Pool pump overkill?

BclearWFebruary 9, 2012

I'm having a pool built in Houston Texas, and I'm concerned about the equipment that they have picked.

Pool: 35x19 depth=3ft-5ft water surface=537 sqft

Spa: 5x9

Weeping wall with 4 spillways

Gunite slide/fall combo

No other water features

Equipment:All Pentair

2.5 hp WF for pool and spa

2 hp WF for slide water fall

1.5 hp WF for gunite slide and weeping wall

1.5 hp blower

400K heater

325 cartridge filter

Suction cleaner

All 2in piping

Is this overkill? Will my electric bill break me? Should a pump be eliminated or replaced with a variable pump?

Thanks for any help,

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I would go with vs pump for pool/spa,and one for waterfall/slide. I have a vs pump for our waterfall, it's nice to have the option of having the water come out slow,and then if I want it to come out faster, I can change the speed from my remote.
I also have a vs for my pool/spa. My spa is 7x9, and the pump has plenty of power for it.
I would also go with a larger catridge filter, like a 420.
In this case larger is better!
Just my 2 cents worth,

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 9:07AM
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The first thing that stands out is 2" plumbing is too small for the 2.5 hp pump. The slide and water features need larger volumes of water which is better achieved with larger pipe sizes.
A VS pump would be a good substitute for the pool/spa pump.
The length of plumbing runs and flow rates you need are the main factors for determining pipe size and pump size.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 9:15AM
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Suction cleaners are poor performers for the most part. Either a pressure side cleaner or a robot are suggested.

The 325 square foot filter is just barely adequate. I would up size that to lengthen the cleaning cycles, improve the flow through, and slow the velocity as they tend to work better with slower moving volumes.

How big is the slide and the waterfall?

How long is the weeping wall?

Those are big, power sucking pumps. Not all of them are meant for what you have listed too.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 10:49AM
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I am not a big fan of running spa jets through the pad equipment. The high flow rates through the filter and heater is extremely inefficient, will reduce the action of the jets and shorten the life of the filter. If you want to share the main circulation pump, share it with another feature that doesn't require such high flow rates.

But for the spa, do use not less than 2.5" plumbing and if you have more than 6 jets, go with 3" plumbing.

As for pump size, that will depend on the number of jets and the flow rate requirement for the jets.

The spa design is one thing that a lot of PBs seem to screw up so be careful.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 11:50AM
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Poolguynj: My gunite slide/waterfall is 15x6x6 and my weeping wall is about 18ft long.

My equipment will be on the opposite side of my pool from my house.

mas985: Wow! I thought that I was okay with 2in, and now I have to look at that too?

My spa will have 6 jets

luvh20: My builder has suggested that I use a valve to control the amount of flow on the waterfall. Is this just a cheaper, but safe way of doing it rather than a VS pump? I like the idea of going bigger on the filter, but I thought I was getting the biggest....guess not.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 5:19PM
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Would you have a picture of the proposed pool?

Weeping walls don't require a lot of water.

Slides aren't that big a demand either, though more than the wall will be.

Which jets will be used for the spa. Different jets have different demands. I would only use 2.5" on the suction side there though.

As for any back pressure from the heater, an external bypass can virtually eliminate it. Cartridge filters can go to over 500 sq.ft. for residentials.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 8:55AM
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I hope this works.....here is a link to my plans.

Here is a link that might be useful: pool plan

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 6:01PM
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You can also use a 2 speed pump for the waterfall.
I went with the VS because I wanted the option of having
many different flows of water coming over the falls. It was a more expensive option, but worth it to me.

I had a neighbor who would use a valve to adjust his waterfall flow,and you can really hear the pump working harder. I can't imagine that is good for the pump over time. He is waitng for the pump to break down so he can buy a VS. Also, his pumps were way on the other side of the house, so it was a pain to keep going back and forth to adjust the flow just the way he wanted it.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 3:03PM
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A single speed on a waterfall/water feature should have a a return in the pool. This allows the valve to very the flow but not stain the motor when less flow is desired to be seen.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 3:21PM
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Agree with poolguy....install a bypass valve on a single speed water feature pump that directs unwanted water to the pool without increasing head pressure on the pump.

We have numerous water features and use a combination of single speed and 2 speed pumps. Bypass valves are installed on the single speeds to set water flow where we like it.

We have a 2 speed pump for our big waterfall and like having both speeds. Low speed is used for creating a light trickle throughout the day while using very little energy. High speed is used when we want the roaring effect of 160 gpm falling from 5 feet into the pool below....an awesome sight to see! It's loud, but during a party no one notices.

I'm a big fan of 2 speeds and not so much variable speeds due to the initial costs of variable speed and replacement costs down the road.

Definitely go with at least a 2 speed for the main circulation pump...this will allow low speed circulation savings lots of energy and significantly lowering your utility bill. A 2 speed at low speed can hardly be heard also, so if the pumps are close to the pool, this is a big benefit.

Having muliple pumps gives flexibility to run one or more water features at once and turn them on/off independently.

One last thing, ask your PB about a control system......with all the equipment you've listed...that will make the chore of turning everything on/off and programming timers a lot more tolerable.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 10:47PM
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"install a bypass valve on a single speed water feature pump that directs unwanted water to the pool without increasing head pressure on the pump."

trhought: So would this be a better cost effective and flexible thing to do rather than installing a two speed?

I will have an Easytouch with eight connections.

I think we have decided that a VS is the way to go for the pool/spa, but not sure yet about other features. I like the idea about a bypass.

I'm not sure on what to do with this combo:
1.5 hp WF for gunite slide and weeping wall

The weeping wall I'm sure will need a lot less flow than the slide. Another bypass?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 4:43PM
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BclearW....we installed bypasses only because we did not know how much water each of our features would need to function and look good. That was the only reason we installed bypasses....for control of flow. Once the flow was set, we haven't touched the bypass valves.

I should have also said we installed bypasses on the 2 speed pumps for the same reason...to adjust flow at high speed...again, it was set and forget.

The 2 speeds, like a VS, offer the opportunity to run the pump at a lower speed which results in lower sound and lower utility bills.

Our one-speeds were chosen for non-critical on/off water feature control (one pump provides flow for the deck jets, beach bubblers and aerators). Another one-speed pump provides flow for our 72 foot water slide (a 3HP pump delivering 180 gpm).

Our two 2 speeds were chosen to do the heavy lifting and necessary chores of circulation, filtering and chlorination. These pumps operate between 8-18 hours a day providing clean and chlorinated water for our pool needs. The low speed offers longer run hours which are good for salt cells in addition to very low sound and low energy consumption.

A VS will provide more speeds and is slightly more efficient at low speed. As you know, a VS is expensive upfront and some of the replacement parts cost as much as a brand new 2 speed pump. Ask your PB how much a replacement drive will be for the VS pump and how many drives have been replaced since installation started....just curious, because Houston has a lot of lightning like we have here in Louisiana. Lightning is a known enemy of VS drives and was another reason we stayed away from VS.

Regarding your 1.5HP for the slide and weeping wall...I see no reason this would cause any problems. I would install a 3 way valve to allow flow to be adjusted between a bypass line and the slide and the remaining water could be controlled to the weeping wall with a simple gate valve. The bypass line would only be used if the water flow to the slide was too much.

The only downside of sharing one pump with multiple features is that when one feature is on, so is the other. There will be no independent on/off for each unless valve actuators are used which starts to use up the easy-touch circuits pretty quickly.

Hope this makes sense.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 9:03PM
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Everyone so far has been a great help!

trhought...PB said there will be a bypass valve to prevent too much head pressure on the waterfall feature. I will have to check how we will control the trickle of the weeping wall and the not so trickle of the slide, but I don't care if both of these features are on at the same time.

One complaint I have heard about VS pumps on the pool/spa is that at a very low speed you do not get enough "stirring" of the water (which results in poor circulation). Input on this? I can't find anywhere on the net that addresses the issue of low flow=poor circulation.

I have already decided to go for the 520 cartridge filter because of everyone's suggestion here.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 8:27AM
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BclearW....Good to hear about the bypass and good choice on the larger filter.

The low flow issue is related to any circulation pump that has low speed capability including 2 speeds.

The circulation pump does have to run at higher speeds periodically throughout the day to "stir" the water...especially at the surface so debris can be directed towards the skimmers.

If programmed properly, the vast majority of the life of a VS or 2 speed pump is spent on low speed to realize the benefits of low energy consumption, low settings on the salt cell which increases the life of the cell, and low sound.

Our 2 speeds spend about 90% of their life in low speed and the remainder in high speed for about 1.5 hours per day to "stir" the water and get the appropriate surface skimming action.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 9:15AM
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We have a VF and Intellitouch. It is the coolest thing and totally worth the $1200.

We have 2" plumbing on the pool, and 3" plumbing from the spa. I know this, 2" suction is not enough for the VF (or your VS). Our VF seems to cavitate at full bore on on the 2" suction. it's not the pressure side you should worry about, it's the suction. Make sure you have 2 1/2 or 3" suction lines for that pump. And make sure you have enough drains in the pool, they can't all share one pair....

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 10:56PM
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