The California Energy Commission has proposed amendments to Title 20, including the contentious subject of replacement pump motors.

If the language becomes final, all single-speed motor replacements greater than 1 total horsepower will need to use multi- or variable-speed motors by Jan. 1, 2010. (Total horsepower is the product of the motor’s nameplate hp and the service factor.)

Title 20 is California’s new energy-efficiency standard for pool and spa equipment.

These revisions closely mirror recommendations submitted by Pacific Gas & Electric in January.

“The major issue with pumps was how the standards apply to replacement motors,” said Gary Fernstrom, a contractor with PG&E who spearheaded the San Francisco-based company’s involvement in pool and spa energy advocacy. “We did some further analysis that shows [single-speed replacement] is economic … for products 1hp and over.”

Additionally, pump motors will require a control or timer with the capability of operating more than one speed to ensure homeowners utilize the low-speed setting.

But pool professionals still have some concerns. Most recently, the Independent Pool & Spa Service Association submitted data from more than 1,000 pools to show that there are only limited energy savings between 3/4hp single-speed pumps and their two-speed counterparts.

“Often, [automatic cleaners] rely on a certain amount of gpm to function, and they won’t work on the low-speed of a 3/4hp two-speed,” said Mike Gardner, IPSSA’s Region 1 director. “We can get much better savings out of the 3/4hp motor by downsizing [a 2hp] pump, rather than having to go two-speed.”

IPSSA is recommending that Title 20 language exempt all replacement pump motors with a total horsepower of 1.25 and below. In effect, this change would allow single-speed replacement for all 3/4hp motors.

Safety is another concern because certifications are voided when an identical motor isn’t used for replacement. The fear is that a new motor may not be compatible with an old pump.

“It’s something that should be explored,” said Bob Nichols, chairman of IPSSA’s Government Relations Committee. “[Incompatible replacement] can create a lot of liability for us.”

Currently, PG&E is running tests and reviewing the data submitted by IPSSA. CEC will hold another public workshop to discuss issues surrounding its proposed amendments.

IPSSA has been actively involved in the issue since May, and now is considered a stakeholder in the amendment. “The organization is making progress in being recognized as contributory to these types of issues,” Nichols said, “which is really what we want to do.”

The new recommendations also clarify testing methods for the manufacturing of portable spas and residential pool pumps.

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