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.

Horsepower

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?

Voltage

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.

FAQs

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.

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