11 May
2015

Variable Speed Pool Pumps – Energy Efficient Pool Pumps and Filters, Save Money

Posted by Norman F

variable Speed Pool Pumps, multi speed pool pump

Swimming pool pumps use a ton of electricity. It is estimated that they use up a shockingly high percentage of all residential power and use almost 1500 kWh of power each year. Spa pumps and heaters use up to 2250 kWh of energy every year. The pool pump uses most of the power, so finding energy efficient pool pumps is very important. It pushes water through filtration units and has not changed in many years. New variable speed pool pumps are now available. They are energy efficient and are quieter by running motors slower, but run for longer periods of time.

Pool Pump Power Usage

A typical 1 1/2 HP single speed pool pump uses almost 5000kWh (392kWh per month, 8hr a day) of power a year or $1159. A two speed model uses 3431kWh to accomplish the same task at a cost of $789, saving $370. Variable speed pool pumps, which can run at many slower speeds, like the Intelliflo will use even less energy, resulting in savings from $620-1360 a year according to the company. This makes it the most efficient pool pump right now.

Running a pump at the lowest speed 24/7 costs the same as running a regular pump for 1 hour. The water is pumped at a slow trickle speed. Energy rates keep rising, so this delta will only increase in the future. Keep in mind you will need a new controller to control the variable speed pool pump.  Note: After having lived with one for a while, you may find that you cannot run it at the slowest speed due to your pool’s plumbing. Our salt cell displays a low flow red light if our speeds are too low.

Variable Speed Pool Pump Cost

A new multi speed pump and controller will cost from $800 to $1500 plus $500 – $800 for installation.  A $100 rebate is available from PG&E Energy Efficiency rebates and many other electric utilities, making payback time in 2 – 3 years. Another benefit with a variable speed pool pump is that it makes a lot less noise when running, so we can run it from midnight to 7 AM when the power rates are at the lowest. Timing is adjusted in the spring and summer when our solar water heater is run.  A time period from 10 AM – 3PM, when the sun shines, is added.

swimming pool with variable speed pool pump

Multi Speed Pool Pumps

There are 2 speed models and variable speed models.  The variable speed pool pumps are obviously the most versatile. Variable speed models are more important if you have a solar pool heating system or use your pool heater often.  In these scenarios, you might need to increase pump speed to accommodate the additional items. Look for programmable controls to handle these speed changes. California and other states require variable speed pool pumps on all new installations.

Pentair Pool has a Pool Pump Cost Savings Calculator to show variable speed pool pump savings and energy efficient pool pumps. Their Intelliflo VS-3050 variable speed pump costs $1100 plus installation.  It uses permanent magnet motors like a Hybrid car, to save additional energy. If you have a intelligent pool controller and solar heating, it may need a new chip ($250) to support the variable speed pump. Make sure the installer uses high temperature compliant cPVC piping into and out of the new pump.

If you buy a new controller for the variable speed pool pump, also consider switching to Salt Water swimming pools at the same time.  An advanced controller like the Easytouch handles both.

Check out this pool pump video:

Also consider using a swimming pool cover and solar pool heating to reduce the run time of variable speed pool pumps and a solar pool heater to use the sun to warm your swimming pool.

Another way to save money with your swimming pool is to convert it to salt water.

Salt Water Swimming Pools

salt water swimming pool

Salt Water Swimming Pools that are not too common in the United States but are catching on fast. Salt Water Pools are now making inroads because most new pools are specified as them. They use a chlorine generator so they are not actually chlorine free. Swimming in a regular pool may make you feel or see a whitish residual or chlorine flaking, on the skin, frizzled hair or red eyes. In a salt water swimming pool, the water feels smooth and refreshing and does not taste like the ocean. The swimming pool is only 8-9% as salty as the ocean. Believe me, ocean water is far saltier.

Roughly 13% residential and commercial pools were salt water pools in 2010.

How does a saltwater pool work?

Salt reacts with electricity in the chlorine generator. A chlorine generator’s main function is to produce chlorine for the pool so you do not have to buy it, store it or handle it. A generator produce chlorine constantly. A 40 pound bag of salt costs $9 and needs to be replaced roughly 6 times a year. We have a vinyl cover over our pool, which reduces the amount of salt we need to add. The average yearly cost for residential pool chlorine is around $700.  Salt dissipates over time, gets diluted by any rainwater, and also gets filtered out. Water chemistry will be simplified moving to a salt water pool. Note that chlorinators that display salt levels show inaccurate levels when water is cold, so you need to use salt test strips in this instance. More muriatic acid will be utilized to control the pH in a saltwater pool.

It costs from $1000 to $3000 to retrofit an existing pool.  You do need to maintain the generator every 3 – 6 months or so by cleaning it out with a muriatic acid wash. Salt needs to be replenished every year or so, but costs very little. A 40lb bag costs about $9. The best time to upgrade to it is when you install a new controller for a variable speed pool pump.  These new controllers like the Easytouch can handle salt water pools. The only problem areas for a salt water pool installation are if you have stainless steel plumbing or stainless steel in your heater, which will corrode.

Natural Swimming Pools

Recently, we read about an alternative way of creating a chemical free swimming pool. This method seeks to utilize filtration and purification as mother nature performs it. A water garden with specially selected native plants is grown in special gravel, and is created adjacent to the pool or as part of the pool. Additionally, energy efficient pumps and filters are utilized. These pools look far more natural than your typical swimming pool. The method is used more widely in Australia and Europe.

Alternatives to salt water pools

Other unconventional alternatives to chlorine in pools include systems that release ozone gas (roughly $8,000) or use ultra-violet light to kill bacteria. The UV technology kills cryptosporeidium, something chlorine does not.

Check this Website with more details.  It is best to install a salt water pool system along with a Swimmering pool cover to maximize the energy and chemical savings.

Conclusion to Variable Speed Pool Bumps

Switching to a more efficient variable speed pool pump and filter will save you a ton of money over the long run. Converting from chlorine to a salt water swimming pool will also save you money and reduce the amount of chemicals you have to buy.  Swimming pools use far too much energy and resources, so anything you can do to save money and energy needs to be considered.

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Posted on May 11th, 2015
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15 Responses to “Variable Speed Pool Pumps – Energy Efficient Pool Pumps and Filters, Save Money”

  1. Swimming Pool Covers | Easy Eco Blog Says:

    […] getting a multi speed pool pump to save even more […]

  2. Solar Pool Heaters - Save Energy, Swim More Often | Easy Eco Blog Says:

    […] consider using a swimming pool cover to reduce the run time. A variable speed pool pump also saves energy. […]

  3. Gavin Says:

    There are a number of manufacturers of variable speed products specifically for the commercial and residential swimming pool market. Most (i.e., Pentair, Jandy, Hayward) come in the form of a pump/motor/VFD combo configuration. However more recently, companies such as H2flow (formerly Emotron Inc.) have developed VFDs that retrofit to existing pumps and motors. These drives offer the same advantages and energy saving potentials as the pump/motor/VFD units, and are available at a fraction of the cost. Further, Emotron Inc./H2flow have over 80 years of combined experience as a VFD manufacturer.

  4. Salt Water Swimming Pools | Easy Eco Blog Says:

    […] this Website with more details.  It is best to install a system along with a Multispeed Pool pump at the same time. […]

  5. Mike Says:

    What have you heard about ecopumps? Are they any good? The specs look good but I havent seen anything on them on the internet.

  6. tim Says:

    Following up on Mikes comments. Has anyone found any consumer info. on Ecopumps? sounds good but lack of market feed back is stalling the desision process

  7. Mike Says:

    To close out my own question.
    I ordered a motor from AO Smith (B2982: which is the same as the one used on the EcoPump) from Inyo. Installed this on my current wet-end and I am very happy with it. If you need a complete pump unit the Ecopump should be fine. If you have a good wetend, I would consider just switching out the motor.
    I went from 1700W to 300W of power after the switch and am seeing about a $100+ drop in my electricity bill (California PGE rates). Far a $300-$400 investment, that is a pretty good ROI.

  8. Chalan Aras Says:

    Mike- are you using the Ecopump with a solar heater? Also, do you run a Polaris Sweep and does it work well with the low-speed setting of the EcoPump? I have an old 1 speed pump and am considering the intelliflo. I am intrigued with the Ecopump but want to make sure that it will work with the sweep.

    Thanks,

    Chalan

  9. phoebe Says:

    I am considering the ECO pump. It seems like the smart thing to get. Apparently you can go a step down as the E-4 is a 1HP but acts like a 1.65HP. My problem is the timer to go with this. It needs to be a 2 speed as the ECO pump is a 2 speed. I don’t know whether to get the 2 speed Intermatic T106R, the Intermatic T10604R that lets you shut it off as well (the T106R does not allow you to shut it off, just go from high speed to low speed), the Digital Time Clock Metal Enclosure with Freeze Protect-PE15, or the TightWatt2 Digital controller. Can anyone help me in this? I live in Michigan, so I won’t be operating it except May through September. I don’t have anything else on it. Currently, I only have an on/off switch.

  10. Erick A. Says:

    I presently have a 3 pump system pool. 1 for pool water(1.5 HP), 1 for pop up cleaning system (1HP) and 1 for water fall feature (1HP). I am being told by a pool repairman that I could save more $ if I keep using the 3 pumps than if I replace with a new VSP (Pentair or Hayward). I am getting confused!!! Anyone knows what could be the best alternative???

  11. Norman F Says:

    A high quality variable speed pool pump will save you money and can replace multiple pumps. Your local pool expert can examine your configuration and select the appropriate model. I would suggest you get a secondary quote from a store like Leslie’s Pool Supply. You can read more about this here:

    http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/54242.pdf

  12. darren Says:

    Variable speed pool pumps make use of a permanent magnet motor, which is very energy efficient. These type of pumps also produce way less noise than the conventional pool pumps. Swimming pool equipment repair should be performed after regular period to ensure smooth working of your pool pumps.

  13. tony Says:

    Great detail information. I highly recommend pong with the pentair model much more quite then the competitors. After i installed my variable speed pumps i actually save a lot of money they are 90% more energy-efficient, helping me save $1000 on electricity costs per year.

  14. Marcia Says:

    To continue…The installer set our pump to run 9 hours a day. Stating that this is necessary for a Florida summer. At noon it drops to 1 horsepower and continues running until 6 pm. We were away from the house for 2 weeks and set our a/c at 81 (normally set at 77 while we are home). Based on this and previous electric bills, we feel that the Hayward Variable speed pump has not provided the promised savings.

  15. Norman F Says:

    Every pool configuration is different, so you might want to call Hayward with your configuration to get advice.

    One complete turn of water per day is a good goal. Most pools need a little less than that.
    The IntelliFlo is most efficient around 1,000 RPM speed, which usually works out to less than 24 hours a day operation. Yours might be set too fast.

    You may need to adjust the RPM up to keep your skimmer(s) working well. There is no way to know if that is true without trying it out at 1,000 RPM and seeing how the skimmer does.

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