Frustrated with big electricity bills from your backyard pool? Replace your standard pool pump with one of our favorite cost-saving variable speed pool pumps.
Your backyard pool is a haven of enjoyment and pleasure.
But you know what isn’t such a good time?
The energy bills that your in-ground or above-ground swimming pool can churn up over the months of splashing and swimming.
Most pool pumps work at two speeds: on and off. This means that the pump runs at full tilt no matter how high or low the water pressure, which is an inefficient way to circulate water.
It can become hard to enjoy your pool with the constant whine of the pump and the surging energy costs.
Variable speed pumps, using a pressure sensor or through programmable settings, run at a speed appropriate to the water pressure, resulting in big savings in energy and reducing general wear and tear on the pool pump. Additionally, the tech used in variable speed pumps tends to make them more durable.
The upfront cost for a variable speed pump is more, but in the long run, most pool owners will save a considerable amount of money in electricity bills, get more enjoyment from their pool, and spend less money on pool maintenance.
Here is a breakdown of our favorite variable speed pumps for your backyard pool.
Pentair IntelliFlo3 Variable Speed High-Performance Pool Pump
⭐ Best overall variable speed pool pump
Quiet, powerful, and highly programmable, the Pentair IntelliFlo3 is our top pick for the best variable speed pool pumps. The pump hums along at a sound level as low as 45-decibels, making it much quieter than your typical pool pump, and runs the motor according to the pressure needs of your pool.
A totally-enclosed fan-cooled 3.0 HP motor (TEFC—something you will be seeing a lot of in this list of pumps) ensures that the pump does its thing in silence and is protected from the elements.
The IntelliFlo recently got a makeover and some upgrades with the IntelliFlo3. New features include an app (it’s free) that pairs with the pump, giving you up-to-date stats on the performance of the pump. The drive and hydraulics in the motor have also been updated to be even more energy efficient.
The IntelliFlo3 also comes with an optional touchscreen for an added touch of tech flair.
Add that to the energy savings, with Pentair estimates that can be as high as 90%, and you’ve got a powerhouse pump that is quiet and saves you heaps of money.
Pentair SuperFlo Variable Speed Pool Pump
⭐ Best entry-level variable speed pump
Another entry on the list of our favorite variable speed pool pumps comes from Pentair, with the SuperFlo model. This bad boy is not only quiet and energy-efficient, when installed it will adapt to 115V or 230V power on its own.
The SuperFlo moves water more efficiently at lower speeds compared to traditional pool pumps, making it an excellent choice for pools that require a pump that works up to 1.5HP.
A digital display makes programming, monitoring and operation of the pump simple. You can choose from three-speed settings or use the override setting to match the pump up to the specific requirements of your pool. The top of strainer lid is also see-through, so you can easily see if the skimmer basket requires emptying.
Customizable, quiet, easy to install, and hilariously efficient, the Pentair SuperFlo is a total beast despite it being an entry-level variable speed pump.
Hayward PowerFlo Matrix Dual-Speed Above-Ground Pool Pump
⭐ Best variable speed pump for above-ground pools
Hayward is one of the gold standards when it comes to backyard pool equipment, and the PowerFlo Matrix Dual-Speed is our favorite dual-speed pump for above ground swimming pools.
The dual-speed, high-performance motor is a monster at not only keeping your pool clean but reducing the amount of energy your pump chews up while in operation. The strainer is extra-large, which makes emptying pool debris a less common task, and the discharge can be converted with ease from horizontal to vertical by quickly pressing a button.
Hayward offers the MPowerFlo Matrix with either a 1 or 1.5 horsepower motor
The intake and discharge connections are easy to connect, making adding the pump to your above-ground swimming pool a breeze.
Hayward MaxFlo Variable Speed Pool Pump
Hayward’s MaxFlo Variable Pump is rated as one of the most efficient of its kind according to third-party testing, and with their industry-leading design and performance, it’s hardly a surprise to see why.
The TEFC drops maximum pump performance and motor longevity, and the Hayward MaxFlo unit is available in 115V and 230V models. The pump is designed primarily for in-ground swimming pools and will keep coming back year after year, delivering quiet, energy-efficient performance.
The hydraulic design of the motor, which pumps out 1.65 HP, gives it an advantage when it comes to operating in stealth mode compared to traditional single-speed pumps, saving you money and also reducing the noise footprint in your backyard.
Sta-Rite IntelliPro Variable Speed Pool Pump
One of the first variable speed pumps to come on the scene, the Sta-Rite IntelliPro has been getting high praise from day one from pool owners and pool professionals. With a reduced energy footprint, whisper-quiet operation, and real-time adjustment to your pool’s pressure needs, the IntelliPro continues to live up to those early reviews.
A magnet motor, the same that you will find under the hood of electric-hybrid vehicles, provides efficient operation. The TEFC is longer lasting and more durable than traditional pool pumps.
Add this to the built-in self-diagnostics that protect the pump from excessive wear and tear, and you have an exceptional variable speed pool pump in the Sta-Rite IntelliPro.
Hayward TriStar Variable Speed Pump
The Hayward TriStar Variable Speed Pump comes in two different levels of awesomeness, making it adaptable to varying pool sizes, with models of 1.85 and 2.7 HP. The pump is ideal for medium to large backyard pools.
With a completely programmable interface, it can be mounted on four different positions for ease of access and viewing, ideal for the pool owner who wants to manage pump pressure on the fly.
The permanent magnet, TEFC motor delivers massive energy savings while providing quiet performance day over day.
Installation and retrofitting is made simple with two pump-base options, and the TriStar Variable Speed Pump is straight-forward to maintain thanks to CPVC union connections.
The Hayward TriStar Variable Speed Pump is a powerful pump for medium to large backyard pools, and combined with Hayward’s industry-leading performance, you will have a pump that gives you the energy savings of a VS pump along with the exceptional durability of a Hayward machine.
How do I choose the right variable speed pump for my pool?
This is obviously hard to say, as pools can vary in a range of categories, from pool volume to plumbing size.
There are two main things to keep in mind when narrowing down the pumps you are looking at.
Match the flow rate of your pool filter.
I think it’s just human nature to go extra big when it comes to power. But there are times when too much power causes you more problems than they solve.
Your pool filter has a flow rating, indicating the maximum amount of water that can be pumped through it. Check the flow rate with your filter, as this will help thin the crowd of pumps that will work with your pool and ensure that both are running at optimal levels.
A variable speed pump that is too powerful for your swimming pool can cause a lot of strain on your pool.
Match the PVC plumbing.
And secondly, the pump needs to match up with your plumbing.
When the PVC piping is too narrow for a high horsepower pump, problems are soon to follow.
Ideally, you’re working with 2” plumbing, which can allow for much more water flow. The last thing you want to do is create too much resistance in the pipe, so if you currently have 1.5” pipes above ground it might be worth replacing the PVC and elbows.
Smaller variable speed pumps are best suited for 1.5” pipes while the heavy-duty models are best suited to 2” or 2.5” PVC piping.
At the end of the day, you need to strategic in choosing a variable speed pump.
Understand what your pool and your pool equipment need.
Go from there.
What are the benefits of a variable speed pool pump?
Variable speed pumps are relatively new to the pool game, having been around for about 10-15 years, but they’ve quickly become popular for a range of benefits.
Here are some of the main advantages of using a variable speed pump in your pool:
⭐ Save money and energy.
Let’s come right out with the big perk, and that’s how much money and energy they can save you with your pool.
Unlike single speed pumps, variable-speed pumps aren’t running at full tilt all the time. Even dual-speed pool pumps are limited in their range of speeds.
Because the motor can run at a lower speed, you end up saving a ton of energy, resulting in considerable cash savings.
(More on how much a variable speed pump can save you below.)
⭐ More flexibility in speeds.
Variable speed pumps live up to their name by having a such wider range of available speeds compared to single and dual speed pumps.
These pumps can be adjusted at the touch of a button. Instances where this would be helpful are when you need to temporarily crank up the pump to complete specific cleaning of the pool.
Additionally, variable speed pumps have timers so that you can run the pump when energy costs are cheaper (overnight, for instance).
⭐ Better circulation and consistently filtered pool water.
Pool pumps are generally designed to run for up to 8 hours per day, ensuring that water is being properly filtered before being recirculated back out into the pool.
The rest of the 16-hours of the day, however, organic matter, whether it’s dead bugs, leaves, or the sweat and pee from pool guests, are taking hold of your pool.
But because you can run a variable speed pool pump all day (at a lower speed), you can keep water moving consistently, which means your water is being filtered and cleaned nonstop.
Better pool circulation?
Yup, I like it and I like it a lot.
⭐ VS pumps run very quiet.
Pool equipment can get a little loud at times. Pool pumps are no different. We are talking about a 1.5-3.0 horsepower motor, after all.
Variable speed pumps, because they run at lower speeds, make significantly less noise.
Sitting poolside can be made 18% more enjoyable when you don’t have a single-stroke motor chugging loudly next to you.
(* 18% is a broad estimate. Some might find it too low ?)
How much money can a variable speed pump save me?
Variable speed pool pumps come with a higher price tag than other pool pumps. This might leave you wondering if a variable speed pool pump is worth it.
The answer is: yes, they are absolutely worth it.
Ultimately, how worth it a variable speed pump comes down to where you live, but the savings are substantial.
A study in 2011 looked at states in the US and provinces in Canada and compared the estimated costs of running a single-speed pump compared to a variable speed pump1.
For the ten states with the greatest number of pools (i.e. California, Arizona, etc), they saved on average 70% in energy costs when transitioning to a variable speed pump.
If you are spending $1000 a year in energy costs to power the pump in your swimming pool, you would save roughly $700.
Seeing dollar signs, yet?
Although variable speed pumps require a greater upfront investment compared to other pumps, they can easily pay for themselves within two years.
Conclusion: Variable Speed Pumps are Kinda the Best
At the end of the day, we all want a cleaner pool and we don’t want to have to spend a small fortune in energy bills to make it happen.
When the pool water is happy and clean, so are we.
(And by extension, so are the family and friends depending on us to stay cool and crank up the summer fun this year.)
A variable speed pool pump is an excellent investment into your swim pool.
They pump water consistently, keeping the pool water moving and filtered all day long. All while saving you money on energy bills.
A cleaner pool for less money.
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6 Best Floating Pool Chemical Dispensers. Keep your pool balanced and clean with our hand-picked selection of the best floating pool dispensers.
The Best Pool Timers (and How Much Money You Can Save Using One). Another tool for cutting costs on operating your backyard pool is a swimming pool timer. Here is a detailed look at the best ones on the market right now.