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Which Pool Pump Is Better: Single Speed, Two Speed Or Variable Speed?

Which Pool Pump Is Better: Single Speed, Two Speed Or Variable Speed?

One of the most commonly asked questions we get from customers is “what style of pool pump do I need for my pool?” With the different options for pool pumps out there, this post will help you understand
the differences between all of  them, so you can make the best decision in designing your new pool
or replacing old equipment.


Single Speed Pumps: Traditional Pool Pumps

Single-speed pumps operate at one, constant speed and are by far the most inexpensive choice of all pumps, in terms of the upfront purchasing price. Using and maintaining them is a relatively simple process. Once they are wired and plumbed into the pool it is as simple as turning it on and off.  It is highly recommended that these pumps get hooked up to a timer in order to have them automatically turn on or off. All “run times” for the pump are dictated by the horsepower of the pump and how large the pool is. (REMEMBER: bigger isn’t always better!)

These pool pumps can typically be louder than a variable speed on their low to mid-speeded settings and generally are very inefficient as far as electricity is concerned. No matter what you are doing (heating the water, vacuuming, or just letting it run), these pumps will draw the consistent amount of power, which can mean really high electric bills. Depending on the size of your pool and the area you live in, it could cost upwards of $1500 a year per swimming season. The typical life expectancy of the pump varies but we would have to say on average these pumps last 3 – 10 years before they start having issues.

Dual Speed Pumps: AKA Two Speed

Dual-speed pumps are in the same electrical category as single-speed pumps but the main difference is that they run at a “High Speed and a “Low Speed”. Dual-speed pumps also cost a bit more than single-speed pumps as far as upfront cost is concerned. But if you operate it properly you can have significant energy savings.

How are the two speeds used? The low-speed setting is used to meet the general, day-to-day swimming needs to circulate and chlorinate. High-speed settings are used when heating the water, cleaning the pool, water features, or when you have a large bather load.

Dual-speed pumps still use induction motors, like single speed pumps, which draw large amounts of electricity to run. Also, while the dual-speed pumps can be switched to low speed, the rate of flow cannot be customized or adjusted. This can cause headaches in trying to get the pump to work with all your water features whilst keeping the pool running efficiently. And if you end up not using the low-speed setting because you need the high-speed all the time, then why buy a dual-speed pump in the first place?

Variable Speed Pumps: The future of all pool pumps

Variable speed pumps run at different speeds and can be completely programmed to run at all times of the day, at different speeds as well. They are the most expensive pump in terms of the upfront purchase price is concerned due to the motor and programming options. Instead of the use of an induction motor like single or dual-speed pumps, the variable speed pumps utilize permanent magnet motors, similar to those found in hybrid cars, which can save the average pool owner up to 90% in energy costs. This means variable speed can typically pay for itself in 2-3 pool seasons! In addition, these motors on “low to mid speeds” will be significantly quieter. Customers often remark that they cannot hear the pump running at all, which in turn makes their backyard experience more tranquil and peaceful. Also, variable-speed pumps are fan cooled and have a longer life expectancy than single or dual-speed pumps

Programming features:  Variable speed pumps distinguish themselves by being fully customizable in terms of running timed programs. If you have water features such as  Waterfalls, Spill – Overs or even a fountain. The variable speed pump can be programmed at different speeds to ensure all are running at proper pressure even at specific times.

Hopefully, this helps you figure out which pump is set up for you and your pool’s needs!