Owning a pool is the Great Australian Dream. It’s a chance to bond with family and friends while soaking up the sun. However, the sheer expense of maintaining a pool can be enough for many to give up on that dream. And with misleading information on costs and benefits of different pool pumps running rampant, it’s easy to see why. We’re here to help clear up any confusion.
The current trend of pool pumps on the market are operating under the variable speed principle. An examination of Australia’s leading pool pumps has shown that variable speed pumps are sold under the pretence that they are cheaper and more beneficial overall.
As you’ll soon discover, this is not entirely accurate. Manufacturers sell pool pumps on the assumption that consumers will not take the overall costs or potential inefficiencies into account. So, before you make any decisions, do as much research as possible into different pumps and their overall costs. We have carried out field trials on a cross section of pumps available in Australia and the results below may surprise you.
*Field testing was conducted on an actual pool using the same plumbing and filtration configuration for all comparison tests. The energy consumption was measured using a microvip energy analyser and data logger. The flow rates were measured using a TDS-100H-N2 ultrasonic flow metre (better than 1% accuracy, 0.2% for repeatability).
** Pump purchase price obtained over the counter from Qld supplier.
*** The test were conducted as accurately as possible using the equipment available. Whilst we are confident in the results if anyone has reason to doubt or challenge the results we are happy to review and re-run the tests in their presence.
**** The variable speed pumps on “low” setting did not have enough flow on the test pool to maintain a full cell housing with water so it is fair to say they could not run on this setting if a salt chlorinator or Enviroswim system was installed.
The results of our testing showed that all five conventional standard speed pumps were cheaper to operate over a five year period than the variable speed pumps once the purchase price and energy costs were combined. There is a huge gap between our test results and some manufacturers advertising claims that the pool owner could save over a $1000 a year installing a variable speed pump.
The reasons and motivation for EnviroSwim conducting this research, and collating results, has been driven from the misleading promotion of these products and reported issues surrounding their use. There is an unfortunate lack of understanding from the general public, under no fault of their own. As far as most people are aware they are under impression that they have an energy efficient pool pump and that the sanitiser system works efficiently.
Of course, there will always be cost to operate a swimming pool and we often joke that we can save more energy costs by simply turning a pool pump off completely. The reality is there is a perceived saving on power cost by using the lower speed pumps. However this cost is quickly overridden by the extra upfront cost of the pump and the extra chemicals often required in the attempt to keep the water healthy and safe when operating at a lower flow rate. For more on this read our earlier blog here
So with the above in mind, you may still be asking yourself, as we are, why these pumps are being endorsed by the government and heavily promoted within the pool industry.
There are a number of theories around the severe lack of investment in power generation infrastructure in Australia. The lower speed pool pumps do take some of that pressure off the electricity grids peak demand which could explain the government support. Getting pool owners to operate their pumps at reduced power over longer periods reduces the peak demand load. From the Australian Pool Industry perspective, the pool industry love these pumps. They are selling for up to ten times the cost of a single speed pump. As a result, the pool industry are able to make bigger margins and sell more chemicals to correct the problem, caused by the inefficiencies of flow rates, sanitation and filtration.
In closing, everybody in the supply and maintenance chain benefits and makes more money. The pool owner is often left paying throw the nose for a perceived better product. In the interests of the industry we think that this is a very sort sighted view and the focus should instead be on making pool ownership more affordable and as user-friendly. Ultimately this approach should result in more pools been built and a healthier industry.