I get this question about 100 times per year. While I've always maintained to run your pool pump motor longer, about 8 - 10 hours per day during the Summer is optimal, there is some interesting research out there that contradicts what we may have heard. Before we get into it, we should first answer some questions.
The best answer would be every day, all day, and all year. Of course that's not possible. It would also cause your electric bill to go into the stratosphere. Some things are ideal, but not practical. So let's try to understand the purpose and nature of our pool pump, what it needs, and how to get the most out of it.
We can think of our pool pump as basically the heart and soul of our circulation and filtration system. The pump motor has what is called an impeller. This impeller spins to create a very forceful suction. This suction pulls water from the skimmer(s) and bottom drain, pushes it through the filter, and the cleaned water is then returned back to the pool through the returns. It's a fairly simple process.
The water turnover is a term we use to describe when all the pool water goes through the filter in an -8 - 10 hour period. All the pool water should be filtered within that time frame.
Choosing the right pool pump motor is sometimes called sizing your pool pump. Choosing the right size pump motor will ensure your pump will filter the appropriate amount of water in the allotted time.
IMPORTANT PRO TIP: Bigger is not always better. You can go a little larger on your filter, but not your pump motor. If your pool demands a 1/2 HP motor, then use that. Huge mathematical calculations go into creating the best scenario for your pool size. A pool pump motor that's too big can push too much water too fast through your filter and can actually damage the filter. Let's size our pump motor accordingly.
Here's where the debate begins. Most of us were taught to run our pool pumps 8 - 10 hours in the Summer and 4 - 6 hours in the off-season. Let's start with a little history lesson.
One upon a time, residential pools were not as plentiful as we have today. Starting in the 1950s with urban sprawl, we saw more people adding pools to their backyards. When home pools started out, there was limited information on how to care for them, so this is where 8 - 10 hours per day came into play. It was taken from commercial pools that had to run 24/7. But is there better information and data?
An experiment was performed by researchers at Florida Atlantic University. They wanted to know how long our pool pump motor should run to keep the water clear and filtered. They concluded that reducing the time from 8 - 10 hours per day down to 3.3 hours per day was sufficient.
The caveat is you'll need to get a few more ON/OFF trippers and position them around the pool timer in 1 hour intervals. You can run your pump motor from 12 - 1 in the afternoon, 6 - 7 pm and finally 3 - 4 am. Basically, you'll want a 7 - 8 hour spread between cycles. My video review of the experiment can be found below.
We must take cost into consideration when we're going to run our pool pump motors. Running our pool pump during peak hours, normally between 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. will cost us more money in the long run. These are the hours when people and businesses are using the maximum amount of electricity. It puts a strain on our local electrical grids, not to mention our pump motors are running in the hottest part of the day which can can excessive heat for the motor.
Peak hours can vary from place to place, so it's best to call your provider and ask when your peak hours are. Once you find that out, you can schedule your pump motor to run in off-peak hours.
It's best to run your pump motor during those non-peak hours. This is especially true if you live in hotter places like where I live in Florida. This will not only save you tons of money on your electric bill, your pool pump won't be running during the hottest part of the day which will keep the wear and tear to a minimum.
Running your pool pump is all about water circulation and filtration, and your water can just as easily be filtered during the evening. And after adding chemicals in the evening, you'll want to turn the pump motor on to make sure the chemicals are being circulated throughout the entire pool. It just makes economic and filtration sense to run your pool pump at night.
Now that we understand what a pool pump is and does, the next logical question would be what type of pool pump is best for my pool and my situation. We should take a look at a couple of areas before answering that question.
Single speed pump motors went the way of the Game Boy and Atari. They're so last century. To get the most out of your pool pump and enjoy all its benefits, I highly recommend choosing a variable-speed pool pump (VSP). First, they use less power, which always helps. A VSP offers better turnover and filtration, is programmable, and don't spin as fast (less RPM) as regular one-speed motors. Less revolutions per minute means less wear on the motor, not to mention they're quieter.
There is a larger up-front cost, but the money you save in electricity will pay for itself in the long run.
More horsepower means your pool pump has more power. But is that always good? The answer is no. Remember, there are massive mathematical calculations when it comes to properly sizing the pool pump motor for your pool. Too much power can damage your filter. Not enough power and your water won't get properly filtered.
We want to install a pool pump that isn’t too powerful for our filtration system, but is powerful enough to filter our water in an adequate amount of time.
With the advent of dual and variable speed pool pump, there's no need to filter your water 24/7. You can look forward to a lower electric bill and a pool pump that will last for years and years when you invest in a VSP. Go be a pool pump pro and have the best pool in the neighborhood.