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    Installation of a Multiple or Variable Speed Pool Pump

    December 6, 2012


    In many parts of the country, installing a standard pump motor is illegal. In states such as Florida, California, Texas and Arizona, new or replacement motors are required to be not just energy efficient, but capable of variable or multiple speeds.

    According to a report by the U.S. Department of Energy, swimming pool owners pay an amazing 1.6 Billion in energy costs each year, consuming 14 Billion kilowatt hours!

    The swimming pool pump can be the largest energy hog in the house, which is why smart lawmakers (and pump makers) have designed new pool pumps that can cut the energy usage by 50-70%.

    Benefits of Variable Speed Pool Pumps

    The major benefit to pumps such as the Pentair Intelliflo or the Hayward EcoStar Variable Speed pumps is that they can save over 70% on your electrical bill. These motors dial-in the correct amperage to rotate the motor only as fast as it needs to turn.

    Variable speed pumps are easy to connect, and replace the need for timeclocks and controllers. They are "variable', in that they can operate with a wide range of speeds, and will select the lowest speed possible to keep the pool clean.

    Variable speed pumps gain some of their efficiency from a different motor type. Permanent magnet motors operate quieter and cooler than traditional induction motors, and last longer too!

    Variable speed pumps allow you to add new equipment or water features without having to worry if the pump can handle the additional resistance. Push the reset button, and these smart pumps will sense added resistance, and adjust output to the optimum level.

    Benefits of Multiple Speed Pool Pumps

    They are called multiple speed pumps, because they are not always 2-speed, like the Hayward Superpump, but can be 3-speed, like the Speck EcoM3 pump. These pumps have the benefit of saving up to 50% on your electric bill. This is less than what's possible with a variable speed pump, but does meet new pool pump law mandates in most areas.

    A 2-speed pump is like two motors in one - a high speed of 3450 RPM and a low speed of 1725 RPM. Most people will run a dual speed pump on low speed for most of the day, and run on high speed for only a few hours daily.

    A big advantage to multiple speed pumps is that they can cost half of what a variable speed pump will cost. A trade-off however, comes in the mail, in the form of your electrical bill. Multiple speed pumps do save big over single speed pumps, but can cost nearly twice as much to operate as a variable speed pump.

    If you've never calculated what your existing pool pump is costing you - you may be surprised. Depending on the cost of power in your area, the pump size, and how long you run it each day, you are probably paying between $100 - $250 per month to run an inground pool pump. Shaving 70% off of your bill can equate to hundreds of dollars per year!


    Use Pentair's Energy Savings calculator to see for yourself. Hayward also has a similar online tool to calculate savings from using a Variable Speed Pump.

    Benefits of Energy Efficient Pool Pumps

    energy star logo

    Just about all pumps nowadays are labeled as EE, or energy efficient. Many have the Energy Star logo, or other such insignias of eco-awareness. The motors used today are more energy efficient than they used to be, but still nowhere near the efficiency of a multiple or variable speed pool pump. If you live in a state that is requiring that when you replace your pump, you do so with an energy efficient pump, look into the specifics. In all cases I have seen, you must install either a multiple speed or variable speed pump - not a single speed pump labeled as "energy efficient'. do not get confused and buy the wrong pump!

    Installation of Multiple or Variable Speed Pool Pumps

    Plumbing a new pump in place of an existing pump is no different than for regular pumps.

    • Shut off the power at the breaker box.
    • With a hacksaw or a reciprocating saw, cut the pipes coming in and out of the pump.
    • Remove the back cover plate and remove the power and ground wires.
    • Follow owner's manual to make new wire connections to the new pump.
    • Using new fittings, pipe cleaner and PVC cement, make new connections into the pump.
    • Prime the new pump up with water before testing.
    • Follow owner's manual recommendations for initial set-up, programming and run times.

    Variable speed pumps will bypass an existing time clock or controller set-up, if you have one. Installation of a dual speed pump is a bit more complicated than variable speed pumps. Two speed motors will require a fourth wire, the low speed wire. This needs to come from a switch that can handle the extra wire. This means that you may need to upgrade your time clock or pump switch. This can add a few hundred dollars to the cost of the installing a dual speed pump.

    Multiple and Variable Speed pool pumps just make good sense. Even if your pool is not located in an energy poor state where these pumps are mandated, switching your pump can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year in electrical cost.  

    Chris Low
    SPP Pool Expert  

    Blog Author
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