Buying Guide for the Best Variable Speed Pool Pump
Having a backyard pool comes with significant equipment and maintenance quid pro quos: maintenance, insurance, chemical treatments, and external equipment. Choosing a high quality pump to keep your pool water clean and sparkling is among the most important choices you will make regarding the installation or upkeep of a backyard swimming pool. To conserve energy and keep your cost to operate as low as possible, you will need a variable speed pump that can handle processing the hundreds of gallons of water in your pool without skyrocketing your utility bill. A best variable speed pool pump makes it easier to filter more water using less energy day and night during pool season where you live, providing you with peace of mind. Variable speed pumps also help ensure your pool water’s pH and purity remain within safe levels. Here’s our product reviews and buyer’s guide to help you choose the best variable speed pump for your swimming pool.
What is a Variable Speed Pool Pump?
Here’s the short version: a variable speed pool pump is a water pump that runs at a varying RPMs to increase or decrease the flow rate of water being filtered in your pool, thus reducing your pump’s energy consumption. Varying the speed of your filtration flow rate is the most cost effective way to maintain your pool water without breaking the bank monthly to cover your utility costs.
Top 5 Best Variable Speed Pool Pump - Comparison Chart
1. Pentair IntelliFlo VS Pool Pump
Offering a potential savings of up to 90% compared to traditional dual or single speed pool pumps, the IntelliFlo from Pentair is a standout performer. Not only is this horsepower unit quieter than other variable speed pool pumps, but it also has 8 programmable speed settings with integrated run timers to maximize the efficiency of the pump’s single-phase 230-volt electricity draw while in operation.
Additionally, its built-in diagnostic system keeps it running stronger for longer, and it is fully compatible with EasyTouch, Intellitouch, and SunTouch Pool Control systems for digital pool/spa control systems. This means connecting it to a temperature, lighting, and jet control system is easy right out of the box and combines with other energy-efficient pool appliances seamlessly. Thanks to powerful and intuitive programmable controls and superior versatility, the IntelliFlo is definitely the Cadillac of variable speed pool pumps.
- Control keypad can be rotated for convenient orientation on the pump or wall mounted with relocation kit
- Intuitive, easy to use menu structure for programming and monitoring
- Interfaces perfectly with Pentair automation systems that give you the convenience of Mobile device control
- Totally enclosed fan cooled design for quiet operation and long life, top-mounted field wiring compartment makes access and installation easier
- 8-Programmable speed settings and built in timer
- Powerful motor capable of handling even with high-capacity in-ground pools
- 8-speed programmable flow rate management system
- Compatible with most pool/spa smart home management systems
- All this power and versatility comes with a hefty price tag
- Overkill for above-ground pools
2. Hayward TriStar Pool Pump
With their long established reputation as the first name in pool filtration and water management, Hayward’s Tristar is a beast of a pool pump. Built to last by masters of pool pump design and crafting, the Tristar is the perfect upgrade from an existing single-speed 3 horsepower pump. The motor runs using a permanent magnet combined with totally enclosed fan cooled (TEFC) air cooling. It is also EnergyStar certified, making it potentially eligible for utility rebates from your local electricity provider.
Furthermore, this pump has its own self-contained smart controller that varies flow rate to conserve energy and keep your pool water clean and chemically balanced all season long. Despite the stand-alone flow control, this unit can also be integrated with the existing smart home pool and spa controls or home energy control systems via relay. This means no separate programming for your pool pump if you already have an energy-saving home control system in place. If you are looking for an energy-efficient replacement for your single or dual-speed pool pump on your in-ground pool, the Hayward should definitely be at the top of your list.
- The Hayward TriStar Max-Rated Single-Speed Pool Pump is designed for maximum hydraulic efficiency and superior flow
- Features the industry's most energy-efficient hydraulics that outperforms larger, more expensive pumps
- Heavy-duty, high-performance motor with dynamic airflow runs cooler and lasts longer
- Extra-large, no-rib strainer basket is quick and easy to clean
- The advanced fluid dynamic design creates higher flow rates, saving more energy by using less horsepower
- Massive flow rate capacity supported by a powerful variable speed motor
- Functions as a stand-alone system or as part of an integrated energy control system
- Compatible with most major smart home/energy management systems via relay
- Definitely overkill for use with an above-ground pool
- Noisier than comparable models
- The price point is significantly higher than many models in its class with similar features
3. Pentair SuperFlo VS Variable Speed Pool Pump
Potentially one of the top rated variable speed pool pumps on the market, the Pentair SuperFlo VS can be power via 110 or 220 Volt AC power sources and is Energy Star certified. Saving on energy costs is a prime concern for most swimming pool owners, and the SuperFlo VS definitely delivers in that category. Suitable for any pool capacity requiring a 1.5 HP pump, the SuperFlo makes a great upgrade or replacement for an above ground pool.
Additionally, the SuperFlo functions on both 110-volt and 220-volt power systems, providing you with two power connection options that are not standard on most pool pump electrical connections. To program the pump, all you need to do is access the intuitive UI and set up the 24-hour clock with memory retention and set up the times of day when you want the pump to run. There are three flow speed settings and an override mode for when the pool is going to see more activity and you want to ensure your water quality is maintained at the highest level. Best of all, the savings on your utility bill easily recoup the cost of your Pentair SuperFlo. For above-ground pool owners, you simply won’t find a more energy-efficient or easy-to-program pump at this price point.
- Variable speed pump with 115-230V and 50/60 Hz single phase capability
- For most installations, it is recommended to install a valve on both the pump suction and return lines so that the pump can be isolated during routine maintenance
- Variable speed technology costs significantly less to operate. Savings based on variable speed pump compared to a single-speed pump running 12 hours per day at an average of $0.16 per kWh in a 20, 000 gallon
- High efficiency pump with 1.5 HP motor
- Three-speeds with an easy to program timer system
- Connects to both 110-volt and 220-volt electrical systems
- Not suitable for large in-ground pools
- Noisier than comparable models
- Fewer operating speeds than other models in its class
4. Harris ProForce Inground Pool Pump
Need a more cost effective solution for upgrading or replacing your pool pump? Harris ProForce 1.5 HP may be just what you need. It’s a no frills model built from high-end materials, and it runs on both 110-volt or 220-volt home electrical current systems. The motor’s drive shaft is stainless steel, and the pump chassis is constructed of thermoplastic with carborundum and graphite seals to ensure leak-free operation.
The three flow speeds must be set manually, and the unit does not have a control/timer system, but you can easily add a 110/220-volt electrical timer switch inline to cut down on your energy usage. It is important to note this is a budget option for a variable speed pool pump, and as with most appliances and other home products you get what you pay for. The Harris ProForce runs great and should last a long time, but it cannot match the performance of many other variable speed pumps.
- Stainless steel 1.5 HP motor shaft is constructed with a reinforced thermoplastic body for longer life and durability, with carborundum and graphite mechanical seals and components
- Advanced engineering provides high efficiency and minimal noise
- Meets or exceeds all CSA and ETL requirements
- 115/220 Volts, has 2 inch union connections for both suction and discharge ports, have a convenient drain plug
- Less expensive than most variable speed pool pumps
- Three manually controlled flow speeds
- Runs on 110-volt or 220-volt current
- Not EnergyStar certified
- Does not come with an automatic flow management system
- Only three flow rates available
5. Hayward MaxFlo VS Variable-Speed Pool Pump
This pump is built as an economical way to install a variable speed, EnergyStar certified pool pump without needing to take out a second mortgage on your home. The permanent magnet motor is surprisingly quiet considering its power output, and it can be programmed for three different speeds on a 24-hour timer using the integrated touchscreen control.
Additionally, the motor housing is completely sealed with a self-enclosed fan cooling system, protecting it from wear and tear due to weather and other outdoor factors that can shorten the life of your pool pump motor.
The best part about the Splash Pumps VS 1.5 HP though is it more than pays for itself by lowering your utility bills in just one summer. If you are looking to install a variable speed pool pump to save money without spending a fortune, this pump should definitely be one of your top picks.
Check Out Top Livewell Pump
- The Hayward MaxFlo VS Variable-Speed 1.65 HP, 230V Pool Pump is the most efficient pump of its kind, according to EPA ENERGY STAR third-party testing, and maybe eligible for local utility rebates
- Can save up to 80% on energy costs, paying for itself faster than larger, more expensive models
- Permanent magnet, totally enclosed fan-cooled (TEFC) motor delivers maximum energy efficiency and reliability
- Simple drop-in upgrade that can operate in standalone mode or connect to any automation system (either directly or with relays)
- Advanced hydraulic design offers incredibly quiet operation compared to single-speed pumps, especially at lower speeds
- Power source type: Corded Electric
- Excellent cost-to-value ratio
- Pays for itself within one summer season of use thanks to its superior energy efficiency
- Sealed self-cooling motor housing ensures a longer lifespan
- Not suitable for larger in-ground pools
- Does not integrate with other energy saving home control systems
- Only has 220-volt power connection
How To Choose the Best Variable Speed Pool Pump for Your Pool
Here are the features and specs to examine closely before buying a Best Variable Speed Pool Pump for your swimming pool:
Rate of Flow
Measured in gallons per minute, this specification tells you how much water your pump can run through itself in a given amount of time. The water in your pool needs to be completely recirculated through the filter within a set number of hours called the turnover time (typically 8-10 hours). If the minimum flow rate of your prospective pump can’t process all the water in the pool within that timetable, it’s not going to maintain your water quality at an acceptable level. Use your pool capacity to do that math on that before buying a variable speed pump.
Pool plumbing is standardized, but each pool may use a different standard size ranging from 1.5-inch to 3-inch pipes. Make sure you won’t need to adapt the diameter of your pool plumbing to your variable speed pump intake and output ports.
Typically measured in feet of head or feet of resistance, the head is how much flow resistance your pool’s pipes are going to create. Higher resistance means the flow rates of your pump can be significantly altered by your pool’s head rating, so make sure you know what the total head rating for all your pipes, valves, and fittings is extremely important to installing the right pump and keeping it running longer with lower energy use.
If you are choosing between what seem like two identical pumps with ideal features, buy the one with the longer warranty even if it costs more. Variable speed pumps often have complex onboard switching systems that can be more prone to failure over time, and that added expense will more than pay for itself if you experience a pump failure and need to have it replaced or repaired within the first three years.
Installation and Operation
Focus on getting a variable speed pump you can install and operate yourself. Professional pool maintenance can be expensive, so you want to make certain you can do the work/maintenance/repairs yourself if you are trying to maximize the cost-to-value ratio on your variable speed pool pump.
Horsepower and Voltage Draw Requirements
Pools have specific motor horsepower demands determined by their head resistance and capacity, so make sure that you get a pool pump with enough “oomph” to keep your water filtered and flowing efficiently. Additionally, most homes have plenty of 110-volt power lines running throughout the structure, but may have only one or two 220-volt power lines other than for the oven and the dryer. Some variable speed pumps are only compatible with 220-volt systems, so make sure you can tap a 220-volt line easily to hook it up. Otherwise, you could be looking at an expensive additional installation cost to run an additional electrical line from your house or power terminal box.
Who Needs the Best Variable Speed Pool Pump?
Any homeowner with an above-ground or in-ground pool needs to consider purchasing a variable speed pump to reduce their utility costs to run their pool and ensure their water quality is maintained at the highest level. Using a single or dual speed pool pump costs you more money and can lead to water quality problems if you are only able to run it for a few hours at a time.
My pick for the best variable speed pool pump is the Pentair SuperFlo 1.5 HP. It has the features and versatility for use with other energy management systems around your home, but can also be programmed and run in standalone mode. It is compatible with most above ground and in-ground pools, and it has an outstanding reputation for longevity and durability. Get a Pentair SuperFlo, save money on your utility bills, and never worry about maintaining clean, well filtered water in your pool ever again.