Pentair SuperFlo vs IntelliFlo — How do they compare? What’s the difference? Variable speed vs single speed pool pump? These are just a few of the questions we answer in this article to help you choose the most suitable pool pump for your. Specifically, we take a close look at the Pentair 342001 (SuperFlo, 2hp) and the Pentair 011018 (IntelliFlo, 3hp) — both are excellent variable speed pool pumps, but they have differences you should be aware of before you buy.
Pentair 342001 SuperFlo vs Pentair 011018 IntelliFlo
I don’t own a pool anymore but I always fondly remember the pools I owned. I used to be very proud of how clean my pool is, the water clear and looking ever so inviting. But power was cheaper then, I could afford to run the pump for as long as necessary to achieve the results I wanted. I used the first Kreepy Krauly pool cleaner and ran the pump for at least 18 hours a day. I used a skimmer with the Kreepy to reduce the flow and remove surface dirt. I also adjusted the flow rate and the pressure by bypassing some water to the water jets.
I used to adjust the water flow rate to achieve the lowest speed that still allowed the Kreepy to function properly. Normal pump speeds are almost always higher than required for proper filtration. Traditional pool pumps have one speed, the motor speed results from its design and does not vary. Since I could not change the speed of the pump to save electricity, I could only lower the water pressure.
Quiet (45 dB) & Energy Efficient | Pentair 011018 IntelliFlo
I discovered it’s best to let the pump run almost all the time to remove algae as they formed. The extended run times also make the filter system more effective because it has more time to sift out particles from the water. By reducing the water pressure at the same time, it compacts the filter media less, making the filter more effective. Automatic chemical dispensers like the floating units and chlorinator floaters are also more effective when water keeps moving.
Pentair Superflo and Intelliflo are programmable pumps that enable you to program the optimum pump speeds. These programmable pumps use new permanent magnet motors and a programmable controller that lets you adjust the speed. You may select the best speed for specific tasks such as filtering, heating, cleaning, spa jets and waterfalls.
The user interface is intuitive and usually have a display that shows the current speed and consumption. You can program it to run a sequence of speeds for preset times. Examples are a primer speed which is the highest speed for a minute or two. Followed by a cleaning cycle that is slower, but at a good rate for suction cleaning. You can also include a period of slow speed recirculation to maintain flow to keep the algae at bay.
Pentair SuperFlo VS — Performance Curves for Preset Speeds
It adds a complication to the pool pump but extends what you can do with it. It’s more expensive than a standard single speed pump but if programmed correctly it can save you money over time. Enough to balance out the higher price within one year.
Pentair markets two variable pump brands, the SuperFlo and the IntelliFlo and although you can see the family resemblance they differ. Which one is the pump for me you may ask, what is the difference, should you buy the SuperFlo or the IntelliFlo?
Pentair SuperFlo vs. IntelliFlo
Differences : SuperFlo vs IntelliFlo Pool Pumps
- The SuperFlo pool pump is meant for any inground pool that needs a pump of up to 1.5-HP single phase.
- When replacing a single speed pump or variable speed with a SuperFlo you need not rewire the circuit. The SuperFlo pump will automatically detect if it’s connected to 120 Volt or 240 Volts. It then adapts to that power setting.
- The SuperFlo accepts 99-253V, 50/60Hz input power, and it has an auto power limiting protection circuit.
- The IntelliFlo is more powerful, it has a 3 Horsepower, 230 Volt, single phase variable speed motor with advanced high performance controller.
- The IntelliFlo is wired for 230 Volts so it is a replacement for 230 Volt pumps only.
- The Pentair SuperFlo use an easy-to-use digital control keypad that you can select three programmable speeds with.
- It also offers an override capability for the speed settings.
- The programming functions of the IntelliFlo are more advanced than the SuperFlo and you have more programming options.
- IntelliFlo offers 8 programmable speed settings and not 3 (SuperFlo).
- A built-in timer lets you select the optimum speed and run times for specific periods in a day to achieve maximum savings.
- The IntelliFlo has Built-in diagnostics that that protects the pump against unfavorable conditions like low voltage, overheating and freezing.
- They consider the SuperFlo the superior drop-in replacement for the Hayward SuperPump and existing Pentair SuperFlo pumps.
- The SuperFlo uses its real-time, 24-hour clock for timing purposes. During power outages it stores the correct time for up to 24 hours.
- The IntelliFlo timer controls all scheduled times, functions, and programmed cycles. During a power failure it stores the correct time for up to 96 hours.
In summary then, the SuperFlo is an ideal replacement for virtually any pool pump up to 1.5-HP single phase. It will adapt to the power at hand and you can adjust the speed to suit the situation. Its programming is less flexible than the IntelliFlow but it uses the same advanced pump and motor design. Its price is also 22% lower than the IntelliFlo.
The IntelliFlo is a more advanced high performance, 3 Horsepower, 230 Volt, single phase pool pump.
Comparison Reviews | Pentair Variable Speed Pool Pumps
Pentair 011018 IntelliFlo VS
Best variable speed pool pump
- ENERGY STAR Certified: meets strict energy efficiency criteria set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy
- Energy savings up to 90%* versus traditional pumps
- 8 programmable speed settings and built-in timer to ensure the pump runs at optimum speed and duration
- Ultra-efficient permanent magnet motor design reduces noise and vibration for greater efficiency and longer pump life
- Dramatically quieter operation – as low as 45 decibels – about 4 times quieter than most traditional-style pumps
- Totally enclosed fan-cooled (TEFC) design and low average operating speed makes IntelliFlo the quietest pump on earth
- Built in diagnostics protect the pump for longer service life
- Ability to program exact pump speeds for specific operations – filtering, heating, cleaning, spa jets, water features and more – reduces energy costs up to 90%
- LCD screen with keypad for easy programming
- Ultra-efficient permanent magnet motor design reduces noise and vibration for greater efficiency and longer pump life
- Fully compatible wtih IntelliTouch, EasyTouch, SunTouch Automation and other pool control systems
- Operates seamlessly on 50 hz or 60 hz input power. Flow/speed are constant when operating on 50hz or 60 hz.
- WEF 6.1 THP 3.95
The Pentair IntelliFlo was the world’s first-ever, and arguably, the best variable speed pool pump and offers over 5 years proven service in the field. You can program it to run at 8 specific speeds and scheduled time intervals for maximum operating efficiency. To program a schedule, you select the highest speed to prime the pump. Then you choose the start and stop time for that. Next you choose a speed for a cleaning cycle and set a start and stop time immediately after the first stop. The next speed could be the slowest speed to circulate the water for a long time. And so on. You have a quick clean button to override the current schedule so you can do an intermediate cleaning cycle at high speed. There is also a manual override function and a “Egg timer” function.
Noise Level Graph | Pentair 011018 IntelliFlo
It offers all the variations you could wish for and you can add even more to that. It is compatible with any of the IntelliTouch, EasyTouch and SunTouch remote control systems to control the IntelliFlo pump remotely. These remote control systems enable you to use an indoor control or wireless remote to manage the pool pump and more. You will also be able to manage pool heating, lighting, spa jets, water features, etc. With the ScreenLogic Interface added to these remote controls you can control everything with an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC.
The IntelliFlo Motor uses the same technology as deployed in hybrid electric vehicles. They wire it for 230 Volts so it is a direct replacement for 230 Volt pumps only. The motor is a high efficiency permanent magnet synchronous motor (PMSM). The motor is 92% efficient at 3450 rpm and at 1000 RPM it is 90% efficient. The advantage offered by the high efficiency of the motor is that it runs at lower temperatures.
The pump and totally enclosed motor designed to withstand an outdoor environment. Because of the high efficiency of the motor that produces less heat the totally enclosed fan recirculates the air in an enclosed area. The motor is a six-pole three-phase brushless motor which also lowers noise.
Speed control is by the built-in computerized controller that varies the frequency. A permanent-magnet synchronous motor uses permanent magnets embedded in the steel rotor. The arrangement of the magnets creates a constant magnetic field. The windings in the stator that’s connected to an AC supply from the controller produce a rotating magnetic field. At synchronous speed, the rotor poles lock to the rotating magnetic field. By varying the frequency of the supply, it controls the speed of the motor.
The IntelliFlo has Built-in diagnostics that that protects the pump against unfavorable conditions like low voltage, overheating and freezing.
You can adjust the IntelliFlo variable speed pump from the control panel to run at any speed between 450 RPM to 3450 RPM. The controller is pre-programmed with four pre-set speeds of 750, 1500, 2350 and 3110 RPM.
The pump control panel has an alarm LED and error messages warning you of under and overvoltage conditions. It also shows when the pump temperature is too high, it is drawing too much current, and when the controller turns on freeze protection. We can set the Anti-Freeze protection to either Fahrenheit or Celsius. An alarm disables all control panel buttons until you acknowledge the alarm or warning with the Enter button.
The default maximum speed is 3450 RPM but you can set it from 1900 to 3450 RPM to limit the maximum speed of the IntelliFlo. When you enable priming on the pump, it will speed up to the maximum speed setting. A service professional must set the maximum speed of the pump so the maximum flow rate of the system never exceeds 25 inches of Hg vacuum. The anti-freeze feature protects the pump and not the pool because it senses the pump temperature.
Some users reported pump priming failures with their IntelliFlo and I wonder if the “Max Priming Time” setting was correct. A setting detects when the pump does not prime within the “Max Priming Time”. If it fails, it will stop the pump and generate a “Priming Alarm”. You set the “Max Priming Time” on the priming menu.
✓ View or download the BROCHURE with an overview and specs for all the Pentair pool pumps.
Pentair 342001 SuperFlo VS (variable speed)
- Only variable speed pump on the market today with 115/208-230V and 50/60 Hz single phase capability. Operating nominal voltage range is 110V thru 230V
- Ideal for standard pools requiring up to 1.5 HP pump
- Three operating speed settings plus override capability
- Direct and superior drop-in replacement for the Hayward SuperPump
- 24-hour real-time clock
- WEF 5.9 THP 2.2
- Wiring compartment is easy to access
- Ultra-quiet totally enclosed fan-cooled motor barely makes a whisper and virtually eliminates unpleasant, high-pitched noise.
- Save as much as 80% — up to $1,300 each year — compared to conventional, single-speed pumps.
The Pentair SuperFlo VS is our second variable speed pump. It is less powerful than the IntelliFlo but uses the same variable speed motor technology with a 1.5 horsepower motor instead of 3 horsepower. The controller uses the same technology but has a simpler program. It still has a 24-hour real-time clock and an intuitive interface that displays watts and RPMs. It has three programmable speeds, plus the capability to override the programmed settings. You can set the 3 programmed speeds to any speed from 300 to 3450 rpm.
VIDEO | SuperFlo : Operating & Programming
This pool pump controller is also compatible with low voltage digital inputs from IntelliTouch, EasyTouch and SunTouch control systems. Therefore, if you use one of these controllers or you plan to use one, you know it will be able to control the pump. This makes it an ideal replacement pump. You may need to disable a mechanical timer if you use one to control the current single speed pump. You will no longer use it because The Pentair SuperFlo also use an easy-to-use digital control keypad. You will program the SuperFlo and then it will run independently. It has a keypad lockout mode to prevent tampering or accidental changes to the settings.
You can fit it to your current pipes with unions and apart for some minor adjustments it should fit into the system. The pump fits to 1.5 inch and 2 inch pipelines. It is the perfect replacement for a pump of up to 1.5-HP because we can adjust the speed for smaller applications.
- Pentair consider it the superior drop-in replacement for the Hayward SuperPump and existing Pentair SuperFlo pumps.
This variable speed pump is compatible with 115 or 208-230 Volts and 50 or 60 Hz single phase installations. Its nominal operating voltage range is 110V thru 230V making it easy to install and a drop-in replacement for many pumps.
The motor on this pump is totally enclosed and designed to withstand an outdoor environment. It too, is a high efficiency motor that produces less heat using a totally enclosed fan that recirculates the air. The motor is a six-pole three-phase brushless motor which also lowers noise.
Speed control is by the built-in computerized controller that varies the frequency of the voltage to the motor. It is the same type of permanent-magnet synchronous motor using permanent magnets that’s used on the IntelliFlo.
The user can change the three operating speed settings to suit the pump’s environment. Just like the IntelliFlo you can set the start and stop times for each speed setting. Should you require to, you can manually override any setting to clean the pool after a storm or such a situation.
The pump with its 3 programmable speeds is not as flexible as the IntelliFlo pump. However, read the cost cutting discussion and examples in the next section. You will see you can get cost savings of up to 70% in a real-world application.
VIDEO | Overview of the Pentair SuperFlo
Efficiency of Variable Speed Pool Pumps
Will a Pentair variable speed pool pump save you money?
In the questions asked and answered sections of many online shops the popular question is if the variable speed pool pump really saves money. I believe it offers an opportunity for substantial cost savings. I base it on the pump affinity law that states a reduction in speed by half results in a reduction in energy consumption of eight times. This means if you reduce your pump speed by half then you reduce the electricity it uses eight times. It is the nature of this non-linear reduction in energy consumption that is the backbone of the savings offered by variable speed pumps.
They make many claims of savings near 80% to 90% for variable speed pumps; they base these claims on comparing the slowest speed to the highest speed. They therefore base these claims on unrealistic flow rates in a pool. It also does not take into consideration that the pump moves less water at the reduced speed. An important rule in maintaining the pool is that we must filter all the water in the pool within a 24-hour period. It is the general rule, but it does not produce the best results. Most pools will turn over the water in the pool three times a day and will achieve that in about 8 hours.
We base the cost savings of a variable speed pump on lowering the speed to save on electrical consumption. Lowering the speed of the pump also means it pumps less water. If you drop the speed by 50% it will move 50% less water. It is important to keep this in mind when you program a variable speed pump to save money.
Let us argue that it costs $2.34 a day to run a single-speed pump for 8 hours. That’s a cost of $0.2924 an hour. To run a variable speed pump for 8 hours at half the speed it would only cost 1/8 of $2.34, or $0.29. No surprise there, but you must run the pump twice as long to move the same amount of water. Remember, there is a need to turn over a set volume of pool water in a day. Okay, so you run your variable speed pump at half speed for 16 hours. That would cost twice the $0.29 or $0.58. That’s still a saving of 75% compared to the $2.34 for the single speed pump.
Your savings will depend on the cycle times you used to achieve the same results as with the single speed pump. Let’s use an example where you used to run the single speed pump at 3450 rpm for 4 hours a day. Using the same costs as above it was at a cost of $1,18 a day. When using a variable speed pump at lower speeds we must run the pump longer to turn over the same volume of water.
Let’s choose a simple cycle where the suction cleaner runs for 4 hours at 2400 RPM. That’s at 70% the previous speed for 4 hours at a cost of $0.39. I’m using an affinity law calculator so I’m not showing the intermediate calculations. We still need to move another 30% water so we use a filtration run at 1200 RPM for 2 hours. That will move 35% of the full speed pump. Therefore, we achieve a 105% turnover and the cost of this period is $0.02. The total cost of achieving the same results as before is now $0.41. A 65% saving over the $1.18 using a single speed pump.
We could even add another 5 hours at 740 rpm, at a total cost of $0.01. We will turn over another 21% of pool water and reduce algae growth even more.
This example will not be the same for your installation. However, it is a sign that real cost savings are possible with extended run times, resulting in a cleaner, healthier pool. All these calculations only prove that you will save money on electricity used. It does not consider that the pump offers more functionality, is quieter and comes with a three-year warrantee. Even though its installation cost and the price of the pump is higher, the big savings and better functionality offsets it eventually.
For many it sounds too complex to calculate the turnover times and flow rates needed to clean a pool. When you add to that the additional complexity of satisfying pool heater requirements and water features it may become overbearing. Pentair will only honor their warranty if a qualified installer installed the pump and programmed it. Also, you must register the installation with Pentair within 60 days of purchase. You must produce proof of purchase to show when you purchased it and that it was new.
You will pay the installer for their services and you may feel the additional cost is too high. But it is worth doing because the installer knows how to calculate flow rates, understands turnover and knows the rules of proper piping. Your installer understands how to program the pump and will explain exactly why they choose a specific program. As a final favor they should be able to calculate your real cost savings and payback period. It is easier to query the installers ability than to do it yourself and it is safer overall.
✓ Pentair has a wide range of calculators to help you choose the right products for your specific pool, including one for determining your pool volume and your pool salinity. It’s a great reference so I recommend bookmarking it.
Variable Speed vs Single Speed vs Two-speed Pool Pump
Pentair manufactures a range of pool pumps — single speed pool pumps like the Pentair 340039 SuperFlo, 1½ Horsepower, 115/230 Volt, 1 Phase. A range of SuperFlo dual-speed pumps are available that offer savings because of the lower speed capability.
Pentair 340043 SuperFlo High Performance Energy Efficient Two-Speed Pool Pump, 1½ Horsepower, 230 Volt, 1 Phase – Energy Star Certified.
These pumps are not to be confused with the Pentair 342001 SuperFlo VS (Variable Speed) Pool Pump that I reviewed. The pumps look similar, the family resemblance is obvious and the real differentiator is in the model number.
We could argue that a two-speed pump will achieve the same results as the variable speed pump at a substantially smaller upfront cost. The main consideration is that it can only save money by running at half the speed. Using the above example of running the pump at half the speed we can achieve a saving of 75%. The pump will run double the time and that I prefer, it keeps the pool cleaner and healthier.
But then it must be possible to run the pump at half the speed and still achieve the same results. If you use a pool heater, it may not work too well, a suction cleaner may not move at half speed. At half the speed you could be unable to use your solar heaters and water features. You must carefully consider the times you will run the pool pump at 50% speed.
We can set the variable speed pump at the correct speed for any feature, heater, filter and pipe diameter. It is therefore clear that bigger cost savings are possible than with a two-speed pump that cannot run at 50% all the time.
Consider a pool with a single speed pump. The suction pool cleaner requires that the pump run at full speed and requires 4 hours to do a good job. We keep the pump running for another 2 hours to complete the three times turnover of pool water. So, the single speed pump runs for 6 hours a day. We use the same cost of $2.34 a day to run a single-speed pump for 8 hours. Therefore, the pump uses $1.17 for the first 4 hours. The additional 2 hours will add $0.59 to the total cost of $1.76 per day.
Should we replace the pump with a 2-speed pump it must run for 4 hours at full speed to satisfy the pool cleaner. Then the 2-hour full speed period remains so we run the pump at half the speed for 4 hours. At full speed, the first 4 hours costs $1.17 a day. Using the affinity calculator, we determine that the 4 hours at 50% speed will cost $0.15. Total cost is now 1.17 + 0.15 = $1.32, a 25% saving.
With a variable speed pump, we have more options to achieve better savings. We can run the suction cleaner at 70% of full speed for 4 hours. We calculate the cost to be $0.40. That will satisfy the suction cleaner but now we only move 70% of the water in the first 4 hours. When we do the math, we determine that we moved 47% of the water. So, we lower the speed to 1200 RPM (35% of full speed) for 6.5 hours to turn over all the water 3 times. The affinity calculator determines that it will be at a cost of $0.08. Adding up the costs the total is now only $0.48, so we achieve a saving of 59%.
These calculations do not even take into consideration that the variable speed pump motor runs cooler and is more efficient, saving you more.
Summary | Pentair Pool Pumps
In our comparison of the single speed, 2-speed, and variable speed pumps we determined that:
The variable speed pump is the overall winner. It has more flexibility and therefore achieves the best cost savings. It also offers superior controls, programmability and protection.
The two-speed pump saves us money, it achieved a 25% saving and the purchase price is lower than the variable speed pump. If your budget is tight, it may be the way to go.
The single speed pump is the all-out loser, it uses the most electricity. It is less efficient and produces more heat, wasting more energy.