As much as we enjoy swimming in our pool under the bright sunlight, it can be quite stressful when we have to deal with expenses associated with our pool.
One way to reduce your pool expense is to replace your standard single-speed pool pump with the best variable speed pool pump you can afford.
The variable speed pump adjusts its rate to match the water pressure in your pool, whereas the standard pool pump is only capable of operating at either full capacity or not at all. This flexibility allows you to turn up the pump only when necessary, cutting down your utility expense.
The VS pump will cost you more money up-front, but it’s a worthwhile investment that will save you money down the road.
In this article, I’ll go over some of the best variable speed pool pumps that are currently dominating the market.
What is the best variable speed pool pump?
Here is an in-depth review of some of the most popular variable speed pool pumps currently available in the market.
1. Pentair SuperFlo Variable Speed Pool Pump
Like any other high quality VS pumps, Pentair SuperFlo excels in reducing energy cost, allowing you to save up to 80% of energy.
The pump is suitable for standard pools that require up to 1.5 horsepower, and it comes in 110 to 230v models. Furthermore, it offers 50 to 60-hertz capabilities.
The product comes with a graphical display and a built-in timer, making it easy for you to operate and program.
Its three operating speed gives you enough flexibility to run the pump at varying speeds depending on your needs. The lower speed setting makes the pump move water even more efficiently while reducing energy costs. It also comes with an override speed setting for even more control.
Besides, you don’t need to spend any money on rewiring since it automatically adapts to 115 or 230-volt power.
With the ultra-quiet TEFC motor, you will never have to worry about waking up to loud noise while you’re napping on your pool floats.
The product is highly rated at 4.6 on Amazon. That said, you can still see a few complaints in the review sections.
Some customers seem to be unhappy with its control panel, and others wish the company would provide a better customer experience. But the vast majority are happy with the pump helping them lower the electric bill.
2. Hayward MaxFlo Variable Speed Pool Pump
With over 80 years in the industry, Hayward is a veteran in manufacturing pool equipment.
The MaxFlo VS pump is a cost-effective, upgraded version of the traditional single speed pump.
Because of its totally enclosed fan cooled motor (TEFC), it’s incredibly energy-efficient and reliable. In fact, the pump allows you to save up to 80% more energy than its predecessor, which means you can enjoy your swim without worrying about the bills in the back of your mind.
Moreover, MaxFlo comes with a fully programmable, digital control interface that turns to four different positions. You can also conveniently access the interface by mounting it to the wall.
It is fully compliant with industry regulation and ENERGY STAR certified, which means it had to pass a strict energy performance standard.
You can also set the pump to run at whatever time and speed you set, allowing you to have a lot more control than standard pumps. Plus, the pump comes with both 115V and 230V models.
If you are easily bothered by noises from a single-speed pump, you can rest assured that the VS pump is significantly less loud. Even when it’s cranked to the max speed, the noise level stays within a reasonable level.
Most reviews are overwhelmingly positive for this pump with customers sharing their experiences about how much money it helped them save on power bills.
You can also frequently see people mentioning that they are glad they made the change to the VS pump from their old single-speed pump.
When reading through reviews, there are a few rare instances where people mention that the pump failed to operate properly. But the company seemed to have promptly replaced the pump for them.
3. Pentair IntelliFlo Variable Speed Pool Pump
With Pentair IntelliFlo, you can customize optimum pump speeds for different tasks, such as filtering, heating, cleaning, and many more.
In other words, you’ll be able to save significantly more money on your electric bills compared to using standard pumps with a pre-set speed. If you are currently using a standard pump, you can expect to save close to 80 to 90% on energy use.
The ability to lower speed also offers other advantages. A slower but more consistent water flow prevents algae more effectively than a short burst of water pumping. Furthermore, your filter works better since there’s more time for it to filter out particles.
The pump uses a highly efficient permanent magnet motor that’s used in advanced hybrid cars and a totally enclosed fan-cooled (TEFC) motor for longevity and reduced noise. The pump’s motor speed matches your pool water’s needs for maximal efficiency.
Its built-in diagnostic ensures the pump remains in good condition for a long time.
Overall, most reviews have good things to say about the pump. Customers have an easy time installing the pump by themselves, but one downside is that you won’t get a full warranty if you install the pump on your own.
You’ll need to have the pump installed by professionals for you to secure a 3-year warranty.
4. Hayward SuperPump Variable Speed Pump
The Hayward SuperPump is suitable for small to medium-sized pools, and it’s available in both 115V and 230V versions. Plus, the pump’s touchpad control rotates in four directions and also comes with mounting capability.
The pump’s speed range is between 600 to 3450 RPM, offering you a wide range of speed settings to suit the need of your pool.
The TEFC motor, a large debris basket, and a programmable touchpad, along with other features we’ve discussed so far, make this pump as effective as any high performing pumps from other brands.
Although the pump is highly rated at 4.5, a few customers report that the pump starts to fail after a couple of years of use. So, I suggest purchasing an extra warranty if you want more safety net.
But don’t let negative reviews dissuade you from buying the product since it’s still one of the most highly rated pumps on Amazon, and the vast majority of reviews are positive.
5. Sta-Rite IntelliPro Variable Speed Pool Pump
Sta-Rite is a highly energy-efficient pump that allows you to save up to 90% of energy. The pump is a 230v model with 3-horsepower and significantly quieter than a 1.5-hp single-speed pump. In fact, its decibels can get as low as 45 decibels, making it a great option for those who are sensitive to noises.
The equipment offers 8 programmable speed settings, and you can set a different start and end time for each setting. So, it gives you plenty of options to adjust the speed and time however you want.
The permanent magnet motor in the pump is the same motor used in automobiles, making it one of the most efficient pool pumps in the market. Also, the motor speed adapts to your pool requirement in real-time, which is a missing feature in a single-speed pump.
The pump’s display panel shows your pump’s current speed in RPM, and how many watts it’s using at the rate, so you never have to guess how much energy your pump is consuming.
Its built-in freeze protection comes in handy in the cold winter since the pump will automatically operate if the temperature drops below 40 degrees.
There aren’t too many bad things to say about this pump. One of the reviewers mentions that she was paying over $40 a month but paying less than $10 with the new pump.
Overall, people who changed from a single-speed pump to Star-Rite seem to be saving anywhere between $40 to $100 a month.
Some people report a slight incompatibility issue with an automatic controller. That said, most people are content with how much it saves them money and how quiet it is during the operation.
6. Hayward PowerFlo Dual-Speed Above Ground Pump
The Hayward PowerFlo offers a two-speed design with 1.5-Horsepower, making it more energy-efficient than a single-speed pump. On average, it will pay for itself within two summer seasons if you were using a single-speed pump.
The extra-large industrial-size strainer basket effectively collects large debris, and you can easily discharge debris with the press of a button thanks to its horizontal and vertical discharge feature. Its quick-disconnect intake and discharge pipe allow for easy installation and maintenance.
Moreover, the heavy-duty motor, along with an automatic thermal overload protector, ensures that your pump works reliably at all times for years.
The pump comes with a high-performance impeller with large openings, which prevent leaves and debris from clogging up the pump.
The only real downside of the pump is that the low-speed setting operates at a noticeably slower rate.
If you want more options with speed settings, there are better pumps out there. Also, it has limited use since it’s only suitable for an above ground pool.
7. Hayward TriStar Variable Speed Pool Pump
TriStar VS is another top-notch, energy-efficient pump that can potentially save you over $1000 on energy bills.
Hayward specifically mentions that the pump is intended to replace other high quality pumps, such as Sta-Rite Max-E-Glas, Hayward Tristar, Dura Glas, and Pentair WhisperFlo.
The installation process is a breeze with its 2” x 2.5” union connections.
Just like the most high performance VS pumps, TriStar utilizes TEFC permanent magnet motors for high efficiency and reliability. Its 24-hour programmable clock with 8 custom timer functions give you detailed control over the equipment.
It also has a built-in protective mechanism that comes with on-board diagnostic and protection against priming failures, extreme temperatures, and voltage fluctuations.
Another cool feature is that the pump re-primes itself daily. So when the water level in your pool dips too low, it notices the change and stops pumping.
The manual that comes with TriStar can be slightly difficult to follow. That said, it’s quite straightforward to install the pump and shouldn’t take you more than an hour.
Some customers report that the pump can be rather loud at its full speed, although very quiet at a low-speed setting.
8. Hayward EcoStar Variable Speed Pool Pump
EcoStar is a 230-Voltage pump, and it comes with a speed range between 1,000 to 3,450 RPM.
The hydraulic designed coupled with a no-rib basket translates to efficient debris removal, ensuring your pump doesn’t clog easily.
The pump comes with a multi-position digital control interface that moves in different directions, and you can dismantle it and mount it to the wall if you wish. Plus, the pump has a service mode that enables swift cleaning of your pool.
Additionally, it has 8 custom speed settings and a 24-hour clock that you’d normally expect from the highest quality VS pool pumps.
EcoStar’s ability to match its pump speed with the pool’s needs makes it one of the most energy-efficient pumps out there.
There are a few reports of customers saying the pump doesn’t have great durability.
It appears that there’s a chance the pump may start to experience problems after a 3 to 5-year mark, which is still more than enough time for you to get your money’s worth if you were using a single-speed pump.
Moreover, Hayward is quite good with its customer support, and some customers report receiving replacements even past the warranty period.
But EcoStar may not be the best option if you are looking for the most durable pump.
9. XtremepowerUS Dual Speed Pool Pump
XtremepowerUS pump is a self-priming pump that’s designed with polymetric material for durability and a longer-lasting capability. The material also provides solid protection against corrosion.
The pump is powered by corded electricity, and its motor comes with airflow ventilation for a reduced noise level.
It’s intuitive and easy to set up the pump, and it’s compatible with different systems, such as solar heating and an in-floor cleaning system.
Other features include 2-horsepower, 230-voltage, 5280 GPH of max flow, 15-Ampere, and 2-inch port size.
It’s a quiet pump but not nearly as powerful as some of the other more expensive pumps. There’s also no clear mention of warranty on the product page, which is a bit disappointing.
If you are looking for a good enough pump that will do the job without breaking your bank, this isn’t a bad option.
Best Variable Speed Pool Pump Buyer’s Guide
In this section, we’ll talk about some of the most important things to consider when you’re trying to decide which pump will best fit your needs.
There’s nothing more annoying than the loud noise of the motor when you’re trying to enjoy the sun in your pool.
So before you purchase the pump, you want to make sure you check the reviews and product’s description to see if the pump runs at a sufficiently low noise level. Some product page even mentions the pump’s decibel level, so don’t forget to read the page thoroughly.
Another thing to note is that some pumps are very quiet at a low speed but get as loud as a single speed pump at a max speed.
You’ve probably noticed that most VS pumps reviewed in this article utilize TEFC motor, and there’s a good reason for it. The TEFC motor keeps the motor windings in a clean and dry state, prolonging the pump’s life and providing better energy efficiency.
If you buy a variable speed pump, your pump likely comes with the TEFC motor, but it’s always good to double-check.
Each filter has differing capabilities regarding how much water flow it can handle. You want to ensure your filter can handle the water flow from the pump you plan to purchase.
RPM stands for rotations per minute, and it’s a measure of the speed of the pump. The lower the RPM of your pump, the slower it will run, and vice versa.
When your pump runs at a lower RPM, it will use less energy, meaning you’ll pay less on your energy bills. Also, your pump will generate significantly lesser noise when it’s running at a slower speed.
For this reason, you want to check if you can run the pump at a sufficiently low speed. And, of course, you also want to check if you can operate the pump at a fast speed when you need to.
A higher horsepower isn’t necessarily better when choosing a pool pump. First, your pipe may not be able to handle it. And even if it can, it’s going to be a waste of money and energy if your pool doesn’t require a big horsepower.
So, it’s better to look at horsepower in terms of how it suits your pool’s needs. If your pool size falls somewhere between small to medium ranges, it probably doesn’t need a pump with 3-horsepower. If you have a large pool, you’ll probably want a pump with more than 1-horsepower.
It’s going to be problematic if your pipe size is too small to handle your pump’s horsepower. Some pools have smaller pipes (about 1.5-inch diameter) that aren’t built to handle a large water flow. If you have a larger pipe that is 2.5 to 3-inch in diameter, it’ll be better suited to handle a high-horsepower pump.
Last but not least, you absolutely want to make sure the product comes with a good warranty. As we’ve discussed earlier, VS pumps are more expensive than a single-speed pump, but you’ll be saving money in the long run due to reduced energy costs. That said, it takes around two years for your VS pump to pay off if you upgrade from a single-speed pump.
So If your pump breaks down after a year of use and it’s not covered by warranty, you’d have lost money.
For this reason, you’d want the pump to come with at least two years of warranty.
Variable Speed Pool Pump FAQs
This section is for the most common questions people have about the variable speed pool pump.
What are the major differences between variable speed pool pumps and a single-speed pool pump?
Single-speed pumps are usually the cheapest pumps you can get for your pool. They operate at full speed when turned on and tend to be extremely loud.
Variable speed pool pumps are more expensive, but they are much more energy-efficient and will significantly reduce your energy bill.
As the name suggests, the pump comes with multiple speed settings, so you don’t have to unnecessarily use a lot of energy when it suffices to run the pump at a lower speed. They also tend to be much quieter than single-speed pumps while running.
All things considered, it’s a no-brainer to go with VS pumps if you want to keep your pool water running at all times without making your utility company get rich.
What speed should I use for my variable speed pool pump?
First, you want to avoid running your pool pump at max speed all day since that’d be no different than running a single-speed pump.
Ideally, you want to run the pump at the slowest possible speed that allows you to maintain a clear pool. So, if you run the pump at 2,000 RPM for a few days and your pool maintains clarity, then you can bring it down to 1,500 RPM. Run the pump at that speed for a few days to see if there’s any change. If the pool starts to turn cloudy, you can bring the speed back up again.
Repeat the process until you find the lowest speed that keeps your pool clear.
There are a few instances where you may want to turn up the speed, such as when you’re cleaning your pool, activating water features, or running a salt-chlorine generator.
Lastly, If your pool has built-in programming, you can set up your pump so that its speed automatically matches your pool’s demand.
You now have more than enough information to choose the best possible variable speed pool pump for your pool.
It can worry you to pay a larger sum of money to replace your single-speed pump with a variable speed pump. But you want to view it as an investment for the future.
Although you won’t notice an immediate monetary benefit, the reduced energy cost will end up saving you more money for years to come. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy your pool without needing to endure a loud motor that tries to disturb your peace at all times.
I hope this guide helped you find the VS pump that best suits your pool!