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Thread: in-ground pump vs above-ground pump

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    in-ground pump vs above-ground pump

    I'm building a partial above-ground pool and currently researching pumps. I'm looking for the difference between above-ground and in-ground pumps.

    My water level is going to be above the pump, like an above-ground pool, so self-priming is not a concern.

    The pool is plumbed like an in-ground, with 2" sched 40 pipe.

    I have 220V available.

    Above-ground pumps seem to be significantly less expensive for similar specs (e.g. Pentair OptiFlow)

    Is there a reason for the price difference? Quality/reliability? Efficiency (although head curves appear similar)? Self-priming feature? Are there significant advantages with an in-ground pump that are not available on an above-ground pump.

    To get a 2-speed above-ground pump, it seems that the market only provides 110V with 1.5" plumbing. Are there any 2-speed above-ground pumps out there that take 2" plumbing? Does 220V provide any significant advantages over 110V?
    (Am I correct in thinking that the 220/110V pumps can switch speed by automated switching at the power supply, whereas the 110V-only pumps have to be manually switched?)

    Finally, I'm looking at 16-17,000 gallons, with a roof-top (single story) solar heater. Do I need to go to 1.5HP for the heater, or will 1HP suffice?

    I know, that's a lot of questions. Thanks for any help.
    Houston, TX
    Designing pool for 2013.

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: in-ground pump vs above-ground pump

    The biggest difference is the ability to prime when the pump is above the water level. There are also some difference in sizes above a certain size and the head rating for larger inground pumps. If your pump is going to be at or below the waterline it probably makes sense to go with an aboveground 2-speed pump.

    The only advantage 220 provides over 110 is the ability to run smaller wire, and that's not really an advantage unless you're running the wire a long way.

    Having 1½" isn't a problem. If you want, you can run 2" and reduce right at the pump.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: in-ground pump vs above-ground pump

    I think generally the in-ground pumps are just more powerful than the above ground pumps, even if the listed HP are the same. The idea being that for AG pools the equipment is generally very close to the pool and does not need priming.

    You can use 2" plumbing for any pump ... just need an adapter to the 1.5" pump fitting.

    110 volt vs 220 volt does not effect efficiency. Only advantage is that 220V can use smaller wires as the amps are half that of the 110V.

    110V/220V motors just mean that they can be wired for either ... not that they can switch speeds.

    I think all 2-speed pumps are only setup for EITHER 110V or 220V.

    All HP is not created equal ... You can easily get by with a 1HP or less IG 2-speed pump for your pool and solar. Some AG pumps may struggle with the solar or you may have to go to a larger HP rating.

    It is all very confusing and I still do not understand it all. But, I will say that the Superflo 1HP 2-speed is 220V and would work well for you ... but might not be the cheapest option. It does come with a switch to allow you to manually select the speed; while other 2-speed pumps will require you to add the switch or time to do so.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: in-ground pump vs above-ground pump

    In-ground pumps are mostly low dynamic head pumps that can't self prime. They are designed to be installed below the water line and on relatively short plumbing runs (say 10' to 30' round trip). However, you do see the occasional medium head pump and/or self priming pump sold for above ground use, suitable for medium length plumbing runs.

    Above ground pumps are pretty much always high dynamic head pumps that are able to self prime. They can be installed above or below the water line and are designed to be used with long plumbing runs (say 40' to 150' round trip).

    Using either a low dynamic head pump with long plumbing runs or a high dynamic head pump with short plumbing runs will move the pump outside of its high efficiency zone, waste electricity and shorten the lifetime of the pump.

    Most above ground pumps are also "up-rated" which means they don't provide as much true HP as their listed HP. In-ground pumps seem to come both ways, "up-rated" and "full-rated". A full rated pump tend to produce more HP than it's listed number. However, listed HP is kind of a slippery number as different manufacturers fudge the numbers to various extents in both directions.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: in-ground pump vs above-ground pump

    I think JL got the IG and AG backward in the first 2 paragraphs.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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