other filtration components you could damage the pump and the components with the high levels of chlorine.
Finally, it is critical that you get the right size pool pump for your pool. If you get a size that is too small, you will not only wear out your pool pump faster, but your pool will not be properly filtered. You must make sure to get accurate measurements of your pool and of the pool filter you need.
While this may sound obvious, it is often an undervalued and overlooked feature that ends up becoming a very costly mistake. However, if you simply get the biggest pool filter you can buy then you could be wasting lots of money in both the upfront cost of the pool pump and in the energy costs over time. This is why you want to find the correct pool pump size for your pool and then consider getting just one size bigger for good measure.
To summarize, do not get the smallest or the largest pool pump, but the one that will just slightly over-perform for your pool size. You want to get a pool pump that will that can circulate your entire pool within one night or about eight hours.
Different Types of Filters
Generally speaking, there are three main types of filters for your pool pump.
There are Diatomaceous Earth Filters which are considered to be very reliable.
Sand filters which are great if you want a low maintenance solution.
Finally, there are carriage filters, which are easy to clean and energy efficient.
The type of filter you get will affect the performance of your pool pump. Some filters like the sand filter will create higher pressure. Others like the chlorine cartilage filter can damage your equipment of installing incorrectly or in the wrong place. While each filter has its pros and cons, it is best to find a filter that will not put a lot of strain on your pool pump.
Different Types of Pool Pumps
There are three main types of pool pumps single speed, dual speed, and variable speed.
Single speed is the tried and true original type of pool pump. The motor turns the impeller at only one speed when drawing the water into the pump.
Dual speed pool pumps offer you two speeds for the motor to operate on. The high speed is the same as a single speed pump, but the low speed offers you an energy saving option (read these pumps can save you money on energy bills) for when the pool is not being heavily used.
Finally, there is the variable speed pump which allows you to set the speed of the motor yourself based on what works best for your pool and situation. These motors are quieter and cost less money to operate than do the single and dual speed motors. The downside is that they cost more money upfront. However, these motors can make up for their initial high price tag over time.
In addition to the speed of the pump, you should also confirm that the pump you buy will work for your type of pool. Make sure your pump will work for Intex pools, for above ground pools, or for in ground pools.
Generally, you should pick the type of pump which is the most compatible with your pool use, budget, and the environment where your pool is located in (ex: are there a lot of leaves in your area? Dust? Bugs? Indoor pool? Etc.
It is also important that you make sure your pump and filter are compatible. If the pump is too strong, it will have an impact on your filters performance. For example, if you have a sand filter, then a pump that is too strong for the filter could potentially push sand into your pool.
How to Measure Your Pool and Calculate the Right Pool Pump Size.
In order to calculate your pool size and figure out the best pool pump for you, it is necessary to do some simple calculations first. Below is a step by step guide to help you.
Find out the average depth of your pool
- Measure the depth of the deep end of your pool.
- Measure the depth of the shallow end.
- Add these two values together and then divide your answer by two.
This will give you the average depth of your pool which is necessary for the other calculations.
Find a number of gallons in your rectangular pools
Multiply your pools average volume (the average depth) by the number of cubic feet within a given volume (7.48).
To simplify (length X width X average depth X 7.48)
Find the amount of gallons in your circular pools
To find the value for your circular pools multiply the Diameter in feet by itself times the average depth times 5.9
To simplify: Diameter (ft.) x Diameter (ft.) x Average Depth (ft.) x 5.9
Find a number of gallons in your Oval pools
To find the value for your Oval pools, multiple (length X width X average depth X 6.7)
Calculate the flow rate/ GPM (gallons per minute) and turnover rate of your pool
The turnover rate is the amount of time it takes to for the water in your pool to circulate through the filter, and the flow rate is the amount of gallons that flows through your pool pump per minute.
To calculate the flow rate for your pool, take the volume of your pool and divide it by the number of minutes in the number of hours it takes for the all of the water to circulate through your pool filter (turnover rate), this will give you the flow rate for your pool. In our case since we are recommending that you choose a pool pump with an eight-hour turnover rate, you would perform this calculation to get the appropriate flow rate for your pool.
First, calculate the amount of minutes in your turnover rate in hours. We got the number 480 with this equation (60 minutes (in an hour) x 8 hours (or the turnover rate for your pool in hours) = 480 (the amount of minutes in 8 hours) this is your GPM (Gallons per minute rate)
(Volume of your pool) DIVIDED BY 480= your flow rate.
Find the feet of head
The feet of head is the distance between your skimmer (think pool gutter that collects floating debris) and your pool pump. The longer the distance to more friction between the water and the pipes which result in more resistance for your pool pump to overcome? In the event that you have multiple skimmers you must average the distance of all the skimmers to the pool pump, and that number will be your feet of head.
When shopping for a pool filter, you want to find a filter that matches your flow rate and then go just a little bit bigger. This will allow you to find the best pool pump for your pool and account for extra details like the “feet of head” (aka the resistance that the filter faces.) etc.
Now that you have an idea of what to look for when buying a pool pump here is a list of 8 of the top rated pool pumps on the market. Since there are three main types of pool pump (Single Speed, 2 Speed, and Variable Speed), we will be looking at all three categories in order of their speed types to help you find the best pool pump for your unique project or situation.
Best Single Speed Pool Pump
Hayward SP2610X15 Super Pump 1.5-HP Max-Rated Single-Speed Pool Pump
This top rated single speed pool pump for in-ground pools and spas is one of the most recognizable pool pumps on the market; In fact, this pump is frequently used in tutorials to explain the mechanics of pool pumps to people. It is well known for its durability and high performance. The Noryl impeller inside the super pump is very energy efficient and runs at lower horsepower while producing higher flow rates than average allowing you to save money. Furthermore, this pool pump is self-priming because it has a built-in diffuser.
It has a large transparent 110 cubic-inch debris basket which is explicitly designed to require minimum maintenance. It is easy to install and requires no tools to open the strainer, and the strainer itself has no moving parts. The unit’s dimensions are 12.31 x 10 inches, and it weighs 39.2 pounds. The super pump is designed to allow easy access the internal parts in the event you need to perform some maintenance on the motor components. You will get a lot out of this pump for the money you pay for it. It is made out of Perma glass which is able to resist corrosion and allow the engine to perform for many years at top performance.
- The super pump is energy efficient
- This pump is Low maintenance and easy access to internal parts
- This “Hayward Super Pump” in particular is well known for its durability.
- The super pump must be winterized by draining the water from the inside of the pump. While it is easy to access it can damage the pump if you forget to do so as the super pump is designed, to always be full of water.
- While the pump has high performance, it is still limited by its low power motor.
Pentair 340041 SuperFlo High-Performance Single Speed Pool Pump, 2½ Horsepower, 230 Volt, 1 Phase
This Pump is designed to have a minimal footprint on both your life and the environment. It has a clear see through lid to allow you to know at a glance when the debris basket is full. The motor is able to run on 230 volts and produces very little sound. This pool pump is also specially designed to fit into compact spaces. Because the motor can run on such low power, it will suffer less wear and tear over the years, allowing you to get the most out the pump. Because of the high horse, the power of this pump it is ideal for inground pools rather than Intex pools.
Its dimensions are 27.8 x 14.8 x 12.5 inches, and it weighs just 43.8 pounds.
- The Super-Flo is very quite.
- The unit costs little energy to operate and thus can potentially save you money in comparison to an energy hog pool pump.
- It fits in compact spaces so you can better hide unsightly piping.
- The low power motor could mean more limited capabilities.
- Warranty on applies if you have the unit professionally installed.
Best Dual Speed Pool Pump
Hayward SP15932S Power-Flo Matrix 1-1/2-Horsepower 2-Speed Above-Ground Pool Pump
This top rated 2 speed pool pump could be an excellent choice for your above ground pool. With just the push of one button, it can convert from horizontal to a vertical orientation which gives you a lot more flexibility on how and where you set it up around your pool. This pump works for above ground pool, and it works for Intex pools.
This pump comes with an industrial sized strainer basket which allows for longer periods of time to pass before you need to clean it. The Power-Flo Matrix also features energy efficient, but still heavy duty motor that can handle the toughest jobs. The pump is very quiet when it is run at the low-speed setting. Its dimensions are 23 x 10 x 11 inches, and it weighs 4 ounces.
- The Power-Flo Matrix comes with a one-year limited warranty.
- It is easy to adjust from vertical to horizontal orientation.
- The pump is energy efficient while still having some power when used at the higher of the 2 speed settings.
- The Power Flo works with both above ground and Intex pools.
- This pump does not come with a hose to connect to a pool filter.
- If you run the Power-Flo Matrix on low speed, you must keep it constantly running for it to do its job decently.
- While it is one of the top rated above ground pools pumps on the market, I can potentially damage the lining of your Intex pool if you constantly run the pump at it 1.5 horsepower.
- You must make sure that your pump and filter are compatible with this pump may be too powerful for some filters to handle.
Pentair 011486 WhisperFlo High-Performance Energy Efficient Two Speed Full Rated Pump, 1 Horsepower, 230 Volt, 1 Phase
The Whisper Flo is one of the best pool pumps on the market for those who want a silent operation. It uses a specially designed Funnel-Flo diffuser and high-efficiency impeller in allowing for less turbulence within the pump resulting in a much quieter and smoother operation.
It features an oversized strainer basket to reduce the frequency of maintenance, and it uses less horsepower to provide the necessary water flow making it more energy efficient. In fact, the Whisper Flo offers the highest performance of any 2 speed pool pump with less energy consumption. The Whisper Flo was also designed to be heat and corrosion resistant, rust proof and has been built to last a long time. It is highly compatible with most cleaning systems, jet action spas, and many different types of filters. The pump dimensions are 12.2 x 15 inches, and it weighs 47.5 pounds.
- It is very quiet and is, in fact, quieter than most other 2 speed pumps in its class.
- It is specially designed to be very durable.
- It could be limited by its low power motor, (although this pump seems to have managed to overcome its limited motor.
- The limited warranty only applies if you have a professional install the pump.
Best Variable Speed Pool Pump
Hayward SP2302VSP Max-Flo VS Variable-Speed Pool Pump, 230 Volt, Single Phase, Energy Star Certified
The Hayward Maxflo is one of the easiest variable speed pumps to program. It has a built-in time clock which makes setting your pool pump up much easier than with the traditional countdown timer based models. The digital interface also allows the user to read the power consumption of the pump and provides customizable speeds. This top rated pump can be used for both in ground and above ground pools and has a two-way rotatable user interface screen so that you can easily read and program it from different angles. The Max-Flo is also one of the few pumps on the market that allows you to customize the speed, timing and even the priming time. This gives you a lot more options when setting up the pump for your individual needs.
This pump is also energy star certified and is completely compliant with the pool pump industry regulations. The Maxflo is one on the pool pump industries most energy efficient pool pumps. It features advanced permanent magnet, and fan cooled motor for optimal efficiency and durability. The Maxflow has a built in skimmer and has stainless steel shafts to prevent rust from building up. Its dimensions are 24 x 13 x 12 inches, and it weighs just 28 pounds.
- The Maxflo is very energy efficient and quite.
- The pump is easy to program, and it displays its energy usage on a digital screen
- It has a large debris basket.
- Has a lot of customization options, making it the perfect pump whatever your needs.
- Has some electrical wiring that might be difficult to set up if you are inexperienced. (However, it does come with a helpful guide which Hayward claims make the process easier.)
- It must have at least 230 volts to operate.
- The display can be difficult to read in the sun or bright lights.
- Self-install pumps will void the 1-year warranty.
Pentair 342001 SuperFlo VS Variable Speed Pool Pump, 1 1/2 Horsepower, 115/208-230 Volt, 1 Phase – Energy Star Certified
The SuperFlo VS, Variable Speed Pump, is very energy efficient and can save you up to 80% the energy usage that other pumps need to use in order to operate. It has a built-in real time clock with memory that lasts up to 24 hours, and it is easy to program up to 3 different speed settings. The SuperFlo can run on very little power ranging between 110-230 volts while still producing 1.5 horsepower and is incredibly quiet. Its dimensions are 28 x 15.5 x 12.5 inches, and it weighs 52 pounds.
- The pump has a 24-hour real time clock with memory retention capabilities.
- It is easy to program with three programmable speed settings.
- It is simple to install and is very quiet.
- While the pump is advertised as simple to install with a one-year limited warranty, this only applies if you have a professional install it for you. In other words, if you perform the “simple” installation as advertised then this company does not have to honor their one-year limited warranty and instead only honors the warranty for 60 days.
- If purchased through Amazon the 1-year warranty may not apply.
- The pump has in (rare cases) been reported to have failed within a few months. This can be very costly as the warranty is unreliable.
Pentair 011018 IntelliFlo Variable Speed High-Performance Pool Pump
The top rated Pentair Intelliflo is one of the most energy efficient pool pumps on the market. It has an eight-speed setting so that you can customize the pump to your specific needs. Furthermore, by using the exact speed necessary for your pool, you will not only save energy, but your pump and filter can have more time to clean your pool water than they would with a higher than necessary pump speed. The pump can produce up to 90% energy savings compared to some other pool pumps.
The Intelliflo also has built-in diagnostics to help you keep your pump working optimally. This pump is also able to run up to 4 times quieter than other pool pumps on the market. Its dimensions are 28 x 12 x 15 inches, and it weighs 47 pounds.
- The pump is very energy efficient and very quiet.
- It has built-in diagnostics to help keep the pump in working order.
- The one-year limited warranty only applies if you have an authorized and certified installer install the pump for you.
- Replacement parts are very expensive.
- It has been known (in rare cases) to break down after a few years.
Pentair 011017 IntelliFlo VS+SVRS High-Performance Pool Pump with Safety Vacuum Release System, 3 Horsepower, 230 Volt, 1 Phase – Energy Star Certified
The IntelliFlo SVRS is a super quiet pump with the noise it generates just ten decibels or equivalent to a human whisper. It has built-in diagnostics to allow you to gauge the pumps performances while also protecting the pump from common issues that could cause failure.
The IntelliFlo SVRS also has a safety vacuum release system to let the pump shut off automatically if it becomes blocked. It is very energy efficient and allows the user to program up to 4 different pump speeds with just the push of a button. The IntelliFlo SVRS product dimensions are 14.5 x 12.2 x 28.1 inches, and it weighs 48 pounds
- The pump has a built-in diagnostics to help you gauge performance and protect the pump.
- The IntelliFlo SVRS has an auto shut off features to protect the pump from blockages.
- This pump is very easy to program.
- This pump can be used for both above ground and Intex pools.
- The safety vacuum release system (aka the auto shut off system) has sensitivity problems.
- Sometimes it can be very sensitive and can be turned off by the pool cleaners and other minor factors, resulting in your pool pump not pumping the water. Other times when the SVRS (safety vacuum release system) was too insensitive, and it would not shut off properly when it was legitimately blocked.
Whichever pump you choose, we are confident that the pumps on this list will meet your pool needs. While all of the pool pumps on this list are some of the best ones on the market and could be an excellent choice for you, our personal favorite is the Hayward SP2302VSP Max-Flo. This top rated pump is a variable speed, energy efficient, easy to program pool pump. The Max-Flo has a lot of customization options, making it ideal for D.I.Y. projects and self-installations. Thanks to the two-way rotatable digital display you can quickly read and program the pump regardless of the direction you have it facing relative to you. It also has a large transparent lid debris basket, allowing you to spend less time checking and cleaning the pump and more time swimming.