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Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

Posted by doug.hillmer (My Page) on
Sun, Apr 3, 11 at 0:56

I am needing to replace my pool pump. I was pretty set on the Intelliflow VF but have seen some claims about poor waranty service from Pentair. Has anyone had experience with the EcoPump EP-6? They carry a 3 year warranty.

My application is a 15,000 gallon pool, solar on a second story roof. The plumping is 1.5 inch, has an attached spa. No control system I am replacing a 1hp single speed 220V with standard intermech timer.

I've also seen some info for the Hybrid pumps (local company), but can't find any pricing info.

The reservations I have come up with for the VF are:
- can it run the solar?
- What is the expected life of the electronics?
- I only read the frustration stories of poor customer service, has anyone had a positive customer service experience?

Thanks,

Doug.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

When it comes to warranty work, Pentair leaves Hayward in the dust.

The Hayward is a new model with little time in the field. My past experience with Hayward and new products is mixed, at best. They seem to have a pattern of designing things to be lower in cost to produce, have a shorter life expectancy as a result, and costing the end user more in the end.

There are thousands of IntelliFlows in service today. Some have been in service for a number of years now.

Pentair started an on line forum called Innovation Lab with techs from both Pentair and the dealer network available to offer assistance in addition to the toll free support. If you post a problem on their forum, anyone can see it and the responses. I would hardly call that openness to the public a poor showing of end user support.

The use of solar suggests you might want to consider adding an automation system. It will make your life easier.

Scott

Here is a link that might be useful: Pentair's Innovation Lab


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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

Scott,

Are you saying the Ecopump is really just a Hayward product? I didn't gather that from what I read. Here is their website:
http://www.ecopoolpumps.com/energy-efficient-pool-pumps.html
I have gotten the same response from other people I have chatted with so I am beginning to wonder.

Thanks,

Doug.


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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

Sorry. Confused it with Hayward's Variable speed. The two are different manufacturers.

Still, I haven't seen this new pump. I will be looking at it though.

Scott


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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

Now that I have had time to look at the Eco-Pump, I can offer a notes.

If all you need is a single speed pump, it might be suitable.

How it works is it takes advantage of the fact that because the motor is an induction motor, only about 1/2 the energy drawn goes to moving the rotor. The Eco charges capacitors using the power that would otherwise be wasted. On the next cycle, the capacitors are discharged, providing additional current to the motor, reducing it's draw on the outside power source. It is this potential that can make it attractive. I know another company that can do this for any inductive drives such as an AC compressor, fridge, washing machines, etc... This is not new tech.

Because it's still basically an induction motor, the following common areas are still an issue:

1) The insulated coils of the rotor and stator are still subject to deterioration and shorting out.

2) Capacitors fail over time.

3) Bearings fail.

With new products comes a distribution issue. Where am I going to get parts?

As a small business owner, why would I deal with them? They are selling directly to end users. Might be OK for a DIYer

but

As a pool owner, where am I going to get a new pump basket, lid gasket, or replacement motor?

Permanent magnet motors, such as those found on Pentair's and Jandy's have proven themselves in the field. Their controllers have too. Leaf's argument that the need to be discretely mounted has been shown to be without merit.

Install a pump and filter at the same time with any of the big three brands and extended warranties kick in.

Getting parts is easier and usually faster when using equipment from the big 3.

Having the added versatility of a variable provides a lot of flexibility that isn't available to a single speed.

The extra capacitors in the Eco line drive up the pump cost when compared a standard motor equipped pump is several hundred dollars. If you have several pumps, I can do the same with the discrete box I mentioned earlier and it will work for all the pumps.

Does the Eco have a place? I would say yes but I don't foresee it being more than a small niche.

Scott


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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

Doug...interesting information on the Ecotech website.

Controlling motors with VFD's (variable frequency drives) is 30 year old technology now...the big 3 in the pool industry have just recently adopted the technology to offer homeowners/builders energy savings options and flexibility with meeting different flow needs. I'm in HVAC industry and have over 20 years experience with the technology.

Some of the technical stuff mentioned on the website is true in terms of VFD reliability and applications. It's generally accepted that remotely mounting VFD's is a better practice. There are exceptions...fractional HP motors tend to have the VFD's packaged along with the product..mostly due to size and lower current/less demanding needs from the VFD.

Packaging the electronics along with the product is the choice the big 3 in the pool industry appear to have made. My preference would have been for a remotely packaged solution on these integral HP applications.

For drives, heat is the #1 common cause for pre-mature failure. Lightning can also cause immediate failure of the drive if it's not designed adequately.

Remotely locating the drive away from heat sources and out of direct sunlight will improve reliability. Vibration could also play a role in reliability and remotely mounting the VFD eliminates this potential cause of failure also.

I personally question the packaging of VFD's on the motors...especially integral HP applications such as those in the pool industry. A remote solution is a better solution, in my opinion, but does have it's own set of problems that have to be dealt with in the field...such as proper application of chokes to avoid radio interference and keep the FCC happy. Extra cost for cabling and installation labor/complexity were probably other factors that make a packaged solution more elegeant for the Big 3.

If you want another option to significantly reduce energy costs and don't want to worry about replacing a VFD that could be as much the pump itself...I would recommend a 2 speed pool pump.

Today's 2 speeds have high efficient PSC motor designs approaching 90% efficiency at high speed.

They also have the ability to run at low speed which drops power consumption by 70-80%.

Some other technical points to consider:

1. Permanent magnet motors such as those in today's variable speed pool pumps have stator windings with insulation and varnish....just like PSC motors...there is no difference. The only difference is permanent magnet motors have magnets on the rotor, PSC motors do not. The likelihood of a turn to turn stator short on a variable speed motor is the same as a PSC motor.

2. VFD's have capacitors as well as other components that will fail over time. Heat, humidity and vibration will accelerate failure. The difference is a PSC capacitor costs $15-20 to replace and a capacitor failure on a VFD requires the entire VFD to be replaced at a cost of $500-1000 based on comments from this board.

3. All pumps have bearings...today's pool pumps have both sleeve and ball bearings. Ball bearings are generally better for reliability in low ambient conditions below freezing...sleeve bearings perform about the same as ball bearings in higher ambient applications like pool pumps.

Clearly, I'm a big fan of 2 speeds due to significant energy savings and simple, less costly component replacement down the road. We have two 2 speed pumps on our pool and have never wished for an extra speed (2 speeds are enough). We've also been very happy with the monthly electricity bill and have not had any problems with any of our pumps for 5 years in operation now....and we have 4 PSC motor pumps altogether with sleeve bearings.

Another point to consider. If not designed adequately, VFD's also are susceptible to lightning strikes as mentioned earlier. If you're in a high lightning area of the US, such as any of the gulf states, this could be an important factor in your decision also.

Hope this helps.


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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

I rolled my own:

1 - I purchased a 1.5 HP 3 phase 56 frame motor that I could connect to the wet end of my Hayward Super Pump. Cost was ~$150 'ish shipped.

2 - I purchased a 2 HP VFD (GE/Fuji 300 Mini). Cost was ~$175. Caution!: If you are using single phase input power, you should double the horsepower rating of the motor for the VFD output. So, in my case, I should be using a VFD that is rated for 3HP on its output given that I am supplying single phase input power.

My first drive failed prematurely. Here's why I think that happened:

I installed the drive outdoors near the pump in a NEMA enclosure. This subjected the VFD to both high humidity, but much worse IMO, high ambient temps. That, in combination of driving the VFD at its max theoretical rating is likely what caused my first VFD to fail.

I am now going to move the drive indoors into my garage. It is a PITA to do so, and the cost is not insignificant given the cost of copper, but it is the only way.

As to benefits:

I can run my pump 24x7 at a lower speed and only run the pump at the full 3600 RPM when I need the extra turnover or power for vacuuming. Running the pump 24x7 provides many benefits. Cleaner water, aeration, lower noise level from the pump, lowered operational cost, etc.

I use my home-automation system to control the VFD, and as a result, I'm able to control my pool pump from my phone, an internet browser, etc. I am also able to program extended higher speed run-times based on bather load.

The cost savings:

I pay ~$.10 per KW. If you pay more than that, you can imagine the additional cost savings added to my calculations listed below.

My previous 1.5 HP single phase motor drew ~9 - ~10 amps when running. That amounts to ~2400 watts of power (2.4 KW/hour). The new motor draws ~4.4 amps at full speed (60hz) which equates to ~1,050 watts (1.1 KW) of electricity /hour. That's a savings of ~56% by merely changing the motor. Granted, my previous pump had a failing bearing which may have caused additional drag and current draw. Here comes the beautiful part; at reduced speeds, the savings become exponential. Following are the power usages at various lower speeds:

50hz - 873 Watts
40hz - 639 Watts
30hz - 466 Watts (half speed)
20hz - 342 Watts
15hz - 260 Watts

So, if I were to run my previous pump for 8 hours /day for 30 days, my $ outlay would have been $58. Running my current setup 24x7 at 30hz costs me $19/month. By my calculations, at full speed, my pool turns over every 4.3 hours. At half speed, it does so every 7.7 hours. With my previous setup, I would net ~2 turnovers /day at 3x the cost to get 3.1 turnovers with my current setup. Now add all of the other benefits listed above, and it was a no brainer for me to make the change.

Hope that helps,
Frank


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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

I love it!

What automation do you have?

Is it RS232 to the drive?

I assume the frequencies were based on a single phase or the power sent to the motor, right?

Scott


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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

qwiksilver...Thanks for the info.

When it comes time to replace my waterfall pump and main filter pump I will likely do the same...using motors and drives from the company I work for...the ROI will be incredible considering the costs will be for my time only. Right now our 2 speeds use about 500 watts at low speed so I'm satisfied with our energy bills for now...plus our electricity rate is $.07/KWH.

For years now, facility engineers have been doing exactly what you did...applying VFD's to existing induction motors. This is what our drives are primarily used for to help reduce facility energy costs.

Just curious...at this horsepower and longer cable lengths, have you applied any chokes to the power cabling to avoid RFI.

Also, it appears your energy savings is not exponential but rather linear. I suspect the higher frequency power is too low....i.e.: the reported 50 Hz power seems low...this is almost full speed and a 1.5HP motor will pull more power than indicated....the low frequency power looks about right so I suspect the higher frequency power is in error.

Scott...the frequencies are simply the output frequencies of the sine wave after the VFD chops up the original 60 Hz wave and re-assembles it into the desired frequency programmed in the drive. The old school name for VFD's used to be wave choppers fittingly enough 30 years ago.


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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6 (VFD)

Scott:
I'm using Homeseer (X-10 mostly). It isn't the most reliable system, but it is good enough for me. I'm using powerline relay modules (Universal X-10 modules) on the logic inputs of my VFD. I use three of them to represent 8 different values (0-7). I programmed the drive's digital inputs to map out the differing input values to various output frequencies to the motor. For instance, a value of 0 (all relays off) represents 0 hz. A value of 8 (all three relays on) represents 60 hz (full speed).

trhought:
Yes, the ROI should be fairly quick. The time invested is well spent unless it is detracted away from another money making venture. I get quite a bit of satisfaction engineering diy projects, so I consider it an investment in more ways than just financial.

Keep in mind that these drives are "Inverter" drives. They take an incoming 60hz (50hz in some cases) AC signal and convert that to DC. They then, in-turn, convert the DC into an improvised "chopped" AC wave for the output, as trhought stated.

The key is to use an inverter duty rated motor, not just any motor. And most importantly, one MUST use a 3-Phase motor, as I'm sure you probably know already (just for the folks out there that may be thinking of implementing such a solution but may wish to shortcut replacing their motor).

I haven't applied any chokes yet. For the most part, I don't seem to be getting any noise issues. X-10 can be rather sensitive to line noise, and for the most part, my X-10 seems un-bothered by my setup. I haven't noticed too much noise elsewhere, save one audio amp that may be affected.

As to power, I think you may be correct in that my initial reported values were off. Here's why; I didn't take into account for varying output voltages. I presumed that the output voltages were the same across all frequencies; they weren't. Since my post last week, I replaced the Fuji/GE VFD rated at 2HP on 3-Phase input power with a Vacon 10 3HP on single phase input power. I was over-driving the Fuji/GE drive, hence the reason the first one went up in smoke. With the Vacon drive, I logged the output voltages and current at varying motor speeds. Here's what I came up with:

Frequency - Output Voltage - Current - Power Used

15hz - 57 V - 1.84 amps - 105 watts
22hz - 84 V - 1.90 amps - 160 watts
30hz - 115 V - 2.06 amps - 237 watts
40hz - 152 V - 2.37 amps - 360 watts
50hz - 190 V - 2.93 amps - 557 watts
60hz - 228 V - 3.70 amps - 844 watts

Those numbers should be fairly accurate. The motor faceplate rating is for 4.26 amps at 230v.

Hope that helps to clarify things.

I've learned much more about inverter drives and pump hydraulics than I ever thought I would.

Oh: if anyone is thinking of doing what I've done, be sure and match up your new motor to your pump's wet end. My Hayward Super Pump has a 1HP impeller. It isn't a problem to install a larger motor than your impeller's rating, though it isn't a very efficient way of doing things. It is, however, a BIG problem if you go the other way (too large an impeller for the motor) as it WILL overwork your motor and shorten its life. Many pool pumps are over sized from the outset. In my case, a 1 HP pump and motor are ample. I just happened across a good deal on a 1.5 hp motor. I will be changing my pump's impeller to a 1.5 hp unit, but I will then have to adjust maximum motor speed to not exceed my system's max allowed flow rate.

Frank


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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

I just realized that I made a mistake in my original posting on 5/4/11 regarding the original single phase motor's power draw. That motor was rated at 1.1KW, not 2.4KW. Yes, it may have been drawing more power than it should have given that the bearings were worn, thought I find it highly doubtful that it was drawing power in excess of 200% of its nameplate rating. It has been nearly a year since that motor was in use, so I don't recall the exact measured current draw. If memory serves me well, it may have been drawing about 5.5 amps.

The reason I wanted to post this is due to the fact that someone may make a decision to switch to a VFD type of setup and expect to halve their outlay if they were to run their new motor at full speed. That is just not the case. Look at the total power draw of your current single phase motor and compare it to any potential replacement motor.

3-phase motors are inherently more efficient than single phase motors (given that all things are equal), however, not doubly so (at full speed, that is). Where three phase motors really shine is when they are run by a variable frequency drive AT LOWER SPEEDS. The savings become exponential at lower speeds.

When deciding at what speed to run your new DIY setup, do the math based on your pool's size (gallons) and turnover requirements. Your pool should turn over at least once per day under normal conditions. Under heavy loads, more turnover may be required. Also, check local codes. It may be that some locales require more turnover.

And foremost, be safe and be healthy with your pool. DO NOT attempt to change any of your pool's components without competent professional advice. I am not qualified to give you advice about how you should run your pool or regarding its design.

Frank


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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

Frank...Thanks for the additional info...I also use X10 for home automation and like your idea of control.

3 phase PSC motors at full load amps are about 1-2% more efficient than 1 phase PSC motors. Replace the standard rotor with a permanent magnet rotor along with the 3 phase stator and you get another 1-2% improvement in motor efficiency over a 1 phase PSC motor...not huge incremental gains as some would think.

The pump efficiency gain is due to pump affinity laws (lower speed equals exponentially better efficiency). The improved pump efficiency has little to do with motor efficiency. This is why a 2 speed pump is almost as efficient as a variable speed pump at half speed (30Hz).

Case in point...the new reported powers are still in question...a 1HP pump will pull more than 844 watts at full speed (60Hz).

To get true power consumed, I would suggest measuring the voltage and amps going into the drive, not out of the drive. This will be provide more accurate values to calculate power. This will also account for wasted energy from the drive (heat from the drive, especially at higher speeds).

In addition to above reason for measuring drive input power rather than drive output power, the voltage measurements of drive output become very inaccurate especially at lower frequencies. This is caused by the reassembled sine wave not actually being a sine wave at all. Voltmeters assume AC sine waves and report voltage accordingly...doing so with a sine wave that is not a sine wave causes errors. This is also one of the many reasons why all drives are not created equal...the better drives produce sine waves that look more like sine waves while the cheaper drives produce inaccurate and less efficient sine waves (almost square waves).

Regarding RFI...I suspect you will need a choke once the drive is located further away from the motor and installation is complete. The larger 3HP drive that you now have coupled with a longer power cable run (bigger antenna) is almost certainly going to cause RFI at certain speeds for your home and possibly neighboring homes.

Hope this helps.


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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

RFI isn't the only issue with VFDs. The longer the cable you use between the VFD and motor, the more chance of creating standing waves in the cable. The cable must be impedance matched to both the motor and VFD drive or will probably cause premature failure in both the drive and motor. You may have already cosidered this but just a google of "VFD cable length" reveals quite a few articles on VFD cable design (see below). This could be one of the reasons your first drive failed and since you are moving the drive into the garage and the run length will longer, the cable design will be even more critical.

This is the primary reason that most of the VS pump manufactures keep the drive on the motor although Hayward offers a short cable to put the drive on the wall near the motor.

I had looked into doing this some time ago but found that to do it properly with a high quality VFD duty motor, a well designed impedance matched cable and NEMA enclosure would end up costing much more than just buying a VS pump. Especially now that they have reduced in cost so much. I am surprised you could find a VFD duty motor for so cheap. The good ones are usually quite expensive.

Here is a link that might be useful: VFD Cable Length


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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

mas...yeah...back EMF can be a PITA also.

By the way, how's your 2 speed working out for you. There is someone else on this forum recently who may replace their single speed motor with a 2 speed to save costs..just curious how your experience has been so far...any regrets.

Thanks.


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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

I replaced both the motor and impeller (1/2 HP). So far so good and no regrets at all. The way I figured it, I would need a 240 months of operation before the VS would be more cost effective and the pump would most likely not last that long.


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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

X10 can be quite quirky at times. I suspect that some of the 'odd' behaviors that I've experienced have been, in part, due to utilizing a VFD on my service. In the end, from a cost perspective, I was willing to live with the ocassional anomalies. Thankfully, they have been manageable.

The reported specs above were taken from the drive's measurements of the outputs. I'm not sure how drive manufacturers implement such measurements. Standard voltmeters/ammeters use a RMS measuring algorithm that is setup for 60hz sine waves here in the US. It is true that measuring output voltage doesn't take into account for drive loss or for the choppy DC pseudo-sine (my takeoff from psuedo-science) output signal. The values I listed were taken as a last moment hurried effort. I intend to measure the input at varying frequencies this weekend when time allows. That way, I'll have the values that the power company sees, which in the end, is what really matters where the bottom line is concerned. I had suspected that the reading of 844 watts was too low, given that the motor's nameplate states a FLA of 4.26 amps at 230 volts. I'm not sure how much loading takes into account for current draw in my situation, or even how much loading the motor is placed under given my setup, so that may account for lower numbers ON THE OUTPUT. I will give a more thorough check soon and report back.

As to cable length, I'm currently at ~6ft. My proposed location is at ~60ft. I've done some reading based on your recommendation mas (thank you for the link), and I'm hoping to be OK as far as standing waves, etc. My main concern is RFI and EMI. I'll look into a choke if they become a problem.

I'm hoping that the first drive took a nosedive due to being driven past its rated output power capacity. That drive was only rated to 1.5Kw (on 3-phase input power), which should have been de-rated to .75Kw-.9Kw given I am using single phase input power. The new drive is rated at 3HP on single phase input, or three times higher than the first unit. I'm betting that this will resolve the failure issue. We'll see.


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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

mas985....Thanks for the feedback...great to hear the pump is working good for your application...I'm with you on the payback with variable speed technology...couldn't justify the added expense considering the life cycle of pumps.

Frank...the measured input power to the drive will definitely be higher. As you said, that's what the monthly utility bills are based on.

Thanks for the additional information...great to hear more about your efforts.


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EcoPump Track Record.

Any recent experience with the EcoPump brand, especially the EP-4, and especially re. durability and noise? Also, EcoPump boasts of its low current draw on circulation setting, but rather timidly discloses that current draw on vacuum setting is about the same as other brands. What do circulation setting and vacuum setting mean and when are they used? No settings like that on my sand filter valve, or any other controls. Thanks for any input.

This post was edited by billala on Thu, Dec 5, 13 at 18:06


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RE: Intelliflow VF compared to EcoPump-6

Look at the new Super Flow VS from Pentair . If you have a standard pool this will work great at a reasonable price.


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