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Pentair Pool Pump Comparison

Pentair pool pump If you are shopping for a new Pentair pump for your pool you will find this Pentair pool pump comparison review helpful to determine which will be the best pump for your application. The model names for the Pentair line of pumps can be a little confusing to the average pool owner with subtle differences such as the "Pentair VS" versus the "Pentair VF" or the newer "IntelliFlo VS" compared to the newer "IntelliFlo 2-VST". Make no mistake that despite how similar these all sound, these are four examples of distinctly different pumps with different applications. This does not even bring into the conversation the whole "IntelliPro versus IntelliFlo" or the entry level variable speed pumps from Pentair, the SuperFlo VS and the SuperMax VS. Throw in that half of these pumps are also available in an SVRS model designation and what you end up with is one big headache trying to figure out the best Pentair pump for your pool.

You might be wondering how the average pool owner is supposed to be able to know which pump is the best for their specific application - the answer is that they are not. This is why swimming pool technicians exist. Swimming pools are actually vastly complicated and take a whole heck of a lot more technical knowledge than you might realize to design, install and maintain. When it comes to choosing the right pump for your application the conventional wisdom is that you will hire a pool professional to inspect your pool, sell you a suitable pump and install it for you. If you do not have access to a pool professional in your area, or you prefer to take care of things like this around your home yourself, then the information on this page will help you to pick the right version of Pentair pump for your needs.

Important Note On Pentair Pumps - The swimming pool industry only has a handful of equipment manufacturers, similar to the automotive industry. When you want to buy a car you only really have a handful of options available to you. With less than a dozen manufacturers in total, the pool and spa industry is dominated by three equipment manufacturers which are Pentair, Hayward and Zodiac. Saying that any one manufacturer is definitely better than another would be a stretch, just like saying Ford is the best, or Honda is the best. Each manufacturer has their strengths and weaknesses and pool owners and pool industry professionals alike will have opinions one way or another. In general, the industry attitude towards Pentair is that they manufacture arguably the highest quality pool and spa equipment in the world. Many high end builders and installers prefer Pentair when quality is paramount over price or any other factor. There is no unanimous "best pool pump" but I would venture to say that the majority of pool professionals would agree that Pentair makes the best pumps on the market. If you can find a Pentair pump that suits your price range then you can be reasonably confident that you are investing into a piece of high quality equipment.

Pentair SuperFlo VS SuperMax

To help understand why there are so many makes and models of Pentair VS pumps the first thing to consider is that Pentair maintains two completely separate lines of competing equipment. This originates from Pentair purchasing the Sta-Rite brand in 2004 after which time many of the Sta-Rite models of equipment continued to be produced despite competing directly with the Pentair brand equivalent. The reason why Pentair would maintain two competing product lines is simple - this allows Pentair to be competitive within a dense marketplace where swimming pool dealers do not want to compete dollar-for-dollar. If there are two pool stores on the same street they both do not want to sell the exact same equipment as each other. Instead of allowing dealers to look to Hayward, Zodiac or another brand, Pentair offers the traditional (almond colored) Pentair line of equipment as well as the Sta-Rite (black colored) line of equipment. While these two equipment lines were developed independently over time the differences are becoming less pronounced.

So right away when comparing Pentair pool pumps you need to realize that almost every almond colored model of Pentair pump will have a mirror product in black that is very similar if not the exact same other than the casing color and the name. This right off the bat helps to cut the confusion in half when you are shopping for a Pentair pump for your pool. The next step is to determine which of the pump line best fits your needs and expectations.

The Pentair SuperFlo 342001 is the entry level variable speed pump from Pentair. This VS pump is specifically made to compete with the Hayward SP2603VSP variable speed pump. It is the same height and length as the very popular Hayward Super Pump design so it requires zero customization to the plumbing to switch your Super Pump out for one of these Pentair pumps. This pump shows a pump curve that is capable of 113 GPM and can operate at either 120 volts or 240 volts.

The Pentair (Sta-Rite) SuperMax 343001 is the mirror pump in the Sta-Rite brand that is comparable to the SuperFlo 342001. The flow rate for this pump is identical to the flow rate of the 342001 SuperFlo. Just like the SuperFlo this pump is able to run at 120 volts or 240 volts with a small loss in flow and efficiency when wired on the lower voltage option.

342001 Pentair SuperFlo - 104 GPM @ 30' on max speed and 95 GPM @ 40'
343001 Pentair SuperMax - 104 GPM @ 30' on max speed and 95 GPM @ 40'

These entry level variable speed pumps from Pentair are both updated from pervious versions. The original SuperFlo was part number 342000 and the original SuperMax was part number 343000 however these models have been discontinued in place of the 342001 and 343001 versions. The first generation pumps were only compatible with 240 volt power supplies where the newer versions of both pumps have the option for running at 120 volts also which gives this entry level pump a very strong unique market advantage. No other entry level VS pumps have both 120 volt and 240 volt options making the offerings from Pentair very attractive for pool owners with only 120 volts available at the pump location. Install the SuperFlo or SuperMax pump now on 120 volts and change over to 240 volts in the future for an efficiency advantage once you run a new 240 volt electrical service to the pump location.

Pentair IntelliFlo VS Models

Just as with the above example pumps from Pentair, the IntelliFlo and IntelliPro are competing pumps that are intended to help with market penetration for Pentair in dense and competitive retail markets. While the Sta-Rite version IntelliPro was based on a different design than the Pentair IntelliFlo, they have become very similar over time. The similarity between the pumps and the names lends itself well to creating a confusing shopping process for pool owners who are trying to decide which pump they want to buy. Well, it gets worse. Pentair has started to brand the IntelliFlo pump into multiple designations so now there are a half dozen versions of the "IntelliFlo" to choose from and each one does something different. While on the surface this might sound like it is confusing, and I suppose it could be if you are new to pool pumps, but the actual technology behind the new IntelliFlo pump versions is very smart and clearly designed to solve common problems that pool owners have.

What Pentair is doing with the IntelliFlo lineup is designing the product to suit specific, individual markets. Instead of having different pumps for different applications Pentair is using their flagship IntelliFlo pump platform to custom make application-specific pumps. For example instead of building an entirely new pump to conform to California and Arizona energy restrictions for pool pumps, instead the IntelliFlo comes with a one or two horsepower impeller and diffuser. This effectively makes the IntelliFlo a one horsepower or a two horsepower. This is precisely what the IntelliFlo i1 and i2 pumps are.

The VS 3050 Pentair IntelliFlo 011018 is the base model IntelliFlo and the flagship pump from Pentair. Previously this was the IntelliFlo 011013 which has now been discontinued by Pentair. The 011018 model is a 3 horsepower that is capable of huge flow volumes, up to 180 GPM @ 30' (extrapolated) and 168 GPM @ 40'. This pump is actually capable of over six horsepower and the flow rate and electrical draw are regulated via the diffuser and impeller. This is one of the reasons that many people believe the Pentair IntelliFlo is the best pump on the market for swimming pools.

Pentair IntelliFlo (011028) - In 2018 the 011018 IntelliFlo model will be phased out. Parts will still be available and the 011018 pumps are being sold still and come with the regular full warranty offered by Pentair. Once sold out, the 011018 will be discontinued and the 011028 will be the new model number for this IntelliFlo pump. It has the exact same flow and efficiency data as the 011018 IntelliFlo, but a design revision to the drive units.

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. The electrical draw for this pump does not exceed 7 amps which is designed specifically to meet energy conservation laws in California and Arizona where pumps must be smaller than one horsepower in size.

Pentair IntelliFlo i2 (011060) - This version of the Pentair IntelliFlo uses a two horsepower impeller and is limited to 11.8 amps of current. Since electrical code allows for 80% of circuit maximum as a sustained draw this means an average 15 amp household electrical breaker can operate up to 12 amps sustained. With a maximum flow rate of 162 GPM at 30' of head (extrapolated) and 148 GPM at 40' of head the IntelliFlo i2 is extremely impressive for pumps limited to 120 volt, 15 amp breakers. The IntelliFlo i2 is more efficient than the SuperFlo or SuperMax entry level variable speed pumps and provides far more flow potential based on similar power consumption.

Pentair IntelliFlo 2-VST (011055) - This is the "trade grade" version of the Pentair IntelliFlo which is only available from brick and mortar retail dealers. It comes with a unique extended warranty protection as well as a few minor changes from the 011018 IntelliFlo version including a rotating screen display however the pump performance curve for both the 011018 IntelliFlo and 011055 IntelliFlo are identical.

The Pentair IntelliFlo VF 011012 is a variable frequency pump which is distinctly different than a variable speed pump. While both variable speed and variable frequency pumps have the ability to save you money by reducing motor RPM, these two pumps serve different purposes. The 011012 IntelliFlo VF is unique in that it gives you the ability to maintain specific flow rates. As variables change in a pool system, such as a filter that is getting dirty, flow rates will change for any given motor RPM speed. The IntelliFlo VF will change the motor RPM as required in order to meet the flow rates which you have programmed. This is an extremely useful feature for high end systems and people who require very specific flow rates for their pool systems. The flow rates for this pump are identical to the base 011018 IntelliFlo.

Pentair IntelliFlo VSF (011056) - The VSF version of the IntelliFlo is the best of both worlds in terms of variable speed and variable frequency pumps. This version of the IntelliFlo can be set to run at any specific speed, but it can also be set to follow a flow rate program, increasing or decreasing the motor RPM as required to meet the flow rate that you have programmed. The ability to hold specific flow rates under changing system conditions is something that advanced pool and spa systems can benefit from, as well as pool owners interested in the maximum level of control over their water velocity and turnover rates.

The Pentair IntelliFlo XF 022005 (formerly 022055) is an extremely efficient and high flow volume version of the IntelliFlo variable speed pump. With larger suction and discharge ports up to 3" in size, this pump is able to deliver massive flow volumes for pool systems with larger plumbing line sizes (minimum 2.5"). Capable of 205 GPM at 30' resistance and 191 GPM at 40' resistance. On plumbing lines 2 inch or smaller this pump will not perform as advertised and the smaller IntelliFlo 011018 would be better. When matched with suitably large plumbing lines this is one of the most impressive flow pumps on the market.

Pentair IntelliFlo XF VSF (022056) - This version of the IntelliFlo XF also incorporates the variable frequency technology from other Pentair pumps and combines this with the most impressive flow and efficiency that is available in a Pentair pool pump. The flow rates for this pump are identical to the 022055 XF model and as such also require larger than two inch plumbing lines in order to operate correctly and efficiently.

The Pentair IntelliFlo pumps are the same as the IntelliPro models other than the color of the casings are different. With the exception of the IntelliFlo i1 and the IntelliFlo i2 application specific models, each IntelliFlo version of pump is also available in a mirror version in the Sta-Rite brand. If you are a pool owner trying to figure out whether IntelliPro or IntelliFlo is better the answer is that they are essentially equal. Pentair only has two competing brands since they purchased Sta-Rite and kept the product line open to help compete in busy areas. If you can find a good deal on either an IntelliPro or an IntelliFlo then you are getting the same warranty protection, advanced technology and high quality equipment...just different colors.

IntelliFlo VS 3050 011018 (011028) = IntelliPro VS 3050 (P6E6VS4H-209L)

IntelliFlo 2-VST 011015 = IntelliPro 2-VST 013001

IntelliFlo VSF 011056 = IntelliPro VSF 013004

IntelliFlo XF 022005 = IntelliPro XF 023055

IntelliFlo XF VSF 022056 = IntelliPro XF VSF 023056

How To Pick The Best Pool Pump? - If you are feeling overwhelmed by the options available to you from Pentair then the list can be drastically simplified. For most pool owners looking to buy a Pentair variable speed pump you will end up with either the base IntelliFlo 011018 (011028) or the SuperFlo VS 342001. If you have two inch sized plumbing lines, 240 volts of power available for your pump, and your filter and heater can handle the flow, then the 011018 version is the one you want. This is the original flagship VS pump from Pentair and the most common one you would encounter working in the field. If you are restricted to 120 volts of power or 1.5" plumbing line size then the 342001 SuperFlo VS is a better option for you. The rest of the pumps available are all meant for very specific applications. While they might have all the same features as these two most common Pentair VS pumps, they all cost quite a bit more as well for the additional features it offers. You could pay more to get the 011056 VSF pump as the ability to control the pump RPM to automatically hold constant flow rates under variable conditions is great...but most pool owners would never realize the true benefits of this pump as they simply do not require that level of control over the system. The average pool owner wants a Pentair variable speed pump to reduce electricity costs to run their pool and the 011018 (011028) IntelliFlo and 342001 SuperFlo VS are the best options to accomplish this.

Pentair SVRS Pool Pumps

One additional feature that is available with some Pentair variable speed pumps is a safety vacuum release system - or "SVRS". An SVRS is designed to turn off the pump in the event that something blocks or restricts the suction lines for the pump. It is well known that pool pumps are powerful and can be extremely dangerous given the wrong situation. The "wrong" situation would be one where a swimmer somehow blocks the suction line for the pump. Being a closed loop plumbing system this would result in the person taking the full brunt of the suction power of the pump. This is a nightmare-like situation but one that can, and does, happen.

The VGB act is a law designed to help reduce the potential for entrapment accidents in swimming pools. Through education as well as modification of pool plumbing system design and hardware the potential for an entrapment accident can be reduced or almost eliminated. Unfortunately for many pools it is not possible to meet these requirements fully without minor to moderate renovation of the pool plumbing system...which is not always possible. The residential market especially, which is subject to less oversight than commercial swimming pools, remains more prone to entrapment hazards than commercial swimming pools. SVRS pumps are one of the best "bolt on" tools available to help create a safer swimming pool environment.

The Pentair IntelliFlo VS Plus SVRS 011057 (formerly 011017) is the 011018 IntelliFlo with the added safety vacuum release system (SVRS). The SVRS system can not be turned off via programming of this unit so you must be sure that this will work on your pool system. This pump is not a stand alone solution to entrapment hazards and you should still have VGBA compliant drain covers and suction points. This pump is most commonly used for commercial applications.

The Pentair IntelliPro SVRS P6E6XS4H-209L is the black Sta-Rite version of the IntelliFlo SVRS pump. The installation requirements and flow rates for this pump are equal to the almond colored IntelliFlo model. Just like the IntelliFlo version this pump is most commonly used for commercial swimming pool applications however it can be used for residential pools that meet the minimum installation requirements.

SVRS Installation Tips - Do not install SVRS pumps on systems that use check valves or automatic bypass valves. These valves will causes changes in the system pressures which will trigger the SVRS lockout and power down the pump. If a check valve is installed on the pressure side of the pool system then an additional SVRS check valve kit must be used for installation: part number 350250Z. This pump only turns off the SVRS feature during the priming cycle. You can not disable the SVRS temporarily for service tasks like vacuuming. Pools with SVRS pumps as well as suction side air leaks that pull air into the plumbing system may have problems with false SVRS alarms due to the air in the system.

If you want to compare Pentair variable speed pumps to other popular brands and models of VS pumps then you can read these variable speed pool pump reviews to see which the most popular options are. In short, Pentair is considered to have some of the highest quality variable speed pumps on the market.

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