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Thread: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

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    h2ctpdjl's Avatar
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    Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    I am dreaming about spring. I have had my pool and equipment for three seasons now. I have read so many comments on this website about the cost savings for running a variable speed pump vs a single speed. Would it make sense for me to pay to have my 1 1/2hp sp pump replaced with a variable speed? Are the savings really that much? If so, can someone recommend a good pump?
    18,000 gal, 18x32 IGP, vinyl liner, 3 to 5.5ft depth. One inlet/skimmer (Aqua Genie), one main drain. Hayward Pro Series Sand Filter w/filtration rate of 20 GPM/FT, Two-Speed Pentair Whisperflo 1 HP pump, Natural Gas Hayward H200 pool heater, Aquabot T2 (200 Series) Robotic Pool Cleaner (my best friend), Automatic Electric Pool Cover (2nd best friend).

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    Can you provide some information about your electric rate and how you use your heater?
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    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

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    h2ctpdjl's Avatar
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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    I dont know a whole lot about electrical charges, but i learned something when I went to my Electric utility website. They have "on-peak" and "off-peak" rates.Their rates are as follows: On-Peak hrs are 6-9am & 4-10pm ($.10032 kwh); Off-peak hrs are 9am-4pm & 10pm-6am ($.06451 kwh). I had the pump put on a timer last summer, so I can pretty easily run the pump whenever I want quite easily. During the heat of the summer, I normally run my pump for 8 hrs from 11am - 7pm, so 5 hrs run time is during the "off peak" times. I can see I need to start running the pump during all off-peak hrs, but I am still wondering about the possible cost savings I could realize by switching to a variable speed pump. I would also have to consider the cost to have this done. As far as my heater goes, it is on a natural gas line and it has the electronic ignition system. I only use the heater in April then again in October - extend my swim times.
    18,000 gal, 18x32 IGP, vinyl liner, 3 to 5.5ft depth. One inlet/skimmer (Aqua Genie), one main drain. Hayward Pro Series Sand Filter w/filtration rate of 20 GPM/FT, Two-Speed Pentair Whisperflo 1 HP pump, Natural Gas Hayward H200 pool heater, Aquabot T2 (200 Series) Robotic Pool Cleaner (my best friend), Automatic Electric Pool Cover (2nd best friend).

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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    Here is a calculator that can tell you how much you can expect to save. http://www.pentairpool.com/pool_pump_calc/index.htm

    According to that site, you are getting about 2.3 turn overs per 8 hrs operation. With a variable speed pump running 8 hours only gets 1 turn over. So you have to be careful when comparing.

    Let's assume you'd like 2 turnovers per day and that you run the pump only in off peak hours, which makes sense no matter what pump you have. That means running your current pump at 7 hrs/day at a cost of $313 per year. (calclator only goes down to .08 so has to be adjusted by hand). The variable speed pump needs to run 16 hours a day (at least 1 during on-peak) to get the 2 turnovers at a cost of approx $ $99 per year.

    Thats a $214 per year savings. So you can compare to the cost of the pump + installation and determine how long it takes to pay for itself and hope it does not break before that time.

    One thing to consider is depending on your pool, you may be able to get away with only 1 or 1.5 turnovers per day. I'm doing very good with only 1.25 turnovers per day. If you can do that, and I'd guess you could especially in winter, then you can reduce your pump run time even more and that $214 savings drops even more.
    25' x 13' Roman, 12000 gal IGP, Plaster, with 500 gal Spa
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    As a general rule, you don't want to replace a working pump with a more efficient pump to save money unless your electric rates are extremely high or something is wrong/broken/needs changing anyway with your current setup. Your rates appear to be about average, so the payback on replacing the pump is going to be very long, if it ever pays back.

    The Pentair pump savings calculator is wildly optimistic. Most people purchasing a variable speed pump see a savings of around 50% of what they are spending with a fixed speed pump. Savings as high as Pentair estimates are possible, but they are rare.

    One good alternative to replacing the pump is making sure you are using your existing pump as efficiently as possible. Many people find that they can shorten their pump runtime without any problems, and save money that way.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion
    As a general rule, you don't want to replace a working pump with a more efficient pump to save money unless your electric rates are extremely high or something is wrong/broken/needs changing anyway with your current setup. Your rates appear to be about average, so the payback on replacing the pump is going to be very long, if it ever pays back.

    The Pentair pump savings calculator is wildly optimistic. Most people purchasing a variable speed pump see a savings of around 50% of what they are spending with a fixed speed pump. Savings as high as Pentair estimates are possible, but they are rare.

    One good alternative to replacing the pump is making sure you are using your existing pump as efficiently as possible. Many people find that they can shorten their pump runtime without any problems, and save money that way.
    Glad to see this again. I've been tickled with thoughts about replacing my working 1.5 hp, 1.5 SF, working pump, for something more efficient, this summer. If I could scrape up the monies and it really would be worth it I would think about it more seriously.

    I have to run the Polaris or Tracker 4X about 10 hours a day minimum, and two PoolSkims running, due to all the fine (and other) debris from dogs and blown in. My current rate of electricity is $0.124; about the best I can get choosing partial wind. I was on 100% wind at $0.164 but needed to get my bill down some. I'm hoping the SolarBreeze will help to reduce my cleaner/skimmer time by getting a lot of stuff before it sinks. Only use of it will tell. We do a lot to keep the bill down but pool, spa, gobs of outside night lighting do use a lot. (We hardly cool or heat the whole upstairs, keep downstairs at 80-85 F, in summer, with spot cooling in living area, 64 F in winter, with some spot heating, all for DH, night cooling only in bedroom, lots of ceiling fans, virtually all CFs and LEDs inside, and partially changed over to LEDs outside lighting (Outside LEDs have a way to go, as of now). As of last year hardly cool the converted garage; doggie, storage, work room.) A $500 bill any time of year is a "good" bill. I'm guessing that the pool, during summer, uses between $150 - $200 per month. I'm just guessing on that by looking at a couple of bills when pool was totally shut down, summer 2008. Since I have to use the "full speed" for pump so much should I even consider a variable pump?

    On a side note, one year I had a bill not much over $400. The electric company came out to check if the meter was functioning properly.

    gg=alice
    1981, 25K, IG, Blue Plaster 1996, somewhat oval, widens a bit at shallow end, 1.5" pipes, 2" at Pad, 1 separate main drain, 1 skimmer, 4 returns + dedicated cleaner return, 10 ft deep end with very fast decline from shallow, Pentair Quad 80 DE, Pentair Intelliflo VF, 3/4 HP Booster Pump (equipment pad about 8 ft below top of pool), Challanger 3/4 Trash/Emergency Pump 120v, Polaris 280 (pressure), iRobot Verro cleaner (robotic), Aquabot Turbo (robotic), Jacuzzi Tracker 4X (vacuum) Pool Blaster (Buster), Two (2) PoolSkims, Solar Breeze (solar powered top skimmer) (beta to ver. 2, release date 2010), ColorSplash LED replacement bulb. Aries 550 gal separate spa, 2002 (our 3rd and BEST spa) , BBB-Bromine

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    h2ctpdjl's Avatar
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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    Thanks to you all for your input. It sounds like I should continue with my 1.5hp single speed pump and experiment with reducing the runtime, and change my timer to run the pump during off-peak periods only. I had no idea I was getting that much turnover with my pump. I know before I found this site, my pool was a constant hassle and I ran the pump constantly, trying to keep the water clear. Thanks to the BBB method, that is no longer an issue. COME ON SPRING!!!!!!!!!!!
    18,000 gal, 18x32 IGP, vinyl liner, 3 to 5.5ft depth. One inlet/skimmer (Aqua Genie), one main drain. Hayward Pro Series Sand Filter w/filtration rate of 20 GPM/FT, Two-Speed Pentair Whisperflo 1 HP pump, Natural Gas Hayward H200 pool heater, Aquabot T2 (200 Series) Robotic Pool Cleaner (my best friend), Automatic Electric Pool Cover (2nd best friend).

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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    www.powertochoose.org for a fixed rate

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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    Your 1 1/2 hp pump running 8 hours will use about 475 kWh a month (220 volts x 9 amps x 8 hours x 30 days / 1000 to get kWh = 475); a variable speed pump running 22 hours very slow and 2 hours med. will use 100 to 150 kWh a month. Look at your bill to see what you will save (remember to include the fees and tax that the power co. pile onto your bill). Find out if your power co. has a rebate. In California a variable speed pump will cost $1100-$1800 installed less any rebate. Your ROI will be about 25% or more!

    Ben
    www.poolsbyben.com

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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    Geek Granny:

    Your 1 1/5 single speed pump running 10 hours will use about 594 kWh a month. A variable speed pump running 24/7 (at 250 watts) will use about 180 kWh a month so you save about $600 a year. A variable speed pump will clean the pool better and save you money.

    Ben
    www.poolsbyben.com

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    Quote Originally Posted by poolsbyben
    Geek Granny:

    Your 1 1/5 single speed pump running 10 hours will use about 594 kWh a month. A variable speed pump running 24/7 (at 250 watts) will use about 180 kWh a month so you save about $600 a year. A variable speed pump will clean the pool better and save you money.

    Ben
    http://www.poolsbyben.com
    Ben,

    Your numbers are reasonable for Southern California, but are neglecting a small detail. At most we run our pumps 6 months of the year here in Indiana. Some people run them as little as 3 months a year. There are no power company rebates here either. The savings for a typical pool here would probably be less than $150 a year, which makes the payback considerably longer.
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    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    Quote Originally Posted by h2ctpdjl
    Thanks to you all for your input. It sounds like I should continue with my 1.5hp single speed pump and experiment with reducing the runtime, and change my timer to run the pump during off-peak periods only.
    Good plan. I agree with Jason that you wouldn't want to replace a perfectly good pump when you can take steps to reduce your use even further on the pump you have. Over time, I was able to reduce my swim season pump time from 8 hours to 3 hours. This won't necessarily apply to your pool, however; my pump/equipment provides for 1 full turnover in that 3 hours and most of the time it has very low bather load (usage).

    Quote Originally Posted by poolsbyben
    Look at your bill to see what you will save (remember to include the fees and tax that the power co. pile onto your bill).
    I think this is an important point that Ben brings up. When you're ready to change to a more efficient variable speed pump, do add on the fees, taxes and surcharges (take the total of these fees that appear on your monthly bill then divide by kWH used; add the result to the current electricity rate) before making cost comparisons or return on investment calculations. My electric rate varies from 16 to 22 cents an hour but I add on 6 cents per kWh to account for the taxes and fees. This means my average cost per hour for electricity is about 25 cents an hour -- not the .16 or .22 kWh charge printed on the monthy statement.

    Of course, besides the initial cost to you and payback (ROI) considerations, any time you can reduce your peak time electricity usage you're reducing your impact on the grid and helping forestall additional power generation, whether it be from coal plants or hydroelectric.
    14,555 gal in-ground 16'x29' white plaster Pool w/spa (2007); Goldline Aqua Logic AQL-PS-8 control w/Aqua Cell 15 Salt Water Chlorination (SWCG); Hayward TriStar 1HP (1.85 SF) main / 1.5HP (1.60 SF) spa pumps; Hayward Swimclear cart filter C4025, ColorLogic LED lights; Tankless SP-18-4 electric heater; Polaris 280 cleaner.
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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    In SoCal where I live, electricity is $.31 per KwH so the variabel speed is a no brainer. So far I save about $100 per month.
    35,000 gal pool, Pebble-Tec, Pentair VF pump, DE filter, Aqua Rite SWG, Pentair Minimax Heater in Southern California

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    Quote Originally Posted by sjsoldo
    In SoCal where I live, electricity is $.31 per KwH so the variabel speed is a no brainer. So far I save about $100 per month.
    Indeed it is. This points out one of the reasons we encourage people to list where they live when asking questions, since it can completely change the answer.
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    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    It would seem to me that it depends where you live and how long you run your pump We run our pump for 2hrs per day and we pay 0.11 per KWH I could not justify the cost difference to upgrade to a variable speed or 2 speed pump Unless I am wrong how much money would I save and how long will it talk for me to break even I would appreciated any thoughts
    6,000 gal, IG free form,Beach Series Antigua by Marbletite Pebble finish,Sheer Descent, IG Fountain, Dolphin / Mermaid Statues,Dura- Glas 1.5hp pump,Hayward Pro-grid DE4820, Aqua Rite SWG with T-Cell 15,Heat Siphon Heat Pump DX 5.0 109,000 btu, Pool Cage, 1800sq ft Tremron Estate Pavers,Aquatherm Ecosun Solar Panels 192 sq ft with GL-235 Controller,Pentair IntelliBrite, Apollo Magnetic Stirrer Our New Poolbuild, Jacksonville, FL yr 2009 Solar install Outdoor kitchen upgrade

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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    A typical 1.5 HP pump will draw somewhere between 1500 and 2000 watts, I will use 1500 watts in my calculations. 1500 watts for two hours a day is 3 kWh/day, or about 90 kWh/month. With electricity costing $0.11 per kWh, which is fairly low these days, that is about $10/month. Assuming a six month pool season and a 50% electric savings by switching to a variable speed pump, you could save around $30/year by switching.

    For comparison, lets imagine that you were running the same pump for 12 hours a day and your electric rates were $0.45 per kWh. Then you would be spending about $245/month and could potentially save around $735/year.

    As you can see, the savings are very dependent on the size of the pump, the number of hours you run the pump, and your electric rates. Larger pumps, longer run times, and higher electric rates all make it easier to justify the cost of replacing the pump.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    Quote Originally Posted by h2ctpdjl
    I dont know a whole lot about electrical charges, but i learned something when I went to my Electric utility website. They have "on-peak" and "off-peak" rates.Their rates are as follows: On-Peak hrs are 6-9am & 4-10pm ($.10032 kwh); Off-peak hrs are 9am-4pm & 10pm-6am ($.06451 kwh). I had the pump put on a timer last summer, so I can pretty easily run the pump whenever I want quite easily. During the heat of the summer, I normally run my pump for 8 hrs from 11am - 7pm, so 5 hrs run time is during the "off peak" times. I can see I need to start running the pump during all off-peak hrs, but I am still wondering about the possible cost savings I could realize by switching to a variable speed pump. I would also have to consider the cost to have this done. As far as my heater goes, it is on a natural gas line and it has the electronic ignition system. I only use the heater in April then again in October - extend my swim times.
    Question. How does the power company know if and when you are using power during peak or off peak hours? Especially in a residential situation? I looked at my power company's site, and only has summer and winter rates. Sure, we will soon be getting "Smart Meters" that transmit usage "home". (but not 24/7) Sure seems like a lot of work for the company to separate peak and off peak for thousands(?) of victims, er, customers daily. Just want to learn something.
    16K gallon, Pebble tec, beach entry. Two 1 hp Pentair Whisperflos. One for Paramount MDX2 main drain, Paramount debris canister, and Pentair CCP 520 filter. One for skimmer w/sock and Paramount PCC2000 in floor cleaner. 3/4 hp Pentair Pinnacle for waterfall. Fiberstars fiber optic pool lighting. Aqua-Logic AQL-P-4 control panel with wired remote in the house. SWCG system that is not used. Ultra-Pure Ozonator that is not used.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    In order to charge time of day rates, which only happens in some areas, they have to install a special electric meter, which keeps totals for each time period. The meters don't need to be able to call home, a person can still come around and read them, but they do need to be smarter than a basic electric meter.

    In my area you can "opt in" to time of day rates and they come out and install a new meter. Time of day rates give me a much better deal at night, and a worse deal during peak usage hours. My electric meter gets read by a person who comes around once a month. They never actually look at the meter, they have a short range radio in a hand held device that reads the meter wirelessly when it is within a few feet of the meter.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion
    my area you can "opt in" to time of day rates and they come out and install a new meter. Time of day rates give me a much better deal at night, and a worse deal during peak usage hours. My electric meter gets read by a person who comes around once a month. They never actually look at the meter, they have a short range radio in a hand held device that reads the meter wirelessly when it is within a few feet of the meter.
    Our region just went to this model and I think I will probably not opt in. I have a choice of cheap rates vs a warm pool since I need to run during the day to take advantage of the panels. It is too bad that solar water users don't get any "credit" for saving energy that way.
    Mark
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    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

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    Re: Is it worth switching out my single speed pump for variable

    To run the Polaris 280 and other pressure side cleaners that need extra pressure we have to, also, consider the booster pump. What's a ballpark figure on running a 220v 3/4 hp pump, please and thank you?

    My booster pump motor was replaced last summer with a new motor (vs rebuilt) so it should be at its best efficiency for a while. The 1.5 hp (SF 1.5) main, old pump has enough pressure that the Polaris moves about, although slowly, without the booster on. With booster pump on it moves faster than any I've ever watched.

    Since I need the main pump running for at least 10 hrs for the vac side cleaner, or with booster for the pressure Polaris, it doesn't seem to me that I would need to use the slow speed as my water is turning over at least twice a day. Of course I might not need as much pumping power from main pump, as I have now, when using the Polaris, with booster, but when using the vac side Tracker I have to close down the main drain a bit to get the vac cleaner running at proper speed. It wouldn't hurt to run the a VS on low the rest of the time but it isn't really needed but would be nice for the constantly blown in/dragged in stuff by dogs. Tomorrow, the SolarBreeze will be charged up enough (and all ice on pool melted) to see how it is going to help keeping surface stuff cleaned up. I'm hoping it will help to cut down on running the main pump for skimming (skimmer and two PoolSkims) AND to keep so much stuff from sinking necessitating running the cleaners so much. Time will tell on that. As I have been using the pressure Polaris the most I could possibly realize some savings by running main pump at a lower speed but would that be enough savings to justify the expense of a VS??? (No need for details on any answers.)

    I'm running the robotic Vero 300, under the ice right now. Having that choice is really nice but it is more hassle than the other two cleaners. And it doesn't do leaves as well as Polaris nor fine stuff as well as vac Tracker 4x (Vero 300 does both very well but mesh bag slows down considerably with a load of leaves, unlike Polaris, and with fine silt/sand bag, clogs so fast with silt, it is virtually useless after 30 minutes.)

    gg=alice
    1981, 25K, IG, Blue Plaster 1996, somewhat oval, widens a bit at shallow end, 1.5" pipes, 2" at Pad, 1 separate main drain, 1 skimmer, 4 returns + dedicated cleaner return, 10 ft deep end with very fast decline from shallow, Pentair Quad 80 DE, Pentair Intelliflo VF, 3/4 HP Booster Pump (equipment pad about 8 ft below top of pool), Challanger 3/4 Trash/Emergency Pump 120v, Polaris 280 (pressure), iRobot Verro cleaner (robotic), Aquabot Turbo (robotic), Jacuzzi Tracker 4X (vacuum) Pool Blaster (Buster), Two (2) PoolSkims, Solar Breeze (solar powered top skimmer) (beta to ver. 2, release date 2010), ColorSplash LED replacement bulb. Aries 550 gal separate spa, 2002 (our 3rd and BEST spa) , BBB-Bromine

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