This article should be titled best of the worst above ground pool pumps. For whatever reason, few above ground pool pumps last longer than 1-5 years. However, keeping with the actual title of this article, I will help you to choose the best pump for your application and offer some nuggets of information from my 30 years of experience.
The first thing you should know is this: Pumps have not changed in like 150 years, maybe longer. The tech that operates the pump, however, has improved a lot. Second, I wrote an article where I reviewed all pool pumps and explain the new technology here.
I didn’t write much about above ground pool pumps in my previous article, but in this one, I stay true to the title.
Above Ground Pool Pump Brands
The two biggest brands are Hayward and Pentair. They are firmly entrenched as the leaders in the above ground pool market (sell the most). Not only that, but they also sell pump and filter combination packages that include a matching base, hoses, and clamps. These kits make them convenient, as they are easy to set up.
The other two most popular brands are Waterway and Reliant. Reliant is one of the newest names on the market and Waterway is my least favorite of all choices. Mentioning these above-ground swimming pool manufacturers does not sum up all available brands, but these are most likely the pumps you will find for sale when you go looking.
For whatever reason, there is only one manufacturer currently putting together packages that include a two-speed pump, but none that make variable speed pumps for above ground swimming pools.
*PRO TIP* The hoses offered with any filter/pump combo package is usually garbage.
Waterway Pump Review
This is my least favorite pump. Whenever I get a service call for an above ground pool, whether for pump or filter problem, pool cleaning, or a leak, 6 out of 10 times it is for a Waterway system. The plastic is cheap, and components do not fit together well.
They use their design for fittings instead of the industry standard 1.5-inch threaded fittings. So if you have a problem, you have to buy parts exclusively from them. Once you buy a Waterway pump or filter, you get stuck in their system, unless you decide to change out both your filter and pump.
In my area, we have a pool company called Namco, which has pushed this garbage with all there pool packages. As a huge supplier of affordable (*cheap) pool supplies, with lots of stores, they have sold these systems to many unsuspecting homeowners.
Hayward Above Ground Pump Review
As already mentioned, they are the largest supplier. You do not get to be the biggest by not doing something right. Even when I sell their systems, I just throw out the hoses that come with it. While they offer some decent pumps, they have dropped the ball in recent years.
Readily available. Replacement parts are easy to get. Lots of packaged systems for single speed pumps. They offer standard industry fittings and are easily adapted to other filter systems.
This pump above is Hayward’s new design for 1 and two-speed pumps. Often it is impossible to remove the pump cover. I am built like a bear, and I have ran into a couple where I could not remove the cover.
That is one serious design flaw. I know they did this because it felt like you could almost snap the neck off the old design when opening it, but Hayward seriously needs to get back to the drawing board quickly.
My only other complaint is lack of packaging of 2-speed pumps with filter systems. If I were buying a Hayward pump, it would not be the Matrix design.
Pentair Above Ground Pump Review
Pentair is another staple in the pool industry. I don’t have anything negative to say about them, except that I would stay away from the Dynamo design, and stick with the OptiFlo models. The pump lid is designed well for easy removal.
Usually available on Amazon with free shipping pretty cheap
*PRO TIP * Keep the pump cover o-ring well lubricated with Jacks Lube or something similar.
Reliant Above Ground Pool Pump Review
If you read this far in my article, you will be rewarded, because this is my top pick. While Reliant is relatively a new brand when you compare it to Pentair or Hayward, their design is the best so far.
They offer the same form factor connections making it easy to connect to any system. There pump lids could be opened by an old lady, and they cost less than any of the others mentioned.
The Reliant 2 speed pump is $70.00 cheaper than Pentair, and $120.00 cheaper than Haywards.
Best price found in our online pool store
*PRO TIP* No matter which above-ground pool pump you buy, make sure to get the right plug end to fit your outlet, they come in standard (regular USA house plug) and twist lock (electrical code compliant). Some also come with standard 20 amp cord.
A Little More Advice
Whenever you set up a pump and filter, it is best to include shut off valves so you can service your pump or filter. Most pool pumps are located at ground level, so if you open the pump cover, your pool water will gravity flow with great force. If you don’t install valves, remember too at least plug pool openings before removing the pump cover.
Also, get your self some premium hoses long enough to rest on the ground, you don’t want the weight of the water pulling on the fittings of your pool, pump, or filter. Also, if a cheap hose breaks, the water will empty out of the pool, at least to the level of the pool skimmer or return jet. Larger pools could lose several thousand gallons of water. People with neighbors below them should be extra careful.
A quick note about Horse Power (HP), and two-speed pool pumps. Two speed pumps will repay the little bit of extra cost in the first year through huge energy savings. Pools rarely need to be run at full throttle. Also, consider a lower speed HP pump. Gravity is moving the water to the pump; all the pump has to do then is push it through the filter and back to the pool. Most above-ground swimming pool pumps with lower HP cost less.
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