Pool pumps are what keep your water flowing — distributing the chemicals evenly and filtering out debris. But with all the information out there, it can be confusing trying to figure out how to use them.
The main question pool owners have is “How the heck am I supposed to know how long to run it?”
There are ways to figure out the exact amount of time that is optimal for your pump, and we’ll talk about that later. Honestly, though, if you just don’t want to mess with any of that and want a straightforward answer…
8 hours a day is a suitable amount of time for any pool pump to run.
But if you prefer a more specific approach and hope to save a little on your energy bill, it’s good to know some more of the basics.
How does a pool pump work?
You might say the pool pump is “the heart of the pool system.” And sort of like the human heart, it pumps the water through all the various lines and keeps everything flowing.
Water in a pool passes first through a strainer that filters out larger debris, like leaves. It’s then pumped into the filter or filters to be cleaned even more. This is what catches the smaller debris.
Once it goes through the filter, it’s pumped back into the pool through its various returns.
Through this whole process, it’s the pool pump that keeps the water moving from one point to the next.
Types of Pool Pumps
There are 3 basic types of pool pumps: single-speed, two-speed, and variable speed. Each one does the same job but functions a bit differently.
Single-Speed Pool Pumps
Single-speed pumps do a basic job of pumping the water through the system at one single speed.
These pumps work very well, but the speed they operate at is usually optimum speed. This means they are a little more expensive to run than the others.
Single-speed pumps are, however, typically cheaper to buy, which is why so many pool owners choose them initially.
Two-Speed Pool Pumps
Two-speed pumps can be switched between high and low speed, usually automatically.
The reason these are cheaper to run than single-speed pumps is that when they are switched to the lower speed, they are more energy-efficient. Single-speeds, on the other hand, are always running on high.
Variable-Speed Pool Pumps
These pumps are the most energy-efficient pumps on the market. You can save up to 90% on your energy bill with some of these models.
They’re also the top pick for pools with more complicated filtration systems because “they adjust their speed automatically for the task that they are performing.”
Additionally, they run quietly, cause less stress to your plumbing, and run longer at lower speeds. All this adds up to better chemical distribution and a longer life for your system.
4 Considerations For How Long To Run Pool Pump
The general rule of thumb for how long to run a pool pump is 8 hours a day. But there are some other things to consider.
Type of pump
The type of pool pump you have can make a difference in how long you should run your pump because of the speed it runs at.
Single-speed pumps often run faster than is actually needed so it consumes a lot of energy. Some states don’t even allow them because of this.
In other words, you might want to cut down on the number of hours per day that you run your single-speed pump. You’ll just need to keep a close eye on your chemical levels and water cleanliness to figure out what works for your pool.
Two-speed and variable-speed pumps might need to run a little longer than the standard 8 hours a day since they often run at lower speeds. But this is usually still more energy-efficient than single-speed pumps, believe it or not.
Volume of swimmers
After you’ve had a lot of swimmers in your pool, like after a party, you’ll probably want to run the pump a bit longer for a few days. This just ensures that all the gunk, like hair products and sunscreen, are circulated out of the water.
Rainstorms and other inclement weather conditions can throw off your pool balance. You’ll not only need to check the chemistry more often during these times, but you’ll also need to keep the pump running longer.
If your pool is prone to algae or you’ve noticed some blooms, you’ll need to take care of that with some added chemical TLC and some additional pump time.
Calculating How Long To Run Pool Pump
If you don’t want to mess with all the math, running your pump for 8 hours a day is still a good rule of thumb. You can also keep a close eye on your chemical levels to see if this is best and experiment with different run-times.
However, for the best efficiency, you can calculate exactly how long you should run it. To do this, you’ll need to know the pump’s flow rate (gallons per hour) and the size of your pool in gallons.
You can usually find the flow rate in the owner’s manual or on the pump label. Same goes for the size of your pool.
If you’re having trouble finding these numbers, you can look online or contact the manufacturer.
Now divide the pool size by the flow rate. For example, if your pool is 10,000 gallons and your flow rate is 2,600 gallons per hour (gph), the formula will look like this:
10,000 ÷ 2,600 = 3.8 hours
Next, multiply this number by 2 since your pump should complete 2 full cycles for optimum performance.
3.8 x 2 = 7.6
So, 7.6 would be the ideal number of hours to run your pool pump each day.
Pool Pump Timing FAQs
Is it ok to run pool pump 24 hours a day or continuously?
Running a pool pump for 24 hours would be awesome. Your water would always be clean because the chemicals would be well-distributed and debris wouldn’t get a chance to hang around.
However, if you do that, your electric bill will be sky-high and your pump will wear out a whole lot faster than it should.
Is it better to run a pool pump at night or day?
Definitely during the day! Running it at night can be a little cheaper because of the off-peak energy costs, but it doesn’t do much else for your pool.
Daytime is when your water is more vulnerable. There are usually more swimmers and the heat and sunlight can spur algae and bacteria growth.
Therefore, running it during the day is crucial to keeping your water safe.
How long should I run a pool pump during the winter?
During winter months when the pool’s not in use, you still need to run the pump to keep the water circulating. However, you can get away with running it a little less.
Somewhere around 6 hours is usually sufficient, but if you can keep it at 8 hours, that’s even better.
Should I run my pool pump with an automatic timer?
We always recommend using an automatic timer, especially if you wish to keep your energy costs as low as possible.
Of course, you can manually switch your pump on and off, but an automatic timer saves you the hassle. Plus it’s extremely helpful if you happen to forget.
How much does it cost to run a pool pump?
The cost for running pool pumps vary quite a bit depending on the type of pump you have, the size of your pool, where you live, and how often you run it. But here are the averages according to Energy Star:
We’ve probably said it at least 3 times in this article, but here it goes again...running your pump for 8 hours a day will work for most pools. However, that’s not always the optimal amount of time for each pump.
Be sure to keep an eye on your chemicals and the cleanliness of your pool. If this doesn’t seem to be working, try something different.
It’s always possible that you’ll need to run yours for 10-12 hours a day during peak swimming season or if you are having some issues with algae. Whatever you do, don’t neglect your regular maintenance duties like vacuuming and testing.
After all, the purpose of it all is to keep your pool clean and healthy for your swimmers.