Getting the Most

General rule: While each pool is different, some professionals have a running configuration they use on a majority of pools with variable-speed pumps. Ben Honadel, owner of Pools by Ben in Santa Clarita, Calif., runs many of his clients’ pools at a very low speed for 22 hours each day, then at what he calls a “skimming speed” for two hours. The lower speed usually costs less than fewer hours at a higher speed, plus it helps the filter remove smaller particles. The higher speed is enough to power automatic cleaners, and it allows the water to skim.

Fine tuning:  Variable-speed pumps can ease operation of certain features. Vanishing-edge and perimeter-overflow applications, for instance, can initially be run at a higher speed, and then the pump can be programmed to ratchet down after a few minutes, so the lowest required flow goes over the sides.

The plumbing: On new pools and spas with variable-speed pumps, builder Steve Toth uses at least 3-inch pipe installed in a hydraulically balanced loop to ensure equal flow through each return. On raised spas, below, builders might miss the added head pressure that higher-powered pumps provide, which helps send water to a higher elevation. To compensate, Toth, owner of Acclaim Pools in The Woodlands, Texas,  adds a two-way valve on the pool return side, then chokes it down enough to add the needed head pressure.

The plumbing: On new pools and spas with variable-speed pumps, builder Steve Toth uses at least 3-inch pipe installed in a hydraulically balanced loop to ensure equal flow through each return. On raised spas, below, builders might miss the added head pressure that higher-powered pumps provide, which helps send water to a higher elevation. To compensate, Toth, owner of Acclaim Pools in The Woodlands, Texas,  adds a two-way valve on the pool return side, then chokes it down enough to add the needed head pressure.

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