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Which is better for the average pool owner that has a pool with attached spa, a multi-speed pump like the Intelliflo or a two-speed pump with compatible two-speed capable timer or relay?

Personally, I believe there is no clear answer to this question, which is why it could generate some interesting discussion.

Some relevant factors to think about:
1) To what degree has the customer bought into the idea of green technology?
2) How tech savy is the customer?
3) How many speeds are really necessary?
4) How long will it take to recup the extra cost for Intelliflo (compared to a two-speed)?
5) Is the alarm feature on the Intelliflo a useful feature or an annoyance?
6) Can you imagine a better multi-speed pump than any on the market? What would make it better?

Tags: Intelliflo, efficiency, energy, green, technology

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Clint,
The clarity in the answer will come with the understanding of the desired results.
To refer to your relevant factors;

1) The customer does not necessarily need to buy into the GREEN technology, maybe the tact is the cost savings over time and how quickly they would recoup the initial investment. Reading the customers wants AND needs would help in the angle for that specific customer.

2) If the customer is an engineer then he/she would definitely need the tech savy answer to the overall technology, if not it would overwhelm the customer and possibly drive them away from the better technology and not towards it.

3) It is not just about speeds it is about flow. No matter if it is 2 speed, variable speed or variable flow they would all save money in usage over a "standard" pump. It would be more about the degree of efficiency and cost savings each will achieve, the lowest cost would generally be the 2 speed pump with the lowest savings in consumption. The variable speed pump would cost more and save more and the variable flow would save even more (if installed and designed with the overall system in mind). The savings in relation to the payback in relation to the initial outlay by the the customer may answer the question "Which is best?"

4) The recoup question is difficult to answer here, however you can figure it out with the cost per kilowatt hour for the customer and the average consumption of each pump supplied by the given manufacturer.

5) That would be a decision made by the customer but if it protects and informs it seems that logically it could not be an annoyance but only a benifit.

6) From my personal experience a 2 speed is a 2 speed. However many people have there favorite choice of variable speed and variable speed flow pumps. I prefer the Pentair pumps due to the simplicity, support, quality and availablity of parts.

I hope this helps, questions such as these will spur quite a few responses, which is great.
Justin
I know one thing, Clint, when it comes time to replace those Intelliflo (and similar multi-speed pump) motors, homeowners are going to be inclined to replace them with two speed or single speed aftermarket motors only due to the cost of those multispeed motors. I can't see a homeowner wanting to spend $2000 or more to REPLACE a motor on an "old" pump. I haven't ordered one yet for any of my builders/dealers, but Pentair is showing a list price of almost $2700. When you can replace a two speed motor for around $600-800 I think the descision is clear.
IKERIC in Bakersfield, CA has made a variable speed pump for years.
It will save the home owner more money than any 2-speed pump and will draw less amps at higher speeds than the Pentair.
In one case I replaced a 1.5 HP pump on a Koi pond. The pump was running 24/7.
The total install was just over $2000.00.
The first month the home owner saw her electric bill drop from $400.00 to $119.00.
The average pool in northern CA cost $80 to $120 per month depending on the horse power. If there is a booster pump for a pool cleaner, add an other $40.
I install the IKERIC combined with Poolvergnugen's "Pool Cleaner" and reduce the home owner's bill to $50.00 per month.
The pay back is under 24 months or sooner.

The IKERIC uses any 3 phase pump. Presently we use Haywards new pump.
When it comes to pump parts they are easy to find and pumps bearings are easier to replace than most pumps.

As for the number of speeds needed;

1. Filtering, amp draw 1.0 to 1.5
2. Pool Cleaner, amp draw 1.0 to 3.0
3. Heater, amp draw 3.0
4. Solar System, amp draw 1.5 to 3.0
5. Spa Jets, amp draw up to 7.0
For extra boost I will install a bypass with a Valve Actuator and Jandy Energy Valve with screen.

Four speeds is the most I have had to use.
If you use a valve actuator for the pool cleaner, low speed will work fine.
This will free up one more speed.
The "Pool Cleaner" needs only 15 gpm.

Intelliflo is a good pump but to many features for me.
For service I want to move as fast as possible to get to the next pool.
I found the Intelliflo just slowed me down too much.
We used 2 speed pumps on new construction for years. We now use the E-Mod. Take the cost of a standard 2 speed, add the time clock requirement, and the anti entrapment and you have a much more efficient system at approximately the same cost. Also good for VGB upgrade on commercial pools and meeting required flow rates when parameters of the existing plumbing unknown. Excellent for negative edge new installation as well as making poorly installed one work.
The pool pump is the largest energy hog outside of the home. Average pump around north central florida is the 1.5hp duraglas by sta-rite which consumes approximately 2,080 watts. Enter the Intelliflo VF consumes as little as 128 watts to accomplish the same function. The pump can save as much as $1300 off the average power bill here in our area. the local utility company is offering a$500 credit towards the power bill by having the Intelliflo VF installed. The homeowners return on their investment pays for itself with the energy savings alone in less than 1.5 years. There are very few investments a homeowner can make that will have as fast a return. When the old pool pump motor finally goes down for good, its the perfect time for an upgrade. See the article our local paper just published. http://www.gainesville.com/article/20090327/ARTICLES/903279958?Titl...

-Jeremy
Florida Leisure Pool & Spa
There are lot of good points here, but if the information I get from the manufacturer is correct. The clear winner in savings will be the Intelli Flo pumps. When you consider the ability to tune your pump to the hydraulics of the pool, and don't forget the the 90% to 92% efficiency throughout the range of the motor. The 2 speed motors have maybe 68% efficiency at full speed and about a 35% at half speed. If I am wrong please let me know, this could be manufacturer selling points. Also, the intelli flo motors are suppose to last about 15 years opposed to 2 speeds lasting 6-7 years.
The problems come with the existing remote system or lack of system. This will make the decision for the customer most of the time. If you have a Jandy RS it is a lot cheaper to buy a 2 speed relay then to buy an Intellicom for the intelliflo.
I try to sell the Intelliflo pumps as an investment. Though the investment is short term (less than two years) for full payback. It continues to reduce the energy bill each month. Solar hot twater, thicker insulation, energy star appliances, even hybrid cars, those are all great investments, but the intelliflo is by far the one with the quickest payback period.


-Jeremy
Florida Leisure Pool & Spa
One other thing to consider is the fact that you have 2 dedicated speeds w/ 2 speed pumps. 3450 rpm and 1725 rpm. At 1725 with a dirty filter you have the potential to dead head the pump, which is a total waste of energy. If this is a pump installed on a homeowner serviced pool, and they do not pay close enoug attention to the cleanliness of the filter, the pump may be running (at low speed) and not moving ANY water. This is also a possibility with the VS series Intelliflo pumps (if the speed is set too low), and the main reason why we recommend the more expensive flow driven VF series Intelliflo pumps to our clients.

On our new installations we are seeing consumption rates of 120w. - 170w. based on the equipment pad configurations. We use 2 1/2" pipe to make our connections between the different pieces of equipment, and MINIMUM of 3" on our underground suction lines (4" on most spa suction lines). We actually have seen significant efficiency gains by running a full 2 1/2" pool return line.

120w. versus 2,080w. (stated in another post) !!!! That's a significant difference. The technology isn't cheap, but the return on investment is typically only about 18 months in our region. When you consider that the ROI for most other "green" technologies is upwards of 10 years, it's almost a no brainer.
I think you need to be thinking more along the lines of flow requirements.

An example above used an existing 1.5hp pump. If that is what the pool and plumbing were designed for and you put an Intelliflow in there and ran it at a very low speed with the comparable flow of a 1/2hp pump for instance there of course would be a huge cost saving. But if you ran that pump at the same flow as the original 1.5hp pump there would not be. If you replaced that 1.5hp pump with a 1/2hp pump there would also be significant cost savings. If it was a sand filter however you might still need that higher flow rate to properly backwash. In this case a 2-speed pump might be the best choice. Really only 2 different flows are required. Also you will have to make sure that the low speed flow is enough on that pool to keep it properly circulated and clean.

If you had a pool spa combo where the pump is also expected to perform as a jet pump you might have a good candidate for a variable speed pump. Imagine giving the client complete control over the power of the jets. Add one or more waterfalls and/or spray features etc and you now have a prime candidate for variable speed.

I don't think you are going to realize any cost savings by putting a variable or multi speed pump in place of a larger hp pump and running it on low speed all the time on a cartridge filter pool over simply installing a smaller pump.

Of course you can't beat the Intelliflow with its safety features.
We actually put the Intelliflo in all our projects now. Our latest Pool only (no spa) project saw a consumption rate of 120w. We are running the pump 18 hrs. a day, so that adds up to 2160w. A 1/2 hp pump runs about 1100w. (I'm guessing about 5 amps @ 230v I don't have one around to look at the motor plate) So with those numbers, I can only run the 1/2 hp pump 2 hrs before I have consumed more energy than the Intelliflo running 18... There are not too many pools out there that can do a full turnover in 2 hrs with a 1/2 hp pump.

With the INCREDIBLE inefficiency of 2 speed pumps at low speed (30 something%) I personally can't see running anything but a variable speed pump on ANY pool. We use the Intelliflo because they were the first available, and it takes some time to figure out all the nuances of the pump. I have not looked into any of the other manufacturers pumps to much, but the Jandy seems to be using the same idea with a 3 phase sealed motor, which is so much more efficient (+30%) than standard motors available in the industry.

Rick Larson said:
I think you need to be thinking more along the lines of flow requirements.

An example above used an existing 1.5hp pump. If that is what the pool and plumbing were designed for and you put an Intelliflow in there and ran it at a very low speed with the comparable flow of a 1/2hp pump for instance there of course would be a huge cost saving. But if you ran that pump at the same flow as the original 1.5hp pump there would not be. If you replaced that 1.5hp pump with a 1/2hp pump there would also be significant cost savings. If it was a sand filter however you might still need that higher flow rate to properly backwash. In this case a 2-speed pump might be the best choice. Really only 2 different flows are required. Also you will have to make sure that the low speed flow is enough on that pool to keep it properly circulated and clean.

If you had a pool spa combo where the pump is also expected to perform as a jet pump you might have a good candidate for a variable speed pump. Imagine giving the client complete control over the power of the jets. Add one or more waterfalls and/or spray features etc and you now have a prime candidate for variable speed.

I don't think you are going to realize any cost savings by putting a variable or multi speed pump in place of a larger hp pump and running it on low speed all the time on a cartridge filter pool over simply installing a smaller pump.

Of course you can't beat the Intelliflow with its safety features.
Using an Intelliflow I would hope the builder uses 3" Plumbing and probably 2 x 30" filters because that is what that pump needs to use its full capability.

So here is a test I would be interested in seeing.

Plumb the system in 3" plumbing but use say a 1/2hp Whisperflow, and measure the flow, power consumption etc.

Now swap in the Intelliflow and run it at the same flow as the 1/2hp Whisperflow and measure the power consumption.

Do the same on 1.5" plumbing / 24" filter system which would probably be typical for a pool designed to use the 1/2hp pump.
AO Smith / Century has come out with a new pump that is energy-efficient on both high and low speed. This helps to close the efficiency gap between the two-speed pumps we all know (energy efficient on high and induction motor on low) and permanent magnet motors like used with the Intelliflo and Jandy's new ePump. Century calls their motor the "E Plus New Centurion." I installed one last week and shot a youtube video of it. The video includes volt and amp readings and power and cost calculations. Check it out. It looks like a promising motor that I will be promoting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcNWUfH2Bso

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