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A variable-speed pump works similarly to single-speed pumps and double-speed pumps. They’re most different from a single-speed pump since these varieties only allow a single setting to filter the pool’s water.

Dual speeds allow users to program between a slow or fast setting, making them slightly more energy efficient. However, neither of these varieties compares to the energy savings available with variable-speed pumps.

If you hope to experience energy savings and pay less for your energy bills, then variable-speed pool pumps are best. Keep reading to learn all you need to know about variable-speed pumps!

What Does a Variable-Speed Pump Do? 

Variable speed pool pumps differ from other pool pumps primarily with how they’re programmed. A variable pool pump speed fluctuates more significantly than different pool pump speeds.

The ability to control the speed of your pump allows you to use the pump more efficiently and steadily. Variable-speed pool pumps will enable the pool owner to program the speeds, set the pace, and personalize how it operates.

You can set the pace to keep the pump running longer. The pump running consistently for long periods keeps the water cleaner and free from debris. A variable-speed pool pump uses a motor known as a permanent magnet motor.

A permanent magnet motor is a more efficient and reliable than a traditional induction motor. Single-speed and dual-speed pool pumps use an induction motor that is easier to program and cheaper to make. But they cost more to run and are less reliable than a magnet motor.

Magnet motors need to be very efficient and reliable since they’re commonly used in medical devices. MRI machines use these to power the energy-intensive unit to save energy and ensure a constant power flow. So you can be sure your variable speed pool pump will always have a continuous energy flow for decades.

How Do Variable Speed Pool Pumps Differ From Other Pool Pumps? 

The best way to define a variable-speed pool pump and what it does is to discuss the different speeds pool pumps come in. Let’s briefly explore what a pool pump does and how the three varieties differ.

Pool pumps pull water from the swimming pool and into the skimmer. The skimmer usually has a basket that collects and removes debris from the water flow. From here, the water moves into the main drain and into the filter system.

The pump pushes the water through the filter media, where small particles get trapped in the sand, cartridge, or DE sand. This process pulls the particles from the water and filters clean water back into the pool.

All three varieties of pool pumps use this basic system of removing particles. The primary difference between these pumps is their speed and how they’re programmed. Single-speed pool pumps and dual-speed pool pumps use a far less efficient motor that only permits basic speed programming.

A single-speed pool pump and dual-speed pool pump have basic settings that allow for either regular-paced or slow-fast-paced. Variable speed pumps allow for fast, medium, and slow-paced settings, which save money and energy.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Variable-Speed Pump?

The main benefit of using a variable speed pump includes the following perks:

  • Energy savings
  • Saves money
  • Personalization of the pump settings
  • More reliable
  • Lasts for decades

Variable speed pumps are the most efficient and environmentally friendly. A pump’s energy-saving capacities are factored by the pump’s ability to filter the water at a similar rate at a slower speed. The pump affinity law captures this energy-saving capacity.

The pump affinity law states that even if the pump’s speed is slowed by 50%, the flow rate only decreases by 50%. In layman’s terms, this means that the flow rate only decreases minimally while the speed slows.

The pump can run longer with less power consumption. Even though the flow rates will decrease, power consumption will also decrease. Even though the pump must run longer, it consumes a quarter of the power, costing far less.

Some states and utility companies offer rebates and incentives for people to switch to a variable-speed pump. This further increases the monetary incentive to change to variable-speed pumps.

The downsides of variable-speed pumps include the following:

  • High upfront cost
  • Difficult to program
  • Only work with similar products
  • Size

Variable speed pumps are larger than most standard pool pumps. This can make them a little challenging to move around and fit in small areas beside the filter system. Single-speed pool pumps and dual-speed pumps cost less upfront but cost considerably more to run and operate.

Some people find the control panel and settings a bit confusing and overwhelming. However, pay attention to the user’s manual; it shouldn’t take long to get the hang of it.

Is a Variable Speed Pool Pump Better Than Other Pump Varieties?

Generally speaking, variable-speed pumps are a better option than dual and single-speed pool pumps. They’re less energy intensive and are more popular with local authorities and energy companies.

Older pump models have an extra running cost since their motors aren’t designed to run for long periods. The upfront costs are lower, but the long-term costs are higher. You just need to determine if you can afford the immediate investment to get a variable-speed pump to save in the long run.

Other pump varieties are also much louder since they run at higher speeds. This might sound like a good thing, but high speeds consume more energy and make a lot more noise. Some building codes forbid other pumps besides variable speed pumps because they’re so noisy.


Variable speed pumps give the pool owner complete control over the use and programming of their pump. Having this control allows you to decide the flow rates of your pump and maximize energy use.

Investing in variable-speed pumps costs less money in the long run and is good for the environment! It’s worth the investment, even if it costs more than dual and single-speed pool pumps.

We created several articles on the different types of pool filters and how to care for them. If you’re trying to decide between a sand, DE, or cartridge filter, check out our article on the topic!


How Do You Program a Variable Speed Pool Pump? 

One of the ways variable speed pool pumps save money and energy is through their schedule features. These programs allow the pool owner to set the time of day for their pump to run and the speeds they run at.

Each model is somewhat different in how you program the times and speeds. However, most have a control panel that allows you to simply input the data and set the dates and times.

You can also set the pump for higher or lower flow rates on the panel. This program helps you monitor the turnover rate of your pool water and ensure all the water gets cleaned every day.

Are Variable Speed Pumps Required in Certain States?

Some states and local municipalities require pool owners to use a variable-speed pool pump. This is due to local laws regulating energy consumption to limit environmental impact.

For example, Arizona has laws requiring a new pool pump to be either a dual or variable-speed pool pump. These laws require pool owners to limit their energy consumption and promote a more efficient pump. Before buying your pool’s pump, check with local and state regulations to make sure your pool’s up to date!