Variable Speed Pool Pump vs Single Speed

Variable Speed vs Single Speed Pool Pump

A swimming pool pump is the heart & soul of your swimming pool. This is the single piece of equipment that keeps your pool clean and the water will be suitable for swimming. 

The problem is- it’s the most expensive pool accessory that consumes more electricity to operate. However, many modern pool pumps are now available in the market that requires less energy. For example, the variable speed pool pump is 90% efficient than your traditional single-speed pool pump. 

Due to this, pool owners start switching from the traditional pump to a variable speed pump. But what makes a variable speed pump different from a single-speed pump? Furthermore, pool sizing and water flow can affect the rest of your pool equipment. And this guide on Variable speed vs. single speed pump will answer your question. So, keep reading. 

Variable Speed Pool Pump

A variable speed pool pump is a type of pump that allows you to control the flow rate of water coming from your water feature to low, high, or anywhere in between. It has a unique motor known as a permanent magnet motor. This motor provides enough power to operate the pool pump in an energy-efficient way. 

With it, you can circulate your pool water at a low flow rate for an extended time without adding extra operating costs. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a variable-speed pool pump is more energy-efficient than a single-speed pump. 


  • Variable speed pump doesn’t require a lot of electricity and consumes less power than other pumps. In short, it’s energy-efficient. 
  • Allow you to filter your pool water optimally at a low flow rate. Indeed, you can circulate the water for an extended time. 
  • Let you maintain your pool quietly. 
  • Simple to operate.
  • Safe to run for a longer period of time.


  • The upfront cost is high.

Single Speed Pool Pump

A single-speed pool pump is a conventional pump that has been used for decades. Generally, it operates at one, constant speed. Once you run this pool pump, it will run at full speed, and you can’t adjust the flow rate. 

Most pool owners, especially those on a budget, go for this single-speed pump because of its low upfront cost. Though the initial cost is low to get the single-speed pump, it will cost you a leg and arm in the long run. Based on your pool size and where you live, you need to spend around $1000-$2000 each year to operate.  


  • The initial cost you need to spend to get a single-speed pump is low.
  • Convenient to operate.
  • Allow you to hook up this pump to a timer to turn it on or off automatically.


  • Not energy-efficient.
  • Make a loud noise.

Difference Between Variable Speed and Single Single Speed Pump

Now, let’s discover why a variable-speed pool pump is better than a single-speed pool pump. 

Energy Efficiency

Variable speed pool pumps allow you to gain the ideal filtration flow rate with the least amount of energy consumption. Every variable speed pump uses Permanent Magnet Motors. Unlike the standard induction motor, it requires less electricity to induce the magnetic field into the rotor. 

The best part of installing a PMM pump is- you can adjust the flow rate. So, you don’t need to operate the variable speed pumps at full speed which requires a minimum flow rate. As a result, it requires less energy to run the pump without costing additional electricity bills. 

On the other hand, a single-speed pump always runs at a maximum flow rate, even when you require a minimum flow rate. Indeed, the efficiency rate of an average single-speed pump is between 30%-70%, while a variable-speed pool pump has a 90% energy efficiency rate. 


Undoubtedly, a single-speed pool pump can pump more water compared to a variable-speed pool pump. But when it comes to overall performance, a variable-speed pump just beats the single-speed one. 

There is no negative performance issue associated with variable pool pumps. If you calibrate the variable-speed pump properly, it can boost the flow rates to equal or more than the single-speed pump. 

A variable pool pump runs quietly, requires less maintenance, and lasts for a long time. Therefore, it delivers more effective water filtration through slower water filtration rates.

On top of this, the slow circulation rate puts less strain on the pool filters and other components of your pool. 

Indeed, variable pumps are a better option than single-speed pumps. 


When it’s come to installation, both types of pumps are a bit tricky to install. However, installing a single-speed pool pump is a piece of cake compared to the variable pool pump. If you don’t know how to install a variable pool pump, check out this article

Programming features

The programming feature is what makes the variable speed pool pump unique from a single-speed pool pump. You can program the variable pump for different tasks. But a single-speed pump will always run at the maximum flow rate. 


The initial cost of installing a variable pump and a single-speed pump is distinctive. A single-speed pump costs you around $400-$700 bucks to install. On the other hand, you need to spend a leg and arm to install the variable speed pool pump. It costs you between $1400-$1800. However, the overall cost (including operating cost) will be lower in the long run if you go for a variable speed pool pump. You can see a $561 saving by annual cost if you install a variable speed pump. 

Single Speed, Two Speed, Or Variable Speed: Which One Is The Best

A single-speed pool pump requires the least cost to get. Once you turn on your single-speed pump, it will run at a maximum flow rate. It’s a noisy and inefficient way to filter and circulate your pool water.

The two-speed pump is the upgrade version of the single-speed pump. It has two speed controlling options- high and low. We recommend you use the low-speed option when you circulate your pool water for 24 hours. In contrast, it will be ok to choose the high-speed flow rate to vacuum your pool. 

A two-speed pump will save you up to 50%-70% on energy costs compared to your single-speed pool. 

And lastly, a variable speed pool pump is the alien of your pool. Unlike the other two pumps, it allows you to control the flow rate according to a specific task. Compared to other pumps, it is a 90% energy efficient pump and saves up to $500 on annual cost. 

Indeed, a variable-speed pool pump will be your best bait if you want to gain superior efficiency in terms of functionality and cost. 


We recommend you go for the variable speed pool pump. It consumes less energy compared to your conventional (single-speed) pool pump. Though the variable-speed pump takes a lot of buck in the beginning, it will save your wallet in the long run. Moreover, you may leave the decision for a pool professional, if you are still confused. And the best part of a variable-speed pump is- you can adjust the flow rate based on your pool maintenance workflow. 

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