A swimming pool pump is the cornerstone of your swimming pool’s filtration system. It provides the power needed to run essential components like your pool filter and your pool vacuum -- and it also powers the fun non-essentials, like fountains and bubble features.
If you’re shopping for a pool pump, you probably already know that you’ve got several choices, from energy-efficient variable speed pumps to tried-and-true dual speed pumps to budget-friendly single speed models.
In this guide, we’ll look at the pros and cons of some of the most popular pool pumps on the market today.
When considering a pool pump, you’ve got three choices: single speed, dual speed, and variable speed. Which one is the best for you? That depends on a few key factors:
If you’re looking for the lowest price, a single-speed pump is the least expensive up-front (but you’ll pay more over the long haul in operating costs). A variable-speed pump is pricy to purchase, but most pool owners find that the long-term energy savings are worth a bit of sticker shock. If you’re looking for a balance of performance and value, a dual speed pump is a solid mid-priced option.
Pool pumps can get loud – especially when they’re running at more powerful speeds. Because they only run at one speed, single speed pumps tend to be the loudest. Dual speed and variable speed pumps can be adjusted to run at lower (and quieter) speeds.
Once again, it all comes down to speed: The higher the speed, the more energy your pool pump consumes – and the higher your energy consumption (this is worth considering when you’re weighing purchase price vs. long-term cost).
Older swimming pools may not be compatible with more powerful, newer-model dual or variable speed pumps. If your swimming pool is older, you might need to stick with a single speed pump (or consider upgrading your filtration system).
|Type of Pump||Purchase Price||Operating Cost||Pros||Cons|
Inexpensive to purchase.
Safe for use in older systems.
High energy use and operating costs.
Good balance of affordability and performance.
Moderately priced operating costs.
May be too powerful for older filtration systems.
Higher energy consumption than variable speed pumps.
Low operating cost.
Most expensive to purchase.
This pump can be too powerful for older systems.
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.
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 also 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.
If you’re in the market for a single-speed pool pump, we recommend these three popular models:
A recently upgraded design improves upon this popular entry in the single speed pump category. A totally enclosed fan-cooled motor makes this pump extra-reliable, and the scaled-down size makes it easy to install, without sacrificing power.
Purpose-built for superior energy efficiency and a long lifespan thanks to its rust-proof, commercial-grade motor frame, the WhisperFlo is one of Pentair’s bestselling swimming pool pumps. And, as the name implies, the WhisperFlo is engineered for quiet performance.
Concerned about noise? Jandy’s single speed pool pump features the company’s proprietary “Quiet Technology.” Features like a large trap base, ergonomic handles, and easy-to-read indicators make the Stealth easy to install, operate, and maintain.
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 lots of extra features like fountains or waterfalls, you might want the extra get-up-and-go provided by a variable speed pump.
Here are three great options if you’re looking for a dual-speed pool pump:
Compact, efficient, and easy to install, the FloPro features innovative features like alignment indicators and an adjustable base that allows it to easily replace pumps from a variety of manufacturers.
Engineered for superior, efficient performance, Hayward’s TriStar dual speed pump is ENERGY STAR certified. The TriStar also features an extra-large basket for improved debris removal and easy, less frequent cleaning.
Thanks to a thermoplastic resin exterior, SuperMax is built to last – even in extreme temperatures. The commercial-grade SuperMax is also ENERGY STAR certified and engineered for quiet performance and a long lifespan.
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.
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.Consider this, do you take a nap during the day? Want to keep the neighbors happy at night? Simply program your pump to work around your sleep schedule.
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.
Thinking about upgrading to a variable speed pump? Check out these top sellers:
Pentair’s top-selling variable speed pump is designed exclusively for inground pools. The SuperFlo is compact, quiet, and boasts superior energy efficiency. Thoughtful extras like Pentair’s signature Cam and Ramp™ lid and self-priming feature make maintenance a snap.
The EcoStar is an ENERGY STAR certified option designed for use in medium to large swimming pools. This variable speed pump delivers super-quiet performance, easy debris removal, and a full programmable touchpad control.
Designed to be 70% quieter than other variable speed pumps, the VS PlusHP comes equipped with a digital, remotely mounted controller. The VS PlusHP also features a battery backup that will keep your swimming pool up and running, even if you lose power.
Which pool pump should you choose? The truth is, there’s no single swimming pool pump that’s right for everyone.
There are pros and cons to every option. Single speed pumps are easy on your wallet. Dual speed pumps deliver a satisfying combination of price and performance. If you want the best overall experience, eco-friendliness and to save money in the long-run, a variable speed is the way to go.
Of course, if you want more info or advice, your local pool professional can help you weigh your options and decide which pool pump is best for you.