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Best Variable Speed Pool Pumps for 2021

Variable Speed pool pumps are all the rage these days. In the same way that virtually all major automobile manufacturers have some version of an Electric Vehicle in their 2021 lineup, virtually all pool pump manufacturers now have Variable Speed pool pumps in their product lines.

And considering the major energy- and money-saving benefits that Variable Speed (VS) pumps offer, the boom makes sense.

But unlike Electric Vehicles, Variable Speed pool pumps might be a required purchase because of a new federal mandate. Beginning July 20, 2021, in-ground pool owners who purchase or replace a filter pump larger than 1.0 Total Horsepower (THP) will be required to install a variable speed pump. Learn more about the specifics of the mandate and how it affects you.

Now that you know that you might be required to use a variable speed pump, and the benefits that can come with that, let's get to the best options out there for you. But like a late-night infomercial, we're going to delay the good stuff just a little longer. Because the number of available VS pool pump models is so much greater than in the past, it's important to understand what the key factors are when choosing the right model for your pool. So let's take a quick look at those.

Variable Speed Pool Pump Size

To narrow down your choices, we suggest that you first decide on the size of the pump. Variable Speed pumps are available in sizes — from 1.4 THP to 3.0 THP. Smaller pumps should be used on smaller pools (15-25K gals) and/or with 1.5” PVC pipe. Larger VS pumps are more suited to bigger pools with greater water flow demands — those with several skimmers, water features, or a spa, for example. 

VS Pump Voltage

Most in-ground pool pumps are wired with 230V and hard-wired to a breaker, while most above ground pumps are wired 115V and plugged into an outlet. Most VS pumps have ‘reversible’ voltage and will accept either 115V or 230V, but some models only accept 230V. 

VS Pump Timer/Speed Settings

This relates to the number of possible custom programs you can create with different speeds and length of time. Many VS pumps have 4 or 8 pre-set programs with one button selection, but you can always override these and select your own speed or program your own timed speed settings. 

VS Pump Pipe Size Connections

The most common PVC connections are 1.5” or 2”. Some pumps will accept both pipe sizes, and some will accept only 2.5”. Larger pipe size is best, as 1.5” pipe has flow limitations and more resistance. It is also important is to have 12” of straight pipe before the pump, and to use sweep elbows instead of hard 90° elbows.

PUMP HORSEPOWER VOLTAGE TIMER / SPEED SETTINGS PIPE SIZE CONNECTIONS
HAYWARD SUPER PUMP VS 1.65 230V 8 1.5"
HAYWARD TRI-STAR VS 1.85 230V 8 2" x 2-1/2"
JACUZZI JVS165S 1.65 115V/230V 8 1.5" - 2.0"
JACUZZI JVS185S 1.85 115V/230V 8 2" x 2-1/2"
JACUZZI JVS270S 2.7 115V/230V 8 2" x 2-1/2"
JACUZZI JVX160 1.6 115V/230V 3 2" x 2-1/2"
JACUZZI JVX300 3 115V/230V 3 2" x 2-1/2"
PENTAIR SUPERFLO VS 1.65 115V/230V 4 1.5" - 2.0"
PENTAIR INTELLIFLO VS 3.95 230V 8 2.0"
PENTAIR INTELLIFLO VS/SVRS 3.95 230V 8 2.0"
PENTAIR INTELLIFLO VF 3.95 230V 8 2.0"

VS Pump Weighted Energy Factor

This is a new designation for VS pool pumps that are Energy Star rated. The higher the WEF number, the greater energy efficiency. The new standard equates to MPG for cars or SEER for appliances. WEF provides a method to compare energy consumption of Variable Speed pool pumps.

VS Pump Warranty

If manufacturer warranties are important to you, we list them here as another comparison point. Remember, though, that you must register the pump purchase with the manufacturer for the warranty to be in effect.

VS Pump Movable Control Panel

Some models allow you to rotate the control panel to an orientation most convenient for viewing, and also allow you to remove the panel from the pump and mount it on a nearby wall for an even more convenient eye-level view. Some VS pump models require a separate purchase of a wall-mounting kit. 

VS Pump Price

There is a fairly wide range of pricing for Variable Speed pumps — something to fit most everyone’s budget. The higher priced VS pumps are for larger pools and may come with additional features, such as freeze protection or SVRS (safety vacuum release system), to shut off the pump if a suction blockage is detected. 

PUMP WEIGHTED ENERGY FACTOR WARRANTY MOVABLE CONTROL PANEL PRICE (2021)
HAYWARD SUPER PUMP VS 9.3 1-YEAR YES $999
HAYWARD TRI-STAR VS 8.3 1-YEAR YES $1149
JACUZZI JVS165S 10.3 2-YEAR YES $999
JACUZZI JVS185S 12.9 2-YEAR YES $1149
JACUZZI JVS270S 7.2 2-YEAR YES $1649
JACUZZI JVX160 10.4 1-YEAR NO $1069
JACUZZI JVX300 7.4 1-YEAR NO $1759
PENTAIR SUPERFLO VS 9 1-YEAR NO $1029
PENTAIR INTELLIFLO VS 6.9 2-YEAR YES $1679
PENTAIR INTELLIFLO VS/SVRS 6.9 2-YEAR YES $1759
PENTAIR INTELLIFLO VF 6.9 3-YEAR YES $1839

So Which Variable Speed Pool Pumps are the Best?

The best Variable Speed pump will be different for different pools. The most important thing is to match the flow rate to the Design Flow Rate of your pool filter, which you will find on the filter label or on the manufacturer’s filter specifications. If you install a VS pump that is too large for your filter size, pipe size, and pool size, performance will be reduced and you may inadvertently damage equipment.

Smaller-sized pools

For smaller in-ground pools, a great VS pool pump option is the Hayward Superpump VS or the Jacuzzi JVS165S. For above ground pools, the Waterway Power Defender 140 is an outstanding pump. 

Medium-sized pools

The Hayward TriStar VS or the Jacuzzi JVS185S pump are both great options for pools of 25-35K gallons with two skimmers and 2” plumbing. 

Larger-sized pools

For larger pools, a strong recommendation would be the Jacuzzi JVS270S or Pentair Intelliflo VS, which can power pools of 40-80K gallons, with several inlets, outlets and water features. 

For greater automation, the Pentair Intelliflo VF (Variable FLOW) pump can automatically sense the proper flow rate needed for a wide range of functions and self-adjust speed and flow rates to improve effectiveness and efficiency.


Check out our full selection of Variable Speed pool pumps to get ahead of the upcoming requirements and find which VS pool pump is best for you and your pool.

For more information or questions about VS pumps, or for installation concerns, contact or visit your local Leslie's store, or call us at 1-800-LESLIES.