Variable speed pumps

brg88txMay 8, 2011

I am in the process of getting bids for a new gunite pool. Most pb say variable speed pumps are the way to go, but the last guy who came out said he's had nothing but problems with them and he only installs single speed pumps. He used all jandy equipment. Is there really a problem with the reliability of these pumps?

Also, does anyone have any experience with hayward variable speed pumps? thanks

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I'm getting to believe that "nothing but problems" = they don't know how to set them up properly.

I had a few problems when I started implementing them, but that was my fault not the VS pumps.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 1:15PM
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With most of my pools using variable speed pumps and pulling only 500-600 watts vs. a single speed pulling over 2600 watts, its tough to even consider going back to single speed.

Like Racket said, for some builders, "problems" means "i havent taken the time to educate myself or use them in the proper setup/system".

These pumps are the best thing to happen in the pool industry in 20 years! Get a builder experienced in their use.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 4:01PM
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trhought offer a balanced opinion on the subject...VS technology has some weaknesses..namely, expensive replacement costs down the road. The drives, which are electronic, are susceptable to heat, humidity and lightning storms.

In the gulf states especially, lightning can cause drive failure resulting in an expense almost the cost of the pump itself if out of warranty.

I'm a big fan of 2 speed pumps...replacement costs are $20 for a run cap replacement up to a couple hundred dollars for a new motor.

We have two 2 speed pumps on our pool and they pull around 500-600 watts at low speed (1800 rpm)...about the same as a VS pump at similar speed.

The 3 major manufacturers in the pool industry all offer 2 speed pumps along with variable speed pumps so there's lots of options.

For what it's worth...there have been others on this forum from your region of the US who have complained of pre-mature drive failures and high replacement cost ($800-$1,000). There's also a couple builders on this forum from your region who've expressed preference for non-variable speed over the years.

Just offering a balanced opinion.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 11:23PM
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" offer a balanced opinion on the subject...VS technology has some weaknesses..namely, expensive replacement costs down the road. The drives, which are electronic, are susceptable to heat, humidity and lightning storms. "

Any evidence on actual implementation on swimming pool equipment, or is this all hypothetical?

All products have failures. Why would anyone pay more than the internet prices for a replacement drive? I have yet to had to charge a client for a replacement drive.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 1:54AM
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trhought experience is all HVAC. However, all drives use a common component in their designs..a drive will not funtion without it. That component is susceptable to heat, humidity and voltage surges.

As you said...all products fail...the difference is a component failure on a 2 speed or 1 speed costs $20-200 for replacement depending on severity of failure...entire motor replacement being the most expensive.

A component failure on a drive requires the entire drive to be replaced at a cost much higher...a quick check on internet pricing and the best drive price I could find was $700.

Guess that's why I'm such a big fan of 2 speeds over the years...simple design that is easy and affordable to service when needed...all while offering almost the same efficiency as a variable speed. The only downside of a 2 speed from my perspective is the lack of speeds. With our pool, we've had no need for any more speeds in the last 5 years.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 3:45AM
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This seems to be a most knowledgeable group. I need to replace my 3 hp AO Smith pump for the second time in 15 years. I've got a 36,00 gallon gunnite pool with 2 zone floor cleaning system, spa, sand filter, salt, heater, aqualink. I have historically run the floor cleaning system primarily because it does an excellent job of distributing the heat. I found that after I put in salt that I had to run the pump more than when I used bromine -- at least 12 hours a day. Question is, will a two, multi or VS/VF pump work for me, or do I have to run at such high pressure all the time that there's little savings to be had. Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 11:39AM
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lostinCT...I would recommend starting a new thread with your question and also include pump symptoms (why do you need to replace it). You may not need to replace the entire pump.

If you would like to replace the entire pump with a more efficient pump, I would also include in the thread: 1. the type of pump..AO Smith makes the motor on the pump..not the actual pump 2. what kind of floor system do you have 3. what kind of filter do you have (model number if possible) 4. size of pipes to and from the pump.

For what it's worth...our pool is 34K gallons and our single 2 speed 2HP pump runs on average 18 hours per day at low speed. High speed is only used for 1.5 hours each day to operate our floor cleaning system. This adequately cleans the pool floor and provides filtering and chlorination for the pool.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 2:47PM
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well, just talked to the pb again and he's still hesitant to even quote me with a vs pump. he claims noone is using them and the only reason the other bids i'm getting are using them is because they break all the time and they want to service them?????

i mentioned how i read that you do not need to have a booster pump with the polaris 280 with the vs pump and he just laughed at me and asked me where i'm getting my info from.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 10:28AM
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I have a 2 speed pump and I reccomend it. Now reading this thread, I am wondering are we talking the same thing or are we talking an infinitly variable motor which if so I was not even aware was available.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 2:44PM
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busbuy, from my limited research i've found that 2 speed motors and variable are still different. most variable speed pumps have 4 or more speeds and have the more efficient permanent magnet motor technology.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 3:38PM
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Dumb newbie question.....

We are starting a new build, first time owner, and are being spec'd with a 1hp Haywood Tristar pump. Is that a variable speed pump?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 4:39PM
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busboy...your pump is a 2 speed. As brg88tx mentioned, VS pumps normally have a minimum of 4 selectable speeds. Those speeds can be any speed that is programmed into the drive. I've found 2 speeds to be adequate for our pool and any more speeds would be overkill.

wahama...the pump is not a 2 speed or variable speed unless it actually says so on the spec sheet. If in doubt, ask your PB.

brg88tx...I would ask you PB what kind of problems have been experienced with VS pumps in your area. If the response is drive failures, then I would trust the advise.

Not sure where in Texas you live, but east Texas is one of the more difficult applications for drives located outdoors (high heat, high humidity and lots of lightning).

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 9:32AM
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I have had a Jandy VSP for almost a year and it is great. There are a couple of quirks for programming but it performs well. I like being able to set it at 600rpm for most of the day to filter my 2500gal spa. It is so quiet you have to walk over to the strainer basket to see if it is running.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 9:35AM
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I see the advantage of the variable speed pump for the main pump. But I'm confused about the booster pump situation. My booster pump for the auto pool vac takes water from the main return to the pool and pumps it into a separate line that drives the pool vac. It seems that this pump must run at a high rpm to drive the pool vac. Not a candidate for a variable speed pump? Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 10:54PM
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Pentair now offers a booster pump that's 25% more efficient look up the Pentair Boost-Rite pump

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 7:00AM
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I have a variable speed pentair for my main pump and another for my waterfall. I love them. I have 4 waterfall levels programmed. I can also change the speed of the main pump to filter more rapidly or slowly... ie, I can set it based on how much chlorine I want to generate.. run it longer at slower speed to keep FC level more stable and run at the pump sweet spot for cost. Or crank it up to get more water from returns on seat backs. I used fixed speed pumps for my slide and bubblers. I am happy with the slide, as it just needs a constant flow rate, but I wish I would have gotten a variable speed for my bubblers also, since it would give me more control over height.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 8:48PM
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