Top 5 Best Pool Drains in 2019

The main drain is an important component of a swimming pool’s circulation system. In-ground swimming pools typically contain one or more drains. Above-ground pools rarely come equipped with a main drain, but some pool owners choose to add them.

Best Pool Drains

Using a strong force of suction via the pool’s pump, the main drain draws water, collecting large and heavy debris in the process. After the water flows through the drain, it makes its way to the pool’s filter. Due to the main drain’s strong force of suction, it must be topped with a grated cover.

However, not all drain configurations and covers are equal in terms of safety. Dual-drain setups are safer than a single main drain, and curved covers are more likely to prevent injuries to swimmers than flat ones. There are also secondary protective mechanisms you can use in conjunction with the main drain.

We have not only reviewed some durable and legally compliant drain covers but also worked up a guide for buying pool drains. In our guide, you’ll learn about applicable drain cover laws, what marking should be on a cover, how to safeguard swimmers around drain covers, and much more.

Best Pool Drains

Best Pool Drain Buying Guide

If your swimming pool has one or more drains, proper covers are a safety-must. While main drains in residential pools aren’t subject to the same federal laws that pertain to public swimming pools, following those guidelines will help keep swimmers safe in your pool.

Pool Drain

Safe drain covers are shaped in a way that prevents them from becoming completely blocked. They will also have markings that detail their expiration date, mounting location, and flow rate. When it isn’t possible to have two main drains, there are other mechanisms you can add to your swimming pool.

This buyer’s guide tells you how to determine whether a drain cover is safe and what to do with the main drains when you winterize your pool. It also explains the benefits of a dual-drain system. If you use an automatic pool cleaner, there’s some information about drain clips in the guide that will interest you.

The Virginia-Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act

In 2002, a child named Virginia became trapped underwater in a spa due to the amount of force behind the drain’s suction. To protect swimmers of all ages, the United States passed the VGB Act in 2007, which extends to public pools and spas.

In the scope of pool drains, the VCB Act requires public pools to use drain covers and systems that reduce the likelihood of entrapment. While residential swimming pool owners aren’t legally obligated to follow the rules in the VGB Act, some states, counties and cities have adopted the language of this law into their legal codes for residential pools.

Unsafe Drain Covers

Drain covers made before the VGB Act are much different than those made in 2008 and later. Pre-VGB drain covers were grated just like the safer ones on the market today, but these old-style covers were flat. This design increases the drain’s suction power and makes it difficult for a swimmer to release themselves from the pull of the drain.

pool deck drain

Entrapment Dangers

A main drain suctions water with incredible strength. The force of one drain in a single-drain system produces the pulling force of 500 pounds or more, which can easily overtake a child or an adult. As a result, injuries, and in some cases, even death can occur.

The drain won’t draw a person to it from across the swimming pool. The danger comes when people play or swim too close to the main drain. Loose clothing, hair or jewelry can get sucked into the drain. There have also been instances when body parts and even organs were pulled into the main drain.

Safe Drain Covers

Drain covers made after the government passed the VGB Act are curved as opposed to flat, so they can never be completely blocked by a swimmer. The drain outlet covers on the market are approved by several organizations and must meet the ASME/ANSI A12.19.8M or the ANSI/APSP-16 standard.

You’ll know whether a drain cover meets this standard because it will be marked as such. The outlet cover must also indicate whether it’s designed for single or multiple-drain configurations and wall or floor installation, the flow rate and the expiration date. It should also include the model number and the manufacturer’s name.

Durability Features

Quality is something you don’t want to skimp on when it comes to an outlet cover. The most durable drain covers are listed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and meet their quality requirements when tested in one of the organization’s laboratories. They also come with stainless-steel hardware and are made of ultraviolet-resistant polymers.

Single vs. Multiple Main Drains

Before the VGB Act, single-drain setups were common. Now, new-construction in-ground swimming pools have two or more main drains. Existing single-drain pools in public and commercial settings must be retrofitted with an additional drain if possible, and it’s advisable for residential pool owners to do the same.

how to drain an above ground pool

With multiple drains in place, the total system flow becomes divided between each drain, reducing the velocity and accompanying danger of the individual drains. The drains are connected underground with a tee pipe, and they must be installed at least 3 feet from one another to prevent both from becoming blocked at once.

To be safe for swimmers, drain covers must be rated at or above the flow rate of the swimming pool’s circulation system. In some states, pool owners are limited to which kinds of covers they can use in terms of the covers’ rated velocity.

Drain Cover Clips

Automatic cleaners that drive along the walls and the floor of a swimming pool take the back-breaking work out of pool maintenance. Sometimes, these cleaners get hung on VGB-compliant drain covers because they’re raised, not flat. Cover clips keep cleaners away from the drains, effectively eliminating this problem.

The clip should be UV-resistant. Depending on the size of the cover, you may need two clips. Usually, drain cover clips come with an installation tool that reaches to the bottom of the pool, so you don’t have to get wet. They are also designed to float to the surface in case they come loose during installation.

Swimming Safety Measures

Collectively, using VGB-compliant drain covers and having a multi-drain system can greatly reduce the risk of entrapment. However, there are other safety measures you and those who swim in your pool should take. Regularly check the covers for missing and rusted screws, and never swim in a pool that has a broken or a missing drain cover.

Instruct all people who use your pool to refrain from swimming next to or sitting on a drain cover. Those who have long hair should keep it in a bun and should not wear loose clothing like a t-shirt or dangling jewelry such as a necklace.

Of course, children should always be supervised when they are near or in the swimming pool. Also, everyone in your house, as well as any caregiver you hire to watch your children, should be taught about safe swimming around pool drains and how to turn off the pool pump in the event of entrapment.

Winterizing a Pool Drain

When shutting down your swimming pool in the late fall, don’t forget about the main drains. After you lower the water level to prevent the skimmers from freezing over, you should blow out the skimmer and return lines, which protects the underground pipes from become frozen and cracked.

Best Pool Drains

To blow out the lines, you’ll need to open the valves and use a shop vac until you stop seeing air bubbles. Since main drains are covered by many feet of water, you shouldn’t need to add antifreeze. However, those who live in cold northern climates may wish to add that extra layer of protection.


Are Main Drains Used to Remove Water From Pools?

The name “main drain” is a misnomer. A main drain is not used to completely drain the water from a swimming pool. Think of a main drain as an outlet that’s used to help filter and circulate the water. Using suction force, the main drain draws water through itself to an underground pipe that stretches to the pool’s pump.

When Is a Secondary Safety Mechanism Advisable?

Covers are primary safety mechanisms for main drains. When it’s impossible to add a second drain to the swimming pool, the addition of a secondary device can help stop or reduce the pull of the drain’s suction. For residential pools, a safety vacuum release. an automatic pump shutoff and a suction-limiting vent are the most popular options.

A safety vacuum release system is one such mechanism. An SVRS stops the pump when the mechanism senses an increase in suction. Some SVRS devices also reverse the flow of water. An automatic pump shutoff works similarly, but it turns off the pool’s pump if it detects a blockage. There are also pumps with a built-in shutoff mechanism.

Two other choices are a suction-limiting vent and a gravity drainage system. This system is aimed at the circulation pipes, teeing one end to the suction side and the other end to the open atmosphere. With this type of system, air enters the line, stopping the pump from priming.

Can You Put a Main Drain in an Above-Ground Pool?

Although people debate the merits of installing a main drain into an above-ground pool, it is possible to do. The biggest argument against above-ground main drains is that they could cause the liner to leak. Other above-ground pool owners choose not to install a main drain because they don’t want an extra winterizing task.

Pool Drains

However, there are plenty of reasons to add a main drain. When properly installed, there is no risk of the liner leaking. The main drain can also keep the swimming pool cleaner by increasing the water’s circulation. Plus, owners won’t have to use as many chemicals or vacuum as often to maintain the water’s hygiene.

Pool Drains: Recap

Main drains serve an important purpose in an in-ground swimming pool’s filtration system, and they can even be installed in above-ground pools. Although the federal law that regulates main drains is limited to pools in commercial settings, some residential pool owners may be required to follow similar laws depending on their city, county or state.

Even if there are no drain regulations in your area, following these rules can help keep swimmers safe. Dual drains, as opposed to a single drain, will lower the velocity for each drain, reducing the suction pull. Rounded drain covers with the appropriate VGB markings are much safer than flat covers.

Any cover you use should come with stainless-steel screws and be made of UV-deflecting material. In addition to a dual-drain system and a rounded cover, there are also secondary devices you can employ, such as a vacuum release or an automatic pump shutoff mechanism.

Covers and secondary devices can go a long way toward protecting people from drain entrapment. However, they aren’t a substitute for simple safety measures like taking off your jewelry before getting in the pool and never sitting on top of a drain cover. With a holistic setup in place, everyone can stay safe while they enjoy summertime pool fun.

Top 5 Best Pool Color LEDs in 2019

Magnificent pool lighting isn’t limited to the uber-wealthy. Anyone who has a swimming pool can afford lights to turn their pool into a backyard showpiece. Lighted pools allow you to enjoy a little night swimming and boost a party’s fun factor. They also make it safer for people to walk alongside the edge of the pool at night.

Best Pool Color LEDs

Fiber optic, halogen and incandescent pool lights are falling out of favor. Now, more and more homeowners are choosing LED lights to illuminate their swimming pools. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) last longer, shine brighter and boast a greater energy efficiency. Plus, LED lights offer plenty of color choices.

You can choose underwater lights, floating lights, spotlight versions or a combination of all three. Control options range from simple switches and boxes to remotes and apps. Some LED lights can be programmed for operation via a multi-function controller so that you can manage lights, fountains, pumps and filters in a central location.

Since there are numerous LED light styles, we took the time to sift through the most popular ones. The LEDs we put on this list were chosen for their durability, energy efficiency and ease of installation. If LED terminology and light designs leave you feeling lost, our buyer’s guide will tell you everything you need to know.

Best Pool Color LEDs

Pool Color LED Buying Guide

The sheer number of color LED lights for swimming pools is dizzying, but the upside is you have so much freedom to customize the look of your pool. Before you start picking out LEDs, you need to know which colors are the brightest and how to make sense of lumens, watts and the Kelvin scale.

Pool Color LEDs

In our buying guide, we also offer some placement ideas that will maximize the illumination of your LED lights. Additionally, there are control options and installation guidelines to consider. Most importantly, we will tell you about some of the features that lend to an LED pool light’s durability.

Bulb Colors

You can get LEDs that come in one color or change between multiple colors. The colors can remain steady or run through an assortment of light shows such as fade-outs and flickers. Interestingly, LEDs only emit amber, blue, green and red colors. To create other colors, the aforementioned colors must be combined.

Although there are plenty of LED lights that shine in a white color, white is not a hue that LEDs can achieve singularly. Instead, manufacturers use a blue bulb coated in yellow phosphorous or combine the blue with green and red.

When placed underwater, the water’s wavelength absorption causes colors to behave differently. Blue light wavelengths travel faster than green and yellow, and red light wavelengths are the slowest. Therefore, red and yellow LEDs won’t shine as brightly as blue LED lights even if they put out the same number of lumens (more on lumens below).

Energy Efficiency

Like anyone else, you want the most energy-efficient setup. To save as much money as possible on your electricity bill, you must take into account the number of LED lights you’ll be using as well as the number of watts and lumens for each bulb.

solar outdoor led swimming pool lights

Watts are a measurement of an LED bulb’s energy usage, and lumens quantify the bulb’s light output. The best LED light will have a high number of lumens per watt, which is known as luminous efficacy. In other words, the bulb should shine brightly while consuming little energy.

Light Appearance

Every type of light bulb falls on the Kelvin rating scale, which measures the light’s color temperature. For LED lights, the Kelvin degrees range from 2,700 to 6,500. LEDs lower on the scale produce warm, yellowish light. Those higher on the scale generate bright white or blue-tinted light.

The surface of your swimming pool will affect your LED lights. For instance, dark surfaces will absorb more light, which means you’ll need 1.5 bulbs for every one bulb you’d use in a pool with a light-colored surface.

Coverage and Placement

Pool LEDs have varying beam angles. Wide-angled beams between 150 to 180 degrees are suitable for whole-pool illumination. Narrower beams work well for shining a spotlight on pool features such as rocks, fountains and waterfalls. Some LEDs have a rotatable lens, allowing you to adjust the beam width.

When deciding on how you’ll configure the lights near stairs, steps and swimout benches, safety is paramount. You don’t want to blind swimmers who are trying to navigate swimouts, so place those lights on the opposite side. For steps, put small lights on top of the stairs.

Small, open pools are easy to illuminate. Usually, you can get away with a single large light. Longer swimming pools require lights on opposite ends of the pool. A sound guideline is to install each light at a 4-foot distance from each end.

Freeform pools necessitate a different approach. Choose a compact LED to install on curves, pointing the light toward the center of the swimming pool. For irregularly shaped swimming pools, divide the pool into sections and design the light scheme as if you are working with multiple yet separate pools.

Control Options

The best control style for you depends on your personal preference. Wall switches are the simplest way to control LEDs as you just toggle until you find the color and pattern you want. Mounted controllers are also easy to use, especially if you program them to control all your pools’ features.

Pool LEDs

Remotes offer distance control. With a remote, you can change the LEDs’ color, dim the light and control any other of the lights’ features while relaxing in a poolside lounger. Some LEDs are even compatible with smartphone apps. Giving you control even when you’re away from home.

Durability Features

On average, LED bulbs last anywhere from 7 to 15 years. While durability isn’t an issue for the bulb itself, you do have to consider the other components in an LED light fixture. A thick rubber gasket and a tempered glass lens are two signs of durability.

The casing matters too. Rust-resistant stainless steel is hardier than plastic and more likely to prevent water seepage. Be sure to check out the Ingress Protection rating. An IPX7 is acceptable for floating LEDs. For underwater lights, an IPX8 rating is ideal as this rating indicates the LED will survive immersion indefinitely.

Installation Information

No two installation jobs will go the same as there are just too many variables involved. However, the easiest LEDs to set up are floating ones. Floating LEDs run on solar power or rechargeable batteries. If you want to keep the lights stationary, you’ll need to tie an anchor to them.

Fixed LED lights rest in permanent niches (although nicheless designs are available). Others attach to the side of the pool with a magnet, which aids in the transfer of electricity to the power source. However, magnet designs cannot be used on metal surfaces like those trending stock tank pools because the metal interferes with the transfer of electricity.


Can I Replace My Halogen Lights With LEDs?

Yes, and you don’t need to be a pro to make the switch from halogen to LED. You’ll need a screwdriver and a knife to remove the old bracket and replace it with a new one. Universal brackets will make this task easier. You must also modify the cable. Aim for LEDs that come with a splice kit.

Best Pool LEDs

Replacing halogen lights gets a little trickier when you’re using 12-volt LEDs. To make the conversion from 120 volts to 12 volts, a transformer is necessary. Additionally, the cord should not exceed 100 feet; otherwise, voltage drops are likely to occur.

What’s the Difference Between Niche and Nicheless LED Lights?

A niche is a housing that’s permanently installed in the swimming pool, and it’s where you insert the LED light. For a nicheless LED, the conduit and fitting are essentially the housing. While niche LEDs are reliable, nicheless versions are easier to install. Since nicheless lights work in more shallow depths, they shine brighter.

How Do LEDs Compare to Fiber Optic, Halogen and Incandescent Lights?

LEDs are the pool light of choice. In comparison to incandescent and halogen lights that have a filament, which emits more heat than light, LEDs contain a semiconductor. Therefore, LEDs don’t generate as much heat. Plus, they are equipped with a heat sink. In the end, halogen and incandescent lights simply burn out while LEDs gradually fade.

Incandescent bulbs are the least expensive out the door, but they’ll cost the most to run. Fiber optic lights are a pricey purchase due to their color wheel, fan and electric motor. To achieve 1,600 lumens, an LED bulb may use about 22 watts while a halogen and an incandescent bulb consume 72 and 100 watts, respectively.

What is the best LED color pool light?

Pool Color LEDs: Recap

Your swimming pool will be around for a long time. Therefore, you need a light source that can keep up without putting your electricity bills into exorbitant status. LEDs are long-lasting and energy-efficient. With LED lights, the color, angle and pattern possibilities are practically endless.

The choices are even varied as far as controls are concerned. Switches are simple, while smartphone apps are the most convenient. If you want to further enhance your pool lights, you can mix niche or nicheless underwater LEDs with floating ones.

Top 5 Best Pool Heat Pumps in 2019

Swim season is woefully short. With a pool heater, you can enjoy several more months of swimming every year. When it comes to heaters, you have four choices – an electric resistance heater, a gas heater, a heat pump and a solar heater.

Best Pool Heat Pumps

If energy efficiency, safety and durability are your main must-haves, a heat pump will fit all your requirements. You can even use a heat pump in conjunction with an existing gas heater to reduce the overall operating cost and further extend the pool season.

Pool heat pumps work similarly as HVAC heat pumps. As water flows into the heat pump, the pump’s fan uses heat from the ambient air and sends it to the evaporator coil. The refrigerant in this coil absorbs the heat and transforms into gas, which gets heated more by the compressor.

The condenser uses the gas’ heat to warm the water before the water flows back into the pool. At that point, the condenser cools the gas until it returns to its liquid refrigerant form, sending it back to the heat pump’s evaporator. The entire process is extremely energy-efficient.

Each heat pump on our list was chosen with efficiency and longevity in mind. However, not every heat pump on the list will be appropriately sized for your swimming pool. To figure out what size heat pump you need, check out the information in our buyer’s guide.

Best Pool Heat Pumps

Pool Heat Pump Buying Guide

There are multiple factors at play when sizing a heat pump for your swimming pool. In this guide, we offer the general parameters you should follow to determine the number of BTUs that are appropriate for your pool. The heat pump’s flow rate is important too, and it must correspond with the pipes’ maximum flow rate.

pool heat pumps

For residential in-ground and above-ground swimming pools, there are no hard-and-fast efficiency rules. Of course, we assume that you want to save money. Therefore, this guide explains how a heat pump’s energy efficiency is calculated. We also cover features that you should look for in terms of durability.


Heat pumps may be cost-efficient to run, but they don’t heat the water instantly. If you undersize the heat pump’s BTUs, the water may take days to heat to your desired temperature. In some cases, it may not be able to reach that temperature at all. Therefore, correctly sizing a heat pump is crucial to achieving optimal efficiency.

A few simple math equations can help you determine the number of BTUs you need a heat pump to push out. Multiply the pool’s surface area by the temperature rise (the difference between the lowest average ambient temperature to the desired pool water temperature). Then, multiply that answer by 12.

For a swimming pool with a surface area of 450 square feet and a temperature rise of 15 degrees, the minimum BTUs needed is 81,000. Pools in windy areas or regions with low humidity may require a 10-percent bump in BTUs while pools without a cover may need up to 50,000 extra BTUs.

Flow Rate

The flow rate measures the proficiency of a heat pump’s ability to circulate water. Like the BTUs, the flow rate is another spec that must be properly matched. Otherwise, you risk overheating the heat pump. Instead of sizing the flow rate to the swimming pool’s surface area, you must size it according to the pool’s pipes.

swimming pool heat pumps

Every heat pump has a minimum and a maximum flow rate, which is described in gallons per minute (GPM). The water flowing through the pipes should fall within that range. A simple meter can measure the pipes’ exact flow rate, which is determined by the pipes’ diameter and length. The wider the diameter, the higher the rate.

Clogs and obstructions will impede the water flow, but there are several steps you can take to prevent this problem. Regularly clean the filter and pump basket, and always maintain the water’s chemistry. Also, make sure the heat pump’s water pressure switch is inspected annually. Finally, keep all the valves completely open.

Energy Efficiency

While you’re looking at the details of the heat pumps we’ve reviewed, you’ll see the acronym COP, (coefficient of performance). The COP ratio measures the energy generated by the heat pump compared to the energy it uses. For instance, a 4.4 COP means the heat pump produces 4.4 kW for every 1 kW it consumes.

The COP of a pool heat pump ranges from about 2.0 to 7.0. Heat pumps with high COP and BTU ratings cost the least to run. When comparing the COP of different models, keep in mind that the testing temperatures vary among manufacturers. Most stick with an 80 degree Fahrenheit ambient and water temperature.

Heat Exchanger

One major internal component found in a pool heat pump is the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger’s purpose is to take the heat out of the refrigerant and infuse it into the pool water. When it comes to the heat exchanger, durability is key.

above ground pool heat pumps

In the past, copper and cupronickel (a copper and nickel alloy) were manufacturers’ materials of choice due to their cheap production costs. Now, titanium has come into favor as this material stands up better to rust and corrosion. A heat exchanger made of titanium is the best choice for saltwater swimming pools.


A heat pump comes equipped with one of two varieties of compressors – a reciprocating compressor or a scroll compressor. The reciprocating type contains pistons that pull the refrigerant in its gas state into a chamber during the downstroke. On the upstroke, the pistons compress the gas, causing it to get hot.

Scroll compressors make the most of the energy they produce because compression occurs nonstop. This type of compressor has one stationary scroll and one orbital scroll. As the orbital scroll revolves around the stationary scroll, the gaseous refrigerant is compressed and heated.

Normally, reciprocating compressors are used in low BTU models. In comparison to scroll compressors, reciprocating compressors are less efficient as a lot of energy is lost due to the lack of compression during the downward strokes. Since scroll compressors have fewer moving parts, they last longer and operate quieter.

Installation Requirements

Pool heat pump installation is usually handled by a professional technician unless you have installation know-how. If you do hire a technician, make sure he installs the heat pump on a sturdy concrete slab to reduce the pump’s vibrations.

heat pumps pool heater

The heat pump should be put outdoors at least 2 feet away from any wall to ensure proper airflow. Also, it will need its circuit breaker to handle the startup current. Depending on the BTUs of the pool heat pump, the amperage must range from 30 to 70.

When setting up the heat pump’s location, ensure that it’s the last component in the circulation line. However, if the pool has a chlorinator, the heat pump should be plumbed in before the chlorinator to prevent heat exchanger corrosion.


Can I Use A Heat Pump With My Existing Gas Heater?

Absolutely. In fact, a dual gas-heat pump configuration will give you more time each year to enjoy your swimming pool. Additionally, you’ll slash the operating cost by half, and drastically reduce your swimming pool’s carbon footprint.

To make the heat pump the main heater and the gas heater the supplemental heater by routing the pipes to send water to the heat pump first. Then, adjust the thermostat on the gas heater to a lower temperature than the heat pump, so it the gas unit will act as an auxiliary heater.

Do I Need to Winterize My Heat Pump?

Pool heat pumps can last as many as 20 years, especially those with an automatic defrost function. However, it’s still wise to winterize your heat pump. To do so, drain the water and protect the unit with a moisture-resistant cover. If you install a bypass between the return and flow lines, it will be easier to drain the water.

how do pool heat pumps work

How Do Heat Pumps Compare to Other Kinds of Pool Heaters?

Heat pumps have the advantage over gas heaters as they consume approximately 75 percent less energy. Heat pumps are also safer because they don’t have a pilot light or release harmful carbon dioxide into the air. On the other hand, gas heaters warm the water faster, and they operate at a lower ambient temperature.

In comparison to electric resistance heaters, heat pumps are more cost-efficient. Since they require less electricity to run, heat pumps cost up to five times less to operate. However, as with gas heaters, electric resistance units still work at a lower temperature than heat pumps.

Out of all four types of pool heaters, solar heaters cost the least to run daily. Regardless, heat pumps offer several benefits that solar heaters don’t. Heat pumps function on overcast days, and they take up less space than solar panels. Plus, heat pumps can maintain a set temperature without purchasing a separate controller.

Pool Heat Pumps: Recap

Models with a titanium heat exchanger and scroll compressor are the most durable. With proper care and winterizing, you can get at least 10, if not 20, years of reliable performance out of a pool heat pump, making them an excellent investment in your swimming pool.

how pool heat pumps work

Although heat pumps are slower to warm the water, they are the most energy-efficient and reliable type of pool heater. They’re also easy to size. All you need to know are the surface area of your swimming pool, the temperature rise and the pipe diameter to get solid ballpark BTU and flow rate figures.

Top 5 Best Pool Water Chemistry Automation Systems in 2019

Chemical balancing is the bane of pool owners everywhere. It’s time-consuming, and there’s always some guesswork involved. Some people hire a professional to maintain their pool, but the limitations of manual chemical balancing still remain, and at an exorbitant cost nonetheless.

pool chemistry monitoring system

Ideally, you should test your swimming pool’s pH and chlorine levels two times a day and adjust them accordingly. If you want to spend more time swimming in your pool, getting your pool swim-ready, a water chemistry automation system is the way to go.

Residential pools are sensitive to changes in organic matter volume and swimmer load. The more debris, sunscreen and sweat particles that float around in the pool, the more chlorine must be used. Often, people resort to frequent shocking or struggle to keep pace with their pool’s chemical demands. Automated chemical monitoring and dispensing will prevent algae growth, physical irritation and cloudy water.

Once only found in commercial pool setups, chemical automation is finally gaining traction in the world of residential swimming pools. Our guide takes a look at some of the best and most streamlined pool water chemistry automation systems available. To help you gain a better understanding of how you can automate this essential pool maintenance task, we also included a buying guide.

Best Pool Water Chemistry Automation Systems

Pool Water Chemistry Automation System Buying Guide

In general, you have two choices when it comes to pool water chemistry automation systems. You can purchase an entire system complete with sensors, a controller, chemical feeders, injectors and dedicated pumps. Alternatively, you can create one piece by piece and knit together a customized setup. There are even smart home options such as apps and voice commands.

Best Pool Water Chemistry Automation Systems

While you’re choosing a chemical automation system, you also have to consider other aspects you want from your system. This buying guide will introduce you to the major facets of an automated pool water chemistry system and steer you toward the right choice for your swimming pool.


For an automated pool chemical system to gauge the hygiene of the water and subsequently add a sanitizer or a stabilizer, sensors are used. Depending on the system you choose, there may be a sensor for the pH level, the PPM (parts per million) and/or the ORP (oxidation-reduction potential).

At the very least, you should opt for a chemical system that can detect the pH level as this measurement indicates the acidity of the water. The system should also be able to sense the PPM, so you know the quantity of sanitizer in the water whether that sanitizer is chlorine or bromine.

Some people prefer an automated system that detects the ORP instead of the PPM. ORP is measured in millivolts (mV), and it indicates the sanitizer’s oxidation activity. There are unique merits to measuring the PPM as well as the ORP. Plenty of systems can measure both, so you don’t have to choose.

Look for high-quality sensors with a low failure rate. For chlorine swimming pools, sensors with a platinum tip are a great choice. Gold-tipped sensors work well in saltwater pools. Some even come with a flow cell that resists skewed readings that pool chemicals inadvertently cause on occasion.


As the sensors gather data, that information is delivered in real-time to the controller. The controller is usually mounted to the wall, and it lets you view all the data that the sensors collect. Depending on the water chemistry system, the sensors may be programmed to take readings at 1-minute or 5-minute intervals.

The controller may allow you to choose a setpoint for the pH level and feed cycle within a specified range. Some systems link to the manufacturer’s website, so you can customize the settings remotely and sign up to receive text and email notifications.

Many pool owners prefer having accessibility to all functions on one controller. In addition to chemical automation, you can also connect the controller to the swimming pool’s filter, heater, pump, lights, and other features. The number of relays on a multi-function controller determines the number of functions you can add to it.

Smart Home Integration

If you want to maximize the convenience of your pool water chemistry automation system, you can get a system that works with a monitoring app on your smartphone or via a smartwatch. There are also systems that you can pair with an Alexa or Assistant device for voice-command control.

Pool Water Chemistry Automation Systems

However, to make smart pool chemistry automation run smoothly, you need high-speed internet access. Most of these systems connect to a Wi-Fi network, but there are some that can be wired with an Ethernet cable. Make sure the system comes with a localized wall-mounted controller as a backup if your internet goes down.

Liquid and Erosion Feeders

The data gathered by the sensors is used to calculate the exact amount of sanitizer and stabilizer the feeders need to add to the swimming pool. Feeders come in two varieties – liquid and erosion. Liquid feeders are connected to their own peristaltic pump, which releases the chemicals. This pump requires annual cleanings, and it must be kept in an enclosed room.

Erosion feeders are usually plumbed into the pool’s pipes after the filter and the heater. As the water flow dissolves the tablets, the sanitized water is injected into the pool’s return line. You can install an erosion feeder offline if you don’t have room to plumb in the feeder, but offline setups have a greater tendency to clog.

Brand Integration

If you’re like most people, you want the ability to control every component of your pool from a centralized location. Of course, the more functions that you automate, the greater the complexity of the system.

When there are only a few basic functions that you want to connect to one controller, you can get all the components from one brand or mix and match brands. While manufacturers are starting to collaborate in terms of cross-brand automation integration, it’s best to stick with a single brand for complicated setups.

Grounding and Safety

Whether you have an indoor or an outdoor swimming pool, grounding is a must-do to prevent electric shock during a lightning storm. As you probably know, water is an excellent conductor for lightning to discharge electricity. Sensors can also attract electric currents. When your pool is grounded, that energy is transferred to the earth, and the automated system’s sensors will remain accurate and last longer.

Chlorine gas is another important safety concern. If the circulation pump stops running, but the feeder keeps adding sanitizer into the return line, chlorine gas can form, causing pulmonary edema, shortness of breath and vomiting. Pool chemistry automation systems with a safety pressure switch will not inject chemicals into the line if the water isn’t flowing.


What Features Should I Look for in a Saltwater Chlorine Generator?

Contrary to popular belief, saltwater pools are not chlorine-free. The salt used by the swimming pool passes over a cell in the chlorine generator, which converts the salt to chlorine. Some chlorine generators can operate on their own or with a controller.

Pool Chemistry Automation Systems

To get the stable performance from a salt generator, look for one that has a sensor to confirm there is water flowing over the cell. Also, make sure it is designed to automatically shut off when the water gets too cold as salt cells aren’t able to work when the temperature dips below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

What pH, PPM and mV Levels Are Hygienic?

The pH, PPM and mV levels in your pool must stay within a certain range to keep the water clean and safeguard the integrity of the swimming pool’s components. The ideal pH level ranges from 7.2 to 7.8. When the pH level falls below 7, swimmers may experience eye and skin irritation and metal parts will begin to rust. A pH above 8 promotes cloudy water and scaling.

You also want to hit a sweet spot with the level of disinfectant. If you opt for chlorine, a healthy level ranges from 2 to 4 PPM. For bromine, the pool will require a greater quantity – 4 to 6 PPM. To prevent the growth of bacteria, the ORP should be at least 650 mV.

Will I Still Have to Maintain My Pool?

Unfortunately, technology has not reached a level of advancement that eliminates the need for pool maintenance. However, a chemical automation system can extend the time between maintenance tasks for as long as 4 weeks.

Even an automated system requires maintenance from time to time. Sensors need periodic cleanings, and systems must be calibrated for accuracy.

Pool Water Chemistry Automation System: Recap

No two swimming pool environments or pool owners are exactly alike. Although every chemical automation system on our list is of high quality, some may lack certain functions that you want. Others may be overkill for your swimming pool.

Chemistry Automation Systems

You have to decide on the feeder style and the types of reading sensors. You also have to choose between a wall-mounted or a portable controller. If you go portable, there’s the matter of whether you’d like the system to be integrated into your home’s Internet of Things. Once you imagine how your system will behave, you can use our list to narrow down your options.

Top 5 Best Spa Pumps of 2019

If a hot tub is like the human body, then its pump is like the heart. The spa pump’s job is to keep the water in the hot tub moving, so the heater can raise the water’s temperature before the water shoots out of the jets. Without the pump, the hot tub’s water stays cold and stagnant.

Best Spa Pumps

Some problems, such as air locks, are easy to fix. Screeching noises caused by bad bearings and weakened jet strength due to a broken propeller are more serious. These problems spell the end of a pump’s useful life.

No matter your diligence to its maintenance or the quality of the pump, spa pumps eventually wear out. You can hire someone to fix the pump, but you’ll pay triple the cost on the repair than the price of a new pump. In other words, replacing the hot tub’s pump makes more sense than repairing it.

The models we reviewed give you the most value for your money. Although spa pumps are not universal, most can fit a variety of hot tub setups. To make sure you choose one that will work with your hot tub, we also put together a buyer’s guide full of specification and sizing information.

Best Spa Pumps

Spa Pump Buying Guide

Choosing a spa pump can be tricky. However, the pump you already have can give you a baseline of information that will help you pick your new one. Usually, all the specs are located on the pump’s label, including voltage and horsepower among other values.

Best Spa Pump

For some specs, you do have a little leeway. With other factors, you must make an exact match. Our spa pump buying guide explains all the options you have, and it will show you how to size your new pump properly.


Some spa pumps operate on one speed while others can change between two speeds, which are expressed in RPM. To make sure the pump can keep up with the number of jets in your hot tub, it’s best to stick with the same speed as your old pump.

Push the jet button on the hot tub’s control panel twice to find out if it’s a one-speed or two-speed model. If the speed increases the second time, you’ve got a dual-speed spa pump.


Spa pumps produce anywhere from a fraction of a horsepower to 5 HP. If you feel that the jets’ water pressure is just right, stick with the same HP as your old pump has. If you want more pressure, you can safely bump the HP up to 1.0 with the new spa pump. Going above this slight increase may be too much for the hot tub’s piping system, causing leaks to occur.

Service Factor (SF)

If a service factor (SF) is listed on the spa pump’s label, you won’t be able to judge the pump’s horsepower at face value. Instead, you’ll have to multiply the written HP by the SF to find out the total brake power. The total break power is the pump’s true HP, and that’s the figure you need to compare.

Energy Usage

There are a few factors to consider if you want to keep your electricity bill as low as possible. The higher the pump’s horsepower, the higher your bill. For that matter, the same rule applies to the voltage. A 240-volt pump requires more electricity than a 120-volt spa pump.


Another way to determine if a spa pump is a one-speed or two-speed model is to look at its amperage rating. If you see two amperage measurements on the specs sticker, you definitely have a dual-speed spa pump.

spa pumps

Keep in mind that although the electrical system can handle a higher amp load, a hot tub pump is engineered to perform at a specific amperage. You can get a higher-amp pump than the one you have, but don’t go overboard. Remember, the higher the pump’s horsepower, the more amps it will draw – This is yet another reason to slightly increase the HP, if you do so at all.


The spa pump’s voltage must be compatible with the hot tub’s wiring. Most hot tubs are wired for 240 volts, but there are some that use 120 volts. A 115-volt spa pump’s power supply will have two wires while a 230-volt model will have four wires. If you install a 115-volt pump in a 240-volt hot tub, the pump will not work.


When sizing a pump, you must consider the number of jets in your hot tub. The more jets the tub has, the higher the pump’s speed needs to be.

Spa Pump

The spa pump’s flow rate is measured in gallons per minute, and the GPM must be high enough to meet the flow rate for the number of jets. The diameter of a jet’s opening determines its flow rate, and every spa jet requires a certain GPM level to function correctly.

As with the true HP, a simple multiplication formula will tell you the maximum GPM you need from your new spa pump. Add the number of jets in your hot tub and multiply that number by the flow rating for one jet. The answer is the GPM the pump must produce.

Wet End Discharge

The wet end of a spa pump is where the water exits the pump. Spa pumps with an adjustable discharge on their wet end are the easiest to install because you can situate the discharge port the way you want. If the wet end’s fittings aren’t one-size-fits-all, you may need to replace the unions when you switch out your old pump for a new model.

The Frame

On a spa pump, the place where the pump’s motor connects to the wet end is called the frame, which comes in a size 48 or a size 56. These numbers correspond to the distance between the bolts that secure the wet end to the motor, and you must get the same frame size as you had before.

Usually, the label will have a 48 or 56 next to the letter F. If it doesn’t, you can measure from the far edge of one bolt to the far edge of the bolt below (or above) it. If the distance is fewer than 4 inches, the pump has a 48 frame size. If it’s 4 inches or greater, the frame size is 56.

Filter Size

Every hot tub has a filter, which is rated at a specific flow threshold. If the spa pump puts out too much water pressure for the size of the filter, the filter will cease to function efficiently and most likely fail prematurely. However, if your hot tub’s filter has a bypass valve, it can withstand the higher water flow that’s produced when a dual-speed pump’s impeller spins at its top RPM.


How Do I Measure the Spa Pump’s Discharge?

You want to make sure the spa pump will fit the hot tub’s existing plumbing network. To do so, all you need is a simple tape measure. Start from the outside diameter and measure across to the opposite end on the outside. The measurement will either be 2.5 inches or 3 inches. Take the measurement and subtract it by 1 – The answer should correspond to the pipe size of 1.5 inches or 2 inches.

hot tub spa pumps

How Do I Prime the Pump?

Air locks are an inevitable nuisance that prevents the spa pump from circulating the water. To remove trapped air and restore the pump’s functionality, you’ll need to prime the pump in one of two ways. Some spa pumps prime themselves. Usually, self-priming pumps don’t require human intervention, but sometimes they do.

One priming method involves the hot tub’s control panel. You can only try this method if the panel has a priming button. Activate the spa’s priming mode and turn on the jets for 20 seconds at the lowest possible speed. Then, crank up the water flow to the highest speed for an additional 20 seconds. Alternate between both speeds until the air bubbles and/or gurgling noises are gone.

The other way to prime the pump is to do it manually via the bleeder valve. Before you begin, turn off the circuit breaker. Next, close the discharge’s gate valve. Once you start turning the bleeder valve, you’ll hear hissing air. Your cue to stop turning it and tighten the valve is when that sound stops. After that, flip on the breaker and test out the jets.

How Long Should My Spa Pump Last?

Spa pumps are designed to last anywhere from 5 to 10 years. Debris is a pump’s worst enemy. To get as many years of useful life as possible from your spa pump, routine maintenance is a must-do.

Luckily, it isn’t hard to maintain your spa pump. Inspect and clean the filter regularly to prevent debris from damaging the pump’s impeller. Also, keep the water’s pH level balanced. If the pH is too high, the pump’s components will begin to corrode. If it’s too low, scale buildup will clog the filter and pump.

Finally, make it a point to check the pump for leaks every once in a while. If you spot a leak, replace the seal. As long as you stick to a regular maintenance schedule, you can maximize (and maybe even exceed) the spa pump’s lifespan.

Spa Pump Buying: Recap

Since it’s the center of a hot tub’s water circulation and jet pressure, the spa pump will make or break your hot tub experience. While all of the pump models on our list are excellent performers, only some may be suitable for your hot tub.

You must take into account the amperage, horsepower, frame, flow rate and voltage in order to correctly size your new spa pump. Once you figure out the specs you need, selecting one of the spa pump’s we’ve reviewed will be easy.

Top 5 Best Pool Pumps in 2019: Buying Guide

Whether it’s an in-ground or an above-ground, you can’t have a swimming pool without a pump to circulate the water. Without one, it won’t take long for algae to turn your water that icky green color. Sure, you can dump more chemicals into the swimming pool, but you’ll eventually destroy the pool’s surface. How exactly does a pool pump work? Find out the answer to this question and others in our FAQs section below.

Best Pool Pumps

Top 5 Best Pool Pumps in 2019

Need a new pool pump? We reviewed dozens and chose these five pumps for their energy efficiency, effectiveness and usability.

5) Pentair SuperFlo VS Variable Speed Pool Pump (342001)

Pentair’s SuperFlo VS contains a single-phase motor that boasts a total rating of 1.5 hp. The pump self-primes, saving you time and trouble. With three operating speeds from which to choose, the SuperFlo VS can handle the demands of in-ground swimming pools from 20,000 to 30,000 gallons.

The motor and other internal components are housed by an ultraviolet light-deflecting cover. The impeller keeps the water moving efficiently at speeds as high as 3,450 rpm. Thanks to its fan-cooled motor that’s sealed from dust and water, the pump won’t make any high-pitched noises that will disturb your poolside fun or your neighbor’s peace and quiet.

Pentair 342001

Pentair claims that the SuperFlo VS can reduce your energy costs up to 80 percent in comparison to single-speed pool pumps. On average, this Energy Star-certified pump only costs about 16 cents per kilowatt-hour when running 12 hours each day. You’ll also appreciate the pump’s dual-voltage compatibility and easily accessible wiring compartment.

Clearly labeled buttons on the keypad make it a breeze to set a schedule or override that schedule. The quick-clean mode forces the pump to run at a different speed to meet your pool’s immediate needs. The digital display shows watt usage and critical operating information.

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4) Hayward Super Pump Single Speed Pool Pump (SP2610X15)

This economical single-speed pool pump by Hayward is ideal for in-ground swimming pools 20,000 gallons or larger, and the ventilated motor produces a total of 1.5 hp with a service factor of 1.0 hp. Hayward’s inclusion of full-flow ports allows for quick self-priming at 10 or fewer feet higher than the water level.

Inside the durable, one-piece housing, there is a high flow-rate Noryl resin impeller. This bi-polymer impeller is balanced to save energy, and a heat-resistant, industrial-size ceramic seal sits between it and the motor. An adjustable mounting bracket provides stability for the motor, which is accessible without detaching the connecting pipes.

Hayward SP2610X15

Rewiring won’t be necessary with the Super Pump because this pump is a 115/230 dual-voltage model. With corrosion-resistant PermaGlass XL components, the pump is a great choice for saltwater swimming pool owners. Its output averages 75 gallons per minute, and you can connect the pump to a separate timer to meet your energy needs.

A 110-cubic-inch strainer basket allows you to go longer between cleanings. You’ll know exactly when it’s time to empty the debris without opening the strainer cover since the cover is transparent. A pair of hand knobs allows you to open the cover with ease, and the strainer cover’s Lexan thermoplastic material can withstand impacts at a much higher rate than acrylic or glass.

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3) Pentair Sta-Rite SuperMax VS Variable Speed Pool Pump (343001)

For the Sta-Rite SuperMax pool pump, Pentair used a one-phase motor that generates 1.5 total hp. The self-priming pump is perfect for typical in-ground residential pools, and its side-accessible 115/230-volt electrical connections streamline the installation process. The pump’s motor is also quiet due to its externally cooled enclosure.

Since this is an Energy Star variable-speed pump, you can expect big savings on your electricity bill. The impeller’s speed reaches up to 3,450 rpm. A quick-clean mode lets you adjust the speed for a short time when you need extra circulation power, and there’s an override function that allows you to bypass any programmed schedule.

Pentair Sta-Rite 343001

Pentair built the Sta-Rite SuperMax to last for years. The housing is made of a strong polymer plastic, and the one-piece strainer pot and volute give the pump durability while simultaneously reducing the noise output. Unionized fittings help make the pump easier to plumb, and a see-through lid gives you the ability to view the strainer basket’s fill level without removing the cover.

A feature-loaded, user-friendly control panel is one of this pool pump’s standout features. The keypad offers a lockout mode and plus/minus buttons for easy time and scheduling adjustments. The large screen displays the time left per programmed schedule, the watts and the rpm, and the pump’s clock has an integrated memory function that comes in handy when power outages occur.

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2) Pentair IntelliFlo Variable Speed Pool Pump (011018)

With this self-priming, 3-hp pool pump from Pentair, you get the benefit of a 16-amp permanent magnet motor, which provides consistent speeds, reduces vibrations, generates high torque and offers excellent energy efficiency. Since its rated at 3 hp, you can add water features to your pool without decreasing the pump’s efficiency. Plus, the motor’s totally enclosed, fan-cooled (TEFC) system offers protection against the elements.

The 230-volt IntelliFlo is a huge long-term money-saver. Although the pump works in pools twice this size, Pentair estimates that you could save $1,000 or more per year when used with a 20,000-gallon pool. In fact, the pump is 16 percent more efficient than Energy Star’s minimum requirements.

Pentair IntelliFlo Variable Speed Pool Pump (011018)

On-screen diagnostics eliminate the guesswork from troubleshooting. The 3,450-rpm-max variable-speed pool pump features a minimum sound level of 45 decibels. The built-in keypad is covered with a hinged door, and its LCD display screen is extra-large for clear visibility. Password protection can be enabled to prevent others from changing the pump’s settings.

From the control panel, you have your choice of four preset speeds in manual or egg-timer mode as well as eight programmable speeds in schedule mode. A quick-clean mode increases the speed for a short time period. You can set the menu to one of a handful of languages, time-out the pump up to 10 hours and select a 24-hour or an am/pm time display.

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1) Harris ProForce Above-Ground Pool Pump (H1572730)

Harris’ ProForce pool pump is designed for use with above-ground pools. Its 1.5-hp motor can accommodate hard-side swimming pools of 25,000 gallons/33 feet or bigger. The motor’s stainless-steel shaft is incredibly durable, and the pump itself is easy to prime.

Thanks to its thermoplastic housing, corrosion is a problem with which you won’t have to deal. The single-speed pump’s impeller spins at a rate of 3,450 rpm, and you can hook up the pump to an external timer to save money on your electricity bill. A thick seal protects the impeller from heat-related damage, and the pump’s base is pre-drilled for mounting.

Harris H1572730

Like other above-ground pool pumps, the ProForce has a 115-volt rating. If the three-prong, 6-foot cord is plugged into a GCI outlet, you don’t need to add a ground wire. The suction and discharge ports have 1.5-inch connections, allowing for a flow rate of 45 GPM. The ProForce is literally a connect-plug-and-run pool pump.

On the pump, there is a large-debris strainer basket, which is easy to empty. The lid on the strainer is made of see-through material for your convenience, and its twist-and-lock mechanism keeps the top secure. A sizeable drain plug takes some of the hassle out of winterizing the pool pump, and you can use a cartridge or a sand filter with this pump to maximize your pool’s filtration efficiency.

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Pool Pump Buying Guide

We’ve presented you with five great pool pumps that are currently available at an equally great price. However, every swimming pool is different. To figure out what features you need, check out our pool pump buying guide.

Flow Rate

We cannot stress the importance of the pump’s flow rate enough. If the pump is undersized for your swimming pool, you’ll overload the pump. If the pump is oversized, damage can result from cavitation, and you’ll waste money on electricity.

hayward pool pumps

To get a ballpark estimate of the flow rate that your pool demands, divide the number of gallons your pool holds by 8, which is how long the pump will need to run per day. The answer will tell you the gallons-per-hour flow rate. To convert this figure to gallons per minute, divide your answer by 60.


When sizing a pump, you must also take into account the pump’s horsepower. If the pump’s flow rate is low but its horsepower is high, you can still use the pump. It may cost more to run the pump, but you’ll get consistent performance from it.

The typical in-ground residential swimming pool works well with a 1 or 2-hp pump. Go for a 2-horsepower model if your pool sees a lot of action. A 1.5-hp is a happy medium. Big pools may require a 3-hp pump.

Single or Variable Speed

Single-speed and variable-speed pumps have their own pros and cons. Single-speed pool pumps have withstood the test of time due to their reliability. With a single-speed pump, you’ll always know that the water in your swimming pool is circulating as fast as possible. Also, the advent of variable-speed pumps has made single-speed models much cheaper than they used to be.

What is the most energy efficient pool pump?

However, variable-speed pool pumps tend to use less electricity than their single-speed counterparts. Most have a programming feature that lets you determine what speed the pump should run on and for how long. These pumps are often quieter, and their internal components generate less heat.

Number of Speeds (Variable-Speed Pumps)

Usually, the speed of a pool pump tops out at 3,450 rpm. The minimum speed of a variable pump differs. Depending on the model, you’ll get three or four pre-programmed speed selections. If the variable-speed pool pump has a scheduling feature, you may get twice the number of choices. If you’re big on saving energy without sacrificing performance, you’ll want as many speed choices as possible.

Timer (Single-Speed Pumps)

If you decide a single-speed pump is the right choice for your swimming pool, make sure the pump can be connected to a timer. An external timer can be had for extremely cheap, and it will turn the pump on and off automatically. With a timer, you can look forward to less expensive electricity bills during the summer.

Manual or Self-Priming

Some pool pumps require you to prime them while others prime themselves. A self-priming pool pump will save you time and trouble. Plus, you won’t have to worry as much about the pump running dry. If you opt for a pump that you must prime, check out the manual to make sure you understand the priming process.

How long should a pool pump last?


The pump you choose should be compatible with your electrical system; otherwise, you’re looking at some costly electrical repairs in the near future. A pool pump will be rated at 115 or 230 volts. Some pumps work with either voltage. Most above-ground pumps are rated at 115 volts while high-hp pumps tend to be rated at 230 volts. Dual-voltage pumps are the easiest to configure.

The Motor

Efficiency and longevity are the two most important aspects of any pool pump’s motor. A totally enclosed, fan-cooled motor is protected from damaging outdoor elements. A shaft made out of stainless steel is resistant to corrosion, and a permanent-magnet motor produces steady speeds, high torque and great energy efficiency.

The Impeller

As with the motor, you want the pump’s impeller to be durable. Impellers in today’s pool pumps are designed to make the entire pump as lightweight as possible. Therefore, plastic is the most common impeller material. Ideally, the impeller should be constructed from Noryl resin, which is heat and element-resistant. Balanced impellers help reduce energy costs, and a thick or heat-deflecting seal should sit between the impeller and the motor.

The Housing

Again, corrosion-resistance should be a consideration. Pump housings made of thermoplastic or Noryl meet this criterion, and they hold up to years of UV-light exposure. If possible, get a pool pump with a one-piece housing, which reduces the vibrations that lead to breakage.

What is the quietest pool pump?

The Strainer

Since keeping the strainer free of debris is essential to your pump’s ability to operate, you’ll want a pump with an easy-to-clean basket. A user-friendly strainer will have a transparent lid, so you don’t have to pop open the top to inspect the basket. Usually, a see-through lid is constructed from Lexan glass for its impact resistance.

Additionally, the basket should have some sort of tabs by which to lift it. The bigger the basket, the longer you can let the pump run before you need to remove the debris. To open the lid, swinging knobs and twist locks are the easiest to use.

Noise Level

A pool pump will make noise, and there’s no way to avoid it. However, some pumps make less noise than others. Variable-speed pumps are quieter than single-speed pumps, and you can lower the speed when you want to enjoy a peaceful nighttime swim. Pumps with a single-piece housing or strainer pot make fewer vibrations, and TEFC motors won’t produce shrill shrieks.

Scheduling (Variable-Speed Pumps)

Scheduling is a feature reserved for variable-speed pool pumps. Many of these pumps are equipped with a clock; however, some do have a timer. When it comes to setting a schedule, a clock is the easier, more efficient method. Since power outages happen when we least expect them, look for a model with a memory function, so you don’t have to reset the clock every time a storm hits.

swimming pool pumps

Pool pumps with a scheduling feature should also offer a way to circumvent an in-progress schedule. Modes like quick clean temporarily boost the pump’s speed to compensate for heavy pool usage and chemical treatments. There should also be a way to override the schedule altogether, so you can avoid having to reset the schedule on days when the pool’s demands don’t match the preset speed.

The Control Panel

Pumps that have an integrated control panel should be easy to use. The panel’s buttons should be labeled for clarity, and the display screen shouldn’t force you to squint in order to read it. If you plan to install the pump close to your swimming pool, be sure that it has a protective door or cover to prevent water from splashing on it.

Safety Features

A pump is a long-term investment in your swimming pool. Certain safety features will help you protect that investment. Pumps that have a display screen should not only show operating information but also error messages, which will help you troubleshoot problems before they turn into expensive disasters. Some keypads are even password protected to prevent anyone without that password from changing the speed and damaging the pump in the process.

Mounting Base

Pool pumps usually have a base with pre-drilled mounting holes. Depending on the base’s configuration, you can either top mount or side mount the pump. The type of mount you’ll need depends on the amount of space you have to work with around the pump and the location of the pool’s filter ports.


How Does a Pump Work?

The pump’s job is to circulate the water in your swimming pool. To do this, the pump’s skimmer pulls water from the pool. Using vacuum pressure, the pump sends the water through a large-debris strainer. Then, a filter captures the leftover debris before the chlorinator (if you have a chlorine-based swimming pool) treats the water. Finally, the water is released back into the swimming pool.

Do variable speed pool pumps really save money?

Why Do I Need to Prime the Pump?

For the pump’s motor to run, there must be water in the strainer pot. The purpose of priming is to draw water in while pushing air out. Otherwise, the pump would only draw in air, and serious breakdowns would occur (see below).

What Happens If I Run the Pump While Dry?

If you run the pool pump while dry, one or two problems will likely happen. The seal that keeps water out of the motor will get hot enough to melt, and the pump will leak. When this occurs, the seal must be replaced. If left to run with a leaky seal, the motor may also need to be replaced.

How Does a Self-Priming Pump Work?

When you turn on a self-priming pump, the impeller starts spinning at a pre-programmed speed. For variable-speed pumps, the priming speed is usually the highest one. A cone-like component called a diffuser encloses the impeller, increasing the pump’s pull and removing air from the line to prime the pump.

Why Won’t the Pump Prime?

There are several issues that can prevent a pump from priming. The pump’s suction side may have an air leak or an obstruction. Sometimes, the impeller may be broken. Normally, it should only take 5 minutes for a pool pump to prime. If the pump is placed too high above or too far from the swimming pool, priming could take longer.

How Do I Protect My Pool Pump During the Winter?

Winterizing the pool pump is an important part of closing down a swimming pool for the season. To protect it from cold weather, you should disconnect, drain and clean out the pump. If you decide to keep the pump outside, cover it and plug any open pipes. In northern regions, the pump should be kept in a dry indoor space.

How Long Should I Run the Pump Each Day?

The ideal hours per day to run a pump depends on the pool’s size, the amount of debris, the number of swimmers, the pump’s efficiency and other factors. A general guideline is 8 to 12 hours. You can get away with fewer hours on days when it’s cooler or there aren’t many swimmers in the water.

pool pump

What Type of Pump Should I Get for a Saltwater Swimming Pool?

You have a variety of pumps from which to choose as most pool pumps are compatible with saltwater swimming pools. Due to the low level of salt content, you shouldn’t have any long-term issues with the pump’s functionality. To be on the safe side, you may want to opt for a pool pump with predominately plastic parts instead of metal ones.

How Do I Maintain the Strainer Basket?

Your pool pump’s strainer basket has an important job – It keeps debris from damaging the impeller and prevents the pump from overheating. Make it a habit to scoop out debris from the basket once or twice per week. After every other clean-out, remove the strainer basket and wash it. These steps will prolong the life of the basket and the pump.

How Do Above-Ground Pool Pumps Differ From In-Ground Pumps?

Although in-ground and above-ground pool pumps look and operate in a similar fashion, there is one distinct difference between the two pump types. Above-ground pool pumps don’t have a diffuser. Therefore, the pump’s inlet must be placed lower than the water supply, so the water can use gravity to flow to the strainer basket.