The 7 Best Variable Speed Pool Pump Reviews 2020

Are you looking for the best variable speed pool pumps available? Traditionally pool pumps have run at one constant speed. Then dual-speed pumps were introduced. These allowed people to operate their pump at a higher speed when running special features such as waterfalls or when backwashing, and at a lower speed when running a constant filtering process only.

Best Variable Speed Pool Pump

Then variable speed pumps were introduced. These switched speed, and even allowed in-between speeds, automatically. The key benefits of these are that they are energy efficient and for owners of large pools can cut down electricity bills substantially. They have another great benefit and that is that they are quieter.

7 Best Variable Speed Pool Pump 2020 Review

1. Hayward SP2303VSP MaxFlo VS Variable-Speed Pool Pump


  • Dimensions: 24 x 10 x 11 inches
  • Weight: 40.6 pounds
  • Available in both 115V and 230V
  • Model Number: SP2303VSP
Hayward SP2303VSP MaxFlo VS Variable-Speed Pool Pump

For years Haywards have provided a variety of stable and reliable swimming pool pumps through their Maxflo range. These offer different horse power alternatives and come in both single speed and two speed models.

Haywards then brought out several variable speed pumps, such as the SP2303VSP to add to their range. Their initial offering was the SP2302VSP Max-Flo. The SP2303VSP is an improved version.

The price is also improved.  It comes in both .85 horsepower and 1.65 horsepower models. Surprisingly the 1.65 horsepower model is less expensive than the .85 one, giving you a further saving.

Because you don’t need to be running a variable speed pump at full power all the time, Hayward claim potential electricity cost savings of 80% as compared to single speed pumps. Typically, the SP230V3SP can be programmed to run for seven hours at various speeds.

2. Pentair 342001 SuperFlo VS Variable Speed Pool Pump


  • Dimensions: 28 x 15.5 x 12.5 inches
  • Weight: 52 pounds
  • 50/60 Hz single phase capability
  • Variable speed pump with 115-230V
Pentair 342001 SuperFlo VS Variable Speed Pool Pump, 1 1/2 HP

The two key manufacturers of variable speed pumps are Hayward and Pentair. The 342001 Superflo is Pentair’s entry level variable speed pump.

The manufacturers point out that at the current time the 342001 Superflow VS is the only pump on the market that can run either on 110 volts or 208-230 volts. This means that there is no extensive rewiring needed when upgrading from a single speed pump.

The 342001 Superflo has one and a half horsepower which is enough for many people’s pools. On this entry-level pump you have three different speeds with which you can programme your schedule. There is also a manual override facility in case any problems do arise.

Pentair claim significant electricity cost savings against a single speed pump when used on a 20,000 gallon pool over 12 hours, giving you more for your money.

3. Pentair 011018 IntelliFlo Variable Speed Pool Pump


  • Dimensions: 28 x 12 x 15 inches
  • Weight: 47 pounds
  • 8 programmable speed settings
  • Model Number: 011018
Pentair 011018 IntelliFlo Variable Speed Pool Pump

The 011018 Intelliflo variable speed pump is a truly impressive piece of equipment. The Amazon on-line catalogue states that this outsells all other variable speed pumps on the market. It runs at an impressive three horse-power.

It boasts 8 different programable speeds. The Intelliflo also makes a point of its quietness of operation. The sound is down to 45 decibels which is 4 times quieter than the sound of traditional pumps.

Built-in computer diagnostics keep the pump in tip-top order and result in a longer life. While talking of built-in software, one should mention that the pump is fully compatible with digital controls such as Intellitouch, Suntouch and Easytouch.

Variable speed pumps often claim 80% energy savings. For the 011018 Intelliflo, up to 90% are offered. It is suggested that these could lead to electricity cost savings of $1,500 if the pump is kept running for 12 hours a day for a pool containing 20,000 gallons.

4. Hayward SP3202VSP 1.85 HP Variable-Speed Pool Pump


  • Dimensions: 32 x 13 x 16 inches
  • Weight: 48.4 pounds
  • 8 custom timer functions
  • 1.5 full-rate or 2.0 max-rate HP
Hayward SP3202VSP 1.85 HP Variable-Speed Pool Pump

The SP3202VSP TriStar is Hayward’s answer to Pentair’s 011018. Hayward claim that the TriStar is the “most energy efficient variable-speed pump on the market”. They base this claim on third party energy testing by EPA Energy Star. It is a 1.85 Horsepower unit.

Like the Pentair IntelliFlo, it has eight different programable speeds and it is designed to work with just about any automation control system.

It has a programmable digital control interface that can be rotated to four alternative positions or wall-mounted so that it can be easily accessed and viewed. It also has a comprehensive computerized self-diagnostic system to keep the pump running efficiently.

As with the Pentair Intelliflow, 90% electricity cost savings are claimed and it is almost silent when it runs, at least at the lower speeds. In many situations this is an important benefit, not to be overlooked.

5. Hayward SP3400VSP Ecostar Variable-Speed Pool Pump


  • TEFC motor.
  • Industry-leading hydraulic design
  • Speed Range: 600-3450 RPM
  • Union Connectors: 2" x 2 1/2"
Hayward SP3400VSP Ecostar Variable-Speed Pool Pump

The SP3400VSP Ecostar is a slightly upgraded version of the SP3202VSP TriStar, the main difference being a larger basket for collecting the leaves and debris and therefore giving longer intervals of time between when the basket has to be emptied.

Another extra feature of the Ecostar is an integrated Safety Vacuum Release System, SVRS, for short.

This helps minimize the entrapment of leaves so one does not have to keep going back to empty the basket. In other respects, the Ecostar has much of the same construction as the Tristar – same top-rated pump for energy efficiency, same 90% potential savings in electricity costs, same almost silent running, same automation controls panel even.

There is so little difference in the price that if one is choosing between the Tistar and the Ecostar, it does seem worth paying the little extra for the Ecostar. This might be the best variable speed pool pump on the market.

6. Hayward SP2302VSP Max-Flo VS Variable-Speed Pool Pump


  • Dimensions: 24 x 13 x 12 inches
  • Weight: 28 pounds
  • Manufacturer: Hayward
  • Model Number: SP2302VSP
Hayward SP2302VSP Max-Flo VS Variable-Speed Pool Pump

The SP2302VSP is the slightly cut -down, budget version of the TriStar and Ecostar models. You can save over 100 dollars but don’t have quite the performance of those other two advanced models.

The basic design is the same and it will give you up to 80% on your energy bills which relate to your pool. If you are looking for a budget priced pump that will do the job, then this could be the pump for you.

This model had been around for a while and even though a newer model is now on the market, it’s longevity speak volumes about how it is perceived and rated by people that have purchased it. In this competitive market of variable speed pumps, it may not be a front runner, but it will always be in the running.

7. Pentair IntelliFlo VS Plus SVRS Variable Speed In Ground Pool Pump


  • Dimensions: 29 x 38 x 65 inches
  • Weight: 51.9 pounds
  • Manufacturer: Pentair
  • Model Number: 11057
Pentair IntelliFlo VS Plus SVRS Variable Speed In Ground Pool Pump

The Pentair Intelliflo Plus Variable speed pump is perhaps the crème de la crème of such pumps. It is fundamentally the Pentair 011018 tweaked to make it even better, although the horsepower is a bit lower. 

One of the extra features it has is its Safety Vacuum Release Switch or SVRS. This switches the pump off automatically when leaves or debris clog the system.

The Hayward Ecostar has this system also, but Pentair claim to that their Intellflo VS Plus is the first pump to incorporate this system for detecting blockage of the drain and automatically shutting off when it finds one.

The software is also the most refined of those on the pumps in this review especially for the diagnostics which protect from freezing, overheating and voltage irregularities. It is the most expensive of the pumps in our review and probably the best.

How to Pick the Best Variable Speed Pump For Pool

The first question you need to ask yourself is “Will a Variable Speed Pool Pump be useful for your specific pool?” You don’t need one if you have a small pool measuring 10 meters x 3 meters in such a case a single speed pump running once for a few hours a day in winter and twice in summer is all that you need to keep the filtration system working perfectly.

It is when you have a large pool with special features such as waterfalls that are not running all the time, that you really benefit from the electricity savings of a variable speed pump.

The potential energy savings relative to the size of the pool and special features that you might run part of the time, need to be weighed against the cost. One Variable speed pump claims to be able to save as much as 1500 dollars in reduced electricity bills.

You have to have a pretty sizable pool to be spending that amount on running a pool pump in the first place, let alone saving so much. However, if you do have that size of pool, 1500 dollars are well worth saving.

Budgetary considerations make up an important factor in your choice of variable speed pool pump. The two main manufacturers in the field are Hayward and Pentair.

If you are looking for a budget-priced solution you should look seriously at Hayward’s SP2302VSP Max-Flo, but the Pentair 342001 SuperFlo VS is also appealing and with similar specifications. If you have a big pool with features such as waterfalls, the Pentair IntelliFlo VS Plus SVRS has got to be worth a serious look.

It offers great potential for savings on electricity bills and numerous refinements that we have pointed out in our review. The safety Vacuum Release Switch seems a particularly useful feature.

How Do Variable Speed Pool Pumps Work?

For the technologically literate, permanent Magnet Motors are the secret to the workings of a variable speed pool pump. The good ones are protected by operating in a sealed fan-cooled motor. This is the technology of motors used in electric cars.

For the rest of us suffice it to say that what these do is to allow the pumps to operate at different speeds. A single speed pump can be compared to having a car either off or set to full throttle.

You don’t need full throttle most of the time in a car and you don’t need your swimming pool pump to be running at its maximum revolutions per minute either.

 When you are simply filtering your water, you can run it at a far lower rate of rpm. Most people will have a single speed pump turned off at night and operating all day. With a variable speed pool pump, you can leave it on all the time at a gentler flow rate.

When you are doing something that requires extra power such as running a waterfall feature or backwashing, that is the time that you need to step up your RPMs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do you save with a variable speed pool pump?

It is claimed that you can reduce your electricity costs for running your pool pump by 80% to 90%. This applies to large pools that run additional features. In some areas this type of pump also qualifies for rebates on your utility bills.

How many hours a day should you run your pool pump?

Because you run a variable speed pump at a lower flow rate than a single speed one, you could leave your pump on all the time. 12 hours a day is more typical.

Can you run your pool pump at night?

There is no reason why you should not run your pool pump at night and many people do leave it to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, particularly with a variable speed pump where you can have your water gently circulating and filtering.

Even if you are only running it for 12 hours you might prefer to have it running at night when the pool is not in use. On the other hand, if it is running a feature part of the time during the day, and therefore on anyway, you may as well have your filtering carried out at the same time. You choose when to run your pump at times to suit you whether night or day.

How many years does a pool pump last?

It is a bit like with a washing machine. It depends how much it is used. Typically, one might hope for 6 years use from a single speed pump. A variable speed pump might last twice as long though one can expect to have to replace the motor component during its lifespan.

How long do you run your pool pump in the winter?

This really does depend on your pools size and the winter temperatures at the location of your pool. Because less algae are trying to form when it is cold and there is less sunlight, you can run it less in winter than in summer.

On a small pool, three or four hours might be sufficient. For a larger pool you might need six or seven hours. Assuming the level of chemicals is correctly topped up, if you see the pool beginning to go green you know you need to run the pump for longer.

How to program a variable speed pool pump?

The precise process may vary from pump to pump, but essentially you need to find your pump’s program control panel and press a “menu” button. You will in the first instance want the “settings” option and set the current time.

You will select the language – English, then minimum and maximum speeds. You might want 500 r.p.m. as a minimum and 3000 r.p.m. as a maximum. You will have an option for selecting different speeds and scheduling them to a start time and end time.

That in a nutshell is it. But do remember to close the protective cover when you have finished setting the control panel. You can then leave it alone and enjoy your pool. Good swimming!

Final Note

Now you have seen the best variable speed pool pump that are available on the market, hopefully you are more informed about which one would best suit your needs. Don’t forget to take into account any features you may have installed in your pool as well as the pool size.

For a relatively small outlay you can save a lot of money in the long term when it comes to your energy bills, with standard pumps notoriously expensive to run. Enjoy the savings and enjoy your pool, whether it is at home or part of your business, it is a perfect place to relax especially when you are saving money.

  • June 15, 2020
Flora Smith

Home and Garden Enthusiast. I have been a blogger for the last 10 years from different brands and media as well. I have loved pool technology my whole life and decided to start OpenRoom to share my life experiences on pool and it's different aspects.

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