Finding the Best Swimming Pool Pump in 2023
Summer’s just around the corner and you know what that means. Hot weather. In some parts of the country, it can even be scorching, with the temperature climbing to stratospheric levels. During such days, a dip in the pool will be a welcome relief. Imagine this. There you are, cold drink in hand, with the water driving away the summer heat.
But before you dive in, there’s one crucial thing you need to consider – your pool pump. And not just any pool pump, mind you, but a high-quality one. This equipment is essential as it helps to circulate the water, keeping it clean, clear, and safe to swim in.
What kind of pool pump will you need? So many types exist and some may not fit the kind of swimming pool you have. With so many options out there, we understand how it can be tough to choose the right pool pump. So we’re here to lend a hand. Let’s swim through the details and find out how to pick the best pump so you can make the most of your pool this summer.
What is a Pool Pump?
A pool pump is an essential piece of equipment to keep your pool water clean and crystal clear. It’s basically the heart of your swimming pool’s plumbing system and is responsible for circulating the water through the filtration system.
Think of it like a giant vacuum cleaner that sucks in the pool water and sends it through a series of filters to remove dirt, debris, and other unwanted particles. After cleaning the water, the pump sends it back to the swimming pool for you to enjoy.
Without this pool equipment, your swimming hole would quickly become dirty and uninviting. So, if you’re a pool owner, you’ll need to get the best pool pump to keep the water sparkling clean.
Components of a Pool Pump
Let’s look at its components to better understand how a pool pump works. Most pool pumps have 3 basic parts. These are the motor, housing, and impeller. These work together to ensure that the pool water is always swim-ready. Understanding what these parts are and what they do is vital for the proper maintenance of your pump.
One of the key components of a pool pump, the motor is what gets everything moving. It’s the equipment’s driving force, and without it, pool pumps won’t run. The motor draws electricity from your home’s power supply and uses it to turn the impeller, which is the part that pulls the water in and pushes it through the filter.
Most pool pump motors run on electricity and come in various sizes and power levels. The single-speed pump is the most common, but variable-speed pumps are becoming more popular because they’re more energy efficient.
The size and type of motor you need depend on the size of your swimming pool and how often you intend to use the pump. If you have a big pool or plan to run the pump often, you’ll need a bigger motor with more horsepower.
This is another pool pump component that plays a significant role in keeping your swimming hole clean. The housing is the outer shell of pool pumps and is the largest part of the equipment. They’re that circle-oval or circle-rectangle portion that encloses all of the inner parts of pool pumps. This is also where you adjust the speed.
One of the main functions of the housing is to protect the motor and other internal components from water damage. As you can imagine, a pool pump operates in a pretty wet environment, so it’s crucial that the motor stays dry. The housing helps to create a barrier between the water and the motor, which can prevent damage and prolong the life of the pump.
To better protect the motor, the pool pump housing is made of durable and lightweight material that holds up well against the elements and water pressure. Currently, a high-impact plastic composite called Noryl is the standard material used.
The impeller is the only moving part of a pool pump. It is a small rotor or a fan-like device that spins at extremely high speed inside the housing. The high-velocity rotation pulls the water in and forces it through the filter. This creates the circulation that cleans the water.
Nicknamed “the water wheel,” it looks like two discs glued together with a ring that attaches to the pool pump motor. The front disc has an opening that concentrates the churning force towards the suction pipe leading to the pool. As a result, water is drawn in through the impeller’s face and ejected through its slotted sides.
Impellers are usually made of durable materials like plastic or metal, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the type and size of the pump. Some impellers have curved blades, while others have straight ones, but all serve the same purpose of moving water through the pump.
Types of Pool Pump
Pool pumps are the critical components of your pool’s circulation system. They create the water flow that disperses the chemicals evenly throughout the swimming pool, sanitizing the water. They also move dirt and debris through the plumbing system and out of your pool.
Several types of pool pumps exist in the market, each with specific benefits and drawbacks. What kind you get often depends on several factors, including the size and type of pool you have. You’ll need to keep these factors in mind when you make and narrow down your list of the best pool pumps.
Let’s look at the differences between each kind to determine which will suit you best.
In the past, pool owners only had one choice of pool pump, the single-speed pump. Well, it gets the job done of pumping the water through the system, and it does so using only one constant speed.
Single-speed pumps are still available nowadays. They’re usually the most basic and affordable option, and they’re great for smaller pools or those with simpler circulation needs. The thing is, while the initial price of single-speed pumps is quite appealing, they’re expensive to operate. Their motor runs at a whopping 34,000 revolutions per minute (RPM), which consumes a lot of electricity that can hike your energy costs.
A single-speed pool pump uses the same amount of energy even if you don’t need that much power to keep the pool water clean. This can lead to higher electricity bills and put a strain on your pool’s plumbing and equipment. As such, a single-speed pump isn’t considered an energy-efficient option as far as pool pumps go.
In contrast with single-speed pumps that run only on one speed, you have a choice of 2 speeds with a dual-speed pool pump. The first speed is a lower, energy-efficient setting that’s perfect for when you just need to circulate water or run your pool cleaner. The second speed is a higher setting for tasks like vacuuming your pool or running water features.
So why is this type better than a single-speed pump? Well, when you’re just running your pool for basic circulation, you don’t need to use as much energy as you would for more intensive tasks like vacuuming. Using the lower speed saves you a lot of money on your energy bills. And when you do need to use the higher speed, you’ll still have that option available.
Moreover, because you’re not constantly running your pump at the highest speed, you’ll put less wear and tear on your system, which can extend the life of your pool equipment. This feature isn’t available with a single-speed pool pump that comes with only one speed setting.
A variable-speed pool pump is another excellent option for your pool maintenance needs. It will likely make it on your list of the best pool pumps even though it has a higher sticker price than other types of pool pumps.
Variable-speed pool pumps work almost the same way as their dual-speed counterparts. That is, you can change their speed setting based on your needs. However, variable-speed pumps can operate at a wide range of speeds instead of just two. This gives you more control over how much energy your pump uses, and you can adjust it based on your pool’s specific needs.
By running your variable-speed pool pump at a lower speed for longer periods, you can save a ton of energy compared to a traditional single-speed pump. And when you do need more power for things like cleaning or water features, you can ramp up the speed temporarily and then go back to a lower speed once you’re done.
Their energy efficiency makes variable-speed pool pumps superior to single and dual-speed pumps if you aim to save money. That’s even if they’re more expensive than a dual-speed and single-speed pool pump.
Important Features to Consider Before Buying a Pool Pump
If you’re in the market for a new pool pump, you’ll need to ensure you get the right one for your specific pool needs. Whether you intend to get a single, dual, or variable-speed pool pump, choosing the wrong one could cost you more money and frustration down the road. So let’s look at some key features to keep in mind when you go through your list of the best pool pumps.
Inground or Above Ground
The type of pool you have will influence the pump features you should consider. Inground pools typically require self-priming pumps as the equipment sits above the waterline. Meanwhile, above-ground pools can use pumps that aren’t self-priming, as the pump can rely on gravity to draw the water from the pool.
The flow rate of inground and above-ground pumps also differ. Inground pumps have flow rates that reach about 75-150 gallons per minute. Meanwhile, their above-ground counterparts can achieve flow rates of 30-60 gallons per minute.
There’s a right pool pump for each type of pool, so knowing the kind you have can help ensure you pick the equipment that will work best for your pool.
Horsepower refers to the power output of a pool pump’s motor. The higher the horsepower, the more powerful the pump. The pump’s horsepower is critical because a powerful pump can circulate the water through the pool filter system faster, thus keeping the water clean and clear.
However, bigger is not always better. As a general rule, pool owners should aim for a pump with a horsepower rating that’s right for the pool’s size. For example, those with small above-ground pools might get away with a pump with a lower horsepower rating.
Take note that higher horsepower pumps can hike your energy costs as they consume more electricity. So, while it’s important to choose a pump with a horsepower rating that’s appropriate for your pool, you’ll also want to consider factors like energy efficiency and overall operating costs when making your decision.
The turnover rate refers to the time it takes for the pump to circulate all the water in your pool. A high turnover rate means your pool is getting better circulation, a critical factor in keeping the water clean. Meanwhile, a low turnover rate can make the water look cloudy or murky. Thus, the need for a pool pump with a turnover rate that’s right for your pool.
Like the pump’s horsepower, the turnover rate depends on several factors, which include the volume of the pool, shape, and type. Considering these factors might mean investing in a more powerful pump or selecting a model specifically designed for larger pools.
The pump speed determines how fast the pump can circulate water through your pool. This is important because it affects things like the cleanliness of your pool water, as well as your energy expenses.
Pumps come in various types and with different speed settings. Single-speed pumps are the traditional and more affordable options. However, they operate only at one speed. This can be a disadvantage because it means they use the same amount of energy all the time. That’s even if your pool doesn’t need as much circulation at certain times.
Meanwhile, variable speed pumps allow more flexibility as they allow you to adjust the speed depending on your pool’s needs. For example, you might run the pump at a higher speed during the day when people are using the pool and then turn it down to a lower speed at night when the pool is not in use. This can help you save energy without sacrificing the cleanliness of the water.
The pump’s mounting refers to how the pump is secured and installed in swimming pools. Whether you have a single-speed or variable-speed pool pump, a good housing mount helps ensure that the equipment is stable and won’t vibrate excessively during operation, which can lead to potential damage over time.
In general, you have 2 options when it comes to the pump mounting: top-mounted and side-mounted. Top-mounted pumps are installed on top of the pool filter tank, while side-mounted pumps are seated next to the filter tank.
The former are usually easier to install and maintain because they’re more accessible. They’re also typically more affordable. On the other hand, side-mounted pumps are more compact, which can be an important consideration for those with space constraints in the pool area.
No matter which type of pump mounting you opt for, make sure it’s done correctly. Improper pump mounting can lead to leaks, and poor performance, and may even damage your pool system. Also, look for a pump with a sturdy and secure mounting system to ensure it will operate efficiently and last many years.
Most pool pumps run on either 110 volts or 220 volts. A 110-volt motor is usually sufficient for small to medium-sized pools, while a 220-volt motor is better suited for larger pools or those with more complex filtration systems.
Aside from determining the voltage, check if the pump requires a hardwired connection to your electrical system or can be connected through an outlet.
Above-ground pools typically require 110-volt pumps. However, you must identify the specific voltage requirement on inground pools.
How to Choose the Right Pump Size for Your Pool?
Choosing the right pool pump may seem daunting due to the number of options. There are single-speed and variable-speed pumps. Each has various features that offer advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, the list of the best pool pumps looks endless, which adds to the confusion.
Still, knowing what to consider can simplify the selection process. One vital factor to keep in mind is the pump size. Some pool owners assume that bigger is better and get the biggest pump they can afford. That’s not usually the case, though; installing one over your pool size capacity can lead to heavier power expenses.
On the other hand, a pump that’s too small can make your pool water prone to algae infestation because the water won’t be thoroughly filtered and circulated.
Here are the steps to determine the right pump size.
Calculate the pool volume
If you know how many gallons of water your pool holds, you can easily estimate the volume of the pool. The formula requires the depth measurement of the swimming pool so be prepared to get wet.
The average depth is the same throughout if the pool has a flat, level floor. Meanwhile, if you have a sloped inground pool with a shallow and deep end, you’ll need to measure the depth of both ends to get the average depth.
The formula is:
Deep End + Shallow End ÷ 2 = Average Depth
- For square or rectangular swimming pools
Length x Width x Depth x 7.5 = Pool Volume (Gallons)
- For round or circular swimming pools
3.14 × Radius2 × Depth x 7.5 = Pool Volume (Gallons)
- Oval or rounded swimming pools
3.14 x Length x Width x 0.25 x Depth x 7.5 = Pool Volume (Gallons)
Determine the gallons per hour (GPH)
To determine the gallons per hour that need to go through the filter, divide the pool volume by 8. However, most pool pumps go by gallons per minute instead of gallons per hour (GPH), so you’ll need to divide the GPH by 60.
Here’s the formula.
Total Pool Volume ÷ 8 = GPH
GPH ÷ 60 = GPM
Find the pump size that meets the requirements of your pool
Once you’ve determined the pool size and the gallons per hour, you can choose the pump that meets the criteria required to turn over the water in eight hours. You can get a pump that pumps a bit more than your pool’s requirement but doesn’t go for one that’s below the necessary gallons per minute.
Most Common Pool Pump Problems
Nothing lasts forever, most certainly pool pumps. Being mechanical devices, they’ll break down or have some issues somewhere down the line. Sometimes, replacing the unit is the best option, while there would be instances when fixing the issue won’t involve too much expense.
Let’s see what problems you can expect and what fixes will work for them.
Even the best pool pumps can get leaky when some components fail. The common causes for this problem include shrunken threads on the discharge pipe, a faulty impeller housing O-ring, and defective thread sealant or shaft seal.
The good news is that these parts can be easily replaced and won’t entail high costs. You’ll simply need to determine which part failed, take the equipment apart, replace the defective component, and your pump will be as good as new.
Failure to Pull Water
Several reasons can prevent the pump from drawing water in, with a clog in the system being the most common. To confirm if this is the cause, check the skimmer, pump baskets, and filter for debris build-up. Next, examine the impeller to find out if the litter is impeding its movement.
Air leaks in the suction system will also prevent the pump from pulling water in. Because air has less mass than water, the pump will suck in air instead of water.
Open the pump, clear away debris or litter, and patch any leaks in the line to get the equipment working again.
Pump Motor Won’t Start
This can happen for several reasons, but one of the most common culprits is a tripped breaker. If your pump won’t turn on, check your circuit breaker to ensure it hasn’t tripped. If it has, simply reset it and try turning the pump on again.
If this fix didn’t work, it’s likely an electrical issue. In this case, you might have to replace the motor. If you have zero knowledge when it comes to electricity, calling in a licensed professional is the best option.
Pump Motor Spontaneously Turns Off
Overheating is one of the common causes of a motor pump turning off. Check the air vents to determine if something’s blocking the airflow. Also, listen to humming or clicking sounds. If the motor hums without starting, it could indicate a capacitor issue.
Another possible cause is a clogged pump basket or filter. If there’s too much debris blocking the flow of water, the pump might shut off to prevent damage. Try cleaning out the basket and filter and see if that helps.
Also, some pool pumps have a safety feature that automatically shuts off the motor after a certain amount of time. This is usually to prevent damage from overheating. If your pump has this feature, it might be kicking in too soon. You can adjust the timer or disable the feature altogether if you think that’s the problem.
Pump Motor Noise
Although all pump motors create some noise, it’s a different story if yours makes a racket that’s unlike what it usually produces during its normal operation. Sometimes, the cause is something simple, like a unit that’s not seated correctly on its base. Check the pump’s position and try placing a rubber mat to reduce the vibration.
Other possible reasons worth checking are cavitation, which occurs when the pump isn’t getting enough water, a clogged filter, and bearing wear.
Top Inground Pool Pumps Today
The best pumps will keep your pool water sparkling clean while also being energy-efficient and long-lasting. So whether you’re looking for single-speed or variable-speed pumps, you’ll need to research to find the one that suits your needs.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the top options on the market today.
Hayward Super Pump
One of Hayward’s single-speed pumps, the Hayward Super Pump works best for inground swimming pools. It comes in 1.5 and 2.5 HP models and is built to last. That won’t be a surprise for those who know the Hayward brand.
The Hayward Super Pump boasts a large strainer basket, a strainer cover that lets you quickly check the basket, a heat-resistant ceramic seal, and a corrosion-proof impeller.
It may not be as easy on the pocket as other single-speed pool pumps but if you want a long-lasting model, the Hayward Super Pump fits the bill.
Hayward Dual-Speed Super Pump
Like the single-speed Hayward Super Pump, this dual-speed model is an excellent choice for inground pools. Because it offers you a selection of speeds, it can lead to energy savings without compromising the water’s cleanliness.
The high-speed setting equals the flow rate of a single-speed pump. Meanwhile, the low speed has a reduced flow rate and works best for longer run times.
Other features of this model that also comes in a 2HP version include an extra-large debris basket, swing-away knobs for easy draining, and four-bolt access to the pump’s interior. And did we mention that it’s Energy Star certified?
Pentair IntelliFlo Variable Speed Pool Pump
If you want energy savings, look for Energy Star-certified pumps. The Pentair Intelliflo Variable Speed pump is just that, an energy-efficient pump that comes with the Energy Star label.
The features that come with this model give you tons of flexibility. Consider the following: 8 different pre-programmed speed settings and a timer that schedules water circulation.
The Pentair Intelliflo variable-speed pump can handle various inground pool sizes. Moreover, it has an enclosed motor that offers quiet operation and a longer life span. And because it’s Energy Star certified, you’ll surely see some savings on your energy costs.
Hayward – TriStar VS
This one tops the list of the most energy-efficient pumps, according to Energy Star data. That’s as far as inground pools are concerned. This variable speed pump lets you save up to 90% on energy costs (roughly around $1500 a year).
The unit’s totally enclosed fan-cooled (TEFC) motor offers maximum efficiency and exceptionally quiet operation compared to other single-speed and variable-speed pumps. What’s more, the Hayward – TriStar VS variable speed pump is fully programmable, has universal compatibility, and comes with a large strainer basket.
Since this model is Energy Star certified, you’re assured that operating it won’t dramatically hike your power expenses.
Top Above Ground Pool Pumps Today
Above-ground pools often have different requirements than inground types when it comes to keeping the water clean. Fortunately, several single and variable-speed pumps on the market work well with above-ground pools making it easy to find the right one for your needs. If you’re looking for models with the Energy Star certification, we have those on the list as well.
Here are some of the best pumps for above-ground pools.
Hayward W3SP1580X15 PowerFlo Pool Pump for Above Ground Pools
The Hayward PowerFlo LX Single-Speed works for both an inground and above-ground pool with its heavy-duty motor that delivers proven performance. It has a stainless steel shaft and automatic thermal overload protector for maintenance-free operation. With its exclusive corrosion-proof PermaGlass XL™ housing, this model can handle any weather.
The Hayward PowerFlo LX is easy to use, offers maximum efficiency, and you won’t have trouble looking for readily available replacement parts.
Intex Krystal Klear Filter Pump
Another excellent option for your above-ground pool is the Intex Krystal Clear Filter Pump. With a maximum flow rate of 1,000 gallons per hour and a system flow rate of 750 gallons per hour, this pump can keep the water of above-ground swimming pools crystal clear. Also, its built-in timer lets you set when the pump runs.
Operating the Intex Krystal Klear Filter Pump is a breeze with its easy-to-access air release valve for fast priming. When it comes to maintaining this filtration pump, just rinse or swap the cartridge occasionally to keep it in top condition.
Hayward – SP1580X15VSP
This model from Hayward is one of the most energy-efficient pumps that will surely keep your pool clean. It’s a high-performance pump that suits above-ground swimming pools exceptionally well. And it’s an Energy Star label model to boot.
Consider these features: high-performance impeller, corrosion-proof housing, and heat-resistant double-sized seal. The Hayward SP1580X15VSP variable speed pump is 100% drip-proof, as well. What’s more, this above-ground pool pump doesn’t create a racket while it works to keep your pool clean.
Jandy FloPro 1.65 HP Variable Speed Pump
This model is suitable as a filtration pump for an above-ground pool with no specific flow requirements. However, using it is one of the best ways to save on energy costs because this above-ground pool pump features a motor design that reduces electricity consumption.
The Jandy FloPro variable speed pump also boasts an innovative adjustable base for simple installation. Meanwhile, its totally enclosed fan-cooled motor leads to extended motor life and quieter and cooler operation.
How Many Years Do Pool Pumps Last?
The answer to that question isn’t exactly straightforward, as pool pumps can vary significantly in terms of quality and price. Generally speaking, the cheaper the pump, the less durable it will be. On average, a decent-quality pool pump can last anywhere from 8 to 15 years. The lifespan depends on several factors, such as how often you use your pool, how well you maintain your pump, and even where you live.
Is a Higher HP Pool Pump Better?
The short answer is it depends. A higher horsepower in a pool pump means the pump can turn the water over faster. This works well if you have a larger pool or want to circulate the water more quickly. However, a higher HP pump means higher energy costs and can create more pressure in your pool’s plumbing system. So it’s important to keep the pool size and your needs in mind when choosing a pool pump instead of only looking at its horsepower.
Is a Bigger Pump Better for a Pool?
Bigger isn’t always better. That’s as far as pool pumps are concerned. Sure, a larger pump may be able to move more water through your pool’s filtration system, but it can create problems, too. For example, a pump that’s too big for your pool can create excessive flow that can damage your pool’s plumbing and equipment. A larger pump also requires more electricity to run, which can hike your electricity bills. Ultimately, the size of your pool pump should be based on your pool’s specific needs. For this, your best option is to consult a professional to determine the right size pump for you.
Is it OK to Run Pool Pump All Day?
Pool pumps can run all day. However, it’s not necessary to keep yours operating 24/7. How long you run it depends on some factors, such as the size of your pool and how often you use it. If you have a small pool, running the pump all day may not be necessary. However, if you have a larger pool or one that gets a lot of use, running the pump for longer periods may be beneficial in keeping the water clean and clear. In general, keeping the pump on for 12 hours is a good option.
Most inground or above-ground pool owners who aim to save on their energy bills go for Energy Star-rated pool pumps. So if you’re in the market for a new pool pump, the Energy Star seal guarantees you’re getting an efficient model.
Another factor to consider in your choice of pump is the size of your pool, as larger pools need a large pump (one with more HP). How often you use the pool and its type will also affect the kind of pump you need.
Most variable speed pumps in the market rate well in efficiency. Researching the brand and model will give you an idea if it’s the kind that will fit your requirements and budget.