Pentair SuperFlo VS IntelliFlo
This article is a comparison review for swimming pool owners looking to compare the Pentair SuperFlo VS IntelliFlo variable speed pool pumps. Assuming that you have decided to purchase a Pentair pump, this page will help you to determine which of these two pumps would be better for your specific needs. There could be a lot of reasons why you have decided that Pentair is the way to go for your pool, such as the rest of your equipment being all Pentair, or your previous experience with the Pentair brand being positive, but regardless of your personal reasons you can rest assured that choosing a Pentair pump for your pool is a great choice.
The general consensus among swimming pool industry workers is that Pentair makes some of the best pool equipment available. Not everyone would agree with Pentair being "the best" but you can be confident that Pentair is at the very least one of the best pump manufacturers. Additionally, the variable speed pool pumps offered by Pentair represent the cutting edge of swimming pool pump technology, bar none. They were the first pool company to market with variable speed pool pumps for residential applications, as well as offering a deep line of variable speed pump options that goes much deeper than just the IntelliFlo versus SuperFlo. The SuperFlo and IntelliFlo just represent the two most common variable speed pumps for pool owners to choose from.
Pentair Variable Speed Pool Pumps
Pentair has a very deep lineup of variable speed pool pumps designed for different commercial and residential applications. Pentair, more than any other brand of pool equipment manufacturer, has a series of application specific variable speed pump models that offer unique, high tech options that other equipment manufacturers do not even begin to compete with. This is simply due to the fact that Pentair pool equipment is only a small fraction of the global Pentair brand which is an industry leader in valves and controls, as well as water and fluid solutions. Pentair is more than just pool equipment...much more in fact. They are a huge, global company that specializes in fluid systems, valves and controls. As a result the variable speed pumps they offer have capabilities that other pump manufacturers do not. This appeals most specifically to the ultra high end residential pool market as well as commercial pools where more expensive equipment is warranted due to unique flow designs and demands.
To the average backyard swimming pool owner this is all essentially overkill. For "regular swimming pools" the SuperFlo vs. IntelliFlo will be the main question that needs to be answered. One of those two pumps will probably be the best overall value for you when you consider cost vs. quality vs. capabilities of the pump. But for those interested to know more about the higher end offerings from Pentair in terms of variable speed pump design, here are a few of the most popular options:
The Pentair SuperFlo, part number 342001, is the entry level variable speed pump from Pentair. Maximum potential flow rate of 113 GPM. 104 GPM @ 30' head resistance, and 95 GPM @ 40' head resistance.
The Pentair IntelliFlo, part number 011018 (soon to be 011028), is the base model IntelliFlo and the flagship pump from Pentair. Previously this was the IntelliFlo 011013. Maximum potential flow rate of up to 180 GPM @ 30' head resistance (extrapolated), and 168 GPM @ 40' head resistance.
As far as the average pool owner looking to reduce on electrical costs to operate the filtration pump goes, one of the two pumps listed above will fit the application more than 90% of the time. These are high efficiency pool pumps combined with the exponential cost (and energy) saving benefits of being able to control the RPM of the motor. Unless you have a very specific reason to look at a different model of Pump from Pentair then one of those two will accomplish what you want. The reason why these two are the stand out best options is simply due to their popularity. The IntelliFlo and SuperFlo variable speed pumps make up the vast majority of variable speed pool pump sales for Pentair for residential pools. The popularity of these pumps helps to bring the cost to you down as much as possible versus a similar, but less common, pump option. It also makes it easy for you to find support information or hire local professionals familiar with your equipment, which makes the SuperFlo or IntelliFlo the best overall choice for the average pool owner.
Pentair IntelliFlo (011028) - In 2018 the 011018 IntelliFlo model number is being discontinued and changed to 011028 which is the new IntelloFlo pump. It has the same flow dynamics and energy use as the 011018 IntelliFlo but has an updated drive unit. Parts will remain available for the 011018 IntelliFlo, but new unit sales will eventually all be under the 011028 part number.
Pentair IntelliFlo i1 (011059) - This version of the Pentair IntelliFlo has a diffuser and impeller that makes this pump equal to a one horsepower pump.
Pentair IntelliFlo i2 (011060) - This version of the Pentair IntelliFlo has a diffuser and impeller that makes this pump equal to a two horsepower pump.
Pentair IntelliFlo 2-VST (011055) - This is the "trade grade" extended warranty version of the Pentair IntelliFlo 011018 / 011028. The 011055 is not available online.
The Pentair IntelliFlo VF, part number 011012, is a variable frequency pump. The 011012 IntelliFlo VF allows you to maintain specific flow rates as variables change in a pool filtration system.
Pentair IntelliFlo VSF (011056) - The VSF IntelliFlo combines both variable speed pump and variable flow pump technology together into one pump offering.
The Pentair IntelliFlo XF, part number 022005 (formerly 022055), is an extremely efficient and high flow volume version of the IntelliFlo. Large connection ports allow flow of 205 GPM at 30' resistance and 191 GPM at 40' resistance.
Pentair IntelliFlo XF VSF (022056) - The IntelliFlo XF VSF combines the variable speed and variable frequency technology with the large connection ports of the XF for maximum flow potential as well as maximum flow control potential.
When would you use one of the less common Pentair variable speed pumps? If you needed to move a massive amount of water, such as for a large waterfall feature or a robust booster jet system, then the IntelliFlo XF or the IntelliFlo XF VSF might be the best choice. These would require that the plumbing system to be much larger than you would normally have on a residential swimming pool and so typically if you need one of these pumps it would have been part of the original design of the pool system and not typically something you are adding at some point in the future. The same goes for the variable flow pumps and the VSF pumps. The variable flow pumps simply have the ability to change motor RPM automatically to meet system flow rates that you designate. This means that even if your filter is dirty, the flow rate to your fountain, for example, would remain the same. For the average pool you really do not need this level of control unless there is a unique situation that calls for it. The i1 and i2 pumps have been application developed for areas where one and two horsepower pumps are the maximum size you are allowed to have. The pump remains more powerful and capable of more flow, but has been altered in order to meet maximum horsepower bylaw regulations.
Pentair IntelliFlo 011018 (011028) VS SuperFlo 342001
So you now have a better idea why you see so many Pentair variable speed pumps for sale, but really you should be looking at one of these two, either the IntelliFlo 011018 (011028) or the SuperFlo 342001. If you are buying from a local dealer instead of buying online, then you could make a strong argument that the IntelliFlo 2-VST is the best option as this is a special pump only available through authorized Pentair dealers. It is the same pump as the 011018 IntelliFlo, with an additional rotating screen, but more importantly, a longer warranty protection period versus any Pentair pump that you buy online. If it makes sense to you to pay more and have longer warranty coverage then speak with a local dealer (and installer to meet warranty guidelines) about the IntelliFlo 2-VST.
The IntelliFlo is capable of a much higher flow volume than the SuperFlo (assuming all other conditions are identical). While you might be inclined to think this is good, this is actually counterintuitive to how you should be thinking about this. The whole point of buying a variable speed pump is to benefit from running the pump on a low RPM setting. If you are only looking at how much water the pump can move (at maximum RPM) then you are missing the point of the technology you are paying a premium to have. While it can be helpful to compare maximum flow volumes to give you a baseline for comparison, the truth is that your approach to choosing a pool pump should be different.
You want to choose the biggest (most horsepower) pool pump that your plumbing system can handle, and then run it on the lowest possible RPM setting that keeps your pool water clean. If your system is able to handle an IntelliFlo versus a SuperFlo then this will be a better option. If your system can not handle the power of an IntelliFlo under maximum RPM, then go with a SuperFlo instead.
Filter Size - The minimum requirements in order to use an IntelliFlo variable speed pump is having a filter capable of high flow rates. You can double check your filter designed flow rate on this page about pool filter flow rates. What you will notice is that cartridge filters and D.E. filters are generally capable of higher flow rates. Sand filters are much more restricted due to the multi-port valve which is a significant flow restriction. Unless you have a gigantic sand filter, which might be large enough for an IntelliFlo, then the SuperFlo will probably be best for your pool system.
Plumbing Pipe Size - An IntelliFlo variable speed pump requires at minimum a two inch suction line to operate. In theory even larger suction lines, as well as multiple suction lines, would be better and much more efficient. If you have only 1.5" suction lines then you should have, at minimum, three suction lines that connect into a manifold that is 2" or larger in order to use the IntelliFlo.
Electrical Requirements - The IntelliFlo requires a 240 volt circuit and can not operate on only 120 volts. The SuperFlo is able to operate at either 120 volts or 240 volts, however the 240 volts is slightly more efficient so given the choice always go with the higher voltage configuration (which cuts the amperage draw in half).
The Pentair SuperFlo is best for situations where you only have 120 volt power supplies available for the pump, as well as situations where there is only limited suction lines (1.5" pipes) or a smaller sand filter that has a low maximum designed flow rate. What this describes in a round about way is the aftermarket for retrofitting variable speed pumps onto older, existing pools. Many of the older generations of pools only have 120 volt circuits for the pump, as well as sand filters and 1.5" plumbing lines. In many of these situations the SuperFlo is going to be the easiest solution, and will adequately meet your needs of costing less to run than single speed pumps.
In situations where you are not limited by power, plumbing pipe size or filter flow rates, then you should go with the IntelliFlo pump as this is the flagship pump from Pentair and it is (apples to apples) a more efficient pump than the SuperFlo. For these reasons the Pentair IntelliFlo is most commonly used for new pool installations or on swimming pools that otherwise meet the minimum performance requirements. When compared side by side the IntelliFlo is most certainly a more efficient design. If energy efficiency is the name of the game then for sure the IntelliFlo out performs the SuperFlo. Where SuperFlo wins hands down is on convenience - when you want a Pentair variable speed pump but the pool or plumbing system design limits your ability to go IntelliFlo, then the SuperFlo is the next best choice. If you would like to learn more about variable speed pumps you can read these pool pump reviews or you can also read this recent article that breaks down the variable speed pump electrical savings in an average swimming pool.
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