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Thread: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

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    phalcon51's Avatar
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    Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    I'm interested in possibly replacing my 1.5 hp Pentair Superflo with a variable speed pump to try and save some money on my monthly electric bill. (I live in So. Cal. in the San Gabriel Valley area) The only one I've looked at so far is the Hayward EcoStar, but apparently it runs on 230v and I'm only wired for 115v. Is there a reason for that? Are all variable speed pumps set up to run on 230? I really like the features of the EcoStar, so can anyone recommend any other VSP's that are similar and will run on 115v?

    Thanks for any help.
    26,200 gal. 35' x 16' Plaster IGP (50 yrs. old), Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, Hayward EcoStar VS pump, Intellichlor IC-40 SWCG, The Pool Cleaner 4X suction, Pool Skim and Pool Devil skimmers. Re-plastered Sept. 2010.

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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    I have a Pentair IntelliFlo VF, but that only comes as 230V as does the Pentair IntelliFlo VS-3050 and VS SVRS. Because these pumps at their maximum speeds are somewhat similar to large 3 HP pumps (3.2 kilowatt; 16 amps full load), they apparently only come as 230V. Perhaps someone else can suggest a 115V variable speed/flow pump for you if one exists.

    There are plenty of 2-speed pumps that are 115V and would save you money, though not as much savings as a high-quality variable speed/flow pump, but still a lot of savings.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    You could probably use a 3/4 hp 2 speed pump and be just fine. The only time you need high speed is for vacuuming the pool.
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    Vogue 21' round AG, Pentair 1 hp 2 speed pump, 36 sq ft DE filter, Hayward S180T 150# sand filter, Houston, Texas
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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    All of the variable speed pool pumps I have seen are 230 volts.

    Larger pool pumps are invariably wired for 230 volts because that significantly reduces the required wire size of the wires powering the pump. It is much simpler/less expensive to install a 15 amp 230 volt circuit than it is to install a 30 amp 115 volt circuit, both of which supply the same amount of power. All of the variable speed pumps so far have a fairly high top HP, which makes designing them for 230 volts very attractive.

    As a general rule, if you have an automation system you should get a variable speed pump of the same brand as the automation system. You will have more options for controlling the pump from the automation system if the brands match. If you don't have an automation system, the Pentair IntelliFlo is probably the best variable speed pump out now, though only by a small margin.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    If you have a WhisperFlo pump already another option for you is to buy an IntelliFlo pump and just install the motor end (every thing from the diffuser to the motor) into your current WhisperFlo. The WhisperFlo and IntelliFlo share the same Volute (pump body with the leaf basket) and match up the same. My company has done this for several customers and it works great. This would save you time in not having to worry about replumbing the pump. Now if your current WhisperFlo pump is 10 years old you would probably want to install the whole new pump.

    As for the 115 volts, you could have an electrician come out or someone qualified to change the wiring over to 220V. It is simply switching the neutral wire to a 220 circuit breaker and thats it. You would also want to make sure there is a ground wire (depending on how old your pump is) and the wire size is big enough.

    I Hope some of this helped.

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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    Quote Originally Posted by SacValley
    As for the 115 volts, you could have an electrician come out or someone qualified to change the wiring over to 220V. It is simply switching the neutral wire to a 220 circuit breaker and thats it. You would also want to make sure there is a ground wire (depending on how old your pump is) and the wire size is big enough.

    I Hope some of this helped.
    As far as I know I don't have 230v coming into my breaker box. Don't I have to have 230v service installed from Edison to my box or is everything I need, other than the circuit breaker, already there? (I know nothing about electrical service)
    26,200 gal. 35' x 16' Plaster IGP (50 yrs. old), Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, Hayward EcoStar VS pump, Intellichlor IC-40 SWCG, The Pool Cleaner 4X suction, Pool Skim and Pool Devil skimmers. Re-plastered Sept. 2010.

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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    Everybody has 240 in the main breaker box. How is you pump wired now? Is it plugged into a outdoor plug?
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    No, the wiring appears to come from the breaker box into the timer, then from the timer down to the pump. It's hard-wired into the timer box. It also appears to branch off from the timer to a junction box that the SWCG is plugged into with a regular 3-prong plug. If I have 230v going from the breaker box to the motor, does it have to wired separately (and in addition to) the wiring to power the SWCG? I realize the VSP has its own timer built into it, so I would bypass my current electromechanical timer, right?
    26,200 gal. 35' x 16' Plaster IGP (50 yrs. old), Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, Hayward EcoStar VS pump, Intellichlor IC-40 SWCG, The Pool Cleaner 4X suction, Pool Skim and Pool Devil skimmers. Re-plastered Sept. 2010.

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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    Coming into your main panel is 3 wires - 2 hots and a neutral.

    The voltage across either hot and the neutral is 120v. The voltage across one hot to the other is 240v (they are "opposites" so 120v + 120v = 240v)

    So in theory you can take the "neutral" wire in your edison outlet and move it (in the main panel) to the other "Hot" side - making a 240v outlet.

    This will work ONLY if you have a dedicated run out to the pool pad. If it's an outlet that's ganged with other stuff in the house you cant do this (everything would go 240v and the light bulbs, etc would all blow up Also - this isn't the sort of thing you want to make your first DIY electrical project.

    EDIT - What SWCG is it? It's most likely got a 120/240 transformer in it - but you'd want to know. Also - if you open the pool breaker box you may find it's 240 already. Is there a breaker in your Main Panel labeled Pool?

    If it's a straight $ decision then you might find a small 2 speed pump is cheaper. A variable speed might be more efficient, but may take 15 years to save that additional $500 compared to the 2 speed. Odds are you'll have to replace the pump within that timeframe anyway.

    For the record - I did a VF and love it. But I like things with buttons
    16K Gal Plaster | Compupool SWG | Intelliflow VF | TF-100

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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    Thanks for all the great electrical info. The SWCG is a Pentair Intellichlor IC40. Looking at the installation guide it apparently is able to be wired for either 120 or 240 vac. I think there is a dedicated run to the pad, but I'll check in the morning to be sure. Unfortunately, none of the breakers in the box are labeled, but as I recall the bottom breaker is the pump motor and I don't think it controls anything else.. The wiring definitely isn't something I'd try and do myself, but I can plumb in the pump no problem. Any idea what wire gauge should be used for 240? I recently had the whole pool and deck redone and one of the things they did was to run new wire everything. Hopefully they used something that will support 240v, otherwise part of the deck will have to come up. We used pavers, so it's not as bad as it would be if it was concrete. I'll call them next week and see if I can find out. I wish they'd mentioned VSP's at the time they estimated the rebuild, I would have gone with one. Up until last week, I had no idea they existed. Oh well, such is life.
    26,200 gal. 35' x 16' Plaster IGP (50 yrs. old), Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, Hayward EcoStar VS pump, Intellichlor IC-40 SWCG, The Pool Cleaner 4X suction, Pool Skim and Pool Devil skimmers. Re-plastered Sept. 2010.

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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    For the wire size, this depends on the length of the run and amps being carried (from the house panel to the equipment). You can google a wire size and length run chart. Typically you will see 12G solid wire used (one pump installation). As always use an electrician or someone qualified.

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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    Wire gauge is determined by the amperage of the circuit - not the voltage. So 12awg wire (a 20amp breaker) can handle twice as much wattage (power) at 240v than it can at 120v

    The equation is Amps X Volts = Watts.

    Think of Amps like the speed of flowing water in a pipe and voltage like the strength that's pushing it.

    Too much amperage through thin cable causes the metal to heat up and eventually fail.

    Pretty much all the wire in your house is good for 600 volts - and that has to do with the insulation around it, not the metal wire.

    If you want to post a couple pics of your Main Panel and your pool breaker box opened up we can at least tell you what your simplest options are. Good luck
    16K Gal Plaster | Compupool SWG | Intelliflow VF | TF-100

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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    Here are some pics of the main and breaker boxes. The main box was added probably 10-15 yrs. ago and relocated the meter from the original breaker box.

    Here is the main supply:





    Here's the original breaker box. The two ganged bottom breakers are for the pool pump. No idea why they're ganged, maybe you can tell me. Originally it supplied a 1.5 hp pump motor and a .75hp booster pump :







    If it's of any use, here's some pics of the Intellichlor junction box:








    Thanks again for any help.
    26,200 gal. 35' x 16' Plaster IGP (50 yrs. old), Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, Hayward EcoStar VS pump, Intellichlor IC-40 SWCG, The Pool Cleaner 4X suction, Pool Skim and Pool Devil skimmers. Re-plastered Sept. 2010.

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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    Those 2 breakers you refer to as "ganged" are 2 single pole breakers designed for 120 volts fucntioning as a dipole 240 volt breaker.

    It appears you have a subpanel someplace that have the circuits that feed the house. That box has the A/c, a subpanel, and something labled FAU. Whats that? It also appears you only have 100 amp service. Kind of unusual now days not to have 200 amp service.

    Please call a qualified electrician to do any electrical work. I'm not sure this is a DYI job for you.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    BK, thats Forced Air Unit, how long of a wire run do you have??

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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    Quote Originally Posted by salp
    BK, thats Forced Air Unit
    Ok, must be a california thing, LOL. So thats the A/C blower, ok.

    It looks like the Intellichlor is wired for 240. It's hard to tell with out the wirents pulled out a bit. So where is the pump wired into? Must be the subpanel.

    Sal, is this a california set up or something? I've never see this type of thing.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    No, this is an old house with a new panel and an old one. Pump is wired into to old one ( I suspect, thats where the heater is) If he ran new wire 10 - 12 gauge (depending on run) He would be fine.

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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    Quote Originally Posted by salp
    BK, thats Forced Air Unit, how long of a wire run do you have??
    It's about 40 ft. from the old breaker panel to the pump and IC 40, if that's what you're asking.

    Here's another look at the wiring of the IC 40:



    26,200 gal. 35' x 16' Plaster IGP (50 yrs. old), Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, Hayward EcoStar VS pump, Intellichlor IC-40 SWCG, The Pool Cleaner 4X suction, Pool Skim and Pool Devil skimmers. Re-plastered Sept. 2010.

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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    Its wired for 220 Volts, If you want to wire for 120V should (Red, Yellow and Black tied together) and (Red, Blue and White tied together)

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    Re: Questions about Variable Speed Pumps

    Yep, 240.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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