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Thread: Variable Speed Pumps Not Recommended for 1.5" Piping ??

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    Variable Speed Pumps Not Recommended for 1.5" Piping ??

    A variable speed pump can be used with 1 1/2" pipes, though it isn't usually recommended. The variable speed pumps startup at a fairly high speed, which can put a strain on older small diameter plumbing.
    Jason, (or others)

    I've been thinking hard about replacing my 1 HP pump with a Intelliflo VF. Doesn't my 1 HP single speed pump put a big strain on my 1.5" inch pipes? (I actually think I may have had a 3/4 HP pump there when I moved in 33 years ago, but am not sure.)

    Doesn't the VF run at low speeds and flows, thus putting less strain on your system?
    And isn't the Priming Mode flow a setting you can make, again putting potentially less strain on my pool piping?

    I was thinking of getting a variable speed, and likely the VF, for the energy savings it would deliver. I calculated a couple of different ways, and think it's about $500 a year for me.

    And I thought an added bonus would be the less strain it would put on my pool system.

    Do I have this wrong?

    Thanks,

    Jeff
    40 x 16 (28k gallon) plaster pool, Intelliflo VF pump, Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, using Purifiber, using BBB, TF-100 test kit

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    Re: Does the IntelliFlo VF put less strain on my pool system

    Quote Originally Posted by ride525

    Do I have this wrong?

    Thanks,

    Jeff
    Not at all. You sound like you understand the pump, and how it should run. So no, it wont hurt the 1 1/2 plumbing.
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    Re: Does the IntelliFlo VF put less strain on my pool system

    Pipes, filters and most equipment are made to handle way more than what a 1 HP pump can produce so plumbing stress really isn't an issue. A much bigger issue is the energy savings that one can achieve with a smaller pump or a VS at lower RPM. Just keep in mind that you may end up running a variable speed at higher speeds occasionally for various reasons so don't assume that you will be using the most energy efficient setting all the time although some have managed to do that.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    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: Does the IntelliFlo VF put less strain on my pool system

    I just put in a VF this spring. Yes, it primes up slowly, and can be user set too. The manual mode, though, starts just like a one speed pump. There is a definite difference seeing, hearing, and touching the pipes when the pump primes slowly vs jolting to a start.

    My pump is below pool level so it is always primed so when the one speed, or high speed manual setting, comes on there is an immediate shudder in the long pipes from my pad to the filter, which is several feet from the rest of equipment at pumping station. The 2" pipes are suspended from steel beams under my deck. All the rest of my pipes coming from pool to valves are 1.5 inch. I don't see how most of the speeds, flows, rpm, etc., on my VF, especially with the slow priming, can be nearly as bad as the jolt created by my 2.23 SFHP monster, one speed.

    I had all the "frankenplumbing", from 29 years taken out, with 2" added where we could. I, also, upgraded the old 36 sq ft DE filter to a Pentair Quad 80 which took a lot of "stress" and head out of the system too.

    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: Does the IntelliFlo VF put less strain on my pool system

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985
    Pipes, filters and most equipment are made to handle way more than what a 1 HP pump can produce so plumbing stress really isn't an issue. A much bigger issue is the energy savings that one can achieve with a smaller pump or a VS at lower RPM. Just keep in mind that you may end up running a variable speed at higher speeds occasionally for various reasons so don't assume that you will be using the most energy efficient setting all the time although some have managed to do that.
    I recognized an immediate savings the very first month as I had to run my old pump 24/7 anyway to take care of all the very fine dust in our environment and pool. When the filter is freshly cleaned I can run the pump between 200-300 watts (depending on how clogged the filter is getting), 21/7 for one turn over a day. In addition I do bump it up to use the vac cleaner 2-4 hours a day. Depending on filter clogging, by our cementous dust, that wattage can range from somewhat over 300 watts to over 1200 watts when filter is in serious need of a backwash.

    The VF is really finicky about wanting the pressure low in the filter. It doesn't "want" to run it when the psi goes up much more than 6 (but it still runs) and will constantly "alert" even if you set the "clean psi" to higher than it really is at the filter. This really helps to keep the wattage use low as it nags you and then you look to see the difference in watt usage between now and when the filter was last backwashed and put backwashing up at the top of your to-do list.

    Until I get things a little more automated I do run the vac cleaner on the "Vacuum" setting, and I'm here to watch things. On the "vacuum" setting it doesn't have the auto stop feature if something gets stopped up or backed up so it is safer for your system to do the vac cleaner on one of the feature settings. As I have to currently plug the vac cleaner hose into the skimmer I'm just stopping the pump from its normal cycle and restarting it on vacuum for 120 minutes at a time.

    I love the VF. I thought my old, working well, pump was quiet. The VF truly "whispers".

    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: Does the IntelliFlo VF put less strain on my pool system

    Text only makes it tricky to put the correct emphasis on everything. This whole "strain" thing is not that big a deal. There are some interesting, and complex, things going on "behind the scenes", but for the most part this whole question can be ignored. I tend to get carried away and talk about technical details that aren't really a big deal.

    As mas985 said, a properly put together plumbing system will be just fine regardless. Issues usually only come up when inferior components are used, something is put together incorrectly, or there is existing damage to the plumbing. Of course, problems of these kinds do occur, but they are rare in a well designed/put together pluming setup.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Variable Speed Pumps Not Recommended for 1.5" Pipes ??

    I was worried that a variable speed pump wasn't usually recommended for 1.5" pipes.

    Hopefully edited title to reflect this.

    Thanks,

    Jeff
    40 x 16 (28k gallon) plaster pool, Intelliflo VF pump, Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, using Purifiber, using BBB, TF-100 test kit

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    Re: Variable Speed Pumps Not Recommended for 1.5" Piping ??

    I am in a similar position (see the post about replacing an old 1HP pump) with 1.5" piping - both techs who have come and seen my system said they wouldn't recommend a variable speed pump because I wouldn't get the full benefit (both had fitted many variable speed pumps and would have made a bigger sales if they proposed this in my set up). They both recommended smaller single speed pumps - one recommending a 1/2 HP Whisperflo and the other 3/4 Hp pump. They felt I would get most of the savings at a much lower cost.

    I am leaning towards the 1/2 HP Whisperflo but would be interested in others thoughts.

    Note I do have solar panels but they are on a garage roof and close to the pool.

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    Re: Variable Speed Pumps Not Recommended for 1.5" Piping ??

    Same thing happen to me. I was looking for the VS pump and the pool guy come out
    to see my setup and said the VS pump is not recommended for 1.5 pipe. He recommend
    the 1/2 HP Whisperflo instead. I only have 110v to the pump. Running a new 240v
    wire properly will likely cost $200+ for material along.

    But running a 1/2 HP pump is not going to save much from my current 3/4 HP setup.

    I am experimenting with frequent but short interval of running the pump.
    I replace the old mechanical intermatic with the electronic one with 28 events(125CR).
    Then I program the pump to run 10 mins every hour for the day time (12 on 12 off event).
    10 mins at 3am, and one dynamic off event I set every night after I add
    chlorine. So my total pump running time is about 2.5 hours per day.
    I estimate it takes two days to do one cycle of the water.

    Running this setup for a month now, it seems works fine for me so far.
    (Knocking on the wood.) The hottest days water go up to 85F. I use solar
    blanket most of the time which helps some what. I still need to remove
    the solar blanket to clean up the leaves in the pool from time to time.
    Give the pool a chance to break down the CC as well.

    Water has been clear, very clear. From end to end, I can see the other side
    of the pool under water.

    In this way, I am getting close to what variable speed can get me with
    existing pump. I have automatic pool vacuum so even with VS pump, I
    need to run on high setting for some time every day any way. Still waiting
    to find out what is the minimal pump time I can get away with in the
    coming summer.

    BTW, I already find out that running 2.5 hour per days as one session is
    not good enough for my pool. So break up the pump time into every hour does
    help.
    15x32 vinyl, IG,17K gal, DE filter, Hayward 3/4 HP pump, Hayward Ultra Vac, Solar cover with reel
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    Re: Variable Speed Pumps Not Recommended for 1.5" Piping ??

    A variable speed pump will use less electricity than a fixed speed pump in essentially all cases. That doesn't automatically make it a better choice. If your electric rates are very high, say 35 to 45 cents per kwh, then a variable speed pump is nearly always worth it, even if you have 1.5" plumbing, but it will take some effort to setup for maximum savings. If your electrical rates are 10 cents per kwh, then a variable speed pump is hardly ever worth the extra money (typically there need to be non-financial advantages to justify it).

    1.5" plumbing isn't really one of the deciding factors on what kind of pump to get. Small pipes can pose some issues, but they are minor compared to other things. The big decider for a variable speed pump is the cost of electricity. Other things that can argue against a variable speed are things which require high flow rates most of the time. If you have a waterfall that you want to keep running at all times, the variable speed needs to be turned up to a comparatively high speed, which means less electrical savings. Solar panels also reduce the possible savings because they require at least medium speed to prime properly and still need something above the minimum after that to continue working correctly. None of these things eliminate the savings from a variable speed, but they do reduce the savings, which may change the break even point on the up front costs enough to make a variable speed less desirable when you have intermediate electrical costs.
    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: Variable Speed Pumps Not Recommended for 1.5" Piping ??

    Vandergraff,

    I smiled when you first posted in this thread, since my original comments and questions in the thread were actually first posted in answer to your posting about replacing your old 1 hp pump!

    I found it interesting and surprising, all the recommendations about not recommending variable speed pumps on 1.5" piping. While it's not the most efficient setup in piping, I would think it's not efficient for a 1 hp single speed running a full speed on 1.5" piping either.

    I would think a variable speed pump you could program, like the Intelliflo VF, would run with much lower flows, and be more efficient, and save money. (I estimated about $500 a year savings in energy.) There would be times when I might want to change the flows (backwashing, vacuuming), but should be able to keep the flows equal or less than my 1 hp pump that was running at full speed all the time.

    I have felt the flows for the variable speed would be equal or less than the old 1 hp, (in filter mode, certainly less), and that it would save significant energy savings each year.

    I look forward to hearing others comments or recommendations regarding replacing a single speed pump on 1.5" piping with a Intelliflo or other variable speed pump. (I see Jason already has, while I was writing this.)

    Thanks,

    Jeff
    40 x 16 (28k gallon) plaster pool, Intelliflo VF pump, Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, using Purifiber, using BBB, TF-100 test kit

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    Re: Variable Speed Pumps Not Recommended for 1.5" Piping ??

    Also, water features, filter, amount of time to filter, and types of debris going into pool need to be considered.

    Using a Pool Skim in my extreme environment is almost as critical as having a pump and filter.

    The cememtous dust I have clogs everything up very fast. Even with a big 80 sq ft filter, I need to clean it, at the very least, every 10 days. (I'm using cellulose instead of DE. It filters finer so the filter clogs faster.) For those who don't know about DE filters, this is a monster size filter for my size pool. One of the major advantages using the VF is that it will increase the pump speed to keep the flow steady. With our searing Texas sun and heat, and attempting to keep the electric use down by using the minimum turn overs a day it is critical that the same amount of flow is kept going or an algae bloom will certainly happen. As the filter starts getting clogged the pump speeds up to keep the same amount of flow for adequate turn over(s).

    Then you add in some "features". A 1 HP for my pool would not keep the Pool Skim (considered a "feature" but a necessary part of keeping my pool clean.) flow high enough while running the vac cleaner. During the higher speed, higher flow cycle, to run the vac cleaner, the Pool Skim flow doubles and removes floating stuff pretty quickly, that hasn't been caught during low flow. In fact the flow setting ability allows me to set the flow so that the Pool Skim functions just well enough during lower flow settings. I can set it precisely to what flow is needed; no more, no less. And, as stated, earlier, the pump will speed up, when filter starts clogging, to keep the exact flow needed to keep the Pool Skim operational. For me this is vital. (Now that I have the experience of using the VF pump.)

    This is just one example of why I can think of no other pump I would want to use. In my case a 2 speed pump would not offer this option for me. I basically have to run a pump all the time. The reason I run 21/7 is to give the filter media three, one hour rest periods during 24 hours in hopes helping it to get less cemented to the cartridges (Quad filters use special cartridges instead of grids). Using a 2 speed pump, low speed would quickly become too little flow to run the Pool Skim as the filter starts clogging.

    For those who have pressure side cleaners thinking "well that doesn't apply to me as far as a cleaner". All I can say is after using pressure cleaner for 23 years, with booster pump, having to run them minimum 10 hours a day, year round, I've switched to suction cleaner that doesn't stir up the dust on bottom, gets the pool as clean in 2-4 hours as 10-20 hours for a pressure cleaner, and saves me a whole bunch of electric cost not running the booster pump for so many hours a day.

    You never know when your "needs" will change. I certainly never thought I would switch from pressure cleaner to suction.

    Another thing. Until a week ago my pool was doing fine set for 1 turn over a day. As the heat and sun are increasing I've bumped that up to 1.5 turn overs a day, with about a .25 turnover during vac cleaner use. I can't do that with a single speed pump or even a 2 speed pump.

    Just my 4 cents.

    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: Variable Speed Pumps Not Recommended for 1.5" Piping ??

    I'm going to check with Pentair and see what thoughts they have on whether variable speed pumps are recommended for systems that have 1.5" piping.
    40 x 16 (28k gallon) plaster pool, Intelliflo VF pump, Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, using Purifiber, using BBB, TF-100 test kit

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    Re: Variable Speed Pumps Not Recommended for 1.5" Piping ??

    I would not suggest a 1/2 HP pump for anything other than a water feature. A 3/4 HP pump (IMHO) is the smallest that should be used on a filtration system.

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    Re: Variable Speed Pumps Not Recommended for 1.5" Piping ??

    That depends on the 1/2 HP pump. My new 1/2 HP WhisperFlo WFE-2 moves about twice as much water as my previous ancient 3/4 HP pump. It is way more than enough for my 19,000 gallon pool. I have been able to cut back my pump run time to only five hours, from eight, and am now using significantly less electricity for the pump then I was using before.

    Given my low electric rates, $0.11/kwh, lack of water features, and existing small gauge wiring for 115 volts, this was the most economical choice. If there had been just slightly better wiring to the equipment shed I would have gone with a WhisperFlo WFDS-3 3/4 HP two speed pump. If my electrical rates were on the high end, say $0.35/kwh or higher, I would have replaced all the wiring and gotten an IntelliFlo.
    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: Variable Speed Pumps Not Recommended for 1.5" Piping ??

    I will second what Jason said. My 1/2 HP moves plenty of water with a 5 hour turnover on a 20k pool @ 68 GPM. Skimming action and suction cleaner also works well. I can run solar on a two story house @ 50 GPM which is perfect for 480 sq-ft of panels. Low speed is 34 GPM which is plenty for general filtering and not much different than running the Intelliflo at 1200 RPM.

    Even though I am in California and have high electrical rates, I still couldn't justify the cost of the Intelliflo when the modifications to my pump to change it into a 1/2 HP two speed cost only $130.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    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: Variable Speed Pumps Not Recommended for 1.5" Piping ??

    Mark,

    Could you describe your 2 speed pump some. What it is, and how you run it, and how it cost $130. I see three flows, 68 GPM, 50 GPM, 35 GPM.

    Thanks,

    Jeff
    40 x 16 (28k gallon) plaster pool, Intelliflo VF pump, Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, using Purifiber, using BBB, TF-100 test kit

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    Re: Variable Speed Pumps Not Recommended for 1.5" Piping ??

    When I built the pool 5 years ago, I put in a 1 HP Northstar pump. At the beginning of this year, I found a new two speed motor on Craigslist that would fit my pump but it was a 1 SFHP motor and my old motor was 1.85 SFHP. If wanted to use this motor, I would have to downsize the impeller to match the motor and I needed to go down to a 1/2 HP impeller which is what I did. So now I have a 1/2 HP 2 speed Northstar pump even though they don't sell them that way.

    I was probably lucky to find a new motor and talk the seller down to $75 which was a bargain, but I was probably the only one in the bay area that had any interest in the motor so it worked out well for both of us. The impeller kit with seals was about $55 with shipping. A new motor would have cost close to $300 with shipping but even $355 might not have been a bad investment.

    In your case, you could replace just the motor, just the impeller or both the impeller and motor to basically get a new pump. An impeller replacement is the easiest and cheapest solution and you will get quite a bit of savings with just that.

    When I went from a 1 HP impeller to a 1/2 HP impeller, the wattage went down by about 45% (2kw -> 1.1 kw) but the flow rate only decreased by 20% so over all, the energy use when down by 30% for the same turnover. With the two speed, I am saving close to 55% from the old pump because most of the run time is on low speed.

    If you go with a completely new pump, then the Intelliflo probably makes more sense, especially since the VS can be had for close to $800 now and a new two speed is probably close to $500. When my current pump fails, that is probably what I will do since by then, the Intelliflo will be even more competitively priced.

    As for the flow rates, 68 GPM without solar, 50 GPM with solar, 34 GPM low speed without solar.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    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: Variable Speed Pumps Not Recommended for 1.5" Piping ??

    I'm going to share a comment from Pentair Tech about the Intelliflo Variable Speed pump, since three posters here had recommendations about not using variable speed pumps on 1.5" piping, including two posters who has pool installers recommend against it.

    "The pipe size can reduce your potential savings, but it should be fine otherwise. Just remember that this is a 3hp pump at full speed, not good for your pipe size."

    Good advice, I would think most would not want to run a 3hp pump at full speed on their pool anyway. I think my 1 hp is pretty inefficient on the 1.5" piping, and the variable speed at lower speeds will save me a lot of money each year.
    40 x 16 (28k gallon) plaster pool, Intelliflo VF pump, Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, using Purifiber, using BBB, TF-100 test kit

  20. Back To Top    #20

    Re: Variable Speed Pumps Not Recommended for 1.5" Piping ??

    Well another installer basically 'no bid' to install a Variable Speed pump in my system. He also said the Intelliflo was not recommended for 1 1/2 inch pipiing - his rationale was that the impeller was optimized for larger pipe sizes and wouldn't be efficient with a 1 1/2 pipe - particularly as I have solar. He also said that recent Pentair trainings were recommending that people don't install the Intelliflo with 1 1/2 piping.....

    I know many of you have the Intelliflo working in similar set ups - just wish I could find an installer willing to install one for me...

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