How Long Do Variable Speed Pool Pumps Last?
How long do variable speed pool pumps last? Many pool owners are trying to get a better understanding for what you can expect in terms of service life from a new variable speed pool pump to determine the viability for return on investment. In general terms variable speed pool pumps use much less electricity than single speed pool pumps but the actual electrical savings that you might experience will be unique to your pool, your operation and maintenance schedule, the climate in the location you live...the list goes on and on. This is important to understand as you move forward looking for answers as to how long variable speed pumps last for because there are simply too many variables involved to give you one, singular, accurate answer. You must accept that some pumps will fail early, and some pumps will outlast nearly all the others. What I hope you will learn in this article is what the average expected service life for a variable speed pool pump is, as well as what factors can make a pump fail early such that you can do your best to avoid this situation.
Variable speed pool pumps should last for 60 months of operation before it is expected that service to the pump might be required. This is not to say that after 60 months you need to buy a new pump. This means that you could consider your pump to have "failed early" if it did not last for at least 60 months of operation, and you should expect to need to start to need periodic service and repairs to the pump moving forward. This is not to be confused with a 60 month warranty on your pool pump, which you will not get anywhere, as almost all pool pumps have anywhere from three months to three years of warranty protection from the manufacturers. The 60 month guideline is what a manufacturer might hope you will get, and most pumps will, but not all of them. Sometimes pumps fail early and when you are considering an expensive purchase like a new variable speed pool pump the longer yours lasts for, the great the return on investment you will experience. So, why is it so hard to get a straight answer from someone selling you a pump as to how long it will last?
Asking how long a variable speed pool pump will last is actually a difficult question to answer. Imagine walking into a Honda dealership and asking them how long a new Honda Civic will last for. You will very likely not get a definitive answer because this is actually a dynamic question, as well as the manufacturer of the product being unlikely to want to speculate on the possible longevity. In both of these situations, with new cars or new variable speed pool pumps, the warranty provided by the manufacturer is the most black and white, stripped down way to discern how confident the manufacturer is with the product longevity.
Variable Speed Pool Pump Service Life
To get your maximum return on investment for a variable speed pool pump you need yours to last for as long as possible. The actual amount that you save on electricity will depend on how much power your pump uses and the speed that you run your pump motor. It is entirely possible to cut your electrical bill up to 80%, on some pools, which would easily end up saving you so much money on electricity that it actually would pay for your pump purchase multiple times over. If you want to see some of the savings calculations for this you can read this article about how a variable speed pump saves you money. 60 months of operation is a general guideline that motor manufacturers will provide if you pressure them for an answer, but the truth is that which pump you choose, how you install it, and how you run it actually determines how long yours is going to last for.
TEFC Motors - Other than looking vaguely similar, a variable speed pump is a total redesign from the older generation of single speed pool pumps. The wet end of the pump continues to improve as pump research continues to evolve more efficient volutes, impellers and chambers but the technology on the dry end of the pump has experienced significant changes. Where older pool pumps used to pull ambient air through the dry motor end of the pump to help keep the motor cool, new variable speed pool pumps do not do this. New VS pumps are TEFC, totally enclosed fan cooled, which means that the motors are no longer subject to environmental contaminants which severely reduce the potential for longevity from your pump. Dust, pests, moisture and especially salt (like proximity to the ocean) can and will damage the motor of older, open air style pool pumps. TEFC motors are a huge improvement from this old design and should significantly increase the service life that pool pumps experience, especially those in harsh environmental conditions.
So if a variable speed pool pump should last for 60 months of operation, or hopefully more, what would cause one to fail sooner than this? This is an especially important question that many pool owners fail to ask. As identified above the TEFC motor design makes variable speed pumps substantially less prone to failure from envirnmental contaminants, so what does make a variable speed pump fail early? The first thing that needs to be mentioned when you are talking about electric motor failure of any kind is heat. Heat kills electric motors and the hotter yours gets the more likely you will have an early failure. Avoiding heat can mean something like providing a sun shade for the motor, or making sure that the pump has adequate air flow if it is located in a closed room. Anything you can do to help your pump motor run cooler will go a long way towards getting the maximum service life from your pump.
You should also attempt to install the pump with a straight section of suction pipe running into the pump that is at least five times the diameter of the pipe that you are using. This allows the pump to draw water with the least turbulence and inefficiency. Inefficiency in any form is something that you want to avoid to whatever extent that you can. Using larger pipes as opposed to smaller pipes for your pump system is a good way to help your pump operate more efficiently. The vast majority of fittings and friction loss for your pool plumbing system occur on the equipment pad so replacing all of these with larger pipe and larger fittings will help improve the overall plumbing system efficiency significantly even though you are still limited by the size of the buried plumbing in your system.
Defective variable speed pumps - The nightmare situation that all pool owners want to avoid is one where you invest in an expensive variable speed pump only to have it fail before you can recoup the money that you have invested into it. This is a valid concern however most variable speed pool pumps are meeting and exceeding manufacturers expectations, probably largely due to the TEFC improvement, and it is not likely that you will buy a new pump only to have it die in a year or two. Yes there are examples of this happening, especially with the earliest generation of VS pumps to hit the market, but variable speed pump technology is now becoming mainstream and random drive failures will become less and less common...hopefully. In my experience manufacturer error accounts for a very small number of variable speed pump failures and proper plumbing installation much more so. Even more than this is heat and if you want to give yourself the best chance to avoid early failure with your pump I would encourage you to look at a pump motor cover to help protect your pump from the damaging heat from the sun.
This variable speed pump motor cover is taller than similar models sold on Amazon specifically to fit most variable speed pump models which have a taller motor profile than single speed pumps. If you want your motor to last as long as possible this is a great insurance policy against heat damage to your pump from the sun.
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