How To Choose The Best Pool Pump

Looking for a new pool pump can be a scary endeavor for many pool owners.  With so many types of pumps and words and definitions to consider, we might feel helpless and at the mercy of someone else.  Honestly, it's not that difficult.  So I've taken my 20+ years experience and put together some great information on how to find the best pool pump for your needs.

We just need to know a few simple terms and what our situation is.  Let's take it one step at a time and by the end, you'll be a pool pump professional. 

How To Choose The Best Pool Pump

What Is A Pool Pump?

The pool pump is the heart of the swimming pool's circulation system.  Its main job is to pull water from the skimmer and bottom drain.  This is called the "suction side" of your pool system.  The pump motor then pushes the water through the filter and returns the clean water back to the pool through the returns.  This is called the "return side" of your system.  Already you're beginning to see just how easy pools are to understand.  There are only 2 sides.  How much easier can it get?

How To Choose The Best Pool Pump

Parts Of A Pool Pump?

The pump has three components and they are the:

  • Motor: The motor is attached to the pump housing.  It spins the impeller to create a sucking force to pull water from the pool to the pump motor.
  • Impeller: The impeller is the part that spins and pulls the pool water.
  • Pump pot/housing (sometimes called the lint trap): The pump pot is the area before the pump motor with the clear lid on top.  It contains the pump pot basket and captures larger debris such as leaves and grass clippings.   

An air cooled electric pump motor will use either 110 volts or 220 volts and normally spins around 3,400 rpm.  Cooling vents are located on the underside of the motor. 

All pool pump motors should be bonded.  Bonding is a process that means all the electrical and metal parts and components for the pool are joined together with a wire that forms a non-resistive path between the components. The goal is to connect and prevent transmission of electrical voltage to the pool equipment.     

These are areas I look at when I do my pool inspections. 

Types Of Pool Pumps

When we talk about pool pumps, we're interested in speed.  This means the rate in which the pool water is pulled through the skimmer and bottom drain and is pushed through the filter and returned back to the pool.  For this application, we'll look at the 3 types of pool pumps.   

Single Speed Pumps

Single speed pool pumps are the most common you can buy.  They only have one setting, hence, single speed.  The impeller speed can't be increased or decreased.  Due to their constant high-speed, these types of pool pumps use more energy compared to their counterparts.  If you're concerned about using more electricity and having a higher bill, a single speed pump motor might not be the one for you. 

Dual Speed Pumps

Duel speed motors have 2 speeds: low and high.  The advantage of a dual speed pump motor over a single speed is its flexibility.  You can have lower speeds during the on-peak hours of the day and higher speeds during the off-peak hours.  This can certainly save you a little money in the long run.  Lower speeds can be used for water circulation and filtration while the higher speed offers more suction when vacuuming. 

Variable Speed Pumps

The future is here with a variable speed pool pump motor.  These pool pumps are considered the best, and rightfully so.  They have what's known as a permanent magnetic motor (PMM), which is similar to those used in cars.  It doesn't require electricity to spin the rotor and can be digitally set at different speeds, depending on your need in the moment.

The drawback is the higher initial upfront cost.  However, variable speed pump motors produce less friction.  This makes them more efficient and longer-lasting than the other kinds of pool pumps, which also makes them the go-to for most pools being built today.  Some states might require that new pools be installed with a variable speed pump motor to conserve energy.   

How To Choose The Best Pool Pump
How To Choose The Best Pool Pump

Inground or Above Ground Pool Pumps 

Choosing the right pool pump for your pool is important.  That's why we need to take a look at the differences between an inground and above ground pump motor.  There are three common areas to focus on due to the fact that this will determine where the filter will be located.  In this section, we'll take a look at the intake on your pool filter.

  • If the intake on your filter is higher than the ground pump, you will need a top-mount pump.
  • If the intake is equal to, or on the same level as your pump, you will need a side-mount pump.

IMPORTANT: Cartridge and D.E. filters will normally require side-mounted pumps, while sand filters with a top-mounted multiport valve will require a top-mounted pump.

Another area of interest is the pool pump's horsepower.  You will want a pool pump that filters all of your water within 8 - 10 hours, but not so powerful that it ruins your filter.  Some may believe that bigger is better, but that's not always so.  Calculating water flow, gallons per minute, feet of head, pipe diameter, filter size, and horsepower all play a part in correctly sizing your pool pump motor. 

These massive calculations can get very complex fairly quickly.  It's always best to check with the manufacturer of the pool pump you choose to see if it's a good fit.  Another great avenue is to contact a local pool contractor.  They can be a wealth of information and can assist you in making the right decision.    

What's The Best Pool Pump Brand? 

There's much debate among pool contractors and pool guys, like myself, as to which brand of pool pump is the best.  The word "best" is very subjective.  Some look at ease installation and low maintenance, while others may consider longevity and ease-of-use the most important aspects of a pool pump.  A good place to start is the brand.  There are many top brands from trusted manufacturers who have been in the pool industry for decades.

I'm partial to 3 brands of pool pumps: Hayward, Pentair, and Intex.  Over the last 20+ years of installing, servicing, and inspecting pools and pump motors, I've found these to be the most reliable.  All three are known for pool pump designs that are durable and efficient and make quality pump motors for all pool sizes and types.

I'm Here To Pump You Up!

There's no better time than right now to get rid of your old worn-out pump motor and install a brand new variable speed motor.  It will certainly decrease your energy consumption and you'll be satisfied with its performance.

Take your time, shop around, and get the pool pump that's right for your pool and wallet.