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How Long To Run A Pool Pump for?

The complete guide to running your pool pump

Some would make the argument that your pool pump is the most important aspect of a healthy, functional swimming pool. To that end, it makes sense to want to ask a question like “How long to run a pool pump?” While the answer is not overly complicated, you will also find that there isn’t really a universal, one-size-fits-all solution either. There are a variety of factors that are going to influence what you should expect from a pool pump. This includes how long to run it during the day, but you should also keep in mind such subjects as pool pump maintenance.

After all, when you get right down to it, your pool pump is responsible for so much. Without your pool pump, it could be said that all you’d really have is a fancy hole in the ground, with some disease-ridden, freezing-cold water dumped into it. Obviously, your swimming pool is so much more than that.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about this remarkable pool component. This includes the benefits of a pool pump that runs in flawless condition. As we understand more and more about pumps, it will be easier to answer our larger question of how long you should your pool pump.

What Exactly Is A Pool Pump?

Again, your pool pump really is a remarkable piece of machinery. In the first place, it takes care of keeping your water circulated. Furthermore, it is also responsible for distributing essential chemicals safely and properly. You certainly don’t want to forget that your pool pump is capable of keeping your pool at an optimal temperature. When you get right down to it, your pool pump really helps to categorize a swimming pool as something that’s more than just a particularly deep puddle.

At the same time, your pool pump can also be a serious headache. All of us need a pool pump for our swimming pool, regardless of the specific type. At the same time, we could do without the following realities of your pool pump:

  • Pool pumps can take up as much as 1/4th of your home’s energy costs.
  • Pool pumps can take up more electricity than anything else in your home.
  • Pool pumps can demand 3X as much energy as your fridge.
  • It will cost you approximately $400 to operate in a given year.

These stats alone can lead to asking a question like “How long to run a pool pump.” We accept that the costs are going to be relatively high, but surely, you think, there has to be a way in which to save on these costs. Do I really need to run it all the time? What can I do to cut back?

Again, there is no universal answer to any of these questions. However, by taking a closer look at the different types of pool pumps, you can better appreciate what we mean. If you want to get as specific as possible, you will want to understand what your specific pool pump type has to offer.

The Three Pool Pump Types (And What They Do)

By taking a closer look at the three different types of pool pumps on the market, we can better answer the question of how long to run the device in your specific situation:

  • Single Speed: These pumps run anywhere between $250 and $500. This makes them the cheapest option for those thinking in terms of upfront costs. However, this is offset by the fact that these pumps tend to have the highest operational costs. In other words, expect to spend more over the long term. These pumps operate at 3450RPM. These are far and away from the most widely-used pool pumps in the United States alone. They operate anywhere between 3/4thHP and 3HP.
  • Dual Speed: You can expect to pay anywhere between $500 and $700. This translates to higher upfront costs, but you can offset that easily enough by keeping in mind that these pumps have very impressive savings, in terms of ongoing operational costs. They operate between 3450RPM and 1725RPM. You may need an additional controller mechanism, but you do have a pump capable of operating at different HPs. This is another aspect of its impressive efficiency. At the same time, for the kind of power it offers, you will find the pump to be rather on the quiet side.
  • Variable Speed: These are the most expensive pumps on the market. Prices start in the $650 range, and they can go as high as $1200 for the top-tier models. That is a hefty price tag for a single component to your swimming pool. However, it provides ALL of the benefits of pool pumps that we have covered so far, and it does that with the lowest operational costs to be found anywhere. They offer supreme silence, and their range runs from 600RPM to 3450RPM.

As you can see, the best pumps in any of these categories will do what you ask of them. However, the notion of operational costs, among other factors, ultimately sets them apart. You can make the argument that if your pool pump is efficient enough, as well as powerful enough, you should only have to run it at certain points.

This is an interesting thought, so let’s dive deeper into its potential.

Breaking Down Specific Pool Pump Running Times

Pump size and pool size are naturally also going to define an answer to this larger question. However, there is no larger aspect that can perhaps help us to answer this question than where you happen to live in the world. Unless your swimming pool/spa/etc is housed in its own unique structure, which means you can control every aspect of its surrounding conditions, you will need to factor your climate heavily into the pool pump you decide to purchase.

The energy costs for your area is yet another factor to weigh. With all of these different considerations to juggle, it is reasonable to feel overwhelmed. However, by putting a focus on where you live, as well as your energy expenses, we can come up with an answer. Once you understand how long you will need to run your pool pump, you can figure out how much you’re willing to spend on a pump up-front, as well as how much you’re willing to pay overtime:

  • Warm Climate/High Energy Costs: Warm climates need to run their pumps longer than cooler climates on average. If you combine this with high energy costs, then you have a situation where a lesser pump will need to run basically all year. That will definitely hurt your wallet. A variable speed pump might be expensive, but it’s going to be your best bet for a pump you won’t have to run every day of the year.
  • Warm Climate/Low Energy Costs: The same rules apply here, but lower overall energy costs will give you a little more flexibility. A dual speed pump probably won’t have to run every single day, but you’ll still have to keep it going fairly frequently.
  • Cooler Climate/High Energy Costs: Regardless of where you live, a variable speed pump is still the best way to combat high energy costs. Cooler climates generally only need to keep their pumps going for about a third of the time of a pump in a warmer climate.
  • Cooler Climate/Low Energy Costs: In a situation such as this, a dual speed pump should be an excellent choice. However, even a single-speed pump can be fine in situations such as these.

How Many Cycles Does My Pool Pump Need To Run?

A pump on average takes six to ten hours a day to run a single cycle. This means your pump has been given time and energy to completely fulfill a single cycle of what it promises to do. However, many experts claim you need to run your pump through two full cycles, in order to get the full benefits of what your pump has to offer.

You can offset the costs by trying to run your pump in the evening, which tends to offer lower utility rates. You can also utilize accessories like a pool cover during the day, which will conserve energy and other necessities when the pool isn’t being used.

You may also want to consider purchasing a swimming pool timer. This is an absolutely ideal way to automatically set your timer to run everything concerning your pool pump.


Cleaning your pool pump is something you should try to do at least a few times a year. The task can be simple enough for those with DIY experience. However, for many homeowners, it is best to trust such work to the professionals. The choice will obviously be yours to make.

Owning a swimming pool obviously means running your pool pump a good deal of the time. However, by making smart purchases right at the start, you can minimize the costs of facing the fact that you will have to often keep your pool pump running from one day in the season to the next.

Posted in pool pumps

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