It may be one of the biggest regulatory changes within the pool industry since the Virginia Graeme Baker Act passed in 2008.
These new federal minimum efficiency ratings are targeted at dedicated purpose pool pumps, and will impact inground, aboveground, and pressure cleaner booster pumps.
Any pool pump manufactured for use in the U.S. after July 19, 2021, must meet specific energy efficiency standards.
The standards are performance based and will apply to both residential and commercial pools.
According to Jeff Farlow, Program Manager of Energy Initiatives at Pentair, the regulation applies to pumps with a traditional horsepower rating of up to 5 HP.
Farlow said that for pool service professionals, one of the biggest consequences of the regulation change is technicians will need to re-educate themselves on hydraulics because the terminology has changed.
The industry will have to learn about WEF (Weighted Energy Factor) which determines the pump’s efficiency (similar to miles per gallon in a car), and they will also have to learn about a new metric called hydraulic horsepower (HHP).
HHP describes pump performance better than traditional rated horsepower. Farlow describes hydraulic horsepower as the horsepower of the wet end, or as others call it, the impeller’s horsepower.
This directly correlates with how much water the pump can flow, and is now how DOE requires manufacturers to size the pump. However, DOE requires the pumps be labeled with Total Horsepower (THP) which is the HP of the electric motor driving the pump. The THP is not a direct indicator of how much flow is produced so understanding the HHP is critical to ensure that the pump meets the flow requirements of the tasks at hand.
Instead of traditional rated horsepower, larger pumps with hydraulic horsepower of between 0.711 and 2.5 will be required to comply with these new very high performance standards.
While there is nothing in the law that states pumps that fall within those horsepower ranges must be variablespeed, at present, only variable-speed pumps can meet those requirements. But any pumps with less than 0.711 hydraulic horsepower will be allowed to be a single speed configuration, as long as they are very energy efficient.
“It basically means that the smaller horsepower pumps – what we currently think of as ½ and ¾ HP pumps, and some 1 HP pumps, will still be allowed in a single speed configuration, but they will be much higher efficiency,” Farlow said.
Meanwhile, the larger commercial pumps – for example health clubs and aquatic facilities using 10 or 15 HP pumps - would be exempt.
This new federal rule was the result of negotiations between both pump manufacturers, who wanted to institute as little change as possible, and the DOE, who wanted to maximize energy savings.
According to Farlow, HHP was chosen to size pumps because traditional rated horsepower was not a very accurate measure of size or performance.
“There wasn’t a good standard correlating horsepower to flow rate. There was no standardized 1 HP flow rate, so it was tough to regulate products based on size when your sizing wasn’t strict. So, they chose hydraulic horsepower to determine how big a pump is,” Farlow said.
The regulation was initiated by the DOE, who invited pool industry manufacturers to weigh in.
Farlow said that there were a lot of competing interests. Industry manufacturers were willing to accept reasonable requirements that would prove cost effective to consumers while the DOE and energy advocates wanted to maximize energy savings which meant wide-spread adoption of variablespeed technology across most product categories.
In the end, it was a negotiation between all the stakeholders, and their varying motivations and objectives, that determined the final