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Thread: Pentair Challenger - replace or upgrade?

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    Pentair Challenger - replace or upgrade?

    I have an old Pentair Challenger 3/4 hp pump that needs to be replaced. I was originally planning on getting the same pump, but I was wondering if I should consider the Whisperflow or any other pump. It gets a little confusing, even within the Pentair line, to distinguish between the models and how they will perform.

    I have a 20K gallon kidney-shape pool, 2 returns on the skimmer side and disconnected main drain.

    Any recommendations?
    IG plaster, 16K gallon, Pentair NSP-60 DE filter, 2HP pump, BBB, Polaris 360

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Pentair Challenger - replace or upgrade?

    Welcome to TFP!

    The big decision is should you get a two speed pump or a variable speed pump. Both will save you money on electricity. A variable speed pump will cost more up from and save you more on electricity. Usually the variable speed is only worth it if your electric rates are well above the national average (as they are in most of California). While a two speed will save you money almost anywhere.

    The WhisperFlo is Pentair's best in-ground fixed speed pump, moving more water per watt than any of their other in-ground fixed speed pumps. The Pentair IntelliFlo is also a great pump if you are looking for a variable speed.
    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: Pentair Challenger - replace or upgrade?

    Thanks for the quick reply!

    A 2 speed pump is a bit out of the budget right now, so I'm limited to a fixed speed.

    I keep reading that Whisperflow is Pentair's best pump, but why is the the Challenger more money? From searching around this forum, I don't see many (if any) new Challenger purchases; that's another reason I'm questioning buying this pump again...
    IG plaster, 16K gallon, Pentair NSP-60 DE filter, 2HP pump, BBB, Polaris 360

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    Re: Pentair Challenger - replace or upgrade?

    What concerns me is the disconnected drain/ That leaves a single source of suction. An Intelliflo would need to be turned way down so as not to exceed the skimmer's ability to draw water.

    I think a simple 3/4 HP single speed will be the cost effective solution. Is it just the motor/seal set or is the housing having issues?

    If it's a loud/dying motor, changing it and the seal set is a lot less costly.

    Scott
    Owner of - PoolGuyNJ LLC
    Expert Pool and Spa Repairs, Renovations, and Augmentation. Helping people decide what is the right gear for meeting their needs. Expectations Set, Expectations Met, No Surprises.

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    Re: Pentair Challenger - replace or upgrade?

    I can't answer your questions but I can attest to the Challengers longevity. I know several other people who have very old Challengers. Mine was under the deck with little exposure to elements. Until I replaced my well working Challenger 2.23 HPSF, this spring, with a Pentair VF, my Challenger held up very well over the years with near constant use 24/7, year round since 1986. I think the motor was replaced once (but maybe twice - seals replaced of course) since 1981, when pool was built. I think I replaced the wet end (impeller and pump basket) once since we moved into this house 1986; pool built in 1981. A lot of trash had gone through that pump, over the years, with impeller clogged up a few times. I can't attest to its efficiency but it surely did move the water well. There were several impeller clogs doing spring cleanup when I had to let the pool become an uncovered swamp over a few winters when I was away from home for a month or two around December Holidays. That didn't damage the impeller. Just needed a good clean out.

    When I replaced the pump, this spring, I was hoping to use it as a trash pump but my model couldn't be converted to 120 volt so I purchased, at a good price, a new Challenger 3/4, that can be wired 120 v. For the price I got it a motor and seals only wouldn't have cost much less than the whole shebang. I haven't decided what to do with the old 2.23 HPSF, 220v Challanger.

    The Challenger does have a good track record, but again, power usage efficiency may be an issue in high electric rate areas. Just guessing about that though.

    BTW.... I have already noticed a decrease in electric bill, comparing to several years bills at this time of year. My Challenger was one speed and probably way oversized, especially with the undersized DE filter I replaced. It did, though, give enough flow to use two PoolSkims with one of the four returns closed off and the other narrowed down a pretty well. Challenger, of course, was running wide open the whole time at > 3 K rpm. Running the VF at about 20 gpm, or less, at ~ 200 watts, or less, ~ 15K-17K rpm (all determined by how dirty the filter is - speed/wattage go up to keep same flow, as filter starts getting dirty) (I replaced the under sized DE filter with a large Quad 80 and 2" pipes, at pumping station, and removed some unions and 90s, so much less restriction at station) gives enough flow to one Pool Skim, one 3/4" eyeball, one closed, and one restricted pretty well. Pool Skims need a lot of flow to get adequate venturi action. At that speed and flow there is plenty of flow to the Polaris booster pump without the VF speed increasing much to provide flow to the booster.

    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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    Re: Pentair Challenger - replace or upgrade?

    Quote Originally Posted by PoolGuyNJ
    What concerns me is the disconnected drain/ That leaves a single source of suction. An Intelliflo would need to be turned way down so as not to exceed the skimmer's ability to draw water.

    I think a simple 3/4 HP single speed will be the cost effective solution. Is it just the motor/seal set or is the housing having issues?

    If it's a loud/dying motor, changing it and the seal set is a lot less costly.

    Scott
    And doing it yourself will save even more money.

    BTW... I would still like to see what experts have to say about pros/cons of Challenger vs other, newer type pumps, 3/4 HP.

    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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    Re: Pentair Challenger - replace or upgrade?

    Doing a quick Google search the replacement motor (A.O Smith) for a 3/4 HP Challenger pump runs around $150; seal kit < $30. I don't know if a whole "kit" is needed. There are two versions of the Challanger, high flow or high pressure. Let's let the experts advise on that.

    When we replaced the Challanger with the Intelliflo we had to put a fitting on that made a lazy Z to get the existing suction pipe to line up with the opening of Intelliflo; just a little bit more work added. If you keep the wet end of your Challanger you won't need to do that.

    Guys and gals here will guide you through the whole process.

    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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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Pentair Challenger - replace or upgrade?

    Different pumps are good at different jobs. Some pumps are good at moving large amounts of water through very short pipes, others are better at moving small amounts of water through a very long pipe. The WhisperFlo is aimed at the typical in-ground pool, with balance of pipe length and water flow that you usually have in an in-ground pool. The Challenger High Flow is aimed at setups with slightly shorter simpler pipe runs, while the Challenger High Head is aimed at setups with somewhat longer more complex pipe runs compared to the WhisperFlo. All three pumps cover a fairly wide range of situations and there is a substantial amount of overlap in the range of setups they can handle.

    Assuming you don't have a special situation that is off towards the edge of the range, the most interesting number is the number of gallons moved per watt of electricity used. This is where the WhisperFlo has a significant advantage, moving more water per watt used than either of the Challengers.
    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: Pentair Challenger - replace or upgrade?

    Quote Originally Posted by PoolGuyNJ
    What concerns me is the disconnected drain/ That leaves a single source of suction. An Intelliflo would need to be turned way down so as not to exceed the skimmer's ability to draw water.

    I think a simple 3/4 HP single speed will be the cost effective solution. Is it just the motor/seal set or is the housing having issues?

    If it's a loud/dying motor, changing it and the seal set is a lot less costly.

    Scott
    I hate the fact the main drain isn't functioning. It was this way when we bought the house (2002), and the previous owner said it was done many years before that. To have that repaired is way out of budget at this point.

    I'm not even sure which version I have, as the motor was replaced at some point with a non-Pentair version. I just know it's a 3/4 hp.

    I have done enough work on this pump over the years, and at this point I want something I don't need to tear down every season. Currently it's been tripping the breaker randomly, inside the motor is loaded with rust and deposits so I think it's time for it to be retired. Plus, living in MA, the electric rates aren't so great. I'd like something that will use less electricity but perform as well or better than what I currently have.

    Here is a pic of the pipe setup so you guys can see how that looks, it's about 15 feet from the pool.

    [attachment=0:3ag6o6gw]IMG_1040.jpg[/attachment:3ag6o6gw]
    Attached Images Attached Images
    IG plaster, 16K gallon, Pentair NSP-60 DE filter, 2HP pump, BBB, Polaris 360

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    Re: Pentair Challenger - replace or upgrade?

    Is that filter metal? Would bond that like crazy huh...
    25k I/G ecostar ccplus Polaris plaster

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