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Variable Speed Swimming Pool Pump Reviews

variable speed pool pump This page is a buyers guide and includes industry professional advice and variable speed pool pump reviews to help you choose the best pump for your specific pool application. These pump reviews are accurate and up to date including the best pool pumps of 2017. If you are shopping for a single speed pump read the single speed pump reviews and buyers guide section that covers both above ground as well as inground pool pumps.


In the world of variable speed pool pumps the major three brands are Pentair, Hayward and Jandy. Pentair was the first company to introduce the concept of a variable speed pump to the market and many pool experts would argue that the Pentair Intelliflo is the highest quality pool pump on the market. Hayward released the Ecostar variable speed pump and Jandy released the FloPro VS shortly afterwards to compete in the market for extremely energy efficient pool pumps that are dramatically quieter than their traditional single speed counterparts.


Variable Speed Pumps Can Save Up To 90% VS Single Speed Pumps




All of the big three variable speed pump manufacturers advertise up to 90% electrical savings when compared to full rate single speed pool pumps. While this statement may be a tad on the optimistic side once you actually get one of these pumps installed on your pool the reality is that the cost savings from these pumps is more than noticeable. Based on my field experience I tend to see customers saving between 50% TO 70% off what they had been paying previously for pump electricity. The concept is very simple actually in that a pump that you can set to run just enough to meet your minimum turnover rates will be more energy efficient than a single speed pool pump. A single speed pool pump can either run all day and provide way more flow than your filtration system actually needs - OR - you can turn it off completely at least part of the day to reduce the turnover but this leaves your pool not filtering during these periods which is bad for a number of reasons.


In my professional opinion every dollar you spend on a variable speed pool pump will be returned to you two to three times over in the form of electrical savings over the course of the life of the pump. The only reason you could possibly argue why not to get a variable speed pump for your pool is the upfront cost investment may not be returned if you plan to sell your home in 1-2 years or less.


What Is The Best Variable Speed Pool Pump?

Before you crack out your wallet and start upgrading your pool pad there are a few factors that must be considered to make sure you are ready for this upgrade. One of the biggest differences that pool owners need to be aware of is that variable speed pumps often have the ability to output more volume of water than pretty much any single speed pumps on the market under 2HP. This is especially true if you are looking to purchase the flagship models from Hayward or Pentair which have very powerful 3 HP maximum ratings. A 3 HP pump is going to exceed the maximum flow rating for pretty much any sand filter, most DE filters and even some cartridge filters. You will need to know what the maximum flow rate for your filter is to make sure that you get a suitably sized pump. For new pool installations the 3 HP Pentair Intelliflo and 2.7 HP Hayward Ecostar are great when paired with mid size and larger cartridge filters. If you are retrofitting a variable speed pump to an existing pool system you may like to look at variable speed pumps with a smaller motor such as the Hayward Tristar VS with comes with a 1.85 HP motor but all the same hardware and technology used in the flagship Ecostar. **


** Hayward has updated their entire line of variable speed pumps to now share the same interface and controller as originally used on the flagship EcoStar VS pump. The allows for the same level of control, programming and features with every model of VS pump from Hayward. This is a huge upgrade for the entry level VS pump series from Hayward, the Super Pump VS and the MaxFlo VS, as you get the same high quality and versatile controller with these pumps now as you would with their most expensive EcoStar model.


Pipe sizing of your pool will likely determine which variable speed pump you should buy


Newly built swimming pools really should have, at minimum, 2" suction and return lines or at the absolute least 2" suction lines. Older pools almost all will have 1.5" piping which is going to be a problem for some of the larger size variable speed pumps. The size of the pipe dictates the amount of flow, or gallons per minute, that can flow through the system. While a powerful pump can drive water through 1.5" pipe there is an efficiency loss that is fairly dramatic at higher flow rates and the risk to cavitate, or starve the pump for water, go up. If you have 1.5" pipe you should look into motors smaller than 3 HP though I have seen installations that combine these successfully though you often will need to program the pump priming cycle to prevent it from ramping up to 100% every time you turn it on.


Variable Speed Pumps Suitable For Large Pools


Hayward Ecostar

Hayward Ecostar SP3400VSP 2.7HP variable speed pump

US shoppers buy this pump from Amazon.comHayward Ecostar USA
Canadian shoppers buy this pump from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca


Pentair Intelliflo



Pentair Intelliflo, 011018, 3HP variable speed pump

US shoppers buy this pump from Amazon.comPentair Intelliflo USA
Canadian shoppers buy this pump from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca


Jandy Stealth ePump 2.0



Jandy ePump JEP2.0 2HP Variable speed pump

Us shoppers buy this pump from Amazon.comJandy Stealth ePump USA
Canadian shoppers buy this pump from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca


Jandy Flo Pro VS 2.0



Jandy FloPro VS, VS-FHP2.0, 2HP variable speed pump

US shoppers buy this pump from Amazon.comJandy Flo Pro 2.0 USA
Canadian shoppers buy this pump from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca


Variable Speed Pumps For Mid-Sized Pools

Jandy Stealth ePump 1.5



Jandy ePump JEP1.5 1.5HP Variable speed pump

US shoppers buy this pump from Amazon.comJeandy Stealth ePump 1.5 USA
Canadian shoppers buy this pump from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca


Hayward Tristar VS


Hayward Tristar SP3202VSP (replaces SP3200VSP) 1.85HP variable speed pump

US shoppers buy this pump from Amazon.comHayward Tristar VS USA
Canadian shoppers buy this pump from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca


Entry Level Variable Speed Pool Pumps


Pentair SuperFlo VS


Pentair Superflo 342001 1.5HP variable speed pump

US shoppers buy this pump from Amazon.comPentair SuperFlo VS USA
Canadian shoppers buy this pump from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca


Hayward Super Pump VS


Hayward Super Pump SP2603VSP variable speed pump (230V)

US shoppers buy this pump from Amazon.comHayward Super Pump VS USA
Canadian shoppers buy this pump from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca


Hayward Max-Flo VS


Hayward Max-Flo SP2303VSP 1.5HP variable speed pump (230V)

US shoppers buy this pump from Amazon.comHayward Maxflo VS USA
Canadian shoppers buy this pump from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca


Jandy Flo Pro 1.65



Jandy FloPro VSFHP165JEP 1.65HP variable speed pump

US shoppers buy this pump from Amazon.comJandy Flo Pro 1.65 USA


Hayward Super Pump VS 115 volt


Hayward Super Pump SP26115VSP 0.85HP variable speed pump (115V)

US shoppers buy this pump from Amazon.comHayward Super Pump VS 115 volt USA
Canadian shoppers buy this pump from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca


Hayward Max-Flo VS 115 volt


Hayward Max-Flo SP23115VSP 0.85HP variable speed pump (115V)

US shoppers buy this pump from Amazon.comHayward Max-Flo VS 115 volt USA
Canadian shoppers buy this pump from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca

Electrical Requirements For Variable Speed Pumps

Almost all variable speed pumps require a 230 volt power supply be available. If your pool pump location only has 115 volt power available then you will need to run a new electrical circuit to your pump. Since pool pumps draw a heavy current many of them are already set up for 230 volts (which reduces the current by half versus 115 volt installations).


The most notable variable speed pumps that can operate on 115 volts are the Pentair Superflo and the two 115 volt Hayward pumps, the Max-Flo and the Super Pump. If it is at all possible you would want to consider upgrading the electrical supply to your pump area to benefit from a larger selection of pumps. Pumps that run on a higher voltage will be more efficient and more capable than any pump that runs on the lower 115 volt power option.


How To Choose Which Variable Speed Pump To Buy

There are a lot of factors that need to be considered when determining which of the variable speed pumps best suits your needs. The primary factors to consider are the purchase price, product reputation and flow rates that the pump provides. One of the concerns is that the powerful Ecostar and Intelliflo pumps can easily provide too much flow for smaller filters and if you have 1.5" plumbing pipes you could have a problem with starving the pump for example.


Hayward EcostarHayward Ecostar - 2 HP motor (2.7 max) horsepower motor capable of providing just over 160 GPM with 2" and 2.5" connection ports. This pump would be best suited for mid size and larger swimming pools, 18x36' and bigger, 25,000 Gallon pools and up ideally. Match with any cartridge filters or larger sand filters. This pump is powerful enough for rooftop solar heating, in floor cleaning systems, attached hot tubs and most waterfalls.


Pentair IntellifloPentair Intelliflo - 3 horsepower motor that provides up to 145 GPM with 2" connection ports. Other than matching other Pentair equipment already on your pool pad Pentair is generally regarded as being the highest quality products available for residential pools among industry professionals. While the max GPM this pump can output is less than the Ecostar, this pump must still be paired with high flow cartridge filters or very large sand filters.


Jandy Stealth JEP 2.0 ePumpJandy Stealth ePump 2.0 - 2 horsepower (2.7 max) motor capable of providing 155 GPM and has 2" and 2.5" connection ports. This pump also has the largest strainer basket of its class useful for pools with heavy debris load from trees. Compatible with most cartridge filters and some large sand filters this pump is the flagship model variable speed pump from Jandy.


Jandy VS-FHP2.0 FloPro VSJandy Flo Pro VS 2.0 - 2 horsepower (2.7 max) motor that is capable of up to 132 GPM with 2" port sizes. Suitable for large pools up to 60,000 gallons, best matched with cartridge filters or large sand filers. This pump is a direct fit replacement for Hayward super pumps, Pentair Superflo and Sta-Rite Super Max pumps. This pump also has the ability to customize the base platform to match the height of most other popular pool pumps. A great retrofit pump.


Hayward Tristar VSHayward Tristar VS - 1.85 HP motor capable of providing up to 140 GPM and comes with 2" and 2.5" connection ports. This mid range variable speed motor is a good combination of reasonable motor size with the exact same interface and hardware directly from the flagship Ecostar model. A great match for large sand filters or any cartridge filter this is an ideal pump for retrofitting to existing swimming pool systems. The current model SP3202VSP replaces the earlier model number SP3200VSP.


Jandy Stealth JEP 1.5 ePumpJandy Stealth ePump 1.5 - 1.5 horsepower motor capable of providing up to 143 GPM and has 2" and 2.5" connection ports. This pump also has the largest strainer basket of its class useful for pools with heavy debris load from trees. Despite the smaller motor size than the 2HP Jandy ePump, this pump still requires 230 volts. There is no 115 volt option for this pump.


Pentair SuperFlo VSPentair SuperFlo VS - 1.5 horsepower motor capable of delivering 113 GPM with 230 volt electrical supply. This is one of the only variable speed pumps that can also run on 115 volts at which it can provide a maximum flow of 103 GPM with electrical performance about 10% less than when installed with 230 volts. This pump is a direct drop in replacement for the Hayward super pump and Sta-Rite Super Max pumps for installation and can be considered to be the high end of the entry level variable speed pump market. Suitable for any cartridge filters and most mid size and large sand filters. 1.5" connection ports.


Hayward Super Pump VSHayward Super Pump VS - 1.5 horsepower motor provides up to 87 GPM but unlike the comparable Pentair Superflo this pump requires 230 volts only with no option for 115 volts (In 2016 Hayward releases a 0.85HP version of this pump that uses 115v power, part number SP26115VSPHayward 115 volt variable speed super pump). This pump has a fully enclosed and permanent magnet motor, similar to all models of VS pumps that Hayward offers. It has both 1.5" port connection size and is suitable in size and flow for cartridge filters and most sand filters. This pump is model started with the SP2600VSP which was revised to the SP2602VSPHayward SP2602VSP however both of these models used a different, more entry level, style controller and interface. The latest generation model is the SP2603VSPHayward Super Pump VS which uses the same interface as the EcoStar giving you all of the features of a high end pump in an entry level ticket price.


Hayward Max-Flo VSHayward MaxFlo VS - 1.5 horsepower motor delivers up to in impressive 106 GPM with 1.5" and 2" connection ports this pump is a direct swap replacement for the entire Hayward Max-Flo pump series. Similar technology as the Super Pump VS this is a fully enclosed variable speed motor pump. Also similar to the Super Pump VS this series started with the first generation with the SP2300VSP which had a very basic controller. This pump was revised to model SP2302VSPHayward SP2302VSP briefly however it has updated again and the SP2302VSP is no longer in production. The latest model revisions to this line are the SP2303VSPHayward SP2303VSP / SP23115VSPHayward SP23115VSP - you can read a full review on this pump in this article on the Hayward MaxFlo Pump Series. As a medium head pump this would be suitable for more strenuous plumbing demands than the Super Pump VS such as long distances from pool to the equipment pad or modest solar lifts. Matches with any cartridge filter and most size sand filters.


Jandy FloPro VSFHP165JEP 1.65HPJandy Flo Pro 1.65 - 1 horsepower (1.65 max) motor that delivers up to 121 GPM. This pump has an adjustable base to allow for quick replacement for most other makes and models of pumps which is ideal for retrofit installations. This pump requires 220 volts despite the smaller motor size and has 2" connection ports. This is a newer model of pump from Jandy and suitable for a wide variety of applications due to the impressive flow curve. Compatible with any cartridge filter and most sand filters.


Hayward Super Pump VS 115VHayward Super Pump VS 115 - This variable speed pump has a 0.85 horsepower motor to allow for the 115 volt electrical supply this pump runs on. This can can provide up to 81 GPM of flow and is suitable for any small and medium sized pools and all filter types and sizes. This pump does not integrate with Hayward automation systems, but can operate independently or through a standard relay control.


Hayward Max-Flo VS 115VHayward Max Flo VS 115 - Similar to the Super Pump VS the MaxFlo series has an option for pools where only 115 volts are available. This pump provides up to 97 GPM and is suitable for a wide range of entry level and mid-sized pool applications. This pump can be operated as a stand alone model or with a relay control. Both this pump as well as the other 115 volt Hayward VS pump do not have the ability to tie in directly with automation systems. If you are looking for automation level control then you will need the SP2303VSP 230 volt model of pump.


Understanding Flow Rates & Plumbing Pipe Sizes

The maximum flow rate GPM that a pump is rated to provide is based on ideal installation conditions of which pipe size is of primary importance. Plumbing pipe size will dictate the amount of flow your system will have as smaller pipe sizes like 1.5" pipe will experience a severe drop in efficiency with more powerful motors. As a general guide there is a upper limit of the flow you can expect from any system:

1.5" pipe = 37 GPM suction / 50 GPM discharge
2" pipe = 62 GPM suction / 85 GPM discharge
2.5" pipe = 88 GPM suction / 120 GPM discharge

As you can see not only is 1.5" pipe a restriction on the performance of most variable speed pumps but even 2" pipes are a restriction for most of the more powerful pumps. Having 2.5" or 3" suction and return lines would be required for most variable speed pumps to realize their potential maximum flow rates however almost no existing pools will have plumbing lines this big. When sizing your equipment your existing pipe size and effective system head pressure will regulate the actual flow your system is able to achieve.


What Is The Best Pool Pump?

I get emails daily from people asking me the same question - "what is the best pool pump?". I certainly understand that if you are trying to buy a pool pump yourself the amount of choice can be intimidating. Since a pool pump is expensive to buy, and also can be one of the heaviest drawing electrical appliances in your home, it stands to reason that you want to make your choice carefully. Instead of answering this question via email over and over again I have decided to add this information here for everyone to consider. The best pool pump, in my professional experience after 25 years in the pool and spa industry, would need to meet the following criteria:

Be a recognized brand name - While the market is flooded with pool pumps I strongly encourage going with an established brand name pump. This ensures that you will always have access to replacement parts as well as service technicians familiar with your pump. By dealing with a large and recognized brand name you will also have access to warranty claims should you experience a manufacturer related early failure of your pump.

Be energy efficient - If you are going to invest in a variable speed pool pump then you want to get the most back from that investment. The more efficient a pump is, the faster it will pay you back for your investment. Plain and simple.

Move a lot of water - There are times when you want your pool pump to be as efficient as possible, however there are also times that you want it to move some serious water regardless of the cost. If you have hot tub booster jets, or any waterfalls or water features, then being able to move a lot of water is very important.

Last a long time - The warranty period for a pool pump, while important, is less important to me as a pool professional than you might expect. After thousands of pump installations, and also experience working in technical and warranty claims for one of the largest pool pump manufacturers in the world, it becomes clear that only a tiny percentage of pumps fail within the warranty period. If you are going to have an early pump failure it will likely come in years 3 - 5 and be a result of improper installation or improper maintenance such as leaks.


What does this all mean? From my perspective as a swimming pool expert, when I sell a pump to a client this is the information I am considering before I make my recommendation. Every pool technician will have their preferred brand, make or model of pump and I am no different. The reality is that any pump made by Jandy, Pentair or Hayward will probably be a "good" pump. There are also plenty of additional brands that are less known but still worth considering such as Speck pumps, Waterways and a handful of others. These recommendations are just based on my personal experiences in the pool and spa industry.


Highest Quality Pool Pump: Pentair IntelliFlo
Best Overall Pool Pump: Hayward EcoStar


Pentair Intelliflo


In my opinion the Pentair IntelliFloPentair Intelliflo represents the highest quality variable speed pool pump that money can buy. The motor in the IntelliFlo is regulated down to 3 horsepower and is actually capable of more. This means that the IntelliFlo is overbuilt more than other comparable models. Most people in the pool and spa industry would likely agree that the Pentair IntelliFlo is the highest quality variable speed pool pump.

Hayward Ecostar
The top overall pick from Swimming Pool Steve goes to the Hayward EcoStarHayward Ecostar variable speed pump. While the IntelliFlo may be arguably higher quality, the EcoStar is the flagship pump from Hayward and is also comparably high quality. The EcoStar is slightly more efficient than the IntelliFlo, as well as being capable of slightly higher flow rates than the IntelliFlo. When you combine that with the fact that generally the EcoStar is less expensive than the IntelliFlo then the choice becomes easier. More flow from less power, for less money to buy, and still from a trusted brand name manufacturer. The Hayward EcoStar is a solid investment for pool owners.


What Is The Best Entry Level Variable Speed Pool Pump?

This is a question that I get asked constantly through email and social media. Many pool owners are just simply overwhelmed with how many pumps there are and trying to figure out which one would be the right one for your pool. To be honest, that is why swimming pool professionals exist and you might be well advised to contact a local professional to assist you with making the best choice for your unique pool situation.


At the end of the day I have my favorites just like everyone else, and I get asked this question often enough that I feel it is warranted to address this here on this product review page.


Hayward Tristar VS

For my money I like the Hayward Tristar SP3202VSPHayward Tristar for circulation systems and retrofit applications. The pump is just small enough to get by on 1.5" plumbing systems but powerful enough for pretty much any size pool circulation system if you need the power. This pump is also likely to match well with your existing filter where some of the larger VS pumps are too powerful for certain filters.


Hayward Tristar VS

The TriStar VS is great as it it very powerful without being too powerful. If your pool is not large then the TriStar VS might just be more pump than you will ever need. If your pool is on the smaller side or you are looking for a VS pump that is as small as possible then I like the SP2303VSP Max-FloHayward Tristar VS for the low upfront cost combined with impressive flow capabilities.


Pentair Superflo VS

If I had to choose a variable speed pump to run on a 115 volt supply then I would choose the Pentair SuperFlo VSPentair Superflo VS. In addition to this pump being high quality and capable the defining factor for me is the ability for this pump to run at either 115 volts or 230 volts. This would allow you to upgrade your electrical supply in the future to 230 volts without having to replace the pump again. The reality is that 115 volts is limiting for pool pumps so this one feature would heavily influence my decision.


Tips For Installing Swimming Pool Pumps

Before you attempt to install any swimming pool equipment you should take a look at the video series from Swimming Pool Steve that reviews installations of pool equipment for deficiencies. Additionally there are sections on pipe materials, plumbing fittings, glue, primer, unions and valves commonly used for installing pool and spa equipment. If you would like to learn more about how to install a pool pump correctly as part of a pool system read the Installation Tips from Steve.