Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
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Last updated: February 24, 2021
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The traditional pool pump is not only expensive to maintain but it is loud and inefficient too. Variable speed pool pumps are a great choice if you have been experiencing high electricity costs from your current pool pump. They offer more features and run more efficiently. With that said, finding the best variable speed pool pump will not be a walk in the park. You will find hundreds, if not thousands of impressive models but not all of them are right for your pool.
Luckily, we are here to review a number of top products in the market so that you won’t have to try several of them. After trying out 25 different products and talking to industry professionals, we prepared a comprehensive review. Of course, this took us a couple of weeks but we enjoyed every moment of it. The Pentair 011018 IntelliFlo blew our minds, and for good reason. This pool pump is very efficient yet four times quieter than the traditional pool pump. It is also easy to install and you can use its LCD display to navigate its 8-speed setting.
We consider a couple of features when looking for the top variable speed pool pumps. These include power, speed, warrant, weight, and dimensions among others. Our review starts with a comparison table of the 10 products that we discuss. This is then followed by in-depth reviews of each product and buying guide to give you all you need to know about variable speed pool pumps.
Pentair is a popular manufacturer of quality pool pumps and other pool equipment. The high performance and energy efficiency of the Pentair 011018 IntelliFlo maintains the great reputation of Pentair. But what makes this variable pool pump stand out?
For maximum performance, this variable speed pool pump comes with a 1.5 horsepower operation. The great power makes it a highly efficient pool pump that can handle even the larger pools. A fan cooled motor and intelligent design not only reduces overheating in the pool but also makes it run silently.
This product is also versatile. With the Pentair 011018 IntelliFlo, you get to choose between 8 different speeds depending on your needs. You can program it to run at different speeds during the day. This feature allows you to save money by lowering the speeds when the pool is idle. You will also notice that this pump runs more quietly than other products in the market with a sound output of only 45db. This is estimated to be 4 times quieter than the traditional fixed-speed pool pump.
It can also integrate with the intelligent features of other systems such as EasyTouch or Intellitouch. This will allow you to integrate it with other water control systems. However, it is worth noting that programming this variable speed pool pump may be complicated. The product also features a 60 day warranty too but this can be extended for up to one year.
Hayward has been at the beck and call of their clients for more than 80 years. The company continues to help pool owners by manufacturing some quality and cutting edge pool equipment. Hayward TriStar VS W3SP3202VSP is the way to go if you are looking to replace a high-performance traditional model without compromising on performance.
This compact model promises to pay for itself faster from the energy savings and total efficiency of the product. It has an ENERGY STAR rating, which means that you can get rebates from your power supplier.
The energy efficient hydraulics, permanent motor and the variable speed system make this the perfect pool pump. The permanent magnet motor will ensure that the pump runs efficiently without constant interruptions. This motor is also enclosed in a fan to make it cool and pro long the pump’s life.
You will also find automatic protection and on-board diagnostics to help you control the pump easily. The automatic protection feature can help you to troubleshoot any problems, prime failures, handle temperature extremes and regulate voltage fluctuations. It also features a 24-hour programmable clock that allows you to choose among 8 timer settings. Installation of this pump is generally easier but we recommend that you read the manual first. It will save you a lot of time and effort than when doing it on your own.
The Pentair Sta-Rite P6E6VS4H-209L IntelliPro is also among some of the most powerful variable speed pool pump. It features a 3 horsepower motor that works great even for large pools. The great power, long term durability and quiet operation make this appliance a must have for pool owners.
This product features a hyper-efficient magnet motor that is permanently fixed. The motor incorporates technology that is integrated in hybrid automobiles. It is also totally enclosed and fan cooled (TEFC), which means that its does not overheat arbitrarily. What’s more, this motor will automatically adjust its speed in real time to match the conditions in your pool.
Pentair Sta-Rite P6E6VS4H-209L IntelliPro is also a great option if you wish to significantly cut your power bills. The manufacturer promises that you will reduce your pool energy savings by up to 90 percent. It has a low noise operation with a sound output of 45 decibels, which means you get a super silent pump that is as noisy as a 1.5hp regular speed pump.
For more functionality, this variable speed pool pump has 8 programmable speed settings and a built in timer. The different settings allow you to get more efficiency out of your pump, at a lower cost. You can choose the minimum speed setting if your pool is not being used to save both energy and money.
Are you looking for an affordable yet highly performing variable speed pool pump? The Harris In-Ground VS 72522 is your best bet if you want a reliable machine that will not break the bank. This pool pump is designed to help you operate your home pool, spa, salt chlorine system, water heater or other water application systems.
This is the best variable speed pool pump to choose if you are tired of buying pumps that do not last long. It is made from stainless steel, which means it will not rust even when exposed to some water. The strong build also make it popular among pool owners as it can withstand harsh environmental conditions.
With the Harris In-Ground VS 72522, you get three speed settings. These include a 1500RPM Eco mode, a 2400RPM clean mode and a 3250RPM boost mode. It has a control panel that makes it easy to navigate the different settings. This control panel is quite useful as it has LED indicators that show the speed and alarm indicators that warn the users in case of anything. You will get error messages to show there are high temperatures, very low or high voltage and freeze protection.
This variable speed pool pump is also designed for maximum efficiency and little noise output.
The Pentair 011028 IntelliFlo VS is one of the most popular variable speed pump pools in the world. This pump is popular as it was one of the first VS pumps to get an Energy-Star certification. It is also quite powerful with a 1.5hp output that works well for small to medium sized swimming pools.
One of the first things that you notice about this product is its great design and how easy it is to use. The pump has a control keypad that you can use to program the variable speed pool pump, change the speed settings or even flow rate. It allows you to rotate the keypad in case it was ill-fitted. The menu structure for programming and controlling this pool pump is also easy to use and quite intuitive.
You will love this pump pool if you enjoy using technology to make your tasks easier. The pump integrates well with other Pentair systems and even allows you unfettered mobile control. Yes, you can finally control your variable speed pool pump with your smart phone.
If you are simply out to look for something that will cut your power bills then this is a good buy too. This product is Energy Star certified as it meets the stringent energy-efficiency standards set out by the US department of energy and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It promises a 90% energy savings compared to a traditional single-speed pump that runs for half a day.
Getting the Hayward W3SP2603VSP Super Pump VS is a great idea if you are looking to upgrade to a variable speed pool pump. It works well for small to medium swimming pools and even spas. While we tried our several products, installing and using this product is one of the easiest things to do. This simple device will give you enough power to ensure that your pool is filtered.
For maximum efficiency, this variable speed pool pump is fitted with permanent magnet motors. This means that they do not need much energy to run the pump. The motors are also totally enclosed and fan-cooled making it a reliable product. The Hayward W3SP2603VSP Super Pump VS features a special hydraulic design that guarantee a quiet operation. It is silent than most pool pumps and your guests won’t notice that it has been running for hours.
To make it easy to use, this product comes with a programmable touch pad that feels very intuitive. You can rotate the touch pad to four positions for extra comfort when programming the variable speed pool pump. Mounting the touch pad is also a great hack if you are looking to get a better access. What’s more this pool pump can work on its own using the Hayward automation system or integrate with other systems through its relay control.
Pentair is a trusted brand that has been delivering quality equipment to pool owners for years. It was one of the first manufacturer to integrate cuttng-edge technology to their pumps. The Pentair Sta-Rite 343001 SuperMax VS promises to help you keep your pool clean and welcoming at an affordable cost. What’s more, it helps you save loads of energy that will help you get your money back. This pump cleaner promises to cut your energy costs by up to 80 percent. Who wouldn’t like that?
For the pool owners that seek to find an easy to install and operate variable speed pool pump, the Pentair Sta-Rite 343001 SuperMax VS is a wise pick. It has an easy yet intuitive user-interface that gives you total control over the whole pump. It shows you the RPM, current time, program duration and the watts used among others. Moreover, wiring this machine is pretty straightforward. We also noticed that this pump is safer as its electronic board is not left exposed.
If you love using sustainable products then this is your pick. The Pentair Sta-Rite 343001 SuperMax VS has an Eco Select distinction as a green product and one of the most efficient variable speed pump on the market. What does this mean? Products that are branded Eco Select are specially designed to reduce energy consumption, help conserve water or reduce noise pollution.
With the Hayward W3SP2303VSP MaxFlo VS, you have a versatile variable speed pool pump that is great for both small and large pools. You can even use it in spas or other water application systems that are fitted with pool filters, large heaters among others. This pump also features a uniquely designed relay control that allows the user to use it with any automation systems.
It is easy to program this variable speed pool pump. All you have to do is to set the timers with a selection of 8 different options to choose from. Its programmable timer and permanent magnet motor makes it qualify for the APSP 15 and Title 20 standards. It also has a ENERGY STAR certificate and is compliant with other government rules. This makes you an eligible candidate for local power rebates when you buy the Hayward W3SP2303VSP MaxFlo VS.
Like other Hayward variable speed pool pumps, this model has a permanent magnet motor to guarantee maximum energy savings. The motor is also fan-cooled and enclosed, which makes it more durable than the regular pool pumps. These two features gives the Hayward W3SP2303VSP MaxFlo VS the ability to save up to 80% of your previous energy consumption.
This variable speed pool pump may be more expensive than the other machines but it offers other extra features. The ease of use, great power and energy efficiency makes it a great buy.
Looking to upgrade from a single-speed 115V pool pump without unnecessary wiring? The Hayward SP26115VSP Super Pump VS was specially designed to help users replace their current 115V pumps with a variable pool pump without the extra hassles. That said, this product is still great for anyone looking for a compact variable speed pool pump.
This compact pool pump weighs a paltry 28 pounds and measures 10.9 x 8.6 x 25 inches. Since its lighter than most pumps, you can easy carry and transport it. Storage or installation won’t also be a problem since it can easily fit in small spaces. However, this variable speed pool pump works well for both small and medium pools.
Like other quality Hayward products, the Hayward SP26115VSP Super Pump VS comes with a permanent magnet to enhance energy savings. The motor is also totally enclosed and fan-cooled (TEFC) for maximum reliability and efficiency. While this product was meant as an upgrade to previous 115V single-speed users, the Hayward SP26115VSP Super Pump VS is available in both 115V and 230V.
For easy use and total control over the variable speed pool pump, this model comes with a programmable touch pad. Moreover, you can rotate this touch pad to four positions or choose to stick it to the wall. Either way, you will enjoy using the intuitive user interface.
What we liked:
Features relay controls for easy compatibility
Includes a comprehensive user guide
What could be better:
Little horsepower makes it unsuitable for large pools
The Pentair 342001 is also a great choice if you wish to upgrade from your traditional single-speed pool pump to a modern VS pool pump. This simple pool pump promises exceptional energy cost savings once you jump ship. It features a totally enclosed fan cooled motor that improves the efficiency of the variable pool pump and makes it durable. The TEFC motor also muzzles any sound that comes out of the pump eliminating the unpleasant sound that pumps make.
Installation is a breeze with this pump. Switching to this variable pool pump will not require any expensive wiring on your part. This is because the pump runs on both 130V and 220V power. You also get an easy access to the wiring board making the connection process even faster.
We also think that you will enjoy using the Pentair 342001. This pool pump comes with a digital display and a 24 hour clock to make operation and programming a breeze. All you have to do is to select one of the three-speed settings to get the desired speed setting and an override setting and you are done.
You may find that this pump is a bit bulky. It weighs 50 pounds and measures 28 x 15.5 x 12.5 inches. However, it has a strong and sturdy construction that makes it a durable variable speed pump.
What we liked:
Great digital interface
What could be better:
Offers only three speed settings
Works better at lower speeds
Things to Consider
Choosing the right pool pump seems like a simple endeavor but this can’t be farther from the truth. While there are many products on the market that purport to be most effective, not all of them are right for you. To avoid going through scores of products and wasting cash, it is imperative that you keep some essential factor in mind before purchase. Here are a couple of things that you should consider when buying a variable speed pool pump.
Main advantages of variable speed pool pumps
Variable speed pool pumps are popular home equipment that offer a lot of benefits to pool owners. This is because they were designed to improve on the single-speed pumps that are less efficient and have high energy costs. That said, here are a couple of advantages of a variable speed pool pump.
Energy Efficiency- Variable speed pumps save energy for several reasons. First, they use a permanent magnet motor that does not need additional electricity to spin the rotor. Secondly, variable speed pool pumps do not work with a single pumping speed. This allows them to reduce their flow rate and overall energy consumption. They can regulate the speed of the motor when the pool is idle.
Durability- pool pumps with variable speeds tend to last long because of some of the design differences. For example, most motors in variable speed pumps are totally enclosed and fan cooled. This protects them from harsh environmental conditions unlike single-speed motors that have exposed induction motors. Enclosed motors not only stay cooler but also preserve the motor bearings and windings.
Easy to Install- it is easy to install a variable speed pump and you can even transfer the wiring from a single speed motor to your new pool pump. Programming is also a piece of cake for most variable speed pool pumps. However, not all pools are same and you will have to customize your settings depending on your preferences. You will have to run some experiments to find the minimum operating speeds and to set out the different run times.
Silent operation- Unlike traditional pumps, variable speed pool pumps run more quietly and it may be difficult to tell the pool is running when at low speeds. One of the reasons for silently operating is because the motors are enclosed and the sounds may be muffled inside.
How do they work
A pool pump is an essential equipment that works by circulating the water in your pool. It does this to ensure that the water does not stay still and that any unwanted debris is filtered out. The regular pumps often run with one or even two speed settings, which may be impossible to control.
A variable speed pool pump works by addressing some of the challenges that these single or two-speed pumps have. They have an automatic feature that regulates the speed of the motor while it is still running. How do they do this? Variable speed pool pumps have a pressure sensor that reduces the speed of the pump when there is low water pressure. Instead of just running one speed setting in a session, a variable speed pool pump will detect and set the speed required to get the job done. This video gives more information about how variable speed pool pumps work and why you should get one:
Like all products, it is important that you review the price range of variable speed pumps before setting out to get one. You want a product that will offer you the best bang for your buck and one that is within your budget. That said, a good variable speed pool pump should be affordable but it should not compromise on quality. Of course, a pricier model such as the Hayward TriStar VS W3SP3202VSP will offer you more features and better performance. But this does not mean that you should splurge on the most expensive pump pool. Carefully review each selected product and the features they offer before looking at the price of the pumps. If you are on a tight budget then you can try the Harris In-Ground VS, our best value pick.
Features to consider while buying the best variable speed pool pump
A long-term decision such as buying a variable speed pool pump requires some careful considerations. With so many pumps on the market, it may be difficult to find the right product. These are some of the important features to keep in mind before you pull out your credit card to get a pool pump.
Both the internal and external materials that make up a pool pump are important. The pool pump that you choose should be able to protect the equipment from natural vagaries. This is because they protect important components from being soaked while at the same time enhance durability of the pumps. A strong material means that the pool pump will be highly durable and you can rely on it for years. It is also important that the material used by the manufacturer is not easily corroded.
Power and efficiency
One of the main reasons to get a variable speed pool pump is to reduce the power consumption of your pool equipment. There is no reason for your pump to be running throughout the day even if they need to keep your pool clean. In the event that you are not filtering your water, a variable speed pump will ensure the pump runs slowly in such times. For best results, you should get a variable speed pool pump that can automatically adjust its speed settings to reduce power consumption.
Ideally, you need a powerful pool pump that will be able to handle all your pool needs. Those with a large-size pool should get a pump with more horsepower such as the Pentair Sta-Rite P6E6VS4H-209L IntelliPro or the Harris In-Ground VS 72522. These pool pumps have a high 3-horsepower operation. You will have to review your electricity consumption after the first month to establish whether it is efficient. Watch out for any product that has an Energy Star certification as it is likely to be very efficient too.
Speed is essential in any swimming pool pump. Some pool pumps have a single speed setting while some have two or more speed settings. Variable speed pool pumps have up to 8 different speed settings to help you clean your pool. The Pentair 011028 IntelliFlo VS is a great choice if you are looking for a versatile machine as it comes with an 8-speed setting. You can also choose the Pentair 342001 if you would like a simpler machine. This variable speed pool pump comes with a 3-speed setting control. It is worth noting that a higher speed setting will allow you to turn over a high amount of water over a short period of time. If this is your aim then you should look for pumps with higher speeds.
Several manufacturers will void your warranty if you do not get a professional to install your variable speed pool pump. Some companies do not have this restriction so you need to be sure about this first. A lot of users complain about this since it is not only inconvenient but hiring a professional also requires a lot of cash.
However, we believe that most variable speed pool pumps are easy to install and won’t present any challenges during installation. You should be able to install your pumps and rewire it as soon as you read the manual instructions. Just to remember to check if your manufacturer will punish you for self-installation by voiding your warranty. The Pentair Sta-Rite P6E6VS4H-209L IntelliPro is one of the products we reviewed that had simple installation instructions.
A guarantee or a warranty gives you extra peace when you buy a product. That said, you should ensure that you get a product that is covered by a warranty for a reasonable amount of time. Some products such as the Pentair Sta-Rite 343001 SuperMax VS and Pentair 011028 IntelliFlo VS have a 60-day guarantee. While this period may be enough to test out the pump and report how it is working, we feel that you should get a long-term warranty just in case things go wrong. The Hayward SP26115VSP Super Pump VS is one of the products in the review that has a one-year limited warranty. You should also ensure that you are conversant with the terms and conditions of the warranty to ensure it does not get void.
Safety is very important when choosing a variable speed pool pump. We recommend that you get the poll pump with most safety features. These features help to protect your equipment and other sensitive parts such as the motor from electric shocks and other risks.
One of the most important safety features that we found was a safety vacuum release system. With this system, the pool pump will prevent any unnecessary substances from clogging the pump. Not all pool pumps have this feature, but the ones that do will automatically shut down when any unwanted objects get into the pump. Other models such as the Pentair 011018 IntelliFlo have an on board diagnostics system that alerts the user in case there is a problem with the pump.
Variable speed pool pumps are generally more durable than the single or double speed pool pumps. One reason is because the VS pumps have motor fans that are not only fan cooled but they are also enclosed. The other types of pool pumps make use of a standard induction motor that may not have as much protection. These motors have exposed vents that may allow water and other debris to enter the pump and cause damage.
The variable speed motors also stay much cooler because they have fans. Consequently, the bearings and even motor windings will not experience much wear and tear. It is these little design differences that make variable speed pumps to be more durable. If you are looking to get the most durable product then you can try out the Harris In-Ground VS 72522, which is made from stainless steel.
Ease of use
All the power and extra features that variable speed pool pumps offer are useless if the user does not know how to operate the machine. This is why it is important for you to get a user-friendly variable speed pool pump. Your user should be able to program the machine without experiencing significant challenges. We noted that many people do not configure their pool pumps well leading to poor performance and extra power costs.
The best pool pumps come with some extra features. Variable speed pool pumps, to be specific, integrate several technologies and different systems. For example, some pool pumps come with a technology that can monitor and modify flow settings. These pumps will automatically increase circulation of water immediately there is a need for a regular flow of water. Not all pumps are compatible with this constant-flow software. Some pumps will require a manual input when a new task is initiated. However, other variable speed pumps can use the constant-flow software to detect and raise pump flow without any extra effort.
It is important that you consider the amount of noises that your pump will be making. This is quite important if the pump will be situated right next to the pool or if you are getting a pump for a public pool. While there are some variable speed pool pumps that are a bit noisy, most run silently. This is because these pumps are fitted with permanent magnet motors that are enclosed. The motor uses less energy and any noise produced is trapped inside. We found the Pentair 011018 IntelliFlo to be quite silent as it produces a sound output of only 45 dB when running.
This review will not be complete without discussing about horsepower. A lot of people consider the horsepower of a pool pump before they get one but they do it for the wrong reasons. Variable speed pool pumps come in different horsepower. More powerful models such as the Pentair Sta-Rite P6E6VS4H-209L IntelliPro or the Harris In-Ground VS 72522 have an impressive 3 HP. Other models such as the Hayward SP26115VSP Super Pump VS have little horsepower with an output of 0.85 HP. That said, you should not always go for the highest horsepower.
Be sure to buy a variable speed pool pump that is within your required calculations. Having a pool pump that has more power than necessary will just increase your power consumption. A more powerful pump may also lead the equipment to its early grave by overwhelming the other systems or by increasing the amount of cavitation.
Pipe Size and Flow Rate
It is easy to overlook the pipe size of your pool pump when shopping for a new machine. Finding the right pipe size is, however, important as it can affect the overall performance of your machine. Most pipes will range from 1.5 inches to 3.0 inches and you will have to find the one that fits perfectly. We recommend that you get a larger pipe if you have a large pump and a smaller size pipe if you have a relatively small pipe. Your pipes can get damaged if you do not follow this rule of thumb. This is because a large pool pump with a small pipe may strain the pipes when a lot of water is moving through the pump.
Similarly, you also need to know the flow rate of your pool pump if you want maximum efficiency. The flow rate of a pump is measured in gallons per minute and represents the amount of water that circulates through the filter in every minute. You should know your ideal flow rate as well as the maximum and minimum flow rate of your pool pump.
As highlighted before, you need a pool pump that fits perfectly to the size of your pool. A larger pump in a small pool may end up wasting more energy in the long run while a small pump in a large pool will easily get overloaded. That said, you will have to do some mathematic calculations to be able to size the variable speed pool pump. A pool pump should run for a minimum of eight hours a day for maximum cleaning. You then need to divide the volume of water in your pool (gallons) by eight to find the amount of water that your pump should filter in an hour. If this is divided by sixty (60) then it gives the number of gallons per minute that your pump should handle. You will then have to add up the lengths of the different suction lines and divide them by the number of lines. You can then use this information to size your pool as required. It is worth noting that perfect sizing is necessary to optimize pumping and filtration.
Maintaining a variable speed pool pump is not a difficult task but it will require some effort from your part. You should note that the pool pump is meant to be out with the elements and you should not try to cover it or plant trees around it. Leaks and moisture are some of the common culprits that will cause your pump to malfunction. You should call for immediate repairs as soon as you notice even the smallest leaks. It is also important to protect your pool pump from chemicals as the fumes may end up damaging the pump overtime. Regular cleaning is not necessary if you keep chemicals and other dirt away from your pump. If cleaning is necessary, you can use a damp cloth but you should never apply water directly.
The RPM of each pool pump ranges starkly and will depend on a number of factors. These include the size of the pool, the size of the pump and the max flow per minute that the pump prescribes. Once you find this, you can calculate the turnover rate and flow rate required for the pump. This is then divided by the number of minutes in a day that you intend to run the pool to give you the perfect RPM.
How long you should use your pump in a cycle will ultimately rely on two things. These include filtration and chemical demand. In certain time such as during summer, your pool will be at its peak and you are much more likely to experience increased impurities in your pool. This will require that you run the pump for longer. As a rule of thumb, you should run your pool pump for an hour and half for every 10° F of the outdoor temperature. Pool professionals recommend that you run your pool pump for a minimum of four to five hours during winter. You should run the pool for at least 12 hours if it is the hot summer months.
While we enjoyed using all these products, we still have to pick our top three products. In first place is the Pentair 011018 IntelliFlo, which is quite popular for several reasons. It is a powerful, energy efficient, and versatile product that features eight speed settings. It is also compatible with other technological systems and includes a 60-day warranty that can be extended to a year.
We also liked the Hayward TriStar VS W3SP3202VSP. This compact variable pool pump impressed us with its on-board diagnostics, ENERGY STAR® certification and a TEFC motor. It can run for hours without any noises or interruptions.
Our best value pick for best variable speed pool pump is Harris In-Ground VS. This 3 HP variable speed pool pump is great for medium to large swimming pools. It is also a durable pump since it is made from stainless steel and has LED indicators for easier use.