Hot tubs are great for when you want to relax. They’re like an oversize bathtub that sits in your backyard.
What isn’t so great, is how easy it is to trek bits of mud, dirt, and debris into your tub. That’s where your hot tub pump comes in.
This will help to keep your spa clean by keeping the water moving around and circulating it through the entire plumbing system.
Why do you need a variable speed hot tub pump, I hear you ask? Well, they can lead to huge reductions on your energy bills because they’re much more efficient, so you can keep the bubbles flowing for longer without worrying about racking up a massive cost.
But how do you find the best option for your current pool, and how do you know what makes a good-quality pump?
We’re here to answer these questions and more throughout this article, pulling together all the information you need to know in our handy buyer’s guide.
If there’s something we haven’t covered, check out our frequently asked questions section where we answer some of the most common queries about variable speed hot tub pumps.
In a hurry? You’ll be pumped to learn more about our top pick.
Top 5 Best Variable Speed Hot Tub Pump
OUR TOP PICK
We chose the SuperFlow variable speed pump as our top choice because of the incredible amount you can save on your energy costs.
Able to move more water more efficiently at reduced speeds, the SuperFlow pump has a 1.5 HP output. It runs on 115-230V with a 50/60Hz single phase capability.
Easy to install and even easier to use, this Pentair pump would be a great addition to any hot tub.
It’s recommended that you install a valve on the pump suction as well as the return lines in order to isolate the pump when you’re carrying out any hot tub maintenance.
Useful features include a 24-hour clock and a digital display for clear monitoring of your pump. It might have an impressive performance, but despite being capable of all this the SuperFlo pump is incredibly quiet with no high-pitched noise or sound.
- Reduces energy costs by up to 80%
- Easy installation
- Quiet operation
- Multiple useful features
- Some customers report that issues occur after around 8 months of use
Next, we looked at the Hayward MaxFlo pump, which combines variable speed technology and the traditional Hayward pump that is known and loved by many hot tub owners.
Available in either 115V or 230V, it will suit most tubs without issue.
The 80% saving on your energy costs is far superior to single-speed pumps and will balance out the upfront cost, although it might take longer to recoup your investment as it’s the one of the most expensive options we’ve included in this list.
The TEFC motor is fan-cooled and completely encased for added durability. This also means that it’s super quiet when it’s running, even on its highest speed setting.
- Extremely quiet thanks to the enclosed motor
- Fan-cooled to prevent overheating
- Can choose between 115V and 230V
- Expensive option
One of the best budget options we’ve found is the Xtremepower variable speed pump which offers 2 settings for you to choose from.
This allows you to utilize both low and high speeds for comprehensive hot tub maintenance.
A transparent lid cover means you can clearly see when the generously sized strainer basket needs to be emptied and cleared of any debris, sand, or dirt that may have found its way into your tub.
Airflow ventilation and thermal overload protection ensure a quieter operation volume, therefore it’s not as loud as other standard pumps in a similar price range.
- Budget option
- Quieter operation
- Transparent lid cover for strainer basket
- Does not include a power cord
Next, we looked at another variable speed pump from Hayward.
The SP3202VSP is the most expensive option we’ve included in this list, designed to replace the majority of full-rate high performance pumps.
It has a HP of 1.5 full-rate or a powerful 2.0 HP at its maximum rate therefore it can effortlessly keep the water in even the largest pool or hot tub moving. It features Omni Logic and is also compatible with competitive control systems via relay control.
The fan-cooled TEFC motor is entirely enclosed for quieter and more efficient running, saving you up to 90% on your energy costs compared to a single-speed pump.
It’s easy to use thanks to a fully programmable, simple, digital control panel which can be adjusted or even wall mounted for easy viewing and convenient access.
- Timer function with 8 different programmes
- Quiet operation
- Features Omni Logic
- Easy and adjustable user interface
- Save up to 90% on energy costs
- Most expensive choice
- Slightly trickier to install due to lacking instructions
Last but not least, we have another Xtremepower variable speed pump with 2 speed settings to choose from.
Contrastingly, this is the most affordable option we looked at when putting together this list of reviews, yet it offers great value for money.
The heavy-duty 1.5 HP pump offers high-performance and features airflow ventilation which ensures cooler, less noisy operation.
An incredibly efficient impeller boosts the water flow for improved cleaning while an oversized waste basket lets you see when dirt and debris starts to build up as it has a transparent cover.
Enjoy more user control as you can adjust the speed settings between 1,750 rotations per minute (low) and 3,450 rotations per minute (high).
It’s simple to install and the self-priming pump discharges air from the water so that the motor doesn’t run dry which can cause damage to the system.
The thermally protected motor is also durable for longer-lasting use.
- The most affordable option
- High-efficiency impeller
- Quiet operation
- Large debris basket with a clear cover
- Less pressure than other options
- Some customers report issues within the first year of use
Best Variable Speed Hot Tub Pump Buying Guide
This next section will tell you about some of the most important things to look out for when choosing which variable speed pump to buy for your hot tub, whether you’re replacing an old single-speed pump or upgrading your hot tub in general.
You’ve already improved your pump system just by making the decision to switch from single-speed to variable speed.
The latter will typically have 2 speed options to choose from, which gives you more control. This means you can utilize both the high and low-speed modes for more thorough cleaning and maintenance.
The speed of your pump is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM), and this number indicates how quickly it can circulate the water by powering the jets of your hot tub.
It’s important to find a pump that is a suitable size for your hot tub, as otherwise, it won’t be able to sufficiently pump the water around and will be less effective overall.
The fittings of your hot tub’s plumbing indicate the diameter size you should go for in terms of the inlet and outlet.
You can check the dimensions of the pump by reading the product specification information as this should be stated here.
Frame size is also an important consideration, as choosing the wrong one might mean that you can’t properly attach it to the housing of your pump which will have 4 pre-drilled holes to indicate where the bolts need to go.
The strength of the motor is measured in horsepower (HP) and will indicate how effectively the pump is able to move water around.
This relates to our last point somewhat, as without a sufficient amount of water it’ll be unbalanced which can lead to issues or even malfunctions.
The higher the horsepower, the more forcefully and quickly the pump can move water, which means higher horsepower pumps are better suited to larger hot tubs.
However, you need to take your existing plumbing into account, as too much horsepower flowing through too small pipes will be less effective and can cause damage to your hot tub.
If you already own a hot tub then you’ll know just how noisy they can be, especially if you have bubbles switched and streaming from the jets.
Adding a pump that has a loud operating volume will only increase the noise levels, which can detract from the peace and relaxation you may be looking for when you decide to take a dip in your hot tub.
Some come in casing which will muffle the sound for quieter operation, but you can check some of the customer reviews to see what other people thought of the noise levels.
Ease of Use
Is your pump easy to use? The best options will have a digital control panel with a simple user interface.
You’ll even find pumps with features like a 24-hour clock that allow you to easily monitor the current output of the pump.
Override settings can also be useful as they allow you to adjust the existing programs to suit your needs.
Plus, a timer function will allow you to set the times when you want your pump to be running and schedule breaks or pauses in the flow to ensure you don’t overwork it.
Installation should also be easy, otherwise, you may find that you have to hire a professional so as to not risk damaging your hot tub or spa system.
The best way to check this is to read other customer reviews for an unbiased opinion.
Also make sure that if the pump doesn't come with everything you need for installation included that you’ve bought any separate parts before you get started.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a variable speed hot tub pump worth it?
In terms of both cleaning and maintenance as well as financially, the answer is yes, a variable speed hot tub pump is definitely worth it.
Don’t be put off by the hefty price tag, because the initial investment will pay off the more you use your hot tub, and they can reduce the running costs by up to 90% if you choose one of the higher-end pumps.
How long should you run your variable speed hot tub pump?
Variable speed pumps should be run for longer than other types of pumps due to their operating speed, typically for up to 12 hours a day.
You should run it on a lower speed setting for about 8 or 9 hours for effective filtration and then a shorter burst at a higher speed, like 3 or 4 hours, as this will clean the hot tub’s system.
How do you prime your hot tub pump?
To prevent air from becoming stuck in your circulation system, you can prime your pump which will expel any trapped air.
This process should be repeated before its first use, after you’ve refilled your hot tub, and any other time it may be required.
Remember that each model will have its own specific priming process, so check your user manual for tailored instructions.
In general, you can either use the control panel to prime your pump or you can do it manually. If using your control panel, find priming mode and run the jets for 10-20 seconds on low then on high for another 10-20 seconds.
Simply repeat until you reach a normal water pressure.
You can also use the pump’s bleeder valve to expel air from its system. First, ensure there’s no electricity running through by flipping the circuit breaker.
Close the gate valve on the discharge side and turn the bleeder valve slowly until it begins to release air. You’ll notice a hissing sound, and after this has finished you can re-tighten the valve.
Don’t miss this step as it could cause leaking and other problems. Check the jets are working properly by turning the breaker and the hot tub back on and you should be good to go!