What are the Best Pool Pumps? Single Speed Pumps Dual Speed Pumps Variable Speed Pumps Recommended Brands FAQs

What are the Best Pool Pumps?

When it comes to choosing a swimming pool pump, there’s no single “best” option: The pool pump that works best for you will depend on several factors including your budget, your filter, and the size of your pool.

Ultimately, your choice will come down to one of three types of swimming pool pumps: Single speed, dual speed, and variable speed. Each type of swimming pool pump has its own unique pros and cons, too, so it helps to do some comparison shopping to find out which one is the best for you.

Ready to dive in? Let’s take a look at the different types of pool pumps out there.

Single Speed Pool Pumps

Most pool owners choose single speed pumps for two reasons: cost and compatibility. Single speed pumps are inexpensive to purchase, and they won’t overpower an older filtration system the way newer dual or variable-speed pumps can.

swimming pool with copper scupper

Some pool owners also like the fact that single speed pumps are super-simple: There aren’t any bells or whistles; you don’t have to install software and you don’t need a smartphone to operate them. There are no settings to worry about, either: With a single speed pump, you just turn it on when you need to use it and turn it off again when you’ve finished vacuuming or running your filter.

Of course, the downside to that simplicity is that single speed pumps are always running at full speed. Not only does this use more energy, but running at full speed will cause your pump to wear out more quickly, which could mean extra costs for repair and replacement. Single speed pumps are also considerably louder than other types of pumps.

Dual Speed Pool Pumps

Like the name suggestions, a dual speed pump gives you two settings to choose from: A high setting for tasks that require a bit more “oomph” (like vacuuming) and a low setting for the day-to-day duties (such as running your swimming pool filter).

A dual-speed pump is an excellent middle-of-the-road option if you’re looking for improved performance without a hefty price tag. Sure, you’ll pay a little more upfront than you would for a single speed pump – but you’ll also conserve energy and save on long-term operating costs thanks to the available lower speed.

The only real drawbacks to dual speed pumps? If your swimming pool’s filtration system is older, a dual-speed pump might be too powerful. At the same time, if your pool has a lot of extra features like fountains or waterfalls, you might want the extra get-up-and-go provided by a variable speed pump.

Variable Speed Pool Pumps

It’s easy to understand why variable speed pumps are so popular: They’re quieter, they offer a longer lifespan, and they allow you to adjust the speed to precisely match the task, which saves energy and reduces the long-term cost of ownership.

swimming pool with spa and fountain

Many variable speed pumps also come with convenient extras: most are programmable, and some even have smartphone apps or integrate with smart home systems, making them popular with tech-savvy swimming pool owners.

What’s not to love about a variable speed pump? In addition to being considerably more expensive than dual or single speed pumps, variable can be a little too powerful for older swimming pools: In fact, they can damage older pool filters.

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FAQs: Swimming Pool Pumps

What size pool pump do I need?

The size of the pool pump you need will depend on several factors, including the size of your pool (in gallons), the depth of your pool, and the shape of your pool (rectangular, round, kidney-shaped, or something else). Your local pool retailer can help you decide.

How do I know how long to run a pool pump?

The general rule is that you should run your pool pump for at least 8 hours per day. The 8 hours do not need to be consecutive, so if you want to run your pump 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours at night, you can. Or you can run your pump for 8 hours straight every night -- whichever works for you. You should also make a point to run your pump any time you use pool chemicals like shock treatments.

Can you swim while your pool pump is running?

For the most part, it’s perfectly fine to swim while your pool pump is running. Some people prefer to turn their pumps off while swimming, while others prefer to leave their pumps on. If you’ve got water features in your pool (like waterfalls, etc.), you might prefer leaving your pool pump turned on. If you’ve got specific questions about running your pool pump while swimming, check with the manufacturer of your pool pump or ask your local swimming pool retailer.

I have a saltwater swimming pool. Do I need a special pump for that?

You can use any pool pump with a saltwater pool -- there’s no need to look for a special “saltwater pool pump.” However, keep in mind that salt is corrosive, and can cause metal parts to wear out more quickly than they would in a chlorine-based swimming pool. Some swimming pool pump manufacturers have addressed this issue by crafting pool pumps from 100% non-corrosive plastic.

What is a pool motor?

A pool pump motor is a part of your swimming pool pump, and it’s the part that powers your pump and makes it go. Think of it like a car motor: It’s the driving force that makes something go.

Can I use an inground pool pump in my above ground pool?

It depends on the size of your pool. Inground pools tend to be much larger so their pumps are more powerful. The other main difference between inground and above ground pool pumps is that inground models lift water vertically and are placed above the waterline while above ground models use gravity to direct water inward and are placed below the waterline.

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