Best Variable Speed Pool Pump
This page is a shorter version of a more detailed article. If you have technical questions not answered on this page then please jump back to the full length pump reviews article, but if you need a new pool pump, like right now, stay on this page.
This article will help you to find the best variable speed pool pump for your pool. The cost saving benefits of variable speed pumps can be tremendous. If you are not convinced yet then read this article about how much you will save with a variable speed pool pump. If you are ready to get one, then pick from this condensed list of best potential choices:
Best Variable Speed Pump For Aboveground Pools
The best variable speed pool pump for above ground pools is the Hayward Maxflo VS because it is the most versatile in terms of plumbing installations, pipe size and flow characteristics. When sizing a pool pump the goal is to choose the most suitable pump in terms of flow potential, and one that will take the least modification to the plumbing system to install. There are a lot of options available for pumps, but to pick one that will be suitable for most above ground pools, I prefer this one.
This pump is also for use on inground pools, but can be used on suitably large above ground pools with permanent 1.5" and 2" plumbing installations as well as entrapment free suction ports (like skimmers). Since this pump is large enough for inground pools, above ground pools will probably be best suited with the smaller Hayward MaxFlo SP23115VSP version of this pump.
The best variable speed pump for above ground pools is the Hayward MaxFlo VS. This pump is ideal for all aboveground pools for a few reasons. There are a lot of different kinds of above ground pools. Smaller and more entry level above ground pools would use the 120 volt version which has a 0.85 horsepower motor. Larger aboveground pools, and pools where 240 volts is available, use the 1.65 horsepower MaxFlo VS.
These pumps are from one of the biggest pool equipment manufacturers and have a TEFC (totally enclosed fan cooled) motor which provides enhanced protection from environmental conditions versus older air cooled motor styles. The pump comes with 2" union connections which is perfect for larger 2" plumbing system, but also can be used on the more common 1.5" plumbing systems. These pumps are also good enough that they can easily be used on small and medium sized inground pools as well. This pump is energy star rated which qualifies it for any utility rebates that might be offered by your utility company.
Best Variable Speed Pump For Inground Pools
Inground pools are a more complicated subject than aboveground pools and so it is not so easy to cast a broad net over the subject and say one pump above all others is the best. Instead here are some specific applications for inground pools that can help you to quickly identify the best variable speed pump for your pool. If you have an inground swimming pool then chances are that one of these pumps will be the best option available to you:
Best variable speed pump for 120 volts
There is an electrical efficiency advantage in using a higher voltage versus a lower voltage for your swimming pool pump installation. High current causes heat, and heat is inefficient when it comes to electricity. You can reduce the current your pump uses by connecting it with 240 volts instead of 120 volts, however not all houses have 240 volts available for the pump outside. Running a new circuit from your electrical panel is a good idea, but costly.
If you buy the Pentair SuperFlo variable speed pump you can connect it to a standard 120 volt circuit, but later when you upgrade to 240 volts, you can simply change the wire connections so the pump runs on 240 volts now. This unique factor is something that all other VS pumps in this class currently can not do.
The Pentair SuperFlo VS is the best pump for 120 volt application simply because it also has the ability to be wired for 240 volts. In the event that you are able to upgrade your electrical service to the pump one day in the future, then you can simply switch the pump over to 240 volt setting at that time. The higher voltage option allows for more efficiency electrical operation and is preferable whenever possible versus 120 volt installations which are slightly less efficient. Most other common variable speed pool pumps are made for 120 volts only, and 240 volts only, which gives this Pentair SuperFlo VS a decided advantage if your main concern is working with the power you have available now, without sacrificing the potential for improved efficiency in the future.
Best variable speed pump for 1.5" pipe
If you have an existing swimming pool installation and you are trying to upgrade your pump to variable speed in order to reduce your electrical costs to run your pump, then you need to specifically be aware of your plumbing pipe size. Most of the variable speed pool pumps for inground pools on the market are huge, and far too big for 1.5" plumbing pipes. New pools are often built with 2" or larger plumbing, but older pools are the most likely to have this restriction. If you have 1.5" plumbing, even multiple suction and return lines, then you should not use any of teh flagship two or three horsepower variable speed pumps.
Instead of choosing a small, entry level variable speed pump for your 1.5" plumbing, one manufacturer offers a "middle of the road" sized VS pump that really is right sized for most retrofit applications. If you have 1.5" pipes on your pool then you should get the Hayward TriStar SP3202VSP.
The best variable speed pump for 1.5" plumbing is the Hayward TriStar SP3202VSP. The is the biggest pump that I would confidently use on a pool that is restricted to 1.5" plumbing. While larger pipe size is ideal, it will still function well, and efficiently, without damaging itself due to a lack of flow. Any of the pumps larger than this 1.85 horsepower model are simply too powerful for 1.5" plumbing and need more flow than the pipes can provide. If you are looking to adapt a variable speed pump to an existing pool, and you are limited with smaller pipe sizes, this will be the most powerful, and the most efficient pump option available. In total I probably recommend this pump to more pool owners than any other make or model. There are just so many applications where it really is the only "middle of the road" option where the smaller entry level VS pumps are not big enough, but the larger two and three horsepower pumps are too powerful.
Best variable speed pump for large pools
When a customer comes to me with a very large pool that needs a filtration pump the first recommendation I am going to make is for a Pentair IntelliFlo. Pentair is more than a swimming pool and spa equipment manufacturer. Pentair is a global company water works company that delves deep into commercial and even industrial water applications, pumps, control systems, filtration systems...the list goes on and on. Pools, by and large, make up a very small component of the global Pentair brand.
The Pentair IntelliFlo pump was a design borrowed from other water applications that Pentair researches and designs equipment for. The IntelliFlo for a pool owner is a 3 horsepower motor, but in actuality it is a downgraded version of a much more powerful motor and well capable of meeting the demands of operating as a 3 horsepower pool filtration pump.
The best variable speed pump for large pools, or shared pool and spa systems, is the Pentair IntelliFlo. Actually there are a lot of situations that the IntelliFlo is the best pump for. If you have 2" plumbing as the minimum size then I consider the IntelliFlo to be the overall highest quality, most reliable variable speed pool pump on the market. It is oversized for 1.5" plumbing but most shared pool and spa systems use 2" plumbing to allow for enough flow for the hot tub jets. This pump is only able to be used on 240 volt systems so 120 volts will not be enough for this pump, or any pump with a similar horsepower rating.
If you are trying to find the best variable speed pump for your pool then chances are that one of the three main models that I have listed above will be your best option. For a more in-depth technical discussion about variable speed pumps you can read the full length variable speed pump reviews article or you can email Steve for help deciding. You can also check out some of these other pump review articles that go more in-depth about some popular brands and models of pump:
Hayward variable speed pump reviews
Pentair IntelliFlo review
Hayward EcoStar review
Hayward EcoStar versus Pentair IntelliFlo
Pentair SuperFlo versus IntelliFlo