If you have a swimming pool at home or farmhouse, its regular maintenance is crucial for even flow & to keep the water crystal clear. A high-quality above ground pool pump helps in circulating and filtering the water to keep the germs & debris away. But with so many manufacturers and designs available online in the market, it is challenging to decide which is the best above-ground pool pump for your swimming pool. There are many factors to consider while buying a pool pump for your home and we are here to help you out.
What is above ground pool pump for?
The pool pump is useful equipment used to control the whole pool water circulation system. The entire process of cleaning, filtration, and circulation entirely depends upon the pool pump and without it, pool water will get stagnant and the pump won’t work in such a scenario as well. So, basically, the above ground pool pump is responsible for the filtration & circulation of the water in the swimming pool to maintain hygiene and smooth flow of water.
Best Above-Ground Pool Pumps of 2021
How does above ground pool pump works?
The above ground pool pump works through the skimmer and the main drain that helps in pushing the water and then returns in via the main returns. Basically, there are three major components of pool pump involved in the whole process of circulation and filtration, and these are:
- Electric Motor: An electric motor generally uses 110 or 220 volts depending upon the pool size and used for spinning the impeller at a speed of 3450 rpm. Since the pump motor is cooled by air, it is not fully covered to allow a faster cooling process.
- Impeller: Impeller is generally connected at the end of the motor shaft & helps in pulling the water in via the hair and lint trap at the end of the pool pump. The impeller is responsible for pushing up the water through the pump to the filter for even circulation & filtration of water.
- Hair & Lint Trap: The last component of the pool pump is the hair & lint trap, located at the end of the pump assembly that prevents debris from entering its assembly. It has a basket that plays a crucial role in capturing clogging materials that may prevent the pool water from entering into the pump, resulting in stagnant & dirty water.
This way, every component performs its task to clean, filtrate, and circulate the water evenly in the whole above-ground pool. For the smooth operation, the efficient working of each component is necessary, otherwise, you can witness cloudy stagnant water in your swimming pool with a foul odour.
Types of Above Ground Pool Pumps
Before deciding which is the best above ground pool pumps for you, it is crucial to understand the types & variations available in the market according to your requirements. Basically, there are three major types of above ground pool pumps available online for various requirements:
1. Single-Speed Pumps
These are the traditional pool pumps that people have been using for decades. As the name suggests, Single Speed Pumps runs at a constant speed once turned on, depending upon the horsepower of the motor. They consume the most energy and make lots of noise, making them less energy efficient. Also, these are the least expensive to purchase & costs around $500-$700. You have to hook up these pumps up to a timer if you want it to automatically turn off & on. The average life expectancy of these pumps is 3-10 years before they start having issues.
One of the best single-speed above ground pool pumps you can find online is the Pentair DYNII-NI-1-1/2 HP Dynamo Pump. Its self-priming design and reinforced fibreglass ensure durability and long life along with an excellent flow rate.
2. Dual-Speed Pumps
Dual Speed Pumps are the variation of Single speed pool pumps with a major difference in their speed. Dual speed pool pumps run on “high speed” and a “low speed”. So if you want to run your pump efficiently by saving energy, you can use the low-speed option. The low-speed option is suitable to meet the general, day-to-day swimming needs circulate and chlorinate.
Although dual-speed pumps are quite more expensive than Single Speed Pumps but you can efficiently saves lots of money on your electricity bill in return (around 50-70%). The life expectancy of Dual Speed Pumps is about 3-8 years. If you want to go for the ideal dual-speed pool pumps for above ground pool, then Hayward SP15932S PowerFlo Matrix 1.5 HP Dual-Speed Above-Ground Swimming Pool Pump is the perfect option to consider. Its high-performance impeller provides amazingly wide openings to prevent clogging and known for its energy efficiency.
3. Variable Speed Pumps
As the name indicates, variable speed pool pumps are programmed to run at different speeds at all times of the day. Unlike the inefficient induction motor used in single or dual-speed pumps, variable speed pumps has a permanent magnet motor (similar to what used in electric cars). The best thing about variable pool pumps is that it allows users to “dial-in” the exact flow rate they need for their pool depending upon its size & other factors.
If you operate variable speed pool pumps on “low to mid-speed”, you will find them quieter than single or dual-speed pumps. Also, they are more expensive than the single or dual speed pool pumps but more energy-efficient & cost-savings at the same time. They vibrate less, runs cooler last longer, are digitally controlled, and have advanced diagnostics. They typically lasts longer than single or dual-speed pumps.
One of the best variable speed pool pumps recommended by users online is Pentair Superflo VS Variable speed pool pump 342001. Easy to install and easy to operate, it comes with an advanced ultra-quiet TEFC motor to save energy & money.
Cartridge Filter vs Sand Filter
An effective pool pump for above ground also requires an effective filter for efficient filtration. There are two popular pool filters available in the market: Cartridge Filter and Sand Filter. But most of the time, users get confused between the two and thus it is crucial to understand the key differences between both types of pool filters. Here are the remarkable differences between Cartridge Filter and Sand Filter pump you must consider:
1. Design & Material
Sand Filters are the oldest form of filtration where a large-spherical-shaped globe contains silica sand. When the water flows through this silica sand, all the debris and impurities get trapped in the sand, allowing the pure water to flow through the filter. A sand filter pump can remove particles as small as 20 microns and lasts for about 5-10 years.
Whereas, Cartridge filters are the modern variant, consists of a 2-piece tank with a cartridge inside the tank. Water is pushed through the tank to the cartridge for filtration, leaving the particles and debris behind. Cartridge Filter Pump can remove particles as small as 10 microns and lasts for 1-3 years.
2. Efficiency & Performance:
Both Cartridge and Sand Filters can catch debris such as beach sand and fine grit, but if you want to collect finer debris like mould spores or talcum powder, then Cartridge filter can do a better job than sand filter as it can remove particles as small as 10 microns.
Also, unlike Sand filter pumps, cartridge filter pumps do not require backwashing & thus allow water savings of up to 92% or gallons per hour. Since it doesn’t require backwashing or a multiport valve, it is more efficient than sand filter pumps. The cartridge filter pumps require less demand and thus there is less water flow restriction with them.
If you want to catch fine debris using sand filter pumps with less water requiring in backwashing, you can replace the sand filter with glassfibre that will also make it both energy and cost-efficient.
The another benefit of cartridge pumps over sand pumps is their low & easy maintenance. You can maintain the cartridge pump by simply removing the cartridge from the filter using the grip handles & then use a normal garden hose to wash the debris. The gauge of cartridge filters need to be wash once or twice in 2-4 years, depending upon the usage and pool size.
Whereas the sand filters require more effort in maintenance. Ideally, you should backwash these filters after vacuuming once a week to remove all the dirt & debris. The backwashing involves releasing the dirty water from the waste line and resetting the sand bed & sometimes you need extra chemicals to perform this task.
In terms of installation & replacement cost, Sand filters are cheaper than the cartridge ones. Sand filters are more economical in cost to purchase but for its installation, you might require a plumber. Whereas, cartridge pool pump is slightly expensive to purchase but doesn’t require installation by the plumber.
The replacement cost of a sand pool pump is cheaper than that of the cartridge one. You have to replace cartridge pool pump once in every 1-3 years depending upon your usage & pool size, while the sand or glass requires replacement after 4-6 years.
Whichever filter you choose for your pool pump, it is crucial to choose the right size of filter for the right pump. Every filter is designed with a specific flow rate that needs to be professionally paired with the correct pool pump as the excessive flow can cause excess pressure on the filter, resulting in pump damage.
So, if you will consider all these above-mentioned factors, cartridge pool pumps are more economical and best above ground pool pumps than the sand pumps in the long run. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages that you can consider before buying the right one.
But if you want an economical and best sand filter for your pool pump, we will recommend you only one name, i.e. Intex Krystal clear sand filter pump for above ground pools. Equipped with a 6-function control valve, Intex Krystal clear sand filter pump provides easy & efficient cleaning & filtration with virtually no maintenance except replacement of sand every 5 year. The pump flow rate of the Intex Krystal clear sand filter pump is 3,000 gallons per hour with 75% efficiency.
How to choose the best above ground pool pumps – Ultimate Buying Guide
Choosing the best above ground pool pump is not an easy task & you need to consider several factors to buy the right one, like:
1. Pump Performance
The pump performance depends upon its flow rate and thus it is crucial to verify it. Once you have verified the flow rate in GPH/GPM (gallons per minute) matches your pool capacity, you need to check its motor for efficient performance. The motor of the pool pump must be sufficient enough to keep your water clean & filtered for a long time.
Most of the small & medium-sized pool comes with 1.5 HP motor. If you have a large pool or more water capacity, then you can go for a 2.0 HP motor. You must check the performance table of the pool pump before buying to get the idea of its efficiency & performance. One of the ideal & most buyed above-ground pool pumps with 1.5HP motors you can consider to buy online is Hayward W3SP2610X15 Super Pool Pump. It has a heavy-duty & high-performance motor with quieter & efficient operation.
2. Energy Consumption
The next thing to consider is the energy efficiency of the pool pump. Even 1.5HP pool pumps can use a significant amount of electricity over the course of a season and thus you need to consider them carefully. An ideal pool pump must consume less energy to save your money on electricity bills throughout the year.
3. Construction Materials
To get the high-end performance, always check the construction materials of the ground pool pump. The one made with plastic material is advisable to consider to prevent corrosion, heat & sunlight damage. Look for the models that use thermoplastic or UV resistant material to avoid degradation and leaks in the long run.
4. Filter System
As we have stated the differences above between the two most commonly used filter types, you must consider which filter system is more economical, efficient & suitable for your pool depending upon your pool size and usage.
5. Ease of Installation
Whichever pool pump you consider to buy, it must be easy to install with less wiring required. If the pump requires you to wire it directly into your homes electrical system or uses non-standard ports, avoid purchasing it as it will require a complex installation by the professional only.
6. Safety Features
You will unlikely get a double or triple backup system to prevent your pool pump from overload or damage in case of failure in the electrical system, but you must check every possible safety precaution that has been integrated with that pool pump model to ensure you get the best performance under the harsh scenarios. Some of the essential safety features to look at in above ground pool pumps are Surge protection, UL Rating, and overload breakers.
7. Pool Size
The pool size is one of the crucial aspects to consider to buy the right size pump, and generally measured in gallons. Once you know the capacity of your pool, you’ll need to divide the total number of gallons by 8. This will tell you the time duration the pool pump required to circulate the water in the whole swimming pool.
Generally, the pool pumps mention the flow rate in GPM (gallons per minute), meaning you need to divide the result by 60 to determine how many gallons per hour of water the pump can circulate in the pool for efficient working.
The motor of the pool pumps is measured in terms of horsepower. Depending upon your pool size, you can determine the pump with how much horsepower will be ideal for your pool. For example, For round above-ground pools up to 24 ft. ( pools with less than 15,300 gallons) use a 1 HP pump. For round above-ground pools over 24 ft. (pools with more than 15.300 gallons) use a 1.5 HP pump. The more horsepower, the more flow rate you will get for your pool.
9. Noise Level
Generally, we look for a pool pump with a high-performance and efficient motor to get better circulation & filtration. But in that, we forget to check the noise level of the pool pump. Most of the pool pumps with heavy motors make a loud noises which is not ideal. It’s vital to get one that operates quietly to reduce the background hum.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) How to set up & install above ground pool pump?
Setting up and installing above ground pool pump is quite easy if you know the little basics. If you follow these directions carefully, you can conveniently install the pool pump by yourself with the need of any professional:
- First, you have to take a solid base to keep the pump level balanced and avoid future problems due to the pump and filter not being on level ground.
- Once you have placed the pump, connect the standard 1.5″ hoses to intake and exhaust ports.
- Now before plugging in the system, check the filter basket systems and horse seals are completely closed. Now switch on the plug and let the pump run for a while.
- If your pump doesn’t have a built-in timer, you can purchase a smart home outlet after checking its ratings & reviews online for the heavy amperage draw of the pool, and you are done with the installation!
2) How to calculate the flow you need?
People always get confused to calculate the exact flow rate they need for their pool. The flow rate you need will depend upon your pool size & its characteristics. To preserve adequate water, the filtration cycle must be able to process and filter all the water in the pool under the 4-6 hours. You can calculate the flow rate by dividing the pool volume to the 4 (number of hours) to get an average idea. However, the result you get by applying this rule will be minimum and you must oversize the rated flow of your pump by a factor of 1.2 to 1.5.
3) What is a GFCI and why it is crucial?
GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter and you can find this acronym many times while browsing for the best above-ground pool pumps. GFCI is an electronic device or you can say an effective circuit breaker that prevents anyone, especially the kids from getting an electric shock. In case if there is any discrepancy in electrical flow, the GFCI kicks in fir safety’s sake & thus it is crucial to have.
If you are a new pool owner, choosing the best above ground pool pump can be difficult for you, and thus our detailed buying guide will help you out to inspect all the crucial aspects regarding it. We will advise you to always go for the trusted & reputable brands like Hayward, Pentair, Intex, etc. to get the right pool pump for your place.
Before you buy any pool pump, check its manufacturer warranty, energy savings, ratings, and reviews online to get the best value of your money. If you have any queries related to the above-ground pool pump that we forget to cover under this article, get in touch with us in the comments.